Yasmine Ganley is a magical human being whose presence instantly slows your breath and calms your mind. She doesn’t talk about yoga or meditation or finding space—she just is. I swear, the girl can melt the edge off the most hardcore Type A before they’ve had a chance to check their iCal. Yasmine is the founder and editor of the blog AnyoneGirl, co-founder of The Periodic Journal, and writer/content-creator and strategist for a range of lifestyle brands. She’s a reminder that going back to your roots can be the best way to flourish, and that sometimes taking in the view is more important than planning for tomorrow.
“I find that question ‘What do you do?’ so difficult. It’s a funny question in general, because I think people should be valued for who they are as a whole, not just what they get paid to do. That your job should have equal weight to all of the other elements in your life, in terms of how you’re perceived. Anyway, my answer to that question changes all the time, because the work I do changes as well. Generally I’ll say that I’m a writer, but then I feel like people instantly picture me writing a novel in a little shed in the woods. So I immediately chase that up with ‘a writer, in marketing.’ Which is essentially what I do: work alongside brands and create content to get their message across. I don’t know the exact word for it… still trying to figure that one out.
The tricky thing with the term ‘marketing’ is that it has such a negative stigma attached to it, which I guess is a result of the advertising world. It makes me think of spreadsheets and ‘How much growth has this had?’ I don’t know much about either of those things. What I do know is that it’s important for brands to communicate—particularly for brands living online, there’s a much greater need to have their story told in a distinct way. Producing one campaign a year is not enough anymore, it needs to be a continuous conversation. I want to create stories that make you want to grow up with that brand, to become loyal to it, regardless of whether it’s dishwashing liquid or a pair of shoes. I almost wish I’d gotten a psychology degree, because I feel like that would have helped me understand how people respond to certain messages. But it all comes down to instinct. I actually studied contemporary dance!
All of my creative outlets lend themselves to each other. You end up being far more capable in pulling things off on your own when you have multiple skillsets, and it gives you a holistic perspective when you’re working on projects. For example, with The Periodic Journal, my role is to write and curate content. But because I’ve dabbled in photography, I’m always conscious of how that content will fit alongside imagery. Working as a freelancer for a bunch of different people, I’ve had to become disciplined out of necessity. I’ve gotten better at not procrastinating until the last minute. I was like that in high school—like the worst—to the point where I wouldn’t hand anything in. I think I was so scared of fucking it up that I wouldn’t even start. But now I’m much better at getting ahead of deadlines and starting early.
I’ve coached myself into thinking: just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t need to sound good, no one’s going read it for ages. Just throw words down.
And the next time I pick up that file it’s halfway there. I think from leaving everything to the last minute in the past, I got into a bad habit of needing to write well the first time too. I’ve learned that editing while you’re dumping words onto paper isn’t the most effective way of working. So yeah, getting better at that.
My dad probably has no idea what I do. I don’t think he could ever imagine that someone could make a living doing a job like mine—this way of working is completely foreign to him. But I feel like it’s all going this way. The office is perhaps becoming a thing of the 80s. People are setting up new ways of working that are more lenient towards their lifestyle—which is good for humanity as a whole. I think it has to do with rejecting what the generation before us has set up. It goes in cycles: we’ll raise our kids to have this really liberal attitude, and they will probably grow up wanting to be lawyers. We’ll offer them this notion of: you can do whatever you want, however you want, and here’s everything to do it. And they’ll turn around and say actually, I want to live in an apartment with a 9-5 job, because I need that structure in my life. There’s a certain degree of always wanting to pull away from what you think has been set up for you.
There are definitely times when I feel flat out wearing multiple hats every day. But it’s a nice lifestyle, and I do get a lot of freedom. In some ways doing just one thing might make my life easier, but is that what I want? I think the goal is to refine your work down to what you find rewarding and what makes you happy, and to get rid of what doesn’t. If you stick with that, it doesn’t matter if you’re working for one person or ten.
I think that being happy is at the core of every opportunity.
You’re not consumed with hunting down happiness, it’s already there, so you’re open and ready to take on new things. I’ve never been a big picture person, or really thought about where I’m going. But I do know that with any decision I make, I’m really invested in that moment and in that particular decision. It has to feel right. I think when you’re happier, you’re more intuitive about everything. You’re more confident. Which sounds really obvious, but you’re more confident in getting what you do want, and saying no to what you don’t want. My divorce was a big wake up call to this kind of thinking. I almost owe everything to that moment in my life, because it made me toughen up. It really made me think, ‘What on earth am I doing with my life? What do I really want?’ And I don’t think I’d really asked myself that until then. I was just floating around doing what other people suggested I should do. It made me become selfish, in a good and healthy way.
Sometimes you need a situation that forces you
to go and make yourself
To go and chase that down. The lesson you learn from something like that, not just from a relationship perspective, is to be really honest with yourself. To check in. To not get swept away from who you truly are. On reflection, a close friend said to me: ‘You were like a rubber band. You had stretched so far away from yourself, it was inevitable that you would spring back one day.’ Part of moving back out to Titirangi was part of that. I grew up out here, and it’s informed so much of who I am, but I didn’t really realize that until I moved back. I’ve noticed just how grounded and literally at home I feel here.
I’ve traveled and lived overseas, and like that rubber band, I came back again. From a work perspective, I get to work from home two days a week, which is wonderful. It’s so quiet out here, so calm. We get a lot of natural light which is something I missed when I lived in the city. We potter around after work until the sun goes down. It’s an opportunity for me to shut off my computer and have a few hours to mark the end of my day. It’s given me a sense of peace and really allows me to be present. As much as I would like to be organized and look forward, there’s something to be said about enjoying what’s happening now. To take in the view. Otherwise, you’re really missing the point.“
As told to Amy Woodside, March 2015
Photographed by Amy Woodside
Periodic image by Greta van der Star