Growing up I never had the type of friendship group you see in the movies. I was outspoken, independent, chubby and not especially talented at anything related to sports or music; although I had a lot of friends and moved easily between circles, I never made that life-long connection with someone that I could rely on indefinitely. Over the years I’ve had many people I would consider ‘best friends’, providing the support I needed at different stages in my life, but few remain. People phase in and out of your inner circle all the time, serving different purposes and being with you as you experience different moments – and that’s ok. Those we’re forced into friendship circles with don’t have to stick around forever, as we instead stumble across people that can really make a difference to your outlook on life and ability to be the best kind of person you can be.
Doing what I do it can be quite lonely and isolating, so having connections becomes even more important; not having a colleague to turn around to and discuss last night’s telly or quietly moan about that b*tch of a client, really does make a difference. There’s nobody to tell you how well you’re doing, point out areas for improvement or provide a touch of encouragement when you need it most; there’s nobody to talk to (often from one day to the next) and a lot of the time not even the motivation, inclination or reason to leave your house for anything other than some more milk for your coffee. Our natural human instincts see us crave the attention and support of a likeminded community, so it’s increasingly difficult to completely go it alone; I’ve worked hard and I’m incredibly privileged, but it’s certainly not easy.
If there’s one thing that 2016 proved to me is that the importance of surrounding yourself with good people can never be underestimated. I’ve managed to find my own little #WomanSquad that have collectively kept me going, supported me through the ups and downs, made me laugh, let me get things off my chest, provided advice, helped to bounce ideas around and generally been at the end of a phone or WhatsApp message to keep me on the straight and narrow. Blogging and digital media is such a new phenomenon that for those working outside the field it’s as foreign as another language: I often try to talk to my partner and girlfriends about the stresses or dramas that fill my days, but more often than not it takes longer to provide context than it does discuss the issue. Unsurprisingly I give up, using the generic line of “yeah everything’s great, really busy, but yeah fab!” to move the conversation onto something else.
So what of this #WomanSquad? To my detriment I’m naturally a very highly strung, stressed and impulsive person; having a group of incredibly intelligent, passionate, successful and motivated women around me has helped not only to sedate that impulse and calm my frustration, but it’s taught me that talking through an issue with someone a little removed from the situation can help you come up with a far more successful solution. Not only that, but when we all need a moan and a good whinge about this or that, having an empathetic set of hands typing at the other end is often all we need to feel 100% better. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, self employed, working a 9-5 or even a full time mum, having strong and supportive people around you is the secret to simply getting sh*t done.
I met LEX (talontedlex.co.uk) during a round-table discussion on rosacea a few years ago, but it’s only been in the last year we’ve really become good friends. Regular blogging dates in London keep us both fresh and full of ideas, while she’s the voice of reason whenever I’m having a panic. Incredibly respected in her field, I love seeing her grow from strength to strength.
KIRSTY (fashionforlunch.net) and I met when she gate-crashed my table outside Starbucks; and there a friendship was born. A complete nutter (and a colourful one at that,) Kirsty’s kind heart and ever-lasting humour always brightens my day. Possibly even more cynical than me, I love debating the ins and outs of the blogging world and putting the world to rights.
My birthday twin LEAH (devotedtopink.com) and I share the same passion and enthusiasm for making our own way. It’s always refreshing to meet people with the same outlook as you, especially when you’re the exact same age and proving you don’t have to change who you are just because you turn 30. A kick-ass business woman with big things to come.
And finally, JANE (britishbeautyblogger.com) can only be described as my rock. Over the years Jane has soothed my worries and concerns, let me vent my frustrations and helped me to think in macro rather than micro detail. With a wealth of knowledge up her sleeves, she’s not afraid to be brutally honest – something that I utterly respect.
These four women together keep my passion channeled, keep me from making silly decisions and keep me laughing. Although there are so many more incredible women that I don’t have the space to mention, it’s these four that together that have helped me more than they’ll ever know. There’s no competitiveness or cattiness, just support and openness to help one another meet our goals. Different perspectives, passions and strengths can help everyone in the long-term – and my #WomanSquad has helped me park the tears, outbursts and stresses in favour of laughter and the realisation that the world won’t come to an end over lipstick. If you don’t have a squad, yet may this be the year that you discover it. It’s life-changing.