We all have our own journeys to develop our sense of self. The self that makes you happy, and the self you always wanted to find. I don't pretend to have reached the end, but I definitely come a long way. I would say I am a happy person, and I'm pretty happy with myself. But it certainly wasn't always this way.
I found my teens tough. Here I am about 13, and at 13 I already felt like I wasn't good enough. Too fat, too spotty, too awkward. Not popular enough - with boys and girls. The hormones rushing around my body made my life miserable. On paper life wasn't bad, I had friends, I did well at school and nothing too terrible had happened to me. But it didn't stop it all feeling out of control. Being a teenager is so hard!
Despite feeling like I was so gross that no one would ever fancy me, I had boyfriends from 14 onwards. They didn't change how I felt about myself though! Here I am aged 17, when I met the boyfriend I would end up moving in. I was actually in this dress when we met. I still felt fat and ugly most days.
I think this was one of the first few weeks of univeristy, but I went late, so I am 21 here. I was excited to move away from London, and start again. I had left home at 18, so moving to uni wasn't the first time I'd lived alone, but it was further away from home.
Before going to uni at 21, I had travelled solo, and worked abroad on my own. I continued my travels during uni, heading to America 3 times (twice to volunteer and once to do a work placement), India and Kenya (both to volunteer). All of these trips were made on my own. Travelling and working alone certainly challenge you to just get on with it.
I skip a few years now. I left uni and got a teaching job. Slowly my style choices became further and further from mainstream fashion. Here I am, with my first attempt at bettie bangs (home cut) and my first 'alternative' dress.I suddenly found myself starting to accept that I didn't have to look a certain way, and I got a lot of positive feedback.
I am a big believer in 'doing' so as I started exploring an 'alternative' interest I wanted to meet new people. Here I am at an online burlesque meet. I arrived, knowing no one, but years on from this picnic, I am still friends with three of the ladies in this pic. You really can create a new life for yourself - I promise!
Here I am, working my very first burlesque night! I had been nervous....and still had that awful belief that I was too fat and unglamorous to get involved with burlesque clubs. This night was the start of a new regular job, which enabled me to make many new awesome friends, who remain friends despite me now 'retiring' from stage managering.
My point is that we really are in control of our lives. My life is not perfect, but I no longer think I'm fat, and I'm happy. But that didn't happen by accident. I took proactive steps to change what I didn't like. I have been on countless meet-ups (these used to be from forums, but are now tweet-ups etc) to make new friends and mix with different circles and I try to work on solutions to things I'm not happy with, rather than just moaning.
I'm still a work in progress, but I hope that by sharing my journey, you may be encouraged to think of your own. Decide where you want to be, and make steps to get there.