Let me start this by saying that this will be a very personal post that has nothing to do with shoes but rather everything to do with how I dealt with 2015 and how it affected me personally and professionally. It might be long so if you are uninterested, stop now. For those curious, please read on.
While some might find this post to be completely irrelevant to the subject of my blog, I find that it has everything to do with it as I, the sole author, am the very reason for the content of this website, whether it good, bad or irrelevant. And 2015 was a year that a lot happened in my life, some good but much more of it extremely difficult and I feel that it had a negative impact on my ability to present my passion through the writing of this blog. And possibly because of that, some of you may have lost interest in The Shoe Snob.
As all of you come here whether it daily, weekly, monthly or on a blue moon, I feel a responsibility towards creating engaging content in order to fulfill my duties as being the go-to shoe blog that gives you what most blogs dont: the sheer, brutal truth. Therefore, I feel it necessary to be completely transparent in telling you that in 2015 the blog suffered from lack of passion and engagement and it being due to my personal circumstances. So, allow me to tell you a bit about my life last year.
I will start by saying that 2015 was probably the toughest year that I have ever experienced. In this year my whole life flipped upside down and every day was more stressful than the next. And it destroyed me mentally, emotionally and physically. You see, some of you know me as a married man with a young son (2.5 years old) and everything on the outside seemed lovely looking at it from another person’s perspective. The problem was that at the end of 2014 I realized that I was in a relationship that was very unhealthy for me and quite possibly for the future of my son’s well being. I therefore made a life altering gut decision to get out of that relationship and try to make a fresh start on life not only for my own mental health and well being but mainly for the future of my son so he did not have to grow up in an unhappy home and be affected by the outcomes that it inevitably brings.
Now the main problem was that my decision to do this had a ripple effect that resulted in me only seeing my boy one time, for 4 hours, in a 9 month span (as he was not in same country as I was for that entire time). That killed me. And instead of being a strong person (like I used to be) and focusing my energy on bettering myself and personal progression, I went down the weak-minded route and found myself all too often at the pub drowning my sorrows in pints and chat, in the hopes to forget about how much I was suffering. Of course I was still working hard to pay my bills, support my son financially and thus survive, but for a while nothing really mattered as the most important thing in the world to me was so far away and I couldn’t do anything about it.
To top it all off, I was having some internal issues at my company as well, things that could potentially destroy the company (or at least make it very hard to continue). I am not actually able to speak about it but you can imagine how hard that was for me as my company is my life and without it (nor my son), I am nothing. So everyday was a bombardment of stress not only on my shoulders but even worse, like a virus plaguing my brain through thoughts of fear and desperation. So as you can imagine, my desire to continue putting effort and passion into my work and self was at an all time low.
The final thing that caused more fear and stress is the fact that I am here living and working in the UK on a 5 year Visa based off of my previous marriage to an EU migrant and am now having to reapply for that same Visa (as opposed to permanent residency) due to the fact that we are now going through the very long process of divorce. The only problem is that the UK isn’t exactly bending over backwards to keep immigrants in the country as it is already overpopulated as it is (and I am an immigrant). The rejection rate for family Visas to EU members went from 10% to 50% in one year’s time. And now I have sent for the new Visa and it is a 6-8 month waiting game.
As you can see, this was what I was dealing with on a daily basis in 2015. But it wasn’t all bad. The company is doing well (despite the scare we had which is now long behind us) and I am now seeing my son again which makes me feel lot more settled within. But my saving grace was the fact that during this +1 year period from which I separated from my ex, I met someone that has been like a falling angel sent for me, pushing me to get back up on my feet and to once again become the man that I have always intended to be in my life. And without her, I don’t know where I would be right now as I had lost the personal strength to get back onto the path of betterment and success.
But 2015 is now behind me and I am feeling very positive for 2016 and am confident that it will be a great year, not only personally but on a business level as well. I have now taken steps towards betterment of mind and body, taking up Tai Chi and going dry for a period of time. And with this new me will come great things again for the blog and for my involvement in the shoe industry. I promise you that.
I just want to thank again everyone that supports me. Whether you all know it or not, the fact that you are reading this now makes me want to be better and strive more for greater achievements. So thank you for giving me the courage to keep going forward.
Great blog post!
Was lovely to read about you and discover a bit of what’s happening in the background.
All the best for 2016! I’m sure it’ll be a great year full of challenges, success and happiness.
I’ve been following you, i.e., your line of shoes, and your blog for at least four years (I believe), seen you advancing beautifully with your life, i.e., family, line of shoes, and the blog. So obviously I feel bad, but you had to do what you had to do. I’m sure 2016, 2017,… will bring you much success from all aspects.
I’m at a loss for words, to be honest. I’ve been following your blog for some time now, and in 2015 I still liked it very much. Like I still do now. I noticed a bit of a drop in the number of posts, but considering what you were up to businesswise, I understood.
Or so I thought. Having read and reread your above post, I can only say that I feel for you, and sympathize with you for what you had to go through. I cannot possibly imagine the pain you must have felt, but it must have been a very hard period.
I am also glad to read that you’ve reached the point where you feel yourself able to pick up the pieces again, and to start life anew, as you had imagined it to be. I wish you all the best with this, and I hope to be able to read about your adventures and exploits, as usual.
I am also glad, and I feel honoured that you were so brave to share all this with us: it is both a show of courageousness and trust in your followers. I hope we will not shame this trust.
All the best, for you, your son and your new relationship.
Sorry to hear about your trials. I visit the site most days and it is greatly to your credit that you continued to post such interesting and informative posts while you were dealing with everything you mentioned. I wish you all the best and I sincerely hope you have a better year in 2016
Justin, sorry to hear about all those problems but glad to know now it seems they are going away bit by bit. Well, my grannie (all of’em do!) used to say “keep on” and so you are doing… You are prevailing and so is your company, and it’s good because we need you, your comments and your fantastic shoes!!!
All the best!
“The problem was that at the end of 2014 I realized that I was in a relationship that was very unhealthy for me and quite possibly for the future of my sonâ€™s well being. I therefore made a life altering gut decision to get out of that relationship and try to make a fresh start on life not only for my own mental health and well being but mainly for the future of my son so he did not have to grow up in an unhappy home and be affected by the outcomes that it inevitably brings.”
Why did you enter into this relationship in the first place, get married and then bring a child into the world for gods sake? You’ve now created another broken family with all the problems that brings.
What a powerful post! I have been reading the blog for the past year, and it has kindled in me a passion for the craftsmanship and beauty of shoes. It has also been great to learn about your achievements and your developing business.
I too, had a challenging 2015 and am busy getting things back on track. I appreciate your braveness in dealing with the problems as well as sharing your thoughts.
courageous post … been there: understand all too thoroughly the emotional peaks and valleys you’ve been through … best wishes for continuing progress and success … your writing [despite typos and such!] is very enjoyable and informative … keep up the good work, for all of us who enjoy beautiful shoes!
hard times of the way to help us to grow and be better, do not stop being who you really are, let your heart go with you friend. I hope see you soon Justin, wish you the best.
this must have been your most challenging post to date. i only have respect for you, justin. i must say though that i did feel that there was something different with your blog last year. now i know why.
apart from your bravery in serving out sheer, brutal truth in your reviews, what drives my loyalty towards following your blog, fb and IG accounts is your ability to remain humble. the fact that you think you owe us an explanation is one big evidence. to this day, you still reply to emails! i’ve seen a number of bloggers on social media whose rise to fame resulted to entitlement and selfâ€“centeredness. their blogs about style and shoes and the sartorial lifestyle have shifted towards blogs about themselves. i digress.
remember, ‘this, too, shall pass.’ my parents separated when i was 3. make sure you remain a part of your kid’s life and make sure you fight for it.
be strong, justin. here’s to greater things up ahead!
I deeply respect your passion, talent, and dedication to your trade, and understand that personal issues can easily slow one down. Reading your post reminded me about the more important things in life, and the life to come. I was once a very, very troubled person, bitter, angry, and unhappy. I learned that the only true, lasting happiness comes from God when I committed my life to Jesus Christ and forfeited a potential law career to preach the gospel. He has transformed me and given me deep and lasting peace. I hope you’ll consider that there is no security outside the reality of knowing the one who created you.
Justin, I am so sorry to hear that things have been harsh…but as a very bruised survivor of parents who “stayed together for the child” I applaud your decision.
I want to share how much your fantastic shoes cheer me up. I open your emails each day to see wearable art, beauty, perfection in quality and proportion, and a labour of love. Thank you for a positive note in my inbox each day.
Adversity is usually a strengthening experience in hindsight, and although we haven’t met, your strength of personality is evident in your work. You will overcome this, and be better for it. Your artistry will also benefit.
I am saddened to hear about the trials and tribulations you’ve suffered over the last year, but I am glad that you are starting the new year with new hope and happiness. I have enjoyed your blog, and your shoes, immensely, so I look forward to hearing more from you over the next year. I wish you the best of luck and joy with your “angel” and a fantastic 2016 for us all.
“May the Force be with you” Justin đź™‚
I’m an occasional reader of your blog which I find for the most part informative and cleverly written. I hadn’t noticed a deterioration in the regularity of your updates or in the quality either in spite of having just read that the year 2015 was particularly challenging for you on several levels. I would encourage you to continue in your endeavors to provide your readers quality information which in my opinion didn’t suffer from from the hardships you experienced these past twelve months.
Hi Justin, you have to be strong for your son, and not only your son but for yourself. Keep GOD first and everything will be okay. You are doing a great job with your blog, and being an old shoe guy I really appreciate the Shoe Snob. Be Blessed and keep up the good work!
I’m so sorry to hear things have been tough Justin. And really pleased to hear you’re bouncing back
I will pray for you and your family, keep pressing on with life and God will take care of you. Have faith!
God bless you.
I wish you the best Year 2016 after the personal problems you had 2015, though, as all the others, I have not noticed any decline of quality in your blog. Reading it almost daily. Strong and brave to tell all this to the world. I have come to do more for my mental and physical health after the stress of last years, too. Could have been Tai Chi (because I decided against Yoga), when it became Boxing, by chance.
I felt with you very much reading this. Please stay upright! Could not live without your blog! Shoes are pure fun with your explanations. I am a follower of you in the way that I have created my own blog about balcony-gardening / urban gardening after your way of telling everything as it is with passion and as well informed as ever possible.
did relationship end cause you love shoe more than her?
maybe girl left as saw Justin fiddling with his funny Victorian button boots in the morning … getting all worked up and hot under the collar as he fumbled with trying to push the buttons through the tweed cloth …. she realised she’d married an Igent and wanted to save her poor son from a similar fate. If she stayed the poor urchin may have tried to wear a (fake) vintage silk tie, with double breasted waistcoat with those damn button boots … just like daddy did all those years ago.
Well John, those words of yours are neither friendly nor supportive, but in case they were meant to be funny I beg your pardon.
Very courageous post, Justin. I am very sorry that you have had to deal with the breakdown of your marriage, troubles with your business, long distances from your son, and now the challenges of gaining legal residency in the UK. I am glad that you have found a loving and supportive person to help you through these trials. It sounds like you are off to a much better start in 2016 and I hope that your life gains stability, happiness, and prosperity throughout the year.
Rooting for you brother.
Thanks for sharing this. I imagine how all this trouble has had big consequences for you, yr health and yr business. The fact that you have written it down is kind of another sign that you’ve turned the page, no? 2016 is going to be better for you. Do good & always look forward, not back.
I’m praying for you, my brother. We can offer you support but nothing we say can take the pain away. As a father of a daughter, I can’t imagine the pain of being away from her nor the pain you are going through right now. Just know that friends are there for friends. You have my personal email address…..reach out at any time. Always there for you, Justin……..All the best.