Tuesday, 28 November 2017

6 years of blogging

Let's go back 6 years to 14 year old Shona. I was tall, slim, ginger and a bit of a teacher's pet; the perfect target for bullies in other words. I was lost and struggled to find my place within my friendship group. I pretended to be someone I wasn't as an attempt to fit in but as we all know, putting on an act cannot last forever. And then, at just the right time in my life I stumbled upon a community that would guide me to discover myself, my likes and dislikes, my hopes and dreams. It sounds cliche but I started my blog at just 14, and now I'm 20, so I truly have grown up with my blog and evolved alongside it.

Never did I believe that 6 years later I'd still be doing something that at first, I felt so much shame about. I hid my secret hobby from my friends, petrified that they would find out and tease me for it. And now? Those same people think it's pretty damn cool.


At first my blog was simply an escape from life, a place where I could be myself without judgement (most of the time) and a space where I could connect with a variety of people from the comfort of my familiar bedroom. I clung on to the beauty community at first, discovering a love for makeup, watching makeup collection videos on Youtube until the early hours of the morning. And then life changed for me, my genetic condition became a bigger part of my life and once again I felt lost. I blogged about my scoliosis diagnosis and then in the same heartbeat I deleted the posts, fearful that the beauty community wouldn't be interested in my personal life, they only came to my blog for beauty reviews, or so I thought.

I was surprised when I was getting tweets asking about my physical health, supportive messages filling my emails from fellow sufferers. I think that was the point at which I felt at home, like I'd started blogging not to talk about lipsticks, but to find the people who would support me through the most difficult time of my life. I remember giving my phone to my Mum before my surgeries, asking her to tweet about how I was post-op until I was well enough to do so myself because people truly cared.

When my health forced me to leave school fellow bloggers were there for me, they become my friends and support network. When I started using a wheelchair and nervously posted selfies of myself in my wheelchair, people encouraged me to share such pictures proudly. I went from using the label 'spoonie' to proudly declaring myself disabled, embracing my identity. And that's when I embraced the disabled community on Twitter, another family who would constantly be there to joke with me or be a shoulder to cry on. People are quick to judge young people who have their heads in their phones these days but if you knew how much blogging and twitter has saved me over the years then you'd begin to think differently about the virtual world so many of us exist in.

My blog has evolved over that time, whilst I still love makeup and sharing my outfits I find my passion sits within disability related topics, issues that affect me on a daily basis. I feel lucky to have built up a readership that has been so open to discussions on such topics, coming back time and time again. My blog has also guided me to opportunities that I never thought would come my way. I work with The British Heart Foundation, I've been on local and national radio, worked with The Guardian and raised awareness of Marfan Syndrome in the media more times than I could count. Those are the things that drive my passion these days and I have my blog to thank for all of that. I might not post regularly anymore but my blog is still one of the most important things in my life. If I write for other websites more often than not my words will be edited, when it comes to my blog I don't have to censor companies names for fear of legal issues, I don't have to tip toe around subjects that might not pull in views. It's my space, my unedited space, where I can speak my mind.

I can sit here and promise that I'll make more of an effort with my blog in 2018, that I'll make more time for it and stick to a schedule but for me the beauty of my blog is that it's always there for whenever I get a spark of passion. When inspiration hits it's still the first place I go to and as hard as I've tried to write regularly and stick to a schedule, for me that sucks the passion out of it.

Me and my blog have changed so much in these past 6 years, there have been up's and down's, celebrations and hard decisions that have shaped me into who I am today and I can't wait to see where these next few years take me.

To those who are considering starting a blog, take my advice and just do it.
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