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. 

🧚‍♀️

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Celebrating 5 years of blogging

5 years of blogging is a cause for celebration but who needs an excuse to find Barbie's pink beach house and pose in a matching pink dress, right? I knew this dream of a house would be the perfect spot for a blog post, and lo and behold it was. This tropical dream of a dress was a gem I found at asos last summer, and the glittery true love rose bag is from Skinnydip London. A celebratory outfit for a celebratory post! Seeing as today marks my blog's 5th birthday, I thought it would be nice to open up about my blogging journey, why I started blogging, what I've learnt, and where I hope to take this blog in the future.....

WHY DID I START BLOGGING? 

I started blogging because I loved fashion but found there wasn't really any way I had of expressing it. At the time I was working in a job that made me miserable as sin. I'd already been writing my novel for three years at this point as an outlet from the unhappiness I felt at work and was doing a make-up course in my spare time, but felt there was something missing. After reading blogs for years I decided to quit the make-up course (which I wasn't really enjoying) and start my own fashion blog instead.

MY BLOGGING JOURNEY 

I'd be lying if I said I was exactly where I wanted to be in the blogging world, but at the same time I've come so far and often don't give myself enough credit for that. I think my biggest set-back is not having enough faith in myself and not putting myself out there for "fear of being turned down" anyone else? At the same time I feel blessed to have made some lifelong friendships via blogging, worked with some exciting brands, partaken in some amazing adventures, and been given a major boost in both confidence and self-esteem due to letting my imagination run wild in starting up my own blog. I love having a platform to be creative, make my dreams realities and the freedom to express myself the way I want. After being chained to many unhappy office jobs in the past where freedom came at a price, blogging is a total breath of fresh air.

One of my biggest fears when I first started shooting outfit photos for the blog was whether I'd find it hard to look through pictures of myself constantly. Surely it would magnetise all my insecurities by about a billion per cent? Strangely enough, I actually found the opposite. I became more used to myself, and in turn it made me feel more "happy" and "settled" with how I looked.

After a bad time in late 2014, I deleted all of my blog photos and Instagram posts. I was at the lowest point I'd ever been and even though I was proud of all my posts, I felt so low that one night I sat down and just deleted everything. It was an awful moment, but now I can look back and see it was a fresh start - for me and for the blog. Not long after, in December 2014, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with moderate depression and severe anxiety. I was put on the list for counselling and by the time I started going for CBT (July 2015) I'd rebuilt my blog, changed my style and was happily working with brands. I decided that bright, colourful, summery fashion looks were what I wanted to portray and I also started wearing more glittery, sequin, disco pieces. I also started to take blog shoots more seriously and instead of just hitting up the local park, I started to set most of my blog shoots at more colourful locations.

I have to say a massive thank you to Graham for always being my no.1 supporter. For believing in me and when I first spoke about starting a fashion blog. So many of my shoots wouldn't have been possible without him and he's lifted my spirits on numerous occasions when I've been doubting myself or struggling to keep up faith about my blog or book. I count my lucky stars to have such a lovely, supportive boyfriend who has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and believe in myself ❤️

Likewise my mum and dad have also been an amazing support to both me and my blog for which I feel very grateful for. Mum has also been amazing when shooting my fashion blog photos. We always have a lot of fun and she always checks up on my Insta numbers to see how I'm doing and support me. Since I've started covering more self-help topics she's really enjoyed them and has been so encouraging and uplifting. She tells a lot of her friends about my blog which is really kind and I couldn't have done it without her 😍



FUTURE GOALS FOR MY BLOG
After coming out of a bad spell of anxiety last April, I realised I wanted to push myself into talking more about frank, honest topics that aren't discussed nearly enough. I want this blog to be a bit of escapism for anyone going through a tough day, a bit of encouragement for anyone seeking it or just a fun filled place to enjoy a bit of down-time. Whilst my fashion looks will continue to feature on here, I've realised covering self-help topics has been a great outlet for me and I've been really happy to have received such a positive response from readers and friends alike. Future posts will be more focused on being helpful, honest, relatable topics and I'll continue to mix these up with my fashion outfit posts.

In the past year alone I've opened up about my struggle with anxiety,  how a dream opportunity at my favourite magazine turned into a nightmare, fighting health anxiety to attend my first smear test, losing loved ones and how to handle grief, how to shake off a disturbing dream and smashing low self-esteem. I've also posted some empowering, uplifting blog posts such as "confidence tips for fashion bloggers when shooting outfit photos in public", "how to stop saying sorry to judgemental people". 




5 THINGS I WANT TO BLOG ABOUT
  • My anxiety from the beginning 
  • My experience of CBT 
  • My history with health anxiety 
  • When friendships f*ck up 
  • Bullying in the workplace 

5 NEXT STEPS FOR ME & MY BLOG
  • Being braver & posting tougher topics 
  • Starting a future Youtube channel  
  • Travel more + document on soinspo 
  • Shoot more colourful fashion looks 
  • Keep on creating content I love

I want to say thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and shown me so much love and kindness throughout my blogging journey, be it here on this blog, in person or via social media. I hope to continue to keep inspiring you, keep making your days brighter and keep raising this blog and your spirits as high as I can! soinspo is a blog that's here to show you that any dream you have can come true, anything you want is possible and any bad time in your life is just the storm before the rainbow 🌈🌧🌞



🎈

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Old English Company competition: enamel pin range

Old English Company are definitely right up my street, from their pretty planners to gorgeous greeting cards. With their unique, edgy, stylish pieces they stand out from the crowd and are the perfect place for any stationary addict seeking something dreamy. I'm in love with everything on their site, all the heart eyes! They've got a really inspiring, positive, motivational aura when it comes to their pieces which is 100% my kind of company! What has me even more hooked though, is their range of enamel pins. The enamel pins are all super sassy, stunning and cute. 

My favourite one has to be this dreamy diamond pin, what a beaut! These pins come in a variation of different styles and there's easily something available for everyone, from glittery vibes to inspirational messages. I think they'd add a stylish vibe to any jacket or bag in need of a bit of uplifting dazzle. 

Be sure to check out the full range of their enamel pins, and you'll see just what I'm talking about! Alongside this diamond I'm totally eyeing up the sparkly 'you can' pin and the pretty pumpkin! It seems there is something for everyone, they cater to so many different styles and tastes and I think that's brilliant to see. 


Images courtesy of Old English Company 


Excitingly Old English Company are currently holding a competition to celebrate the release of new additions to their enamel pin range. You can win a set of these dreamy enamel pins (pictured below), all you need to do is email Old English Company with your favourite enamel pin design from the entire range. A winner will be picked on 30 May so be sure to get emailing them with your favourite before then! For further instructions on how to enter and all the details you need to know, be sure to go visit their competition page

Good luck to everyone entering the competition, Old English Company is definitely a company to get excited about. Without further ado, if you're after some sparkly stationary gorgeousness with a sassy twist then go and get browsing their site. I just know you'll fall in love with their products just as much as me (if you haven't already, of course!) 



*Sponsored post, as always all opinions are my own