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. 


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) 

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. 

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! 

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 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.  


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. 

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. 


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" 


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A 2018 life update: goals, personal life, anxiety + aims

Happy 2018 stars and sunbeams! I really hope you enjoyed Christmas and that the New Year is cutting a cool groove for you so far. After a bit of a break I'm back to blogging and looking forward to creating more colourful fashion blog posts for you this year combined with a few more of those honest/girl talk/advice blog posts that gained a great reaction from you in 2017. I'm not keen on resolutions or January being looked upon as the only month to set goals, but I thought it was about time I gave you a little update on how life looks and what goals I've set myself for the year ahead. So, let's do this thing! 
I thought this sparkly sugar dose of an outfit would be a great way to jazz up January. I decided to funk up the playsuit with my pink guitar and a shedload of sugar. The bracelets and necklaces are a real 90s throwback, and this beach shoot definitely has to be one of the dreamiest, we had a real blast! The strappy peppermint sequin playsuit is from the Aladdin's Cave that is Motel Rocks. If you know me you'll know I love a bit of Motel Rocks magic and love to rock their sequin dazzlers every season. The heels bring home all the slogan sass "he was like... and I was like..." quotes Graham every time he sees the shoes out of their box. The heels hammered at my heart when I first spied them on the asos website and you may have seen me showcasing them in my unicorn disco Halloween outfit post. 

This was a target for 2017 and I'm almost there. In 2017 I rewrote the start and middle sections of my book from scratch and I'm literally on the last few chapters now before it'll be a completed book ready to start sending off with the aim of publication. Despite not quite hitting my target, I'm really proud of practically re-writing most of a novel that needed a real refresh and a new perspective on the manuscript I'd worked on for 7 years. Now I'm finally happy and content that I've got a novel ready to send out to the world. I've come too far now not to get it out there and I hope to succeed. 

Once my novel is finished I want to get a butterfly tattoo to celebrate. I'm after something iridescent and shimmery, whilst being colourful in a subtle toned down way. The butterfly will symbolise flight, freedom and a new height I'm hoping to reach with my book and other lifetime goals I'm hoping to hit. It will feel relevant to my novel because butterflies definitely run a course through my book, whilst myself and the main character both have star tattoos inked on us to symbolise strength. I hope to get it in the summer. 

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen I often talk about my anxiety and mental health over on my insta stories. I really enjoy Instagram as a platform and reactions have always been positive and kind when I've opened up about issues that have taken courage to talk about. I've spoken about suffering from bullying in the workplace, my experiences with counselling, health anxiety, going for my first smear test, toxic friendships and many other topics. Due to a lack of information and a lack of awareness I spent years feeling ashamed, isolated and frightened about what was wrong with me, all due to anxiety and mental health being a taboo subject and not being discussed or talked about nearly enough. I'm determined to speak out, be open and try and raise as much awareness and provide as much support on this blog by talking about my own experiences as I can.

We're looking for a place together and I can't wait to live with my partner and the kitties; Muffin and Bamf. It's not been the easiest time and I couldn't be prouder of how Graham's handled everything lately. He works so hard, only wants everyone to be happy and is always nothing but supportive of my blog, book and anxiety despite having stresses of his own to handle. I feel very lucky and blessed to have him in my life and can't wait for this new chapter together.

Ideally the next logical step for me alongside my blog would be to start a proper Youtube channel although I've always wanted to wait until I had enough money to invest into it properly. I'm not sure if this is something that I'll end up doing this year but nevertheless it's definitely an aim for the future. 

After suffering badly with a surge of anxiety from February to April last year I realised that despite feeling vulnerable, I wanted to be more honest and open by discussing and featuring more important topics on the blog. There are so many that aren't talked about enough and I really want to try and change that. I want to discuss smashing low self-esteem, something I suffered badly from throughout my teenage years. Expect more honest, frank, straight from the heart posts which I'm excited to build up to, whilst of course, keeping the blog about colourful fashion too. 


Motel Rocks: Metallic Rose 

What are your goals for 2018? 
I'd love to know! 

Happy NY