Should We Bare Our Souls Online?

Should We Bare Our Souls Online?

Jumper- & Other Stories


Skirt- Topshop (currently sold out but they’re re-stocking it quite regularly at the moment- I will post a link to my Twitter when/if it is re-stocked again)


Necklace- ASOS

Today’s post was going to be an update on how I’ve been dealing with my anxiety, something I’ve been planning on writing for a few weeks. When I realised it was International Mental Health Day on Wednesday I thought this post would be even more apt. But it was ironically that day that made me change my mind. Although it’s a great way of helping raise awareness of mental health issues, it meant that a lot of people were sharing their own stories of their own mental health problems, which, again, is a good way of helping to add to the evergrowing conversation around mental health. However, for me, I found listening to other people’s stories overwhelming and triggering. It was one of the first times I’ve really had to make myself to put my phone down and stay off social media for the day/night because it became quite a negative space for me.

This got me thinking about how much of my life I wanted to be sharing on social media. On my blog in the past, I’ve been happy to talk a lot about my personal experiences and, by doing so, I’ve been able to connect with people going through similar things, which has definitely been really positive. But after feeling so overwhelmed by hearing others’ stories on Wednesday, I began to rethink whether sharing so much really is the best thing to do.

Should We Bare Our Souls Online?

The conversation around the ethics of sharing on social media has been growing so much over the past few months. From Katherine Ormerod’s new book ‘Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life’, and the corresponding Instagram hashtag, to Pandora Syke’s recent article for Man Repeller, it’s definitely a topic that’s hot on people’s tongues. Much of the conversation around this subject argues that we should be presenting more honest perceptions of ourselves on social media, better reflections of our ‘real life’. I can definitely see how the facades of social media can be harmful for many people, seeing people live seemingly perfectly lives and feeling like yours just doesn’t live up is definitely a negative thing. But, for me, this just isn’t the case. I use social media as a form of escapism, just I use books, TV and other forms of media. I think this was why being faced with so many ‘real-life’ stories similar to mine felt so difficult for me. I like seeing a ‘glossy’ version of people’s lives on social media and I’m very, very aware that everyone’s Instagram feeds are a highlight reel of their life (although I do like seeing a bit of ‘real life’ over on Instagram stories). I like using social media as a way of pursuing my interests, from fashion to books to food and reading and seeing photos around these topics definitely helps me switch off and feel more positive. But as real people, should we be sharing our real lives on the internet all the time?

Most people at the moment, it seems to me, would probably answer yes. The word ‘responsibility’ comes up a lot when talking about how bloggers and ‘influencers’ should be using social media and obviously there is some sense of responsibility attached to the job title, like there is with any job. But should people really feel as though they have to share every single aspect of their lives with strangers online? Is it helpful if they do? I don’t have any answers. I don’t know how I feel about it. At the moment, I think maybe users of social media should take responsibility for their own usage, unfollowing people who make them feel negative and limiting their usage of social media if they know it’s not good for them. Because, for me, Instagram, most of the time, feels like quite a positive space for me (even if I waste far too much of my time scrolling) and I can only see it becoming more negative and triggering, personally, if people were to start sharing the more negative aspects of their life on there, especially if they were only doing so because they felt they had to.

Should We Bare Our Souls Online?

I’m not advocating for social media, specifically Instagram, to be a completely honest or dishonest portrayal of ‘real life’, I think I’d like it to be somewhere in the middle, which, with most people I follow, is where I think it’s at now. I think it all comes down to personal choices in terms of posting and following. Maybe for me it’s positive to talk about some of my own negative experiences online but generally not helpful to read about other people’s? Is this contradictory? Yes. But is this ok? I think probably yes. Because if other people, like me, don’t feel good about reading other people’s struggles or ‘real life’ issues, then they can unfollow me. Maybe I wouldn’t even follow myself? Now this is really getting morally confusing. You can tell I don’t know where my mind is at on this subject. But I thought I’d put my confused thoughts out on to the internet anyway because I think there is an interesting conversation to be had about this topic and I’d like to contribute to it, even if I’m doing so unhelpfully. 

I’d absolutely love to hear your views on the topic of sharing online. Do you feel a responsibility to make sure your Instagram page is a completely honest version of you? How do you go about avoiding the bits of social media that you find negative? Let me know in the comments or send me a message over on Instagram or Twitter.

Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?
Should We Bare Our Souls Online?

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Photography by Ami Ford.

I’m finally back with a new blog post after a brief hiatus due to a busy couple of weeks and some personal struggles, which I will go into more later in the post. But I’ve been wanting to write on this topic and share these photos for what feels like forever now and I’m finally getting round to it today. These photos were taken by the incredible Ami Ford, whose work I had admired from afar for some time and so was delighted to be able to shoot with her, and I’m so happy with the outcome! You can find her on Instagram here, Twitter here or visit her website here.

Today’s post is inspired by these photos and specifically, the location that these photos were taken in. This was perhaps one of the busiest road in Manchester on the Sunday afternoon we were shooting on, meaning I really had to have confidence in what I was doing as posing in the middle of a very busy road in a bright yellow midi dress with every passerby staring at you with confused/baffled looks can/could have been an uncomfortable situation. In fact, posing for photos in any situation, even if there are only one or two confused onlookers, and sharing them on social media is quite a daunting concept generally and something I’m still trying to become totally comfortable in.

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Anything that you do that is a little bit different, especially if it involves self-promotion, is probably going to be scary and weird. Since becoming more confident in doing my own thing, my life has only improved however I’m still not 100% there yet at all. So much so that, after a little (read: huge) wobble after moving to UNI last week, I considered not writing this post as I didn’t think I was qualified to discuss this topic. But then I realised that if I wait till I feel totally comfortable in myself and my interests and habits, I’m probably never going to get round to writing it as I don’t even know if it’s possible to feel that way to such an extent. So I thought I would use this post to discuss the areas of my life in which I’m trying to become more comfortable in doing my own thing whilst also providing some tips to help others do the same.

INTERESTS AND IDEAS: STARTING MY BLOG

The first area in which I’ve really had to push myself out of my comfort zone is, as you might have guessed from the first part of this post and from previous posts, starting and running this blog. Having a blog, especially one that is fashion/style-based, means your constantly having to promote yourself and, at times, bare your soul to the internet, not knowing who’s going to see it or what reaction it’s going to get. These are the reasons why it took me so long to properly commit to having a blog but, as with most things, now I have it these two things, and everything else that comes along with it, are not so scary at all.

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

I do still feel a little bit uncomfortable with the self-promotion thing and it’s definitely not my favourite part about having a blog, especially in person, but it’s something that I’ve got used to and definitely don’t feel scared or embarrassed about anymore. The only advice I really have for starting something you want to do whether it’s a blog, a YouTube channel, a music career etc. is just start it. Everyone says this but it’s so true. You’re going to have to get over being embarrassed about it and, if it’s something you feel passionately about and enjoy, you’ll get over it so much quicker than you think. Plus, if you’re surrounded by good people then they’ll support you and if you aren’t, at least it will help you realise that there are some shitty people in your life who don’t need to be there.

SOCIAL AND PERSONAL LIFE: GOING OUT AND DRINKING ALCOHOL

The next part of my life where I’ve had to try and do my own thing, and probably the most difficult part for me, is learning how I like to spend my time and realising that this is not how most people my age, in my situation like to do so. Yep, this is the part where I reveal that I’m 19 going on 90, far more inclined to spend my Saturday night watching Strictly Come Dancing then getting drunk and staying up till 5am. I’ve not always been like this, I used to love a good night out and a drink, admittedly before it was legal/acceptable for me to do so, and I think that’s part of the reason why it’s mostly not for me anymore.

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Some people don’t ever grow out of getting drunk and partying but a lot of people do and I think because I started out so early I am just a little bit bored by it now and definitely not excited by it. The other reasons why I’ve retired from being a party type of girl are much more difficult to navigate as they’re purely health related. I’ve struggled with IBS and anxiety, as you’ll probably know if you’ve read my blog before, for over 2 years now and they are both extremely negatively affected by drinking alcohol and a lack of sleep. I’m not going to go into it too much, because you really don’t want to know about my digestive issues, trust me, but after drinking 3-4 ciders on Thursday night, I was not only fairly drunk (I’ve always been a lightweight but my lack of drinking has only accentuated that) but I spent the entirety of Friday with horrendous stomach pains, meaning I struggled to stand up by the end of the day, plus any feelings of anxiety are multiplied by 100.

This has been quite difficult for me because, as a student, the main activity that my friends engage in is drinking alcohol (FYI: I don’t judge them for this at all, everyone enjoys different things and they’re just as entitled to enjoy drinking as I am to not enjoy it). However, in my experience, the best thing you can do in these types of situations is be open with people. No one is going to get annoyed with you if you tell them how negatively you feel about doing something (even if your reasons for this aren’t health-related) but they might if you cancel on plans last minute with an obviously-fake excuse or constantly decline their plans with no explanations. My friends are always so kind to me about not drinking or not going out and try to make effort with me to organise different types of things to do, meaning I rarely have to force myself through awkward and anxious nights and even worse morning-afters, something that was a weekly affair for me during my first year of UNI when I refused to be honest with anyone about it.

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: DEALING WITH ANXIETY

The final thing I want to discuss is dealing with mental health issues and I know this sounds weird because ‘doing your own thing’ does not usually equate to having anxiety. But I think the most important thing in dealing with a mental health problem is accepting it and being confident that you know what the best things to do for you are and doing them, no matter what anyone else thinks. If you want to eat a pack of biscuits for tea because that’s the only thing you feel hungry for and you don’t have the energy to make anything else, do it (this is a case study from my life, specifically during the last week). If you feel like you need an extension on an essay or any sort of mitigating circumstances, talk to someone at your school/college/UNI about it.

You’re the only person who knows exactly how you feel and you can’t be embarrassed about your needs or the way you’re feeling and avoid them because no one else is going to be able to guess what you want to do and help you. Something I found difficult last year and over the past week since moving back to UNI is feeling like I need/want to come home because being at UNI makes me anxious. There is such a stigma around going home from UNI, in my experience, because people feel as though they need to ‘stick it out’ to prove their independence and that UNI is the best years of their life. I felt the same way last year and forced myself to stay for UNI for weeks even though I knew a weekend at home would do me the world of good and I was very much in a position to go home. Now, mostly because of the incredible support of my friends and family, I feel absolutely no shame in coming home for a weekend or even every weekend, because if that’s what I need to do to get through the days without a panic attack then that’s what I’ll do.

I realise this post has been a little bit of a ramble but it’s something that I’ve wanted to speak about for a while and, clearly, have a lot to say about. I hope it’s inspired you to do something this week that you want to do for you, whether that’s starting a blog, saying no to something you don’t want to do or booking an appointment with a counsellor. Be sure to leave me a comment or message me on social media if you want to discuss this topic further or talk about my experiences or your experiences. My DM’s on Twitter and Instagram are always open!

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

Having Confidence in Doing Your Own Thing

 

Finding A ‘Work-Life Balance’

‘Work-Life Balance’ is a phrase that I’ve heard used lots since I’ve started following the lives of bloggers through their blogs themselves, YouTube, Instagram etc. It’s something that they often talk about struggling with as because documenting their life is essentially their career, it’s difficult to draw a line. Obviously, I am by no means a full-time blogger and I, for the most part, don’t really see my blog as work at all- it’s a hobby that I enjoy. However, taking pictures, editing HTML (which mostly consists of me watching endless YouTube tutorials) and actually writing blog posts is time-consuming and so adding my blog to the things that I do has made it difficult for me to relax over the past couple of months. It hasn’t made me feel crazily stressed but I could feel the amount of time I was spending working taking it’s toll on me so I’m trying to take some steps to change that. With studying for a full-time degree, working as an English tutor part-time (which involves lots of planning), having a significant role within the campaign Girls Against, plus running my blog, I often work from 8am-10pm on weekdays with minimal breaks, which is really unhealthy and bad for my mental health. I discussed how work took over my life during my A-Levels in a recent post about my experience with anxiety and I’m determined not to let that happen again this year, even if I do enjoy all of the things I class as ‘work’ now. So here are some of the things I’m doing to try and ensure I make time for myself:

1. Scheduling in ‘holidays’.

People who work a 9-5 job obviously have a given amount of time for their holidays but, although with UNI we are given lots of time off for Christmas, Easter and summer, all of the other things I do continue throughout the year. So I’m trying to give myself official weeks off where I can just totally relax. I can’t say I’ve managed one of these so far but I am planning on scheduling some in over summer and I definitely took a few days off everything during Christmas and Easter, if not a full break, which felt really nice in itself. However, I am currently on holiday in Corfu (as you might be able to tell by these photos), the week before my only UNI exam this semester, which is an attempt to try and force myself not to go overboard with revision. I am also in Corfu because I am not going to turn down a week of sun. I’m doing 2 hours of revision a day (ish) whilst I’m here, one in the afternoon and one in the evening and trying to relax for the rest of the day. I’m also writing blog posts (currently sat on my balcony writing this one) and taking photos for my blog because, as mentioned, I enjoy this and don’t find it stressful whatsoever. Although I’m pretty sure this might be the only blog post for this week because I want to make the most of my time here.

2. Taking Weekends Off

This is something I’ve been trying to do since the beginning of university. I decided that I’d much rather work really hard throughout the week so I can have my weekends to myself. This is in part due to the fact that I mostly see my boyfriend on the weekends and I wanted to make sure I had time to see him but also because I struggle to take evenings off if I know I haven’t got everything done that I wanted to do that day and don’t enjoy the scheduled ‘relaxing time’. Whereas with weekends, once it gets to Friday evening I know that I’m done for that week and anything else will have to wait till Monday. This is, of course, something I won’t do during my second and third years of university as my workload grows, and something I don’t do 100% of time now, so I will have to find another method of relaxation then, but it works great for now.

 3. Making Plans and Sticking To Them

This is a really important one for me because I struggle to relax on my own because I’m always thinking that there’s something more productive that I could be doing. However, when I’m with someone else, I know that there’s no way I could be doing work at that moment and want to make the most of the time I have with whoever I’m with, so I’m really able to fully relax.

 4. Planning My Time

Something I’ve started doing recently is realistically planning my days hour by hour. This means that usually I really have got everything I wanted to do done by 8pm and can relax for the rest of the night. I’m still a bit rubbish at switching off in the evenings though and often find something else productive to do without even thinking about it. But telling yourself that you’re going to stop working at a certain time can be really helpful.

I’m going to leave this post here for today because I am hungry and I can smell the food from the restaurant of my hotel but I hope it helped you think about whether your work-life balance is truly balanced and gave you some tips to help it get there. I’m wearing this skirt from & Other Stories again because I just can’t get enough of it along with this top also from & Other Stories, both of which I featured in my last post about what’s new in my wardrobe. You’ve seen the shoes and the bag before but this bag is now back in stock on Zara (linked below)! I’m off to relax and enjoy the rest of the time I have in beautiful Corfu now but keep an eye on my Instagram to see what I’m up to.

Top- & Other Stories

Skirt- & Other Stories

Shoes- New Look (old)

Bag- Zara

 

My Experience with Anxiety

This past week has seen a great deal of discussion around the subject of mental health as it has been Mental Health Awareness week. Dealing with anxiety is something I’ve mentioned briefly in previous posts on my blog but is something that affects my life significantly, so I thought I’d take the opportunity of this week being specifically dedicated to mental health awareness to discuss my experience with anxiety. The photos I’m sharing alongside this post don’t really have anything to do with the topic of mental health but I wanted to write about this topic and share these photos on my blog so it made sense to include them together. Plus they were taken in one of my favourite places that I like to go to to de-stress. I want to share this because I’m very aware that social media and blogs only present the best bits of life, which can be really disheartening if/when you’re feeling bad and so I want my blog to be a space that is honest and really reflects me as a person. I’m also hoping that in sharing my experiences I can help anyone reading this who might have struggled with similar experiences feel less alone. I thought I should also mention that I know people have it worse than me and I’m really not writing this post to complain but just to bring awareness to the fact that all mental health struggles are legitimate and you should always try to look after yourself and those around you.

That brings me nicely onto the beginning of my ‘journey’ with anxiety, as I dismissed my feelings as ‘nothing’ for some time. My anxiety is very much linked to the education system, as I will discuss a little bit more later on, and they began when I started sixth form and studying for my A-Levels. From day one of sixth form, I was prepared to do crazy amounts of work because I had been warned again and again and again about how difficult A-Levels are. And from day one I pushed myself very hard to do as much work as possible. For the first few months, I thought I was coping fine and for most of the first year of sixth form, I felt like I was. It wasn’t until after my AS exams that I realised the extent to which I’d exhausted myself mentally and was left feeling a little empty (I know this sounds vague but I can’t explain it in any other way). I don’t think I’d really developed anxiety at this point but I’d definitely planted the seeds. By setting my standards so high in terms of work, I became so overly-organised, becoming overwhelmingly angry and disappointed in myself if I didn’t reach both my daily and long-term goals, which, in turn, inevitably led to lots of feelings of stress.

Going into my second year of sixth form were when things started to get really difficult, with the stress of applying to UNI and, of course, the exams. Again, I worked myself crazily hard from day one but, both because of the standards I had already set up for myself, the exhaustion I was still getting over from the previous academic year and because this year’s exams were much more important than the ones I had just sat, the pressure and the stress really started to get to me. The ‘work-life balance’ I had managed to mostly maintain in my first year of sixth form fell through the roof and the only thing I could focus on was work. I declined most plans because I was too busy revising and if I did do anything social, I spent most of the time resenting myself for leaving my desk and worrying about how I would fit all the work I had to do in around it. It’s important to mention that, at the time, I really did not think my academic habits were unhealthy because totally overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion has become such a norm within society, especially within the education system, that I thought what I was doing was normal.

Basically, to cut a very very long year short, I spent the entire academic year working towards my exams whilst feeling rubbish about my life and constantly worried. The only thing that was getting me through my exams was the thought of a couple of months off for summer; this thought, though, only further justified the amount I was working because it allowed me to maintain the mindset that I would have time for rest and relaxation later, which, as a mindset, is fine for a week or two but not for two years. During my exam period and the months leading up to it, I was so stressed that social interaction was genuinely too much for me. Having to even talk to anyone who wasn’t my boyfriend or in my family took so much energy that I felt like I was going to cry. I really didn’t understand this at the time and had no idea where this feeling was coming from and it obviously really damaged my friendships, which I endlessly regret now, but all I knew was that I couldn’t do it and that I would rather walk to my boyfriend’s house (mine was literally too far away) during sixth form lunchtime hours than simply sit in the common room for half an hour. This time in my life honestly feels like a blur and I can’t even remember if I had started having panic attacks at this point. But if I had they were infrequent and it was the general anxiety (feelings that my head might explode at any moment, sickness in the back of my throat and the constant holding back of tears) that affected me more.

Anyway, I got through the exams. But the feelings of relief that I had expected after sitting my last exam on a Wednesday morning (I remember this very vividly) just didn’t come. After finishing my GCSE and AS exams I remember feeling so relieved and happy to spend the bed in day catching up on TV and sleeping. But this time I could not relax. All the feelings of anxiety that I had been pushing away throughout my time at sixth form because I had ‘more important things to focus on’ now materialised. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this but I often find that, during the winter months, when you feel a cold coming on, your body will keep holding it back whilst your busy. But as soon as you have a lie in or let yourself relax in whatever way, the cold develops. This is what I think happened with my anxiety. My brain didn’t even have time to process it during sixth form so as soon as that was done with I had 2 years worth of worries and stress to deal with.

At the time I didn’t realise that this was why I was having almost daily panic attacks though. I was so confused and had no idea what was wrong with me because I was supposed to be happy now exams were over, wasn’t I? It didn’t help that the people closest to me were constantly asking me ‘What’s wrong?’ or telling me ‘I don’t know why you’re worried- everything’s fine’- not that they had bad intentions (I am so grateful to them for offering me support and help) but one of the worst things about anxiety for me is that often there is no reason (that you can identify) for it, which makes you think something is wrong with you, which leads to more worrying- it’s a vicious cycle.

I guess this constant anxiety throughout the summer months culminated on results day. I got into my first-choice University but I just didn’t get the grades I wanted and I was devastated. I understand that I was in a much better position than lots of other people and I totally sympathise with that- I wasn’t, nor am I now, comparing my position to theirs. All I could think about was the hell I put myself through with the end goal of the grades and I was just gutted because I felt like it wasn’t worth it- and all I wanted was for those terrible years to be worth it. I’ve been waiting for something good to come out of those feelings that I felt last August as that is what I would describe as the worst I had ever felt and recently I feel like it has. That day and those feelings made me realise that nothing is ever worth damaging your mental health for. Nothing. And if you’re in the midst of exams right now, please remember that.

Anyway, after this very emotional day, I had a few sessions with a counsellor. I don’t think it helped very much because my head was still in too much of a mess to be able to process my own problems and I generally spent most of the sessions crying and feeling shit about myself.

After this, I left for university and the first couple of months were great. There were some panic attacks and moments of anxiety but generally, I enjoyed them so much and felt the happiest I had done in a long time. But, once again (will I ever learn??) I had started pushing feelings of anxiety, to one side, which led to frequent panic attacks throughout the months of November and December. When I say I pushed them to one side I did so to such an extent that at one point, I had to leave a seminar to run to the bathroom (to avoid not having a panic attack in front of everyone in the room) and then miss all of my other classes that week so I could go home for a few days to recover. So the end of first semester was a little bit rocky. But, unlike during my A-Levels, I now felt comfortable talking to my family, boyfriend and close friends about how I felt and treated my mental health as something that was important, which helped a lot.

After returning to university after Christmas, and a difficult first week or so back, the first thing I did was book myself in for an appointment with the university counsellor. I had around 3-5 sessions with her and they helped me so much. I can tell you right now that before these sessions, I would not have been able to write this post because, firstly, I would have been too worried about what people thought about me but, mostly, because I had absolutely no idea where my anxiety came from or what caused it. My mental health has been much much better over the past few months and being able to talk through my experiences with the counsellor with a clear head allowed me so much clarity.

So now, here we are. My mental health is the best it has been in a long, long time and I’m learning (if slowly) not to push myself too hard. I’ve enjoyed my first year of university so much and feel like I have cultivated a really good ‘work-life balance’, whilst also being able to do other things that I am passionate about and enjoy, such as running this blog, plus a part-time job. I’m lucky enough to be heading to Corfu in a few days and will be spending the entire week before my only university exam there. This is really going to be a test for me of how far I have come in terms of allowing myself to become more relaxed about academics and right now I’m feeling great about it so let’s hope for the best. First year doesn’t count anyway, right?

Anyway, this has been one hefty post and I still really feel like I could have gone into much more detail… I’m bet you’re glad I didn’t! But if you are feeling like you’re struggling with your mental health in any way, please tell someone. Even if you feel like your struggles aren’t legitimate because they’re not on the same scale as some other people’s, they are and you should treat them as such because, as you can tell from hearing about my experiences, they can build up and get worse very quickly. Everyone struggles in some way or another and you should never feel embarrassed about your own struggles. Speak to anyone, just speak to someone because holding things in only makes them worse. My DMs on Twitter and Instagram are always open if you want to talk about anything you might be struggling with at the moment!

Top- Old Hinds Merchandise (no longer available but they sell more merch here)

Skirt- & Other Stories

Jacket- Topshop

Shoes- Vans

Sunglasses- Le Specs

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Becoming Comfortable In Yourself

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.

Top- Bershka

Skirt- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)

Blazer- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)

Bag- MissGuided

Shoes- Pull & Bear (similar, almost identical, here)