Photography by Jenny Gavan.
‘Being comfortable in your own skin’ is a phrase that has been used lots over the past few years as body confidence has become more and more of a ‘hot topic’. This is something that I think is really great and I wish this emphasis on being confident in your body was more prevalent in my high-school years as I know it would have helped me to accept what I looked like, and specifically my body, much more than I did. However, pushing my journey with being comfortable in my own skin aside, today I want to talk about simply becoming comfortable in yourself as a person. I’ve changed so much as a person over the past three years and it’s something I’ve struggled to adapt to. But now I’m coming to the end of my first year at University, I think I’m becoming much better at unapologetically being myself.
I’m including these photos with a post about self-acceptance because they were taken on a main road and in an arcade, two places where I got a multitude of strange looks while posing. So, on this day, I really had to feel confident in myself and what I was doing. I’ve mentioned this before, but the reason it took me so long to re-start a blog is because I wasn’t comfortable enough in myself to do so. Posing for photos then sharing them all over on social media and taking part in almost daily ‘shameless self-promo’ is just something I couldn’t see myself doing, even though some of the people I look up to most do this every single day as part of their full-time job. Since launching my blog 3 weeks ago (I can’t believe it’s been ONLY 3 weeks), I feel like I’ve begun to accept myself for who I am more than ever before, not just in doing things related to my blog but with everything I’m up to in life.
Throughout my high school years, I was a huge extrovert. Socialising was what I most looked forward to and I especially loved drinking and partying on the weekend with my friends. I’ve always enjoyed time on my own even during this phase in my life. But at this point, a Saturday night-in was rare and I was happy that this was the way it was. I’ve always been conscientious and enjoyed (most parts) of school and education but I never took it too seriously during high school. But when I started sixth form, almost three years ago now, my attitude totally changed.
From day one of sixth form, I was doing excessive amounts of work every day, completely pushing myself to my limits. During my first year of sixth form, I coped with this. Socialising was still a big part of my life and I was going out most weekends. I had a new boyfriend and my ‘work-life balance’ was pretty good- even if this meant getting up super early to start work or staying up all night to finish it. Although my social life didn’t suffer this year, my mental health definitely did. I didn’t know it at the time but I think this is where my anxiety really began to develop. I set my targets so high academically that I would make myself feel bad if I wasn’t getting everything I needed to done. So, in my second year of sixth form I decided, and I’m not sure whether this was conscious or sub-conscious, that I needed to spend most-all of my time working towards my A-Levels.
A whole post would be needed to talk about the effects of A-Levels on my mental health and I’m not going to go into that now but essentially, my attitude towards work kind of led me to become more introverted than I already was. It was also in my second year of sixth form that I developed a sort of intolerance to alcohol. I haven’t got a formal diagnosis but I basically become very ill off as little as one or two drinks, so this also obviously discouraged me to go out as much. I was never unhappy to have to stay in though. At heart, I think I’ve always been an introvert because some of my happiest memories from my teenage years are being sat on my own in bed doing something creative, which is my absolute favourite thing to do now. But I think the pressures of A-Levels and my practical inability to drink alcohol really allowed the introvert within me to materialise.
I’m also a very anxious person so this combined with being an introvert and my issues with drinking obviously don’t mix well with British UNI culture, which mainly consists of socialising and drinking alcohol. So since starting UNI in September, it has been kind of difficult because I’ve felt like I really do know who I am and what I like doing but because I didn’t want to isolate myself from people at UNI (which I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve met some amazing people) I kind of had to go against what I knew about myself.
Now I’m a little bit more settled in at UNI and I no longer constantly feel like I need to try and make friends, I feel much more able to be myself. I used to be really embarrassed about going home for the weekend because I was feeling anxious. Avoiding doing so actually led to a pretty bad panic attack during a seminar back in November. Now, I know that there’s nothing shameful about going home for the weekend, even if I’m not feeling anxious and am just doing so simply because I want to. Everyone’s different and some parts of UNI are great for people and others are not. I personally love the academic side of my degree, but living in halls isn’t something I love. Some of my friends though hate/hated their degree but love/loved living in halls. There’s nothing wrong or shameful with being in either of these situations and I admire anyone who is brave enough to admit to this and change their situation for the better. Also, I’d just like to point out that I really don’t hate the social side of UNI. I struggled to adapt to the constant socialising but I feel like I’ve managed to find a balance now and am really enjoying it at the moment, even if I need the odd weekend at home to spend time with myself.
So I just wanted to write about my ‘journey’ (lol, cringe) with becoming comfortable with who I am to try and help others accept themselves and those around them. I’m no where near 100% comfortable with myself and still feel guilt for lots of the things I do. But being able to identify that guilt and shake it off is really important. You should never feel bad for doing something you want to do because life is too short to put yourself through things you don’t enjoy, most of the time. That’s enough clichés for one post anyway, moving on to talk a little bit about my outfit…
This is very much a staple outfit for me during the summer, if the loafers were swapped for my Vans. But I would definitely style it with the loafers for a more formal, evening-appropriate look. This is my absolute favourite blazer (even if everyone and their dog owns a similar one) because, despite it being patterned, it goes with everything and the Prince of Wales check adds such a classic look to all of my outfits. I lived in this denim skirt last summer and am planning on doing the same in the coming months. A denim skirt is, again, such a classic piece and is so easy to wear. On colder days I like to style it with a chunky knit and on warmer days with a crop top. For British summer-appropriate weather, I’d style it somewhere in the middle, similarly to how I’ve worn it here with a T-shirt and a blazer. I love this Mia Wallace t-shirt with this red bag as, I think, the subtle colour-combination really ties the outfit together. Plus, a printed t-shirt and a bag that is any colour other than black always makes an outfit that little bit more interesting, in my opinion.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear about your journey with self-acceptance in the comments. I’ve linked everything I’m wearing or similar alternatives at the bottom of this post.
Skirt- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)
Blazer- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)
Shoes- Pull & Bear (similar, almost identical, here)