All I Really Wanna Know, Is How I Got All This Way On My Own?

It's no secret that we're our own harshest critics, one man's trash is another man's treasure. You hate your height, another girl pines after your enviable legs. You wish your hair was straight, others pay ridiculous amounts of money trying to create waves. You deem yourself ditsy and clumsy, others call you carefree and wish they could just be the same. We are constantly having a dig at ourselves one way or another and unfortunately that will never ever change. Besides, self confidence is great but if we all settled for thinking we were so bloody perfect, what fun would that be? We'd have nothing to aim for... Or at least that's how I like to look at it. Lately however, I've been feeling a particular kind of discontentment towards myself, specifically in where I feel my life is "at" right now. Call it an oxymoron or just plain odd but this discontentment stems from inevitably feeling content. Some of us are just never happy hey!

Maybe I've reached that stage of adulthood whereby all my hard work seems to finally be paying off and I'm beginning to see the wood through the trees, I really can't place it. I guess it has a lot to do with that weird feeling of looking back in retrospect at the dreams you had as a teenager and how ridiculously out of reach they felt, to suddenly realise that maybe just maybe you kind of made them a reality. You could say I've achieved a lot of my goals I had pinned for myself (for right now at least anyway). Sixteen year old me would be thrilled at how far she'd come. All she ever wanted was a career in fashion. It was, has and always will be my end goal. There's nothing I feel more passionately about and in all honesty, after ten years of tunnel vision it's all I really know. So why do I feel the need to worry if I'm capable or even deserving of it? I know for a fact teenage me would tell me to stop complaining because this is exactly what we had planned. Surely I should feel a sense of relief at how far I've come? And yet I really do continuously ask myself the same question, "why am I here?"... Don't worry I don't keep blacking out and waking up on my kitchen floor. That question is entirely metaphorical, NOT literal...

It's crazy to imagine that less then two years ago my blog didn't exist, especially when I think of all the wonderful opportunities it's given me. With every step of the way I seem to keep hitting the benchmarks I set for myself, some of which have been complete "pinch me" moments. I'll be in certain situations and I'll honestly look around me and think, "how on earth have I got here?". As if the whole thing hasn't been earned and instead I'm simply blagging my way through. There are so many bloggers out there I follow and feel inspired by! I constantly admire how incredibly aspirational they all are, at how insanely hard they work and think, "am I as deserving as them"?... The irony in it all being, I know exactly how hard they work from my own first hand experience. I remember when I first started blogging, feeling so lost and inadequate. I felt like I just wasn't good enough. I really wanted to make it work and yet it seemed like an impossible feat! In all fairness the idea of blogging is incredibly daunting. You're laying yourself bare and people will either like you or not. But deep down I must have had some sort of faith in myself because I persisted! Every time the thought entered my mind to give up, something told me to keep on going... Yet here I am still questioning my accomplishments! It's ridiculous! I don't go to the doctors and ask to see his qualifications, work experience over the last five/ten years and every grade in school starting from infancy before I trust his expertise, so why on earth do I feel the need to doubt how capable I am in my own career?

I happened to explain this uncomfortable, "blogger" related feeling to a friend a work a few weeks back and she told told me it had a name. Imposter Syndrome. Before you go ahead and Google it, I'll save you the time and tell you the definition is as follows; a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Yup, that's me. Who needs to spend hundred upon hundreds of pounds and countless invaluable hours at a psychiatrist when you have Sarah at work to perfectly diagnose you in seconds?I am quite simply incapable of accepting my achievements and I don't think I'm the only one. I constantly hear my friends second guess themselves or speak about the "adult" life they lead like it's laughable, when they've put in so much effort towards getting there. Joe for one is so so SO guilty of this! He constantly asks... "Why us?" about the achievements of his band. Like the notion of his constant determination and devotion paying off is completely inconceivable! And each time I simply reply, "because you deserve it"... I'm a pot and I'm calling the kettle black... Not that I ever really understood that saying...

The funny thing is, I've had this post jotted as very brief bullet points in the note section on my phone for a few weeks now with a big question mark next to it! What can I say, I really do second guess myself at almost everything. But I guess now seemed like a better time than any to write it out as I'd just hit the benchmark of all blogging benchmarks. I hit 100k followers on Instagram and yet again I find myself wondering how on earth I did it. In a Carrie Bradshaw style moment hitting this milestone got me thinking how ironic it was that all the thousands of people who follow me, actually have more faith in me than I do! Without knowing it, all these people can find a reason to follow me and I'm sat here scratching my head! When people ask me how I've got myself where I am with my blog I generally joke that it's down to pot (calling the kettle black) luck, the inability to responsibly prioritise my spending habits and a complete misunderstanding between "wanting" clothes and actually "needing" clothes.

Ok so there's a little bit of truth in the last two reasons but to say it's just luck is a complete lie and a teeny, weeny bit insulting. The truth is I have and still do work so hard at what I do. Please don't think this is me complaining. I love what I do, I really do! But I've most certainly had to work at it, as we all have to! Every spare second of every spare day has been willingly devoted to my blog and social media. The reason I am here is quite simply down to determination. And in all honesty, I'm absolutely knackered! Working two pretty full on jobs ain't easy but you do what you do because you care enough to! The moment you realise you are in a job you have zero enthusiasm for is the moment you hand in your notice... Please! On the flip side, please don't also think this post is me humble bragging about how I think I've got it all figured out. Believe me when I say I'm not even close to being at my ever moving end goal, but at least I'm moving forward and I'm doing it through my own merit. Working towards something you feel so passionately about takes effort and it takes a lot of heart and there is DEFINITELY no easy road, so why make it even harder by letting self doubt get in the way? Don't get me wrong, I really am a firm believer in self criticism often being the best encouragement to spur you along. It's important to always want more and in some ways with too much contentment comes complacency. All I'm saying is sometimes in life you have to take a step back and stop asking yourself how capable you are at what you're doing and where you're going. Stop asking yourself how you got somewhere, when you are the sole driving force behind which ever destination you ended up at! You earned it! Give yourself a pat on the back!

I still feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing and that's fine, but maybe I should at least admit I'm doing it right... Whatever that is.

Sophia x

PS. A huge thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to read my blog over the past year and a half. Your support has been the biggest encouragement for me to keep on going. When I haven't been sure, you always have. I am forever grateful of that.

Thank you to The Magic Gang for your blog title worthy lyrics.

And thank you Rosie Ann Butcher for your amazing (as ever) photography.

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Amsterdam X Bloomon- I Daydream Of You Amid The Flowers

This week I've been a busy traveling bee again! For my last post I spoke about one of my all time favourite cities, Rome and this week I was lucky enough take a trip to yet another destination at the top of my "cities I've fallen in love with" list, Amsterdam! I've been to Amsterdam on a number of occasions now but always in the winter months when the city is awash with autumnal hues, the streets are paved with fallen leaves and there's a real cosy feel to it's ornate lamp lite canals. When the fabulous folk at Bloomon invited me down to Amsterdam in August, the height of summer, to attend their Flower Festival and visit their picturesque flower fields, I jumped at the chance. The city did not disappoint in summer, embracing the season with the same relaxed, effortless, yet incredibly stylish approach it has in its winter months. The cosy lighting and rustic tones were now replaced with beautiful greenery, lining the streets and climbing up the mismatched, marzipan like houses. Bright flower boxes decorated the canal rails and potted plants dotted along the stairways, the city was know doubt in full bloom... Was there ever a more apt time to attend a flower festival? 

Where I Stayed

So first and foremost I need to tell you guys about where I stayed just because it was so bloody amazing, super sleek in its design and I would highly recommend! It was a hotel/cafe called Zoku, which from the outside looks like any other apartment block but once inside and on the sixth floor your opinion is completely transformed. The sixth floor is at roof terrace level and the entrance is lined with allotments full of foliage and plant life. I feel like if you ever needed a place to just clear your head... This would be paradise. The hotel as a huge open plan cafe space with work stations and pods; a must destination for any aspiring cosmopolitan freelancer... Cue Amsterdam's version of Sex And The City any day now (erm... wait maybe not, given the city's most infamous district). 

My room was designed as a studio apartment but I can't help but think that label really down plays it. This wasn't JUST a little studio apartment, this was a cosy space of of your own whereby you could feel right at home. Within about five minutes of being there I; A) Felt much less cooler than and completely inadequate for the room I was standing in and B) I planned a whole new life in Amsterdam involving plans to move in on a permanent basis (whilst also thinking of ways I could become equally as cool). This hotel is well worth a visit or a stay if you're after that authentic, laid back Amsterdam attitude. Totally unassuming but incredibly inspiring.

What I Did

Ok so firstly I need to be 100% honest with you and tell you I've never actually been a shameless tourist in Amsterdam and so high on my agenda was a trip to the Van Gogh Museum (when I say high on my agenda what I really mean is I pre-bought tickets, printed them out and had the cash ready to by a souvenir tee... I was keen. Pre-booking however is advised, queue are lengthy), followed by a visit to the Moco Museum where they were holding a temporary Banksy and Dali exhibition... I figured that as I was in Amsterdam courtesy of Bloomon and I was there to see all things floral, it seemed only fitting I paid a visit to the most famous sunflowers in the world. I loved it. Both Museums are worth a visit and I'd advise catching the Banksy exhibition whilst you can!

After my day of being the biggest, most geeky tourist of them all, I returned back to my "too cool for school" room and got spruced up for the prettiest festival EVER hosted by the lovely Bloomon Team, complete with the most aesthetically pleasing flower wall I think I ever have laid/ever will lay eyes on. We enjoyed floral based cocktails, hand massages, nail pampering and the piece de resistance, a flower crown tutorial in which I learned I have a natural gift for floristry... Debatable. Completely subjective and highly unlikely... But I tried and that's the main thing. I couldn't have asked for a more lovely night, in such a lovely city celebrating the wonderful flowers it produces. 

On the second day Bloomon took us on a trip to visit their flower fields just south of Amsterdam so we could see exactly where their beautiful bouquets start life. In total we visited three fields, all owned by family run business and cultivating flowers on a large scale. It honestly was as insightful, as it was photogenic visiting the fields. Seeing just how a business like Bloomon runs from start to finish has given me a new found appreciation for a beautiful bunch of my favourite flowers. Oh and one of the fields uses rescued battery chickens to help weed the ground... Slow clap for that field please.

What I Wore

Ok so there were three outfits in total on my trip BUT after a 4am start on the Wednesday I didn't exactly feel enthusiastic about having my picture taken so please excuse me, you're only seeing two. Now I've actually spoken about Amsterdam style in a previous blog and I stand by my analogy. This is a city with such a laid back, simple outlook on dressing and it's so refreshing. I think every time I go, I never ever feel self conscious about what I'm wearing. In fact the first outfit was a Topshop Boutique polka dot midi dress and surprisingly I felt over dressed... If you know my style well, you know over dressed doesn't really ever come into it! I did however give my midi slip a slight Amsterdam twist, teaming it with some beautiful albeit very androgonous looking victorian black boots and a simple red lip. I absolutely loved this look, I find "dressy" dressing so difficult and way out of my comfort zone. Giving a feminine dress a playful, boyish accessory is the perfect compromise for me (See every tea dress and Converse combo I ever worn for more details).

Next I wore a Broderie Anglaise, vintage inspired smock dress from Joanie Clothing... I can't help but feel Broderie Anglaise is perhaps THE most perfect fabric to wear whilst running around in flower fields (the idea of this sounds a lot more romantic in your head). It's one of my favourite types of embroidery, forever giving any item of clothing a vintage, Lolita-esque feel. I teamed it with my trusty Converse, Exhibit B on my need to make anything girly just a touchy boyish too!... I rest my case.

After the flower fields, I waved goodbye to Amsterdam in summer more then certain I'd see it again soon in winter and made my way back to Manchester. It was such a joy to see such a disarming city, I love so dearly in full bloom and to have such a lovely brand as Bloomon show me the best flowers the city has to offer. With the next Bloomon bouquet to arrive at my door, I'll be sure to think of the pretty fields I know they've traveled from and smile...

Oh and of course I'll think of the chickens too...

Visit their site now to see their full bouquet collection:

Sophia x