A few days ago on Instagram I created a reel talking about my desire to try and be a little more vulnerable again as it pertains to my content. After all, I started this blog being very raw and honest about my feelings surrounding self esteem, body confidence, mental health and other musings, and I would like to believe that honesty and my ability to ‘keep it real’ so to speak, are part-reasons why I have the audience I have!
Over time, my platform has increased, which naturally gives way to more eyes on you and more opinions, which leads to more bitching, more gossip, more online abuse and more negativity. Naturally, these things can cause one to close up and become cold, for fear of feeding the trolls. Because let’s face it, people who dislike you (for whatever reason) love to see it when you’re not doing well, or when you’re upset. Our misfortune and unhappiness feeds them; it gives them a temporary sense of superiority over us. For me, that has been of the main reasons why i’ve chosen not to be as emotionally forthcoming on here as of late. But lately, I’ve found myself changing my mind, because I can! My mental health has taken a huge battering over the last year, and writing has always been the cure that ails it.
So. At the probable risk of being talked/gossiped about or mocked by my peers or opps, I’m going to try again, and start writing from the heart. It’s currently 2:45am as I type this so apologies if this isn’t eloquent or coherent.
Ahh. Where to begin.
My cup has been empty for a while, despite me pouring into others, and pouring into projects. Over the last year, my mental health has plummeted, in all honesty. Between barely having any work this year, the high cost of living and having to live with a huge financial burden due to helping out those around me, it’s meant my emotional wellbeing has been tested to the limit. Outside of that though, I have a worrying sense that I have nothing more to give to this industry anymore.
Why? Well to put it bluntly, I feel unappreciated and constantly overlooked, and it’s exhausting. The constant onslaught of rejection over the years has finally gotten to me, and as a result, I have developed crippling bouts of low self-esteem and low confidence over my work and creativity. I had certain goals and dreams that I had always wanted to achieve, and – for the last 15 years – I have been working hard to achieve them, often having to prove above and beyond that I was worthy. But having to compete against others in an industry that prides itself on whiteness and thinness as the ideal has proven to be emotionally taxing. I have to work 5x as hard to prove my worth to brands and publications, and even when I do, I’m met with emails left on read, or given excuses and lies as to why they cannot work with me just now.
Everyone goes through rejection, and I have been the recipient of it many times in doing the work I do. But now, I think I’ve reached my limit. I’ve run out of fuel. The industry has made me feel like my work and content means nothing anymore. I’ve been made to feel like my work is mediocre. My writing is mediocre. My style/fashion content is mediocre, and that I am mediocre. Despite the work that I have done to try and make others feel seen and loved, I do not feel seen.
Since the age of 11, I dreamed of one day being able to design clothing pieces for bigger girls. I have drawings of pieces I’ve created in my scrapbook that I’ve been keeping for the last five years. I’ve wanted to write about fashion (as well as other subjects) as a columnist for years. These were just a couple of goals that I would have thought after 15 years, I would have hit by now. And it hasn’t been through a lack of working hard or trying, and networking and putting 100% of myself into what I do while trying to stay authentic and true to me. But the hours and hours I’ve spent over the last few years pitching to the hundreds of publications and brands telling them why I am someone worth working with, continuously falls on deaf ears.
And maybe that’s just it. There’s a part of me that thinks that I have deluded myself into thinking I was someone special. That I could actually make a change in the plus size industry. A part of me stupidly thought that I was somewhat creative. I thought I was a good writer. I thought people liked what I had to say (at times). But the constant ‘no’s’, the rejection and the emails left on read tell me a different story.
Maybe I’m just trash. That’s how I feel, anyway.
And I neither want nor need pity. I’ve had to work very hard for everything I’ve had my whole life and I enjoy it; as someone from a working class background, it’s all I’ve ever known. I want to be able to earn my accolades fairly through someone acknowledging and appreciating my work and rewarding me for it. I don’t want to be given opportunities due to someone feeling sorry for me, or noticing last minute that they need a ‘diversity token’.
All these things above; alongside my personal ‘non-work’ struggles, has left me low key spiralling into the abyss. I am not ashamed to say that I am struggling, and that these feelings of inferiority almost feels like a self-hatred. I have had feelings of unaliving ideation for a good 13 or so months now, but have noticed them becoming more frequent in the last three months; sometimes several times a week, which scares me.
The cost of living (alongside other reasons) means I’m having to pinch my pennies a bit tighter and cut out the things that aren’t necessities, hence why I’m not attending therapy this time around so…yeah. My brain has not been the most fun place to be. As a high functioning depressive, I carry on however. I laugh and post goofy tiktoks online. I talk to you and smile. I interact socially at press events. I carry on creating content to the best of my ability and posting as usual, as if nothing’s happened. I listen to your problems and try to problem solve with you. To you, I appear to be ‘fine’.
But when i’m in the privacy of my own home, I cry constantly. I doubt my existence. I chastise myself for not being good enough. I blame myself for having less work this year. I have thoughts about not wanting to be here anymore, and I constantly criticize my work for being boring, average and not up to par, and citing those reasons as to why people may not want to work with me (even though I always thought my work was okay).
“Steph what’s meant for you will not pass you!”, “Something bigger will come!”, “You gotta manifest babes!”. I always appreciate when kind words are offered, but there’s just some things you can’t manifest. You cannot manifest your way out of an industry that dislikes diversity at its core. And with the way I’m feeling about myself right now, I’m beginning to think that all this may be a sign.
A sign for me to stop creating. A sign that I probably should have continued my career in law or continued working in healthcare. Maybe God is trying to subtly tell me that I need to move on and do something else. Whatever it is, I know that deep down there is nothing ‘bigger’ out there for me, and that all the opportunities and goals I had ever wanted to achieve, have already passed me by.
Anyway, while I think about my next steps, I’ve decided to start blogging on here more, especially when it comes to fashion bits. I don’t have the energy to constantly pitch ideas and get ignored/rejected by publications, so unless I’ve been asked to write, all my writing bits will be hosted on here for now.
I know this is isn’t the most fun post to read, but it’s my reality right now. Maybe I’ll come back to this post tomorrow and feel a bit better. Maybe not. All I know is that in this moment right now, I’ve never felt more hopeless.