You can’t have logged on to the interwebs this past week and not have seen every Tom, Dick and Harriet sharing a decade old photo of themselves and taking issue at their eyebrows / fashion choices / fake tan. Nobody is quite sure where it started, but like any good craze, it snowballed all across our feeds within days and will be gone just as quickly – which for most of us is probably a good thing.
I grew up with disposable cameras and the joy of artfully arranging random pictures developed at Snappy Snaps into albums, which became some of my most treasured possessions; but now that all of our moments exist only virtually (whether on our phones, grids or Facebook pages) it’s not as easy to reminisce. Sometimes it’s social media crazes like this that provide us with a reason to scroll back through a decade’s worth of selfies and look at how far we’ve come (and not only when it comes to eyebrows and fake tan.)
We’re constantly so immersed in documenting the moment and showing the world that we’re ‘living our best life’, that often we completely forget to look back; this challenge has provided an opportunity to do just that, and has brought with it both the positive and the negative connotations. What hit me looking back at many of those moments I’d honestly forgotten about, wasn’t just how much fun I was having and how comparatively slim I was, but how I remember feeling so incredibly alone and insecure.
A decade ago, at the age of 26, I’d been living in London for about a year, was working at a cosmetic brand (at the time it was seemingly my ‘dream job’) and spent most of my salary on cocktails. The pictures show a girl having a great time and hanging out with so many different people, but I know inside I was always trying to be something I thought I should be – rather than fully embracing who I was.
I spent my weekdays working hard and trying to progress my career, but feeling smothered and somewhat bullied by a boss I hated; I spent much of my time alone worrying about the way I looked and on a constant diet, for fear that I would never find a guy who loved me for who I was; I spent most Thursday and Friday nights going to all the coolest and most exclusive clubs, but feeling like a total fraud when I was inside; I spent most of my weekends either nursing a hangover or shopping for outfits to wear to the next night, regardless of whether or not I could afford to.
At first glance I chuckled at the fact all my photos from 2009 were taken in the pub, closely followed by a feeling of guilt that I’d put on weight in those ten years since. (It’s amazing how you can feel so ‘big’ at the time, only to retrospectively realise you’d kill to be that size again!) But after a few moments later, I realised a photo doesn’t always tell the full story – and that I’m a million times happier now than I ever was then.
I’m not a regretful person and I’m not one to ever wish away what’s made me who I am, but by golly those years were some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced. Your twenties are the time you’re supposed to have it all sussed and you’re only on the up, but in reality the majority of us are full of self-doubt and have crippling anxiety about the future. I remember being so immersed in trying to live a life that looked incredible on social media that I was rarely actually doing what I wanted to do, which mainly involved watching telly all weekend and ordering Dominos to be delivered at 11am.
I look at photos now and see a completely different woman. One who’s self-assured and confident in her own abilities and worth; one who has come to terms with the fact she’ll never be slim without surviving on dust and generally being miserable, and one who has found a guy who makes her utterly complete. I see a woman who has lived and learned, loved and lost, experienced the best and worst of the world but come out on top with an understanding of what’s truly important.
Although it’s easy to mourn over our lost youth and waistlines, or laugh at our inability to pluck eyebrows or effectively apply fake tan, this ten year challenge provides a huge opportunity to celebrate everything we’ve done, achieved and become during that last decade. It’s not just about what we look like, but about who we’ve become – so why not take a moment to list out everything great that’s happened since we were all wearing dresses over leggings.
SOME OF THE THINGS I’M PROUD AND GRATEFUL FOR (THE 2009-19 EDITION)
1. Launching my blog and winning multiple industry awards for my efforts.
2. Leaving the full time corporate world to go it alone, and being my own boss since 2013.
3. Meeting my now husband and having the best wedding day ever.
4. Working hard to earn enough money to pay for said wedding, a car and lots of handbags.
5. Traveling to amazing destinations – including New York, Florida, Bali and Santorini.
6. Making some incredible friends who I literally couldn’t imagine being without.
SHOP THE LOOK