The hardest part about growing up, for me, has always been to be strong enough to face change and make changes to myself as part of my self-improvement. The main thing I have learnt is that change can be good. I have written this piece because I wanted to use to a space to think about my past, how much I have grown and changed in the last few years.
For those who knew me as a kid and/or teenager, I was a very quiet girl. Yes, I was nerd – a nerd who also danced. I was that girl who went to school and sixth form in two plaits with no make-up, just my oily acne-prone skin. I did not have a social life: these were my three habitats – home, school, dance class. I was constantly worried about what other people thought about me, whether it be colleagues at school, aunties and uncles, or my parents. For this reason alone, I was very quiet; I was definitely not very opinionated. I never felt like my opinion mattered therefore whatever people said to me, I hardly said anything back, even though it may have evoked a very strong kind of emotion – positive or negative. During school was when I felt most vulnerable; it was also the time period during which I made most mistakes. Not saying that I do not make mistakes now, of course I do!
Things did start changing when I started university. I was very dependent on my parents, so moving 100 miles away from them and living alone for the next five to six years was very daunting. But I had no choice and it had to be done. I had to stay strong. When my parents dropped me off at university and left me for the first time, I was so scared about what the next few years would bring. I knew one thing for sure; I wanted to make a new start in life. Throw away all the negative energy; cherish and harbour only the positive.
This is what I started doing. As a result, I knew I was becoming stronger and felt that much more positive about myself. My mind-set started to change. I was not being driven by values which were enforced upon me by those around me; I started to make my own decisions and believe in my gut instinct. I realised that I was feeling that much happier. Over the past five years at university, I have grown as a person. I started to break free from the barriers which were not only thrown upon me, but also those which I had forced upon myself. I surrounded myself with people who best reflected me.
The way I have changed is difficult for me to describe so definitively on paper but those who have known me and know me currently will see what I am talking about. This change I have undergone does not make me a different human being, but a grown up one. I am no longer that girl with two pigtails and gold-framed glasses, who will nod along to whatever people throw at me. I am a woman who follows her heart, gets things done and never wants to stop achieving. No one who knows about me fully will judge me; if someone judges or decides to bad-mouth about me, then they do not know me. It is that simple.
I like learning, reading, dancing and most importantly being alone. Yes, I do honestly value my ‘me-time’. This is me and has always been me. At school, I was scared to admit it in the fear of what people would think. Now I am not. If you gave me the option to sit in bed and read, or go on a holiday, I would without a doubt chose the former (unless the holiday involved me lying on a sub-bed and reading).
As part of growing up, I realised why I have always not been so bothered about giving as much importance to a social life; something which I was quite often bullied about when I was younger. The reason is frankly because I have chosen to balance my life as a student with that as a dancer, choreographer and blogger. However much I love doing what I do, leading these two lives can be very exhausting, especially when I want to give my 100% to both. For that reason, when I do get a moment I just want to be left alone, or with my family. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by it. This is me. This has always been me. This does not mean that I do not value my friendships. Yes I most certainly do because without them I would have not got to the place I am right now.
There are three people in particular whom I feel most comfortable with, and I know that if I told them that just wanted to be left alone for one day, week, month or year, they would completely understand and do exactly that; and I would do the same for them. The most quality time I have had with each of them is at our respective homes/flats in our pyjamas, with tea – this is my idea of a perfect social life, which is something I will not change for the world.
There are certain things that I feel I still need to explore and make decisions on, but I wanted to take this moment to look at how far I’ve come as a person and celebrate my strengths and reflect on my weaknesses. I’m not perfect. But my imperfections are what make me human. Onwards and upwards from here.