At the beginning of this year, I was browsing online and stumbled across Diane von Furstenberg’s book, The Woman I Wanted to Be. Until now, I still haven’t read it, but the title alone had me asking myself, “what kind of woman do I want to be?”, so, I wrote some things down. The woman I want to be is kind, uplifting, creative, innovative, strong, compassionate, patient, unbothered by opinions. She has nothing to prove, no time to waste on things like gossip, she takes care of herself, values her health and gets along with everyone.
I then asked myself, “how do I become her?” and realized to be her, I’d have to start adopting and practicing the traits mentioned above, immediately. In as many situations as possible I paused to consider what would that woman do? How would she treat this situation? In becoming this woman, I came to realize some truths. Grown girl truths, as one of my favourite YouTubers, Patricia Bright, calls them.
These are some of the grown girl truths I discovered, or started implementing this year:
Delegating your work will do wonders. You don’t have to control everything because believe it or not, there are people out there who can do a better job at certain things than you can. I can’t believe a year ago (aside from photography) I did everything for Fashion Breed by myself, and went for long times without a domestic worker in my home. Team Fashion Breed now has three members, I pay more to have someone clean more than is probably necessary and I have a trainer to make sure I get the most out of my workouts and don’t waste my time at gym. Time is money, and I definitely made more money and have a better quality of life by delegating this way! Picking the correct people is absolutely crucial though, but thankfully for me, so far everyone’s basically been perfect.
Happiness and positivity is a choice you have to make every single day. I don’t want to tell people how to feel, but if you’re always complaining about short term things it means you’ve already chosen to have a negative outlook on your life and focused more energy on what you lack. Yes, there are people who have serious ongoing issues but then there are people who make an issue out of everything when for the most part they have so much that others can only dream of. My main goal for this year was to be healthy and happy and successful, so I felt the things I needed to feel at the times when I needed to feel them, and then moved on. Every single day I choose to be happy, grateful, silly, spread the love and see the glass as half full. It really did change everything for me! I remember feeling so uninspired in my job last year because I was negative and comparing myself to others. Now I love it, and I think it shows in my work that I am inspired and happy. When I go to events, I love seeing industry folks and meeting everyone, hanging out and having a laugh instead of being a sour and cliquey sap like I was before.
Be present and stop to take in the little moments. I’m someone that’s basically on my phone for a living, and I’m always on the move, but I’ve trained myself to appreciate the little bursts of joy life brings, and I do this often. There are times when Malick and I are laying in bed laughing until our stomachs hurt and I will say to him, “Are you taking this moment in? Do you remember when we were dating and we would wished we were married already?” or when you realize you prayed for things and years later you finally got them. They don’t have to be huge things or achievements, and when you really stop to appreciate them, the joy feels as though it’s doubled.
You don’t have to fit in everywhere or even anywhere at all. I struggled with this my whole life – wanting to belong, doing silly things to fit in and be accepted – and then I realized I actually hate belonging! It made me act out of my character, it was filled with expectation from people and it stifled who I am/was. I forgot how much I enjoy my own company. If you always need to be with people, consult with them all the time and struggle to be/go out/eat alone, I hope you learn to love your own company and trust your ability to make your own decisions. You’re the only person you’re guaranteed to have for life, you may as well learn to be besties!
Some people will always look at you through the eyes of their own insecurities. You can be kind, you can be supportive, you can martyr yourself; it won’t make a difference, it may even make them hate you more or be more bitchy. Distance yourself from those people, they have unhealthy relationships with themselves and are of no benefit to you.
Caring what others think of you is a waste of time. We forget that what they say is actually a combination of THEIR beliefs, THEIR fears, THEIR experiences, THEIR insecurities and THEIR desires. Nothing about any of that has anything to do with you really. So when you consider that, and when you know who you are and what you are really like, is there any reason left for the noise to affect you?
Know when you’re right, know when you’re wrong. It takes strength to take responsibility for your flaws and work on them, and taking a long hard look at yourself and doing just that is one of the toughest but also most beneficial things you could ever do. At the same time though, your intentions do count, and not everything is always going to be your fault so don’t get stuck in a well of self blame. Don’t martyr yourself and think the other person was innocent. Apologise when you can, fix what you can, don’t beat yourself up about things and move on.
Every single relationship needs reciprocity. You’re not a bad person if you want love to be returned, it should benefit both parties. Again, don’t be a martyr, because no one remembers, cares for or respects the emotional martyr.
If you claim to support women, you have to support all women. Not just the ones who don’t make you insecure and who aren’t a “threat” to you, and not just the ones who are up to your acceptance standards. The second you feel jealousy, competitive or “why couldn’t it be me?” – check yourself. Those are 100% normal emotions but it’s your responsibility not to let them take over. I used to be super insecure in this department but remembering these few things really helped: 1. Her success is not your failure. 2. Anything can happen, your time may just not be right now. 3. If she can achieve that, so can you, so let it be something aspirational for you – being a hater ain’t ever cute! 4. The good times may be all that person shows you and it may be what you envy but you don’t know what price they paid to have that. Keep pushing your own hustle and trust your process without thinking about others.
There are so many horrible things happening to women and girls all around the world and we need each other now more than ever, personally and professionally. We don’t have the time or energy to spare on drama.
Being selfish won’t make you have more. I remember 2016 being a really bad year for me and I was prone to anxiety and depression. I remember when other influencers would look to me for help and advice I told myself (and was told by others), “DON’T HELP HER, don’t give your secrets away, she’s your competition!” and because I feared those people would become better than me or copy me if I equipped them, I dodged them and pretended not to have the answers. Until I was on the receiving end of that same approach from more than one person and I realized how much it sucked. I knew what my intentions were and it mirrored back to me the type of person I definitely didn’t want to be. So this year I gave and gave and gave. I gave away so many of my “secrets” to success, industry contacts and advice to fellow bloggers/influencers especially those who came up fast and didn’t understand the business side of things. I shared and shared and answered the questions other people wanted to keep a secret and you know what? It didn’t affect me negatively. Not even in the least. Everything about me and my brand grew; in the end I got so much MORE and not less. I feel like the good karma remembered me. I grew more as a person person, I earned more money and naturally I made more friends! And yes, theres always the chance some people may use and abuse what you share but that will be their karma to deal with when it comes back around. As long as I kept pursuing my own goals, what they did was none of my business. The only secrets I do recommend you keep though are your future plans; I think that’s personal, ruins surprises and also it’s super awkward if it doesn’t work out and you’ve already told everyone.
Your vibe attracts your tribe, and your tribe affects your vibe. Life is so fast these days it’s easy to forget to practice and maintain a positive mindset (AKA your vibe). In addition, it’s easy to forget how much the people around you the most can affect you either positively or negatively. Never underestimate the power of just one good person in your life or just one toxic person. One close, toxic person is enough to affect how you view yourself, and how you approach your life simply because they get in your head and that can determine your actions, and the reason it’s extra powerful and dangerous is because it comes from people we love. If your friends and even your family are not your biggest fans, if they make you feel like you have to change, if they make backhanded comments, if they talk about you behind your back, if they encourage you to behave in a way you’re not comfortable with, if they share with others what you tell them in confidence – they really shouldn’t be allowed into your heart! And yes, this applies to family too. I LOVED this video by one of my favourite YouTubers, Nur. If you want to know just how important/powerful it is to monitor the quality of the company you keep in your life, it’s a must-watch.
I made peace with people I needed to make peace with, and I don’t have time for bitchy/cocky power struggles and mind games. I’ve decided that’s beneath me. I cut the crap, apologized to people I hurt, or acknowledged with them if there was a weird vibe between us, took responsibility for my side of things and moved on. Furthermore, when I step into a room/situation, I know I don’t owe anyone anything, not my full-blown conversation, not my close acquaintance, not even a social media follow because I’m entitled to choice, BUT, I’m nice to everyone I see and meet, and it’s truly sincere. I think that holds more value than me liking your pictures, gossiping or talking about something superficial. Also, I shamelessly use the “block” option on social media for people who can’t control the need to say and do and be however they feel, and I don’t feel like I need to give any explanations when I do it.
Check in with yourself regularly. When you’re feeling like you’re in a negative space, take time out to ask yourself why. Make notes even, and be as honest with yourself as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can rise above instead of letting it fester and explode at a later stage! Something I even like to do is read my social media feeds. I can literally see my own twitter feed turn into Negative Town when I’m on my period!
So, looking back over the last ten months or so since the year started, did I become the woman I wanted to be? I’d say mostly, yes! Or I’m always aspiring to be her every day. As the saying goes, aim for progress not perfection because nobody’s perfect, and I definitely don’t claim to be. However, I truly feel like 2017 turned me into a new person, or rather, one of the much, much better versions of myself and I’m so proud of that. I’ve never been this happy, consistently happy and waking up happy, ever before in my life, but I also think I feel it this deeply because I’ve been hurt deeply and struggled with anxiety in the past.
It’s been a while since I’ve written something this long and done such a personal check in, so I hope you enjoyed it! Do any of you have any “grown girl truths” that you’ve learned or implemented? The comment section below is always open :)
Photographs – by Abdul Malick Ally
Outfit – Cotton On beret, Studio W shirt, dress from Blake at YDE, Chanel D’Orsay pumps.