Let me take you back to 12 months ago, to visit the past version of me who in a surreal way now feels like a stranger. I look back and think who was she? You see, it may not have been so evident to the outside world but on the inside I was a painfully insecure person. I would constantly compare every aspect of myself and my life to other people. It makes me squirm in my seat to admit this but for the sake of honesty and to give you some context as to how far I feel I have come since then, I will elaborate a little with some examples; if I came across someone in person or online who was beautiful it would make me feel like I wasn’t. If I heard someone with an amazing voice I would doubt my own singing abilities. If someone was celebrating a success in their life I would feel like a bit of a failure. A lot of these were brief subconscious moments of self doubt but some of them went deep and it was exhausting. Looking back I can see that it took a toll on my mental health for sure.
Social media had a huge part to play, which I am certain so many people can relate to. You nearly always only ever see the highlights of someone’s life online – unless you are friends with me in which case you are now getting all the gory personal details; sorry about that!! I would see all these lovely, beautiful, successful and happy people splashed across the screen and in my weakness I allowed it to make me feel really low. I would go through phases of feeling so insecure about myself that I would delete the apps off my phone from time to time just so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at them and then proceed to self annihilate.
So how do you change this cycle? Well for me learning how to appreciate my own self worth and reflecting on the positive elements of my life was hugely important. On New Years eve just gone, I was in London with my best friend and we decided to spend the day focusing not only on our goals for 2017 but also what we were grateful for from 2016. Towards the end of the year I noticed that nearly every person I spoke to kept saying “God I can’t wait for this year to be over” or the more blunt friends of mine were saying “2016 can F right off!”. I was guilty of saying it at one point myself; last year was in no way a bed of roses for me, yes I was battling the insecurities I mentioned above but aside from that I also had other deeper personal things going on, I lost my Grandmother, a loved one faced a serious health scare and I went through a break down of a relationship. But as the year came to an end and I had reached my negativity limit, I began to wonder how I could take a tough year and figure out how to look at it in a not-so-terrible light. So I started asking friends – “what are the top things you are most grateful for in 2016?”. Peoples reactions were great, I could tell a lot of them hadn’t sat back to really think about it. Watching them ponder the good stuff as opposed to automatically reeling off the bad stuff would make me smile. So on New Years Eve myself and Jeni decided to write them all down, I’ll share mine with you, some are big, some are small but they all made 2016 unique:
- Starting Hullabaloo – my band
- Taking my first solo trip – Milan
- Arranging a surprise birthday party for my friend – spoiling someone who deserved to be spoilt!
- Finishing college
- Having a lovely Christmas with my family
- Discovering the movie ‘Eat Pray Love’ (that’s what inspired me to take the plunge and travel alone – highly recommend)
- Beginning my self awareness journey and facing all my insecurities head on
- All the amazing new people that came into my life in 2016
Now this may seem a bit self-indulgent – “I am great! Congratulations to me!”. But when you balance it against all the stuff that didn’t go quite as planned I think we’re ok on the narcissistic scale – bear with me, I promise I am going somewhere with this.
Something else that has really helped me over come the insecurities has been actively and regularly taking inspiration from other people, instead of comparing myself to them. I met a girl in Barcelona last weekend, she was serving me in a bar and was honestly one of the most stunning women I’ve ever seen in real life, instead of feeling like this made me less of a woman in some way, I felt empowered. I took a mental note of her outfit and style and I said to her (in a non-creepy way!) “You are really beautiful!” She grinned at me from ear to ear and gave me a double instead of a single. That’s not why I told her of course, but I guess the universe was paying me back for empowering another woman instead of using her as a way to make myself feel bad.
My point is we all have insecurities – granted some more than others. But it is how we address them that is key. I took a good hard look at myself on New Years Eve. I thought about the bad stuff, I cried, I thought about the good stuff, I thought about the future and I thought about what I want from life. Life is so, SO precious. You are here right now in this instant; no one knows what is going to happen in five minutes time. So why on earth should you spend the rest of your life allowing insecurities to take over and hold you back?
As for social media, I am proud to say it no longer has that power over me. If you are friends with me across the different channels you may have noticed I have completely changed my focus. I am having so much fun with Instagram and Snapchat these days and when I go away I love to post interesting places I find and videos with whatever nomad I am hanging out with at the time. I am discovering art, culture, new food, music, places and most of all people. And I am not ashamed to say I am really enjoying documenting that – I am feeling so good about life why shouldn’t I share that with the world? In fact, I am hoping maybe someday I can build my online profile and this may eventually fund my travels – why not? If it works for other people why should it not work for me? In the famous words of William Arthur Ward “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
Whatever you do in life just remember that although you will never be everyone’s cup of tea, once you are your own that is all that matters. I always sign these posts with ‘Written with love’ and I genuinely mean that……… So until next time, keep doing you, smile, be open to and be inspired by all the amazing people who come your way and just enjoy every minute of your journey; you are awesome!
Written with love,
“Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model” – TED Talk