This post is part of a paid collaboration with We Love Dates.
Like many children growing up, a lack of confidence was an issue for me.
Around friends and family I could be myself, but thrown into a group of strangers I’d all too often turn into a quivering mess, standing in the corner of the room much too afraid to speak to anyone.
I had very little self-confidence, trying new things was never my strong suit (even something as simple as food – I lived off of chicken nuggets and spaghetti hoops for several years as a child!) and I rarely threw myself into situations outside of my limited comfort zone.
My confidence did grow somewhat with age, in particular during my time at university where I made so many amazing new friends. However, without a doubt the biggest improvement I’ve felt in my self-confidence has to have been during the five years I’ve now spent blogging.
Recently, We Love Dates started a #WeLoveReal campaign encouraging people to be confident and comfortable in their own skin and asked me about my confidence story. So here it is…
How blogging has helped me push personal boundaries & become a more confident person:
Meeting New People
One of the very first things I discovered about blogging is that although it may seem like something you do alone, this is not the case at all. Blogging is just as much about community as it is sitting behind a keyboard typing, with the numerous press events, conferences, meet-ups, press trips and more.
I still remember the first-ever blogging event I attended alone (after having turned down a few already due to fear) when I was invited down to a Caribbean restaurant in London for a rum tasting class with a few other London-based bloggers.
Walking into that restaurant to see a group of unknown faces sitting around a table was certainly not an easy experience for me. I could feel my heart racing and palms sweating the way they might do when walking into a first date, unsure how to act or what to say.
But you know what I quickly realised? Everyone there else was in the exact same boat.
A few hours and several glasses of rum later (okay, that may have helped a bit!), I walked away feeling as though I’d spent a lovely evening with a group of old friends.
Slowly but surely I came to realise that blogging is one big community of amazing people with fascinating stories to tell and that share my desire to discover new things both in London and around the world. I never once felt out of place or unwelcome at a single event I attended.
Fast forward 4 years and sometimes I still do get slightly nervous meeting new people, however now when I get invited to an event in London or even a 5-day press trip with a group of strangers, I like to see it as a chance to meet new interesting people. The initial fear is quickly overshadowed by excitement.
In fact, many of the people that I’ve met at various events over the last several years have grown over time to become some of my closest friends. People of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds who I almost definitely wouldn’t have crossed paths with if I hadn’t have forced myself out of my comfort zone to begin with.
Being Open to New Experiences (Even the Crazy Ones!)
Blogging has definitely opened up a lot of opportunities to me. Opportunities not only to meet new people but also to experience things that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing before (or quite frankly things that I didn’t even know existed).
I could sit here for hours and list the amazing, thrilling and sometimes downright bizarre activities I’ve been lucky enough to take part in over the last few years, from throwing myself down snow-covered mountain tops on a toboggan in the pitch black in Austrian Tyrol and mountain-biking in the Trentino mountains in Italy, to having dinner with Catholic nuns in a London pop-up called ‘nun-dos’ and drinking cocktails as scantily clad deities danced and breathed flames in front of me.
As bloggers, one of our main purposes is to discover these amazing places and experiences and inspire others to follow in our footsteps, therefore cowering away from the unfamiliar has really become less and less of an option the bigger the blog has grown.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been many occasions where I’ve thought ‘what the hell am I doing!?’ and I’ve definitely been pushed pretty far out of my comfort zone. However, I can say with full confidence that I don’t regret giving a single thing a try at least once (even if I might not necessarily do it again – scuba diving I’m looking at you!).
Facing My Fears
As well as pushing me to step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, blogging has also helped me face several of my fears. A major one being a fear of flying alone.
Just a few years ago I had never actually stepped foot onto a plane alone, and the idea of it absolutely terrified me. It wasn’t necessarily that I had a fear of flying, but I simply struggled with the idea of doing it without someone else I know there to hold my hand during turbulence or help guide me through customs at the other end.
But then I realised that if I really wanted to grow a successful blog writing about travel, and particularly if I wanted to attend many of the amazing press trips I was starting to be invited on, I was going to have to take a leap of faith and board a flight alone.
So I did it…
And it was completely fine…
I didn’t get lost at the airport and miss my flight. The plane didn’t crash. And I made it through customs without being deported straight back to London. Not a single one of the absurd situations I had made up in my head came true.
Since then, I have literally flown to the other side of the world and back on my own.
Taking Big Career Risks
Back in 2015, I started London City Calling as a small hobby to combine my love of London and love of writing.
Today I’m proud to say that I run a full-time freelance business doing blogging, travel writing and digital marketing, almost entirely because of that little blog.
But taking the leap from hobby to career was a HUGE risk.
When I started blogging I was also working full-time at one of the biggest advertising firms in London. It was an interesting job that afforded me some invaluable experiences. I was working with an internationally renowned client, I was earning enough money to live a comfortable life in London and I had the opportunity to travel with my job.
However, when I started blogging it reignited my love for writing and creativity, and it pretty quickly made me realise something…
The career I had been in for over 3 years was not making me happy.
After attending several blogging events and meeting other content creators, I also came to realise that that was entirely possible to create a career doing those things that I was actually passionate about – with a lot of hard work of course.
So two and a half years ago I took that huge risk starting all over again as a freelance writer and digital marketer, and fortunately, it all turned out for the best.
I can now truthfully say that I love what I do as a career, all thanks to that little blog.
Becoming More Confident in Myself
On a slightly more shallow note than the rest of this post, yet important nonetheless, blogging has also helped me become more confident in myself.
I’m still not the type of travel creator who floats around in a gorgeous full-length dress looking flawless in beautiful candid photos, and I’m still not the most natural person when it comes to presenting to the camera, however, I’m giving it a go and that’s what counts right?
I’ve given up my reluctance to be in front of the camera instead of behind it and, despite feeling like an awkward tourist every time I’m told to pose, I have definitely become more confident in myself through this. Practice really does make perfect… well, at least slightly less awkward!