Confident in my own skin

In one of my previous blog post I spoke about how conscious I was at showing any amount of leg. For those who haven’t read it – see below; for those who have – skip ahead! 

It’s incredibly rare that I walk around in public showing my bare legs – be that in summer, on holiday or even at the beach.

It’s partly to due with the fact that I am always cold, but mostly because it’s something I am just not comfortable with. I used to run around with shorts as a child, climbing trees – being a monkey – you know the jazz. But, when I got older I became more and more self conscious about my body, and the part that I hated the most were my legs. I have scars from a cat, bruises from my monkey adventures, dry skin and to top it off I’ve forever had this thought that my legs are just too plump.

So, when it came to taking pictures with a dress/ skirt recently – the mere thought of not wearing tights made me not want to do it. I felt a little pressured to have to wear it without tights as there seemed to be no one on social media doing it – and you know conformity.

So I decided to rebel, I wore sheer tights and took the photos anyway. I’m sure there are people who will say it would look better without tights, but the one thing I realised is how much more comfortable I felt with them on. I wasn’t thinking about my scars, my dry skin or my bruises – I was focusing on enjoying myself instead.

I have just returned from my trip to Italy where I roamed the streets of Milan and Venice wearing play-suits and dresses without tights.


And guess what? I did not care about whether my legs looked plumpy or dry. I didn’t care about the scars on my legs or my darkened knee caps. I truthfully couldn’t care what my legs looked like, I was in love with all my summer outfits and having a blast focusing on the cities and not my legs. Yes, I may not YET be comfortable with being barelegged everyday, particular when in England but doing so on holiday is actually a big step for me. Walking around in Milan – taking small steps to the bigger goal 

I have spent a good year consciously making an effort to be more accepting of myself and my flaws. I have slowly pushed my boundaries in this case from thick tights to sheer tights to no tights on holiday. I have surrounded myself with positive people who encourage me to be comfortable in my own skin. Reflecting on this trip I have realised how far I have come and how confident I have grown in being in my skin. It is amazing how a little bit of effort into looking after yourself, focusing on your well being and working on you can actually have such a positive impact. I am actually excited to see where I am a year from now.

Love and light

xo

Dress for yourself

This Wednesday I had a civil wedding to go to and I had what was a most confusing predicament: I wanted to wear a lengha, but no-one else (that I knew of at the time) was, they were wearing a saree.

When I first considered outfits, the beautiful red lengha sitting in my cupboard seemed like the obvious choice. But when I heard everyone else was wearing a saree, I started to consider other options. I got worried that I would stand out and look odd. I was scared that the aunties would make comments that I was trying to ‘show off’ or that people would think that I was trying too hard.

The night before the wedding I tried on 3 different sarees, none of which I was feeling and let’s not even get into how bad my pleating game was. I’m assuming that this was because my heart wasn’t into wearing a saree. I wanted to wear the lengha, but pressure to look similar to other people was driving me to pick a saree. So I did what any girl would: tried the sarees on, took a picture and sent it to some people on whatsapp to get opinions and then threw the outfits on the bed while they awaited judgement.

I have some pretty awesome people two of whom I’m going to quote – who were real game changers in my choice of outfit.

Shaan: ‘Wear what you want to wear. Don’t look at what other people are wearing.’ 

Suna: ‘Since when does Shiyaa conform to what is ‘supposed’ to be worn?’

They both struck a chord with me and I felt empowered to just halt, breathe, stop caring about what other people MIGHT say or think and just do what I KNEW I wanted to.

The day of the wedding
I threw on my lengha and looked in the mirror. I have not worn a lengha since I was like 8 years old and have always felt self conscious about wearing one (showing stomach, looking like a kid etc), so this was a big deal. But I felt confident with what I was wearing, and I felt bloody happy to be wearing what I wanted.

When I got to the wedding and met other people I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I was wearing something different. I was so content with what I was wearing and how confident it made me feel I didn’t even wonder what other people could be saying or thinking. Truthfully though, the only only thing that I did hear about my outfit was compliments (yaay)!

So what did I learn: 
a. It’s okay to stand out, it’s not always a bad thing. It’s possible to stand out in a good way.
b. Wearing some thing you feel happy and comfortable with is much more important than trying to dress to fit in


Details are so important. I accessorised with gold and pearl 🙂
Earring: Shriba Creations
Choker: stolen from my Chitthi in Canada
Waistchain: DazzlingDarling
Outfit: ShebyShiyaa

P.S. CONGRATULATIONS THANU AND THUJEEE!!!!!

Me time is so underrated

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This picture was taken at Battersea Park, somewhere I have explored on my own but obviously this picture was not taken when I was alone. It looks like I’m being all reflective and thoughtful on my own so let’s pretend it fits.

Though-out my years (I make myself sound old) I have changed my view on ‘me time’ dramatically. When I was younger, I had a lot of ‘me time’, predominately reading, drawing and getting on with my academic learning. As someone who struggled with anxiety being alone was sometimes the easiest option. Getting close to people was scary.  This kind of ‘me time’ I would not say was healthy at all, it was driven by fear not a love for my own company.

A few years later I then did a complete 180, I became so dependent on people. I was always speaking to someone. People became a distraction from the negative thoughts I was prone to when alone. Even after I started to be a more positive and mindful person, that dependence that I had grown accustomed to stayed. It was a habit.

The concept of going for a coffee or seeing a film alone was bizarre. If I was going out, it was to see someone. I mean why would you do those activities on your own? What was there to enjoy? Even if I wanted to really go somewhere or see something I wouldn’t if no one else would come with me. I wouldn’t want to be alone and have that experience alone. Isn’t that crazy? But I think it’s something that many people probably feel. I have met people who have wanted to go somewhere, try something, travel somewhere but didn’t because they couldn’t find someone to go with.

I decided to change that part of me.

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Caramel Creme with Shia, on a stroll through Greenwich!

I started to go places and explore things on my own. I started small: grabbing a coffee on my own, then sitting in a coffee shop to working there on my own. Next I started shopping on my own. This was truly an eye opener because it allowed me try new things, things that I would have felt uncomfortable trying with others because it may have been ‘judged’. I could take my time to explore stores I liked which sometimes isn’t to the taste of my friends. I could experiment with my style and find myself without the input of others and this has really helped me to find my style (something I am still doing).

I then started to write lists of places I wanted to see and started to explore them on my own. There were a lot of parks and art galleries. Most of my friends aren’t the type to travel and spend hours at museums but I find it quite peaceful to go there and sketch. V&A is one of my favourite places in London and was conveniently quite close to my university.

Whilst at first I had to force myself to try doing things on my own, I found that I ended up rather enjoying my own company. I discovered that you could still enjoy places even if you weren’t with other people. I still love socialising; catching up with people and trying new things, but the point is that I am not afraid like I once was of doing any of it on my own.

This whole process has been a long journey (we’re talking at least 8 years) but one through which I have learnt many things:

  1. I have come to appreciate my quirks and accept myself
  2. It has helped me in my commitment to love myself
  3. It has allowed me to explore new things and meet new people
  4. It gives me time to reflect and work on myself and my goals

Essentially, I think everyone should learn to love ‘me time’ – it’s really helped me. And everyone who feels judged for doing things on their own – be that sipping tea in a Coffee shop, going to the movies or reading a book quietly under tree – it’s completely healthy.

Being comfortable in your body

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During my visit to Budapest, I went to the thermal baths. Me and the girls threw on our bikinis and stepped into the warm water. After our amazing soak, we hit the showers remaining in our bathing suits, whilst there was an older woman who so confidently walked around utterly naked. She did not care about how she looked or what others thought about it. I was in awe. I mean I don’t aspire to be naked in front of people, but do aspire to be as confident with my body as she was.

Don’t get me wrong I’m actually really comfortable in my own body. But much like many girls, I used to be very self conscious. I used to really hate my disproportionate body (I’m bottom heavy) and the scars all over my body. I remember a time I used to hate being in a swimming suit or even showing my legs in a dress/shorts.

But over the years I’ve grown to change the way I see myself. I’ve accepted that my legs are bigger than my upper body, but my waist is absolutely tiny and I love that! I’ve learnt to dress in a way that compliments my body shape and that helps me feel more confident. I’ve come to like my scars – they add character to the canvas (body).

I’ve come to realise that being skinny isn’t something to aspire to, being healthy is. When I cut out crap food and started working out, my body toned up but more importantly I had more energy and I felt great.

Last week, I was completely comfortable walking around in my swim suit in front of loads of people, something that a few years ago would be unthinkable.

Budapest: Schzenyi Baths – amazing place!

Boys and girls: there is no ‘perfect body.’ We are all built differently and we should not be concerned about what other people will think of our bodies. 9/10 times the people you think will be judging you are just as concerned about how you will judge them.

As my friend would say: this is the era for celebrating all shapes, sizes and colour! So let’s rejoice in our differences 🙂

xo

 

The inconsiderate kid on the train 

There’s a boy on the train sitting opposite me on the dlr. He’s got his massive raksake on the seat beside him and everyone around us are standing up. Tired Londoners who also have an early morning. What an inconsiderate little kid. He’s avoiding eye contact with everyone so that no-one asks him to give up his seat. Anyone experienced this?

A girl on crutches walks in – I wonder if he’d move his gigantic bag now?

The boy suddenly got up and ran up to the girl grabbed her hand and helped her to the seat he’d been sitting down on. He gave her the rucksack and let her mum sit down next to her. He smiled and said he’d be standing ‘over there mum’. The mum replied, ‘Thanks Liam!’

Me: fuck. Sorry!!

Moral of the story: everyone has there own reason. Everyone’s going through stuff we do not know about. So let’s stop judging people. If anyone had asked the boy I’m sure he would have explained.

Hope you’re having a good day Liam. You’re a good kid!

This is a true story!

Xo

Budapest: travelling with social anxiety

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If you’ve met me, odds are that you would say that I’m a social person, but did you know that I have social anxiety?

To most people going away on holiday with friends is exciting and it really was for me, until a few days before I was set to go to Budapest. The truth is when we had to check in – PANIC! I really wanted to cancel my tickets, stay at home and paint. For me it was not the thought of going to a different country (I love travelling) or even flying. It was spending time with people that was overwhelming. It wasn’t that I was spending time with people I didn’t like or even strangers. I was going with people I have known for years and my friends who up until that moment I was excited to see.

I have often had these moments. It is the reason why I sometimes cancel plans or make excuses to leave early. I am yet to fully understand why it comes but when it does the single thought that runs through my head is, ‘I can’t do it.’ Most days I am completely fine, but there are days that I cannot be around people (anyone)/ am unable to hold or start conversations (with anyone).

During my panic about Budapest, a friend of mine reminded me of my resolution to open myself up to new experiences. So instead of cancelling my tickets, I got on a plane.

Looking back now, I’m really glad that for the first time I didn’t cave and cancel – I really fell in love with the city and want to spend more time there. Lots of architecture, thermal baths, themed cafes and it’s not a busy city.

I did have a lot of anxiety on the first day, it was hard, but I still explored the city and I appreciated the beauty of it. It’s difficult to talk to people when my anxiety is so high but I am proud that I didn’t run away from conversation, or from meeting new people.


Vintage Garden – great food, great company and cute deco. Loved this place! Order the Oreo and blueberry cheesecake if you go! 
ParliamentView walking up the castle.

Day 2 was a lot easier. My anxiety went down so I was able to relax and I enjoy my company and absolutely loved my time at the thermal baths. The strange thing I have always found about my anxiety is that it isn’t constant.

Social anxiety is incredibly overlooked, which is why I decided to write about it. I have only ever met one other person who has it, but I imagine that other people do experience it, it’s just scary to admit it (I was really hesitant to post this). So to anyone who experiences it, you are not the only one who has these moments. I know how hard it is, but from someone who has been working on managing their anxiety: don’t let it stop you from meeting new people or having new experiences.

For those who want to see some more awesome places in Budapest:


Fisherman’s Bastion – view from the city is amazing at sunset
St.Steven’s Basilica – go up to the top and see the view. Students take your card you get a discount. Free to go in, money to go up. Szechenyi Bath – thermal baths. Advice: you want two towels. One that you take around with you and one that you use after to shower. Don’t take your phone with you unless it’s waterproof. Take flipflops.

Other things: walk around it’s all pretty close together and there are loads of really cool cafes so stay away from the Costa/ Starbucks that you can get anywhere. Everyone there seems to know English, but they love it when you speak some Hungarian even if what you say doesn’t fully make sense.

xo

Feeling like a jack of all trades

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Throughout my life I have dipped my toes into a number of things: violin, piano, karate, kick boxing, writing novels etc. None of which lasted more than a year and I’ve often wondered whether it is that I cannot commit, get bored easily or lack talent. It’s not so much a problem when it’s a hobby but when it happened in your career as well, that’s when it gets a bit scary. I did medicine for a year, that didn’t work out. I’ve never held a retail job for more than 3 months and I’ve never spent longer than a year in a corporate job.

A while back I spoke of feeling ‘unsuccessful,’ I was comparing myself to others who had it all figured out: gone into a field, stuck through it, through their jobs and are rising higher in their field and getting great pay whilst I still wasn’t in a job that I felt was right.

But I had one of my revelation moments. It is OKAY to take your time to discover yourself and your passions.

I did a year of Medicine and it didn’t work, but I did get through statistics and really liked it. My 17 year old self made a mistake in pursuing Medicine because I was told it was better even though Maths was evidently what I was not only good at but what I liked.

I’ve tried performing arts: dancing, singing, playing instruments (desperate to find something I was ‘good’ at). I was never good at any them but then I didn’t have the passion to become better in them. But ART I loved. Over the years I have relentlessly pushed myself as an artist to try new mediums, use new tools and become better as a portrait artist. I am no professional, but every year I have become better.

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All the things that I have done have developed me and given me skills that I can transfer to things I do love. One of my best friends wrote a blog flagging the importance of transferable skills and I reflecting on my own experiences, all my experiences all taught me something. I may no longer be fully involved in wedding plannin but it taught me how to build something from nothing, to build relationships and solve problems quickly. Retail taught me to talk to absolute strangers. iEnergy taught me about being socially conscious. My current job helped me decide where I wanted to build my career.

Today, I’m building my own clothing line, have an exciting job lined up and am still pouring my soul into painting to be better! The network I’ve grown, the experiences I’ve gained and the passions I’ve found have all got me here. I may not be ‘there’ yet but I am well on my way to being ‘SUCCESSFUL’!

Life is honestly about finding what you love and discovering what drives you. The problem is that we all assume that everyone expects us to have our life together and it puts pressure on us. At 17 we are expected to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We come out of university and we are expected to know what we want to do and get a job straight away. Some people know right from the beginning what they love and want to do and that that’s fine, but some of us don’t and that’s okay well. We’ve just taken different paths.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s okay to not have your life completely figured out. That doesn’t mean sit at home doing nothing, but to pursue opportunities and not be afraid to try new things. They may not be for you. You might not be good at it. But we are not all good at everything, we can’t be.

I believe that when we find something we love we will be motivated to be better, we will push ourselves even when the going gets tough. So breathe, you’ll get there as long as you don’t give up!

xo