*tries hard not to cringe at the header image*

Practice makes perfect right? I had those poses from EARLY.

I feel like this blog post is overdue. Overdue for those who ask me on numerous occasions, but mostly overdue for me to share my experiences when it could subsequently help anyone that reads this. Importantly, despite this being focused on my story and how I got into Instagram and Blogging – the facts remain that YOU can do ANYTHING, big or small, whatever you wish and desire to do. So, even if Instagram and social media isn’t your thing; maybe this small feature of written word could inspire and motivate you in other ways.

I’ve always loved taking photos. Photos of my Barbie’s on my first film camera, to bullying my younger sisters into me doing their hair, make-up (questionably) and posing on our bunkbeds.

If you have known me, you will know that even when times advanced from Bebo to Facebook – I still staged my photos, self-timer coming into play against any blank wall I could find. And although I remember there being some derogatory whispers through the grape vine about my photos against a white wall - there was something about dressing up and posing for a photo I always seemed to enjoy.

Now the logical explanation and easy answer to this would be that I wanted to model. Which, I’ll admit I always loved the idea of. However, throughout a few insecurities in school and the odd remark about my nose (especially when that stupid ask.fm was the hype, I think “carrot nose” was the term used…) – the concept of then exposing myself for more criticism was scary. That, among never having great skin and big boobs like so many girls at school, insecurities built a wall against any dream of mine. So from then on, I never considered modelling or being in front of the camera a career path, rather something I just enjoyed privately and only with those I was close enough to. Instead, I found my passion behind the camera – leading me to my current degree.

After doubts of my initial course choice – Fashion Promotion and Imaging, which was primarily a photography degree, I impulsively changed to the Marketing and Management alternative; which is ultimately a business degree. So even my idea of being behind the camera quickly fizzled as a career path. I couldn’t fault this decision now, I’m currently waiting to start my third year in September, and I couldn’t be more eager.

Moving from the quiet county of Devon up to South London was the making of my self-confidence. Now I’m not saying you need to move your life 200 miles up the country to discover your confidence, but it took me getting out of my comfort zone and bubble of self-reservation to reach where I believe I am now. I don’t want to shame where I’m from, or any friends and acquaintances I had around me, as I’m a firm believer that these people have shaped my life and made me into the woman I’m becoming. But I always felt like due to my environment; I had to hold back, with my confidence, with my humour, with just being myself. I had strong personalities around me, and we all had our ‘roles’, I was just the quiet, reserved and selfie-lead one. I accepted this, and it worked well for the years through school and sixth form. Not till meeting new people and leaving everyone from Devon, did I realise that [that girl in Devon] wasn’t me at all. In London I felt no need to hold back, no need to care if anything I did was out the “norm”- because these new friends didn’t know me or how I used to be. For once in my life, I feel like I have created more organic friendships; purely down to the fact I am 100% myself around them. Once you feel yourself, it comes hand in hand with your confidence. No force needed, I confidently was myself.

This is where Instagram happened. From years of reserving how I wanted to express myself online, I felt with the reassurance of not seeing or being around anyone who had pre-conceptions of me; I could do and post whatever I wished. So in the February of 2016, a few months into being at university, I started posting more selfies, outfit pictures with no fear of being made fun of. Naturally with my degree and interests, I was following more Fashion Bloggers, brands and celebrities. My knowledge of fashion, and my own style was then growing by the influences around me. I was approached by a T-shirt brand, who had seen my pictures and wanted to send me a free T-shirt in return of a post. FAB. Free clothes, and all they want is for me to take a picture in it?! Easy.

This concept was new to me, but I loved it – I loved any reason to take a photo. I think I only had 2,000 followers at the time, but this was enough for them to pay interest. Once I had posted for them, they reposted my image, and were asking me for more. Not soon after that, someone had seen me ‘promoting’ and asked me to post for their dress company, and so the snowball started rolling.

Naturally, my desire for fashion, make up and modelling was seen – and I believe this is how I fell into Blogging. I didn’t force or try to create my own fate, but the passion was seen – and was believable. I couldn’t care about free clothes, or if I had 100 followers – I would still be posting my outfits and posing against a blank wall as long as I want to.

I was fortunate that this ‘snowball’ just kept growing without me really doing anything that I wasn’t doing already. But my advice for anyone that wants to grow their Instagram influence, or any social media – it’s down to consistency and being organically YOU. Show interest in other bloggers, in brands, and post like you have thousands of followers already. Create YouTube videos – even if they get one view from your mum. Trust me when I say, if you are doing what you love, people will see that and have an automatic interest. It‘s undeniable when it’s real.

Once my following, and interest for my content grew, so did my confidence that what I was doing was being appreciated by other people and not hated on. Probably when I reached 20,000 at the end of the last year did I consider the reality that I can turn myself into a business – and make my love for fashion and influencing an income. Aside from the perks of there being a lot of money in Social Media, there’s so many benefits to being an ‘influencer’ and Blogger that I never knew of. Through events at amazing locations, I’ve met so many like-minded girls - many now I’d consider friends, I’ve recently had the amazing luxury of a complimentary holiday, I’ve travelled to cities I’ve never visited in my own country, and all because I am myself. Ironically, through years of wanting to change myself so badly – I’m now wanted and loved just because I am the way I am. If that doesn’t give me confidence, I don’t know what else would.

I’d never imagined I’d be in the position I’m in now, if you’d told me three years ago I would have laughed in your face; I couldn’t have comprehended travelling alone and meeting new people, shooting in front of 6 – 10 people in a studio or even out in the streets of the city with a public audience. But learning to let go of what people thought of me was the best decision I ever made, and it set me free.

Don’t go thinking I’m now the most confident person ever, and I recklessly don’t care what anyone thinks of me; because it’s not that extreme. Confidence and self-love is an ever-growing and developing process that could take a hit or increase at any moment; throughout our lives our confidence will be a mad flow chart of declines and climaxes. Learning to notice what or who declines it is vital, and erasing those weak links are fundamental to your growth. I mean, you wouldn’t keep filling up a bucket of water if it had a hole in would you?

I have less care for what people think of me now, and that’s also come with age and maturity. I’ve lost friends, and lost trust in people who I thought would always have my back. Therefore, you need to remember that at the end of the day when the chips are down – the only person who cares for you, is you. You can’t control people’s thoughts or actions, or how they choose to treat you. But you can choose how much you let them affect you. Your positivity, and mind-set can control anything that happens to you.

So I won’t go on forever, as I could preach about confidence and self-love FOREVER.

But I want to end with saying, if you can take anything away from this;

Do WHATEVER you want to do, and do not care about the opinions of those around you. Don’t let other people’s fears and insecurities determine your happiness.

Also: A reminder that it’s okay to not know what you want to do in life, but whatever you do in the meantime – do it with everything you have. Life is a long journey that a lot of us sleep through – therefore it passes quickly. There’s tempting parking spaces along the way, and it’s okay to make a pit stop – but remember we all have our destinations, and you will discover it through a few mistakes and break downs.

Go reset that satnav and keep going! Make sure you give yourself a pat on the back too, because you’ve come pretty far already.

Till next time...