This summer has seen a real shift in mindset for me. It wouldn’t be too much to say that it’s been life-changing, really. I started the year happy in myself and confident in who I was, but unsure of many other things. Having been at home, working around the girls, for the past three years I felt a bit stuck in a rut. I was adrift and felt like I was losing sense of who I was aside from being a mum. It always comes back to being a mum.
But then, back in the early spring time I started to find myself again. As the flowers bloomed and the sun started to show itself a bit more, I felt like I was waking up again too. I made a video on YouTube and it led to a whole summer of change.
Here are five things I learned about myself – and everyone else – this summer:
1. I’m open to new experiences, always
This summer has involved two trips abroad, each one lasting over four weeks. The first I went on without my family, for work (still can’t chat about that yet) and the second was a family trip. This time last year I had no idea where I’d be spending summer of 2018, which goes to show that you can only plan for so much. The universe has a way of surprising you and offering up new opportunities and experiences when you’re least expecting them. I learned that I’m open to these, always – and that being a yes person is not a bad thing.
2. I have a thicker skin than I realised
I’ve always been a sensitive person, a real people-pleaser (is this a Libran trait?) who likes to be liked. But the thing is, you can’t please everyone all the time. You really can’t. And neither should you have to. This is something I’ve learned really hard and fast this summer. From DM’s telling me I was a bad mum to go away for work leaving my kids, to DM’s criticising my opinions (and body) in my posts on body image, I’ve experienced negativity in a new way – and learned how to brush it off, what to listen to and take note of and – more importantly – what to just ignore. I’m stronger and tougher than I’ve ever given myself credit for in the past.
3. It’s cool to be kind
I’ll let you into a secret. I think it’s cool to be kind. People often equate niceness with kindness and, actually, I think they’re two very different things. Niceness is bland, often insincere and doesn’t cost anyone anything. Kindness though, is a whole other story. And I believe kindness in an internet age, where it’s cool to be “fierce” and “slay” and generally “boss” everything is hugely under-rated. But my stance on confidence and body image has always been from a place of kindness – kindness to yourself and to others – and I think that, finally, it might be catching on.
4. I can make a change
Someone said to me this year that I can’t change the world. I beg to differ. Sure, I’m just one person. But it’s incredible how much one person can do. This summer I’ve had literally hundreds of messages from people who’ve been moved to think about themselves in a different way because of something I’ve put out on Instagram, or YouTube or Facebook or this blog. People who’ve lacked confidence or hated on themselves but learned to banish the negativity. So I might just be one person and I might not have the ability to end world famine but I CAN make a difference – even if it’s just a tiny ripple in a huge ocean. Never underestimate your power – I never will underestimate mine again.
5. I don’t need a plan
I’ve always been a planner. Organised to a fault, I like lists and schedules and to know what I’m doing when. Or at least, I did. But I’ve learned this summer that, actually, plans can hold you back. Stick too rigidly to a plan and when a new opportunity comes up you’re more likely to say no. Hold onto your goals too firmly and you might miss new ones that come along. I don’t have a plan anymore, but I do have ambitions. And this suits me just fine.
It’s been an incredible summer full of memories that I’ll never forget. But I’m moving into the new season excited for all the new adventures to come. As my lovely Dad says – when one thing ends a new thing is just beginning.
I hope you all had a good summer too. Tell me, what did you learn this summer?