“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Jack Kerouac
I never liked sameness. As a child I was always the one with the crazy hairstyle, over-the-top clothing choices, loud personality, unconventional lifestyle and for many people, a disillusioned perspective of life. Growing up I’ve had a hard time not just dealing with other people’s judgments but also with dealing with my own self-criticism and embracing my inner freak. As much as I wanted to blame everyone else for berating and criticizing me, my worst enemy was really my own perception of who I was and my inability to come into terms with my uniqueness. I’ve come a long way since my years of self-loathing and insecurity and I’m now a self-empowered individual eager to express my worldview, hoping to inspire people to do the same. This article comes as a result of my lifelong quest of keeping that momentum of inspiration going; always looking for the next best process to uplift myself and others, unearth the next best book on self-love and acceptance and rendezvous with people and situations that affirm and enhance my belief in difference and diversity.
I met Rachel last October as a result of our involvement in a student production of “Anything Goes.” She walked into the rehearsal room fashioning a flashy pink outfit adorned with sparkly accessories, her luscious blonde hair and a bright, alluring smile. Her self-pride and confidence was palpable and sturdy but at the same time she was warm and modest, exuding an effervescence that lit up the room. I was instantly captivated by her presence, and the more I got to know her the more inspired I felt by her aptitude in maintaining her integrity and staying unaffected from other people’s opinions. Following a summer of stalking and drooling over the pictures of her homemade cakes on Instagram, I decided to give into my hunger for inspiration and feed on her indisputable sense of pride, sparkle and self-assurance.
When I think about you, the first thing that comes to my mind are all the splendorous cakes you post on your blog. Tell me a bit more about your love for baking.
A lot of people really associate me with that now. I’ve just had my birthday, and a lot of the cards and the presents were all cake-related. As a child I’d always done a bit with my mum but I started baking more and more in my late teenage years. Also, I was in a catered hall last year and I couldn’t bake that much which made me realize how much I love it.
People always say that they love the pictures of my cakes on Facebook but I do wonder whether some people think “God there she goes again, always uploading pictures of cakes. Great, we don’t care.” When it comes to blogging my recipes too, I don’t want people to think that I think I’m the expert on all cakes. Some people have given me some amazing feedback telling me that my recipes have inspired them to start baking. That’s really touching.
I don’t know why I love baking so much. It’s quite therapeutic. I do like cooking too but not as much. When it was my birthday people said to me, “I hope you don’t have to make your own birthday cake,” but for me that’s the treat! For weeks in advance I was designing this cake in my head and planning what I wanted it to be like. I love doing that. I have a major sweet tooth too… I only exercise so that I can eat cake!
What makes you happy?
It’s kind of silly little things. A really nice cup of tea can give me so much joy, absorbing myself in a fashion magazine where everything is beautiful, having my fairy lights on in my bedroom, having a bunch of flowers out or, you know, a little cake! I love being surrounded by pretty things. My blog makes me happy and I’m really proud of it – it’s like my own little part of the web that I can design however I want and make it as girly as I want. And of course photos of my family and friends. You can see them everywhere in my room.
Knowing you for a year now I can tell that you are cheerful and bubbly and your personality and interests are quite different from the mainstream. Have you ever had people judging you because of who you are?
Yes definitely. I’m not your typical student in any sense. I don’t drink much, I don’t like clubs and I don’t go out much. I think it’s partly because I’m really busy. I find it hard to say no to things. Whether it’s a job opportunity, a society or auditions for something, I always want to do them all and so I need my evenings to chill out.
I do think being different can be quite difficult and it takes someone to be secure in herself. For example, in freshers’ year at university a lot people feel pressure to go out clubbing because everyone else does it, and sometimes people make you feel bad about not going. If ever someone tells me they’re not feeling up to going out I will always say “Cool, fine, take a night off and relax,” whereas some people would be like “Oh, yeah you really should… C’mon, just come out! Why are you being so lame?” I think that everyone is entitled to do whatever they want.
When it comes to school, I enjoyed it at the time but since coming to university I much prefer it here. People are more accepting. I remember when I was mid-teens I put on quite a bit of weight and then I made an effort to slim down again and people started getting really judgy, whispering things about me. I’ve never skipped a meal in my life and just because I was slimming down people got really funny and judgmental. They would see me in the gym and think “OMG Rachel is going crazy!” but it wasn’t that at all. People know that I’m really sensible, probably far too sensible. I’m basically prematurely middle-aged to be honest with you!
How did you deal with the judgment?
I must say I had a few good old rants to my best friends and my mum. I never confronted people, I just tried to take the high road and knew that I was being sensible and anyone who actually properly knew me knew that there was nothing to be worried about. That is my advice to people who are being talked about behind their backs. As long as you know that you are doing the right thing and you know what’s really going on, then you shouldn’t care about what other people think about you.
To keep on top of my life I also make lists. If I’m stressing out I will write down things I’ve got to do. I write everything down. Sometimes if I don’t know who to talk to I will eventually write it in a diary, a private diary. No one reads it, and there’s not much in there but when I am by myself and I need to get something out then I write it in there. It helps.
What are your life-long dreams and aspirations? Have you found your life-purpose?
No I’m still searching. I don’t know where my life’s going to take me and I think, being someone who likes to plan everything, that’s something that I need to deal with and accept that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think I’m quite lucky in one sense – I think I know where I want my career to go: media, down that route somewhere but I don’t know specifically.
I am ambitious and I’m not embarrassed about that. I really want to be successful in whatever my chosen field may be. For a lot of people it would be enough just having the means to get by, but I must say I want more than that. I want to be able to buy myself another Mulberry handbag! I worked for so long and I bought my first one for myself and it was fantastic. I want to be able to have a nice car and a nice apartment or house. But at the same time I want to go through every different phase in my life, I want to have it all. I want to be the career woman and get to the top, but I also want to be a mum and a wife and be able to bake cakes with my children.
However, even though I’m driven, I always try to empathize with other people. I think one of the most important things is to be considerate of other people, and that’s something my mum taught me; to be able to identify with other people, put yourself in their shoes and always think about how they would feel.
What are you currently involved in and looking forward to?
Currently, I work as a social media intern at a Bristol-based company, I’m a senior caller for the University Telethon, the PR rep at the University of Bristol’s German society, the web-editor for the Living section of Epigram, and I’m soon going to start writing for studentbeans.com. If I can, I would also love to get involved with the university TV station. TV is quite cut-throat but I won’t know if I’m any good if I don’t give it a try. And then I will also, hopefully, have time to do my degree work, see my friends and write my blog.
I’m very proactive. A lot of people are reactive; they wait for things to come for them, to be offered a job or opportunity. I try to go out and search for them. Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of work placements in magazines, newspapers and PR companies and when I tell people that they wonder how I managed to get it all. I just got on with it: applied, sent emails and my CV. The more experience you get the more likely it is that the next one you apply for will take you on. The hardest thing is getting your foot in the door.
I strongly believe that if you are passionate about work, job, a course or whatever you do then that’s going to come across, so then you are going to do everything better. It’s also important that you let your passions change and take their natural course. When I first started writing my blog I thought it would be a fashion blog and so I was writing more about style. I still do it occasionally but it has turned out to be more about lifestyle and baking. There are a lot of things I’m passionate about but they all evolve and change and I don’t think that’s a problem. I believe we should all take control of our lives to make sure that we’re happy in ourselves. That’s the most important thing.
Weird is the new Normal
While listening to and taking in Rachel’s responses I couldn’t help but wonder, what is it about judgment that forces us to conform to fixed standards. What is it about other people’s opinions that trip us off from being who we really are? Why do we care so much about being socially accepted? Most people believe that since our society is based on human interaction, the successful working and progress of our lives depends on the extent to which other humans agree with our choices and lifestyle. As a result, we strive to satisfy certain people that we believe will help us achieve certain goals, or we conform to what the mainstream does in a desperate attempt to be likeable to everyone and eventually succeed in our endevours. Well, how is that belief really working for us?
The ingredient that’s missing from this equation and keeps us in discord from finding the fulfillment and happiness that we were born to have, is something that Rachel discovered and successfully applied, either consciously or subconsciously. When you stay true to who you are and remain unaffected by other people’s judgment you’ll eventually attract the perfect blend of people and experiences to back up that feeling of certainty and confidence. The fact that you’ll do that will in turn sure up your confidence and before you know it, people who judge you will magically disappear from your life, not necessarily because their opinion towards you has changed but because your self-pride and confidence will outshine their judgment to the degree that you no longer rendezvous with them at all. And once you get the tide to turn, your life will be defined by a series of lucky streaks that take you from mediocrity to excellence.
But how do you go about shifting your consciousness from fear of judgment to self-empowerment and confidence? Rachel suggested consulting your loved ones about it or even writing your feelings in a private diary. Both two ways are excellent tools for boosting your self-esteem, for they urge you to shift your attention from other people’s wrong misconceptions, to the truth who you really are. Self-talk is a powerful way of making that shift and everyone can find a way of doing that in a satisfying way. In my personal path to finding self-love and empowerment I came up with two techniques that worked wonders for boosting my self-confidence:
- Mirror Work: Mirror work involves declaring the truth about who you are while facing yourself in the mirror. Saying simple affirmations like “I love you” or “You are wonderful” reflects back to you all the limiting beliefs you have about yourself that defy that statement. Doing that allows you to deal with these berating beliefs and replace them with positive and nurturing beliefs that uplift and empower you.
- Writing: Writing is another great tool of talking yourself into or out of a particular feeling or situation. Whenever you feel judged or sad in any way, expressing your feelings in written form will dissolve the feeling of overwhelment that‘s clouding your sense of confidence and enable the real you to surface and take over the situation in a more lucid and empowering way.
It is important to remember that, even though you have no control on other people’s opinion about you, you have full control over your perception of and response to that opinion. Therefore, every time you feel negative emotion with regards to people judging you the problem is always with yourself. When you know who you really are to the very core of your being then people’s opinions won’t affect you. Practicing the processes suggested here will always be faced with a great deal of resistance from your ego that strives to reinforce your self-righteousness and prevent you from shifting your perception. What you’ll always have to do is the brave act of ignoring your ego and consciously dragging yourself out of the drama of it all and doing the inner work.
Rachel’s experiences and attitude towards life elucidates the very fact that, when you stay true to who you are, to your interests, passions and unique personality characteristics, when you let your own freak flag fly and you don’t sabotage yourself for not conforming to the social norms, then your life will transform and evolve in a multitude of ways to further expand and assure who you are. But how does this really work?
The Law of Attraction states clearly that, whatever you give your attention to multiplies and whatever your give out comes back to you. I now realize that it was that unequivocal trust in herself and her right to thrive that made Rachel stand out from everyone else in the first place. I’ve always been inspired by people who own who they are and aren’t afraid to put themselves out there wholeheartedly. It becomes evident from the way her life unfolded that, as she gradually gained confidence in who she is and stopped caring about what other people thought about her, she opened herself up to opportunities and experiences to match the person that she is. In “Faery Taling: An Interview with Signe Pike Part II,” I stumbled upon a formula for finding and thriving on your life purpose, a theme I’ve been quite interested in lately:
Following your heart + Trusting your intuition + Law of Attraction = Thriving on your Life Purpose!
Even if she doesn’t know it yet, Rachel is on the path of finding and thriving on her life purpose. Having overcome the inevitable uncertainties that accompany most teenagers in high school, she followed her heart by dedicating her time to things that make her heart sing: baking, fashion magazines, blogging and her flashy and outspoken fashion style. Instead of doubting herself and dissipating from her calling by conforming to social norms, she trusted her intuition and took the leap of faith that so many people are discouraged from taking. When I asked her whether she’d found her life purpose her answer was negative, but despite that she seems to be confident that when the right time comes she will know – This is ‘trusting’ at its best!
The third element of the equation is the Law of Attraction that has made certain to provide her with experiences and opportunities to match the enthusiasm and passion she offers with such ease and confidence. In fact, she seems to be bombarded with job opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that most people would only dream of. I’ve always stood by the belief that, in times of a crisis there are always people who thrive and Rachel proves me right. The majority of students and people I come to contact with on a daily basis seem to be trapped in a vicious circle of negativity and pessimism, complaining about their miserable lives and counting their failures. Since they keep themselves focused on failure, they must attract more failure, keeping their negative momentum of attraction on. On the other hand, focusing on things that make you happy, pretty little things that may seem airy-fairy and fickle to many, shifts your attention from negativity to positivity and brightens up your life.
For more Rachel fabulosity check out her personal blog Handbags & Cupcakes!