It seems like only yesterday that I was locked in conversation with my friend Vanessa, discussing our dreams and aspirations, hoping that our future would take a turn for the better. There had been disappointments and failures but still I kept my dream alive, hoping that one day people would recognize that I had a voice and a message to share, that would mark me apart from other bloggers in my ‘niche’. I started one sunny summers day, messing around on my friends I-Phone, capturing a story through pictures and words. With amazement I got comments and within mere days brands were sending me opportunities despite me having no following to speak of. Tears welled in my eyes, astounded that these brands and these organizations wanted little old me to represent and promote their products. Who would have thought that a year later I would celebrate my first blog anniversary, a reminder of the day where life as I knew it would change forever. And change my life it did.
It took a while before I found my voice and recognized who I was a writer and blogger. I began blogging with the intentions of imitating or least being inspired by the legions of fashion bloggers whose Lookbook profiles had inspired me to embrace my personal style with gusto. But what had happened was far more different than I could ever have imagined. There was a burning song inside me, waiting to be told; it’s time it said. So I began unraveling layer after layer, peeling back the mask and embalmed facade that I used to hide the real me. Abused as a child, bullied as a teen and an adult and tested by friendships that turned toxic I knew that sharing my narrative and being brave enough to be open might give others the closure that they sought and remind them that it was ok to be upset.
And I was right, hundreds of emails and even letters were sent to me, thanking me for relaying my struggles because it had inspired them to seek justice against their own oppressors. I realized that I could use my platform to spark a change, to make a difference, and a year later that same fiery passion hasn’t changed. If anything this first blog anniversary inspires me to do better, to write with passion and gusto, to be more open and honest and allow my audience to see my vulnerability with an open heart
I was-at times- controversial, unafraid to explore and raise awareness of abuse, bullying, sexual health and mental health. I received death threats and nasty messages from haters, many were bloggers and it saddened me that the industry was still so heavily against those who were subversive; I was no homogeneous caricature but a woman who had been tested and whose sole purpose was (and still is) to help others without a voice, restricted by cultural, environmental and religious factors. Like me or love me I was different but I stayed true to who I was at the core. I got caught up in the heady magic of the blogging world, caught in a world of fantastical irreality, where time ceased to exist. I worked day and night battling several illnesses but determined to keep blogging no matter what. And that is the magic of blogging, here I am a year on celebrating my first blog anniversary in a better frame of mind, my health has improved massively and above all I have found a group of friends who I know will have my back no matter what.
Blogging, for all its contentious and problematic issues, is at heart a loving community that has united over a cohesive love of blogging. We are butterflies, released from the restrictive cocoon of society and despite societies interpretation of blogging as ‘not being a real job’ I know that over time we will change their minds and show them how hard we all work. Because this first blog anniversary is not just about me but about blogging and the year I witnessed as a blogger is only a minuscule snapshot of what it means to be a blogger. Blogging is exciting but at times difficult, blogging brings you opportunities and disappointment, there is balance and chaos, there is good and there is evil. We all have individual blogging experiences and for me it is the best dream I could have ever chased.
A year ago I was seriously depressed, angry at the world for making me suffer and now I am thankful for all those negative experiences. Because those negative experiences made me who I am today; a warrior, a passionate warrior whose sole ambition is to speak up. No longer am I afraid to speak my mind and regardless of what people think I am not afraid to be me. I am not afraid to be quirky and goofy, nor am I afraid to discuss what is important and should be spoken about, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I am different and I am unique and if I was to stop blogging tomorrow the one message that I would take from this experience would be to embrace the real me. I was made fun of before for not fitting the mold and now my quirkiness is my unique selling point. It just goes to show trying to be someone else-which I did for many years- gets you nowhere but being ok with the real you, hell proclaiming it from the rooftops will be the key to your inevitable success.
So I write lengthy posts, often hard hitting and at times a hard read and it is this unique approach to blogging that has seen me work with huge brands including Boohoo, Pandora, House of Fraser and Debenhams, as well as participating in campaigns advocating for human rights. I ensure that I create an open discourse around sexual health, trauma and more and I am non-judgmental when it comes to opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with. Blogging has taught me to be tolerant and be accepting of people who might not share the same values and beliefs as I do, but as humankind we should respect each others freedom to speak up. Above all my first blog anniversary has shown me the promise of what is yet to come, how we can and should all do better, how we can use the power of written word to spread joy, awareness, compassion and kindness. It costs nothing to be kind.
There have been so many highlights during my year as a blogger but if I were to pick two key experiences it would be ‘winning’ Best British Blogger and meeting two of my best friends Christine from Xtine Loves and Anna Maria from ‘OnTheEdgeBlog’. Lets rewind back to March, I was nominated by UK Blog Awards to become Best British Blogger and from all the entries I had somehow won the female category. It was a complete shock, especially for someone who had bad luck follow her at every turn. That was the turning point when I realized that I had chosen the right path, that blogging was who I was as a person. An online persona if you will but it was the one time when I was fully honest with myself and others. I realized that contrary to what the bullies said I could be a somebody and I would prove all of those nasty a holes wrong. Did I prove them wrong? You tell me?
One thing is for certain though, winning (2) awards when I had only been blogging six/seven months was a marker of how far I had come since August 16th when I brought my own domain. I am thankful and blessed that all you lovely readers have taken the time out of your day to hear me waffle on about random topics and I really do love each and every one of you. Despite the recognition I had received for my blog the most important thing in my life is not the accolades I had won but the people I had met or interacted with along the way.In October I went to a blogging event that changed my life and met one of the most beautiful and generous souls you could have ever have the fortune to meet; Christine. Christine is there for you when you need her most and a shoulder to cry on when you have hit rock bottom. This beautiful being refused to let me wallow when I was feeling depressed but gave me space when I needed to be alone. We both share the same sense of humor and love to get up to crazy antics or play pranks on unsuspecting adults ( sorry not sorry). Sharing my first blog anniversary with this wonderful friend, made my first year of blogging a truly tremendous milestone in my life.
With Christine I feel like a teenager again and that is a feeling I want to feel forever. But where would I be without my stunning Cypriot bezzie, a blogger who at first sight I knew we would remain the best of friends. She will pick you up when you are feeling down and call you when she is worried about you. Even when she was abroad and found out about my angels deaths she made sure that she picked up the phone all those hundreds of thousands of miles away to tell me I was going to be ok. This girl has done so much for me I can’t even begin to list them all but one thing is for certain I never want to lose a friendship like hers, not now, not ever. Like an old married couple we go on dinner dates and cause havoc in our wake. We lust after men and clothes we can’t afford, we work together, we travel together and we remain best friends together. If there’s one thing that I am thankful for during this first blog anniversary, it is meeting my best friend.
On the outside Anna appears to be very tough but she is just as vulnerable as the rest of us and that is something we both share in common. In the real world that exists outside of this online reality I am very private and find it hard to share how I am really feeling but Anna has let me into her mind and I have let her into mine. That is the way our friendship works and I am truly glad that I had met her. Of course I don’t want to make my other bezzies jealous so I want to give Justin, Nadia and Avril a shoutout too for believing in me and encouraging me to follow my dreams. Good friends are hard to come by and so are dreams and I don’t want to lose sight of either of them. I want this next year to be productive, fufiling and nurturing. I want to see the world and embrace new hobbies, I want to live my life with purpose and productivity and try new things. I am excited about the vision that I have for blogging moving ahead and I can’t wait to see what happens beyond my first blog anniversary.
To all my readers bless you all.
Happy First Blog Anniversary Faded Spring!