Being proud doesn't make you selfish
As humans we sometimes struggle with feeling like we are not achieving our goals as quickly as we would like and feeling like they’re so far out of reach. It’s times like these where we need to stop and reflect and remind ourselves that where you are now is where you dreamt of being at one stage in your life. Our achievements deserve self recognition. Being proud of how far you have come isn’t a selfish act. This brings me to take a moment to list some of the things I have achieved that I constantly forget to remind myself of and that I am very proud of.
I got very sick just before my 18th birthday. The Epstein Barr virus invaded my body and shut down my organs, turning me septic. I had terrible glandular fever (mono), a liver infection, kidney infection, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and a UTI to name a few. At one point I honestly felt like I was going to die. I would lay in the hospital room in complete darkness with a sheet over my head because I couldn’t stand any light or noise. I was hooked up to IV fluids and medication because I couldn’t eat or move and had to have injections in my legs to make sure I didn’t get blood clots which left me with huge black bruises all over my thighs. I honestly lost track of how many needles I had each day which has led me to have no fear of needles now (hello tattoos). I could hear my family and friends visiting me but couldn’t speak to them. My mum showered me and washed my hair. I remember hearing the hospital staff talking about the sudden influx of white hospital towels with hot pink stains on them… It was my hair, oopsies! I had just finished school and started my hairdressing apprenticeship. Hospital was followed by home visits from a nurse with daily blood tests and visits to a specialist and then I was on and off work and college for approximately 3 months afterwards, with fatigue and low blood pressure. Much to my parents concern I then decided I wanted to push myself even harder (classic Aries with no chill). I completed my college qualification a year in advance and moved out of home to a different city which was 4 hours from my family, all within the same year.
I got a job at one of the most renowned salons in Australia. At the time this felt like an amazing accomplishment. I was the talk of my hometown and had made my college teachers so proud but I was bullied in the workplace from day one. I was forced to lie to other members of the industry at risk of losing my job, told I looked like a circus clown and was even sent home on one occasion because of how I had done my makeup. In this time I lost a large amount of weight (I had already lost a huge amount from being sick) because I was told my lifestyle and what I ate was being watched and if I didn’t I would be in trouble. I was obsessed with my weight, I was the smallest I had ever been and would sometimes weigh myself three times a day. I ate barely anything but fruit and vegetables and would go running in the middle of summer after work each day where I would obsess in my head that each stride I took was burning off what I had eaten that day. I would question why I wasn’t liked in my workplace and what was wrong with me. I made sacrifices because I thought I had to in order to be successful. I eventually quit my job after realising that no amount of exposure or “fame” from working there was worth the effects it was having on my mental health as well as my physical health. I did not need this place to be successful and looking after myself was most important. I got out of my contract with the help of my beautiful mother and industry authorities. My Mum then took me to New York with my best friend (bless her) and when we returned I pushed myself to continue on with my career, despite being told I would never be good enough from my previous employer.
I started my own business at age 21 as a hairstylist and have successfully grown this business for almost 6 years now. I work hard to support myself and have created the freedom that I always wanted. I have learnt how to be a business owner from a young age. I still have a lot to learn but these skills will stay with me for life.
I have travelled overseas countless times by myself and made connections with people all over the world who inspire me every day. Travelling has given me a greater understanding of the world and allowed me to see things outside of my upbringing here in Australia. Travelling has made me smarter, wiser and motivates me to work harder so I can see and experience more.
I have shared my personal journey with self acceptance and love which has opened up so many opportunities for me. I have been featured in multiple magazine issues and blogs and have used my platform to inspire others around the world to be themselves whilst promoting a healthy body image.
I have now launched my second business “Hey Soph Lewis'“ diving into the world of fashion whilst continuing to put out my message of positive change, equality and empowerment.
As humans we are made to feel like talking about our achievements is only fueled by ego, by bragging or boasting and that we shouldn’t talk about it. I believe that staying humble by recognising what you’ve accomplished, whether it’s big or small is an extremely important part of self care and growth.
I have come a long way from that sick teenager, to the bullied and weight obsessed young lady to now choosing my own path and recognising my strengths and accepting my losses as an opportunity for new growth. Your purpose on this earth is not to be liked by everyone. Not everyone will understand your journey and that’s okay! Just remember to be patient and that the future you will look back to where you are now and recognise the steps you are taking at this point in time were all part of the bigger picture. Thank you for reading.
Much love, Sophie
Image taken at Magazine Launch for Swell Magazine