A year ago today I was trapped in a job that was making me miserable and forcing myself to get out of bed in the early hours of the morning, for a job that didn’t even make me happy. I would trudge through the motions, robotic and stiff, unmotivated by the thought of yet another day feeling like I was wasting precious time. I thought this was what I wanted, more financial freedom, a chance to make new connections but it turns out that I was wrong. Familiar faces would dissipate into nothingness and all I saw was clouded darkness, simmering with the calamity of the unknown. I didn’t know it then, but a few months later I would jack it all in and step into the light, into a brighter future where I had the freedom to make my own choices. For 2017 was the year that everything changed, where the world seemed laced with sweet promises and the rule book had been thrown out the window… it was time to make a change.
I Left A Toxic House Where I Was Made To Feel Uncomfortable
I suppose we should start at the beginning; I had just moved into my second room in London, in a bustling community in East London. Everything should have been perfect, except it wasn’t. I lived with a landlord and his family, who at first seemed nice. I can almost hear you say ‘they all do’ , but as someone who likes to see the good in others, I dismissed their erratic behavior with excuses. But let me tell you something, its not normal to be living in a home where everything you do is under critical inspection, where they make you feel uncomfortable to even so much as breathe. Nor is it normal for them to go through your belongings and move things from your room without asking. Or even better when the children ask if you are ‘leaving yet’ because their parents have been talking s**t about you behind your back. The first night you moved in you couldn’t believe your luck, they made you dinner and welcomed you into their arms, like you were part of the family. Little did you know that they were grooming you into becoming a shadow of your former self.
You would work insane hours so that you wouldn’t be alone with them and at night you would come exhausted, terrified that yet again they would reprimand you for using ‘their kitchen’. You would do everything at night, when all you wanted to do was crawl into bed, you would make food, because you learned the hard way of how uncomfortable they made you feel when you even dared to be in the same room as them. Do you remember them shouting at you, as you blinked away hot salty tears, terrified at putting a foot wrong. You thought you had escaped bedlam when you left the last house, infested with bugs and crawling with vermin but you were wrong. But you couldn’t escape just yet, you were trapped and you had no idea what to do. Just two months after you had moved in, the landlord had a ‘word with you’ , told you that you had ‘2 weeks to find a place’ or you would be homeless, because his ‘mum’ was coming to London and would be taking your room. I was panicked, I was working such long hours for such poor pay, how the hell was I going to be able to afford another place?
But the cogs stopped turning and much to your relief, your landlord’s mum was coming the month after, so you lived on borrowed time. When you had days off, you begged for overtime but on the days where no overtime was given you locked yourself away in yet another room that had bedbugs again. You were still sick from a long illness from childhood and mentally you were on the verge of a breakdown. You cried all the time and while the house was partly to blame it was your job too but you craved the financial dependency and was too scared to break away and plunge into the unknown. But the light was coming and you found your escape, until two days before you were due to move, the landlord told you that he wanted you to stay and with smug satisfaction you told him it was too late. Little did you know the events that would transpire after, in the year that everything changed.
I Quit My Full Time Jobs To Blog Full Time
You received inappropriate messages, a haunting reminder of a past ‘prospective landlord’ who had made comments about your figure and told you to sleep with him. It wasn’t as explicit but the messages were flirty, patronizing even, as he used suggestive language and emojis. He wanted you to come back to the house to ‘collect’ the rest of your things, things that he had concealed from you, when they went through your room. You told him NO and he demanded money, he wanted you to come over and if you didn’t you would have to pay. The belongings were returned by cab, you paid the money, it felt like dirt. But you swallowed your pride and moved on, wanting to bury inappropriate relations in the sand. For a time you were happy, your room was large and the area was everything you hoped it to be, but still your days were laced with sadness and pain. You used to be sick a lot and no one knew what was wrong with you, where even at work you were throwing up and often doubled up in pain.
Your rent was too much for you to pay so you had to work through the pain,at times coughing up blood and being sick with every meal. In 2016 you were far worse so you thought nothing of it, if anything you were getting better and that was something to celebrate… right? You started to work less hours in your full time job, although you were still working three jobs. There was the marketing job during the week, where you had cut down on hours worked and a bar job at weekends, alongside a blog that you loved with all your heart. You dreamed of being able to walk out of a job that made you sick and stressed and into a world where you could be your own boss and be in charge of your own destiny. Six months later you cut the umbilical cord and plunged head first into an unknown world, where you would stop having a stable wage, where you would have to sacrifice your time but nevertheless a world where time stood still, waiting for you to place your next pawn on the game of life they call chess.
It was the best decision I could have ever made. At first people told me I was crazy and when I complained about having ‘no money’ they rolled their eyes. I had made a big mistake they said, and would be crawling back to work with my tail between my legs. But that never happened, five months later I am still standing strong, braving my way through the ups and downs, but relishing the ‘newness’ of each day that comes. In my eyes there has been more ups than downs, and finding a positive mindset really helped me appreciate what I did have. I had a roof over my head, true and loyal friends and made connections with people who I never thought that I would see again. But that’s a story for another time…
I remember the first day as a full time blogger, no 5 AM starts, no having a panic attack because I missed the train, no claustrophobia at being pressed up against random strangers, whose sweat rubbed up against you like oil and grime. Instead, for the first time ever you slept a dreamless sleep, unhounded by the panicked nightmares that would often haunt you into the early hours of the morning. You woke up feeling refreshed, not knowing where your journey would take you next but thankful that 2017 was the year that everything changed. For someone who had such high levels of anxiety-and believe me I still do- you almost surprised yourself with your spontaneity. At first you didn’t worry about how you would pay your rent or the sacrifices you would make, instead you just went for it and I’m bloody proud of you for making it this far.
There have been months where you have missed out on things because you didn’t have the money or not been able to attend events because you worked yourself to the bone to make ends meet but for every downside, there has been a rainbow bridge waiting to be crossed, so that you could frolick with the multi-coloured unicorns and mermaids that welcomed you into their magic land. Remember when you first started making money from your blog, remember when you realized that sometimes taking a chance can be the best decision that you could have ever made? You were almost flummoxed when brands would send you clothes, invite you to restaurants, want you to stay in their hotels and even have you as speakers at their events. For someone who thought so lowly of her self, you realized that there were people out there who believed in you and it was about time that you believed in yourself.
Then again, it wasn’t until you saw a therapist that you realized where all your self-esteem issues began…
I Saw A Therapist And Battled Childhood Demons
When I was six years old, I was emotionally and physically abused by my Dad‘s wife ‘The Stepmum’ who would beat me, call me names and make me terrified for my own life. For years I lived in my abusers shadow, believing that I was this girl who was unworthy of love, who remembered the lacerations and the scars that were etched onto my skin, my battle scars if you will. There would be days where I was too scared to come home, terrified of what she might do, if no one was around to save me. She would blackmail me and groom me into her f**cked up mind games, where I was the puppet and she was the puppet master. But I was saved, aged 10 I went into care and was raised by my wonderful foster mum, who saved me from a life conditioned by hatred and desolation. There were times where my stepmum would starve me, but the emotional abuse was the hardest scars to bear of them all. It wasn’t just the names that she would call me or how she would make me feel, after a time I felt empty inside and numb to those around me.
But when my foster mum took me into her home, with a warm and open heart I felt elated that true kindness still existed. I didn’t always get on with my foster mum; I was so used to a home without love that frankly the concept of it was alien. Like all pre-teens and teens I hated having to ‘stick to rules’ but in truth it ran deeper than that. They say you shouldn’t call yourself messed up but at the time, I did a lot of things that I am not proud of and if I could take my actions back I would. But in part I know that the bad things that I did were linked to childhood demons. I lashed out at people who showed me affection because I didn’t know how I should react. I acted out with friends for attention, because I was scared that they wouldn’t like me for who I was, hell half of the time I pretended to be someone who I was not because I too was trying to escape the person I actually was. I felt broken at times and when I would cry in public I would berate myself for showing ‘weakness’. I know now that it is ok to cry, I just wish that I knew it then.
There is more to this story of childhood abuse and teen bullying than I would like to admit. I don’t want to relive the times where my own friends would leave me out on purpose or make fun of the way I looked. Nor do I want to remember that teacher who laughed at me when I was getting bullied right in front of her face. But I’ll tell you one thing what doesn’t kill you makes you f***ng stronger. Amen.
I Cut Toxic Friends Out Of My Life
And speaking of toxic friends, I could write an entire bible on the subject. Hell I have lost track of the people who had treated me like s**t and were just using me for their own purposes . But do you know what , I’m over it, when I was at university or school, many of the people that I surrounded myself with were pretty awful, especially ones that were meant to be my ‘close friends’. But for every asshole, there were amazing friends who were there for me every step of the way. Over time as your friendship group grows smaller, you realize that not everyone is going to be your friend in five years time and with some people I wish I didn’t lose touch, didn’t lose the closeness that we once relished. But this is what the essence of time is and maybe at some point we are all s**tty friends, just make sure you’re not a toxic one.
There have been supposed friends who would make me feel ‘small’ so that they could feel better about themselves. There was this one girl called A, who was meant to be one of my ‘best friends’ who not only accused me of sleeping with her boyfriend (when I hadn’t) but would make repeated remarks about my intellect, appearance and health. At this point I was very ill and there were times where she would make comparisons between me and her ‘saying how amazing she was’ and that her ‘boyfriend could never fancy me’. Turns out the joke was on her, because he had liked me all along, but hey they do say that Karma is a given, don’t they?
Or how about S, whose own mum ‘ripped me to shreds’ by telling me that noone could ever love me and that I was just a big f**king know it all. The worst thing was, I was spending Christmas with S and I wasn’t meant to get those messages. She pretended that it was meant for someone else, but when you use that persons name I think its a whole load of s**t. Or how about C, the girl who leaked personal information about me online, who spoke about my abuse online. Who not only lied to me about family relatives who were dead (when they weren’t), but when she couldn’t get her own way made s**t up about me online, including telling the whole world ‘the abuse was a lie’.The sad part was she turned people against me, people who I thought were my friends, yet they don’t know the whole story. But having toxic friends has taught me to appreciate the ones that I do have. Despite how it might seem online, I don’t have many friends. I don’t even know why I am ashamed to admit that, sure I surround myself with a lot of people and I have good friends in the online community but I know that I am partly to blame for my isolation.
I distance myself from others because I am scared of getting hurt and despite how ‘friendly and welcoming’ I may seem, I’m crippled with anxiety, Meeting new people gives me cramps, let alone dates. I’m always worried that people won’t like me, but in the past months seeing the people out there who are truly my friends has helped me become a better person. And I thank them for it.
I Learned How To Be More Positive & Taught Myself To See The Good In Every Situation
I used to think that having a ‘positive mindset was a load of bull***t and would kid myself into thinking that being a ‘realist’ was always better than being an idealist. But the blogging community changed me, a dear friend and a blogger colleague helped me through a lot of pain, having been through abuse, violence and having no parents growing up too. She gave me words of infinite wisdom and would wipe away my virtual tears, if I needed someone to talk to. I remember being shocked as a photo of my dad popped up on Facebook, someone who I had not been with since I was 10 years old and being upset at the change. He looked so ‘different’ and it pained me that I would most likely never see him again. But there is more to this story then you will ever know; I haven’t spoken much about my mother on here, largely because her children are older and more prone to finding my blog than my dad’s kids. When I was 2 and a half she left my dad to sleep with other men and it wasn’t until I was 10, that we renewed our relationship again.
Since I was 10 years old, my relationship with my mum & co have been tumultuous and there would be times where she would keep cutting me out of her life or make up quite horrific stories about me and loved ones and it hurt a lot. I don’t want to talk about it too much, because its not my story to tell, but I haven’t seen my mum in two years. When she’s ready to see me again, I will be here, but until then I have let go of my pain and anger and I feel much better for it.
Learning how to conquer my demons and become more positive is hard. I have an anxiety disorder, social anxiety and depression and when the darkness clouds my thoughts it can be a struggle to see the light. But talking about it and acknowledging that I needed help was the step in the right direction that I needed. I have periods where I am really happy and then weeks where I am really low, but overall my mental health became much better in 2017, than it had in 2016. I would say that the biggest step was surrounding myself with wonderful, positive people but also changing my own energy. I stopped feeling sorry for myself , stopped giving a f**k about what others thought about me and most of all learned that even on the darkest day, there is always light to equate the darkness. Whenever I am feeling low I think about the things that make me happy; the pugs lolling around at my feet, the cats climbing into my lap, friends, family, my blog. You readers give me strength and with each post that I read, I feel stronger, knowing that no matter how many times I fall into the darkness, there will always be someone to lend me a helping hand.
I Started Making Money From My Blog
I learned how to celebrate life’s small victories, when someone subscribed to my blog I cheered, when someone commented on my posts my heart would swell with joy and when I connected with fellow bloggers and heard their stories, I realized I was not alone anymore. I read narratives where bloggers had been abused, raped, sexually harassed,escaped horrific situations, had suicidal thoughts and lost loved ones. But the one thing that united us all was the need to find a seed of ‘beauty’ amidst our pain and turn it into something good, that would help us heal as time went on. I’m never going to pretend that I am 100% over my demons nor will I shy away from the fact that there have been times where I have been heavily medicated because I was so unhappy. But despite the lows, I am in a much better frame of mind than I have ever been and when I started making money from my blog, I realized that I could turn this passion which I loved with all of my heart into a career. I did it, the first cheque rolled in and while I’m never going to make millions, I am proud of myself for taking the plunge and learning how to set up a business completely from scratch.
I may not earn a lot, I may not have enough to fly first class to France, but I tell you what I do have,you guys. Without my readers I would still be stuck in a job that I do not like, without your encouragement I would never have learned how to monetize my blog and most of all thank you to everyone who has mentored and guided me, I am truly grateful.
I Co-Founded An Events Company For Bloggers With My Friend
2017 might have been the year that everything changed but it wasn’t until 2018, that our events company began… When I attended events, there were times where I felt excluded, where people wouldn’t talk to me because I didn’t have much of a following. Or where brands would ‘favour certain people’ and would undermine the rest. I wanted to make a change and show that there were amazing bloggers out there who deserved their chance to shine. Who shouldn’t have an X amount of followers to be able to work with brands or network with bloggers. Whether you have 500 followers or 50,000 don’t base your connections on the basis of someone’s social media following , its not cool. Me and my friend Giulia had the same vision, we had been to many of the same events and realized how ‘micro-influencers’ were always overlooked in favour of those who had more followers.
We had gone to events were brands would never contact you again or you would pay out money for an exclusionary experience, where people wouldn’t talk to you and we wanted to make a change. A few days ago we finally took the plunge and set up an event for bloggers, where we will be hosting masterclasses on how to ‘grow your following’, how to pitch to brands and create long lasting partnerships and more. Alongside the talks we will have brands showcasing their products and looking for bloggers to partner with, spanning genres like food, beauty, skincare and more. Most of all alongside the competitions, giveaways and goody bags we want to create a community where everyone feels welcome. Our slogan is ‘All Bloggers Matter’ and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
There is more to 2017 that meets the eye and some things that I am not quite ready to talk about yet but I will tell you this. Positivity is a mantra, every cloud has a silver lining and with every drop in the ocean, is a mermaid waiting to be reborn. Because I am that mermaid reborn; childhood abuse made me a warrior, bullying made me stop pretending to be someone that I was not and sometimes fear is the adrenaline you need to make a change.
As for for 2018, Lets Wait And See…
Was 2017 The Year That Everything Changed For You Too?
*If you are interested in attending our first blogger event on the 27th January in Chancery Lane, Central London, CLICK HERE to buy your tickets NOW!
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