It's pretty difficult growing up. Especially throughout the teenage years. There's so many outside pressures, expectations, hormones, all while learning the necessary college readiness skills and applying for jobs and whatever else. I'm not going to say it's harder for girls, but I don't exactly have any experience as a boy, so I can only speak for my struggles.
I started this blog when I was 13. I don't count 13 as a teenager despite the obvious "teen" in thirteen. I was still in middle school learning vocabulary words and doing fun assignments and not having to worry about standardized SAT's, ACT's, AP exams and other things that occupy my conscience now. I was awkward, unsure, and scared. I didn't like talking to people, talking in front of people, and I just preferred to keep to myself. People knew me as a nice girl only because I didn't speak up or say anything that I really thought.
Because I was too scared to speak about anything of importance in class, I asked my parents if I could create a blog where I could share my thoughts and find myself. My parents were down and Classy Cathleen was born.
What my blog has done for me has showed me what I can do for myself and has made me the girl that I am today, and I honestly cannot fathom what the majority of my awkward teenage years would have been if it weren't for blogging.
I mean, since age 13 I've been working with companies and brands, collaborating with other young bloggers, managed a consistent editorial calendar complete with written content and social media posts. I've hosted linkups, twitter chats, and provided advice to other young girls aspiring to be a blogger and social media influencer. In essence, I've had a job these past three years. Of course, lately I've had to take some more time off from this job, but the quote "Wherever you are, be all there" definitely described my first 2 years of blogging, and I'm working to find myself and "be all there" again.
But back to my self confidence.
It takes a few balls to reach out to a company and request free products or a collaboration, or a paid opportunity. You have to learn the art of self marketing and business pitches in order to be successful at this. For a 13 year old girl that on a good day wanted to crawl out of her skin and find a better body and become a bigger, more relevant person, this was scary. I didn't want to hide behind an online persona, so I made a list of positive characteristics of myself and my blog at the time. After I had been blogging for about 8 months, I reached out to my first company. I mentioned some of the characteristics I had listed and formulated them into a solid pitch for the company to partner with me. I was successful. I couldn't believe it. THEY WANTED TO WORK WITH ME!
For someone that often didn't feel good enough, pretty enough, cool enough, etc. This was a huge deal. This is where my self confidence and my blog ultimately took a turn. Someone other than my family thought I was worth their time, and that changed my perspective. At this point my faith was a little shaky too if you couldn't already tell, so I know this all may seem silly or artificial, but believe me to a 13 year old who was striving for success without her classmates or community finding out, this was a leap in the right direction.
If you've never stopped to think about what you like about yourself and what other people like about you, I highly recommend that you do it. It's really eye opening as well as therapeutic.
After I begun to feel confident in myself and my abilities, blogging became easy. My words weren't forced, they flowed easily.
When kids at school found my social accounts and later my blog, I was nervous at how they would receive it. If they would receive it. If I would be "accepted". Then I stopped to think about what I was thinking. Why did it matter if others thought what I was doing was silly and stupid? Answer: It didn't. When I got called "Classy Cathleen" in class, I accepted the title like a badge of honor. I learned that you have to show people how you want to be treated and what is okay for them to talk about. Things only hurt you if you let them... boy, how cliche did that sound... but I am serious, and I firmly believe that if throughout middle and high school, you show people what's okay and what's not okay that they will either respect that, or their true colors will show. That's true self confidence.
Putting yourself out there on the internet is slightly frightening at first, but surprisingly easy which is how some of my peers can get into trouble. However, producing content - writing + photography has kept me busy and motivated. Where some of my peers are scared about the future, and have no idea what they want to do for the rest of their lives, I've been practicing - in a sense - for my career every day since the 8th grade. I've learned that instead of becoming someone else to be successful online, sometimes your real and raw, authentic self is more than enough to be successful.
Skip ahead three years and I'm here, in my bed, at 4 in the morning, blogging. Nothing's really changed. I'm more confident, and I don't care what people think about me. People at school know about my blog and read it too. My irrational fear of not being accepted or appreciated or whatever I was even afraid of is put to rest. Without having a blog, I never would have become the person that I am today. I'm forever grateful for whoever and whatever put the idea of blogging into my head. Because without it, I have no idea who I would be.
Thanks for sticking with me through another long and rambling post, friends