16 Things 2016 Taught Me

 

Well, it's a good job my New Years Resolution wasn't to be more timely, because here I am rolling up with a New Year post more than a week after the new year began.  I've been trying to avoid the extremely large, obnoxious elephant that's been sat in the room for weeks, but it's finally gotten to the point where I feel embarrassed not talking about it. I know - I know I practically abandoned this blog throughout November and December. I promise I didn't mean to. In fact it was quite the opposite - the idea was to blog more once I finished full time education, not less. But I'm back - if that's any consolation - and I feel like I'm finally inspired to start writing again. Despite all of the amazing things that came out of 2016, I think a lot of us can agree that the past twelve months were, well, interesting, to say the least. It wasn't the best year of my life but - looking back - it was definitely a year of lessons learned. 

1. You can't control everything

I'm a control freak. I've never been good with spontaneity. In fact an impromptu trip to Macdonalds is probably about as spontaneous as I get - and even then I always pick the same things. What can I say? I'm a creature of habit and I like it that way. But no matter how hard I try to control certain things around me, this year I've come to terms with the fact that it is, ultimately (to my dismay) completely impossible. In fact, I think I've actually started to embrace it. Don't expect me to hop on a last minute flight to the other side of the world any time soon, but hey - you never know.
 

2. No one knows what they're doing

At 24, I thought I would be at the height of my career now. You know, my own house (maybe one in the South of France), money in the bank, a fridge full of food that isn't (a) out of date or (b) cheese that comes out of a squeezy tube. I mean, I'd at least thought I'd have known which compartment fabric softener goes into in the washing machine. But alas, I do not. And 2016 was the year that I realized (unless they're superhuman) no one really knows what they're doing either. We're all walking around blind, looking at our phones and praying people think we're answering important emails (when really we're playing level 378 of Candy Crush), walking into supermarkets with the intent of detoxing, and coming out with eight bags of sweets and a bag of Doritos. None of us know what we're doing, we've just learnt to make it look to everyone else like we know what we're doing.
 

3. It's okay to love yourself

Earlier in 2016 I wrote a post all about why I chose to change myself in order to love myself. To this day people still question why I made the decision to change myself so drastically, and to this day I still believe it's one of the best things I ever did, because - for probably the first time in my life - I actually love who I am, both on the inside and outside. But - oddly enough - a lot of people tend to think there's something wrong with that, and so throughout the majority of the year I felt embarrassed about finally feeling good about who I was. But at the end of the day, you are the only person that you'll always, without a doubt, have in your life. You can achieve a lot more when you love and believe in yourself.
 

4. You are your own worst enemy

With all of the above in mind, sometimes your mind does just decide to turn on you, and whilst you should always believe in yourself, sometimes you should always believe yourself - or at least the thoughts you're thinking. Does that person on the street care if your liner is uneven? No, they don't. Does your boyfriend care if you put on a few pounds over Christmas? Chances are, he probably likes it. When you're feeling low, it's easier said than done to just snap out of it, or believe in yourself. Instead, look to the people around you and take comfort in how they see you. I realised this year that none of us have ever seen what we actually look like - we've only seen reflections or images. Therefore, we can't accurately comment on how we look or who we are. The people around you think you're amazing - and they know best.
 

5. It's okay to take time out

I'm not just saying this because I've been so MIA with the blog recently, but in all honesty, sometimes it is good to take time out. I'll never, ever feel ungrateful about having this as my job, but unlike most careers, bloggers don't tend to the same time off as someone who works a 9 to 5. Of course, the perks outweigh that, but this year I realised exactly how important it is to switch off sometimes. I actually took time off at Christmas for once. I stayed off social media (for the most part) on my birthday a few days ago and I intend on doing the same in the upcoming holidays. Sometimes, a day in bed watching TV does wonders.
 

6. Your boyfriend can be your best friend

'Boys come and go, but friends are forever' - I've always hated that saying. That whole 'bros before hoes' sentiment is an interesting one, but for me that 'hoe' (AKA my boyfriend) comes before everyone. I've learnt over the years that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having your boyfriend as your best friend. Sure, who knows if you'll be together forever, but the same can be said about any friendship. I'm not one for soul mates, but I do think that when you know, you just know. That doesn't mean you can sack off any other person in your life because you've got a brand new boyfriend, but it also doesn't mean you have to feel obliged to have a separate best friend. Sometimes, they can be both.
 

7. After low lows come high highs

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but it's happened far too often for me to not take note, and actually, it's taught me to be more hopeful in situations that, well, seem a little hopeless. Whenever I've had one of those weeks from hell, I used to sit there and wallow about how my life was never going to get good again. Of course, it always did. And it always will do. So now, whenever I'm going through a rough patch I've learnt to just wait it out. I've also learnt that wine is a great way to help get through said rough patches.
 

8. There are no shortcuts to success

I've been doing this blogging/internet thing for a while now. Years, even. I've tried just about every trick in the book to build my audience and push myself further. I've tried dissecting algorithms, tactical posting, networking, everything - and whilst some of these things do work over time, no one thing is going to push you to where you want to be over night. I learnt this mostly through Youtube. I was posting at certain times, about certain things, and I was being consistent. My stats just didn't seem to shift. That is, until one of my old videos went semi-viral (viral for me, anyway). It wasn't the best video I'd ever made, nor was it the most interesting or controversial, but for some reason it got picked up, and in just a a few weeks I had amassed a whopping 40,000 subscribers. There were no tricks, it was just a case of luck after working at something for so long. Whatever you're doing, keep at it - it'll pay off soon enough.
 

9. SOME FRIENDSHIPS JUST WEREN'T MEANT TO BE

This makes me a little sad, but it's still very true. I remember when I was younger everyone would have huge groups of friends that they'd hang out with, and I'd often wonder why my parents only saw the same few people every so often. But, as you get older, you do lose ties with people. There doesn't have to be any bad blood, you can simply just drift apart. It's no ones fault - it's just how it happens as you get older.
 

10. Comparison is the thief of joy

It really, truly is. The second you start comparing yourself to someone else is the second you've lost. No matter how hard you try, you will never be that person nor be in the same situation as them. I get it - sometimes you look at others and you think why, why do they have *insert here* and I don't? It sucks - I get it. But just because you've acknowledged that doesn't mean you'll suddenly get it. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is your. Improve on your self day after day and after a while you won't even notice what everyone else has.
 

11. Things very rarely go to plan

It's no news that I like to plan. I mean, I made the Blogger Journal - a book that is literally dedicated to planning and organisation. I can write down all of the millions of blog posts I plan on doing but, when it comes down to it, there's never enough time. I wake up each morning and I make a list the length of my arm, and then at 5pm wonder why I've only ticked four things off of that list. Life gets in the way, distractions happen, and sometimes you just can't be assed. In 2016 I learnt to c
 

12. Being yourself is the best thing to be

This is something a lot of you guys taught me - especially over on my Youtube channel. 2016 was a year of pretty big change for me - mostly on the outside - but it was also the year that I learnt to accept myself and who I was as a person. When I started out my blog and channel I felt like I had to act a certain way to fit in with what everyone else wanted. I had to take myself seriously - otherwise no one else would. Or at least, that's what I've thought. 
 

13. There is a thing as too much sleep

In 2016 I was exhausted. Or at least, I thought I was. And when you feel tired, the obvious answer is to sleep more. However last year I came to the conclusion that too much sleep can be just as detrimental as not enough. I would get nine hours of sleep and find myself exhausted up until dinner time. After countless all nighters completing this years Blogger Journal I took the Christmas break as an opportunity to sleep. Some days, I would sleep up to fourteen hours a night and spend the rest of the day over-tired and uninspired. I then remembered my College and Uni days where I would get just four or five hours of sleep a night, and - despite the bags under my eyes - I was still a fairly well functioning human being. This year it's my goal to find a happy medium. And a good under eye concealer..
 

14. Hard work always pays off

It's not 'being lucky' it's working hard. Being lucky is when you buy a scratch card and win twenty quid. Working hard is getting your dream job, or saving up to travel the world. It's not something that is ever just handed to you. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Hard work is exactly that - hard. It's not something you do for a week and then you find yourself in your dream career, it's a complete lifestyle change. It takes time, and it takes effort. But think about it, how many people - real, hard working people - have you heard about that never made it? I can't name one.
 

15. You can't do it all

I'm the kind of person that feels like a failure unless I'm constantly achieving something, which is why I always make sure I'm busy. My mum always used to tell me that I was 'burning the candle at both ends' - which, in normal person language meant I was doing too much and that I was going to burn out after a while. It took 23 years, but I finally did do just that, and in turn it left me unable to fathom doing practically anything - hence my eventual return today! Will I stop taking on too much at once? Probably not. But will I know my limit a little more? Absolutely.
 

16. A lot can change in a year

I realised this just as I was typing up this blog post. I remember the post I made last year about my resolutions and goals, and after reading it back I realised just how far I've come in the past 365 days. We tend to compare ourselves to how we were a short while ago, as opposed to the grand scheme of things. Sure, maybe you haven't progressed in your job since last month - but why not try looking back to when you first started, or a year ago to this day? You're achieving a lot more than you think. Bring on the next year!

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Let's talk about blogger beef

I'm gonna take a stab in the dark here and assume that the majority of you guys and gals that read this blog have either seen or are at least somewhat familiar with the film Mean Girls. If not, here's a little run through. There's a pretty iconic moment near the end where some random girl walks into the school and tells a group of strangers how she wishes she could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles, so that everyone could eat it and be happy. The entire school looked at her like she was crazy, and she was told to leave. Today, I feel a bit like that girl.

I've been out of the loop with this blogging biz for a few weeks now. It happened as a bit of an accident really. I skipped a few days, those few days turned into a week and then I felt almost embarrassed to come back with just your standard #ootd. 'Hey guys! Been gone for a week or two but here's what I wore a month ago. Bye!' I always feel like when I take a break from blogging I need to come back with something meaningful to say. I mean, jeez, I've had a few weeks off of writing my thoughts online, I must have at least something to say. Well, here it is.

I'm very much a team internet sort of girl. I love seeing all of the amazing things that every day people like you and I get up to, all thanks to the world wide web. Imagine someone telling you as a kid that you were going to grow up, film yourself in your room talking about your favourite beauty products, and end up with a best selling book a few years later. It's both ridiculous yet utterly amazing that people like us are doing these things on the daily.

Call me naive, but here I was thinking that all creators were pretty much a part of #TeamInternet by default. Only over the past month or so I've seen various bloggers and influencers bashing each other over the internet through the means of click bait videos, tweets and shady snapchat stories. I get it, sometimes you just want to complain to your bestie about that colleague at work that grates on you. But would you stand up in the middle of the office, in front of everyone, and call someone out because of something you didn't agree with? Probably not.

And that's just it. When you're an internet person with an audience (no matter how big or small) your colleagues are your fellow influencers and your office is the entire internet. What you say on there goes out like a viral newsletter to everyone you involve yourself with - your audience, your employer(s) and anyone else with an internet connection. 

As members of #TeamInternet we should be lifting eachother up, not bringing eachother down. Whoever made up the saying 'sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me' obviously never had social media. Words hurt, whether you say them in person or whether you type them in a tweet. Sure, we can't all get along with eachother, all the time. But - just like you would in any other job - sometimes, you just have to work through it. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. And if you ever figure out a recipe for a cake made out of rainbows and smiles, give me a call.


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How I stopped eye strain with the click of a button

Vision-direct

I pride myself in having pretty great vision - especially considering the fact that I spend the majority of my day sat in front of some form of computer monitor or smartphone. However, for the past few years I've been suffering with really bad headaches and eye-strain whenever I spend more than a few hours staring at a screen - not ideal when, you know, it's practically my job to do just that. I've always had a bit of a weird phobia when it comes to eye tests, but the a few months back I finally decided to bite the bullet and get my first test since I was seven years old (yeah, I know). Turns out, that whilst my eyesight itself was good, I was most likely getting the headaches due to the blue light that emits from computer screens. And even though I didn't need glasses for my actual eye sight, the eye folks recommended I pick up a pair of lenses for my office work.

Now, unfortunately I am not the kind of girl that can chuck on just any pair of glasses and look cute, so my initial thought was to opt for a pair of contact lenses instead. However - as an avid coloured contact lens wearer - I decided to give my eyes a well deserved break and pick up my first pair of glasses. And so, when it came to me actually choosing the lenses I decided to do what I do best and - ironically - look for my new computer glasses..on the computer. Typical blogger eh?

Now I don't know about you guys, but I'm a terrible shopper. I change my mind every five minutes, only to come out of a shop empty handed - another reason why I decided to buy my new specs online (and I didn't want to annoy any poor shop assistant that was lumped with me as a customer. I was able to shop from the comfort of my own home, changing my mind as often as I liked, and I was even given the chance to try out a few pairs before committing to just one. 

I found a lot of really helpful tips about buying glasses online with Vision Direct. It was surprisingly simple to input my own prescription into the online system and I received my glasses in no time at all. I've been wearing them every other day for the past few weeks and in that time I've not had a single headache - which means more blogging..and online shopping..

Do you guys struggle with eye strain at all?


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*This post is in collaboration with Vision Direct*

A letter to my younger self

Hi younger Steph - this is future Steph (or present Steph, however you wanna look at it) speaking. Or rather, typing. Yes, it's been nearly ten years and yes you're still spending most of your time sitting in front of the computer - only now you're doing more than making Myspace profiles and joining as many 'whore' trains on Myspace. I mean, you're still editing the crap out of your pictures (only you've gotten a lot better and people almost don't even notice that you photoshopped your thighs in this picture). The majority of your best friends still live on cyber space, but they're some of the best friends you'll ever have. You'll even meet some of them in real life! So don't worry, you won't grow up to be a total loner. I say total because, in all honesty, you are a bit of a loner, but you'll grow to really, really love your time alone. I know that sounds like an absolute nightmare for you right now, because - let's face it - we didn't really like Steph back then, but now (and don't laugh at me when I tell you this) you actually quite like who you are.

Now I'm not gonna lie to you/me (this is going to get confusing) but things will absolutely get worse. Boys will treat you like crap - girls will treat you even worse. You'll fall into the wrong crowd and wind up doing stupid things after school (don't worry, that criminal record expires when you're 18..lol). You'll meet a few nice people along the way and then you'll drift away from them because, hey, shit happens. The family are still doing good. Mum and Dad will split up, but there won't be any drama and they're still very much you're Mum and Dad. Your grandparents are still here (and yes, Grandad's main topic of conversation does still revolve around food - gotta love that man). Like I said, things will get bad, but you come out the other end and - dare I say it - as far as a regular persons life goes, you're doing alright.

You're 23 now (gross, I know) and you'll have a nice boyfriend of four years who you live with. You'll end up moaning about him leaving towels all over the place like Mum used to, and you'll fall out about whose turn it is to do the dishes, but that's about all you'll fall out over. He's a good egg. You'll go through a bit of drama to get him (and you'll have to literally force him to be your boyfriend one day) but it all works out in the end. You won't want to marry each other, but you do want to settle down and have as many animals together as possible - which probably works out more cost-effective.

As for how you're doing..I don't want this part to scare you at all, but you know how you thought you could fight that whole depression thing? Yeah, you can't. So stop being so stubborn, take the damn antidepressants and get on with it. There's a whole lot more to life than moaning about how crap your life is and how ugly you are. Your life isn't crap, and you're not ugly - stop being ridiculous. Actually, about that face of yours..don't even worry about it. You'll grow into those teeth and people will actually compliment you on your bushy brows. I'm serious - do not over-pluck. Your face will change (both naturally and not-so-naturally) and you'll actually like how you look. And those bullies that made fun of you? Some of them will even try and ask you out years later. You'll deny them and it'll feel great.

What else has changed? Well, come to think of it, not all that much in a space of ten years - but don't worry, that's a good thing. In fact, imagine your life exactly how it is now, only with a few less assholes (a few - sadly they do still exist in 2016) a few more friends (real friends) a really good looking boyfriend and way better hair. Speaking of which - please stop self-bleaching your hair. It looks rubbish and takes years to grow out. 

I guess what I'm trying to say here is don't worry. Everything that happened before you will eventually get over, and you'll feel like a bad ass for being able to say that. You're loved - both by others and yourself (cringe) - and apart from odd day you'll feel really really happy about your life and the people in it. What? Did you really expect me to dish out all the juicy bits and ruin the surprise? You know me better than that. But trust me, it's all gonna be worth it.

Please vote for me in the #iamfreedom awards! I need all the help I can get to get me into the final 5. Thank you to everyone that's gotten me this far! You can vote three times, per day, per device! The prize is life changing. x


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Why you need to stop hiding your blog

I was a part of the Tumblr era - an era where it was practically unheard of to even talk about your blog, let alone try and promote it. People would publish their insecurities in full (alongside pictures of Jeffrey Campbell Litas) and then pray to god that no one in their class would ever find out, because - let's face it - having emotions and sharing them on the internet is a really loser-ish thing to do. No wonder I never fit in at school..

But now, fast forward a few years and here we all are spilling our hearts out online and sharing some of our most personal stories in hopes that someone might be able to relate to whatever is going on in our heads. Blogging is no longer just about sharing an un-sourced image of your favourite pair of shoes or following as many Olsen Twin fan pages as possible. The times have changed, the internet has changed, and us as bloggers have changed. We're more personal than ever before because the only way to really stand out in the Blogosphere these days is to, quite simply, be yourself. And whilst sharing yourself with the internet might seem scary, it's exactly what you should be doing.

You never know where it might lead

Think back to a time when blogging wasn't a 'thing'. There was no such thing as a blogger - only a few people that wrote down their thoughts on the internet. Some of those people wound up to be the biggest bloggers in the industry, without even planning to get anywhere other than their bedroom. Imagine if you had a blog this whole time, but you were too scared to talk about it. Think about how many potential possibilities you could have missed just because you were a little nervous about what other people had to say. Forget about little Timmy in the back of your class making fun at you for taking selfies. Take five million selfies, tag your favourite brands, show your friends, get re-grammed and show Timmy who's boss (you).

 

Everyone starts from the bottom

I've never really hidden the fact that I have a blog, but it's only in the past few months that I've really begun to speak about it with pride. When people asked me what I did I used to brush it off as some form of freelance job and dodge the question as much as I could. Recently however, I've found myself openly discussing what it is that I do. One of the most common things I come across is other people being too scared to promote themselves because they're embarrassed. I get it - people can be assholes when it comes to something that they're not comfortable with, and they'll try to make you feel uncomfortable about it too to make them feel better. I got called countless names when I started posting outfits online. Now? Well now they've either finally gotten comfortable with it, or I've made them eat their words. Everyone pokes fun at you when you first start something - you just need to prove them you can get better.

 

There's nothing to be ashamed of

So what? You have a blog..and/or a Youtube channel. Or an Instagram. These days, any of the above is generation Y's version of  TV, or a 'good old fashioned book'. We read them on our way to work, we scroll through photos before we get out of bed and we watch Youtube videos on our phones whilst we sit on the toilet. Oh yeah, I know you do that too. So if we're consuming these things, why does it matter if we want to create our own as well? I've always said that people should be able to do whatever they want to do as long as they're somewhat gracious about it. On the grand scheme of things..is having a blog really a big deal?

 

You'll make so many new friends

This is such a cliche thing to say as a blogger, but one of the best things about being a part of the Blogosphere is the friends you'll make along the way. Half of them live in different countries. Half of them I speak to on an almost monthly basis. Half of them I've never even met in real life! But they're my friends, without a shadow of a doubt. When you work in an office your co-workers become your friends. But when you work on the internet your friends are the other people that also spend every waking moment online. You'll form the most weird and wonderful relationships with people you never would have met if you didn't talk about your blog.

 

AND ABOUT THAT SELF PROMO..

Okay so I didn't actually plan to put this in this blog post, but it just fit in so well that I couldn't not (plus, I need all the help I can get from you lovely people). As some of you will know I'm currently in the final 20 for the #IAmFreedom makeup awards competition. The prize is life changing (like £20,000 kind of life changing) and the next round of votes is cast solely by the public (AKA you guys). I wouldn't usually ask, but it would mean so much to me if you could all vote for me and help get me through to the final 10. You can each vote 3 times, and all you need to do is fill in your name, email (they won't spam you, don't worry!) and select 'STEPH' as the contestant you want to vote for. It would help me out in more ways than you can imagine, so if you do vote, please let me know so I can personally thank you! Lots of love as always.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TOO EMBARRASSED TO TALK ABOUT YOUR BLOG?


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