The Not So Glamorous Side of Dream Chasing

A quick aside before I begin – I just want to say that I’m not meaning to sound ungrateful, or like I have a rod stuck up my ass. When I started That Hummingbird Life, I made a commitment to myself that I would always be honest (maybe sometimes a bit too honest) and this post is living proof of that.

It only struck me lately, that I’ve been writing about dream-chasing for a long time here, and not really shared about my own right-at-this-minute experience of chasing my own dreams.

To provide an elevator length version of the background and where I’m at right now, it looks something like this:

In January 2015, me and Mr. Meg left our house in lovely house in Cardiff. I was in a job that sucked the soul out of me and left me a shell of who I was and Mr. Meg left a job that wasn’t good for him at all. We attempted to give away and get rid of most of the things we own (we still have a storage unit that desperately needs attention!) and moved into Mr. Meg’s parent’s house to save up to go travelling. We leave in August (just less than three months) and will be away until next May. And for once, we don’t have a plan of what our future is going to look like after that.

So, now we’re all up to speed, I want to get really honest and vulnerable about how dream-chasing in action is looking right now.

Because I think a huge part missing out of the whole dream-chasing dialogue is how difficult it is and how you often feel terrified though logic tells you that you should be jumping up and down with excitement.

We’ve all read about the is-it-too-good-to-be-true? stories of dream chasing. And we’ve all read about the amazing experiences people have had and how it has helped them grow. But sometimes I think we deliberately gloss over the less glamorous/exciting parts because somehow it will burst this vision, or bubble we have that is keeping us motivated right now.

It would be SO easy to fill my Instagram feed with pictures of my rucksack (which is beautiful FYI, and I may have posted a picture of it the day I got it, but I certainly didn’t flat-lay it!), excited faces, doodles of travel plans, screenshots of tickets booked, pre and post flight selfies, pretty cups of hot hot chocolates with travel books and journal pages about how happy I am.

And I could make it out that I have this amazing life that everyone in the world should be jealous of, and that I have my shit together, and that I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

And it would be SO easy.

But it would also be a huge lie.

And I’m not into the art of scamming people.

I would much rather post a picture of my unmade bed and my four-day old dry hair shampooed hair than a photo that paints my life as something it isn’t.

So I want to let you in behind the scenes. It’s not glamorous, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed and you might judge me.

But I want to show the very real different sides of dream chasing and share my journey with you.

What I’m feeling right now

  •  I am feeling completely overwhelmed. I have a lot of shit to do before I go. That includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: editing 60 podcast episodes, managing my graphic design business and making sure we have enough money coming in for the trip, sorting out our possessions in London and having a good clear out of the things we have in storage, trying to see as much as I can of loved ones before we go, and trying to create a sustainable business plan for That Hummingbird Life which will allow me to do this (e.g what I love) full time.
  • And I’m feeling bad about being overwhelmed (see below for the list of things I feel like I should be feeling!) and not ecstatic over the moon excited.
  •  I’m beating myself up about not seeing my family and friends as much I’d like to before I go
  •  I’m worrying about how I’m going to cope being away from them for so long, especially as my grandparents are very elderly and have unpredictable health challenges and I’ve always been there for my family.
  • I’m getting annoyed at myself for not losing weight before I go and I’m seriously getting concerned about how comfortable I’m going to be on the flight (but let’s face it, I don’t think anyone is that comfortable). I’m freaking out about the possibility of having to sleep on the top bunk in a hostel and possibly crushing someone to death in their sleep (slight exaggeration, I hope?)
  •  I’m anxious about money, whether we’ll have enough of it, if we’ll have to sacrifice parts of the trip and what that would mean. And slightly annoyed at the fact that I didn’t budget for and our budget is £3,000 over what we thought. And I’m working out how that is going to happen.
  • Finding nice people via couchsurfing. We’re doing half Air B&B one one half of our US trip and half couch surfing for the other half, and I’m not going to lie, I’m slightly concerned that we will end up on a random park bench. Though I’m sure we won’t…
  • While I love the fact that we don’t have a plan for when we get back, we also don’t have a plan for when we get back. And that’s pretty scary. And hard to explain to loved ones who just want to make sure we’re safe.
  • I’m equal parts worried and excited about taking work with me. Worried because I want to be as present as possible, and want to live the experience instead of get stuck in this ‘to do list’ loop in my head. And excited because being a digital nomad, or whatever they’re calling it these days, plays to my ego and sounds very cool and adventurous. (I said I was being brutally honest!)
  • I’m also worrying about my energy levels while I’m away. I’ve been feeling very lethargic lately, and have got used to working from home most days, so I’m used to planning my time out and scheduling the things that exhaust me.
  • I’m also nervous about having my period while I’m away (TMI?).I ‘m not worried about the US, but I do have concerns about travelling around Asia with a really heavy period.
  • And to end the list of worries, I have an irrational fear of food poisoning, so yeah, that should be fun!

(Did I mention I’m a very skilled and experienced worrier?!)

What I think I should be feeling right now

  • Happy. So much happiness that I’m randomly bursting into tears with the sheer joy of it all
  • Not-able -to go-to-sleep excitement levels. And while this does happen when I stop worrying and think about the fact that this time in three months we’ll be in San Francisco, I’ve convinced myself I should be pre-going-to-see-Macklemore level excitement every day. (Which I know isn’t sustainable. At all).
  • Prepared and feeling like it’s happening. Because right now, it hasn’t sunk in. At all. I feel we should have our plans sorted. And we don’t.
  • Raring to go – I feel like I should have my bag packed, a countdown on my phone and be ready to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice. Truth be told, I’m working from 9am to 9pm most days, and I’m pretty fucking knackered
  • Financially secure – can I just put LOL for that one?
  • Really fucking grateful. Which I seriously am, but my ability to worry about every eventuality and over think things is getting in my way.

I’m writing this post because I want to challenge two myths.

Myth Number 1

When you start working towards your dreams, or when they become within an arm’s reach life becomes this really easy, uncomplicated, wonderful place.

It doesn’t. Like I said, I could only focus on the positives, an Instagrammable version, but I would be ignoring all of my values if I did that. And that’s something I can’t do.

I think often we’re sold this myth, that if only we work X hard of make X amount of money that life is going to become this beautiful place full of rainbows.

And I think that’s really dangerous, especially when so many of us put our hearts and souls into our dreams and we’re desperate for them to happen.

We ignore the fact that there are still going to be hiccups, roadblocks and times of uncertainty .

Myth Number 2

You’ll never achieve our dreams unless your life is perfect. You have to be rich or become this wonderful person that you only dream you could be.

Of course, it takes sacrifice, but most of your dreams are doable. You will have to have some trade ins, but you can make it happen.

We might have to wait longer than we thought, we might have to work harder than we ever thought possible, we might have to make some really hard decisions, but they can happen.

It is also some true scary shit, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a risk and go for it.

This isn’t a call of action to not chase your dreams. The last thing I want to do is to put you off. I just want to be really honest.

I want to show the side of things you don’t generally see.

But you know what? All of those things I’m worried about? All of the sacrifices I’m making?

They are ALL worth it. There have been hard decisions to make along the way, but I wouldn’t have made another decision. Travelling the world, learning more about life and more about myself, getting to have new experiences and having so much more independence and freedom has always been something I’ve wanted to do.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m sure you feel the same about your dreams too 🙂

11-fun-ways-toThank you to the lovely Tiffany Pratt for letting me use this beautiful photo. Credit for interior design and styling goes to Tiffany Pratt and photography rights go to Tara McMullen.


I’ve had quite a few confidence shattering experiences over the last five years. And there’s a notable difference between how I presented myself five years ago than now.

Somewhere along the way though , I learned that it’s possible to love myself, that I’m much more introverted than I thought I was and that when you compare yourself to someone you once were, you’re always going to see it with rose-tinted glasses.

I’ve been in soul sucking jobs, had managers that were vicious bullies, fallen out with friends, had people my life who made me feel like shit and other various experiences that I won’t detail here because no matter how honest and vulnerably you share your life online, you have to have boundaries and draw a line in the sand somewhere.

These are tips you probably aren’t going to read in Cosmo. And I’m guessing you’re not a huge Cosmo addict because my site is pretty much as far away as you can get from it.

I don’t write lists of 5 ways you can love yourself TODAY because I believe they’re bullshit as much as I believe the sun is in the sky.

Instead these are small exercises and tiny and big actions you can take, that over a period of time and working on yourself, are going to help you build your confidence.

So if your confidence has been chipped, if you don’t stand as tall as you once did, or if you never stood tall to begin with, I hope these can be valuable things you can do so you can greet the world in the eyes, to quote Macklemore, ‘stare the world into its face’ and claim your space in the world without apology.

1. Dress for the person you want to be

The idea of dressing for the job you want has been thrown around a lot lately. It’s one of those pseudo empowerment, techniques that probably helps someone. While I think that leaves a lot to be desired, the idea of dressing for the person you want to be is a much better alternative.

I think we can all get into a habit with how we dress. Wearing stuff that is okay but doesn’t really reflect who we are. Keeping to the same safe shapes, the same safe colours and not fully embracing who we are.

And I think that’s especially true if you have your own issues around your body image. For me, I’ve put off buying clothes I LOVE for a long time, because I’m ‘plus size’. I kept telling myself the quirky and beautiful clothes I want are attainable when I’ve lost the weight. But here’s the thing. I’ve had an up and down relationship with my body for all of my life. I’m not suddenly going to drop all the weight, and even if I did, I deserve to have clothes I love NOW. In my head, the person I want to be dresses how I used to when I was thinner. Lots of colour, lots of accessories, and outrageous colour and pattern combinations. And I’m working to embrace that. When me and Mr. Meg go on our round the world adventure, we’re going to need maximum versatility and clothes we love. I’m only taking a 45 litre rucksack, so the clothes I take, I need to love. Instead of buying loads of plain vests and leggings, I’m going to be rocking this killer dungaree flared skirt, this beautiful polka dot tea dress and glamming it up with one of these *gorgeous* vintage evening dresses (whenever I can decide on the print!)

How can you dress to be the person you want to be? Take a bit of time – what does she look like? Browse Pinterest, indulge yourself in finding clothes that reflect who you are as a person.

2. Look strangers in the eye

This can be pretty fucking terrifying. So many of us get hung up on worrying what other people think of us, but the truth is that most people are so concerned about themselves and having that same inner dialogue in their own head that they’re probably not wondering why you bought that dress or how your stomach sticks out in your jeans.

And here’s the fun bit. When you start to look people in the eye, you’ll realise something. It’s not as scary as you think. It doesn’t kill you, you get a much better view. You get to see so much more than the pavement and pigeon shit.

And that has to be worth it in itself.

3. Go somewhere where no one recognises you

There’s something so liberating about being somewhere that no one recognises you. There’s a sense of freedom, that you probably won’t see people you know, and that you probably won’t see any of these people ever again.
You can try out personas, walk with some serious swagger, dance and sing out loud to your favourite music, give people the eye and greet the world in the face. Of course you do this anywhere, but sometimes it helps to start in places completely familiar and build yourself up.

I love the George Bernard Shaw quote: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”

Explore who you can be. And have fun with it!

4. Take REALLY bad ‘selfies’

My inside cringes at the word selfies, but there we go.

If you struggle with low self confidence, chances are you aren’t best friends with the camera either.

I’ve got periods of my life where I have no pictures of myself. There are whole chunks of my life that remain visually undocumented because I hated the way I looked so much. And that’s really sad. Because I didn’t have any less of a story, and I was still living my life. I just hated myself to the point that I didn’t think my face was worth documenting.

While you might never want to get to the stage where you’re taking pictures of yourself and updating your profile picture every day, I think it’s definitely worth starting to take photos of yourself and looking at them. We can become so disconnected with what we see in the mirror. The more you start to connect with your reflection, the greater chance of you finding things you love about your face.

I can say with joy that I love my eyes, my nose ring really makes me smile and I have a pretty hilariously big smile. And I can also tell you the things I don’t like – the fat around my neck, my less than clear skin and my lack of dimples. But you know what? The things I love outweigh those negatives every day.

So start taking photos. Start with the ones that are so bad that they make you laugh. And somewhere along the way, I bet you’ll start to find things you love too.

5. Start a Comfort Zone List

This is absolutely inspired by Anabel Roque Rodríguez and her own challenge that she shares on Couragemakers. Anabel and her friend both wanted to extend their comfort zones, so they came up with an amazing project to help them do it.

Every week, they would mail each other a couple of ways they were each going to challenge themselves to come out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it would be something as seemingly simple as talk to a stranger.

Why not start your own Comfort Zone List? By doing small actions every week and deliberately focusing on your comfort zone and how you’re feeling, you’re going to find yourself really proud of what you can achieve which will start to build your confidence in no time.

6. Do something for you that is completely unrelated to your work or any goal

We’re so busy that sometimes it can be really hard to justify doing things just for the fun of it. But I think there’s something magical that happens when you do something just because you want to.

It makes you feel more in control of your own life, and reaffirms your subconscious that you do matter, and that your happiness is importance.

And it can be anything. Signing up to Borrow My Doggy and getting to know cute dogs in your neighbourhood, having a one person karaoke party, writing your own one person musical (this is on my 30 before 30 list and I’m still not sure how I’m going to pull it off!), or going outside in the pouring rain and let yourself get completely soaked. Or you could start a watercolour painting class, teach yourself to make your own shampoo or learn a new skill. Whatever appeals to you, even if you don’t know why.

Whatever is fun for you – and you don’t have to justify it, and it doesn’t have to make sense to any one other than you – find time to do it. And enjoy it.

And if you don’t know what you find fun – start exploring!

7. Stop apologising

I am a recovering chronic apologiser. I apologise for so much shit that has nothing to do with me.

Sorry [even though you bumped into me], sorry [for talking too much even though you asked me a question], sorry [for taking up my full seat on the train, that I have a right to sit in], sorry [for standing up for myself even if you did treat me like shit], sorry [for asking where my meal is even though I ordered half an hour ago], sorry [for interrupting you even though I told you I had to leave half an hour ago]. And the list goes on.

I might as well apologise for the sun fucking shining.

Jeez louise.

And here’s the thing. It makes me feel like shit. Every time I do it, I then get annoyed at myself and then end up blaming myself and feeling stupid.

What a confidence crippling cycle.

So if you find yourself doing the same (because I know I’m definitely not alone in this), join me in challenging yourself not to apologise, unless you do something that really warrants it. Like accidentally poisoning your friend’s cat, or being mean to someone you love.

You don’t owe the world an apology for existing.

8. Get an outside perspective

This is something that’s really helped me and it’s much different (and better) than asking friends to name three good qualities about you, like so many places suggest.

Having a completely objective perspective can really make you view yourself, and your strengths in a way you didn’t before.

In order to do this, I suggest three different online tests (in order of how helpful I think they are.

Clifton StrengthsFinder Test 

I found this one to be an absolute gamechanger. I’d thought of doing it for a while but resented having to pay (it’s not very expensive – I did it by buying the kindle edition). But then I got chatting to Violeta Nedkova on Couragemakers about it, and decided it was worth giving a go.

And it SO was. After an extensive (but really fun) set of scenario based questions, you end the test with a breakdown of your top 5 skills (mine were activator, maximiser, connectedness, strategic and relator). Which is really cool in itself, but it gets better!

For each of your top five strengths, the test goes on to tell you how that strength helps you stand out, gives you questions, ideas for action *and* an action plan.

This test has really given me a new understanding of why I’ve really struggled with the jobs I’ve had. I can see that I needed to be working for progressive organisations, places where my creativity, strategic skills and leadership skills were valued and nurtured, and have the ability to really feedback my ideas on how to make the organisation a better place. And knowing that really helped heal some old wounds.

A lot of people find this test so transformative because it allows you to see what you thought were weaknesses, as strengths, and helps you see yourself in a completely different light.

The Fascination Advantage

This is another fun one, and again it’s not free but I think there is a free quick version you can do here.

This quiz is all about how the world sees you, and while I didn’t really discover anything new about myself, it was reaffirming and was a bit like a big accomplishment.

Something I did find however, is that it was SO helpful in understanding how Mr. Meg works. He did the test (yes, I made him!) and I now have such a better understanding of how his mind works and what motivates him.

And it turns out that not everybody works the same as me and is motivated by the same things. So that was a fun realisation!

And if you’re wondering, my primary advantage was passion amd my secondary advantage was power which means my result is that I’m ‘The People’s Champion’.

Get ready to have a new epic name to call yourself after taking this test!

Free Personality Test Based on Myers Briggs* (it isn’t THE Myers Briggs test, but a free version that a lot of people take instead)

So if you’ve seen people have a seemingly random acronym in their Twitter bio, this personality test is probably the culprit.

It’s pretty similar in style to the Strengths Finder Test, but instead of telling you your strengths, it assigns you to one of 16 personality types. And it’s pretty fucking accurate. And slightly too creepily true.

It is designed to work out :

How you interact with the world – Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E)
How you interpret things – Sensing (S) or Intuitive (I)
How you make decisions – Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
How you deal with the outside world – Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

And once you do the test, you get your acronym. There are 16 different combinations and each are completely different. And completely fascinating. And you end up with a long description that basically sums you up better than anything ever has.

If you’re curious, I’m an INFP, and it seems like a lot of people I really relate with are as well!

These three tests are great at building confidence because they help give you a deeper understanding of you. And you might find yourself nodding along in agreement with some pretty incredible things about yourself.

9. Laugh for no reason

A random fact about myself, is that a couple of years ago, I trained as a laughter yoga instructor. If you’re wondering what laughter yoga is (it’s not some fantangled way of moving your body, it’s mainly about breathing and the amazing health impacts laughter gives us), you can see it in practice here with Dr. Madan Kataria, who started the laughter yoga movement.

As well as laughing myself silly until I felt like I couldn’t move, I learned so much about how laughter helps us in every day life. From how it helps boost our immune system, how it helps us connect with people, to how it helps us to build resilience.

And here’s the best part of all.

Your body and mind don’t know the difference between fake laughing and real laughing. So you get the exact same outcomes from making yourself fake laugh as you do when you have a really good laugh with a friend.

Now, this might take a bit of getting used to, and feel downright bizarre when you first start, but once you’ve got over that first hiccup, you’ll find that it can have great effects on your mood and confidence.

So try it out. I recommend starting with a simple breathing technique ‘Ho, ho, ha, ha, ha’ and taking it from there.

Believe me, it works, and it’s a lot of fun!

10. Do something that really scares you, that you wrote off as something you might do ONE DAY

I think it’s really easy to divide the world into things we want to do that are in the realm of possibility and the things we’d love to do that we’ll probably never do.

And I think there’s a massive amount of confidence that can be gained by making those things that are bucket list items, or things that we think we’ll do one day into reality.

And those things can be the big scary things, and they can also be tiny things. Because what’s big and scary for you, might be easy to someone else, and what’s piss-easy for you might be a huge deal to someone else.

But the main difference is doing them instead of thinking about them. Recruit a friend, set yourself a challenge, take the leap and trust the net will be there to catch you.

Because life is here to be lived. And you have the power to make that happen.

11. Show Up

My last tip is the biggest and probably the hardest. And it encapsulated a lot of what I’ve already spoken about.

And that’s to show up, claim your motherfucking right to exist, and dare to do the things that make you happy.

Because you have every right to show up. And sometimes we all need the reminder that we’re not here to shrink away, keep our thoughts to ourselves and look at the ground. We’re not here to apologise for taking up space, to hide our brilliance and to shy away from what makes us unique.

You have so many things that make you stand out. And you have a combination of skills, strengths and personal quirks that no one else has.

You don’t have any competition, because no one can do what you do in the way you do it.

And that’s pretty fucking special.

 


I hope this list has given you some inspiration and practical ways to start building your own confidence.

Stop apologising for existing, start laughing, embrace your personality, smile at strangers, and stand a bit taller.

Surprise yourself.

You have so much to give the world and the world needs to hear your story.

And anyone who has made you think any different, can quite frankly shove it.

 

I would love to know any fun ways you’ve used to build your confidence, or how you got on trying these ideas out for yourself! Let me know in the comments!

Writing your own adventure storyHere’s a truth for you: I have spent my whole life wanting to write about women who go on adventures. Women who decide to choose themselves and follow their own path, wherever it takes them. Women who buy a one way plane ticket and greet life with a smile and a fuck it attitude. Women who go where the wind takes them find themselves. Women who go out and chase their dreams like their life depends on it.

I’ve spent my whole life wanting to write about these women, but now something is different.

Instead of reading about these fictional heroines, I’m meeting them, chatting to them, interviewing them about their incredible journeys, about both the shit and the giggles and what it took to get them to where they are today.

And somewhere along the way, instead of writing about fictional characters who go on adventures to find themselves, I became a real life version.

And **shit ** is that equal parts terrifying and exciting at the same time.

I’ve spent so much of my life in a deep sense of longing. Longing to be someplace different, longing for a different life, longing for adventures and longing to be the fictional heroine who lives in my imagination.

And it’s really hard to believe that I am becoming her.

In just over three months time, me and Mr. Meg will be leaving the UK to have our own adventure. We’ll be spending three months in the US, dancing ourselves silly, eating our way around the country and sleeping on strangers couches in cities we’ve only dreamt of.. Then after a short visit back home, we’ll be off to India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia for six months to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, massively expand our point of reference and really open our minds and our lives. And the future? It looks a little something like this:

I don’t know what memories I’m going to make. I don’t know what crazy stories I’m going to come back with. I don’t know what’s going to inspire me, and what I’m going to learn about myself.

But what I do know is this: In a year’s time, when I’m thinking about writing about women who go and have their own adventures, it’s going to be with a completely different set of references and experiences.

It’s going to be from the point of view of someone who chose herself and chased after her dreams as well.

Because if I don’t choose myself, it will never happen. I would have just been stuck longing and wondering over the what ifs. Those fictional characters in stories I’ve yet to write would get more developed, their dreams more real than mine ever could be and my dreams would be just that. A story that’s waiting to be written, which might never have been written.

I’m slowly realising that I don’t have to sit on the sidelines. I don’t have to reserve these epic adventures, stories and memories. I can go and make my own. And you can too.

I’m realising that it’s not about doing it after this, or when I’m this, or when this happens.

And it’s not just reserved for other people.

We get to have our own adventures. We get to choose our own adventures.

And that feels pretty liberating to write for the first time.

And these adventures, these dreams? They’re going to be different for each and every one of us.

And that’s some pretty fucking epic shit right there.

So, take a bet on yourself, dare to believe in your dreams and chase them. And become a person who’s autobiography you would love to read. Because deep down, you know what you want, and you can get there.

It takes a shitload of courage, but you can do it.

Let’s do this together and commit to living the lives of our heroines, instead of writing them.

nappingI absolutely bloody love napping. I really think it’s one of life’s simplest luxuries.

And I can say with pride (maybe too much pride), that I have NAILED the art of napping.

All it takes is a good playlist, my epic flamingo blanket and sometimes my huge cuddly bear (come on, we’re all adults and I know I’m not alone in this).

When I was in the midst of hardcore burnout, naps were an absolute staple. And now I work from home and work many many more hours than I ever have done, napping has become essential on the days where my brain feels fried and I feel overwhelmed.

But don’t get me wrong, if the depression starts creeping in, if I’m having a bad day or feeling really down, a nap it is.

And while I’m not going to go into napping tips here (there are some great articles out there), I’ve found what really works for me is making sure I don’t nap under the duvets unless it’s really cold (otherwise it’s nearly impossible to get up) and through extensive sleeping experimentation, my napping sweet spot is half an hour.

We all need to take time out. We live busy lives, and sometimes things get too much. And I’ve always found that it’s exactly when I think I shouldn’t/can’t take time out, that I absolutely need to.

I used to think napping made me lazy, until I saw the direct benefits:

I could either keep going and have simple tasks that usually take me ten minutes to do take two hours,or I could nap and wake up a bit more focused.

I could either snap at people I love because I was feeling stressed, or I could take half hour out and have patience and enjoy my time with them instead.

I could either sit around feeling really glum, endlessly scrolling through Facebook and making myself more miserable, or I could give my brain a rest and wake up with a more detached perspective.

I think you know what I’m getting at. If I could go back and rub out S Club 7 on my on my primary school pencil case and replace it with Napping Rules (it was probably with a z, I wasn’t and never have claimed to be cool), I would.

So without further ado, here is the Ultimate Napping Playlist. May it accompany you on many pleasant naps and bring you some much needed rest!

 

storyWhen I ran the New Year’s Revolution challenge at the start of the year, I set myself a challenge for 2016. And that was to become more visible. And share my many stories.

For me that meant putting my whole self out there. Not hiding behind a screen or a mask, but showing up, as I am.

And that’s some tough scary shit. Because it’s really hard to meet yourself as you are and a) be okay with yourself and b) show that to the world.

For me, a big part of becoming visible meant sharing my whole story, not just the good bits; the bits that sound great on paper. But instead telling the whole thing. Messy bits, the ugly bits and the bits I’d change if I was re-writing it.

I’ve written a lot recently about sharing your story and it’s one of my core beliefs that the world needs to hear the messy, complicated, stories. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

While I was sick of hiding the complicated bits and things that didn’t make sense, I’ve been terrified to really show myself. 

And I know I’m not alone in this. So many of us are living this same struggle. And sometimes our logic isn’t rational, but it feels very real and serious to us.

I mean, I nearly didn’t start my podcast because I’m fat. How does that even make sense? I mean, what the fuck is that about?!

And I’ve been shy in sharing my own mental health struggles because I feared that it would discredit my ability to talk about wellbeing, overcoming burnout and living a wholehearted life. (This, I also learned, is bollocks).

So many of us who are fighting for a brighter, better world have struggles and don’t have our shit together. And like I’ve written before, no one wants real life advice from the person who claims that they never have and never will have problems because life is magical. In some ways, having problems makes us most qualified to do it.

But to me, at that time, showing up fully, with both the shit and giggles was a serious concern.

In this self help world of green smoothies and yoga at 5am, I had so many mixed feelings as showing up the way I am.

As a fat woman who struggles with her mental health , the world makes so many assumptions and I didn’t want that.

But I’d started to define myself by my struggles and not by my unique combination of skills and strengths or the passion that I have to make the world a brighter place.

And because I’d already figured out in my own head how people would react, (which FYI, didn’t come true. At all) I’d scared myself shitless about it.

But someway along the way, I realised that becoming visible wasn’t this horrible, scary thing that would mean the end to life as I knew it.

It was a lot like closing your eyes, squeezing your hands tightly together and blurting out what you’ve wanted to say for a while, then coming up to air and realising the world hasn’t ended.

It gave me life. It felt absolutely invigorating to actually put myself out there. To log into skype and have deep intimate conversations with women all over the world for my podcast was terrifying to begin with, but has quickly become one of my all time favourite things to do.

Launching a New Year’s Revolution email course was exciting and so refreshing. Jumping on Skype with people I’ve only known via email has only made our relationships better.

Instead of doing it for the sake of a challenge, putting myself out there actually became fun. I learned that as much as I tell myself otherwise to keep myself safe, I thrive on connecting with other like minded people. I absolutely love talking to people and getting to know their stories. I love showing up as my bright coloured self, being really honest and trying to make the world a better place.

And the last four months have taken me to some pretty amazing places.

I actually started the podcast I put off for so long and it has been even more beautiful than I ever could have dreamt of. Then I put it into the world with some radical honesty and interviewed the most incredible women, and The Couragemakers Podcast ended up in New & Noteworthy (say whaaaat?).

And I’ve enjoyed (enjoyed!) being interviewed for some other amazing podcasts. I shared my struggles with being in the entrepreneur world and my upcoming round the world adventure with VK the VA for her wonderful podcast Behind The Boss Mask and got seriously honest with Sarah Starrs about multipotentiality, the truth and myths behind lifestyle design and uninstagrammable self care on her Punk Rock Personal Development Podcast.

And to put the icing on the cake, I’ve become really open about my own mental health struggles and also really spoken out about my life as a fat woman with Rose Gold (which comes out on Thursday!)

And I’ve learned something huge through this experience:

Hiding yourself from the world not only does a great disservice to yourself, but it gives a great disservice to the world.

The world needs your story. The world needs more raw and honest stories. And you’ll be surprised just how not alone you are when you start sharing.

Like courage breeds courage, honest breeds honesty and stories breed stories.

Showing up as yourself, owning your own story is a radical thing to do, especially in this world where we’re told that only so many stories count.

Because your story does count, the same way as you matter.

You have so much to give the world. And you’re going to enjoy your life so much more where you can really step into your life and claim your spot on the stage.