Personal growth

I just got notified that it's been 4 years since I started my blog. I don't even know if I have my first post anymore - I think it was a Paramore album review. I just felt like it was time to put finger to keyboard again and write something new. I have so many ideas rattling around my head that I often find it difficult to choose what I want to write about. I've loved writing about my personal experiences and finding out I helped people - that's all I've ever wanted to do through my blogging.

One thing I wanted to write about was personal growth. I've learnt a lot in the last six months about growing myself and setting myself challenges and goals to work towards. It's so easy to feel deflated if you don't automatically get to where you want to be, but you have to be realistic and give yourself time and reward yourself along the way.

I think the biggest, on-going area I've been growing is my mentality towards everything. I can't say I've always been negative because I had moments in the last few years where I really got into mindfulness and tried to teach myself to be positive but there's a lot more to positivity than learning to be mindful. You need to surround yourself with people that bring out the very best in you, you need to put yourself in situations that you enjoy rather than put yourself at the bottom of your list of people to make happy, because at the end of the day you're the most important person to please. Not everyone around me is positive, and you can't change that, but you can limit what you allow these people to do to you. I allow people to tell me about their problems and I'll advise them but I won't let their problems drain me too, it would be selfish of them to expect me to bring myself down over things that shouldn't concern me. Doing your part and offering advice is enough. I do more of what I love and see more of people I love now rather than choosing to do what others want me to do. I've adopted more of a yes to everything attitude. No I don't say yes to absolutely everything but I've started to say yes to things out of my comfort zone, that way I'm finding more things I love to do.

Fitness and health
I think my body change is one of my biggest achievements of 2017 so far and I'm so proud to say that. I could do more but I'm completely happy with how hard I've worked to get to the body I have now. It isn't perfect and I still have more I want to improve on but comparing myself to a year ago, I've changed. The fact I train at least 5 days a week (not at the gym, just at home) says a lot as it took me a LOT of motivation to do one workout in six months just over a year ago. I worked for a fitness company for over a year and even that didn't motivate me to stop being lazy. A big motivator was actually my boyfriend. He sets me challenges and helps me understand so much more to health than just a few squats. The amount of research he does to help me improve my body is incredible. But he also tells me he's proud of me and how hard I work and I think it's another good motivator having someone around you to tell you you're doing well. I've started to eat a lot better too. Don't get me wrong, I'll still go out for food if I want to, I'll still have the odd treat because food makes me happy. I just make sure I do a really good workout that day to make myself feel less bad.

My body change has influenced my confidence too. I used to be really reserved with myself, and incredibly shy. Now I show off what I'm happy about and I do it proudly. If I'm having a good body day I'll whack a picture on my snapchat story and I don't think that's beggy, I think it's just another way to show you're happy with yourself. A few months ago I would NOT be posting my belly on social media so I see it as a huge positive that I'm happy to do that now. I can still be very shy, but usually it's when I'm first meeting somebody. I find it a lot easier now to make new friends, and a big way I think I managed to do this is I stopped thinking that everybody looks at me and has the same negative opinion like the few people that dislike me do.

Setting myself personal challenges are my favourite things, These are things that I want to do just for me. In May me and Hannah just decided to go and climb Mount Snowdon together. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my year so far. Some people can climb it easily, I mean we saw one person running up it with her dog, but me and Hannah aren't that fit (yet) and so it was actually a challenge to us. We were sweating like mad and there were times when I genuinely didn't think I would make it (probably just being dramatic) but after a few hours we did and it made me so proud to be stood at the top of that mountain. It wasn't just for the fitness that I wanted to do it. I wanted to prove to myself I could do something I hadn't done before. I wanted a day to appreciate the world. I wanted a day out with one of my best friends. I wanted a day where we barely touched social media.
And from then on I've set myself another challenge, to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks in September for charity with my work colleagues and I can't wait to do that.

Friendships, Family and Love
The people around me are huge parts of how I've grown into who I am right now. My boyfriend has opened me up to new things that I admit I first thought "nah never gonna be able to do that" but here I am managing to do these things. I have an amazing group of friends, from all over the place, that I can trust and go to for advice on pretty much every topic. It's nice to be friends with people that don't feel threatened by any of my other friends. It's nice that they get on together so I never feel like I have to choose people over people. My family have and will always be by my side. We don't always agree, and we have very, very different opinions on many topics but they do like to see me do well and we all support each other.

I got a job doing the same thing as my mum in January, so I now rent out portacabins to events and construction sites. On paper that is NOT what I thought I'd be doing as a job but after being there for six months I love it. I love how challenging it is, how everyday is completely different and I always have something to do. I love the people I work with and how we always go out of our way to help each other out. My biggest fear when I started this role was speaking on the phone. I've never been confident doing it which may sound so strange to some people. I had one job a couple of years ago in recruitment where I had to speak on the phone but I always tried my best not to answer it because I lacked confidence, but now I'm a lot more confident, I don't actually shut up on the phone so I've managed to conquer that huge fear.

Personal growth is an on-going thing. I'll be growing myself until I die to be honest. I'll constantly be trying to improve an area of myself so I can be the best me I can possibly be.

Set realistic goals, for 3 months, 6 months, 2 years... be realistic though! Reward yourself along the way.

There will always be people that want to rain on your parade but I've found that these people are actually huge motivators. It's an amazing feeling achieving something that a lot of people said you'd never do.

Your biggest aim is to make yourself happy. You control your thoughts, actions and experiences so you have to make them the best you can make them.

Jennie x 

Stopping a poisionous past shaping your future

I just want to thank everybody that took time to read through my last post about my toxic relationship. I had so many messages telling me I was brave and how they felt bad I had to go through something like that, but honestly my aim wasn't to get any pity or to hate on my ex. Toxic relationships are common and a lot of people don't even realise they're in one until they read someone else's experience and my aim was to help anybody that was currently in one or to prevent people from going through one and I think I did that. I received messages off people I'd never even spoken to saying that it had opened their eyes and inspired them to get out of something poisonous.

Following on from that post, I wanted to talk about the after-math.

As I've written about in many different posts - I've moved on, I've changed and over-all I am happy in my life, and definitely ten times happier than I was a year ago, however I still do struggle. Most of which nobody will notice, unless you're closest to me and unfortunately the one's closest are the one's suffering the most.

I don't think I realised how messed up my head had got from that relationship until I was completely out of it and was dealing with the after math. Unless you've been through it yourself you won't know about any of it. It's all good and well saying "you're out of it now, you can move on and be happy" but what about everything you have to rebuild?

I got into a new relationship approximately 4/5 months after my last one ended and I don't think there is a range of time you should stay single because if that was the case I'd still be single now. You don't know when someone is going to come into your life and is willing to accept all your flaws and try and help rebuild you.

Remember you're no longer a victim
I was lucky enough to find somebody that was willing to have patience and help me grow, but I have to remember I'm not the only person in this relationship and I no longer can use the excuse 'someone else messed my head up so you're going to have to suffer the consequences' because it's not fair on your partner. It's likely he hasn't had the best experiences too, so you've both been victims to something but you can't let that be an excuse on the way you both behave.

Remember the person that made you insecure
I am probably the most insecure person I know. As much as I know my boyfriend loves me, I'll still question everything and over-think the smallest of things. Your new partner isn't the one that broke you, he's trying to make you better so don't take out everything from your past on his actions. My biggest insecurity is other girls. In my past I was made to feel like a competition and I never won, I was never good enough. So stupid things, like my boyfriend liking stunning girls photos or speaking of girls highly, does actually bother me as much as I tell him it doesn't. It shouldn't bother me because I know he's with me for a reason and there are other girls in his life but I automatically over-think it and come to some crazy ideas that he'll end up leaving me for these girls. It's not going to happen but over-thinking and being insecure can send your mind mad.

I do believe I'm getting there with not sounding like a psycho-girlfriend because I definitely never want to be one. If I want the freedom to be able to like pictures on Instagram and having male friends I can discuss with him I'm going to have to accept that he can do the same.

Stop comparing the two 
You need to begin to look at your new relationship as if you've never been in one before. Your past relationship isn't what true love is. Your past was mental abuse. It was one person taking advantage of you loving and caring for them more than anything. That is not a relationship.
My new relationship over-all is everything I've ever hoped for and more. It's two people being able to be happy. It's support and comforting from both sides. It's being able to argue without thinking that's it, that's the end. It's making memories you're both enjoying. It's mutual love.

There's been occasions where I've looked at this relationship and wondered what if it's going to be like the last? Because there was a time in my last where I was happy, at the beginning. It's natural I'm to think that. I'm scared and I'm worried because I don't want to go through that again but if I kept thinking like that I wouldn't get anywhere and neither would the relationship.

I'm in love and I should just enjoy it for as much as I can. I'm being treated like I should be treated so my partner should be treated the way he should be treated too. Why should he be getting punished for another guy's actions?

You're going to argue
These relationships that don't go through arguments and disagreements don't exist it's all an illusion on social media and TV that makes you think everyone is 110% happy and agree with each other all the time. We're not clones, we're human and we're bound to disagree on stuff. We have our own opinions and sometimes they clash. My boyfriend and I have over 20 years of thoughts and experiences each, we've gone through our own shit and we both think differently so we'd be mad to expect to agree on everything. So when these arguments do happen, don't look at it like they're going to leave you because it's a disagreement. I've looked at it like it's the end of the world many times. I've apologised for having my own opinion sometimes and even he has told me I need to stand my ground and have my own mind. Apologising for something you shouldn't be sorry for, just to make peace with someone, is not healthy.

Wanting space isn't a bad thing
Me and my boyfriend only saw each other once a week at one point and that's why it worked so well, but he came to stay with me for a week and I got so attached to him that after it I just wanted to see him all the time and became this needy, annoying girlfriend that relied on his cuddles to cheer me up and that is not who I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to cheer myself up. We decided to have a week of not seeing each other and I think it makes you appreciate your other-half more. It's not a bad thing to want to have time for yourself.

Do your own thing and be you
You'll want to do stuff with your partner but it's important to have stuff you do for yourself. Maybe stuff that he/she isn't interested in so it's purely your thing. I go to gigs quite a lot and that's my thing because we have very different tastes in music and he isn't really into going to see bands live and being in a mosh-pit so it works out well for me. It's good to be able to enjoy things without the other person being around. You don't have to speak 24/7 too. I let my past take over sometimes with this. If I open a message that's not even a message you can reply to (like a few laughing faces or "okay babe") I'll find something random to continue keeping the conversation going, something completely irrelevant that I don't even want or need to talk about just because I'm worried he'll be annoyed if I leave him on read. It's honestly so stupid that I go about it like that but it's just something I've been through and have to learn to stop doing. I think I'd be doing him a favour not texting him all the time anyway.

The key thing is to fight through it. You got yourself out of a toxic relationship, don't allow it to continue controlling your life.

Jennie x 

Removing yourself from a toxic relationship

I was 16 when I got into my first "real" relationship. Young and naive, I wanted to have a relationship that everyone envied. To be honest, I achieved that. Over three and a half years I was told countless times how my relationship was perfect and we seemed happy and in love. The key word there is seemed. Nobody knew what happened behind the photos I posted on social media.

When you get into a relationship this young you don't realise that you're still growing yourself and with that comes change. The first 9 months of the relationship were good - looking back, it was normal, I still felt like me. It's when I went to college everything changed. He became paranoid that I was going to cheat because I was in an environment he wasn't familiar with. Thinking about it the paranoia could've been due to the fact he got into a habit of smoking weed. Never-the-less I didn't feel comfortable going to college. My good morning texts changed to "what are you wearing today?" and the message I'd always receive when I got home would be "did you speak to any boys today?" To which I gradually realised that "a top that didn't cover my bum" and "yes, I spoke to my male photography tutor today" were not acceptable answers.

My friends became less and less. My only best friend lived in Wales and whenever she came back now and again I had to ask permission whether it was okay to spend time with her. On one occasion I lied and said we'd gone to the cinema when really we'd gone for a few cocktails because I was too scared to deal with the backlash of trying to explain that I'd been drinking alcohol around other men.

When I started working I couldn't enjoy things like the Christmas party because men would be there so I always found an excuse not to go like I was ill or I couldn't get there. It's like I wasn't trusted and there was no reason not to trust me - I'd always been 110% faithful. I was being punished for nothing.

Looking back, he could do anything. He went on nights out where I wouldn't hear from him. I'd be told how attractive girls from his work were but he never complimented me, making myself never feel good enough for him. He chose drugs over me, I paid his way out of drug debt and paid off holiday's we had planned together. I even bought myself my own Christmas card once so I could show my family that he did actually care about me when he didn't actually give a shit. Everything was taken out on me, if I didn't agree with him (which was most of the time) I would have the worst day.

I gradually lost the person I was. I had no friends. I only had my family and eventually he began to question why I wanted to spend so much time with them, even to the point where he'd get jealous if I'd be spending time with my nephew who was 3/4 at the time. I had no confidence to do anything. I didn't go for jobs I was offered. I was made to feel like I couldn't make myself up anymore because I'd be gaining attention from men that weren't him so I eventually lost any sort of beauty I ever had.

I would cry at least 5 out of 7 days in a week. None of us were happy in this relationship yet every time I tried to leave he'd beg for me to stay. He'd make it out like he couldn't live without me and that he was going to change and every time it was a lie and it didn't happen.

One day, a week after a holiday from hell, which yes I plastered all over Facebook as being the best holiday of my life, I plucked up the courage to just leave. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Not only was I leaving a person and a family of people I'd spent so much of my life with, I was potentially breaking someone's heart and hurting somebody and although I was already mentally broke by him I still felt like an awful person for doing that to somebody I once loved.

The next few months were incredibly confusing. How do you enjoy freedom when you're not used to it? I improved my friendship with my best friend, met new people, trained my brain into becoming more confident and created a complete new look for myself.

My biggest fear about leaving that relationship was being alone, but everyday was filled with people I loved. I got a lot closer to my family. I think Leeds Festival was an eye-opener of how happy I was. That festival for 3 years was miserable for me - arguing and crying during some of my favourite bands. Last year I finally got to enjoy it and had one of the best weekends of my life.

I didn't think I'd fall in love with anyone else for a long time, not for years. I thought I needed a while to better myself, on my own. I got into a relationship in October and I've fallen in love with someone I can call my best friend too. We don't plaster everything online. I'm not controlled. I'm encouraged to better myself, train hard, go for my dreams, travel, make new friends, be positive. This person entered my life at exactly the right point. I don't feel the need to be plastered all over his social media because I'm loved and appreciated enough in his real life. A private relationship is a happy one.

I'm still growing. I still have trust issues, I still question a lot in my head, I'm still very insecure about myself and I still have a lot to learn but leaving a toxic relationship was the proudest moment of the last few years.

If you're in a toxic relationship now, especially if you're young with no real responsibilities to stay in it, leave it as soon as you can before you lose yourself completely. It's hard and it'll take many attempts but you won't regret it. In ways, I thank him for putting me through it all because it's made me a stronger person now but I pity him - that he was that insecure with himself that he had to break me.


My selfish year

All my life I've put other people's feelings before my own. Turning 20 I think I started to realise that you've got to be selfish in this world if you want to have a positive life. When you're like me and you care too much for other's feelings you end up getting taken advantage of and it's always you that'll suffer. Thinking about it, you have to live with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year for the rest of your life so really you should do everything to put yourself first, especially for your own happiness.

The end of 2016 I went through many changes that was really the starting point for my better life. So this year I'm going to focus on nothing but myself. The past couple of months I've been increasing the things I love and cutting out the things that were holding me back or putting me down in order for me to have a positive life. 

Making positive changes
Moving into the flat last year was a big change that I was incredibly apprehensive about but it's made my life a lot better. I now have a lovely room for the first time in years, I'm in the centre of my town so everything is incredibly close and I get to have my friends round more often because it's so convenient. I started my new job in the new year. For a start, the fact I managed an interview was a big deal for me because of how shy and nervous I can get but what makes the job better is I get to work with my mum, meaning I see her a lot more often and my wage has made me a lot less worried about my finances. 

I've recently begun a healthier lifestyle. I've been trying for years to become healthier but I was never in the right mind-set or surrounded by the right people. Now I feel I can actually do this. I've cut out so much bad food, started eating better, working out more often and drinking loads more water. I've got my boyfriend motivating me every single day, making sure I do my squats and I've got my mum at work coming on this journey with me. Every time I've told someone that I want to be more healthy their immediate response is "you don't have any weight to lose" which, although I know they're only being nice, is so frustrating to hear because my reasons for a healthier lifestyle isn't just for weight loss but it's also for muscle gain, it's to stop feeling groggy all day and having loads more energy.  

Giving myself my own space is always important for me now. Sometimes I just want to have a bath, get into bed and watch a film on my own. "Me time" is so important. I used to be someone that felt like I needed to be around people all the time so I never got lonely but it is possible to be on your own and not feel alone. Constantly surrounding yourself can be incredibly over-whelming. It's important to make time for self-love. Once a month I go and treat myself to acrylic nails. So many people tell me it's a waste of money but I love how excited I get to go to my nail lady, sit their for an hour and a half chatting away and coming out with a beautiful set of nails. It's small things that can make yourself a lot happier. 

This year I want to see more places and do more of what I love. I have trips to Liverpool. Dublin, Lanzarote and Santorini planned and hopefully some more to places throughout the UK. I love live music so I'm going to Slam Dunk and Leeds Festival as well as seeing many bands live including Avenged Sevenfold and You Me At Six, two of my favourite bands. Again, this is another thing people think I waste my money on but there's not many things that top how happy I get from seeing my favourite bands live. 

Cutting out the negative 
Being selfish doesn't mean you can't be there for somebody but there comes a point where you physically can't help anyone anymore and if their problems are draining your own energy then move yourself out of the situation and distance yourself. You owe nobody but yourself anything so don't feel like you're being a nasty person for removing yourself or not getting involved in something. The past few months I realised a lot of people I thought were my close friends only bothered to come to me because they knew I listened and cared about them enough to want to help them but when it came to anything else, they weren't around. 

If you read my earlier posts you'll know I went out a lot last year. I realised in November that I just wanted to cut down a bit. Going out all the time started to become boring, I felt like I'd waste my weekends because I'd usually be hungover for the majority of it and I'd also be wasting so much of my money. I took a complete month off going out and over Christmas and New Year I went out 4 times but actually was able to manage my money and realise my limits when it came to alcohol. I wasn't enjoying being that mate that was always the most steaming and the most embarrassing. I'm actually enjoying spending more nights in with a good film than I am going out these days. 

I've made my circle very, very small. I haven't cut people out as such but I've definitely distanced myself. Everyone seems to know everyone's business these days. Social media is a big factor in this actually. When I'm frustrated, annoyed or upset I'd immediately post my feelings as a tweet for all 850 of my followers to see. Why? Because it's like an outlet, a bit like a diary. The advantage: You're letting off steam. The disadvantage: People who don't even know you now know more about what's going on behind closed doors. One of my new years resolutions was to cut back on how much I interact on social media. It's a toxic place full of irrelevant opinions. Your own boyfriend could like another girls picture and even though it doesn't bother you because it's just a picture, you'll get told by another girl that doesn't know your relationship, she'll list why you should agree with her that it isn't right he does that and then you'll over think something as small as picture, that didn't actually bother you to begin with. I could honestly rant all day about the psycho girlfriend stereotype but I think I'll leave it for another post. Keeping myself a lot more private has helped a lot though. I used to share every single argument I had with pretty much all my friends because I felt like I needed their opinions but usually it makes it so much worse and handling it on your own and being more mature by not informing half of your group and escalating the situation ten times more means it's usually sorted a lot quicker with less stress.  

So 2017 is my year. The year I get myself comfortable in my own body. The year I get a positive mind. The year I finish my driving lessons, pass my test and get a car. The year I see as much of the world as I can manage. The year I let nobody get in the way of my goals. 

lots of love
Jennie x