A couple of days ago, my friend Leanne posted an old picture of herself online and talked about how she was bullied for being fat when in reality she was a healthy, normal size. She wished how she would go back in time and tell her old self that she didn’t need to worry so much. This got me thinking about my own experience with changing from an insecure, timid individual to a reasonably confident and happy 20 year old. This blog post is also partly inspired by Musicalbethan’s video, Being The Ugly Duckling.
This was me when I was 9 years old on a family holiday in Spain. Any other person who saw this photo would think I was a happy chap. And yet, at that time, I was in primary school, being bullied by anyone who laid their eyes on me. I had hardly any friends and the friends I did have, bullied me too most of the time. When I tried to get help from the teachers, they didn’t do anything and even told me it was my fault I was being bullied. It may not look like it here, but that smile was a clever poker face, which hid how miserable I had become.
I used to hate the way I looked. There has never been a time in my life where I don’t remember being confident (besides now to an extent). I was never bullied for my appearance usually, everyone attacked my personality and how “weird” I was. I liked “boy’s” toys and I would spend my time pretending to be Lara Croft (Tomb Raider was the bomb!) in the playground. Apparently, many people didn’t like that and proceeded to make me feel like a freak. Name calling, practical jokes, even physical abuse sometimes made me think I was some kind of horrible creature. I thought I was fat, ugly, some kind of monster and by the time I had left secondary school, my anxiety had really kicked in and I was convinced I would die alone.
This photo was taken a couple of years later. I was roughly 13/14 years old here. At this point, the bullying had died down significantly as I found some new friends and started to get small bouts of confidence here and there, which meant most people ignored me. But the bullies from primary made friends too and they joined in on it. I had managed to master blocking everyone out in class who tried to get a reaction from me, which made things more difficult for them. I also got help from my English teacher Mrs Victor who found out about my bullying and told me I never deserved it in the first place. I am forever in her debt for that act of kindness.
This one is slightly more recent and from a point in time which I like to call my “weaboo” phrase. I was a big anime kid when I was 15/16 years old and I absolutely reveled in it. This kind of clothing was all I would wear outside of school as I hated they way everyone else dressed. I hated dressing up and looking nice because I was afraid of what everyone else would think of me. You know those Tumblr posts that talk about stupid girls saying “they’re not like other girls”? Yeah…I was one of those people. I thought I was a special little snowflake not going out and getting drunk every weekend and not dressing to the norm like everyone else. I was a horrible person during this time. I pushed away a lot of people because I had my head so far up my own ass and yet was scared of how others would perceive me due to anxiety. I also dated a guy who I really, really shouldn’t have and that had a huge effect on me too.
This was when I was 17, on a family holiday on France. I had hit rock bottom at this point. A lot of personal things had happened during my first year of A-Levels which made my anxiety completely freak out and drive me crazy. I would spend most nights crying in my bed and wishing for something to take me away from it all. I even had suicidal thoughts some nights but I never acted on them. It was a very difficult time especially being combined with the stress of A Level exams too. That experience changed me completely but whether it was for better or worse, I’m not too sure. 2012 was most certainly one of the worst years of my life.
This was taken when I had just started university. The gorgeous little baby is my friend’s daughter Megan, who is the craziest kid I have ever met (and my family is full of crazy kids…that’s no mean feat!) You can see that my hair is bright red as I dyed it straight after my last A-Level exam. My confidence was starting to peak up at this point as I was surrounded by class mates who actually liked me and didn’t judge me on who I was. Around this time, I started to make YouTube videos on my HollyStockport channel and I discovered a lot of my favorite YouTubers who were instrumental in helping my confidence and my eventual love of fashion develop along the way.
I look back at this photo and think how silly I must have looked to my friends and family posting this! This photo was taken in May 2013, when I bought a pair of skinny jeans for the first time. They were a plain and simple black pair from Primark and still reside in my wardrobe today. I had never dreamed of wearing a pair of jeans like this and because I was a “special little snowflake”, I avoided them like the plague. But I bit the bullet and found that I rather liked them. I now own at least 7 or 8 pairs!
This was taken back in September and is featured on a Outfit of the Evening post for my friend’s 21st. Look at the difference in style and fashion! This outfit is something I would never have thrown together when I was younger and if I told my past self that I would become this, I have no idea what she would think! You can see that I started to experiment with makeup a lot more too since coming into fashion on my own terms and I find that I like to play about with it. Leaving secondary school behind and going to university was the best decision I’ve made in terms of peaking confidence. I take pride and fun into what I wear and how I style it. I imagine my past self would hate this and she would hate to think that this is who she would have become. But it’s amazing to see what 2 years away from the bullies can do to someone’s confidence levels.
My past self had a hard time. She really did. Battling with anxiety and feeling like she was alone in the world, it was tough going on her. But the most important thing is, she made it out alive and is now happier than she’s ever been. She’s got a job, great friends, amazing family, a loving boyfriend and a big ass dream that she’ll stop at nothing to achieve. Even if she didn’t want to become like this, opening her eyes to the world after school has done her a lot of good.
Have you experienced changes in your life that have left you a different person?