Friday, 18 September 2020

Starting Again at 26

Feeling like a failure is something I have always struggled with. As a child and teenager I never felt like I was doing enough. I was a performer and would often compete in singing contests and drama contests. It was never good enough just to place, I had to be first. I always had to be given the main roles in the amateur productions I performed in and when I wasn't I would be filled with self loathing and feelings of failure.

As an adult this has continued and links very strongly to my anxiety and recently I found myself spiralling into this feeling of failure. I turned 26 in April and a few weeks later I began to feel anxious that I hadn't done anything with my life. I began to worry that, now in my late 20s, the things I'd dreamed of achieving hadn't happened. I started frantically looking at others who were doing more than I, desperately trying to understand the formula to success. 

These weeks were painful and plagued by anxiety. The constant feeling that I wasn't enough, I wasn't doing enough, was too hard to live with. 

It was a few months later when I finally realised I was being totally unfair on myself. Yes I quit two university degrees and didn't start following my dream by studying Creative Writing til I was 22 but I had done it. I had worked 30 hours a week whilst studying in the evenings, paying my way through my two year Undergraduate Diploma. I had even studied it at Oxford University, the best university in the world.

During those two years I had also chosen a career for myself that would work perfectly around my writing. I had decided to become a school librarian, an absolute dream role and I had begun to work towards it. I applied for job after job and each time I was rejected I listened to feedback and improved. I volunteered at the local library in my "spare time" (not a lot of that whilst working and studying) and took a job in retail, even though I'd vowed never to return, simply because it was the book shop at the Bodleian Library and I knew that would look good on my C.V.

I had been right and just a few weeks before finishing at Oxford Uni I was offered a role as Library Assistant in an all girls school. It was my dream role, my foot in the door, my chance to follow this career that I knew I'd be good at. I loved helping girls pick out books for fun and for studying. I loved running a creative writing club. I loved the pastoral side of my role, the girls who were clearly hurting and found the library a safe and quiet place. It was exactly what I had dreamed of doing. 

And then I got ill. Chronic pain and fatigue raged through my body and took my life away. I lost my job, I lost my friends, I lost nearly everything I enjoy. And that wasn't my fault. In that dark moment of feeling like a failure at 26 I reminded myself how hard I'd worked, how much I had fought and all I had achieved. I hadn't lost any of that, it was taken from me. 

But I also reminded myself that I was that same woman. The woman who left University at 21 and started all over again. The woman who said "I want to be a writer" and made every life choice a part of that plan. Chronic illness was never part of the plan, who would ever ask for this? But that didn't mean it had to be the end. 

Yes I am starting again at 26 but not completely from scratch. I am still a writer, I am still a dreamer, I am still the strong woman who never gave up when people told her to just settle down and get a sensible job. I have got myself a place on a writing Master's, I am working on creating a career for myself as a writer from home. I am not a failure. 

Many of us are forced to start again perhaps due to illness, relationship break down, redundancy or because you are so unhappy you know it is the only option. Whatever your circumstance starting again does not make you a failure. In fact it is the opposite. Starting again is one of the bravest things you can do. 

We all meet those people. The ones who have settled. The ones who have accepted their lot in life because it was the easiest thing to do. They are the ones that tell you to stop being silly, to make the "sensible" choice, to put your dreams aside and settle. They want you to be like them so they can feel better about the choices they made. But we are stronger, we are dreamers and we choose our own future. 

I don't know where you are today on your life journey, I don't know what hardships you've faced or what difficulties you're going through but I want to encourage you that you can do this. It doesn't matter if you're 18 or 80. Everyone can start again, everyone can follow their dreams. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Trust yourself. You have the power inside you and you always have. This is me giving you the push and the strength to just Start Again.

What I Wore:
Dress - Old Fatafce (Similar Here) | Cardigan - Handmade by me | Bag - Kate Spade (Similar Here) | Shoes - Joules (Similar Here)


  1. Wishing you all the luck for following your dream of writing. 26 is very young to start again don't believe what society made us feel especially for women. I am 40+ and I am now a freelancer starting to work in an area (post production video editor) that I never done before (I used to be a fashion designer/ merchandiser in London working in an office) and its mega exciting. Sorry abt your chronic illness...but once again that should not stop you to do what you dream to do. I suffered from anxiety too and regardless the difficulty I sometimes come across because of it I will not stop do what I want to do.
    Also cute outfit and pictures. You look cute. x
    All the best !!!!!


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