23 Things I've Achieved in 23 Years

body positive travel blogger personal growth

Hey Owlets,

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK but it’s also my birthday today. Having celebrated three birthdays online, I’m beginning to run low on ideas - I’ve done “follow me to….”, “20 Things I learnt at 20”, a bucket list of things to do before I turn 21…. honestly I think I’ve done just about everything at this point. But while I’ve been busy focusing things I want to do, at no point have I ever stopped to think about what I’ve already achieved, and I think not appreciating ourselves is something we’re all guilty of. So, here we go then - 23 things I’ve achieved in 23 years. Grab a cuppa, this is going to be a long one.


1. Growing Up

This sounds kind of strange - ageing is something we all do, whether we want to or not. But how you age is what I want to talk about. Looking back at growing up there are so many stages I went through - I was angry, I was constantly upset, I lacked confidence, I went through a spell when I was silent and after all of this I grew up to be self-confident (most of the time), self assured (not always) but most importantly I’ve grown up to be better than the people that made me angry, upset and self conscious because I’m kind to other people, even when I didn’t experience a lot of kindness outside of my family when I was growing up.

2. Learning

I don’t mean learning about what planets there are and where an element exists on the periodic table, and I’m absolutely not talking about flipping Pythagorean Theorem that no one wanted to learn. For me, I’m proud of what I’ve learnt about myself - good and bad. No one is perfect, I’m definitely not, but you need to learn about both sides of you in order to grow as a person.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

3. Finishing University

This is arguably one of the things I’m most pleased about. All the way though secondary school I was told I wasn’t good enough, by both teachers and students. According to them I shouldn’t have even considered A-Levels and when I left applying to uni until the week of the deadline because so many times I’d heard that “uni is hard” and “you’re not smart enough for that, just get a job instead”. As it happens I failed A-Levels although I don’t entirely blame myself for that. I may have had to take the long road by doing an FdA first, but I have never felt so proud as the moment I stepped onto that stage to shake the presenter’s hand and collect my degree. It was a struggle but it was worth every second.

4. Being Strong Enough

I feel like this doesn’t really make sense without explanation. I definitely don’t mean physically strong, I can’t even open jars unaided! However, at 23 I have learnt mental strength in so many different forms. At times there’s been people who really didn’t belong in my life and, even though it was a struggle, I was strong enough to cut them out and I’ve been better for it.

5. Beating Travel Anxiety

It seems strange that as a travel blogger I should admit that I had travel anxiety but it’s true. There was a time when I was younger that I would get a train to Birmingham and be almost in tears before we’d even left Bristol. I can’t take credit for this one alone, I was very lucky to have friends and family that helped, but it’s fair to say my life wouldn’t be the way it is now without having the strength to overcome my own fears.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

6. Becoming Confident

It feels so weird writing this post - we’re all so used to being self-deprecating when someone gives you a compliment; it’s ridiculous that it should be so difficult to just say thank you when someone says something nice about you. When I was younger I was shy, awkward and hated talking to anyone I didn’t know. I’m proud of myself not just for being body confident, but for being confident in all forms. Being able to walk into a room, talk to a stranger and tell them what I do is such a daily part of my life now, but it’s a massive achievement.

7. Starting The Owlet

At the time I started my blog it was to get away from the things that were making me miserable. Before changing universities in my final year I hated my university and was pretty sure that the naysayers were right when they told me not to bother. I never expected my blog to turn in to anything more than something I did on the weekends, so being able to travel across the country and sometimes further afield because of writing things on the internet is absolutely mad, and I’m so thankful to you for helping me get there.

8. Putting Myself Out There

This is kind of an extension to number 6, but more specific. A big part of blogging is having the confidence to email people and speak to people at conferences. If you don’t market yourself no one knows you exist, and this was something I used to really struggle with. I still hate cold-emailing people and I will never get less awkward about selling myself, but a few years ago I would’ve run for the hills at the thought of it so I’ve come a long way.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

9. Being Recognised for my Work

I’m not sure this is something I’ve ever mentioned, but I have actually been nominated and won a few awards over the years, some big and some decidedly smaller. I’ve never won anything life changing but even someone saying “hey, I really appreciate what you do” makes it worth all the effort.

10. Doing Things that Scared Me

Fear is something that held me back for so long - until very recently if I was scared of something I just didn’t do it. Now I see it as a challenge - I find something I’m scared of and I run head first at it. Compared to travel anxiety being afraid of heights is very minor, but it’s something I’ve always been terrified of. Last week I went to Rotterdam and went 200m up in the air on a rotating platform. Honestly, I hated it to start with, but once I got over it I loved every minute. I still don’t love heights, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

11. Working Hard

Saying you work hard as a blogger is somewhat a point of contention - I hear pretty much weekly that blogging isn’t a real job and you don’t do anything, you just got lucky - but let me assure you, I work my arse off, even if you don’t always see that in the amount of content being produced. Even though sometimes blogging frustrates me, I’m proud of the amount of work I put in.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

12. Achieving My Goals

I used to do yearly posts stating what I’d achieved this year and what I was hoping to do next year. My logic was that by writing things down it would force me to act upon them, but I had so many goals and some of them just weren’t attainable, so it became stressful. I now don’t do yearly posts about my goals, but I tell my parents and you can be assured that they will force me into achieving them. I’ve learnt to set myself less and focus on doing those things well. Also, some things are categorised as “dreams/wishes” because while they’re not realistic right now, they may be achievable in the future.

13. Meeting New People

I used to HATE meeting new people. If I didn’t know anyone I would stand on my own in the corner of a room, and even if you came over to speak to me I’d squirm and say hardly anything until you gave up and left me alone. I partly have my age to thank for overcoming this, but I also have to thank you; every day I’m inundated with messages asking me questions, wishing me well or just wanting to chat. I think when you can type and retype and really think about what you want to say it’s a lot easier, and that’s given me the confidence and clarity of thought to go out and meet new people in the real world.

14. Looking After Myself

This is kind of similar to point number 4, but I feel like it’s different enough that I can count it. Besides, try thinking of 23 things you’re proud of yourself for - it’s way harder than it sounds, and it sounds difficult to begin with. Throughout the years I’ve had a lot of challenges to face-  be that negative people, my own actions or an obligation that I have to fulfil. I’m one of those people that tends to blame myself for what other people were doing to me and I’d make myself ill with stress. Part of growing up has made me realise that I need to look after myself because if you don’t then you can’t do anything for anyone else. Looking after yourself is more than just getting exercise and eating the right foods - you need to take time for yourself to relax and think about what’s happened in order to be able to move forward. Giving myself that head space has been a struggle at times, but I’m better for it.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

15. Saying No

This one took so long to learn to do. I’m one of those people that will say yes to everything and everyone. I’ll spend my time helping other people and while I still do that, sometimes you need to say no because if you try to do too much you won’t be able to do anything. I’ve also had to learn to say no when there’s something I really don’t want to do - a lot of times I’ve not had the strength so I’ve gone along with something I wasn’t comfortable with because I felt like I couldn’t say no. At the end of the day, if someone is making you feel like that you don’t need them in your life.

16. Picking Myself Up

Picking myself up has gotten easier as the years have gone on, but it definitely took some practice. I’ve always had the tendency to be hard on myself in all aspects of my life and sometimes when something went wrong I struggled to pick it up and carry on. Negative things are always going to happen in your life but what’s important is that you don’t let it beat you. It will take some doing, but you’ll get there and after a while people won’t be able to drag you down.

17. Doing Things Alone

Doing things alone was really difficult for me. I’ve always been lucky to have my family around me and I find it easier at times to hide behind them, asking them what to do and wanting my parents to be able to fix things for me. Honestly, learning to fight my own battles was one of the hardest life lessons - when things went wrong I couldn’t just ask Mum and Dad to go in all guns blazing and fix things for me. Your family and friends will always be there to help you and offer you advice, but sometimes you need to do things yourself and it’s not easy but it will make you a stronger person in the long run.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

18. Inspiring Others

One of the most incredible things that blogging has given me is an ability to inspire others. I’m so thankful to receive messages from you and I love every message that I receive, but opening a message that says I’ve encouraged you to do something makes my week and reminds me just how thankful I am to be The Owlet.

19. My Friends

This one has taken some time to get there but it’s absolutely been worth it. In school they tell you that choosing your friends wisely is so important, and they’re right, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s important all the way through your life, not just when you’re trying to avoid detention. Over the years there have been people that have really dragged me down, made me feel more negative and sapped any energy from me. Being able to remove them and surround myself with positive people has made all the difference and I’m so thankful for the people that I can call my friends.

20. My Online Presence

I know this is something I’ve mentioned in a few other points, but it’s so important to me. I’ve  already said I was thankful for creating The Owlet, but in general I’m just thankful for the online presence I now have. It feels like I have 30,000 friends cheering me on. If I’m having a bad day I can tweet and I know that I’ll be over run with words of support, or if I have something I’m proud of you’ll be there to congratulate me and keep me going. I’m not sure if I can really say I’ve “achieved” my online presence, but it’s something I’m proud of and thankful for so it’s getting added to the list.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

21. Helping Others

One of the best things about my blog is being able to help others. Almost daily I get messages saying that reading my latest post has cheered you up when you’re having a difficult week. I’ve had DMs asking for style advice for an important occasion and helping you choose something you’ll love has given you the confidence to go out and love what you’re doing. It doesn’t always need to be helping in a massive way, but if I can do even the slightest thing then I’m happy.

22. Staying Healthy

This has definitely been a learning curve and honestly, I still don’t think I’m that good at it. I’m both weak-willed when it comes to my gluten free diet, and a complete workaholic so I have a tendency to work myself into the ground then make myself ill because I have a sod-it attack and eat something that I know I shouldn’t. Keeping yourself healthy isn’t always the easiest thing, but it’s so worth putting in the extra effort.

23. Being Myself

I had to save what, to me, is the most important point until last. As you’re growing up you change yourself to fit in with a crowd at school. You get a job and you change yourself to be the best person there, and you’re probably a different person with your friends and your family. One of the things I’m most proud of is that I’ve learnt to accept myself for who I am. One comment I receive a lot when I meet you in person is that you’re surprised when I’m the same person online and in real life, and it’s something I really do take as a compliment. I think when you try hard to be someone interesting, it fails because you’re not being you. As long as you’re true to yourself you can’t go far wrong.

body positive travel blogger personal growth

I know recently my content has been changing and that’s partly a reflection of never-ending fight for page views to stay afloat in this industry, but also because personal posts just don’t seem to be fashionable anymore. If you voted in my polls on Twitter or Instagram asking for a personal post then this one is for you. I hope it’s helped remind you of some things that maybe you’ve forgotten to give yourself credit for. 

The first 22 years on Earth have been a bit of a wild ride but I finally feel like I’m getting there, so I can’t wait to see what year 23 brings.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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