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)
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.
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.