Cambridge, UK

Redefining Myself: An Ongoing Journey

We humans are in a constant state of flux. Every day presents a new opportunity to redefine ourselves and what we stand for. We can make a life changing decision at any moment that can reshape our futures entirely. You could, for example, wake up tomorrow morning and decide to cut off all of your hair, quit your job and join the circus, and marry a trapeze artist named Julio. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but my point remains true - we are all capable of redefining who we are, whether those changes are big or small. The person that you are today is very different from the person that you were five years ago.

But despite possessing (as all humans do) this infinite propensity for change, lately I have been feeling a bit stuck. Stuck in an image of myself that I'm not really happy with. Stuck in the definitions that others have imposed upon me. Let me elaborate. I constantly define myself through the words that others have used to describe me in the past. And, surprise surprise, it isn't the positive descriptions that play on my mind. Over the course of my life, I have been called the following:






Red V-Neck Sweater: Thrifted, originally from NEXT (similar)

To this day, despite all of the evidence that (I hope) exists to the contrary, I still see myself in these terms. If a friend thanks me for being there for them, my initial reaction is "oh, I wonder what they'll say when they realise that I'm actually a bad person." If I buy something for myself as a treat, even if it's just a £1 chocolate bar, the little voice in the back of my head chirps up with "you're wasting your money, just like you always do!", despite the fact that my savings account is constantly being added to. I don't feel able to shake the past insults that have been thrown at me.

Many of the adjectives listed above certainly did apply to me in my younger days. As a child, I was definitely a lot more selfish and abrasive. More often than not, I acted like a brat toward my sister and I drove my poor mother up the wall. I feel terrible about the way that I acted in many circumstances but I do feel confident in saying that I'm not like that any more. I was a silly child and I made a lot of mistakes but they are ones that I have learned from. I am now a lot more empathetic, a good listener, a decent friend and (I hope) a far better daughter and sister.

My rational brain acknowledges all of the progress that I have made in redefining myself but there is still a massive part of me that sees myself as the kid who was labelled an obnoxious brat. Just how annoyingly stubborn my brain can be with redefinitions is demonstrated through my struggle with the term "vegetarian". I haven't eaten meat in nearly two years. I was even vegan for a few months before I had to stop for health reasons. I don't ever intend to go back to eating meat and I only eat dairy and eggs rarely. Despite this, I really find it hard to confidently say "I am a vegetarian." Altering my self definition and accepting a new self image is so difficult for me that I sometimes still can't believe that I've made such a lasting change.

Front Split Denim Skirt: YUMI* (gifted)

Words, even if they were uttered a long time ago, can still really hurt. Throwaway remarks and the odd insulting comment can stick with you. I have taken what others have said to me to heart so much that after a family member once joked about my singing voice sounding like a strangled cat, I have never sung in front of anybody again. Even when my qualified music teacher told me that I had a lovely voice and that I should give it a go, I refused. 

Reflecting on this recently has shown me just how many doors I have potentially left closed, just because of what other people have told me about myself. Who knows, if I'd had the confidence to get up on stage and belt out some lyrics, I might be in Ariana Grande's position right. now. Ok, again, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration (I'm much more of a Trisha Paytas than an Ariana Grande) but you get the point.

What I'm essentially trying to say here is that the only person with the power to define yourself is you. After many years of struggling with feeling like I am a bad person, based on what others have drilled into me, I have recognised the need to move past these old definitions. I'm not the naughty little girl being scolded any more. Instead, I am:






And I challenge anyone to tell me different.

White Button-Down Shirt: Thrifted, originally from H&M (similar)

I'd just like to end by saying that this isn't something I have fully moved past yet. I'm not perfect and those demons still exist, but this blog post serves as a reminder to myself as well as you that you are more than what the critics say.

*The skirt featured in this post was gifted by Yumi but I was not obliged to share it on my blog.