Stop waiting for someone to believe in you.
Ok, I’m sure some of you reading this are bracing yourself for one of the most wanky blog posts you have ever read, but I can promise you that’s not what this is. I’m not here to feed you fluffy, comforting, easy to digest quotes about self-belief and achieving your dreams, I’m here to tell you about one of the hardest lessons I have ever learnt. That waiting for somebody to believe in your abilities is a path to failure.
All through my education I was told on multiple occasions that I couldn’t do things. I remember enviously looking at the girls that my school put on a pedestal. Everything they did was feverishly applauded, every door was opened for them and they were invested in far more than the rest of us because they were seen as the ones that were most likely to achieve status, fame and wealth. Now, I’ve always been an ambitious girl. I’ve always known what I want, but I’ve not always known how to get it so being educated in an environment like that was a real struggle for me, and it made me really f*cking angry.
When you’re a child, you pretty much rely on other’s belief that you can do things, it’s what encourages you to stretch out of your comfort zone, so when someone tells you ‘I don’t think you’ll be able to do that’ or ‘I’m not sure if you’ll be able to achieve that’ it’s an incredibly tough pill to swallow and it leads to many of us abandoning the things we fantasise about making our careers. Luckily for me (and unluckily for others) I’ve always had a stubborn streak and as I’ve matured I’ve developed a strong, unshakable confidence in what I can achieve. If you want some evidence of some big things I was told I could not do, but then went on to achieve despite this here you go…
- My mum was told I wouldn’t get into one of the most prestigious girls schools in London because they didn’t think I was clever enough to keep up, I did, and I stayed right on through until I was 18 leaving with A*AB in the three A-level subjects I studied. Pretty damn clever if you ask me.
- I was told I ‘probably shouldn’t’ study Maths as one of my A-level subjects as I was in the fourth out of five sets for Maths GCSE so definitely was not clever enough to take it up a level, I got an A* at GCSE and an A in my A-level, which was better than some of the people in sets above me. I love maths, don’t tell me I can’t do it.
- I was told ‘well done’ for getting a interview for the Daily Mail grad scheme (only two people on my course got an interview, including me), and even when I asked for help to prepare for the assessment centre, slots were allocated to others (who did not have assessment centres coming up) which made me feel like banging my head against a wall and screaming into the void. I was offered a three year grad scheme placement at the Daily Mail with absolutely zero help from the course I was on, but I turned it down to work at Blogosphere (because, ethics). Hello, yes I will choose where I start my career because I am fricking employable, even if you don’t believe that I am.
So, when someone looks at you sympathetically and tells you they ‘don’t think’ you can achieve something that you are passionate about, smile and walk the other way. And ignore them, please. DO NOT place any value on their words. You know yourself better than anyone else, and if you truly want to succeed at something you will, you just need to put the work in and pave your own path to success instead of merrily skipping along one that was paved by somebody willing to welcome you onto theirs.
Rely on yourself, not others
My mum raised me to be self-reliant. And trust me when I say there were a lot of tears on that journey. I didn’t understand why my mum was so insistent on me learning the value of hard work and earning things when the parents of my friends catered to their every whim. Now, I’m so grateful for that lesson, because without it I simply would not have become the person that I am today and I wouldn’t have achieved anything close to what I have. Self-reliance is a blessing, it means you can credit everything you have to yourself and it works wonders for your self-worth.
Once you stop placing so much value on what other people think of you, and how much they believe in your abilities, you free yourself up to achieve so much more. And you have the willpower to work hard to make things happen. I studied subjects I was passionate about for hours. I would do maths equations over and over again, because I loved the satisfaction of a correct answer. I shorthanded until my pages were indented beyond belief, because I was determined to reach 100 words per minute within 11 weeks so I could be one of the first to pass the test.
I didn’t wait for someone to tell me to study, I didn’t wait for someone to hold my hand and tell me how wonderful I am and how brilliant I would be. I didn’t need to, because I knew I could achieve what I wanted if I put in the work to keep improving.
Create the life you aspire to have
When I was younger the life I aspired to have was a bit like this:
- I would live in London, in a beautiful apartment with people I love
- I would be working for a print magazine, preferably writing about beauty
- I would attend lots of fabulous events and have a vibrant social life
- I would be happy and spend most days excited about the life I was living
And the life I have now is a bit like this:
- I live in London, my apartment isn’t an interior designer’s dream but it’s still pretty nice and I live with one of my best friends
- I’m Commissioning Editor of a print magazine, I write about bloggers and YouTubers but I also have my own blog where I write about beauty
- I’m lucky enough to be invited to lots of fabulous events regularly, and I have made lots of blogger friends that I enjoy spending time with
- I am happy, I’m always excited about what’s around the corner for the magazine I work for and my blog
So it’s not a perfect match, but I am essentially doing exactly what I aspired to do. I think knowing what I wanted from a young age gave me a focus that made it a lot easier to push towards that end goal and the image I had in my mind of the perfect life.
The road to my ‘dream life’ was never clear. Honestly, at points it seemed near impossible and I nearly gave up on working for a print magazine because I just could not see a way in. But I kept going, I kept working and creating, I kept writing, I kept doing what I loved on my own platforms, so when the right job came up I could really pitch myself for it, I had the evidence that I could transfer the skills I had learnt and I truly believed I was the right person for the job.
If there’s one piece of career advice I would pass on, it’s this: Walk into the job interview with the belief that you are the candidate they have been looking for. Speak about what you have achieved and explain why it’s useful for the job role you want. Be proud of your achievements, and tell people what you have done off your own back.
Once you stop waiting for somebody to believe in you, and just focus your energy on believing in yourself you really can achieve some pretty amazing things. Keep your head down, keep working and always have confidence in your own abilities. (Ok, I know I promised no wanky statements but how else was I supposed to end this post??)
- Photography by Sarah
- Jumper from New Look (here)
- Skirt from Primark
- Boots from ASOS (here)
- Earrings from Bijou Boutique* (here)