The Strange Case of Self Doubt & the Confident Girl

Have you been watching the new series of Sherlock on the BBC? Well I’ve got a case for you to investigate mystery lovers…

This is me: at 43, I’ve studied hard, I have been travelling, I’ve worked at some of the best places in my profession; I have been married, I’ve been divorced, I’ve done it alone, I’ve created a blended family a fantastic new partner; I’ve forged a great career (although its now taking a backseat while I do the whole primary school thing), I’ve owned my own business; am a mother and step mother, bought and sold houses, chose to change my life and drop 6 dress sizes and generally aim to embrace life and all it offers.  I travel, love having new experiences, care deeply for those I love and am always the life and soul of any party.

But I am still wracked with that pointless emotion…self doubt.

Self help doubt mental health blog via Always a blue sky girl blog

Maybe you suffer from it too? Its definition is this –

SELF DOUBT [self-dout] noun

lack of confidence in the reliability of one’s own motives, personality, thought, etc.

It is a strange thing to be seen as so confident and bubbly by everybody, as they seem to think you are never not confident as if you are a non-stop fun machine. I myself am a person of extremes – put me in front of a crowd and ask me to perform and I am in my element, but looking at a person on Facebook who has ignored my friend request will reduce me into a state over-thinking.

“They must hate me” I think.

“Maybe I’ve done something to upset them?” I ponder.

Is it because I’m too loud / odd / fat / fit / obsessive / dreamy / pretty / ugly / bullish / fussy / common / snobby / ethnic / funny / miserable ? etc etc – delete as necessary.
I have always been a worrier.  I will worry about anything and everything and again those niggling little thoughts can creep in – the ‘what ifs’… Suffering from any form of anxiety can be crippling at times but I believe telling people about it is half the battle, particularly if you’re good at hiding it. In my 30’s I suffered quite badly with anxiety and panic but ultimately I had to acknowledge that the only thing holding me back from living the life I wanted was me. It was a watershed moment and I changed my life – big time…but thats for another blog. I still get anxious about things of course but I do not and will not let it control me. (as an aside I’ve found regular exercise key in making this change to my mental health)

Being a mum can make self doubt rear its ugly head far too often too. “Am I doing the best I can?” I ask myself as I rush from work, via the school run to after-school swimming then rewarding my son with dinner out as a reward as he passes into the next swim group. Of course I am, but its easy to look at people around me particularly via the rose-tinted glasses of social media and think – “Wow they’ve got it all under control…activities every night after school and perfect children, maybe we should start violin lessons and I should stop letting the kids go on the computer so much”. However once you start comparing your life to others lives you will never stop…and probably total madness would follow!!!  My mantra is now “I am doing the best I can and I am good enough.”

Ah social media. As someone who works in marketing and uses it everyday in my role, I can see the good it can create but I also think social media is a particular issue our parents did not have to deal with; whether its the Facebook show offs, the people trying to tell you how to parent or the general taboo of admiting that sometimes life and motherhood is really bloody hard, I’m learning to take it all with a pinch of salt and remember… however much it is presented as reality it is not actually real life!

I was recently picked for a fabulous opportunity – to film an advert for Garnier Olia hair dye and be the face of their Intense Red shade 6.60 for 2017. All the attention, praise and compliments was really quite humbling and its really nice to see yourself through other peoples eyes…in fact it is quite amazing.  Not only was I feeling good about how I looked, I was suddenly being told how well I had done, how proud I should be of myself, and you know what, the more they said it the easier it was to feel it.Garnier Olia hair dye commercial via Always a Blue Sky Girl Blueskygirlie fashion beauty blog blogger

Garnier Olia hair dye commercial via Always a Blue Sky Girl Blueskygirlie fashion beauty blog blogger fearne cotton

I compliment people all the time but find it hard sometimes to accept a compliment or praise graciously, as if I am embarassed by the fuss. I wonder why that is, why it feels like showing off when it is, in fact, just being proud?  It is one of my proudest moments so far and has definitely helped me stop telling myself “you can do better!” quite so much!

Garnier Olia hair dye commercial via Always a Blue Sky Girl Blueskygirlie fashion beauty blog blogger with fearne cotton

Being in a TV advert definitely helps you get used to really focusing on how you look which is usually the time when that self doubt can creep back in for me. When you photograph yourself all the time for your blog it seems strange to say you suffer from worrying about how you look, after all how I look is a big part of the blog. It is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation as one of the reasons I started blogging was to help my self esteem and it has been very good at helping that – generally people are very kind and supportive and I have not come across many trolls.  But do I look in the mirror and love what I see? Well lets just say I am working on it…

Primark Atmosphere sequin top outfit via Always a Blue Sky Girl Blueskygirlie fashion beauty blog blogger
So what has this bubbly, mainly extravert; worrying, sometimes introvert actually learnt?  I have realised I am far too hard on myself and really need to give myself a break – we all do. We were the generation that was told we could ‘have it all’, but that is pretty much impossible. We must make our choices and pick our battles and celebrate each success however small.  It is ok to not get everything right, in fact to learn and develop it is a very necessary thing. The key for me is to keep trying, to never give up and to try and be the best version of me I can be.

So I continue on my lifes journey trying as best I can to banish this pointless, undermining emotion and remember the amazing journey I have taken to get here – to this exact point, with all its ups and downs, its failures but also its many successes – it is this exact journey that has made me, me!

Self help doubt mental health blog via Always a blue sky girl blog

I’m realising I am the only me I’m gonna get and you know what, I’m pretty damned good at all this life stuff.

I’m still wondering my that person on hasn’t accepted my Facebook friend request though…

The F Word

*warning this post may have triggering effects linked to food or weight issues*

Hi, I’m Sarah and if you follow this blog you will know that I am a generally cheerful, confident, fun person. You will also probably know that I have lost a lot of weight (I was a size 20/22 at my largest) and have to work hard to stay a size 12 by trying to watch what I eat and running 5k three times a week.  It is not easy.It has taken me quite a while to like myself again but my body image is still a constant struggle and this blog, in part, is a tool to embrace my flawed, curvy, 40plus figure as seen by my super critical eyes.  I had a eating disorder as a teenager and still have a complicated relationship with food and my body – to try to help, I follow quite a few plus size bloggers, those who embrace their size, love their bodies and are part of the #effyourbeautystandards movement. I admire them and their confidence but I cannot feel like them sadly. Being morbidly obese was a prison sentence for me and although I seemed confident I suffered terribly from anxiety, was physically in a bad place with various aches and pains and I hated myself.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well last week during an arguement with a stranger (a man) I was called ‘fat’.  I was also called a bitch, stupid, a ho and various other insults but ‘fat’ was the one that really hurt. It got under my skin and wounded me more then any other insult and it made me think – why do people still use it as a low blow insult? A word that is used to hurt and belittle, particularly towards women.

Forgetting the fact the man saying it looked like the back end of a bus (and was hardly an Olympian himself) once that word was said I felt awful, insecure, and yes, fat. I felt ugly. I felt weak.  He had told me in his eyes I was…what? Unattractive to him? Not the perfect body shape? Imperfect?  Erm – who cares! But sadly I did care.

At my sons school they are taught the word fat is a hate word, as abusive as a swear word or racial slur and if he hears me using it he tells me off. This gives me hope that using the word to attack and hurt and undermine will end with our generation.

Body confidence is hard – every time I go on a run I put myself out there. Dressed in skin tight lycra it is scary to exercise in front of the world. It not just the actual running that’s hard, its fear of being watched, insulted, maybe even hurt…I’d say pretty much every month I get catcalled by men in cars/lorries bleeping their horns etc – they seem to think thats a compliment. Doing it every other day, regardless of those fears takes guts. 

So am I going to stop eating cake? Hell no!  Not run in public?  I’m fitter than I’ve ever been so, sorry, no. Starve myself for an ideal I can never reach, one that is perpetuated by photoshopped images anyway?  My body has done amazing things – it carried a baby, it can run for miles, ticked amazing places and experiences off my bucket list, kept me fit and healthy and my boyfriend seems pretty keen on it too!

What I do need to do is make sure that my confidence in both my inner self and the body people can see (and judge) is greater than any throwaway line or joke.  I need to hear the words when the people who care about me tell me I am beautiful and loved and perfect in their eyes.  NO-ONE male or female has the right to make you feel bad about the way you look…and the key is knowing they are not just wrong, but that they are the weak ones, the insecure ones, the ones that truly hate themselves.  I need to remind myself of this statement – 

So another pathetic human being goes on their way thinking they’ve won because they have said some throw away insult which is not based on anything apart from wanting to hurt. But you know what? People like that will never break me – I am more than words, more than their twisted ideals, more than their insecurites – I AM ME…AND AM PRETTY DARN FABULOUS!!!Find my blogs on my fitness and running here, here and here.

All photos via my Instagram – blueskygirlie

Show and Tell: Soap & Glory body and bath

I think its fair to say I am a big fan of Soap & Glory. I use their skincare, make-up and even wear their perfume!  I am most dedicated to their body and bath ranges and in todays blog I show what I use day to day and tell you why, to try get you into the S&G cult too!

soap and glory flatlay by blueskygirlie via always a blue sky girl fashion beauty home blog
Body Wash – Clean on Me £6.50/500ml

Shower gel is something you use every day and although this is more expensive than your average product it is in a large 500ml pump action bottle that lasts ages. It is super thick and creamy, lathers up beautifully and leaves a lovely sweet but fresh smell.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Face Wash – Peaches and Clean £8.00/350ml

Regular readers to this blog know I follow quite a strict beauty routine. I never use soap or shower gel on my face as it is drying (and therefore aging) to the skin. I switch to a squirt of this 3 in 1 product and make sure my skin is both clean and mosturised. I use this in the morning rather than the evening and it acts as a skin detox which helps to purify and clarify for a smooth, luminous complexion.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Scrub – The Scrub of your life £7.00/200ml, Flake Away £8.00/300ml

OK, you’re clean but are you smooth? I use a scrub probably every 2/3 days. Scrub of your Life is a gentler scrub that you can use on your face for exfoliation (and on your body too if you want) and Flake Away is great for tougher skin areas – legs, arms etc. – definitely dont let that near your face! Both products work brilliantly though, removing any rough skin and making you feel smooth like a baby!

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Body Milk – Smoothie Star £10.00/500ml

The smell of this is so delicious you will feel like a beautiful walking milkshake afterwards! Use wise, body milk is a lighter alternative to body creams, is absorbed easily, leaves no greasy residue and works great after a shower.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Body Butter – The Righteous Butter £10.00/300ml

If youve ever heard anything about Soap & Glory its probably the body butter youve heard of. The Righteous Butter is the brands hero product and carries its signature scent. It comes in a large pot and is thick and luxurious. Again although not cheap it lasts ages and really moisturises well. 

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Gir

Hand wash and lotion – Wash Hands £5.00/250ml, Hand Food £7.00/250ml

I dont just keep my Soap & Glory products in the bathroom…I have them in the kitchen too! Your hands need as much care as the rest of your body and I love this double dispenser for day to day use.

They sell the holder as a gift every Christmas and then when each hand product runs out they can be replaced from the normal range.

soap and glory flatlay by blueskygirlie via always a blue sky girl fashion beauty home blog

I also love their make-up, skincare and perfume and would definitely recommend trying a few items out – but I’ll leave that for another blog!  

To buy Soap & Glory products in the UK visit Boots – find the full range here. Look out for 3 for 2 offers and free gift promotions and soon you’ll become as much of a loyal follower as I am!

Whats your favourite Soap & Glory product? I’d love to know…