Growing a Thicker (Warmer) Skin

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This is probably the most relatable post I’ll ever write, as throughout the years when I’ve talked about my experiences most people seem to have shared my journey.

Growing up, when your body goes through puberty and begins to change, it becomes a confusing time not only physically but emotionally. As a female, my body began to develop to carry and bear children, but I was only coming into my teenage years and embarking on high school, so I definitely didn’t feel mature or ready enough yet to cope with these changes.

Everyone around me seemed to be having an easier time than I was. I felt like the DUFF (the designated ugly fat friend), as they seemed to be growing taller and more womanly, where as I felt like I was growing wider and more clumsy. My feet were large, my hips were wide, my shoulders were broad, my hair was thick and wild and my features were average (and spotty) at best, or so I thought at the time.

My confidence plummeted, and I know I wasn’t the only one, as I’m sure behind my friend’s eyes they felt self conscious too. But our continual search for our identities and wanting to feel comfortable in ourselves seemed like a never ending journey, and for me, a lot of the issues that were born out of that time graduated with me as I left school.

Like most young people, I experimented, not only with clothes, but with hair dye and make up too. I slid happily into the familiar “emo phase”, subscribing to that way of life, not only because my interest in certain music artists ran with similar fashion ideals, but because for a while it felt like “me”, whoever that was. For a few years, I was happy. I liked to dye my hair different colours, dream about piercings and tattoos, wear jeans and band t-shirts to showcase my love of music and I loved that I was a master of the winged eyeliner phenomenon.

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But just like everything else in life, I grew up and outgrew that image, and moved on, but I didn’t have anything to move on to. It was about this time that I took my gap year, so a lot of my clothes were practical and simple, as I spent a lot of that year travelling. When I turned twenty and went to uni, it struck me that I’d been twenty years on this earth and I’d not “found myself” and felt pressured that when I went into a clothes shop, I should know whether an item was “me” or not. But I didn’t, I didn’t have a clue.

I spent a lot of that time adopting other people’s discarded clothes, from my Mum, from friends and family, and it felt like wearing someone else’s identity was far easier than the difficult search for my own. It wasn’t until I left university, had a breakdown and continued rebuilding my life that I could start to find out exactly who I was, and exactly who I wanted to be.

A good friend of mine is a colour analyst and offered to “do my colours” for me. This meant that I sat in a chair wearing an outfit similar to an all white nun’s habit and had colour swatches held up to my face to see how each one would react to my skin tone. It was fascinating how some colours made me look like I had a fresh spray tan, and others made me look completely jaundiced. After an hour or so, I had a complete collection of swatches that made me look amazing.

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You may be thinking that I just replaced one safety behaviour for another, or one clothing ideal for another, but just knowing that there were colours out there designed to flatter me, and by extension, make me feel confident in myself, made me feel so much better about going shopping, something I’d actively avoided for many years.

So here was the break down of my colour analysis. I had a warm skin tone, which meant that warmer colours as opposed to cold colours looked good on my skin. It also meant that gold jewellery was more flattering than silver. The analysis wasn’t exclusive just to clothes but to make up as well. I still love my winged black kohl eyeliner, but I also really enjoyed experimenting with a more natural look which gave me a warmer glow.

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This gave me the confidence to go out and start buying clothes because I liked them and knew the colours would look good on me, not because it’s because everyone else was wearing, or because I felt like that’s what I should be wearing. I still had my band t-shirts and my eyeliner, and I still brought them out every now and again to play, but I began to feel so much happier in myself now that I knew not all clothes were destined to make me look horrible. The Fitting Room Fiascos subsided and I began to feel so much more confident.

I didn’t continue comparing how I looked to other people because I knew that they had different skin tones and different body shapes to me. There was no point trying to squeeze into an outfit that belonged to a cool skin toned person, because it wasn’t going to give me the desired effect when I looked in the mirror. I dressed to accentuate the flattering parts of my frame like my waist and my curvaceous figure. I looked to role models with a similar shapes, like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, and ditched styles that were “in” or “fashionable” if they didn’t suit me. It suddenly became all so illogical. Maybe I’d reached the point of self discovery after all?

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But here is what I’ve learnt during my “journey to self discovery“. The journey never ends. My style has changed and evolved over the years because I have changed and evolved too. I’m sure by the time I’m thirty my wardrobe will look vastly different. Be comfortable, once you are comfortable in what you’re wearing, your confidence will grow. Once you feel confident, then it’s half the battle won. You can be comfortable and look good at the same time. Once I ditched the jeans and bought different kinds of trousers that weren’t denim, I felt so much happier. Whatever you’re wearing, rock it, and if you don’t feel like you can, then there are a few tips and tricks, like picking the right colours, that can help you along the way. Ultimately, you’re you, a beautiful, wonderful, unique, you, a person that should be celebrated as an individual however you look.

Kicking the Bucket List

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Everyone has at least one item on their bucket list, whether it involves seeing one of the many wonders of the world, or buying a new car, or getting married, everyone has an aspiration they’re aiming for later in life. I’ve had a long and illustrious bucket list for many years. Some items I’ve achieved already in my twenty four years, some I’ve yet to complete. Some will cross over with the Promises and Wishes posts that I’ve done the past few years, as I like to kick myself up the butt every now and again and make sure I don’t leave them all until retirement! So I thought I would share with you what’s on my list and what I’ve achieved thus far.

In no particular order.

Items in bold dictate completion.

  • Learn the drums
  • Become Busted’s official drummer (still working on this one)
  • Be in a band
  • Go travelling
  • Go on holiday with a loved one
  • Share a romantic bath/jacuzzi/swim
  • Travel the New York Subway
  • Go to university
  • Write a book
  • Get published (technically I’ve had poems published but this refers to my novel)
  • Learn to knit
  • Donate blood
  • Learn to do the splits
  • Milk a cow
  • Skydive
  • Visit Stonehenge
  • Be an extra in a movie
  • Ride a camel
  • Ride an elephant
  • Cuddle a koala
  • Watch the F1 in Monte Carlo
  • Stay in an over water chalet
  • Learn to drive
  • Get married
  • Buy a house
  • Get more tattoos
  • Learn French
  • Volunteer somewhere
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Buy a car
  • Get my own place

These are the thirty-something items on my bucket list. And I’ve completed a third them already, which is pretty good going considering I’m probably about a third of the way through my lifetime. Here’s to the next twenty four (ish) years!

Let me know down below in the comments what’s on your bucket list!

Good Love: The Maine and Me

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The family portrait. This photo is not mine.

My strong and unwavering love for The Maine began on the 26th September 2012 at approximately 9:02pm. My good friend Rob had asked a few months earlier if I wanted to accompany him to London, as he was seeing this band that he thought I would really like. The tickets were cheap, and it was in Camden, which I loved, so I thought why not. I trusted Rob’s opinion, as I do with most things, but especially with music. Boy, did he get it right.

The Maine had just released their album Pioneer, but it wasn’t until after the concert, when I embarked on committed and extensive Google-ing, that I realised the significance behind their new music. The Maine had found success on the pop-punk scene, after the release of their debut Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. They were signed to a major record label, and embarked on writing their difficult second album Black and White. It was during this time that the band realised their creative differences with the label, and were making music both parties were unhappy with. The Maine then began writing their third album, what would become Pioneer, in secret.

After the secret album was presented to the executives, it was clear that The Maine weren’t going to submit to the label’s musical ideals, or be molded into something they weren’t, and rightly so. The Maine had a vision, and idea of who they wanted to be, something that isn’t usually celebrated in today’s popular music culture. The band fought to be dropped from their label, and were eventually released from their contract. The Maine continued to build their empire from the ashes, creating their own management-come-record-label titled 8123, named after one of their childhood haunts in Phoenix, Arizona. It serves as a reminder to stay true to who they are, their roots, their vision, and they haven’t looked back since.

Ever since then, the band have released Forever Halloween, which they recorded live and to tape rather than digitally. Then an EP titled Imaginary Numbers, followed by their latest album American Candy. Each album the band release is different from their last, and shows such growth as musicians and as people. I’m delighted by the fact that when a new album drops, I have no idea what it’s going to sound like and I know for a fact that I’ll be able to listen to the songs live in all their glory on their next tour.

I have seen The Maine live nine times now and met them all, due to their post-gig ritual to meet the fans outside the venue. A particular highlight was on the last night of their co-headlining tour with Mayday Parade in February, the band came outside despite the wind and rain to meet the fans and spend time with us for as long as possible. As I’ve got to know the boys better, and see them more often, they now remember my name, remember my face and we would share genuine memories of our time together. John even commented on my new labret piercing, which I hadn’t had done the last time I saw him, which had been over a year previously. When I first met the guys at Warped Tour in 2013, I told them all I felt like their best friends to which Garrett replied, “well we are best friends, aren’t we?” As far as fan and musician relationships go, this one really is an anthem for a dying breed.

Assorted Photographs

(c) to Clare Holman-Hobbs and Rob Hicks