Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Motel Rocks sequin dress + shell pool float fun

Hey beach babes! So I thought a fun fashion post was long overdue. As much as I'm really enjoying branching out with blogging and talking about a whole range of topics, fashion will remain the heart of this blog amid all the upcoming subject matters I want to discuss with you too. I've got lots of outfit posts to share, so hopefully there'll still be a mix of content here for everyone. It's been lovely getting such a positive reaction from my last few posts, especially "what to do when friendships f*ck up", and "how to gain confidence when your self-esteem is at rock bottom". It''s given me the courage to keep talking freely and openly about a wide range of issues that I've experienced. If my bad times and experiences can become good outlets for advice and tips to help my readers then I'm living for that. 
I snapped up this uniorn disc sequin dress from Motel Rocks earlier in the year which I'm totally starry-eyed for. As always the sequin dresses and festival fashion pieces on the Motel Rocks site are pure magic to me, but a potion of poison for my bank account. I'm desperate to get my hands on more dazzling designs of theirs but $$$. I found this sparkly sequin dress for half price on eBay (bonus) and immediately knew it would work perfectly with this ultra cute pink seashell pool float from BigMouth. I've got quite a pool float collection, but there's deffo something extra sassy about this one. For this shoot I had fun with festival vibes using Go Get Glitter sparkle; I was lucky enough to win a competition of theirs over on Instagram and was thrilled to receive some of their sparkly glitters which worked perfectly with my sequin dress. I kept the glitter on my shoulders after the shoot and later on our Starbucks barista complimented me on it which was lovely. 

The fluffy pink bag is from Skinnydip London, one of my favourite bags from them so far. I'm a little heartbroken to say that their latest bags aren't giving me all the feels. I'm just not loving their new releases as much as usual. They just don't seem as original, as sassy or as stand-out as they normally are. Just me? I really hope they gift us with some gorgeous badass bags soon, I've got a voucher to spend and am dying for a new addition to my bag collection. Come on Skinnydip, wow us! 
 Add in my talkative "He was like....and I was like..." slogan heels and purple shades and this outfit was good to go! Mama and I had fun shooting these blissful beach pics. Hilarity ensued as the shell floaty wouldn't pose properly and kept blowing away; I spent most of the shoot chasing the bloody thing up the sand dunes. Even though it was a warm day the beach was totally deserted meaning we got these photos in gorgeous peace. Afterwards we went for cups of tea and read our books. Honestly, just being at the beach is cloud nine closure to me. My idea of a perfect day for SURE. 

Have you got any beach trips planned this summer?
Are you a fan of sequins on the beach?


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How to gain confidence when your self-esteem is at rock bottom

My self-esteem was at rock bottom
When I was 18 my self-esteem was at rock bottom. After being bullied by some supposed "friends" at college I'd left the course feeling too paranoid to go out, for fear of what people would think about me. I hated every aspect of myself and wanted to be anyone other than "Sophie". Simply going into a newsagents and buying a magazine felt like a major stepping stone - I'd become so paranoid with what people thought about me that even handing over some change to a shop assistant was enough to set me on edge. Counselling hadn't helped, and I was at all all time low. Gaining confidence was an absolute mystery to me. Most days I didn't want to look in the mirror. I longed to have confidence, even just a little bit, but I had no clue where to even begin. 

I'm not pretty enough
By the time I'd turned 19 I'd made some minor changes to my confidence but my default setting was still 99% negative and my favourite thing to do was put myself down. I was useless with nothing going for me. I'd never get a boyfriend as I wasn't pretty enough. I had no dreams because I didn't deserve to. I wasn't going anywhere or doing anything with my life because I had no talent. If anyone put me down, I'd immediately assume they were right. Any critical comment thrown my way would be believed and remembered.

I couldn't wear dresses or skirts 
Once I'd met my first boyfriend I realised just how much my low self-esteem had affected every aspect of me. Shortly after we'd met, Graham had asked me to accompany him to Florida on holiday. I was telling him how I wouldn't be wearing skirts or dresses on holiday because "I''m not pretty enough. I never like getting my legs out... skirts and dresses aren't for me, they're for prettier girls with better bodies". Any dress or skirt I wore had to be worn with leggings (as above) or tights, even if it was sweltering hot, because of my insecurities. I realised I'd stopped myself wearing all the lovely clothes I liked; skirts, dresses, bikinis, swimsuits... all because of the way I saw myself.

My self-worth was weak 
For so long I'd "banned" myself, limited myself from wearing so many clothes that I just wasn't brave enough to wear. Now I look back and see this as totally ridiculous, but my self-worth was weak and at that point in my life I truly believed I didn't deserve to wear nice outfits. That I didn't have the figure for it, the tan for it, the body to pull them off or look pretty enough. The other week at Bluewater it hit me how far I've come. I was wearing an orange cut-out tie short beachy dress, something 10 years ago I never would have imagined I'd have the courage or confidence to wear. It's nice at long last, at 28, to feel confident and happy in my own skin. Our lives are so short and if there's one thing we deserve, it's to feel relaxed and reassured with our bodies. To feel happy. It's so nice being in my late-twenties as I wear what I want now. I couldn't care less what people think. 

  • "Meet Sophie, she doesn't eat or drink". 
  • "You're so thin! Do you actually eat anything?" 
  • "Do you make yourself sick?" 
  • "You haven't got any boobs!" 

Damaging, hurtful remarks 
During my early-mid twenties, my confidence was shattered numerous times by upsetting, tactless remarks - more often than not made by work colleagues - that affected me both mentally and physically. Often colleagues would comment on my naturally slim frame, insinuating that I must starve myself, seeing as I was "so skinny". I found myself having to justify to people that I did in fact, eat. That I had always been this size. Other people have looked at my figure and suggested I must make myself sick while one colleague actually introduced me to a room full of people as "Meet Sophie, she doesn't eat or drink". Another time a few women were having a conversation about getting their breasts checked for lumps and one turned to me and asked if I checked mine. "Well, you haven't got any, have you!" She remarked, before I'd had the chance to reply. Everyone else laughed while the comment felt like a slap in the face. I tried to laugh the remark off, but inside I felt like crying.

We don't go to work to get body shamed 
Only now do I look back and feel sickened that these kind of comments were deemed acceptable - and that I was supposed to just accept them willingly. We go to work to earn money, make a career for ourselves and for numerous other reasons but NEVER to get abusive, hurtful remarks made about our bodies. I will never understand how people can think it's OK to do this. Goes without saying of course, but if you hear someone making these kind of remarks about another colleague then please report it. I regret never taking action and just letting people get away with it. No one jumped in for me when I really needed it, and people like this will only go on and damage other people's self-esteem in the future.

I wish I'd been at a point in my life where I'd had the courage to stand up for myself, but unfortunately back then I wasn't. Shortly after that comment, I met a friend for coffee. "What a ridiculous thing to say. And she's wrong, for a start. You have got boobs, I can see them!" Came her reassuring reply. Ridiculous as it sounds, I needed reassurance from other people to disbelieve the "you have no boobs" remark. My confidence was that low that my self-esteem came at a price of what other people thought.

My self-esteem changed because: 
  • I changed my attitude 
  • I found inner-happiness 
  • I made dreams destinies 
  • I occupied my mind 

What I believed when I was 18:
  • My self-worth is depicted by what they think of me 
  • If they don't like me then it's my problem/my fault 
  • If they make hurtful remarks then they're 100% true 
The real truth now that I'm 28
  • My self-worth is down to me, and me only 
  • If they don't like me then it's not my problem 
  • If they make hurtful remarks it's a reflection of them 

I Feel Pretty
What we project inside we reflect outwards, and if you feel happy and at peace within then you will no doubt radiate this on the outside, too. The movie I Feel Pretty explores this - when we first meet Amy Schumer's character she suffers from low self-esteem. The film shows us how life can change for the better when you become a more confident version of yourself; embracing and loving every aspect of you - when you stop caring what other people think and start living the life you always wanted. Despite getting a bit of a negative backlash, I thought the movie was actually a really uplifting, positive take on what a lot of us girls go through, myself included. In an interview Amy defended the negative criticism by explaining that "The film isn't about some ugly troll, it's about a girl who - like so many of us - suffers with low self-esteem."

How to gain confidence when your self-esteem is at rock bottom? 

Set yourself goals, however small
I used to go into Zara or Topshop ready to boost my self-esteem a little only to venture out deflated minutes later because I felt like the shop assistants would be looking at me, thinking someone like me wasn't pretty enough? Trendy enough? Good enough? To be in their store. Eventually I persisted, setting myself a target of going into Topshop and not leaving until I'd tried on three items. Only a small goal, it propelled me into being braver and braver, until I found my confidence growing. 

Be encouraging, even on bad days
Set-backs are bloody frustrating, but they're also a natural part of any self-esteem journey. Take a bad day to remind yourself of just how far you've come, where you're headed and all you've got going for you.

Make the changes you long for
I stayed stuck in unhappy office jobs because I assumed it would never get better than that for me and that I didn't deserve to aim for anything I wanted. A lot of these jobs ended up draining the life out of me and making me ill. After years of unhappiness, I found the strength to finally leave and do some solo travelling. I know it's not always easy to simply quit a job, but even going as far as looking into new job opportunities can give you the boost you need to look into a new path. It's all waiting for you! 

Surround yourself with the right people
It goes without saying that people who love you for who you are = the right kind of people you need in your life. Positive, encouraging, enthusiastic loved ones who want the best for you and uplift you in every possible way. Negative, pessimistic, put-downers are the people who can seriously wreck your self-esteem, and they just aren't worth it. As the saying goes, your vibe attracts your tribe.

Chase your dreams + leave toxic situations
Working in a 9-5 environment was never my dream and in turn it made me seriously unhappy. Starting a fashion blog and striking out to write a novel gave me more courage and belief in myself. In turn I found the means to leave a job I was being bullied in to pursue my dreams further. Toxic situations are no good for our health. If possible speak up and out about bullying in the workplace, something I never did throughly enough. My situation was treated with little concern, and the culprit is simply left to keep the bullying going - a non-stop cycle. 

Prepare for ups + downs, but realise that's OK 
A while back when I was working in an office I found I was beating myself up inwardly because I had to work alongside a pretty colleague. Suddenly my mind was pointing out all my insecurities and by the time the day had ended I'd torn myself down and ripped myself to shreds - all because her prettiness somehow made me feel like a hideous monster. This is natural, something we all go through, but you have to remind yourself that just because another girl may be pretty - it doesn't make you any less. Yes, she's pretty but don't let that ruin your self-esteem, because you're damn well pretty too. 

"Be proud of who you are and not ashamed of how others see you"


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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

When friendships f*ck up + how to cope with loneliness

Truthfully, friendships are something I've struggled with in my twenties. There have been so many friendships that have seemed to have had so much potential yet burnt out. Friendships that I'm guilty of not putting enough effort into, friendships I've been too distrustful to carry on for fear of getting hurt like I did back in college. Friendships that have fizzled out naturally on their own. A few online friendships where suddenly the other person has (Lost interest? Been too busy? Not wanted to carry on with it?) For a million reasons why, they seem to have finished with the friendship on their own accord and perhaps I'm too sensitive but it does hurt. Messages have become shorter and shorter, lesser and lesser. One day they just stop altogether. Disheartening, when, let's face it - a true friendship had seemed to bloom at the start with the promise of it looking fairly long-lasting. 

It's both shocking and comforting to know that so many of us are in the same boat. The online world has been reassuring in other people's revelations; I've seen many people talking about how they've struggled to make or maintain friendships in their twenties. It seems so many of us feel alone, or at least feel the loneliness that not having as many female friends as we might like weighs us down from time to time. 

When friendships go horribly wrong 
A while back I met up with a girl I'd got chatting to online. The whole night was a total disaster, from me feeling awkward, paranoid everything I said was wrong, to it ending in panic attacks and a few weeks of low self-esteem on my part. Afterwards I messaged said girl and confessed about my panic attacks, told her it was lovely to meet her (it wasn't, but, you know, being polite), yet this was met with no reply and various unfollows on social media afterwards, which said it all, really. She also wrote something about me online afterwards which insinuated that I wasn't much like I was on my blog. Whether meant intentionally or not, it knocked my confidence a fair bit and made me doubt myself for a few weeks afterwards. A little later, it suddenly hit me that I didn't give a shit about whether she liked me or not. The evening we'd met I had come straight from work in rubbishy clothes, feeling harassed and anxious and no - I probably wasn't anything like how I looked/seemed on my blog. But I was still kind, nice, I still tried my best. Thankfully I have nothing to do with this person now, nor would I want to, either. It was a horrible night, but it made me realise that I don't ever have to apologise for who I am. If people don't like us, then it's their problem, not ours. I've struggled a lot with new friendships in the past, I always feel like I'm putting on an act. Like I can never really be myself with a friend. Not until I can trust myself that I won't get hurt again, like I have in the past.

Often I've felt "not good enough" or that I don't live up to the girl people see and expect from this blog when I've met people in real life. Only recently have I lost this mentality, and realised I'm still the same person. I need to stop putting myself down. In the past few years, I've noticed a shift in my attitude. I've stopped pretending to be someone I'm not and it's easier and more natural to simply be "me." Personally for me, reaching my late twenties has naturally caused my confidence to shift and I'm settled and more sure of who I am. With friendships and with life. 

I don't want many friends 
Contradicting myself completely, I don't want many friends. In my partner I really have found my soulmate. I have some lovely friends who I will always cherish, and I want to stress that this post isn't trying to diminish the precious friendships I am lucky to have - offline and online. I like spending lots of my time alone, it's often vital. BUT if I'm being honest, there are times when I feel loneliness hit, and it's a horrible feeling. I feel more alone than ever, with no one to turn to. The main character in my novel, "Shea", goes through a lot of times when she really needs to call someone and feels she has no one to turn to. She realises a lot of her friends don't really know what's going on with her, and if she were to call them she wouldn't quite know where to start. Something we all go through, I'm sure. And just like a family she doesn't fit into, a hometown she hates and the loneliness she often goes through - these situations have been drawn from my feelings and experiences an awful lot. 

I read an article by a woman recently who wanted to throw a party for her 30th birthday but felt she had no one to invite. She said she'd love a friend to just grab a coffee and cake with on a regular basis and I knew what she meant. There's a fine line though, as often friendships leave me exhausted. I can't cope with clingy friends, the type who want to see you 24/7. I just can't do that. But a balance would be great. Sometimes I find myself doing more listening than talking. Occasionally I just want to offload to someone. For someone to say "You're not okay, are you?" and realise there's something wrong. 

Past friendships that have fizzled out 
In the past as friendships have been fizzling out I've been torn between "I should really be trying to keep this friendship going, it'll be a shame if it ends" and "If they're not making the effort back, why should I keep bothering?" Usually the latter wins, after a few attempts to revive things. At 28 I'm not going to waste my time bothering with someone who can't even return the favour and obviously doesn't care for a friendship. I deserve better than that. Even on my worst days, I know I'm a kind friend who is more often than not the listener rather than the talker. Sadly this has often meant I've been someone friends have used to pick up when they want to burden me with their problems and drop like a hot brick when they fancy. It seems to be a regular occurrence, but I, like you, deserve better than that. 

So, when friendships f*ck up, just how do we deal?
  • Realise that these so-called "friends" don't deserve you. If they've caused you hurt and the friendship really is at the end of the road, then it's paving the way for better friendships to bloom in the future. You deserve better. Remember to boost yourself up and remind yourself of all your good qualities instead of listing all the negatives the friendship has made you feel. 
  • It's okay to feel hurt, betrayed, bitter, angry - don't bottle those feelings up. But once you've had time to get over the pain, try and keep a clear head and see it as a fresh start. 
  • Remind yourself you are not alone. So many friendships go wrong, and sometimes there isn't even a clear cut reason. Drifting apart, not bothering to stay in touch, being too busy... all of these reasons can cause a friendship to naturally end. Try and remain as positive as possible. 
  • Focus on the good friends you DO have. For every person that can't be bothered, there will always be one who can be. Spend time on yourself and with the people who do cherish you. 
  • See this as a new chapter - people leave your life for a reason. Mostly it's fate playing its part. 
  • Pour your time into YOU - focus on what it is that makes you happy. You are your #1. 

Top tips for casting out loneliness 
  • Reach out to a good friend, your partner, a family member, anyone - and express how you feel. A lot of people seem "too busy" or "not the right person to speak to" but how do you know unless you try? We can often feel angry and isolated when people don't ask how we are, or fail to realise when something is wrong (yep, I can be like this!) But we need to realise however much the friends/close family members/people in our lives should be asking how we are, often they aren't mind-readers and if something really is wrong, they won't know unless we tell them. 
  • Do something you enjoy; whether it be a solo trip to Starbucks, reading out in the garden, a bit of an online shopping spree or watching a good movie with a slab of chocolate. Anything! 
  • Approved online forums can be a great way of talking to new people if you're feeling a bit lonely. Obviously it goes without saying to make sure they are safe and not dodgy ones. Most people are in the same boat and are approachable and friendly. When I was 18 I joined the Channel 4 forum that ran for Big Brother. They eventually shut the forum down and started a new one but at the time it felt like a life-saver. My confidence was at an all time low and I found it hard to talk to people in everyday life. I was pleasantly surprised by how sweet everyone was and it actually built my confidence in general, giving me the boost I needed to start turning my life around. 
  • You can always message me via twitter or email. Even if we haven't spoken before and you just need someone to talk to. It's important to know you really aren't alone, even if it feels like it. 

If none of the above are viable and you're feeling lonely and need someone to talk to, please consider calling a helpline. This Morning have provided a brilliant list of loneliness helplines.  Once again, you're not alone, even if you may feel it.