By a millennial that grew up in the Internet age.
As a fairly self-conscious and shy individual, it comes as a real surprise to people that know me ‘in real life’ that I write a blog for public consumption and have next to no qualms with sharing mundane details of my life to thousands of strangers. Being shy has been the bane of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I suppose it was a little more acceptable: ‘Oh she’ll learn!’ they’d say. But as the years passed and my confidence only seemed to plummet, I began to worry how I’d survive in the real world.
Secondary school was an absolute minefield for reasons that I’ve discussed time and time again, and the school bullies only worsened the situation. I’d go home and dream of the day that I became a writer, writing in vain about all of the travesties I’d dramatically faced as a teenager, writing about how it felt to be me, writing fictional tales, too, of a more courageous girl. And when it came to things like career advice meetings, with teachers that’d known me since Year 7, I’d always be advised against pursuing fashion, journalism or any of the creative pursuits I’d dreamt up. ‘You’d be great at customer service, teaching, a doctor.’ Nobody ‘got me’ and so nobody could help me build confidence.
I discovered MySpace at the tender age of 15 and that is when my after-school life changed. I found it almost impossible to express myself and my personality in real life but online, that extra time allowed you to present yourself in a more accurate way without the fear of vomming all over somebody just to say a sentence with the words in the correct order! The mantra ‘fake it ’til you make it’ became ingrained in me and slowly but surely, my confidence grew whilst I feigned my ideal persona.
1. Finding fresh opportunities
Your shyness, that is. I remember taking University as a fresh slate, a place where I could start anew, where nobody knew of my inability to talk in front of groups of more 4 close friends or that I would blush all day everyday. I remember taking full advantage of being surrounded by fresh faces and trying to be a ‘new me’ and to this day, I fully credit University for shaping me into the person I am today. My years at University were full of adulting endeavours, including my flatmates and I bumbling through the laundry room process together, contributing to the obligatory ‘chunder chart’, doing the food shop together, getting locked out together, but nothing quite beat the exhilaration of pretending to be confident so frequently that I could adopt that as part of my personality.
2. It’s infectious
Once I’d developed the first seedlings of confidence at University and returned home for Christmas, my home friends noticed. These were the girls who’d seen me through all manner of embarrassing secondary school activities and who I genuinely felt like ‘myself’ around pre-University, so it was a huge step that they felt I was growing in confidence. And once that happened, it was completely infectious. Faking it had become a thing of the past and I’d stepped into a whole new chapter, learning how I could put my own stamp on confidence. I mean, you still wouldn’t see me talking to a stranger but I could probably make small talk without going bright red and I could probably go to the library on my own without holding a mate’s hand.
3. Learning on the job
Finally, I must credit this here blog for shaping me into the semi-confident semi-adult that I am today. For years I’d dreamt of becoming a writer with no idea what one did or how to get there and back in 2008, I could begin to see a crazy future ahead for blogs. I remember receiving my first event invitation (it was to a London Fashion Week show!), I remember being one of eight bloggers at the first ever Glossybox event, I remember my first breakfast meeting with a PR… And I also remember feeling, again, terrified. But I pushed myself, put on a ‘confident fashion blogger’ face and did them all and it honestly led to my first job, my first client and brought me here, a business owner and writer.
Thank you, one-time Pinterest quote fave, for being my greatest teacher.
Photos by Sophie Warner.
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