My life has always been marked by distinct phases and cycles of time; a flow of death and rebirth and reinvention; a constant redefining and mis- and re-understanding of what it means to be me.
The closest comparison to these cycles that I can think of comes from music marketing. For a two- to three-year period, your favourite artists inhabit a very strict sonic and visual style before hibernating for another two- to three-years and emerging from the chrysalis anew with a recognisable yet entirely different theme and focus. I've noticed this in my life and just like album cycles, my shifts tend to happen gradually from within before appearing suddenly externally.
I turn 26 today.
9,490 days old.
26 isn't a milestone birthday in the same way 16, 18, 21, 30 (and I suppose every decade then-on) is but it does mark ten years since I left secondary school and ten years from that Sliding Doors moment in life where you have to make big choices about what you want to do and who you want to be.
One of the only things I miss about a decade ago is the expanse of time I felt I had to make my own. YouTuber Will Darbyshire makes videos every year about his age and echoes this exact thing. His video 'Me At 27' features this line:
27 feels like a bit of a weird age to me. I'm still young but I feel older. I still feel like I have so much time but I also feel like there's this nagging feeling telling me to get moving
In 10 days – Monday, May 31st 2021 and at 9,500 days old – everything on adamstoner.com and my podcast feed will be unlisted. I am withdrawing from my online space to focus on what matters to me most. It isn't this anymore. I'm also unplugging and taking a break so when this automatically publishes at 8:48am on Friday – the exact minute, 26 years ago that I was born – you won't hear from me until September.
To continue the album cycle analogy, most musicians write and record in secrecy, releasing their work as a surprise, letting the music speak for itself and only discussing it after-the-fact as part of publicity runs. I'm doing the same.
In the same way the US President has the State of the Union address or Apple have their flagship events, my monthly updates – my email newsletter and its podcast counterpart – will be my only public statements come September. No more essays. No more opinions.
Tech designer and consultant Paul Jarvis has done something similar, pulling the plug on a platform that was once full of content. The first of only two lines on his website now reads:
I used to have a personal brand and online presence, and now I don't.
I've always found the idea of personal brands reprehensible and reject the idea I ever was one so let's just go with this instead...
I used to have an online presence – and now I don't.