Life

Letting go of the girl I’ll never be

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Today I’m going to tell you about someone. You don’t know her, and I know her both very well and not at all. The not at all part is because she doesn’t exist. She is the person I always wanted to be, and the person I thought that I would be able to become, at some point, if I just worked hard enough and was motivated enough and had enough self-discipline.

When I describe her, you’ll probably see where the problem lies with that way of thinking. She is slim, with elegant tanned limbs. She has long blonde hair that falls in the most perfectly imperfect way, clear skin, and straight white teeth. She looks pretty even when she’s pulling a stupid face…she looks pretty even when she looks ugly. The camera always captures her best side because even the most candid of candids is modelesque. She is eloquent. She is witty, and sharp, and also kind. She’s definitely cool, and very effortless, at ease in her own skin. She’s excellent with people; confident, but easygoing and modest. She’s successful, and happy – how could she not be, when she’s all of these other wonderful things?

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So I can tell you a lot about her – and maybe you have your own version of the girl that you could tell me a lot about too. The issue with this is that it allows us to pin our hopes for the future on something that doesn’t and may never exist, and gives us this idea that if we can just do this, or just do that, then we’ll be there. We’ll have made it. We’ll be the person we want to be. If we just lose a bit of weight, then we’ll be happy. If we just change this thing we don’t like about our teeth or our face, then we’ll be happy. If we just get to the next Instagram milestone, we’ll be happy. We’ll be the insta-goals girl and that’s the path to contentment and achievement, right?

The thing is, though, that none of these things that we may or may not be able to change are a fast track to happiness or success. Those things we want to be might be totally unrealistic and harmful to chase; or if we do achieve them, the likelihood is there’ll be a new change we want to make at the end of it. And while I think it’s great to embrace change and will never give up on the idea of self-improvement, more often than not, we’d be better off letting the idea of being this fantasy girl go. I’ve written before about getting to know yourself as you get older, and one part of that has been realising that it’s time to stop assuming that the magical happiness tree lies in wait when I somehow become the person I described in the second paragraph; I nearly called her the ‘other Soph’, but that’s not right, because the point is that she isn’t me, and I’ll never be her.

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I used to think that if I just went to the gym enough or ate less carbs or dyed my hair the right colour or acted a certain way, then I would somehow have everything I wanted, and then I would be happy. So I went to the gym enough (perhaps too much) and I treated my dear friend bread like it’d been laced with poison (we’re bffs again now). I didn’t become the girl. I selected clothes based on whether they made me look slimmer over those that I really loved. I still didn’t become the girl. I try to work on being less socially awkward, more at ease in a group of new or unfamiliar people, the type of person who can ‘mingle’, and – yep, you guessed it – I am still somehow yet to become her.

These efforts are pointless, which makes them unnecessary. I am socially awkward and kind of a control freak and the opposite of cool and effortless. My hair is so fine it always looks flat, I hate my teeth and yes, I will always have big thighs, even when I’m at my smallest. When a camera is pointed at me it mostly picks up on my eyes being different levels of shut, extra chins, and my mouth doing something weird. I can’t articulate things in the way I want to when I’m speaking to someone so I always end up saying something I have to agonise over later. I’m not particularly funny, so I can’t charm everyone with a sharp and coveted wit, and when I pull an ugly face it’s very firmly ugly ugly and not pretty ugly.

Even having started to come to terms a couple of years ago with the fact that, newsflash, I probably wont ever be a size 6 or the kind of person who can easily or enjoyably do the ‘mingling’ thing, I’ve noticed that I still have a tendency to lean towards her. When I look at photos of myself to choose which ones to use, for example, I will choose the ones that look most like they could be the girl. Where some trick of the camera has hidden has miraculously elongated my legs, or where you can’t see my teeth. And there’s nothing wrong with choosing your best angles – we all do it, obviously – but it seems a shame that looking less like myself and more like someone else has been to some extent my goal.

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As you can probably tell, this hasn’t really been about wanting to be the best version of me, although I told myself for years that that’s what it was. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘You can be whatever you want to be’, and this is very nice in principle, but the fact remains that actually, that depends what it is you want to be and where you are now. Letting go of the desire to be this person is not doubting my abilities, it’s realising that my abilities can be put to better use than chasing that which I so obviously am not.

Because being this girl doesn’t mean I can’t do what she can. The fact that I’m not a hashtag goals girl doesn’t mean I can’t be a blogger (although let’s not pretend that being the generally accepted version of ‘beautiful’ can get you far in an industry so consumed with aesthetics and ‘goals’). The fact that I don’t look like a bikini model doesn’t mean I can’t feel totally carefree, wearing swimwear in a far flung location from my bucket list. And the fact that I’m not her doesn’t stop me from being happy – it’s constantly trying to become something I never will be that will do that.

So this is my promise to myself; to make this the year I finish letting go of the idea of being that girl. This gal’s got some carbs to eat, some non-appearance related things to achieve and an unhealthy case of perfectionism to overcome, for which I’ll probably need to be happy with just being me.

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Coat – Primark | Shirt – Zara | Jeans – H&M | Bag – Zara | Boots – New Look | Necklace – Lisa Angel

Photography: Thom Law Photography

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23 thoughts on “Letting go of the girl I’ll never be”

  1. Girl this post was beautiful! I can completely relate to what you’re saying, there’s been times when I think I can be a super successful blogger if I just loose loads of weight and look a certain way, but I know it’s just silly to think that way and it will never bring success or true happiness. Being yourself and doing you is the BEST version of you, and the one that will ALWAYS be most successful because people will see you for who you are. P.s for what it’s worth I think you’re bloody BEAUTIFUL! ❤

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

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  2. We all are created priceless and with a purpose to fulfill. Just because we do not achieve the things we think we should does not mean we are not working toward that purpose. I have tried so many things and failed but it was the few I did not that has made me successful. The lessons I learned. Maybe you are more amazing than you realize. Blessings and may this be a year of greatness in your life

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  3. These photos are so stunning Sophie! I think I finally let go of that girl last year (the Amy version anyway although she sounds suspiciously like yours) and I’m sooo much happier for it. And also, just because you don’t feel like that girl doesn’t mean that other people don’t see you as that girl or as someone equally pretty/funny/extremely cool (although I think by using the phrase ‘extremely cool’ I’ve probably just proved myself to be the opposite haha)
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk

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  4. Omg I actually have a post scheduled for later today about comparing ourselves to other people, but a big problem for many of us is actually the fact that we are, in fact, jealous of an idealised version of ourselves and it is hard to accept that no amount of ‘hustle’ can get us there, and we cannot change many things about ourselves. However, this does not change our worthiness as humans and our proneness to success in life. Amazing and thought provoking post as always xo

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  5. First of all these images are stunning, I like this Sophie a lot! This post was so fabulous and so well put, I bet so many people could relate. Oh and psssssttttt you totally are funny!

    BIG LOVE, Siobhan
    justauniform.com

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  6. I loved this post Sophie! I feel like you were reading my mind throughout it. I’ve always felt like to be happy I have to achieve x or y but it will never be enough. This ideology of comparing ourselves to others and being jealous needs to stop. We just have to be happy with our current selves and the rest will come. Also, you look stunning! xx

    amerzwithlove.com

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  7. Wow I feel like I’ve been reading my own musings of my state of mind. I can relate to every single thing you’ve listed, from that “other sophie” to squinty eyes and pursed out lips in front of a camera. At heart I am a perfectionist so that “other sonia” is something I’ve contended with my whole life. Even as I’ve gotten older I still have this perceived idea that the grass is greener in my daydreams. I think the key is to somehow see that the person I am now is far greater than “other sonia”, even if extra chins seem to plague me and my Insta game is at zero.

    Sxx
    daringcoco.com

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  8. Sophie, this was everything I never thought could be put into words and you explained it so well!! It was absolutely thought provoking, making me wonder what it was I did for the other me, trying so hard to be someone I never will be. Thank you for this.

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  9. This was written perfectly Sophie! You’ve quite literally pinpointed the thoughts of probably 99.9% of girls/women out there! No doubt, we’ve all got that ‘version of us’ that we aspire to and you’re absolutely right there’s a very fine line between someone we’re just not (and never going to be) and a ‘better version of ourselves’ and for a long time I’ve been very confused by which side of the line my thoughts are on!

    I think this post and your resolution for this year is absolutely incredible and it’s inspired me to have another rethink on what I’m prioritising in my life (I so very easily fall down the spiral into thinking appearance and body shape is the most important thing) and reevaluating the things I try to improve on in myself!

    And as Hayley (FrockMeI’mFamous) has so perfectly put it – being a successful blogger is being true and relatable and yourself and being happy in ourselves doesn’t always come from looking that way or being able to act as we wish, it’s being content with who we are (something very easily said than done, I’m aware!) I, for one, think you’re absolutely stunning (hair and nose of dreams and the ability to rock a red lip I wish I could be bold enough to do!) and your blog is brilliant, and although I’m a new reader/follower – from what I’ve read/seen of you so far you seem like an amazing, friendly, gorgeous, badass babe and I can’t wait to see how this year pans out for you!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

    P.S sorry for the mega essay-like comment there!

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  10. This is a really awesome post! I think we all need to be reminded of reality and what we can expect. Of course, we always go for more, hope for the best, but at some point you have to realize what’s life really about and you have to accept yourself and be happy while trying to be better version of yourself in a healthy (and realistic) way.
    I, unfortunately, haven’t let go of ‘the perfect me’ just yet, but I’ve been thinking more and more about lots of stuff so this post came in just a right time.
    great! ♥

    xo Honey – blog Royal LifestyleTwitterInstagram

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  11. This was my biggest revelation at the end of 2017. I’ve been struggling with my “best self” identity for a while now and I always hated trying to achieve “her.” She’s truly cool, effortless, a little bit taller, and her phone is always blowing up with people wanting to hang out with her/invite her to this/etc. Turns out, I’ll simply never be this person because I’m me, and I’m much happier with being me. I like to stay in now and wear pajamas way more often than the normal person, and that is completely okay. The world needs “cool girls” as much as the world needs you and me. Thank you for an sharing an authentic post about a topic that I wish more girls would come to terms with.

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  12. I totally relate to this post. I’ve always set impossible standards for myself to be ‘perfect’ but I now know I’ll never be perfect. This honest post resonates with that and I like the way you are finally accepting yourself as you are. And that is fantastic. Also your pics are gorgeous!

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  13. This post is amazing, you’re honestly speaking straight from my heart – I used to be just like that, always chasing after my ideal self even to the point where my new year’s resolutions would be something along the line of ‘be more mature’, ‘be skinny/pretty’ etc. 2017 was the year I started letting go of that and worked towards self-acceptance/ self-love. I still got a very long way to go but letting go of all these unrealistic standards has been life-changing. It has also been confusing at times because focusing on my happiness instead of my ideal self meant my goal was a bit more ‘vague’ if you know what I mean. But overall, it has been a very positive change. I love the quote ‘grow where you are planted’ – yes, we can strive towards self-improvement but perfection is unrealistic – and honestly, pretty boring – and why chase after something so unreachable. Thank you for posting this, I really need to hear these words! xx

    113thingstosay.com

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  14. I can relate so much to having the “other girl”. I’m still convinced that if I lose weight and grow my hair longer I’ll be this stunning, confident person. There’s a huge part of me that knows it isn’t true though.
    Thing is I bet the way other people see you is much closer to how you see the “other girl”. I know we’re prone to showing the best version of ourselves online, but from your blog I get the impression you’re smart, eloquent, fashionable, pretty… for me your blog IS goals. And I’d be happy if I looked half as cool as you do in your photos!

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  15. Oh my days, I never realised that this is exactly what I’ve went through! And its not being the best version of yourself at all. Its changing yourself to be completely different and sometimes hurting everything you are about and stand for. Its took me to actually see this written down to understand it! Thank you!!! <33

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  16. I really loved the honestly of this post, I felt myself nodding along with every sentence. I’ve felt the same way before- if I just lose a bit more weight, change my hair, my entire appearance I’ll be happy. It never works, and I’ve learned that by accepting myself for how I am right now.

    I’m socially awkward too- extremely actually! I think it’s great to talk about that to let others know they’re not alone. I don’t think there’s a certain way you have to be in order to be looked up to like those on Instagram, I think your honesty is a really valuable trait on its own. This was so inspiring to read xx

    http://mylovelierdays.com

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