Something was brought to my attention a couple of days ago, regarding my career as an influencer. To keep it short & to the point, this person was talking to someone who I am very close to, mocking my “weird” career choice and doubting that I will ever make it or be successful in this industry … Everyone is completely entitled to their own opinions of course! But sister, I’d like to thank you because you’ve just turned my tiny spark into a mighty flame.
Some say my dreams are too unrealistic, most say I’m stepping into an industry that has ‘lost its footing’, and others say that I’ll never make it big. To these people, I say … watch me.
— Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat
So, why am I even writing about this?
I’ve actually gone back and forth for awhile now about whether or not I should share this type of post on my blog because believe or not, this is actually not the first time that I’ve overheard things like this. However, I’m the type of person who doesn’t ever let those remarks get to me – I just bottle them all up and use them as fuel. Thankfully, I have God on my side with His blessing on this career path, a supportive tribe of family and friends, and enough confidence and faith in myself to make it happen. The ‘haters’ (I actually hate that word) don’t even phase me anymore. I’ve just learned to ignore them or to use that energy to motivate myself. But … this most recent comment got me to thinking, “What if there are other people out there who follow me / read my blog, who are being bullied and made fun of or who are pursuing their passions while struggling with the haters?” “What if they are allowing these angry people to affect them in their daily lives?” “What if – by sharing my story – I could help someone who desperately needs to learn to love herself – her weird, unique, different self?” Honestly, for some reason, these same questions have been popping up in my head over the past few days, and I think it was just God laying it on my heart to share my story with you guys about how I’ve overcome the negativity and learned to truly embrace WHO I AM. I even had a completely different post planned out for today and switched it last minute because something was nudging me to share this with you all.
Now, before we get too far into this post, I want to preface it with a few things: This is NOT meant to be a pity party. (!!) This is meant to be a topic where we can relate to each other! This is meant to empower you and to embrace who you are. This is a place where you can be fully YOURSELF, no matter how different you are. AND this is also a message to all the people out there who have ever underestimated us ‘weirdos’ …
A little back story on my life to help you relate to this message:
I was never one of those super cool ‘it’ girls in high school. I was a cheerleader simply because I loved the sport & grew up cheering, but that’s really all I had going for me in the ‘cool kid’ department. If you asked my classmates that grew up going to school with me, they would probably remember me a little something like this: shy, goody two-shoes,cheerleader, kept to herself a lot, we were friends but she wasn’t my BEST friend, a little strange / weird, quiet, smart, not a partier, nice, would talk to the ‘weird’ kids, liked to dress up. There ya have it — high school Peyton.
I wouldn’t say that I was a total outcast, but I also wouldn’t say that I was the most popular girl in the school either – far from it, actually. I was friends with a lot of people in my class, but I would hardly hang out with any of them outside of school – parties and such were not my thing in high school (or even college really, for that matter). I was actually very naive. I also used to be so shy and was a total introvert. (Now, I’d refer to myself as an extroverted introvert, lol.) However, aside from the occasional mean girl drama (that every high school has), almost everyone was pretty nice and just accepted me for who I was – weird quirks & all. I’m grateful for that!
Fast forward … my senior year of high school gave me a huge wake up call with an unfaithful relationship ending with a breakup, the divorce of my parents, and the loss of the best friendship that I had ever had up until that point. Now, I was not only the shy girl who lost her best friend, but I was also heartbroken with all the things happening in my life at that time. I remember feeling so alone and being very angry inside. Ultimately, I couldn’t get across that stage fast enough at graduation. At that point, I was just so ready to close that chapter of my life and burn the entire book …
Thankfully, I had my sights set on the future. I had always been a dreamer – a goal setter – since I was a little girl. So, when I finally made the decision to try out for cheerleader at the University of Tennessee (a lifelong dream), I just channeled all the anger and bitterness built up inside of me during my senior year of high school to use it as fuel to make that dream come true. I had never been more motivated. I think that’s when I first fully understood the extreme power of determination. Aside from cheering on the sidelines in those Friday night high school football games, preparing for UT tryouts was the only thing that truly made me happy at the time. I was surrounded by a totally different group of people who were all working toward the same goal, and I met so many new faces along the way, who would soon become my tribe.
Since UT is in the same town where I grew up, I already knew a lot of people from surrounding areas that were also trying out for cheerleader at Tennessee. I thankfully developed new friendships (something I really needed at the time) with a few other local girls who I now get to call my very best friends. During that year is when I also met TJ for the first time! We actually knew each other for over a year before we even thought about dating … funny, right? 😉 I was so thankful for these new faces in my life because they made me feel so excited to open the next chapter of my book.
After making the team at UT, I met my best friend, Kristen, (who was from Nashville). I give her a lot of the credit for pulling me out of my shell during those years and for just encouraging me to be my weird, quirky, spunky self without any judgement. I also give a lot of that credit to my sister, Brittany, because she has always been brutally honest with me & told me that I really may be the weirdest person that she knows (LOL – true), but that I should just embrace those quirks and be myself. Once I started listening to the people around me and embracing the fact that I didn’t need to pretend to be like all the other ‘cool’ girls, I became SO much happier and so many more doors began to open.
In college, I finally learned that it was OKAY to be the person who separates herself from the crowd. If people didn’t like me for who I was, they didn’t have to. (As a recovering people pleaser, this was actually a big step in the right direction!) I FINALLY accepted myself for exactly who I was, stopped caring so much about what others would think of me and became a much better version of myself because of that.
Little did I know then, that allllll of those experiences I shared above, were preparing me for my future career and the next big goal I would set for myself … God sure works in mysterious – yet, amazing – ways.
When I first told people that I was quitting my 9-5 job to pursue my dreams in the fashion industry & focus on full-time blogging, some of them looked at me like I had 3 heads & 12 eyeballs. Understandably so – at first. Things are a lot different in my small town of Tennessee versus the big Big Apple or LA, so a lot of people didn’t even know what a fashion blog was (a lot of them still don’t) or how you could even possibly think about making a full-time living off of it. And I understand that because it is not a heavily saturated market (yet) here in Knoxville, Tennessee.
However, a few months pass by and I start to hear rumors of a few people mocking this decision that I’ve made for my career path. Unfortunately, this is still happening to this day – every once in awhile – with people from all over. And I’m sure I’m not the only influencer who has experienced this type of situation. Of course, there are the passive-aggressive jabs & the unfollows from ‘friends’ (in which, I say #byefelicia!) that took me a minute to get used to at first, but now, I just ignore all of that. Then, there are the remarks where you just straight up get made fun of … ‘she posts selfies everyday on Instagram’, ‘she’s getting free stuff & trying to make a living from taking pretty pictures‘ (which, don’t even get me started on that), or worst of all, hinting straight to mine or my husband’s face that this whole blogging ‘THING’ will not work out for me … Oh friend, bless your heart.
Again, when I first started this blogging ‘thing’ (which is what people, who don’t support the idea, refer to it as), it of course took me awhile to get used to the negative sides that come along with the business … the comparison game, the rude comments, people judging me HARD because of the outfits I wear (y’all know I like my out-of-the-box stuff), the whispers behind my back because I look like an idiot talking to my phone during an InstaStory, or the people making fun of you for taking a pic by yourself in a crowd of 2,000 people, simply so that you can share your #ootd with your Instagram audience (because after all, that is part of my job).
In the beginning, I was honestly naive in the fact that some people out there may make fun of me for pursuing this type of platform that requires a lot of ‘different’ practices. Of course, I knew that it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea & that’s fine, but at the time when I started, I sure didn’t think I would hear about others making fun of me for it (um, how old are we?). Eh, ya live and learn, I suppose. And I get it, it is very different from other careers out there. But who cares what other people are doing as long as they are happy?! That’s one question that I’ve always wanted to ask the so-called ‘haters’.
Thankfully, I had already gained the confidence in years past, that I needed to continue beingmyself, to ignore the haters and to embrace my calling to this career. Clearly, you see, it wasn’t a short process to get to this point in learning to always be myself and to love the person that God created me to be. However, I’m a firm believer that you can make improvements and learn something from every trial that may cross your path — whether that be a personal struggle, a life experience, etc.
Now that I’ve shared about some of my personal experiences and struggles with accepting my unique self, I want to leave you all with some advice on accepting who you are, embracing the ‘weirdo’ inside of you, and just shining the light that YOU have to offer the world – after all, no one is YOU and that is your super power!
- Find your tribe – these people will support your wildest dreams and have your back 100%.
- Stop caring so much about what others think of you … Care what YOU think of you and what God thinks of you.
- Know that what you have to offer the world is valuable, even if you feel uncomfortable. For example, I was nervous to even start my blog because I felt uncomfortable sharing my knowledge and advice with the world. I also felt uncomfortable opening up. At first, I felt uncomfortable posting pictures of myself on Instagram everyday. The list goes on … Heck, I was even nervous to write this post (I won’t lie), but I know that it will be valuable to someone out there.
- Love yourself. Learn to love who you are – weird parts and all.
- Embrace YOU – For instance, I used to hate my southern accent because I would always get comments on it. I finally embraced it when I started my blog and YOU GUYS ( 🙂 ) started telling me that you actually liked hearing it — like, what?? Thank you for that, friends! … Try to embrace every part of who YOU are.
- Tell yourself to BE CONFIDENT – you’ve got this. (yet, always stay humble) … I literally have to remind myself of this before any big event, meeting, interview, etc. It really works!
- Invest in those who invest in you … and ignore the rest. Okay, so maybe ‘ignore’ is a strong word, but what I mean by this is that you shouldn’t be worrying about people who aren’t supporting you along the way. Motto: If you’ve got my back, I’ve got yours.
- “Hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring.” — one of my favorite quotes.
- Be the girl who decided to GO FOR IT … design a life that you love.
- You DO NOT NEED the approval of others. Ever. The only approval that truly matters is God’s.
- Have courage to be yourself and to be different.
- Always believe in yourself.
Before I wrap this up, I want to say a special thank you to each of you. I definitely don’t want this post to come across like I don’t have any nice comments or support coming my way because that is FAR FAR FAR from the truth. I actually receive nice, positive, sweet & supportive feedback 95% of the time, and I’m so grateful for that! #TeamLNL seriously ROCKS, and I know I’ve said it before but I do feel like I have some of the very best readers out there. You all know exactly what to say on my rough days, you engage with me everyday and offer incredible feedback, and your overall support to myself and love ‘n’ labels is truly unparalleled! To all of you gorgeous LNL babes, I just flippin’ LOVE you! Whether you’ve been here since day 1 or for only 1 day, I appreciate you more than you know, and I’m so grateful that you’re on this journey with me!
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! 😉 Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this, and I hope that it has benefitted you in some way! Hope you all have a FAB weekend!