|Sometimes a change of perspective is a good thing. If you can stand on a giant log to get it, even better!|
At long last, Beyond the Beauty Hall has had a lick of paint and I've upgraded to a shiny new blog layout. Yep, it's time for a fresh start. If you look to the right (and above, and below), you'll notice that I now have a profile picture and blog photos where my face isn't obscured (*hello!*) as after five years, I'm finally ready to put myself into this site, instead of just hiding behind my keyboard forever. *Deep breath* Here goes...
For a long time, I've struggled to acknowledge that my blog is an achievement and something that I should be proud of. It's been difficult to admit to myself, let alone write it down here, but there has been a reason bigger than just 'bloggers' block' that's diverted me from regular posting in recent years. I've not felt confident to be visible on my blog, despite the fact that my favourite blogs are written by women who are a constant feature in their content, and I've gradually allowed myself to brand my own offering 'not good enough' without addressing the issues that held me back from making a change.
In addition to this, I found myself opting out of the blogging community, refusing to acknowledge that I often felt too nervous to attend launches and events. In the early days of my blog, receiving invitations to events was the most dizzyingly exciting feeling, but as time passed, this was soon overtaken by an altogether less enjoyable feeling. I would arrive at a beautiful venue after work, feeling a little frazzled, look around and find myself thinking, 'I don't belong here.' I was worried that however well I came across from behind my screen, I didn't quite match the 'ideal' blogger image when I showed up in person. I would never say I've lacked confidence, but in this glossy world, I have to confess that I've passed up some great opportunities because I'd decided that I just didn't fit the brief, whatever I imagined that brief might be.
The fabulous Zoe of From 1989 wrote a fantastic post on her experience with social anxiety earlier this year, and so beautifully articulated how I've felt since becoming a blogger. Despite loving the beauty world and always meeting such lovely people through blogging, I would so often find myself preparing for an event and simultaneously running through my mental checklist of why I shouldn't go to whatever soiree I'd been invited to: I looked tired; I would be so much older than everyone else (I'm 32 now, so I was still in my 20s for some of this!); my outfit wasn't right; I won't know anyone; everyone else will know each other. All of a sudden, I'd convinced myself that I'd be much happier if I worked late, or just went home instead. I look back on all the times I let my nerves drive me and I want to shake myself. I'd never focus on the fact that, on all the occasions I convinced myself to go, I had great fun and met lovely people.
In part, my reason for writing this post is because I want to acknowledge how I've felt and as a final step in moving on from it, but it's also because I'm sure I'm not the only person who has felt like this at one point or another. It sounds silly to say, but it's only recently dawned on me that I might not have been the only person at an event to feel a little shy, a little overwhelmed, or maybe even a little out of place. It's taken a long time to realise that I was always 'worthy' of an invitation, and I'm focusing on remembering that if doors are opening or opportunities are presenting themselves, it's often because I have earned them or, of all the mad things, because I'm doing something *good* that people *like*.
If any of this resonates, take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back. It might be a while since you've done that. Feels good, right? Let's go on...
For years, I kept my blog a secret from all but my closest friends, thinking that people would judge me, or think me self-indulgent or vain. So, to recap, I had, in the same thought, decided that there was one group of people who thought I wasn't good enough to sit with them, and another group who would think I thought *I* was too good to sit with them. When it's written down, it makes *no* sense. Yet of course, whenever I 'confessed' to my dark little secret, people thought it was fantastic and something to be proud of. In hindsight, I felt like I would be judged harshly by everyone, and yet the only person judging me was me.
In my time off from blogging, I've reflected a lot on this and I hope that I'm able to return with a more authentic approach. It's true that comparison is the thief of joy, and instead of ranking myself below everybody else, I'm going to be proud of what I put out there (both in this blog and in life more generally). If I can leave you with one message, it would be to do the same. Life truly is what we make of it, and if you're lucky enough to get what you dream of, be sure to grab it with both hands, never doubting for a second that it's meant for you. You might not get a second swing, so be proud, and go forward with confidence.