So…2019 has been a bit mad, you know. Loads of little life changes and things. I do honestly feel like this has been one of the longest years of my life – for positive reasons, of course.
2017/2018 were also long years, but that’s because I spent half of it in a heartbreak-induced catatonic state, and the other half just going through the motions, trying to pile on as much work as possible so I didn’t go back to said catatonic state. 2019 has been different though; I feel like it’s one of the first years where I’ve truly felt *alive*, as well as been recognised in my work and the content I’ve been producing. Even though I’ve been blogging since 2008, this year is the first year that I’ve felt truly seen by my peers, brands and publications. I thought it’ll be cool to have a quick look back at the last year, as well as things I hope to look forward to, in the new one.
Doing it Alone
I’ve officially been freelance a whole year. A whole year! Am I proud? Yes. Was it difficult? Fuck yeah. Have I exhausted my consumption of Super Noodles and LIDL waffles? I have. I went freelance after being made redundant in late 2018, under the assumption that I would find a job within the next month or so. I had been working 9-5 all my life, and I absolutely hadn’t planned to attempt to go freelance so quickly – especially as I didn’t consider myself to be popular or ‘big’ in the influencer space.
I started off doing some freelance journalism to help pay the bills. First at Metro, then with some other publications. I started off on the lifestyle desk which was pretty fun, and eventually, I was approached to have my own column. The first three months of freelancing was hard, ok?! I had to get help from family in paying my rent, I bulk shopped at Aldi (an amazing institution of a store and I shall hear no slander about it) and froze cooked food for months and I generally just had to cut back on a few things. As time went by however, I put in the overtime with publications and my own brand; trying to do photoshoots with little-to-no-funds and trying to collaborate with brands at the same time too. Around April, I was tired of it all though and was struggling a lot. I had no money, no way of paying my bills and had racked up a tiny bit of debt on my credit card, so I told myself that the blog/freelance life wasn’t for me and decided to quit, but then…
I Only Went and Won a MASSIVE Award
*SCREAMS IN “BITCH EXCUSE ME?”*
So yeah…two weeks after saying that I wanted to quit, I only went on to go and win Blogger of the Year at the Blogosphere awards! To say I was overwhelmed is a complete understatement. What got me was that at the time, I wasn’t even aware I was nominated or shortlisted (too busy drowning in my melancholy, I’m assuming) so when the email came through, I was ELATED. Then I won. And…well…to have a black, plus-size woman win Blogger of the Year is an amazing feat in itself but for it to be me was just absolutely mindblowing and something I am forever in awe of. Lil ole’ me! This moment was truly one of the main turning points for me and how I approached my career(?! wahey!) because for the first time in 11 years, I finally felt seen.
Went Viral Online (again)
I seem to have developed a yearly habit of doing this. First the whole H&M Monkey scandal, then this year I shared my story about being a part of a Pull a Pig prank with this guy I went on two dates with. I shared it on Twitter and that kinda took on a story of its own, so I then decided to write about it for Refinery29 which again, went everywhere. I then went onto Channel 5 news to chat about plus size dating and how awful it can be, really. The whole ordeal was pretty intense; from threats of doxxing and horrific racist/fatphobic abuse, to overwhelming numbers of emails and love, it was an intense February. That experience definitely made see dating in a whole new light. Now, it’s not something I can enter into willingly at all. It was a very strange and humiliating situation that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Signed to a Management Agency
In May, I signed to my wonderful management agency Whalar, who have just been absolutely incredible and have been tremendous in helping me book jobs and collaborate with brands!
Signed a Deal with [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] [REDACTED]
It kills me that I still can’t *officially* talk about this (even though I’m sure about 70% of you know what it is individually!). I’m sure an announcement will come about in January perhaps? But let’s just say that I’m VERY excited, and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I wrote my first ever E-Book in Under a Month
WHICH YOU CAN PURCHASE HERE. K THX.
Went on my first ever International Influencer Press Trip (the first of two!)
So after blogging for 11 years, I went on my first ever international press trip (this isn’t to say that one MUST go on a press trip in order to qualify as a legit blogger btw!). I and a few other non-white influencers kept noticing a pattern in the types of influencers that would be taken on press trips – especially travel trips – and a few of us spoke out about the lack of diversity and representation when it comes to brand collaborations. Not just racial, but also body type too! Which is why I was so excited to visit St Lucia this year with Kristabel, Sade and Onyi; I wanted to show that more than one body type can go on holiday and feel amazing. I also flew to Vermont to visit Ben & Jerrys, which was INCREDIBLE.
Started Writing for Lonely Planet and Visited Japan!
I’ve been extremely lucky this year in that I’ve been able to write a few articles for Lonely Planet, which has been absolutely incredible! On top of that, I was given the opportunity to visit my all-time dream destination, Japan, as a travel writer! I had the most incredible time and learned so much while out there, and I cannot wait to hopefully go on more trips and be able to write about my experiences for you all!
Kinda/Sorta Got My Heart Broken Again
In August, I had a bit of a mini-breakdown because #MenAreTrash as per usual lmao. Without going into too much detail, I thought I’d met someone awesome (my first date since the whole “pull a pig” thing in Feb), was treated extremely well and felt v v comfortable for about 3 weeks, completely let my guard down and ignored red flags…… then was rejected using the well-known lie “I can’t date right now, my mental health…I need to fix me first, then I’ll come back to you”. I then found out the person had asked another girl to be their girlfriend about 4 days later. Lovely stuff.
It was a really weird time for me, because while I obviously wasn’t in love (it was 3 dates, c’mon), I was infatuated with how I was treated. I was made to feel wanted/liked for the first time in my life, and it was such a beautiful feeling for me. It had me wondering, “Is this how aesthetically beautiful women are treated all the time?”. It felt nice to not be seen as a fetish, or as some ‘thing’ to be pitied. Unfortunately, the feeling was taken away abruptly and so it left my heart a little shattered. My confidence dropped quite a bit, and my trust issues resurfaced with a vengeance, to the point where I honestly cannot see myself dating again, as it’s too risky and more than my heart can take these days. Anyhoo, couldn’t be having any of that, which leads me to the next bit…
Started Therapy Again
I hate that it took such a rubbish situation to get me back into therapy, but I’m so glad I’m in it again because I’m learning more and more about myself every day, along with why I act and feel specific things when it comes to men, and how much I need to soothe and parent my inner child. Whew! Therapy is intense and can be pretty traumatic, but it has been incredibly traumatic.
Turned my Eye Towards the Mystic Arts
I started getting into crystals, mediums and tarot readers. As a Christian, I was aware of how…problematic this could be but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit spooked out by some of the outcomes of the readings I’ve had! I don’t know whether its taboo to talk about what was predicted for me, so I won’t say it in case it doesn’t come to pass, but let’s just say I am #SHEWK.
Established my Worth, Who I Am, and the Things I Will and Won’t Tolerate
This year has really taught me a lot about compromise, and the things I’m willing to settle and not settle for when it comes to myself and how I treat others. It’s been another year choc-full of personal/romantic fails and feelings of inadequacy, but my standards have never been more sky-high. I know exactly what I want out of life, who I am, and know that I deserve the best. Here’s hoping that 2020 brings me more peace of mind, clarity of thought, and self-assurance.
Letting go of a very painful and traumatising decade is incredibly emotionally exhausting tbh, but I’m hoping that the new one brings with it a lot more peace, a lot less rejection and a lot less pain. Through the help of therapy and self-reflection, I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself and develop a level of self-awareness that is truely astronomical, so here’s hoping that I’m able to practise self-love a lot more next year.
What next for 2020?
In 2018, I created a 5-year plan of the things I wanted to accomplish in that time. I was able to complete 4 out of 6 of them in under a year, which I’m really proud of, so here are my goals and the things I wish to manifest in 2020 and beyond:
- Design a plus size fashion collection with a brand. This has been my dream since the age of 11 and I have 14 pages of sketches that I’ve kept on my hard drive since 2013. It MUST come true!
- Collaborate with more style/fashion brands in the future. Style is my number one passion and I want to ignite that flame even more.
- Appear on more panels, talks, radio shows, TV shows and podcasts.
- Open my heart a bit more. At the moment it’s like a vault, and it’s not cool. Maybe go on one date every 6 months or something.
- LEARN TO DRIVE (automatic though, none of this manual nonsense)
- Do more travel writing/travel more!
- Write for more publications
- Model/do a lookbook for a fashion brand
- Try and be happy.
Roll on 2020 x