Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Smashing low self-esteem: my story

Rewind to 10 years ago; I was 18, had such crippling low self-esteem that I could barely look in a mirror, go out without the paranoia and fear that people were talking about me in public and so much as going into a newsagents to buy a magazine and facing the person serving behind the till felt like a major feat. Keen to build up my confidence I would venture into Zara or Topshop alone, only to venture back out minutes later feeling too self-conscious to stay. 
Things had hit an all time low for me ever since one of my so called friends had turned against me in college with another girl. The three of us had started off friendly enough but soon the two of them became  quite cliquey which was fine, until they started whispering about me within earshot, laughing about the way I looked, mocking me to each other when I tried to nervously strike up any form of conversation. Ater trailing along with them at lunchtime, soon enough after they kept walking off on purpose, I spent lunch-times alone. I had counselling but was too paranoid to properly take it in as I was worried the girls would somehow find out. I remember sitting there tense and nervous, eyes cast down. I told the counsellor about what was going on, and about how ugly I felt, that I hated my appearance and everything I was. She told me she knew I wouldn't believe her but despite what I thought I was pretty and had everything going for me. She was right; I didn't believe her. 

I had to work with this so called friend at weekends as well, at a job I absolutely despised. It was a youngish environment and I couldn't have felt more alone if I tried. Lunch times were the worst, I remember once going over to my friend and saying "hi" but she flat out ignored me in front of a group of other colleagues. I tried saying "hi," louder, but still she ignored me. Hurt, I wondered what I had done to deserve this treatment when I knew I'd been nothing but a good supportive friend in the past. In the end I wanted to avoid everyone so much I locked myself in the toilets on lunch breaks. Between college and the weekend job there was just no escape. 

Below: my 18th birthday. My confidence was at zero, I still remember how awkward I felt.
I'd never been the most confident person growing up, the onset of anxiety from a young age and that whole "never being very popular in school" thing combined with the odd few hurtful remarks people would make denting my confidence further. "She's so ugly in those glasses!" A boy in my English class once called out in front of everyone. "How come's you're so ugly?" He mocked, as everyone laughed and I hurriedly shoved the glasses I'd always hated back in their case and tried to laugh off the remarks that hurt like hell. Another time a few guys started calling out that I was flat chested and various times people would ask if I ever ate anything due to my naturally skinny frame. Things got worse after I had various difficulties with friends and I'd already experienced some of the same bullying at sixth form as well as what I was now going through at college and at my weekend job. 

SO, HOW DID I SMASH MY LOW SELF-ESTEEM? 

I CUT TIES WITH THE BAD 
A few months after college finally came to an end, it suddenly struck me that I didn't have to still be in a hellish situation that my Saturday job brought. Because I had zero confidence in myself, I'd never stood up to all the bad situations that had happened there and had just gone along unhappy and alone. I quit my job and fortunately that meant I could now cut all ties with said friend. On my last day I was too drained to do anything but pretend to be OK, so I waved her off for the last time with a fake smile knowing I was now free to be away from all the shit I'd put up with for so many years and finally free to try and repair my damaged self-esteem. 

Even though it might be difficult or near impossible, if you can cut out those toxic people bringing you down you'll feel a million times better (take it from someone who knows) 

MAKING CONFIDENT NEW CHANGES 
By the time I was nearing 19, I started feeling more confident. Things changed when I asked my lovely hairdresser Rosie if she could dye my already brown hair slighter darker. Truthfully I thought this would make me more invisible, so people wouldn't notice me as much but my hairdresser told me going darker would wash me out and suggested I go for blonde highlights instead. I'd always wanted to try blonde highlights and loved the idea throughout my teens but had never had the courage to do anything like that for fear of being laughed at by friends. Rosemary was a key factor in my confidence, she often set me little "homework" tasks; things I could do to gain confidence and I'd tell her how it went during our next appointment. I honestly don't think I would've come as far in my self belief as I did with her kind sassy words of reassurance and heart of gold. 

Now I was free from all the bullshit, I could do whatever I wanted with my hair without the fear of being judged by anyone. At first I was a bit nervous but soon enough I felt like an entirely different person. 8 months later I got my first tattoo; three stars to symbolise strength. It was a bit of a whim, and something so unlike anything I'd ever thought I'd do. I was nervous as hell but that day was a turning point for me and my confidence and self-esteem. I also decided enough was enough and instead of walking around squinting (because I had such a low opinion of myself in glasses) I went out and got contact lenses. While waiting for a train one day, started seriously thinking about what I wanted to do with my life for the first time, something I'd never even had much courage inwardly to imagine. This felt like a turning point in itself. 

Below: 19. I remember feeling happier in this photo, my confidence finally starting to set in and pave the way for positive times up ahead. 


If you're not happy with something, change it. If you've always wanted to dye your hair pink or get that tattoo or go skydiving or travel the world or write a book, DO IT! I found going blonde, getting my tattoo and getting contact lenses transformed me into a new person and was the start of better things to come. OK, so they weren't major changes, but they made me feel majorly different. 


FOCUSING ON TRUE FRIENDS 
I found seeing the right friends out and about helped lift my spirits, as did a lot of time spent on my own to recover from a truly horrible time. Sometimes it's all about taking time out to realise what you truly want in life and how best to lift your spirits and mindset.

Below: Rae and I have been best friends since we were 4! Our friendship has brought nearly 24 years of treasured memories, laughs, "you had to be there" moments, setting the world to right rants amongst a thousand other sentiments! I don't have many friends but I'd rather have a few precious diamonds than a ton of fools gold! 




I TOOK A CHANCE (& IT WAS THE BEST CHANCE EVER) 
Graham and I were both fairly shy at the time of our first meeting. We'd got chatting on Facebook and straight away I got the feeling he was decent and kind. Summer 2009 and my confidence was mounting; by then I'd got my tattoo, my blonde hair, my fashion interest buzzing and was doing well but still pretty unconfident in a lot of ways. When he asked if we could meet I immediately thought he'd take one look at me and run the other way (that is so rubbish to type but I'd not dated anyone at that point and my self-esteem was still fairly low). Deep down I was terrified of meeting this guy that seemed so perfect. We'd been chatting non-stop and it seemed too good to be true. Fast forward to 8 years later and I still can't be happier or believe my luck. Meeting him at the station that day was the best decision I ever made. 

I REALISED MY DREAMS + FOLLOWED THEM  
I always had a passion for fashion but zero confidence to see it through. One day I forced myself to go into Topshop, promising myself that instead of leaving I'd try three things on, stay in the store and strike up a conversation with the girl on the till if I bought something. To my surprise I loved the items I'd picked up in a hurry, the girl on the till was lovely (not scarily too trendy to talk to as I'd assumed) and I left feeling a burst of confidence I hadn't felt in a long while. After looking through lots of magazines, more successful trips to Topshop and a new love affair for online shopping, I enjoyed feeling more stylish and getting interested in fashion. In 2011 I discovered fashion blogs for the first time and after a lot of thought I started my own in May 2013. If it wasn't for hitting rock bottom self esteem wise, I'd never have had to build myself up again so gradually and maybe I wouldn't have turned to fashion like I did. After writing a half finished, rough idea for a book when I was going through a bad spell in school I started properly writing my first novel when I was unhappy in a job a while back. My dreams have materialised from my hardest times, and for that I finally feel a sense of fate taking hold. 

Below: my confidence and style has changed considerably since I first started soinspo.  






TIPS FOR CONQUERING YOUR SELF-ESTEEM JOURNEY 

IT'S OKAY TO HAVE SET-BACKS 
Despite being a lot more confident during my twenties, there have still been many set-backs along the way. For instance I'd hoped attending my first blogging event would be an uplifting and fun (which the majority of it was) but during the experience I lost my nerve when I got there, staying in my room while everyone else went bowling and for drinks later in the evening, wearing jeans and a jumper when everyone else was dressed up (embarrassing much), and feeling self-conscious about handing out my blog card. Okay, it was a bit of a set-back, but still I feel stronger for it. I was also lucky enough to be with my best girl Yasmin, who was so understanding and supportive and we had a great laugh together. I enjoyed every moment I spent with her, it was definitely the highlight for me! 

Below: When I'm not shooting blog looks or going out out,  I often go out without make-up. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think "god you look bloody awful" but it's about not wasting any more time caring. I don't care about off days, I'm happy and content in myself not to let them bother me now. I spent enough time hating on myself & I'm at a point where I've come too far to go back. 

SELF-ESTEEM ISN'T ALWAYS SMOOTH SAILING 
I find thankfully that I am 100% happy for the most part in my own skin these days. But despite being a lot more confident during my twenties I've still suffered from major drawbacks of self doubt after suffering from bullying in the workplace and a series of miserable jobs. Despite hoping I'd come a long way since college, I found myself on the brunt of bullying, and being too miserable and frightened to stand up for myself. My self-esteem was wrecked in the workplace, but still, I know it's something I'm stronger for in the long run. Being vocal and talking about my experiences can only help and benefit other people who read my blog, and make the world know bullying is not OK and shouldn't be tolerated. For the first time it's clear just why I've been through such tough times: now I can finally manifest them into something positive; helping other people who are suffering out there too. 

REMEMBER: 
  • IT'LL MAKE YOU STRONGER IN THE LONG RUN 
  • LIFE IS TOO PRECIOUS TO GIVE A F*CK WHAT PEOPLE THINK
  • EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON 
  • YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS
  • EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS TEMPORARY 

WHAT ABOUT MY SELF-ESTEEM NOW?
Rewind to today, I'm nearing 28 and am finally happy and carefree in my own skin. I have the right people in my life and won't settle for any less. Instead of putting myself down in front of people when they ask me what I do, now I'm finally able to smile and say with confidence that I'm writing a book that I hope to get published, running a fashion blog I'm really proud of and seeing what the future holds. Instead of walking along with my head down, I try and keep my head high. Even though I'm not the most confident person in the world by a million miles, I'm confident in my own body, confident in my blog, my book, my being. And that's more than I ever could have wished for 10 years ago. 



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I hope you've enjoyed this post & that it helps anyone else going through similar situations. 

"No pressure, no diamonds" 

💎

26 comments:

  1. What a lovely ending! I felt so sad at the beginning, but the more i read, the happier I got! I’m so sad that you have had such a bad time with your self-confidence and I’m sooo glad you found it within you somewhere! You’ve made some amazing changes to you and your lifestyle and I can only hope things keep getting better for you! Thank you for the inspiration and motivation💪🏼❤️
    www.jessdownard.com

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  2. Wow what an empowering post! Loved it! This post proves what an amazing lady you are and you deserve all the happiness in the world! I love that you set yourself challenges like walking into topshop and buying something even though you were terrified and you smashed it, you really are such an inspiration to young girls in this industry.

    Anna x
    http://www.madeupstyle.com

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  3. I relate to you so much sweet Sophie! I'm sorry that people have been so awful to you, and I wish I could have been there to stick up for you, but I'm happy you have the confidence to stick up for yourself now! <3 You are such an angel & you are doing so amazingly well with your book! I hope that this post will inspire others to keep going & being strong <3 <3 <3 x

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  4. Love this post Sophie. Looks like you've come a long way and continuing to go up and up! :)

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  5. I LOVE this post! so relatable and empowering, this literally is identical to everything I experienced in school and now in the workplace. I lost count of the amount of toxic people I cut out of my life last year. It's so hard sometimes but you just have to keep pushing on and letting nothing stop you! Thanks for writing this <3 keep being the fab strong and talented lady you are! x

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  6. I can relate to so much of this Sophie and I'm sure many others can too. It's great that you've shared this story because it really is inspiring how you've turned things around and become a stronger person in the process. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

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  7. Wow. I feel so empowered by your post. If I could reach your level of confidence and self-esteem then I'll be very happy. Thank you for posting this.
    -SH;AL.xo

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  8. I am happy that you overcome it and happy to see you so confident.
    Love the story babe,

    Much Love,
    Jane | The Bandwagon Chic

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  9. You gorgeous girl. Wonderful to see how confident and happy you are. xoxo Cris
    https://photosbycris.blogspot.com.au/2018/01/my-summer-holidays-with-zaful.html

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  10. I'm so sorry you went through that. High school and college can be the worse time for people I think, especially being so young. It really hurts to have people behave like that. Those were never your friends and they never deserved your friendship.

    I was bullied really badly through high school and even now at 24 it still hurts to think about and it has still left me with some lack of self esteem and confidence.

    I'm so glad to see you have found happiness and your own self esteem and confidence is good and that you have surrounded yourself with good people.

    I definitely agree cutting ties with horrible and negative people can help and searching for the better ones. Being young though and working or schooling alongside bad people can be tough though.

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  11. Such a wise and amazing post! It's fantastic that you've builded your self-confidence, despite these awful people. You are so brave and fabulous person!

    jointyicroissanty

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  12. it's great to hear that confidence abs self esteem builded up!
    https://sykirah.blogspot.my

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  13. My beautiful Soph, this post is so amazing! I am so damn proud of you for turning things around and realizing that you don't need anyone else's approval and just be your fabulous self! You are such a bright, fun, colorful and beautiful person, even more so for sharing your journey with others, I know that so many of us girls, women, went through similar journeys and your story is just so inspiring. I am so, SO happy for you and SO proud!!! Love you!!

    Paula
    Thirteen Thoughts

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  14. Such a beautiful and inspiring post, thank you for sharing your story! I can relate to the friendship situation at school - I was in a really toxic friendship group back then and only cut ties with these "friends" after I left school. Looking back I should have distanced myself from this group - but it's a whole different story when you're stuck in that situation. You're so right by saying that life is too short to worry about what other people think - I still struggle with low self-esteem when it comes to relationships/friendships etc but I'm trying to work on it. xx

    113thingstosay.com

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your toxic friendships back at school, I think we all have some horror stories to tell from that time (I never trust anyone who says they loved school, haha!). I'm over the moon to hear your confidence has improved so much over the past ten years Sophie, your blog is always a joy of colour to read and you're such a talented writer - please keep believing in yourself babe!! :)

    aglassofice.com
    x

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  16. It makes me angry knowing what you went through with those "friends"!... Nobody should be treated that way, and the wonderful soul that is Sophie didn't deserve that at all!

    Thank you for sharing your story! It was wonderful getting a peek into your life and what got you where you now are. I'm sure it will comfort many who are going through similar things!

    And Rosemary sounds like such an amazing hairdresser and confidant!...such an awesome person to have in your life! We all need a Rosemary!

    -💕 Alissa, https://storybehindthecloth.com

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  17. It has been a rough journey, but one that has made you into the beautiful person you are inside and out. So many can relate to your journey, as I can relate to having low self esteem from being in an abusive relationship in my 20's. Although I don't talk about it much, even though I do speak about my anxiety on the blog, it's something that drastically affected who I am today. You are a diamond and I'm so happy for your inner confidence. You deserve the very best!!
    Thanks for being open about your struggles it helps so much!

    xoxo,
    Tania
    https://inspiremyfancy.com

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  18. This post is so inspiring Sophie- you are seriously so beautiful inside and out! It really upsets me to hear that you had such an awful time when you were younger- girls at school can be so mean, and, like you said, it's better to cut ties with anyone who contributes negativity to your life.

    I'm so happy that you've found your confidence babe- you truly deserve it! Your tips are so helpful and I hope that someone who felt the way that you (and I also) felt as a teen will see this and see a glimmer of hope :)

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

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  19. This was such a lovely post to read. Cutting bad friends out is the biggest step to feeling good about yourself. You are absolutely gorgeous inside and out! :) Loved reading this post <3

    Jade x

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  20. I'm sorry you had to go through that. :( I can definitely relate to this post because I was heavily bullied in middle school. The worst of it occurred in 8th grade when I was 13. I was also scared to leave my house and go anywhere for fear of running into one of them. One time I was in a store at the mall (a year after I switched schools because of the bullying) and I actually did run into one of the girls there. She shot me a dirty look, and I left the store. I eventually went through my own transition and gained self-confidence as well. You and I look pretty fabulous now, so I bet the bullies would be jealous. I don't know about yours, but I looked mine up on facebook a while back, and I can say that time has not been good to them.

    http://surrealistique.com

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  21. I loved this post so much Sophie!! You are so beautiful inside and out and it is so horrible that you had to go through what you did to get to the confident person you are today, people can be so mean. This was such a great post for me to read, especially now I'm trying to get back into blogging more regularly because one of the reasons I was struggling so much was cos of my self esteem and not feeling good enough, but I have decided to blog about what I want to blog about and not worry too much about comparing myself to others. I love reading your blog and have missed it because it is just so uplifting :) xx

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  22. I absolutely loved reading this blog post, I could really relate to your experiences, I had similar treatment when I was in school. It's great that you really pushed yourself, and I totally agree with doing similar things to help escape the fear. It's so great you shared this, I know that others will defo benefit. You look beautiful with or without makeup also x


    LAURA ­| Laura Thinks About

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  23. This is such an empowering story, I'm so glad to hear how much better you are doing now and how much more comfortable you feel! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Claire xxx
    http://eclairscares.blogspot.co.uk/

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  24. So sorry you had to go through that. But look at you now! Confident, strong and beautiful! keep doing, you!

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