This post is a long time over-due and one that I have re-drafted countless times. To tell you guys the truth, logging back onto Blogger has given me the creeps. This dashboard used to be the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing at night. I was so consumed by it all.
So why am I back here writing to you? I have no idea if any of you are still here, listening. But I want to tell you about the reasons why I quit my blog and why it has taken me so long to come back.
My last blog post was published in October 2015, after 2 years of writing LydiaRosexo on a daily basis. Propelled into the vortex of graduate life, I found myself just as I had expected; floundering, helpless, and unprepared. Despite getting a first in my degree, my graduation ceremony affirmed for me just how much I had fucked up and wasted my time at university. I had just ended a 3 year relationship and felt equal parts liberated and terrified. I had moved back to my parents’ house in the middle of nowhere, unable to drive and therefore do anything independently.
With no University work to occupy my mind, I found myself for the first time in my adult life, inexorably alone with my thoughts. OCD had been brewing inside of me for years, but I had become an expert in filling every waking moment of my life with just enough distractions to prevent it from boiling over.
From the outside, I had won the Company Magazine Newcomer blog award, scored a coveted internship and was receiving offers from all of my favourite brands to collaborate. I didn’t have to buy anything for myself, as everything from a new mascara to a holiday outfit could be covered with a swift PR e-mail. My local newspaper frequently featured me on the front page. I went to Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities and attended fancy events in London. I was constantly trying to climb the blogger ladder with the ultimate goal of making this my job.
I was slowly paving my own way, with a strong following and a healthy number of monthly hits. I am by no means trying to paint myself as the epitome of success. I had no delusions about becoming the next Zoella. But I felt and believed in my bones that I was on my way somewhere. Blogging was my passion and my goal. I was going to make it work.
Then, in September 2015, my face broke out with a case of dermatitis that no doctor could understand. A prickly, hot rash raged across my face for 3 months, reacting to anything that came near. I couldn’t wear make-up. It constantly felt like my face was on fire, not just from the rash, but from the humiliation of it all. As a girl whose entire existence had become centred around my appearance, I literally couldn’t cope. Why was this happening to me, now that I was free of my degree, and could finally pursue my blog?
I am fully aware that I sound like the definition of #firstworldproblems here – but this was my genuine thought process at the time. Without a security coating of foundation and false lashes, I didn’t have a clue how to exist. I really do believe that this rash was the universe saying to me, loudly and clearly, “Something has to give“.
Slaving over Uni work. Writing blog posts. Shooting the photos. Spending 3/4 of my day attached to my iPhone. Instagram, Instagram, Instagram. I realised that it had all been a distraction from the fact that my head was slowly becoming a minefield that I could no longer exist in. How many likes did my last photo get? How many retweets? How many comments?
I wanted everyone to believe that I had it covered. My friends didn’t really know much about me but they did know about the products I had been sent that week. I never really had anything to talk about because everyone had already read about it on my Twitter. The sad thing is, that was all fine by me. I didn’t crave friendships as much as I did someone to take my outfit photos at the weekend. I wasn’t living for the moment but for the selfie at the end of it.
My obsession with social media, and vicariously living my life through a filtered version of it, had utterly consumed my life. Quitting it all allowed me to rediscover myself. I didn’t log onto Instagram for months. I gave the majority of my hoarded PR samples away. I stopped taking photos of everything. I started learning how to love myself without likes, comments and favourites.
Most importantly, I started CBT and have (mostly) overcome BDD, OCD, and depression. I gained back real confidence in myself, and finally passed my driving test, something that had been impossible when OCD ruled my life. Hell, some days I even forget to brush my hair.
So where am I now? I backpacked around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before moving to Hong Kong with only 7kgs of luggage. I’m currently teaching English to teenagers in a college. I’ve found a passion for helping other people and seeing my students’ faces light up. I’m working on writing poetry. You’re also more likely to find me in a sweaty thrift shop than Vivienne Westwood. Shocker, right?
I feel so much happier and at peace with myself. I am able to laugh freely even if that means looking ugly in a photo. I’ve learnt how not to care. I’ve learnt to live for right now; something that can so easily be lost in between the tweets and 24/7 real time updates of our lives.
If you got all the way to the end of this post, then phew, thank you! The final thing I want to say is that I by no means believe that blogging is all bad. I’m so proud of the girls who I used to follow who are now doing this for a career and making amazing content. I feel that so many good things can be accomplished through social media – but only after 13 months away am I able to see that.
But what I want you to consider is this; it really a coincidence that so many hugely influential bloggers talk about anxiety and depression? I think everyone should take a moment to consider the negative effects that social media can have on our lives. Are you posting about the real you, or what you want people to see? I will never forget the time that my boyfriend said, “No wonder girls are so messed up about how they look. I mean, Lydia – even you don’t look like the girl on your blog'”.
In some ways, I miss the girl who I used to be. I really do. The one who had a goal and a passion and who was going to do everything in her power to reach it. Which is why I am coming back to blogging. I miss being creative and connecting with people. I miss writing. I have so much to tell you guys, and I hope some of you are still out there, and will be with me on the next stage of this blog.
Thank you for reading,