Tuesday, 15 December 2015

On Celebrating Others

What qualities do you admire most in other people? Wit and intelligence? Empathy? Self-awareness? A good sense of humour? That simple-but-crucial thing of ‘being kind’? They’re definitely all on my list – along with an array of other possibilities (being a fan of floaty sleeves and general dressing up helps, but it’s not crucial). There’s something else though… A quality, or rather an ability, that I’ve only begun to properly appreciate in recent years: the capacity to celebrate other people.

It’s a very telling one, that. Willingness to nod to the achievements/ news/ work/ general character of someone else is pretty much always a good sign. Hugely enthusiastic too? All the better. It’s the ones who are continually bitter that you have to watch out for (which isn’t a dig at strong opinions or critical stances, by the way – that's a whole other important category…) What I’m really talking about here is the sheer joy of recognizing the people who get a kick out of supporting others – being vocal where praise is due, or lending an ear, a hand, a word or two of encouragement. It’s the opposite of pulling rank, or aiming a well-placed put-down, or generally assembling a ‘me vs. them’ mentality.

If you wanted to use a vaguely long-winded analogy involving a ladder (and frankly, who doesn’t want to do that?), we’re talking here about the people who help others to climb, or reach back down from wherever they are to offer help – rather than jealously guarding each rung in turn, and pulling the ladder up behind them.

As well as appreciating that capacity for celebration, I’m also profoundly grateful for it. We often talk about having that one teacher who pushes you in the right direction – perhaps commenting favourably at just the right point, or giving you the book that suddenly makes sense of something that was previously murky. But the ones who’ve been crucial to me are actually an amazing bunch of (mostly) women who, at one point or another, gave a nod that I was doing well and should continue to work at it. People like my 'fairy' godmother Soma, who once bought me a vintage Chanel dress, and has offered up so much encouragement over the years – as well as challenging and pushing my thinking.  

There are so, so many others, many tracing back to my first few times of attending London Fashion Week. There I encountered photographers like Dvora, Vanessa and Jennifer who all took me seriously as a 15/ 16 year old – boosting my confidence when clothes and blogging were a means to escape the confines of rural life. I also met and talked with the amazing Caryn Franklin. She listened to my thoughts, and subsequently let me write this for All Walks – my first foray into investigating my early experiences of modeling. It was also one of my first proper forays into the power that writing has to connect, spread, and generally yield up intriguing conversations. As a result of that piece I met Erin O’Connor (who is grace and generosity personified) and Kay Montano (who has since let me sleep on her sofa many a-time, and always provides good wine and great conversation). Through Kay I was introduced to the utterly extraordinary photographer Susannah Baker-Smith, who I’ve now worked with on all sorts of occasions. All these women are linked by their glorious aptitude for scooping up and celebrating others.

Celebration, of course, takes many a form. Listing them all here would be not only tricky but tedious too. It has found some interesting new footing online though. Despite the very necessary dialogues we need to continue about the vitriol that seethes easily when people are hidden behind screens, it’s also crucial to acknowledge the nice pockets of the internet… And there are lots. Lots of small, well-formed pockets where genuine praise outweighs anything else. From the early days of the blogging community, through the remarkable individuals shouting about each other’s work on social media, there’s the odd, glittering space where mutual approval presides. People like Louise, Angela, Emma, Daisy, Anna, Lally, Mel, Bella, Vix, Izzy, Rebecca, Tara, FloFlo (another one!), Rosianna, SinĂ©ad, and a ton of others, are particularly good at it… And they're just the first handful of names plucked up. There are so many more, 

Essentially, we should celebrate those who celebrate others. Doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge jealousy or frustration along the way. In fact, it can even be about wielding those feelings productively – applauding the stuff that is SO fantastic that you’re horribly envious, and then working out what you can do in response, that is yours to own.

It’s also about continual interest in what’s going on around you – championing the good and the great. Doesn’t matter if it’s tweeting an article you loved, offering your time/ help to someone, reveling in the thrill of new conversations with interesting people, or simply congratulating a friend who made progress that they’re proud of. In all cases, the principle is the same: it’s one of looking beyond yourself, and getting bloody excited by all that everyone else has to offer.

I began thinking about this after being featured on the wonderful Olivia's blog. Head over to read my thoughts on work, writing, favourite books, and (but of course!) Kate Bush. Liv is someone else who is especially good at championing others - she is warm, enthusiastic, always engaging to talk with, and as beautiful inside as she is out. Also, incidentally, someone else I first met at LFW. It was a pleasure to be interviewed and photographed by her. She kindly let me repost those images here. Everything I'm wearing is second hand, other than the boots, which were from Jack Wills. 


mariafelicia magno said...

beautiful outfit and pics..i like your skirt

Theresa said...

What a lovely post, and perfect for this time of year (in between Thanksgiving and Christmas). We can all hope to be mentioned in a similar post by someone someday.

Rita Dias said...

Love the last photo, you just look stunning! :) Amazing outfit, you have a great sense of style, that coat just has a fantastic colour!

Do you wanna follow each other? I follow right back..just let me know!

I´ll keep in touch!
xoxo :)

Lola Byatt said...

yayyyy! this is such a great post, I agree with everything, it is great hearing people not holding any malice and just celebrating other people-says a lot about the. i have to distance myself from people who are forever cynical. spread the love! x

Vix said...

Thanks for the shout out!
A great post. I love someone who has no hidden agenda and just likes you for being you. Humour, intelligence, a positive outlook and a capacity for alcohol are pretty good assets, too! xxx

Anonymous said...

I adore your bright green coat!


Kindness always goes far in my book, humour and intellect are essential--My family is known for using wit and humour, even in tough times. It's wonderful when people celebrate others, and be celebrated, especially in the blogging community. I think having positive people around you is just smart.
I adore that green coat! :)

Lally said...

What a lovely post for the festive period. Collaboration is the best - I love how meeting one person can lead to a hundred other wonderful like-minded people, it's one of the best bits about social media / internet. It's so nice to find others that are positive, open-minded and intelligent. I hope you have a very merry Christmas! XX
p.s that coat is wonderful! The perfect Christmassy shade of green.

Emily said...

I couldn't agree more Rosalind! I was a rather surly, jealous teenager, but as I grew into my late teens and early adulthood I saw the error of my ways and made some positive changes. Life is so much more fun with a celebratory mindset. Being jealous and bitter is so confining. When we celebrate others we liberate ourselves and interact with people and ideas on a much deeper and more meaningful level. Celebration has opened up my life, and like you describe with your life, has led to so many more people and experiences than if I stayed that green-eyed teenager forever.


India Wood said...

Beautiful outfit and post as always x

India Charlotte♥

Anna said...

I'm so glad that you made the distinction regarding "strong opinions and critical stance." We NEED these if our lives are not to become so blanded out as to be meaningless. So often, the comments pages on blogs are a torrent of praise that invites no discussion, conversation debate. Too much 'You're amazing'; 'you're so beautiful'; 'I love you, girl' can get so blah and tedious.

I do love your writing!

Izzy DM said...

I think the wonderful thing about you is that you combine the wisdom of age with this great innocence and enthusiasm of youth. It took me so long to figure some of this stuff out! Like looking for enthusiasm in girls or connecting it with success. Let me unpack that (although I generally despise that phrase, but I'm starting to get tired. I've been writing all day, and it's been glorious, so happy to be out of my post-partum funk.). While I was acting, I, apparently like Peter O'Toole, would working with anyone to do any kind of acting that I could. I started noticing that the more successful people that I worked with also tended to be the most generous, as if the two qualities are intertwined. (Directors, photographers, too... This only sometimes applies to writers, though. They can be a little more prickly for some reason.) Anyway, then there are actors who will barely look at you or get really angry if you're having a moment-- as if your shine dulls theirs. I had one wonderful scene with a very famous actor, for example but who I won't name because name-dropping isn't the point, anyway he couldn't have been more the opposite of that. He was so happy that we were both having a moment that afterwards he dropped to his knees and took my hand, and said wonderful things to me that I'll never forget. He wasn't hitting on me either, not at all. Anyway, it really was wonderful. My main group of girlfriends in New York are all like that, but they took me a while to find. I started noticing, while my husband was still my boyfriend, that his friends were never jealous of his successes. I was meeting a ridiculous number of people, and I didn't have an idea of how to filter some of those relationships. I finally started applying this dictum that you picked up on already-- were they encouraging, happy for me as I was for them? If they weren't, then were they really friends? Shouldn't that be the basis of friendship? Mutual joy in one another and admiration? I think men are taught this in their sports teams and frats, and that's why their social groups tend to be stronger, and women are taught to be competitive, not team-competitive but individually competitive, as if only one woman can shine at a time. But, I think, too, the more happy, shiny actors the more wonderful the production is, or the stronger the team or what have you. Anyway, I think women can learn, and it's really important for us to support each other. The more women that shine, the greater everyone's shine, or something. But not like cosmetics shiny as a trophy for some guy, although cosmetics can be fun, too. Urgh, this is coming out tortured. I mentioned I was so tired. It's late here! Also, on a side note, I think I feel about Patti Smith the way you do about Kate Bush. You have to read "Just Kids"! I think you'd love it. Your blog always puts me in a fantastic (and apparently blathering) mood. Thanks so much for this. Go, Roz! xx


Ivana Split said...

Very inspiring article. I totally agree with you...appreciating other people can be a source of great personal joy. Always when I feel bad and I think how horrible this world is, I think to myself: ...but there are many wonderful people in it. This thought always picks me up!

You look divine! That coat is gorgeous...that colour looks amazing on you. Plus, that skirt is fantastic.

cherre henderson said...

This was a fabulous post that really spoke to me. Everyone needs to be reminded of this now and then. You are so wise for being so young; you are an old soul. Thank you for this post. ;-)

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