I wrote an entire post about my confidence journey, which unfinished was just under a 1000 words. Before going ahead to publish it I realised this isn’t about me. Yes, I’d like to share what helped me gain confidence in myself in recent years. But I want this to be focused on you.

First of all let me start by saying that confidence is not something you’re born with. It’s something you have to work really hard on. Confidence takes years to build but it can also be knocked in a minute. The worst thing is that we grow up thinking our own confidence depends on somebody else.

Celebrating confidence

I asked people on Instagram yesterday what the coolest trait of their character is and a lot of them got back to me saying “oh it’s not up to me to say that” or “it’s hard to answer questions about my own character.” It really shouldn’t be. After all you know yourself better than anyone else does. Why are we scared to sound “too big headed” and celebrate what we’re good at? Of course there’s a fine line between what you think you’re good at and what you’re actually good at. But I think as sensible human beings, we can tell the difference. I encourage you to think of at least one thing that you’re great at right now. Even if that’s being positive or opening the door for other people. What’s not great about that? Right it down “I’m great at ..making pancakes!” and stick it on your mirror.

Back to my little Instagram experiment. Of course, the ones that were brave enough to consider themselves “funny” or had a “good taste in music” were the ones that stood out to me. So I decided to celebrate them on my Insta stories and share their cool traits with other people. Think about it. There is International Friendship Day, International Lipstick Day, International Women’s Day. But if you google International Confidence Day nothing comes up. Why isn’t that a thing?

Stop comparing yourself to others

At this point you probably want to read a bit of practical advice on building your confidence. I’ll start by sharing how far I’ve come on my journey. Not because I want to brag. I know I’ve come a long way from being a shy International student at university who barely spoke to her fellow students over the course of her degree (three years to be precise). To become someone who considers herself confident enough to give other people advice on confidence (okay hun, you can chill now, you’re not really an expert).

Being the person in between those two stages, I learned one really important thing. Comparing yourself to others is not going to take you anywhere. Sadly, it’s part of our nature to unfairly weigh ourselves against other people and we fail to look at the bigger picture. More often than not, we compare ourselves to people who are in a different stage of their life to us. Or we take the strengths of another person and compare them to our weaknesses. It doesn’t sound fair, right? My advice is to focus on building yourself as an individual and go at your own pace. This is not a race. Forget about others. This is about you. If you nurture your soul, take care of your body and seek experiences that lift your spirit, chances are you’re going to feel better almost instantly. Have you noticed that none of these require the presence of others?

Focus on your journey

Going back to what I said earlier, your confidence has nothing to do with other people. If you focus on improving yourself and becoming the person you want to be, the right people will come into your life eventually. Find something you’re good at and focus on improving yourself in that area. You can run steady on a treadmill for a long time. Babe, it’s time to go out and practice. Sign up for your first marathon and smash it. Completing that will give you a huge boost of confidence. When I first moved to London and started working, I realised that I was really good at communicating with other people and it was also something I enjoyed. I was far from confident at it but I had to push myself out of my comfort zone from time to time. I focused on improving my communication skills, both verbal and written. Every time I had a positive feedback my confidence grew a little.

Here’s a little story because I get asked this a lot. When Instagram first launched stories I was terrified about speaking in front of the camera. I thought people would judge me. My accent is not perfect. My hair looks flat. What if I say something stupid? I joined #Vlogtober which encouraged me to post a story of me talking about anything and everything each day in October. My first time was nerve-racking and I felt like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders after that. Okay, I skipped a couple of days but the majority of time I just stuck to it. Even if I didn’t feel like it, I just forced myself. After October passed, I felt like I’ve come such a long way and didn’t want to waste it, so I continued.

And that brings us to date. I’m not shy about showing my personality or being silly because that’s who I am and that’s what people connect with. And here’s a thing about accents. People love them because it makes them curious. I always saw it as a negative thing but it actually depends on the way you look at it. Watching myself talk on camera has also helped me improve the way I talk and that in return boosted my confidence too. If you want to start but don’t know where,  here is a little tip. Just record yourself and save the video into your camera roll. Re-watch it later and record another one until you get used to it and when you have the perfect one just post it.

Remember that confidence is a journey. Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and feel like you had some confidence injected into your system. Give yourself time and be patient but also don’t settle. Don’t ever think that maybe you’re just not as confident as the person next to you. You can be and it all depends on you.

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London is a pretty place. In summer though, London is beyond beautiful and the opportunities for having a great time are endless. I’ve decided to share with you my favourite things to do with my friends when the London weather is treating us well.

Outdoor swimming

I lived in the UK for 5 years before realising that open-air swimming is a thing here. I never thought lidos existed in London land, simply because we rarely get a proper summer, like the one we’re currently experiencing. A couple of years ago, I came back from holiday and the weather back here was unbelievably hot. Like, I actually genuinely could not believe how hot it was! So, off I went on a quest to find a solution to deal with the heat, after realising that copious amounts of ice lollies were clearly not resolving the issue. I went to Parliament Hill Lido for the first time, expecting a tiny puddle. But these guys are taking outdoor swimming seriously. They even have palm trees and a cafe that sells delicious food, drinks and all the yummy ice cream to cool you off. Pack your and your bestie’s bags and head to Costa del Gospel Oak for a refreshing day by the pool.

Open-air cinema

An outdoor cinema is like the coolest thing to do on a summer evening, ever! Enjoying a cider or two and having a laugh whilst watching your favourite comedy could be such a relaxing thing to do. Who wants to be stuck indoors watching a movie, when the weather is this good outside? The Luna cinema has various locations in really cool spots across London, including Kenwood House which one of my favourite places in Hampstead Heath (also good for picnics). Check out their website for info and screenings.

Afternoon tea at The Den Summer Terrace

Whether you enjoy a traditional afternoon tea complete with delicious treats on the side or seek to soak up the sun with a Bacardi cocktail in hand, The Den Terrace is the perfect tropical oasis to escape to in the heart of Covent Garden. Their afternoon tea includes savoury and sweet bites, and of course classic warm scones. These treats can be enjoyed with a glass of champagne, G&T or a rum cocktail in hand. I’ve tried all the options (ooops..) and I’m currently struggling to pick a favourite. The terrace itself is beautifully decorated with an arch of fern foliage as the focal point, alongside an array of greenery from flower pots to mini cacti on the tables. The surrounding will definitely make you feel as if you have left Covent Garden and entered the tropics. Oh, did I mention it’s the perfect place for pictures as the light is very subtle. And trust me, you’d definitely want to take a picture of those treats. Even the porcelain Ted Baker sets are too cute not to be captured. Book here.

I’d love to know what are some of your favourite summer activities? I’m sure there’s something I haven’t tried yet and I’m always up for new experiences.

Michelle x

 

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*This post is in partnership with St Martins Lane and The Den Terrace, however all opinions are my own.

“So how did you get into blogging?” is a question that pops up every time I meet someone new and they ask me what I do. I’m writing this blog post so I can share the link with them when we get to that point in the conversation.  Just kidding! I thought you guys might want to find out too. And since you’re already reading this, then most likely you do.

Early Years

I didn’t just wake up one day with the idea of having a blog. My fascination with fashion started way back when I was a little girl in pre-school. I wanted to be a fashion designer and my parents signed me up for this course. There I was a young Maria Grazia Chiuri in the making. I was into couture as most of my ‘designs’ were glamorous dresses fit for a red carpet event. Oh, I wish I could find these sketches now. My father is an artist so I definitely had potential. But as you can imagine my ambition didn’t last very long.

Studying Journalism at University

Fast forward to 2011 when I moved to the UK to study journalism at university. Apart from writing, I explored photography during my first year. I even learned how to process a film in the darkroom which maybe doesn’t sound so impressive right now but if you’re reading this in 2028.. What is even a darkroom? In my second year I focused a lot more on fashion magazines and obviously working at Vogue became the ultimate goal. I did an internship at a small independent magazine where I got involved in the entire creative process. From photography, to writing, to layout and design. Following that internship, I managed to create an entire magazine by myself in my final year. I would have certainly done things differently with that magazine now but if you really want to see it, I can show it to you upon request.

At the beginning of my second year, I was asked to create my very first blog on WordPress. I honestly hated it and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Of course I left everything until the very last minute and I was far from impressed with the final result. Later that year, I went to my first fashion week and it seemed like the perfect time to start fresh. So I gave blogging another go. The whole purpose of that blog was unclear at the time. I looked at it as a creative outlet, where I could practice my writing skills, share insights from my journalism course and the fashion events I was attending at the time. There was no clear direction, so the blog itself didn’t last very long.

In my final year, I was writing my dissertation on fashion magazines in the digital age. At the time everyone was questioning the future of fashion publications and whether people are still interested in flicking through a magazine that consists of 80% advertising. I compared actual magazines to their websites and mobile versions. Thinking about how much has changed in the course of the 4 years since I graduated is just insane! That was the first time I came across case studies on blogs and realised the huge potential they had but there was still a sense of uncertainty in the air. The journalism industry was portraying bloggers as this uneducated and uninformed bunch of people who had no clue what they were doing.

Life after graduating

By the time I graduated I knew I wanted to have a blog but I felt like monetising it would be hard. I had no access to the amount of information that’s available out there now. As soon as I graduated, I moved to London and started looking for an internship at a magazine or a job as a writer but I got a job in retail instead. That was very exciting at first. I got to communicate with a lot of people and felt like I was doing something significant. As a creative person I was constantly exploring different aspects of that retail business and even got involved with social media. However, I still needed an outlet to express my individuality and I felt like starting a blog would be the best thing to do.

There was a clear vision in my head, but I was lacking the confidence, the time and the resources to make it happen. I couldn’t commit to writing a 600 word blog post, 2 or 3 times a week. That’s a struggle even now when I don’t work full-time. Who was going to take my pictures? I didn’t even have a camera. Instagram at the time was gaining a huge popularity with people sharing their outfits and style. It was the easiest way to get started without having to invest a huge amount of time. My audience started growing slowly and I kept saying to myself that once I reach a certain amount of followers, I’d start a blog. The truth is I was just making excuses but I always kept it in the back of my mind.

Making baby steps

It took me months if not a year to make that first step. I launched Note by Michelle on the 1st of January 2017. Wrote 3 entire blog posts the same month, another one in February and I had my first collaboration in March. In April, I got my Olympus PEN Epl-7 which is the camera I’m still using for some of my photos today. I shoot a lot on iPhone and sometimes with a DSLR. The following months were very quiet as I was trying to figure my life out. I took some time off to travel and had a fresh start in September. That’s when things really changed for me and I started collaborating with brands and earning some money. It’s not been an easy journey but I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.

I rarely write blog posts these days but I’d love to get back into writing. That’s why I got into blogging in the first place. If you enjoy reading my posts, please comment , share and show your support. I appreciate any feedback, good or bad. It’s the only way I know if you like what I do.

Michelle x

The dress I’m wearing in this post is NA-KD and you can get 20% off on their website with code Mihaela20.

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You may have noticed I took a little break from blogging. I’ve not been so active on social media for the past couple of weeks either. I’m sure you understand the pressure of platforms like Instagram even if you’re not a blogger or an influencer yourself. The constant attempts to look our best don’t necessarily reflect the way we feel inside which is why having a break and taking things slow from time to time is essential.

It’s all in the simple things

Pouring myself a glass of wine (or juice if you don’t drink alcohol but come on), lighting a few candles and immersing myself in a good book are some of my favourite ways to switch off. I also love putting on my most comfortable sweater and listening to my favourite music. To me, wearing comfy women’s hoodies is the equivalent of a good yoga session but better. Because you just put the hoodie on and there’s no movement or action involved. Or if you don’t do yoga, imagine a nice hot bath. Well, not everyone has a bath in their flat but everyone can get a hoodie, right?

Keep yourself occupied with things you enjoy

There is a million ways to switch off and unwind. The most common ones being staying away from social media and spending time outdoors with friends. Do you remember the last time you were out in good company and completely forgot social media existed? I’m probably not the best example as I struggle with that myself. But don’t we all? Keeping yourself busy with things you enjoy and not feeling the need to shout about it on social media these days is an absolute luxury. My advice is to find people who make you forget about your phone and spend more time with them.

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”

It’s true! Work is a huge part of our lives. It’s what takes up most of our time so it’s really important to do something we’re passionate about. Trust me, you don’t want to wake up one day and realise you’re not doing what you love and feel like you’re wasting your potential. I’ve been there and it’s the most draining feeling in the world. I spent three years of my life working in a full time job in retail. Don’t get me wrong, I met some amazing people, got to work with incredible brands and learned things that I would not have come across in any other industry. But the job itself was very repetitive and it was completely killing my entire creative energy. I was able to save money every month and had financial security but I barely had time to enjoy life.

Breaking it down

Right now I have three jobs but I don’t have an actual workplace because I work from home most of the time. The good thing is I have the benefit of managing my own schedule and being the boss of my own time. Right now, I’m writing this from the comfort of my bed and looking at the sun through the window, feeling the warm air and enjoying an iced latte. I can go out as soon as I have finished my work because being outside is also part of my work. Breaking down your full time job into a couple of part time jobs might possibly bring you the same kind of money every month and allow you to have a little more flexibility. Remote jobs are becoming increasingly popular too. It’s a good option if you think you can complete all your work without having someone to supervise you. Another alternative is to find a job that allows you to have a hobby. You’d be surprised at the amount of employers who support their employees with hobbies and understand the importance of side activities for productivity at work.

The reason I went into so much detail about work is because the majority of people feel the need to take a break because of work in particular. Sometimes we put too much on our plates and we find it hard to digest. The best thing is to enjoy what you do so you don’t feel the need to fun away from it.

Do you have your own ways and rituals that help you unwind?

Let’s stay connected! Follow me on Instagram

Michelle x

 

 

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This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.

Continuing on my post from last week where I wrote about how Instagram is changing the way we communicate, this week I decided to tell you a bit more about reaching out to fellow influencers. Be it to collaborate, travel or just meet for coffee, there is so much we could learn from one another. Being part of a creative community and being able to reach out and talk to anyone is one of my favourite things about social media.

I didn’t think this would be a topic of interest until a few people (mostly friends) reached out to me to ask how would they go about collaborating with another blogger/influencer or even simply getting in touch to ask a question. The prospect of contacting a complete stranger on Instagram can be a bit nerve wracking at first. But with the right attitude and a positive approach, you would be surprised with the result!

If you watched our live with Phoebe last week, you already know that we met on Instagram in November last year and went on spontaneous trip to Italy together in December. It was one of the best travel experiences I ever had and would honestly do it over and over again without a single doubt. The biggest question probably troubling you right now is how do you know if you can trust a stranger enough to go travelling with them. First of all, I wouldn’t do it with anyone! I always make sure I have a connection with that person and also trust my gut feeling as it rarely lies to me. As soon as I started talking to Phoebe, we clicked straight away and had so much in common. I knew meeting her would be a positive experience.

“Too cool” to reach out

I spoke to Phoebe after our live session to ask her for some thoughts on the topics we discussed. She said to me the biggest challenge for a lot of people on Instagram is that they feel “too cool” to reach out or complement on others. The truth is, Instagram is a platform where everyone can be cool in their own way and that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I actually think that reaching out to people is way cooler than just existing in your own bubble. There’s nothing wrong in saying “Hey, I really like your Instagram feed and think your aesthetic is really cool.” You would be amazed at the amount of positive vibes that will come back your way.

Don’t get discouraged

Of course, just like in real life, people can be the opposite too. Don’t expect every single person to be as open, because people are different. Sometimes you reach out to a stranger in the coffee shop and tell them something funny. Some people will start a conversation, while others are simply not interested and look away. The good thing about Instagram is you’re not looking at the person directly, so the chances of feeling awkward are much lower. Don’t get discouraged if people don’t reciprocate the love. Chances are 8 out of 10 people will and you’ll feel amazing after. Both for being brave and for receiving some feedback on your work.

Ask for feedback

Actually, asking for feedback can be a great conversation starter! If you want to do that, I’d suggest using a DM rather than commenting on the person’s picture. The first one is a lot more personal and doesn’t feel like you’re just asking that person for a favour without even knowing them. I’m more likely to engage in a conversation with someone who messages me directly and I usually try to do my best to reply. Sometimes those turn into long conversations which later turn into a coffee meet up.

Join a Facebook group for bloggers and creatives

If you’re shy to reach out to people directly, here is another great idea. Join a Facebook group or a community where bloggers and creatives share their experience, discuss topics of interest and exchange ideas. An example of this could be Creative Gal Gang. Girls in the group would often say “Is anyone free for coffee and pics this Saturday” and if you are then perfect – you just got yourself an Instagram date! If not you can always ask for the person’s IG and arrange for a meet up in the future because you already know they’re open to that.

Help each other grow

At the end of the day, Instagram is not a competition and nobody loses by helping the other person grow. I love how this platform is cultivating a culture of sharing and discussing ideas with your peers and encouraging others to pursue their interests and passion. To interact and engage is at the core of social media platforms and not utilising this opportunity would be a real shame. Whatever your question or idea is, there is someone out there who would be more than happy to discuss it with you. All you have to do it reach out.

Michelle x

Justine Cole Photography

Shop the look

Bershka Yellow Stripe Blazer

Bershka Chain Bag in Black

Asos High Waist Mom Jeans

Slogan Tee (Similar one from Topshop)

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