This semester, Paris was definitely the place I was most looking forward to visiting. If it would have worked with my degree requirements, I would have definitely have chosen to study abroad there instead of Prague. Like nearly everyone else on the planet, I've always loved the idea of Paris and anything surrounding French culture. I've read one too many articles on how to achieve the perfect french bedhead or dress like a french girl. On a more serious note, I also appreciate France because of my love of food and culinary history and techniques. Chef's Table gave french chefs their own season, and while I definitely was not able to enjoy a french meal at a nice restaurant the mere idea of being in that environment made me feel giddy inside.
Going into this trip I was scared, mainly for two reasons. Either I would get there, realize that Paris has been over romanticized and over hyped and be immediately dissapointed, or I would come back with visions of eclairs and pain au chocolats dancing in my head, proclaiming that Paris was the city of my dreams and that I was destined to be a parisienne, immediately annoying anyone and everyone within 10 feet of me. While the latter definitely came to fruition to some extent (I'm still thinking about the baguette I got from a local bakery and I've started one too many sentences with 'when I was in Paris...") I also came back with a increased passion and drive for all things creative.
The thing I love most about Europe, and something that is really exemplified in a city like Paris, is the amount of craftsmanship put into everything. As a self-professed aesthete I need to be surrounded by beautiful, carefully thought out things to feel my best. On the surface, I know that this tends to sound superficial, but I am happiest digging in the details and to be in an environment where choices were made carefully and things like beauty and pleasure are always considered of high importance.
I've had plenty of people mock my 'aesthetic'– jokingly or not– and it pisses me off to no end. Yes, I am the girl who plates her meals in an attempt to make them look Instagram ready, I will do what I have to do to find the perfect lighting for an overhead shot of my breakfast, I've spent the past year and a half working on defining my own 'branding' because it's important to me.
Despite only being there for three days, I feel like I got a really good sense and feel for Paris. I'd even dare to say that by the third day I was starting to know my way around the city— sans google maps. I saw all the little coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques and I know that there's a million more that I didn't even catch a glimpse of. Being surrounded by all the beautiful places showed me that this it's possible to live the life I've always imagined for myself. A life surrounded by beauty and creativity.
I came back from Paris with a bit of pep in my step and a desire to recreate my short-lived Parisian life. I've always known that whatever I end up doing in life has to have some creative aspect, but I've always let my imposter syndrome get the best of me. I love photography, and cooking, and writing (once in a blue moon) and creating things but there's always someone better than me, someone who get more compliments or recognition. But since coming back I've been learning to not care about other people and focus on me and honing my skills and putting them out there on display. I took the leap and finally made my photography portfolio and consolidated it with my blog (not sure if you've noticed but you're currently reading this on 'toyosioyelola.com', I have my own dot com!!!!!). I'm planning on upgrading my camera gear when I get back to the states and I'm excited to feel like I'm investing in myself.
I'm also starting to look into how I can make the blog feel more like a real thing for me and not just a little side hobby by brainstorming content and trying to develop this into something that feels more put together and makes me proud to show off. I feel like in comparison to so many other bloggers I've followed for years that I haven't gone very far and while I know that numbers don't tell the whole story, I'd love to get to a point where I can do more collaborations and increase engagement on here.
For the first time I'm looking at my creative hobbies and looking into how they can become a career or woking on building them out for the long term. I still have no idea what I'm doing in general, and I know that at the age of nineteen I'm not supposed to have everything figured out, but I am definitely in a place where I need to start getting serious about what I'm working towards and what I want to achieve instead of just going with whatever happens. Life is unpredictable and I could end up changing my mind a million times before graduation, but now is a prime time to roll up my sleeves and put in the work to make some of my dreams a reality.
I've never been comfortable calling myself a creative, but there really is no denying it. while I'm not the best photographer, writer, cook, stylist, etc I place a high value on creativity and making beautiful things.
I feel like it's so cliche to say that paris changed my life, but damn it, it's true.
merci beaucoup paris. je t'aime et je te verrai bientôt.