Hey guys and gals.
It has been a very long time since I have written anything on the blog. In fact, I had almost started to forget this thing even existed if I’m being completely honest. I can only apologise, I just haven’t really been in the right place ‘mentally’ in recent months to sit down and put pen to paper (or more accurately fingers to keyboard).
Nonetheless, I decided today would be the day that I finally broke out of my cycle of procrastination and un-productivity and did something more useful than searching for autumn/winter fashion trends on Pinterest and googling Emily ratatowski’s diet plan (apparently she eats baked goods and does no exercise except for yoga incase you’re interested- total bullshit, also, incase you’re interested).
Instead I wanted to share with you a big lesson I have learned (and also struggled with) since moving to London in October of 2015.
So, most, if not all of you are probably aware of or have read the book `The perks of being a wallflower’ and if you haven’t read the book then you may have watched the subsequent movie adaption.
If not, here’s a VERY brief summary.
Basically, the novel centers around an extremely shy and introverted young boy as he attempts to navigate his way through society and thus integrate himself into the big wide world.
For me (and I could well be completely off-key here so don’t judge me), the resounding theme or ‘message’ of the book is centred around the innate need for us humans to overcome shyness and its accompanying attributes and instead attempt to stand out from the crowd, or at the very least try to blend into it.
Congratulations if you’re still following me here.. and please continue to stick with me because there is a valid reason behind me talking all this nonsense.
When I moved to London those (almost) 2 years ago, I had never considered myself to be a ‘wallflower’. In fact, I actually thought of myself to be quite the opposite.
I had travelled to some of the furthest regions of the world (mostly alone), something I know many young females wouldn’t even dream of doing. I had packed all my bags and relocated to the other side of the world more times than I can remember, I had gained a wealth of independence and pretty much lacked any form of self-doubt- if I wanted to do something, I did it. Simples. On top of this, I had successfully blagged my way into a job working as a radio presenter, not a career move you would typically associate with the ‘shy, introvert’, unconfident type.
Life had thus far been pretty easy for me. I had somehow managed to bypass that terrible stage of worrying about what other people thought of me, whether or not I was liked, if I did or didn’t fit in. Instead, I pretty much lived for myself, did my own thing and my biggest challenges in life revolved mainly around what I was going to eat for dinner.
However, within a matter of weeks of settling down into my new life in London, I suddenly started to notice little thoughts creeping into my head that had somehow never managed to make it past that sponge-like barrier before.
Walking along Oxford street one day, I was confronted with the image of what can only be described as a pre-pubescent Billie holiday-lookalike wearing what seemed to be a bin bag and a pair of bright white adidas trainers.
After my brain had managed to completely digest all of the above (and after 2 minutes of confusion and laughter), it was as if the fabric draped across my eyes had suddenly been lifted (translated: the wind blew my fringe out the way) and I started to take a proper look my surroundings- A beautiful 6-foot-tall woman glammed up to the max, effortlessly strutting her stuff in Louboutin’s, a bunch of eclectic looking indie youngsters rocking oversized glasses and Levi Jeans, carrying big satchels emblazoned with the words `London College of fashion’. A group of 20-something guys with moustaches so perfectly pointy they made Salvador Dali look like an amateur. And there was me, perfectly painted into the background of this glorious picture- a grey, fading splodge on this piece of art.
I know a lot of people (particularly those who don’t live in London), would have viewed this sight rather indifferently and instead exclaimed ‘what a bunch of weirdo’s!’ before continuing on with their daily routines in the ‘real world’.
But that isn’t how my mind chose to operate. Instead, I looked at myself in the reflection of a shop window, dressed in my lifeless grey denim jeans and my plain white tee, hair scraped back in a bun, traces of yesterdays spaghetti bolognaise still hanging around the corners of my mouth and thought to myself, ‘My god, I am really boring’.
This was the first time (and nowhere near the last) that I considered myself to bear a striking resemblance to a wallflower.
The problem with London and, in fact, most major cities throughout the world is that they are so over-saturated with millions of other human beings who are all trying to stand out from the crowd that inevitably, 80% of them end up blending right into it. And I had unknowingly become part of that 80%.
And I’m not just talking in terms of fashion and physical appearance. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since moving here its that confidence is everything and if you don’t have an insane amount of it (to the point that’s its almost arrogance, in some cases) you literally will not get anywhere. Whether that ‘anywhere’ is making new friends, getting a job or simply being noticed by passersby. If you don’t have the confidence to say ‘look at me, here I am, I deserve to be acknowledged because I’m not like everyone else’, you will never progress, no matter what you’re trying to do.
Believe it or not, I don’t actually like standing in front of a camera and having my photo taken- in fact, if I’m out at a nightclub or special event with my friends (a VERY rare occasion) or at a family gathering (another rare one) I will actively do my best James Bond impression and dive-bomb out of the way if I see the flashing lights of a camera heading my way. Why? Because I, along with millions of other women across the globe, have my own deep-routed insecurities and I really cannot be arsed to stare those insecurities dead in the face when my friends/family start uploading those pictures onto every social media site known to mankind.
However, I realised that this mentality wasn’t going to get me anywhere in the big wide world, let alone in London. Take for example my blog. When I first began publishing posts, I had a very small collective of family and friends who would read it. That was great but I wanted it to be so much more than that, I wanted my thoughts and my opinions to be shared on a much larger scale and thus I NEEDED to start posting stuff that would do just that. And so I began facing up to my insecurities and prancing around awkwardly in front of the camera, modelling random bits of clothes that I had found crushed at the bottom of my suitcase in the hope that a younger populous would start taking notice. Did they? Yes, they did. Why? Because I did something different, I pushed aside that lack of confidence and that constant security of being a wallflower and did something that would get me noticed.
And Im not alone in recognising that sometimes in order to get ahead of the game, we need to overcome our insecurities and push through our mental boundaries, perhaps doing something out of the box or extraordinary. Take Chris Putnam for example. Once more of the shy and retiring geek-type, Chris was inspired to do something off-the-chart ambitious to land himself a job at Facebook after the social media giant visited his university campus in 2006. Realizing that hundreds of his fellow students would now be clogging up the inbox of Mark Zuckerberg begging for a job, Chris decided the easiest way to catch their attention was to… hack them. Yes, you read that right. Putnam created a viral worm that spread throughout thousands of profiles, making them look identical to those of MySpace. Did his elaborate plan work? You bet it did! Before long Facebook had called Putnam demanding he explain what he had done and by the end of the conversation, they had offered him a job interview.
I’m not suggesting that simply overhauling your wardrobe and dressing in 6-inch neon platforms and a space suit is suddenly going to get you noticed by the future love of your life. Nor am I implying that you need to do something crazy and irrational in order to nab yourself that dream job. That’s just wishful thinking and furthermore, might actually land you in a slightly troublesome position with the authorities.
But what I am saying is this:
Yes, being a wallflower does have its perks- it’s a safe place to sit, admiring and absorbing the crazy beauty of society whilst perked on your little wooden fence. It allows you to feel comfortable and secure, knowing that you don’t need to compete or prove your self worth to anyone but you. You don’t need to dress a certain way or look a certain way or act a certain way to please the masses, in fact, you don’t really have to do much of anything… but as a consequence, it also wont get you anywhere. In fact, being a wallflower is effectively giving society permission to push you into the background of life’s happenings. That may be a pill hard to swallow but it is (sadly) the world we now live in as a competitive, technological and internet-obsessed society.
If you really want to stand out and perhaps slowly but inevitably get somewhere, you’ve got to put yourself out there. You have to let go of those fears, insecurities and those wallflower tendencies, stop questioning ‘what if?’ and ‘what will happen?’ and instead just do it. Dress the way you want to, no holds barred, be as confident as you like and if not, fake it till you become it.
And if people start telling you that you’re weird or arrogant, or mentally unstable (and they will, believe me) then you look over your shoulder as they’re tip-toeing at snails pace behind you whilst you’re on the fast-track to life success and say “ F*** you, me and my leather-bound moon boots are onto bigger and better things”.