Harsh words, I know, but I've always been the kind of person who prefers honesty no matter how brutal it seems. Not just with friends and family but also with myself – because if you're not honest with yourself, then how can you expect anyone else to be? The other night I finally said the words out loud, the ones that have been playing on my mind for the past six weeks. "I don't blog anymore. I'm failing as a blogger. I'm the worst at blogging that I've ever been." It pained me to say it because I love blogging, I love writing and I always have. I still remember so clearly the first moment I set up this blog and the solace and happiness I have found in it ever since, the successes and struggles. This blog has been with me through so many of the biggest moments of my life from studying and relationships, to careers, travel and more. And so have all of you, the amazing people who read this blog and support me every step of the way. But as much as it pained me to admit it, I have another, even more shocking confession to make.
I can't apologise for taking a step back from blogging because I don't feel sorry that life got in the way. I'm not sorry that I decided to prioritise other things and that actually it was the best decision I could have made. Because sometimes we have to accept that we can't be everything. We can't be superwoman. We can't all be amazing in our careers, our relationships, learn a new language and run a blog and keep a clean house. Eventually something has to give and it's always better we make that decision ourselves rather than have it forced upon us later on. As you guys know, I went on a 3-week road trip around Europe and on my return I started my new job alongside taking on various other roles. It soon became clear that I needed to sacrifice something in order to be able to give 110% in all my other roles.
It would have been easy for me to feel like I was failing as a blogger, failing at life. That not being able to do all the things meant I wasn't as dedicated as I should be – but that wasn't the case. I was just reprioritising which is one of the most valuable things you can do if you care about the quality of your work. It was much more important to me to deliver high quality work in my job, to give my friends my undivided attention, and to really genuinely enjoy my trip without guilt. My blog has always been about having a life and making the most of every second – well, sometimes to do that you have to know when to hold back.
It's easy to forget how much you have already achieved, but 9 months into the year is always a great time to think back. Instead of looking at how I'm failing as a blogger, I should remember that my big goals for this year were to focus on pushing forward in my career. Well, now it's September and I can say how proud I am of myself for such a huge year. 2018 was the year I moved to Germany without speaking the language but still managed to land a job as a content manager working in SEO without any formal training. It was the year I had a home of my own for the first time in nearly 5 years. It was the year I travelled around Europe in a van and scored some of my biggest blogging collaborations yet. And alongside this I managed to make some amazing new friends in a brand new city. To say it's been a pretty amazing year would be an understatement and failing as a blogger is such a small thing in the wake of such success. Sacrificing this blog for a short time has brought so much happiness into my life and I can't apologise for that.
But the great thing about failing as a blogger and getting out there and grabbing life by the you-know-whats is that I've got some pretty great stories and blog posts just waiting to be shared with you all. So I'm back, tap-tap-tapping away at my keyboard and excited to be back sharing my life with you all. So let's start with last weekend when I had the best Sunday soaking up the last of the summer sunshine over a few cheeky cocktails and a Japanese feast. Sporting my fab new sunglasses gifted by Toyshades, a unique London brand who create both classic vintage eyewear styles and contemporary designs. I'm wearing the Rudge 2018 - Matte Tortoise Frame with Rose Amber Pentoptic Lens (£38) which I absolutely love and will be wearing until the very last rays of sunshine have disappeared this winter. After such an amazing summer, I'm really clinging on to those last remaining sunny days and how better to spend them than eating and drinking with your favourite person? We started at beach bar StrandPauli for drinks – one of my fave bars overlooking the river – then headed to Momo Ramen in Sternschanze for the most amazing meal of ramen, sake and gyozo.
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A final note on this post – a reminder that failure isn't always a bad thing. It's okay to be failing as a blogger, at your job, as a friend, as a girlfriend or even as a daughter sometimes. Because you're not super-human – I know I'm definitely not! It's time we stopped expecting everyone to give 110% in every aspect of their life all at the same time. It's okay to say no, it's okay to cut back and it's okay to fail. What's important is what you learn from it – how you grow and change. I'm placing less expectations on myself, I will always work my ass off but I'm going to stop taking on so much and feeling guilty when I have to say no. The rest of 2018 is about finding balance that works for me.
What have been your big successes this year? How have you failed – and what have you learned from it? How do you find balance in your life?
One of the great things about being back in the UK is having more time to experiment with the blog. This year, I've really set myself the challenge of stepping outside my blogging box and trying some new things - and I thought why not try my hand at writing some more fashion posts? It's been a while since I wrote one and when I was asked to collaborate with Tobi, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get back into it. I love to try writing about new things and let's be honest, travel and style go hand-in-hand. But after spending so in Asia where my wardrobe extended about as far as tie-dye and bikinis, and Australia, where it was much more laid back, I was excited to come back to the UK and once again really revel in clothes. I've always loved fashion, I get it from my mum who is a self-confessed shopaholic who always orders "one in every colour", but travel has meant my clothes often get put on a back-burner instead focusing on comfort and durability.Clothes are creativity and my style has changed a lot over the years, but one thing that has stayed the same is my love of knitwear. As much as the eternal summer has been amazing while travelling, I have at times really missed wearing snuggly clothes - those thick jumpers and cosy cardigans. Living every day in the sunshine is amazing, but there are times when you just fancy being wrapped up in warm layers and knitted fabrics. I love the Cowl Does It Feel Sweater Dress from Tobi (available here) because it has all my favourite elements - thick, over-sized style to keep the cold out, a roll-neck top and my favourite feature - pockets! It's so hard to find a jumper or a dress with pockets and I really do feel that details like this really make them seem even more luxury, plus I can't get enough of this rich burgundy colour. Perfect for sipping on a nice glass of Shiraz by a roaring fire. Pictured with scarf and bag (Primark) and boots (New Look - similar available here)I'm absolutely in love with this gorgeous little top, which you may have seen me wearing in this previous post for afternoon tea. With the weather being so cold at the moment, I'm all about my jeans and boots, so I'm always on the lookout for cute tops to pair up with them. The Lose It Self Tie Blouse from Tobi (available here) is just beautiful and goes perfect with my ripped jeans - I actually wore it out for a work dinner the other night and had lots of compliments on it. I love the rich combination of colours, the dark blue and the hints of gold, plus the textures of the velvet mixed with the sheer fabric is pure luxury. It works just on it's own with jeans, or you can pop a little top underneath for a more modest look, I paired it with a white cami top the other night. Pictured with the comfiest jeans in the world! (New Look - available here)My favourite outfit from this haul has to be the Cosette Embroidered Tier Romper - as my friends say, I am the queen of the romper. I just love a little playsuit, they're comfy but practical and they look so cute in the summer. I love that you can dress them down with bare feet on the beach, or up with high heels for a night out, and you can even wear them in winter with a pair of tights. I actually wore this romper with a pair of tights and a blazer for afternoon tea with the girls last week and loved the outfit. Considering there is snow on the ground as I write this, I may be a bit overly-hopeful that I'll be wearing this with just a denim jacket (pictured - vintage) and bare feet on the beach anytime soon, but a girl can dream! Bring on the summer..If you've been lusting over any of the clothes in this post, you should check out Tobi for some seriously affordable and really cute outfits. I'll be honest and say over the last few years, I've gone off the high street brands and have actually started to prefer online stores that offer much more budget-friendly but still great quality clothes. I find the clothes are a bit more unique instead of the same copy-cat styles, I'm really loving the more quirky designs, plus the feel that you're not going to walk past people on the street who have the same outfit on as you. Some of my other favourite budget website brands at the moment include Zaful and Romwe, although the delivery does take a while with these brands. What do you think of my fashion post - leave me a comment below with any feedback!
Also - nominations are now open for the Blogosphere Awards and I would LOVE if you would take two seconds out of your day to nominate me if you've loved reading my posts this year. Thank you.
What do you think of these outfits - which is your fave? What are your fave budget fashion brands? Are you loving all the winter knitwear or ready for some summer fashion?
I've been back in the country less than 24 hours and it's safe to say after four weeks of mad, fast, exciting travelling around Europe, of dancing until the sun comes up and sightseeing for days - I'm glad to be home. I've had the most incredible few weeks road tripping across Bulgaria, exploring Berlin, relaxing in the stunning surroundings of Slovenia, diving into the beautiful baths of Budapest and partying it up in Amsterdam. It's been epic from start to finish and went better than I ever could have hoped, all thanks to all my amazing friends I met up with along the way. The trip was a fantastic excuse to visit some of my friends from trips to Asia and Australia back in their own homes and to catch up on old times, while picking up some awesome new friends along the way. It felt so good to be on the road and completely independent again, travelling solo really is my favourite way to travel, and I feel so refreshed after a break from working so much. Also a big thanks to everyone who has been following me on Instagram and has offered countless suggestions of place to eat, things to see and do along the way!
So what next? You all know I'm never one to stand still for long so of course I've already got lots of plans for the next few weeks and if you've been following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you'll already know that in just one month I'll be heading back to Australia for another year! While I was away my second year visa was granted and after waiting months for it to be approved I was beyond ecstatic, I can't wait to get back there to start a whole new adventure and to see all my loves I have missed so much. With just a month to prepare, you'd think I'd need to take a few days off working to get everything in order, but actually I've ended up signing up to full time freelance hours until the date I leave! Plus I'll be covering a lot of extra blogging events and reviewing a huge range of restaurants and hotels for you guys with all my top tips for weekends away and how to make the most of your time off work. And I've got some exciting collaborations with travel brands and opportunities coming up that I can't wait to share with you.
It's been lovely to take some time off from the blog over the last couple of weeks just to get some perspective and really appreciate how far I've come. This week my blog celebrated it's third birthday and I actually cannot believe how much it has changed and grown in that time - from the very first blog post I published to the most recent collaborations and going on my first blogging press trip a week ago. I'm so proud of everything I have accomplished with this blog - from working with brands to helping readers plan their trips. I actually received an amazing message from a long-time reader this morning saying she was inspired by this blog post to quit her job and her relationship so she could buy a one-way ticket to Australia. It is just incredible to have any kind of influence on readers, but to have such a huge impact on her life is more than I could have dreamed of when I started Absolutely Lucy.When you love to write as much as I do, and you love to travel, getting to combine these passions in a way that helps others and helps you build a career is so precious, it is important to appreciate every second. Last week, the 10th edition of industry magazine Blogosphere published with the incredible In The Frow on the cover - one of the bloggers I have followed from the very beginning - and guess who was featured inside? One of my favourite travel bloggers, Vicky Flip Flop, chose to feature Absolutely Lucy among her favourite travel bloggers for the month. I haven't yet had a chance to see it as I've been away, but I'll be sharing it with you as soon as my copy arrives - I'm so excited to be a part of such a fabulous magazine, and such an incredible industry.These last few weeks have been exactly the tonic I needed to come home feeling super inspired, with a brain and a camera packed full of amazing content that I just can't wait to share with you. I'm planning on working my ass off at this laptop and bringing you a huge range of new posts on all my adventures and hope to inspire you to plan some of your own. I'm also on a serious health kick - after four weeks of drinking and eating all kinds of rubbish - I'm looking forward to getting in the gym again and eating healthily. It's time to get this body in shape and to peak fitness before I get back to Australia and living in my bikini every day! I'm so pleased I finally found a gym in my small town that offers a huge range of classes, plus a well-stocked gym and a pool - actually, I'm going to wrap up this post now and head straight down there for a workout! So there you go guys, a little glimpse into a chaotic few weeks that have left me with a big smile on my face.
Have you traveled around Europe - what was your favourite place? Have you been in spired by my posts - tell me about it! What's your workout regime - got any tips for me?
As a travel blogger, I've spent a heck of a lot of time out of the country since I started blogging which is fantastic but can be a bit lonely when it comes to having real life blogger pals. The internet is a saviour in this case and means I'm found some pretty amazing friends from every niche, but it's always nice to actually meet in person. I actually first started my blog after being inspired by some pretty incredible bloggers who had turned a hobby into a full time job when I attended a bloggers party as a journalist. I was encouraged to start a blog of my own and thus Absolutely Lucy was born, three years later and I was invited to the Blogosphere Magazine summer party - an incredible event organised by the only industry magazine currently running.Appealing to all of our good taste as bloggers, the team at Blogosphere organized an amazing event full of tea, cake and some beautiful jewellery, plus plenty of opportunity to meet some pretty inspiring ladies and have a lot of laughs. It was so lovely to spend time with bloggers who have also followed their passion to write about travel, food, beauty, fashion, parenting and all kinds of cheeky topics. To be surrounded by vibrant, real, exciting women who have something to say for themselves and understand the commitment we have all made, the time we spend curating something beautiful for the internet. It's easy for people to brush over the time and effort that is put into blogging, so it's lovely when you meet others who do what you do and understand the pressures we put ourselves under for the love of blogging.
For the two hour train to London in 26 degree heat, an event has to be pretty good and this one was great - serious props to Albertine Brandon for organising such a beautiful event. We chatted away the afternoon with delicious teas from The London Tea Company and some incredible gluten-free cakes from Pearl and Groove - the raspberry and white chocolate was to die for! It was great to finally meet Albertine, Elaine and editor-in-chief Alice Audley after so long admiring their work, I'm looking forward to more events in future. And I found some great new blogger friends in Oh It's Sare, Han Meets World, Taylor Mae Makeup, Honestly Aine and many more. Plus it was good to meet the girls behind brands including World Duty Free, The London Tea Company and Jewellery Box. A day spent talking everything from travel and Pokemon to vlogging and photography is never a day wasted in my book.It was a pretty busy weekend, even before I had set off to London for the Blogosphere party I had spent a full day reliving my travels at the Cambridge Thai Festival - a day full of Muay Thai, ladyboy shows, traditional dance performances and some delicious food. I went along with one of my blogging friends, Vikki of FrickingVikki, and had a fantastic day in the sunshine. Luckily we managed to skip all the queues to get in, for food and drinks, as we saw some people waiting for quite a while to get tickets, but for £3 entry, the whole event was a total bargain. A full programme of entertainment for two days over the weekend had something for everyone and certainly kept us entertained on Saturday afternoon. Browsing the stalls, there was also a beautiful Buddhist stand where you could meet the monks and chat to some lovely ladies about blessings. Further round we even found a cheeky photobooth where you could get dressed up and take pics in Thai traditional dress - this was a lot of fun! It was a great event and if you get the chance to attend one in future, I'd take it with both hands. It's always worth checking out what amazing free/cheap local events are taking place right under your nose - next weekend I'll be checking out a free day of folk music in my home town! Here's some pics from the day.
Did you go to the Blogosphere Summer Party - what was your highlight? Have you found some great, free local events?
When you're travelling, something you realise very quickly is what is important to take away from every stage of your journey. When all you're carrying around with you is a 65litre backpack with your whole life compressed into it, that doesn't leave much space to pick up things along the way. It becomes so much more important to store away all the precious memories from all the places you visit and the things that you see. For me, it's always been more important to capture the emotions, the colours, smells and tastes of each moment rather than actually having some cheesy souvenir from a market stall. The only real souvenirs I have now are clothes and jewellery I bought along the way, and a dinky little carved elephant from the sanctuary where I volunteered. It seems a poor representation of the incredible 18 months I've spent exploring extraordinary countries and the amazing sights I've seen. I have nothing physical to link me to the beautiful souls I met along the way, and yet I still feel so inextricably linked to them no matter what the distance, all because of the memories in this little diary.
As I said my goodbyes to friends and family before I left to go travelling, there were gifts and cards wishing me well on my journey, but none meant as much as the one from my workmates. They had clubbed together to buy me a few little goodies, including a beautiful little travel journal to take with me and write all my memories as I traveled around the world solo. The red patterned leather book was the perfect place to store every thought, feeling and experience as I set out on my adventure. It was such a thoughtful gift, and one I treasured as I traveled across Asia and Australia, writing in it became a nightly treat as I reminisced over the day's events. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to the delights of reading actual books instead of screens and hand writing notes, there's something so beautiful about actually holding something in your hand rather than sending an email or downloading an e-book. I love blogging, it has been a huge part of my travelling experience and I would heartily recommend any traveler keep a blog so they have an easily accessible journal to store their memories and photographs that they can share with the world. Doing so has meant sharing every beautiful experience with friends, family and countless strangers through the internet, it's been amazing to know I could help other travelers by advising them on locations I had already visited.But, as amazing as blogging is, there is still a lot of my world and my heart that I don't share on www.absolutelylucy.com. For my own sanity and privacy, it is important to me to have a part of my life that is separate, and that part is even more special to me. That's the part that is hidden in the pages of my travel journal, of the book that is just for me, filled with tales of love, hopes and dreams, of the experiences that are etched on my soul and the stories I simply cannot repeat. Whether you're a writer, an artist or a musician, creative souls have a need to express their big ideas and as a traveler, the exposure to so many amazing places and people is the perfect driving force for putting pen to paper. For me, writing was addictive when I was away, I just couldn't write fast enough to get all my thoughts out. Some people struggle to spend time alone, but I can't help wondering if that is actually because they don't have a satisfying way of expressing themselves when they do. I craved time alone to write both in my travel journal, and on here, it was therapeutic and even writing the tiniest details would often work as a catalyst for creating the posts that you ended up reading. It was amazing how much one would influence the other, often I would start writing in my journal, then halfway through I would have to grab my laptop and start typing a new blog post to share with you guys. Travel is inspiration in its purest form.After working as a journalist, it was so freeing to be able to spend my days and nights writing purely for myself, the more I wrote, the more the words flowed on to the pages. It's addictive. Even as the moments were happening, I was experiencing them as I would write them on the page, always thinking of how I would immortalise every person I met as though they were a character in a story I was writing. I loved that feeling, and I feel lucky to have experienced a world that excited me enough to write like this. But whether you write for a living or you just want to keep a momento of your travels, keeping a travel diary is such beautiful way of storing your memories and keeping them close to your heart when you move on. You just don't get the same experience when you clutch your laptop close to you as you remember those you left behind, but there's something comforting about having a little book that is just for you. It doesn't have to be words, I knew so many travelers who incorporated music, art and poetry into their own books, each inspired in different ways to create something, a memory of each stage of their journey.I'll always remember a friend, Phoebe, who I met in Pai, Thailand, who had started holding "art club" with new friends as she traveled around. She was a beautiful soul who traveled with a tiny collection of paints, pens and gathered a group around to create something amazing together in the pages of her little journal. This way everyone had to contribute something and years later she would look at it and remember every single person who was there. When I was on the slow boat between Thailand and Laos, there was a woman who used her artistic skills to capture each moment - she actually started to sketch and paint the scene in front of her as a group of us played games and chatted. Her work was beautiful and it was incredible to see the finished piece against the live scene, our trip is now captured forever and it's all thanks to her amazing talents. Another friend of mine wrote a mixture of poems and prose inspired by the place he was in, he loved to read aloud to us in the evenings and share the words he felt compelled to write. And I'll never forget the guy I met who said art and words were not his forte but said each place had a song, a sound that was distinctive, he spent his time trying to capture the essence of each location in music, in lyrics he created. The results were beautiful.I still have my travel journal from my first 18 months of travelling, it sits proudly on my shelf which I'm surprised doesn't bow under the weight of all those memories. With just a few months at home and a few trips around Europe planned, my thoughts are already on preparing for my return to Australia as I sort out visas, tax returns and insurance. But something that had slipped my mind until the team at Pen Heaven sent me a beautiful hand made leather travel journal by Laurige to be my "trusty companion to help with all my creative thoughts, memos and notes." Made by French artisans, my journal arrived in a stunning deep red, with Absolutely Lucy embossed in gold lettering on the bottom right corner. It was the ultimate in luxury for a writer, and gives me the perfect place to keep track of every precious travelling moment. The journal makes the perfect gift for a traveler, because no traveler wants something they cannot take with them - what's the point in leaving things locked up in storage? This is something personal that they will treasure forever, even more so because the leather case is refillable - you can replace the writing paper within as it runs out and start afresh for each voyage. At £47 it is a little pricey for a journal, but as a gift that will never grow old, it is perfect for any adventurers in your life, a timeless keepsake they will treasure forever, and a perfect place to store their big ideas. It's available in a range of gorgeous colours and you can choose whether you prefer lined paper for writing, or fancy getting creative with plain paper. I'll be using mine to write all those beautiful memories, and to make big plans for the future.
Have you kept a travel journal - what does yours mean to you? How do you keep track of your memories? Do you regret not keeping a journal?
Whether you're writing it just for yourself, for your family and closest friends, or an audience of thousands every month - writing a travel blog can provide you with a home for all your previous memories, photos and experiences. All those amazing moments you had while travelling through the jungles, mountains, cities and deserts spread across the globe are combined into one amazing story, with you as the main character. So many travellers I meet carry with them a travel journal, as do I, which is a lovely way to keep note of thoughts and moments along the way, but in today's modern age, a blog is an even easier way to combine all your photos, words and videos into a multimedia collage of your time on the road. For those who haven't been following Absolutely Lucy for as long, I actually started this blog as a lifestyle blog around a year before deciding to come travelling, I then developed it into a travel blog as well so I could capture every moment and share it with my readers along the way.
Travel blogging along my journey has been one of the best things about travelling - not only because I get to share it with you guys, but simply because I love to write and doing this has given me a reason to. I love that I can look back over my time in Asia and Australia, and find all my pics, videos and stories in one place, I love that I can share it with friends who were there at the time and others who would have loved to be. Even better, my stories and experiences have given me the opportunity to reach out and help advise or inspire others to face their fears and to go out and do the same. I've heard from so many fellow travellers who have read my blog and been inspired to start their own, or who wanted advice on how to go about doing it, and it's great to be a part of. So many say to me they wish they could write, that they are jealous of those who can, but that should never stand in your way when it comes to blogging. In blogging you don't have to write a certain way, it's all about your unique voice and how you express yourself. If that comes in the form of a picture diary, or homemade videos then who cares?
10 reasons to keep a blog while you travel:
Why did you start a travel blog? If you haven't already - would you?
I know many of you have been wondering what on earth has happened to Absolutely Lucy, I've had so many lovely emails and messages from you all, but there's no need to worry - I'm back! I took a little blogging break over the last two weeks because I had so much going on that it just became impossible to write anything down, plus the wifi has been so terrible here that I couldn't rely on it to upload new posts. In a big change from the party girl you all know and love, I'm now a responsible citizen with two jobs - and hopefully a third soon - who is looking for an apartment and getting settled for the next few months of working and saving in my new home of Darwin. After spending 10 days in Cairns celebrating the end of a fantastic East Coast trip - more to come on this soon - we flew to Darwin for the next stage of our trip when I would be settling down to live and save for a while. I actually can't believe how much I was craving routine, normality and a steady life after seven months of travelling but it's been lovely to get settled in a more homely hostel and to make a little family with the people here. We're all looking to stay and save for a few months and are getting settled in, which is lovely after having so many friends who passed through my life so quickly on the East Coast.
As I'm sure many of you know, I was travelling for two months with Mark, after we were reunited following six months apart. I'm not sure how many of you actually know that we broke up when I came travelling, but remain the best of friends, and it was amazing to be reunited and to have two months of travelling, partying and just doing what the hell we want. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and he left to fly to Thailand on Monday where he will spend the next three weeks before heading home to go to university. I always say that the worst part of travelling is saying goodbye, and although me and my best friends always say "it's not goodbye, it's just see you later", it doesn't make it any easier. It's hard enough saying goodbye to the friends you make on the road and have the most intense, crazy fun times with for a few weeks or days before parting ways. Having to say goodbye to someone who has been such a huge part of your life for ten years is the hardest thing in the world, and I've done it twice in the last eight months. Last time we knew it would be just six months until we would see each other again, but now we have to go even longer - perhaps seven or eight months at the very least - perhaps longer. It sucks, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to really live your dreams.
On a totally separate note, I was pretty excited to finally catch up on my emails and receive one that said Absolutely Lucy has been named one of the UK's top 100 Travel Blogs by DiscountMyFlights.co.uk! Read the full post here. I'm so honoured to be counted as one of the final 100 let alone to be listed first - it was such a boost after my blogging break and has really given me the motivation to get back into it. UK online travel website DiscountMyFlights.co.uk released the Top 100 UK Travel Blogs, a list compiled through crowdsourcing on social media sites. Bloggers were nominated from a variety of different sources including travel forums, bookmarking sites, travel communities. Nominees were then validated by the Travel Tips Editor Anna Murray. The company said: "This is a great accomplishment in a competitive and online sector that appears to be growing substantially." It's always so amazing to be recognised for something that started out as just a hobby and has gradually turned into a passion - especially when your passion fades for a while and needs reinvigorating. I'm really proud that AbsolutelyLucy.com has grown into something so special and so happy I could share it with all the amazing friends I've met travelling, who message me on a regular basis to say how much they love the posts, as well as all the people close to my heart I've left back at home. Thanks to all for being a part of this, and I'll be bringing more posts to you by the end of the week!
I was too busy to write this post last week, but it's been playing on my mind ever since and I've now actually delayed another post to share this with you guys today. Those of you who don't follow many blogs might not be aware of the scathing column written by Independent journalist, Chloe Hamilton, about the nation's number one blogger and vlogger, Zoella. This attack came completely out of the blue, and interestingly at a time when Zoe Sugg is at the top of her game, winning awards, becoming a charity patron, launching a beauty range and more. Perhaps more to do with attracting attention than actually making a valid comment? Zoe has the amazing success most bloggers dream of and aspire to. She is a beautiful young girl, both inside and out, who vlogs to share her experiences and struggles with anxiety with others, creating a support network for teen girls across the world. Pretty amazing for a 24-year-old! With over six million subscribers on her YouTube channel, she must be doing something right and is nothing short of an inspiration to a lot of us.
I'm sure you can already tell I disagree with the column, but my concern is not so much the viewpoint of the writer, but the fact that she felt the need to be so nasty while making her point. Chloe is welcome to feel that Zoella reinforces certain stereotypes and perhaps doesn't represent the "typical" view of feminism - but where is the need to describe her as "the latest creation spat out by the YouTube machine" or slate her "brand of sickly sweet girl power"? And what is the "typical" view of feminism anyway? There are so many stereotyped ideas of a "typical feminist" that I wonder how anyone could say what a feminist looks, speaks and acts like. This column is pure nastiness and really just embarrasses both the Independent and the "journalist" behind it, who quite frankly both appear to have published the piece to stir up reaction and page views. Well I'm sure it has worked, considering the reaction from countless bloggers and vloggers across Facebook and Twitter, and I hate to give the article the time of day because I know it just gives the writer what she wants. But I'm more concerned with the greater cost to "feminism".Too many already consider feminism a joke - a way to justify beating down men at every opportunity, to not conform to society expectations, to just kick up a fuss at every given opportunity - I've seen and heard these views given several times over the years. They don't understand that in its purest form feminism means "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes". The reason they don't understand this? Well, because feminism has become a bit of a fashion statement, I'm not saying everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but all too often I am seeing women using feminism as an excuse for their behaviour, when actually there is no excuse. I'm not talking about those who are campaigning, who stand up for those who are mistreated because of their gender - those who are underpaid, treated with no respect, or even abused simply because they are women. These are the good feminists, the true feminists who are paving the way for women. They are the inspiration to us all to follow their lead and do the same, to stand up and say something when we see real-life sexism and inequality.
I'm talking about those who are using "feminism" as an excuse to slate successful women and who use their own medium, whether blogging, writing, vlogging, "journalism", social media or something else, in an attempt to bring them down or leech off their fame. I've seen a few examples of this recently, a couple over Twitter that were indirectly attacking a woman seemingly out of jealousy because she was successful and yet they felt the need to attack her looks and the way she dressed, and the way she wrote. How sad. No matter how indirectly you dress it up, we all know who you're talking about, and honey, it doesn't make them look bad - that's all on you.This latest attack by Chloe Hamilton is far worse because it targets not only Zoe's success - which has caused her to become an inspiration for millions of teen girls. But it also launches an assault on how she has made her living - I just struggle to understand how a young woman who has found a hobby that she loves and turned it into a huge career through hard work can be seen as anything less than inspirational. Although many may not realise it, blogging is hard work - it takes up a huge portion of your life and is a massive commitment. You spend hours each week writing posts, videoing them, shooting pictures, brainstorming ideas. We do it because we love it, but as a professional journalist, an editor and a blogger, I can say I spend a lot of time perfecting my posts and I know others are the same. So the fact that Zoe has dedicated so much of her time to creating a brand, to promoting it, to working with her viewers and communicating with them is no mean feat. And the fact that for a long time she wouldn't have been getting paid for any of it - just shows what a hard worker she is.
My next question is why does Chloe Hamilton hate Zoe so much for enjoying make-up, for trying out hairstyles and for liking getting dressed up? Since when has any of this stuff meant you are any less of a feminist? I love make-up, fashion, getting my hair done and styling it, not because it makes me pretty for men to look at, but because I enjoy the process of treating myself. But I also love equality, I love that my gender does not prevent me from getting an education, that it doesn't have to hold me back from certain career paths and I hate that there are women out there who are preyed on because of their gender, who are raped and attacked and persecuted. Isn't that the essence of feminism? Not what lipstick I've put on today. Or the fact that we choose to wear lipstick at all.
Chloe needs to try watching Zoella's videos about her anxiety and feeling confident in your own skin, she represents and covers all these important issues alongside beauty and hair - that doesn't mean she is going back on what she has said. Instead she gives us the boost we need and represents the girl-next-door, showing that everyone struggles with confidence and fears, but that it's okay and that we don't have to worry. She then gives girls the techniques and the tips so they can do make-up and hair well if they need it to boost their confidence or make them feel better individually, not for men.
Perhaps Chloe needs to spend a day in a high school to understand that the majority of teen girls want to learn about make-up and hair, they want to feel pretty and confident. I was a real bookworm at school and loved spending time with my friends, but that doesn't mean I didn't want to get dressed up as well. Zoella isn't playing on insecurities of youths, she is talking about her passions and her loves and they are obviously shared by girls across the world or she wouldn't have such an enormous following.Taking a quick look at the bigger picture here, something that Chloe seems to have missed. When Zoe is encouraging teen girls to enjoy innocent hair and make-up tutorials, or videos about anxiety and coping with it - shouldn't we be grateful that all these millions are tuning into her videos? All that time they spend watching them is another few minutes they are not watching and idolising "celebrities" like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and the rest of the women who feel the need to take their clothes off or dance provocatively while aiming their music at teen audiences. Zoe Sugg is making a credible difference to young audiences already because she respects herself, she is a successful woman who has forged a career in an industry that is only just beginning and she is a real girl, who doesn't have a team of make-up artists and retouching equipment that makes her seem perfect. She isn't afraid of her imperfections, she just finds ways to live with them and be happy with them.
Sorry this has ended up being such a long post, but I think it is something that really needs to be said. Women need to stop attacking each other and instead look at the real problems. Green is a terrible colour on some people and jealousy is a nasty emotion. Isn't it time we all started building each other up and being proud of our success stories? I'm happy and lucky to have a fantastic group of women as my friends, all strong feminists with big personalities who support and encourage each other to the bitter end. And the blogging community has been such a warm and welcoming place full of words of encouragement, congratulations at every small success and generally a huge amount of support at every stage of the game. We all believe in equality and women's rights, otherwise we wouldn't be voicing our opinions on the internet, creating these little spaces for our voices to be heard. THAT belief, THAT support and THAT passion is what we are proud of and what we love about blogging. That is what we should focus on and that is the future.
What did you think of the Independent column? What do you think about the Mean Girls who are calling themselves feminists?
Being a journalist hasn't given some people the best reputation in the last couple of years, but that doesn't mean that journalism is a bad career choice. If anything, I say that journalism has opened countless doors for me and has given me some awesome opportunities over the last few years. There are lots of amazing things about the job - you get to work with people which is perfect for social butterflies like myself, you get the chance to hear amazing stories first-hand and have the privilege of sharing them with the world, the trust that your readers and those sharing their stories place in you. There are a lot of tougher sides of the job as well, like having to write a tribute to one of your former best friends after a horrible accident, but that is why I think it is important to enjoy the good parts.I know some don't agree with getting freebies through journalism, but this is one of my favourite parts of the job - the privilege and extras that come with it. Journalism opens you up to a world of opportunities that you would never have had otherwise, and that is something I love about it.I know a fair few journalists who never really take advantage of the extras in the job, which personally I think is a shame considering how low paid so many journalists are. I know some won't agree, but I tend to look at it as the tips a waitress would get. This is just a bonus to the job and, as a bit of a blagger, I don't mind asking - I always figure if you don't ask you don't get. Which is clear from how many amazing things I have been lucky enough to gain - I always ask the question. So what have been my best blags and the top experiences my job has given me?
Of course, we're not all in it for the freebies, we do it for the love of the job and a passion for reporting news. But, being a journalist is a stressful job with constant deadlines, you work hard and if opportunities come up I don't think we should be afraid to snap them up. Much like bloggers accepting gifts of review products. There's plenty more I haven't listed - so budding journalists, if anyone tells you that you are making a mistake with your career - why not ask them if their job gives them the chance to do all of these amazing things?
What's the best freebie you've ever had through work? Are you thinking about going into journalism?