-Words & Photograph: Stephi LaReine-

2014 has really been the year of ups and downs for me, I can definitely say more than half has been all smiles, unicorns and rainbows for this year, but like everyone there have been struggles and throughout perseverance and hard work we achieve what we deserve.

If some of you didn’t already know, stephilareine.com started April 2014,  and as January is literally round the corner I have some pretty exciting plans lined up for my blogs one year anniversary. This little space on the internet for me has been my biggest achievement and probably my greatest to come throughout the years, looking back at how I started and seeing how much I’ve grown as a person has really helped me through the good times and the bad. Through blogging I’ve met some of the best people, I’ve developed relationships with people within the industry, something that could have taken me years outside of blogging, and from it, seen some of my favourite brands contact me, which even now has me smirking like a Cheshire Cat.

What I love most of all is how I have flourished as a person, if someone could put a before and after image personality wise side by side you probably couldn’t see the same person. I’ve always been shy, quiet and more of a listener than speaker and its not to say I’ve changed throughout but my confidence that felt once lacking is gradually growing the more hard work I put into both my career inside and outside of university.

I never would have dreamt that I would be sent down to blog for Matthew Williamson at London Fashion Week merely 5 months into my online journey, my jaw is still on the floor from that day. In May I put up my first art exhibition, attracting the attention of the likes of Jonathan Barnbrook (Album cover designer of David Bowie) and many other highly established graphic designers and photographers and I can now proudly say I’ve released another exhibition in the past month and a further one in the new year, I eventually found out in late August I passed 2 marks off a 1st (Just seeing the proud look on my parents face has made my year). With my artistic career just starting out and something equally as important as blogging to me, in this day and age it has allowed me to transfer my photographic and artistic skills to my little space online, it was about June I decided blogging was the only thing for me and where I started to pull my weight.

After having a revolutionary summer of seeing my family, friends, spending time with my boyfriend, having a lovely birthday and going to Leeds Festival to see all of my favourite bands within one weekend, I started to become significantly more independent and slowly but surely started taking the decisive steps to move out, throughout the years collecting enough things to fill a house… in one bedroom, I wanted to stretch my legs and start doing everything for myself. Frankly I couldn’t have done it without the help of my boyfriend, one of the most supportive and caring people I know, we celebrated our 2 years together at the beginning of December and because of him life has never felt so balanced between work, university and functioning day to day, that man makes me sane and never lets me forget what a lovely person I am. As a result of moving in, surprisingly my chronic insomnia significantly cleared up, routine was created from his wake up times and helped me to settle down in the evening and not bring my stress to bed and encouraged me to enjoy sleeping and not see it as a hinderance on the day getting away with minimal hours.

After going back to university in October, whilst the initial burst of inspiration lasted and still burns quite bright, I felt my days were getting longer, I was getting up at 6am, to ride a 2 hour bus to uni and on some days not get home until 10pm to only be up at the same time in the morning.

The one thing I’ve hated is what it’s done to my diet, either not eating at all or trying to cram the days food into the evening (bad idea) and whilst I’m working on it with my gym membership starting just after the new year I want to get my health back in check, and back on track as a big believer in happy body = happy you. Most of you can probably back me up in saying we wish there were a few more hours in the day to get everything done.

Which poses my other winter worries, missing people, and this could potentially be something I elaborate on in later posts but coming back to university made me realise how much I miss company. I love my life and the set up I have, me, my boyfriend and our bundle of feline fluff Mia, but recently I’ve found it a hard sight to see all my friends split off to separate sides of the country, different locations or immigrate and stay there during the holidays and generally getting on, when I see other people see their friends all the time, things start to sting a bit. We all get tangled in the web of our own lives and life will always find a way of throwing a curveball at you any time you make plans. From everyones general responses I’m assuming this is a highly common thought during university and maybe this is something I should have a little faith in and ride the tide but I’ve been trying to stand back and see the big picture, of my success and how hard I have worked to achieve what I have, and with only another year to go I need to pull myself together and power through, it has sometimes felt difficult.

Knowing I had the best christmas to date made me reflect on a thing or two, I realise how much I need to dedicate some time to the people that matter, learn how to take a break but try not to make everyone happy. I know 2015 for blogging is going to be an exciting year, as I’ve stepped up my game and with many rad adventures on the way I must hold my head high and can only encourage others to pull through, sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. Overall 2014 has been a big success of big beginnings and radical changes, maybe next year will be accelerate into my best year yet? Who knows? Let’s find out…

How was your 2014?

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