Friday, 9 November 2018

On Winning An Award!!

On a dark, cold, January night almost 6 years ago - I waddled my 7 month pregnant-self up the stairs and into my bedroom, picked up my laptop and googled 3 words that, unbeknownst to me, would change my life forever.

No not "Find true love" or "Get rich quick"...the three words I googled were actually "Free Blog Platforms.".

A few clicks later and I'd set up my blog...and within half an hour, my first post - an inarticulate ramble about morning sickness -  had been sent out into the blogosphere.

At the time, I barely understood what a blog actually was if I'm honest. It was a buzz word I'd heard thrown about, I knew it was some kind of online journal that could be read by other people...but that was really the extent of my knowledge.

As someone who had always enjoyed writing as a hobby, I just wanted an outlet for my thoughts and feelings as I muddled through my anxiety-riddled first pregnancy. I assumed that this blog would be a hobby I'd keep up with for a few months, probably until motherhood took over all of my free time and I lost myself amid a sea of nappies and Gina Ford books.

Little did I know that I'd just created something that would bring me true friendships, incredible experiences beyond my wildest dreams and the chance to earn a comfortable living from the comfort of my home as my babies grew up.

Blogging has changed a great deal since that day - social media platforms have come and gone in those 6 years, there have been countless changes to the game and even the name itself has changed with bloggers now referred to as the new (more pretentious, in my humble opinion) title of "Influencers".

If I had to describe my experience with blogging in one word, I'd say that it's been a rollercoaster.

There have been moments when I've really disliked it - when I've questioned what I'm doing, why I'm sharing my life and the lives of my children online, whether it's the right thing to do, whether it will ever lead me anywhere I want to be in life, or whether it's actually just a vacuous and self-indulgent pursuit.

And there have been moments when I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities, experiences and relationships it's brought me - when I've been able to take my children on holidays and trips that we'd never otherwise have had, when I've been able to choose to home educate them because I have the flexibility of working from home and supporting our family without a need for childcare to be involved, and when I've formed friendships with incredible people from miles away who I would never otherwise have known.

One thing I will never take for granted though, is the fact that starting this blog helped me to carve out a career beyond anything I ever thought I was destined for.

I've wanted to be a professional writer ever since I was 5 years old.

When other children were playing with dolls and dreaming of being nurses or vets, I was sitting in my bedroom with my beloved old typewriter - making my own story books about sole women travellers crashing their planes in the jungle and surviving on their own, or mischievous pet dogs and the scrapes they'd get their owners in to. My imagination was always working over time, and I loved creating whole new worlds and characters to explore them.

But despite my desire to become a writer, I found school life hard.

Academically I did well enough, but socially I was just never able to fit in and for that reason I hated school beyond measure.

By the time I got to 14, I'd changed schools 4 times and been bullied in every one of them. I'd get out of my Dads car at the school gates in the mornings and run in the opposite direction, with no idea of where I was heading - just so desperate not to have to go inside and spend another 7 hours feeling frightened, disliked and alone.

When it came time to sit my GCSE exams, I was placed in to the "Elite group" - a name given to a small group of students expected to achieve good results by my bottom-of-the-leaderboard roman catholic high school in a run down area of Liverpool.

But I knew this was never going to be the case. I knew I would never achieve the results they expected.

I had only 25% attendance for my final year of high school, because being there just made me too miserable.

My coursework was skeletal, and although I tried my hardest during the written exams - it wasn't enough. I walked away with just two GCSEs at Grade C and three more at Grade D and below.

I went on to a Btec Diploma course in childcare at a local community college, before trying my hand at a further Btec in Performing arts.

University was never something I even considered. It wasn't the norm in my family or among my peers to go to university, so it just wasn't on my radar. I just wanted to get experience that would make it easier for me to get an average job, and doing a practical qualification made sense to me.

I got my childcare qualification, and had a couple of jobs in day nurseries and creches before moving on to work in call centres and offices.

I never really thought seriously again about my writing dream.

I kept writing in my spare time, though....trying my hand at everything from horror novels to poetry, and if ever I was asked what my biggest dream in life was - it was always to be a published writer. But it was a dream I never thought seriously about achieving. It was my equivalent of people saying they want to win an Oscar or be the next Britney Spears. A fun day dream but never likely to actually happen.

And it quite probably never will happen.

But still it's quite something for me, 6 years after starting this little blog of mine, to look back and take stock of what its allowed me to achieve.

I - the bullied girl with precious little self-confidence and low self-esteem, with minimal GCSEs and no A Levels or degrees to speak of, and no glowing impressive work resume - have managed to start a website and build it up to become a business that has earned me over £30,000 per year for the past two years and a comfortable wage for 2 years before that.

It may not be a huge sum in terms of big businesses or to most professional people but let me tell you, it's more than double my previous annual salaries and far more than I ever thought I'd be able to earn.

And what's more - this blog has allowed me to have priceless experiences, to be my own boss, and has given me opportunities to be a guest on BBC radio shows, make TV appearances and - best of all to my mind - to have my writing published in magazines.

I may not have come any closer to my dream of writing a book, but seeing my name in a print magazine listed as "Writer" was a dream come true in itself.

So that's why, a few weeks ago, when I was named as winner of the 2018 Britmums Brilliance In Blogging Readers Choice award - the sense of achievement I felt was incredible.

Because it's the moment I realised that anything is possible.

Winning this award made me want to share with everybody that you don't need to have an amazing education or the best business connections to achieve success and make your dreams a reality - the path to the success you want might just look a little different to most peoples and take a little longer than you thought, but you CAN find a path to it.

So a huge thank you to anyone who voted for me to win this award, it means such a lot to me.

And I hope it inspires anyone else out there who thinks they don't have the right background or enough influence to achieve what they want to, to realise that these things can and do happen.

We all start somewhere, and we're all capable of getting our own way and at our own pace.

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