Theory of Change

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot)

This blog post is about my Mulan Moment. Standing in front of the mirror, unable to recognize the reflection gazing back at me.

I am clothed in the latest Nordstrom Anniversary Sale merchandise, camera in hand.

An Instagram caption floats to the top of my consciousness:

“Must-have items to stock up on before the sale ends.”

These words are echoes from a previous job. Call-to-action statements to create urgency for readers and convert them to shoppers.

Shop my blog! Shop my Instagram! Shop ’til you drop!

I sink to the floor, surrounded by a room full of clothes I don’t need. And I can’t bring myself to count the cost of it all.

The plan was to use any earned affiliate money to pay down the rest of our debt before the end of the year. To do so, I had to go into more debt first.

In the end, I made back what I spent several times over this year. Thanks to a high ranking landing page, which began as an SEO experiment, web traffic was off the charts.

The excitement of the sale’s success soon faded into sheer relief. If I could cut our credit card bills with this commission payment, I would finally be free of this endless cycle.

Because the truth is: I am tired of leading this double life.

By day, I share statistics like the number of children living in poverty. I ask people to open their hearts and close the wealth gap.

In the evenings, I compose blog posts encouraging people to buy clothes. More clothes than any one person needs.

Though I’ve embraced minimalism, I won’t pretend this reduces my socioeconomic privilege. Nor does it assuage my guilt when someone reads this blog and tells me they can’t afford to shop at Nordstrom.

Capsule wardrobes are not always inexpensive. The goal is to save money in the long run by investing in versatile pieces. For someone who doesn’t have many of those essential items to begin with, myself included, the cost adds up.

No matter what I do in my life outside of this blog, what I post here has meaning. When I made the choice to rebrand it with my own name, I accepted that this site will always be a reflection of myself.

I will never eliminate the cognitive dissonance of a dichotomized persona, until this site changes with me.

And it can’t change for the sake of changing. I’ve said time after time after time that it would change. But each of these times, I fall back into old habits out of fear and comfort.

Like everything else in life, there should be a purpose. So I took a cue from my non-profit world and wrote a Theory of Change for this blog.

For the non-non-profit readers out there, Wikipedia defines Theory of Change as “a specific type of methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation that is used in the philanthropy, not-for-profit and government sectors to promote social change. Theory of Change defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify necessary preconditions.”

By creating authentic, ethical content for this site about topics and brands whose missions align with her personal vision, Stephanie Drenka aims to expand consumer knowledge and attitudes about socially-conscious products along with issues of social justice and equity, which will encourage responsible purchasing behavior and meaningful community engagement, leading to greater social impact.

Thank you in advance for bearing with me through the slow, but intentional, implementation of this ToC. It’s a work in progress (not unlike myself). As a token of appreciation for making it to the bottom of this post, and to end on a lighter note, I leave you with another “Mulan Moment” from my senior year of college in 2008, performing Reflection… in Korean.

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  1. Wow Steph, it takes a lot of courage to be this honest with yourself first and then with the world. Thank you for sharing your heart! I needed to read this today.

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