Wow. Hello world!
Never before have I been so excited and enchanted at the prospect of an empty white screen to type my thoughts onto. This, right now, is exactly what I need. The last few days have been some of the hardest of my life and right now, I can’t think of anything more exciting than simply the opportunity to write my thoughts down.
Right now, in March 2018, I am a 28 year old woman and I am finally ready to commit to all of my flaws, embrace who I am and to live my best possible life. For many years now, I have lived my life vicariously through social media. I’ve doted on fleeting negative comments from people I don’t even share a basic conversation with and I have chased likes to pad out my self-esteem.
Social Media has opened the world up, of that there is no doubt. It is a powerful outlet and an amazing platform but I would ask you, is it doing us more harm than good? In making people and information so accessible yet so controlled and manipulated, has it really just pushed us (women in particular) further apart? Social Media can be a great tool for business and for individuals looking to boost their following but I would argue the case that it is causing further damage to the most vulnerable individuals. Especially those who struggle with their mental health like I have for many years.
Instagram was exhausting. I am giving that statement it’s own line and have put it in bold there because it seems dramatic but as a statement, it couldn’t be less exaggerated.
As a young woman with a smart phone, it. is. exhausting.
I have never felt more clarity or been quite so productive as I have the past few days since I hit the ‘Deactivate’ button. Even Instagram itself doesn’t make it easy for the user to take a break. I had to go through and tick about three boxes all asking things like “but are you SURE?…”. But hey, of course they put up a fight… whether we like it or not, day in, day out, we willingly and openly share what used to be priceless data with major advertisers. In just a day of posts and curated content, Instagram has sussed out that I’m a 20 something female in Scotland who likes rock music and regularly visits fitness websites, as an example. This sort of data used to be like gold dust to anyone who wanted it. Remember (if you are as old as me!) a time when you’d be reluctant to even allow a company who had WRITTEN to you via a letter to share your data on to “third parties”? I have vivid memories of ensuring the box was ticked to NOT receive further mail.
Anyway, I digress.
My point here is that all of this knowledge on a user means social media apps can make them the happiest place for you to be. They are fuelled with the knowledge of where you shop online, what content you like and essentially exactly who you are so that they are able to adapt the experience to the user. It’s scary.
I listened to an interesting podcast the other day about productivity. It discussed that many years ago before we had smart phones, entertainment had what are called “stopping cues”. This means that if you watched an episode of your favourite programme, you literally had to wait politely for a week until the next part of the story would be told. It means that, if your sister wanted to send an email, you had to end your phone conversation so the broadband worked. We have no concept of this now.
Nearly a year ago now (11th March to be exact), I went through a pretty traumatic and defining experience in my relatively young life. Just an FYI, I was (still am, for now!) married.
On this particular evening, in March 2017, I was in the flat alone. This was nothing too out of the ordinary for me as my husband’s family stayed nearby so he had gone there for the night and by this point in our marriage we were living pretty separate lives as it was (I’ll get into that on a later post).
Anyway, I’d gone to bed as I would any other night. At 3am, I heard a loud bang on the front door. I was in on my own, it was the middle of the night and understandably, I was fairly alarmed. Anyway I leapt out of bed, scuffled to the front door half asleep and couldn’t see a thing through the spy hole on the door. At that, I opened the door and to my horror, the close was filling up very quickly with thick black smoke from an escalating fire I could see in the store cupboard on the landing.
Call it fight or flight, I don’t know, but I knew time is something I didn’t have and that something was seriously wrong. I ran back into the flat, grabbed my phone and a coat and in my pyjamas with one sock on and one sock off, I covered my face and made my way into the close. I bashed as loudly as I could on my neighbour’s doors and shouted “FIRE” the whole way down. I couldn’t see a thing. As soon as I was out of the building, I called the fire brigade. It’s a bit of a blur after that but I vividly recall feeling the wet gravel on my sockless foot as I tried to catch my breath and shout out for help. I regularly wake up through the night feeling those same feelings of desperation for someone to hear me.
I lost everything that night. I had been subject to an arson attack.
My pet cat died in the fire, the smoke got her before the firemen could, my husband wasn’t at his mum’s where he said he was, he was in bed with a woman from his work having an affair I knew nothing about and all of my clothes and belongings were smoke damaged beyond any sort of repair.
It was from that moment that I started to rebuild my life from nothing. I started to share my progress with the world on Instagram and tried to use Instagram as a journal to document my positive progress. I knew I wants to inspire women to do better but I just didn’t know how. To be honest, I didn’t even really set out to be that way. I just share my mental and physical progress openly and candidly and females from all over responded positively and couldn’t get enough.
And yet here I am, sat in my mum’s house in the sticks trying to make some sense of where I’m at and where I’m going.
On Friday of last week, The Empowered Woman Project was born. At least, in my head.
Friday, you see, is the lowest point I have ever reached. I nearly, nearly ended my life.
In my head, I’d had enough. I was tired and lost. I’d truly had enough of trying to put on a brave face, to be the “strong and empowered” woman “off Instagram” and had enough of trying to manage my demons from my marriage and the fire all on my own every day. It got to the point I was turning to people I don’t even know very well who’s opinions I don’t even value for reassurance and validation that I’d be OK.
But that’s not me. I don’t want to die. Not really. I WANT to be brave. I WANT to get better. I WANT to help other women and I truly believe that helping other women is what I was destined to do. I’m not 100% sure yet where my project will lead me. I want the title and the urge to drive the project. I want to reach out to other women, I want other women to reach out to me, I want to create a community, I want to BUILD. I want to build hopes, dreams and relationships and SHARE. I want to create a safe environment for women to share ideas and experiences.
This is The Empowered Woman Project.
I’m not empowered… yet. But I’m learning. I want my blog to be a safe space. Let’s work to empower one another and create a brighter and safer space on and offline for women who are struggling in whichever way that is for them.
I have big plans for the project and every single one excites me. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of it.
This is where I plan to channel all of my wasted energy and what was becoming just negative vibes from my Instagram.