Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Being Brave

Yesterday I returned home from a 4-day trip to a lovely country Manor house in Derbyshire.  I went completely on my own and met up with 11 other girls – who I had never ever met before.  Pretty crazy right?


The story goes I started this blog as an escape over four years ago now, and of course blogging has changed course a lot over the years.  Along that journey I have met so many wonderful people, who I never imagined I would be able to meet in ‘real life’.  The Internet will always provide that barrier from reality.

I’m painfully shy, and lack such confidence in myself – which would deem this whole trip impossible for someone like me. I have been reading some of these girls blogs for years, that and the fact we have bonded over letter writing and other shared interests, I feel a real connection.  (I know non-blog folk, may think strange of it, but the bonds we form through the Internet is quite astonishing).
(Me and the lovely Char)
 
For me this adventure was about being brave, doing something I have never done before and digging deep for some confidence.

I knew we were in for a real treat staying at Norbury Manor (amazing choice Alex), I enjoyed every single minute of escape, because no phone signals and being located in the middle of nowhere can be a blessing.

The initial meet and greet was pretty nerve-wracking, and I think I wasn’t alone in feeling a little bit anxious.  Some of the girls I had known for quite some time, but some only recently.

I’ve had my struggles over the past year, and I try not to let it ruin my life, or affect every aspect of it, but you know sometimes it’s incredibly impossible to not let it wear you down.   This weekend has taught me that I can have fun, if I allow myself to.  And not just a little, a LOT.  Allowing that cloud to shift makes everything so much clearer.


(Me and Gem from Fat Frocks)
 
The other 11 girls have shown me it’s okay to be ‘me’ – all this self-doubt and negativity in my mind is nothing but that.  I punish myself when I get rejected, or have a knock-back, I forever question my ability, my appearance, my weight, even the smallest details, I forever criticise.  But I’ve finally realised – it’s okay to be me.

I laugh far too loud – and far too much, (cue hysterical uncontrollable laughter), but that is me.  I have a sense of humour where I genuinely find sometimes ordinary things really quite funny.  
 I don’t have perfect hair, and sometimes don’t even bother wearing make-up – but that’s okay, because sometimes perfection is overrated.  My fashion sense is a funny one, because I’ve never really done the whole fashion thing on my blog.  Yet it may surprise you when I tell you how much I used to love fashion, and clothes...

When I left college, I gave up dressing creatively and as I’ve got older I’ve felt a great gap grow in my wardrobe.  At each Birthday, I’ve convinced myself I’m too old for ‘fashion’ (which I now know sounds ridiculous).

There’s always been a part of me longing for the old me.  The girl who would wear stripe tights and statement necklaces, and even make her own DIY clothes – it’s hard to believe how far you can alienate yourself from the old you.
This weekend the thought of staying with fashion bloggers scared me a little, wondering what the hell I could possibly wear to not look like a complete alien.  I don’t spend a lot on clothes (literally no more than a couple of pounds here and there), fortunately I work at a charity shop so that’s pretty useful, but you know the feeling of wanting, but knowing there is no possible way of having.  That’s always been my relationship with clothes.

Guess what? I managed to bundle some bits together in my case, and I actually really liked what I chose.  The irony is that my scarf only cost a £1 in Primark the week prior to my trip and I wore it all weekend long, my Wellibobs (a bargain from eBay) which I’ve never been brave enough to wear  outside before were my saviour and the other bits in-between were mostly second-hand.

If I can jumble together a decent outfit (I felt comfortable and happy in), then why don’t I bloody do this more often?  Why do I spend the rest of the year dressing so depressingly?

I knew this weekend might involve some photo sessions, and in normal life I would usually sit out of this one, but with this trying something different lark, I gave it a chance.  Trusting someone (the oh so lovely Sophie) to take photographs is quite a big step for me.  Normally I am quick to dismiss a photo, and hate the idea of someone looking through a lens at me.  But I’ve realised we all as a collective group pretty much felt the exact same way… impossible to photograph yourself, yet amazing results when you enlist the help of a friend.  Even the obligatory group shot was fun... #TeamNorbury


I’ve realised we are all different, we all have different circumstances, life’s beyond our blogs, but the one thing we all have in common and enjoy is our mutual love for our creative outlets –be it fashion, crochet, craft, baking, knitting, writing and that is ultimately what made this weekend so special in my eyes.

I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be brave.  It’s okay to try something new, do something different, take a risk, and most of all stop beating myself up for all of the ‘not so good stuff’.  One day I will get there, we all have our own struggles, our own battles to fight, however small or great; we can still live our lives to the full potential, and be happy with what we do have and most importantly remember to have some fun along the way.


A heartfelt thank you goes out to: Alex, Char, Sophie, Rosie, Bex, Lucy, Sarah, Sarah, Gemma, Maria and Chloe  for helping me see the real me again.


 
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17 comments

  1. I am so envious of your girly time! x

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  2. This is awesome, I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself and the location looks wonderful! xxx

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  3. Alice this post has been music to my ears (or rather eyes?!) I'm so very glad that you were brave and that in taking the plunge you had such a wonderful time!

    Jem xXx

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    1. P.S Completely with you on spending very little on fashion - but that doesn't have to mean dressing like a schoolteacher on a field trip - you are right! You've inspired me to be a little more choosy in my own wardrobe! x

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  4. Aah this was lovely. I am very glad you came to be a Lady of the Manor with us.

    I too had the same stresses about going away with a load of fashion bloggers - you need nerves of steel I've decided!

    And we'll always have Embarassing Bodies...

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    1. Us fashion bloggers really aren't too scary are we? You've all seen me in my pjs without make up on now. I'm really loud and come across as confident but I worry that I talk to much or too loudly but everyone was so lovely this weekend that I didn't worry about it too much.

      It was lovely to meet you, I hope we can all be ladies of the manor again soon xx

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  5. Yikes, you are brave to meet up with so many stylish ladies. But you absolutely don't look out of place in any of the photos - glad you're getting your clothing (and social) confidence back. I've lost some weight since last Summer and am finally feeling myself returning to who I used to be, it's great. (Not that I'm suggesting clothes ability is related to weight usually - it just was for me, I didn't know what to wear any more)
    So glad you had such a good time xx

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  6. So glad to hear that you had a wonderful positive time. You all look fabulous! You were indeed very brave to come out of your comfort zone, I know what it is like to be incredibly shy (I have to say I've improved with age, though I still have doubts and my eldest daughter seems to have inherited my shyness.) You are yourself and a wonderful unique person, it is so good to see you celebrate and accept that.

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  7. It was brilliant to meet you Alice! The pictures you posted are lovely, the group ones were hilarious!
    Such a great time x

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  8. Good for you girl - looks a gorgeous setting for a meet up too.

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  9. It was so lovely to meet you! I was panicking before going away and some people I had already met, so yes you were very brave! I had an AMAZING time though and I hope I see you again soon! :)

    Maria xxx

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  10. I'm so glad that you had a great time. I was a little nervous about going - I don't ever think of myself as a "Fashion Blogger", and recently more than ever I've been struggling with my self-confidence. I think it can take a lot to be brave. But it's really good to realise that sometimes, the things you're most scared of are in your head, and that's something I really need to work on.
    I'm so glad to have finally met you x x

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  11. I think I maybe wasn't feeling the nerves so much cos I knew everyone in advance (online, obviously) and I was panicking more about the travel arrangements and the practical stuff. So I'm delighted yet sort of unsurprised that everyone got on so well - I knew we would!

    As for the fashion blogger thing, it struck me from looking at the group photos that I don't think any of us are exactly stereotypical fashion bloggers. Yes, lots of us talk about clothes online but everyone wore things that suited them that weekend rather than trying to be super stylish on purpose and the Manor wasn't exactly drowning in bowler hats and other hipster things! And like Gem says, we've all seen each other in pj's, hoodies and no make-up now!

    I'm so glad you came and that you had a fab time. It was great to finally meet you.

    ps - I love your laugh! You are so happy all the time, it's really lovely.

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  12. This post made me all warm and lovely! I'm so proud of you, Alice, it is difficult to conquer shyness and spend a long weekend with strangers but it's patently obvious how well you all got on and you all look totally relaxed and happy and who wouldn't in such a stunning location?
    xxx

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  13. What a lovely post... Here's to being brave! It sounds like you all had loads of fun.

    P.S. There's no such thing as laughing 'too much'... xx

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  14. Firstly, they wouldn't have invited you if they didn't like you and want you there. It was brave of you to take the plunge and go along, but it sounds like this may be the turning point for you realising you are worthy of other people's time and attention. People LIKE you Alice, so carry on coming out of your shell and hopefully your confidence will blossom.

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  15. What a lovely post! Well done for overcoming your shyness and I am so glad you enjoyed it! I hope you continue to gain confidence and nothing wrong with a loud laugh (it's usually infectious!). I can't believe I've never visited your blog before, I've seen you on so many comment boxes of bloggers I really like like Sophie! Lovely to meet you! x

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