My Perfect Imperfection

The first thing I ever posted on this blog was a coming out story, of sorts. A literal moment of truth. I guess this whole blog has been a coming out story…a story about who I am and how I’m learning not to live up or down to people’s expectations of me. My adventures. My stories, my scars, my pretty things, just like it says up there in my header.

That header represents a promise to you guys, and to myself, that I won’t just show you the pretty things. I’ll show you the scars, and tell you the stories behind them. Writing that first post was one of the most terrifying, painful, cathartic things I’ve ever done. But so many people reached out to me afterwards and told me that they’d been going through the exact same thing. The post-graduation slump. That reading it written out like that had made them feel less alone. What I had seen as imperfection, other people saw as strength and beauty.

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I went to see a comedy show this week by the fantastic Juliette Burton. Look at Me follows Juliette’s struggles with eating disorders, lorded over by Tanya, the super-slim, effortlessly beautiful girl who peers out of every magazine, telling Juliette that she isn’t good enough. I have a Tanya of my own, but she’s more insidious. She’s the hardworking blogger who juggles a burgeoning digital marketing career with insightful think-pieces and glamorous events. She has thick, swishy hair, a grown up girl blazer, a capsule wardrobe and beautiful handwriting. Her world is made of Pinterest-white-walls, Instagrammable brunch meetings and pretty print notebooks. She’s beautiful and funny, and of course she has flaws, but they’re endearing ones. Like in Sandra Bullock movies where they’re worried she’s too perfect, so they make her clumsy, or ditzy, or make her snort when she laughs.

And the scariest thing about my Tanya? I could conceivably pretend to be her. Online, at least. I could pitch myself as glamorous and sweet and unfluffable and relentlessly positive. But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is my little corner of the internet in which to tell my truth. And that’s what I’ll do, forever.

My Tanyas fill my social media streams every minute of every day, each perfect cappuccino and flawless white apartment a tiny reminder that everyone seems to be moving faster than me. And I’m not gonna contribute to that. I have an amazing, wonderful life, and I am so, so grateful for it. But it, and I are both so far from perfect. I want you, my lovely readers, to share in my joys and celebrate my successes. But to pretend that they’re not balanced out by flaws and tough moments is dishonest to you and to myself. I won’t be somebody else’s Tanya.

This weekend, I was invited to speak to a lovely bunch of aspiring beauty bloggers and thinking about what to say really forced me to think about what kind of blog this is, what kind of girl I am. And the truth is, I am imperfect. Wonderfully, outrageously imperfect. I know in my heart that my strength lies in my difference, but that doesn’t stop me walking into rooms and wondering whether everyone in them is staring at me. I procrastinate endlessly because sometimes that’s easier than trying my hardest and failing anyway. I self-sabotage because sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve the amazing things that I have. Sometimes I am so afraid of my own potential that I want to run away. Sometimes I wonder whether my life has really changed since I graduated. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m letting everyone down. Sometimes, something knocks my confidence and I cry myself to sleep.

Tanya wouldn’t do any of that.

But Tanya also wouldn’t spend an evening with her family attempting to fit a party popper on her nose.

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She wouldn’t write an obscure semi-paranormal young adult novel just because she suddenly felt inspired. She probably doesn’t know the cha cha slide, or the entire script to Fried Green Tomatoes. She doesn’t make the world’s most delicious, but ugliest cakes. She definitely doesn’t have a weird obsession with German cinema or true crime stories. She does not love Cluedo. Or eat meatballs straight from the pan with a hunk of bread. She doesn’t throw open her windows in the middle of storms because she loves the smell of the rain, or shiver at the sound of church bells. She doesn’t have a huge, mad, sprawling family. She never played a pregnant dominatrix in a show that her father watched from the third row.

387980_10150515779825809_1150577696_nShe can’t make balloon animals. She has never danced so enthusiastically that she fractured her auntie’s cheekbone and gave her a black eye. She doesn’t dream of owning a frog called Oliver. She probably would never have been broken enough, and brave enough to start this blog.

And if that’s what I would have to trade, I’m sorry folks, no deal. I don’t want to be Tanya. If you’ll have me, I’d love to keep having a go at being Fiona.

One Year On

So today marks one year exactly since I started writing my blog! Happy blogday to me!

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I have, of course made cupcakes, because any excuse, right?

But it’s also given me a really great excuse to look back over the past year, and it’s been amazing to do that. I know this blog is generally full of makeup, and my shoes disintegrating and me dressing up as Winnie from Hocus Pocus, but when I started, I wasn’t in a great frame of mind to think about any of that kind of stuff.

If you’ve never read my first post, here’s the short version:

I created this blog because I was depressed. I had been working for about a year in my “dream job”, and had known for quite a long time that it wasn’t making me happy anymore. But when I told people what I did, they would go “Ooooh, that’s amazing”, and look totally impressed. I had my big girl job, I was on the way up, I was A Success. I fell in love with this image of myself, and told myself that as long as nobody knew I was miserable, I’d be okay. Eventually, it got too much for me and I told everyone I knew, including the internet, in a crying jag that lasted about a week. I started this blog to let other people out there know that maybe it’s okay not to be okay, and to stop me shutting people out like that again. Two weeks later, I quit my job and signed up to an online counselling service. This was basically a collection of all the scariest things I could ever imagine doing, all happening at the same time.

Skip forward a year. How am I doing?

Well, I’m doing pretty great. I know lots of you have been following my blog and seeing me living it up in London, and to be honest, my life is going pretty damn amazingly. In the past year, I’ve seen this blog grow to be something that I’m really rather proud of, and it has charted my journey to being someone that I am really rather proud of. I’ve done some incredible things this year, and realised some really important stuff.

Firstly, don’t let anyone else ever, EVER tell you how you should go about being happy. People don’t come out of cookie cutters. Different things make different people happy, and we don’t ever get to judge someone’s success by our standards. Don’t ever be ashamed of what makes you happy, it’s such a waste of time and emotions and energy that would be better spent being smug about how happy you are.

Also, our idea of success is the most fucked up. The most fucked up. Apologies for swearing, most of you have probably noticed that my personal posts tend to get a bit sweary. I mean, how crazy is it that our primary, and sometimes only, barometer of success is the work that you do? Our careers have become the most important thing to strive for, we fall over ourselves to be busier than each other, to talk about how absolutely crammed our lives are with meetings and suits and serious-looking charts. Stop. If you have a high flying career that you adore, hats off to you. Seriously, that’s amazing, and I hope that it continues to bring you happiness. But what about the woman who spends her days pouring coffee and her nights making beautiful art? Or the guy who works a boring office job and struts out of the office at 5:01 every day, work forgotten. Or the stay at home mum whose life revolves around her kids. We look down on these people and we judge them because their lives don’t fit the specific image of success that we’ve spent so long building up. I did that to myself, and it made me really, seriously ill.

Doing stuff that scares you is incredible. This blog has pushed me to do so many things that I would never have done in a million years. I went to a champagne tasting in a skybar on my own. I handed my business card to a Radio One DJ. I blagged my way through countless beauty and fashion events where I felt in over my head the entire time. And it’s been one of the best years I can remember. Seriously, 2014’s photobook is gonna be an absolute corker. I try to say yes to things without even thinking, because I know that once I think about it, I’ll talk myself out of it.

The people who love you are the most valuable asset you will ever have. At points in this past year, I have had literally nothing. No money, no job, no self esteem, no idea what I was doing or where I was going. All I had were those people. They have mopped up buckets of tears, picked me up when I felt like I couldn’t take another step, forgiven me time and time and time again when I hurt them in fits of self destruction. I will never be able to express the gratitude and love that I feel for them. For my family. For Ruth. For Niall. For every single person who got in touch with me after I posted that first blog and told me that they felt the same. For the hundreds and thousands of hands that came out and took mine when I thought I was completely alone. People love you, I promise. Give them a chance to show you and you will be blown away by the kindness that they can show you. I know that I was.

Okay, I’m definitely crying a bit now.

When I started this blog, even when I started to get better, I was determined not to show you some squeaky clean, shiny, happy, perfect vision of my life. I wanted to be real, always. If people loved my writing, I wanted them to love my dark days, my mishaps, my swearing, my awkwardness, my everything. I wanted them to read it and go “Oh my god, thank god someone is talking about this”. Sometimes that means you have to write about porn. Sometimes it means admitting that you almost set yourself on fire taking your cute blogiversary photo. Sometimes it means you have to spill your entire heart on the internet. Social media is a god damn nightmare for making you think that everyone else has their life together. If I hadn’t started this blog and had people get in touch to say thank you, I would think I was the only one of my friends who felt like they lost control of their lives the second they graduated. We lie all the time on social media, and here, on my very own little corner of the internet, I don’t want to lie.

My life isn’t perfect. Depression isn’t the kind of thing that you just brush off and never think about ever again. There are days when I look in the mirror and all I see are flaws. There are days when I don’t look in the mirror because I don’t want to get out of bed. Despite everything that I went through, and all that very good advice up there, there is still a little voice in my head that goes “You’re working a nine to five? God, how embarrassing. You’d better say that quietly. You should probably become a space octonaut instead.” Seriously, I still have that fight with myself. But at least now, the bigger part of me knows that it’s bullshit. So I’m a little further along the path than I was. And I’m working on it every single day. I hope that some of you will stick around on this journey with me, thanks for coming this far.

The Liebster

So, I think this means I have officially been accepted as a member of the blogging community: I’ve just received a Liebster nomination.

Tah-dah!

Tah-dah!

Don’t get excited, we’re not going to an awards ceremony or anything (yet). A Liebster is like a wave hello from the blogging world. A hug, but in the form of a list of questions. I’d like to thank A South Wales Blog for my nomination, and for some seriously lovely comments about my little blog.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Fiona. I’m a 22 year old over-enthusiast, aspiring funny lady, and Glasgow girl, slowly adjusting to life here in London. Very slowly. Like, tortoise stampeding through peanut butter level slow. It’s quite a culture shock.

This is my blog, the Escapologist’s Daughter. I’d love to say it had some kind of mission statement, but to be honest, I just like to talk. Its only real purpose is so that I can share my questionable adventures with anyone who wants to listen.

With no further ado, let’s proceed to the lightning question round:

1. Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I hate peas. Bonus points to anyone who got that reference, although I actually do hate peas.

2. What’s your ‘pet hate’?

Cashiers who put your change on top of your receipt and give it to you in one big, awkward handful. SERIOUSLY CASHIERS, get it together. Also, the fact that the word “focusing” never looks like it’s spelled right. I still don’t know if it should have two “s”s. And raisins. Fuck raisins.

3. What do you love about blogging?

The conversations that it starts! It never fails to surprise me, the things that people are interested in, or find funny, or want to know more about. People are wonderfully strange, and I think when you start reading or writing blogs, that all becomes a bit clearer.

4. What inspires you?

My family. I know, I know, that’s cheesy. But they’re pretty much the greatest people who have ever existed. And Elle Woods. She inspires me no end.

5. Where’s your favourite place to eat?

Tough one, mainly because I never have enough money to eat out. I love Italian food. My boyfriend hates pasta and cheese, because he’s a philistine, so whenever I’m out without him I head for the nearest Italian and order the cheesiest, pastaiest thing on the menu. Most excellent.

6. Have you got a pet? Tell us about them! If you have not, then what would you get if you could?

Oh, you are so going to regret asking this. I have a dog back home in Glasgow, called Juno. She is a flaming imbecile, but she’s entirely adorable, so gets away with it. For tales of her most ridiculous antics (including eating a tampon applicator, true story), feel free to click here.

Juno being generally awesome.

Juno being generally awesome.

I also have a hilarious rabbit called Smudge, who is great. He came with me to London on the train, and drew cries of “BUNNY!” from little girls and grown men alike. He roams around like a cat, and likes to demonstrate his affection by headbutting me in the legs. His heart can be won with grapes and coriander.

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7. What made you decide to start blogging?

I was actually struggling with depression at the beginning of this year, so I was having quite a lot of feelings, quite a lot of the time. The blog started as a way for me to get all the crap out of my system, and remind myself that there were still things that I liked about my life. It quickly became a lot less serious as I recovered, and grew into the madness that you see before you now.

8. If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 things would you take? 

Moisturiser. My skin doesn’t deal with with heat. Or cold. Or wind or rain or life, really. Without moisturiser, I quickly start to resemble a low-budget, peely Doctor Who villain.

A bouncy ball, for boredom related emergencies. My sister has a funny story about this, feel free to ask.

The boyfriend, to keep me company, and get high things out of trees.

9. What is your biggest of achievement in life so far?

I wrote a book! Not a published book, but a book nonetheless. When we were kids, I used to tell my little sister stories to keep her busy on long car journeys, so for her 18th, I wrote her a children’s book and got it bound. It’s nice to tick something off the bucket list that not many people actually get round to.

Tah-dah! Look, that's my name!

Tah-dah! Look, that’s my name!


10. What are some of your favourite blogs to read?

I’m still fairly new to this whole blogging thing, so I’m looking forward to discovering loads more, but I like the Londoner, despite every one of her posts making me bitterly jealous. Hyperbole and a Half is also amazing, and if you haven’t read all of her stuff then get the hell off of my ramblings and go read. You can come back and thank me later.

Okay, now for my nominations! As I said, I’m still pretty new to the whole blogging game, so I actually don’t know all that many yet. I’ll go ahead and nominate some of my lovely new Twitter followers. Tell me about yourselves, guys!

Prompts By Dee.

Est. Since 1984.

Katie Jane Online.

Questions:

1. Describe your blog, in only three words.

2. If you could take anyone, alive or dead, for a pint, who would you pick?

3. What has been your greatest beauty discovery?

4. Tell me the story of your first kiss.

5. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

6. What has been the most important thing that’s happened to you?

7. How likely are you to go double or nothing on a bet?

8. What was the first concert you ever went to?

9. What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?

10. What do you hope for most?