On a daily basis we’re surrounded with decisions to make. We get absorbed into other peoples opinions but when asked what we stand for we’re not entirely sure. I want people to start thinking for themselves as an individual, instead of following the crowd.

Someone told me a fantastic quote the other day when I was having a particularly harsh day of horrible comments made online about my appearance, which was “why be a sheep, when you could be a shepherd?”

I honestly haven’t stopped looping this quote in my head for about a week, it’s helped reinforce how important I find individualism. 

If this part gets to heavy you’re welcome to skip this paragraph, and jump straight into my tips for immediate advice. But I find a little backstory resonates well with anyone reading this in the world who might have suffered with the same.

Throughout my childhood and my teenage years I was severely bullied, I was mocked for being tall, lanky and slim, and when that name calling finished, I was bullied for having curves, boobs and a bum by another crowd… it was a constant battle that was never won.
I was bullied for being individual, for dressing how I wanted to dress, and not how every girl in my school dressed. My overall appearance was subject to target on a daily basis, where I was ragged by my long hair and pushed around by bullies. I think back to those days with my present level of confidence and wish I could have stood up for myself, I didn’t feel entitled to answer back in fear of being hit by another girl who didn’t understand what it means to be individual. I still get slightly shook up by comments, but as a 21 year old I’ve learnt that you’re not always going to be everyones cup of tea (and that’s still cool) and you are fully in your right to be whoever you want to be in this world.

Instead of blaming yourself for not fitting in or conforming to the majority, blame the bullies for not being open minded.

I know a lot of teenagers go through years of struggle in finding their identity, but if there’s one thing I could have told my younger self it would be to hang in there, and never change who you are.
 You shouldn’t regret decisions that make you happier because at one point you wanted that. Experiment and wear what makes you feel comfortable in yourself, and anyone that tells you to change is wrong, because you are individual, original and unique.

 You are the boss of you. 

This applies to all areas of life, just because you have a different political mind to your friends, it doesn’t mean you should compromise your inner thoughts, because the only person you’re lying to really is yourself. Over the years I’ve learnt to never deprive myself of anything I know because that’s what makes me a unique snowflake, and that’s what makes your mark on this world. We’re not all robotic machines bowing and conforming to the heirachy of another. You’re equal and your thoughts and ideas are level with anyone else in this world. The only person that can make changes to lead a true and happy life, is yourself. 

This EU referendum situation has been a prime example of a battle of opinions. Whilst I’m not going to share or scrutinise the opinion of others, we should be respecting our own decisions, it’s like religion…don’t preach to the converted and persist until they’re forced to believe in something that doesn’t fulfil them.

 I won’t tell people word for word how to live their lives but only offer up advice to benefit them, by choice they can take or leave my advice with a simple no. I hope that one day everyone will grow to understand and respect the choices of others whether that’s religiously, politically, sexually… you name it I want equality and respect for others. So everyone can be happy and unique because they want to be, and not out of force to fit someone’s ideals of tribalism. 

Let’s swing this back to the quote above, “Why be a sheep, when you could be a Shepard?” really, we’re all Shepherds of our own lives and choices. Shepherds lead sheep to safety but it’s the sheeps choice to roam.

Be a Shepherd, and make choices for yourself.

I get told on a daily basis that people wish they could have the guts to dye their hair rainbow or dress without judgement. Whereas the answer is in themselves, it’s to stop listening to the background noise, and listen to yourself for once. So if you do get judged for what represents you, you can smile, nod and carry on being wonderfully you. 

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do on this Earth, dress how you want to, and do things for the benefit of yourself and not to please others.

I’ll always have rainbow hair until I say otherwise.
I’ll dress to fit me and not you because I want to.
I’ll say no because I think no.

Be unique, and make yourself loud and proud in everything you do because you are numero uno.

Photography by Dave Knight