Pulling up my socks for a new phase in my life.
I remember when I started this blog. Well, more or less.
I was sitting in a tiny room I shared with my bestie at uni in Pretoria, twenty years old and waist-deep in a depressing LLB law degree. I was bursting at the seams with creativity and frustration and confusion and I think I was chowing cheap AF chicken noodle soup from the Chinese takeaway we lived above. I was dating my first serious boyfriend – a Durban-surfer type, who had like totally cool friends, who had like totally cool names, who were all doing like, totally cool things while I had my nose in books about labour law and grimy criminal cases. I felt lame and boring and lost and needed an outlet.
During this time, my ex put me onto this Tumblr called Yimmy’s Yayo and I became borderline obsessed with the newfound visual world of Tumblr – AKA perfect girls and short angsty blog posts. It was then that I decided that writing was the one thing I truly loved and should do more of to try and get out of this lacklustre limbo.
So, The Story of a Girl with A Bum was born. An ode to self-love, an attempt to embrace my curves that I hated so very much (big butts and thighs were not en vogue in 2010) and I somehow carved myself a small space on the overcrowded blogosphere. I felt like, totally cool, calling myself a blogger, even though I’d chosen a silly sounding blog name in rebellion to my contemporaries with edgy identifiers like xrunawaywithmex or RichSkinnyBlonde. (Apologies if those are actually blog names in existence, I’m just trying to paint a picture here, k?)
Man, was my first batch of content cringey. My blog was basically just an online journal dedicated to the most ridiculous thoughts of a deluded, twenty-something. But, it got me scribbling and I loved it. I continued blogging, sharing images, poems and snippets of writing when I was in the mood or had a few bucks to spend at the internet café down the road. #studentlife
I continued this erratic posting habit until the end of 2012. This year, I’d finished my degree, travelled India for a few months and then returned back home to live under my parents’ rule for the first time since I’d left home at seventeen.
Boy, that sucked. Hard.
I was bored out of my bracket, clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life and feeling like a pretty shitty human to be honest. So, once again I turned to my blog. I was loving the new vibe that Durban had started cultivating during the years I was away at varsity, and wanted to celebrate it. So, I started popping up like a bad rash at every single damn event, coffee shop or new store opening, just to post some over-edited photos and a grammatically awful article about it.
Given that at the time, there wasn’t a heck of a lot of support for Durban as a whole (s/o Durban Is Yours for being the original G’s), people were super keen to get involved when I asked them for interviews. I can’t thank all those who responded to this random self-professed blogger with a terrible homemade logo, love for exclamation marks and poor spacing. I don’t know why they gave me the time of day but they did. The Factory Café, Lola Malone (now Trade Mark Tattoo), Jane and Liam from Veranda Panda and Lauren from Glossaryzine were some of the first wonderful souls who jumped on board with my rookie vision and boy, did I run with it.
I remember I’d decided to adopt a serious “fake it ‘til you make it” attitude and got some business cards printed with said terrible, homemade logo on them. Yes, you heard me, I printed out business cards for my Tumblr page, in the year 2013. And then just for extra cringe, I handed them out at Splashy Fen that year in between selling home-made flowers crowns (because Lana Del Rey was totally a thing back then).
I got so involved in life that year – I hosted events, did giveaways, met local bands, organised photo shoots YOO NAAAAYM IT. It all happened so much quicker that I could ever have anticipated and it was surreal when someone said “Oh hey, you’re Girl with a Bum!” for the first time. Thanks to my city I guess, for being so damn small, but so strangely supportive of someone who wasn’t a known face on “the scene” before forcing myself into every inch of the city.
Over the years since, I’ve relaunched my blog a thousand times. The logos got slightly better. I jumped from Tumblr to Blogspot to WordPress. My content changed to varying degrees of cringe as I experimented with my style. I had a handful of other side blogs – Dope Fitness, Storm Washed Plates and Jenna’s Jimi (notice the nod to Yimmy’s Yayo). But all through these phases, I was consistently amped on celebrating Durban places and people. And I met so many deeply wonderful humans because of it.
I can’t explain the opportunities my little wonky blog gave me – personally and professionally. Even though I got ripped on for my often fluffy or try-hard content, I still stuck to my guns and shared my life with people. However, I stopped proudly calling myself a blogger and while I knew I was a part of dying platform, ya girl Jenna continued to squeeze the last bit of juice out of this dried up creative outlet. Not to be harsh on blogs – I still read ‘em, I still love ‘em. Some amazing bloggers put food on the table and Vans on their feet because of ’em. But I was never able to commit enough time to my blog to make it into something that would rise above the internet flotsam and jetsam.
My content has been borderline schitzo over the past few years – outfit posts, recipes, reasons to go vegan, product reviews, juice cleanses, ticket giveaways, DIYs, personal life stories that really shouldn’t have been put up on the interwebs. I loved and cherished every damn piece of it, because I believed in it.
I tried towards the end of last year to refresh and revive my blog for the umpteenth time, but had to pause and sit down to do some soul-searching. Sadly, I had to finally womxn up and admit to myself that blogging didn’t feel authentic anymore.
It’s less to do with a generic time-and-energy thing, and more to do with where I want to put that time and energy. For now, an Instagram post still fulfils my love of sharing an outfit or a new coffee spot. I guess I’m just moving into a quieter time in my life. A time for reflection. A time for just enjoying a moment. A time for finding a new creative outlet that feels more aligned with where I am right now.
For me, blogging began to feel a little tired. And a little too self-centric. Yes, I realise the irony in this for someone who has an entire Instagram account dedicated to the clothes she puts on every day. But know that this is genuinely just fuelled by my love of sharing a part of myself, my love of being open and transparent and connecting with those that get my vibe.
So, who knows. Perhaps I’ll be eating my words and back blogging with a vengeance by the end of the year. Maybe I’ll rebrand again and post about naked mole rats or something equally obscure. In fact, I’m sure I will be back with some variation of a blog. Sort of when like Justin Bieber tries every few years to tell us he’s retiring only to resurrect a few months later with a banger.
As much as I wish I could be the kind of person who could make a clean break from something so outdated and chronically uncool, blogging and sharing is a part of me.
For now, I can’t force it. But I will leave my little passion project up on the internet for all the cringey phases of Jenna Kelly’s inconsequential life to be preserved for posterity. All seven long years of it.
Until then, thank you from the bottom of my archives to all my readers, contributors and heck, even the haters.
Images by the amazing Xavier Vahed.