Category Archives: Self esteem

INTERVIEW: Amelia Fergusson – the teetotal London writer bares all to help women see the power in their flaws

By age 13, Amelia Fergusson was a seasoned liar who tricked her Caribbean school friends into thinking this London rude gyal was having lots of sex.

In actual fact, as an insecure young girl, she just sought comfort in humour, and was terrified of intimacy. As a 32-year-old mother, she still is.

Back in London, by her early twenties she was comatose under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine, and depressed. She had survived domestic violence and was on a downwards spiral only fate could have determined would not end in death.

At 24, she launched a high class escorting agency, spending all her profits on booze and had conned people out of thousands of pounds. These are just a few in a series of fuck-ups catalogued in Pretty Girls Can’t Write – an autobiography of comedic drama, candid FYI’s and retrospection.

“I just wanted to get everything off my chest. Some of the things I’d forgotten about and you also forget why you act a certain way later on in life. It’s through writing it down I realised I hadn’t yet processed that information,” she explained.

Although the book took a month to pen down, the copy was abandoned in a box with scriptwriter Amelia’s other drafts – “I purged and felt much better. I wasn’t ready to publish it and then began worrying about other people, and what if a guy I’m dating reads it!”

Fast-forward more than a year later, Amelia was ready to have others learn from her catastrophic mistakes, mentored by humour in what I can confidently say is a book every reader will see themselves in.

Amelia Fergusson

Amelia’s podcast on iTunes is likely to be as unadulterated as her writing so it’s not one to miss

The book covers your teenage years to late twenties. What’s so important about this period, particularly in a girl’s life?

I’ll start by saying this – I’m so glad I’m above 30! Now I’ve come out of those ten years, especially with my drinking and everything else involved with it, I just really know who I am. In your teens and twenties, you’re still trying to decide and set boundaries and keep your self-esteem up. It’s also very easy when you’re not so aware of who you are to get swept away by relationships and have guys affect your self-worth, then it’s a downwards spiral. So for me, those ten years were quite a revelation [laughs]. I feel those are the years you should be learning about yourself and then in your thirties, you become a bit more settled and responsible.

Is this the kind of book you would’ve liked to read back then?

Definitely but I don’t think I would’ve learnt from it. However, I would liked to have known other people were going through the same stuff.

Often people go through life blaming others and feeling like a victim because of whatever has happened to them. Do you believe everything in your life happened for a reason?

My tattoo, I don’t know if you can see it? [I couldn’t on the Skype camera] says ‘Maktub’ which means ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason’ and that is me all over. Also when I started going to Kabbalah, I was taught in every obstacle you need to look for the light. What is this challenge being sent to you to learn from?

It’s a sore subject but the situation you went through with ‘John’ aged 17 – I wondered if you’d ever gotten closure from him, or an explanation? Later in the book, you say you’d spoken to him – what was that interaction like?

It was weird. He got in touch and apologised and I did let it go only because I grew up with him and saw he’d changed. As a young teenager, he was such a talented musician and would be the opening act for artists like Beenie Man when they came to St Vincent. He went from that downhill towards drugs and gangs. Then about five or six years ago, he was murdered. He’d sent me a message over Facebook just before he died saying he’d been trying to get in touch which really affected me…I’m a big believer in karma. Even if you do change your life, something will happen. But I did forgive him.

Taking your experiences with alcoholism, what do you feel people don’t understand about alcohol abuse from the outside looking in?

I have friends who are very aware of drug abuse but when I say I have an alcohol problem, they can’t put the two together. They can understand a cocaine addict but not an alcoholic. Or if they do understand an alcoholic, it’s those they see sitting on a park bench. But these are people who weren’t there when I was locked in my house for days on end and when I did finally emerge, I’d be me again. The days I had to show up for work, I’d show up, but  even though I was there – my mind was foggy, I had constant sweats – I wasn’t my normal self. People also don’t understand a lot of young people have an alcohol addiction. Most people just assume it’s only older men who drink their cans of lager in the park.

So is it really an all or nothing situation for a person with alcohol dependency?

Oh definitely. I know a lady who was sober for 27 or 37 years. She had some issues going on and wasn’t going to AA as much. Then she went back out and within a month had a heart attack, she started drinking so much. Now she’s been back in AA for two years but literally it goes back immediately – there’s no sense of moderating it at all.

What were people’s reactions to the book especially your parents – have they read it?

Oh, God no. Actually my mum keeps asking for the name of the book and I haven’t told her! It’s funny because when I was partying a lot and doing drugs, there were times she’d call me and because of the time difference between here and the Caribbean where they live, it’d be about midnight and I’d already be off my head. I’d say, ‘Mum, I can’t talk right now, I’m doing coke!’ – that’s the relationship I have with my mum. She knows how crazy I can be, but I’ve never really spoken with her seriously about things like what went on with my son’s father. I don’t think she knows how much of an effect it’s had on me.

Would you prefer her not to read it? And what about your dad?

My dad? God, no, he’d probably have a heart attack! My parents are very aware of how I am, but there are certain things I don’t feel they need to know. They know I’m naughty [laughs]. Not all my friends have read it yet but the ones who have, found it funny. People who don’t know me at all have said they really appreciate the honesty and the humour. I just wanted everyone to laugh.

The wisdom in the book starts early on but you were really eager for it not to be taken as a guide on how to live your life – why?

I didn’t want anyone to think I’m this self-help person because I’m far from it. I just wanted to share what I’ve learnt because it’s worked for me, and if you’re going through the same experiences, maybe try doing it this way.

 

Besides Pretty Girls Can’t Write, you have a period drama currently in production [set 15 years after slavery in the Caribbean] – what else are you working on?

I have another script for a period drama and a short film I should be filming next year. I’ve been writing, writing, writing, keeping myself busy and out of trouble. People think I’m so boring now because I’m either at home writing or reading, but they don’t understand I need to do this! I can’t be out and about – it would just all go wrong [laughs].

Find Amelia on Instagram or encouraging other writers with the Pretty Girls Can’t Write podcast coming soon to iTunes.

To buy a copy of the book, click here.

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Quick tips for when you need a reminder that you’re special

When I took the photo below of two diverging paths, I internally captioned it ‘a metaphor for my life’.

Cliché, I know, especially as it’s not that I have a dilemma forcing me to choose either or – it’s the choice of throwing myself at life and making things happen, or continuing to feel resentful because they’re not.

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Iyanla Vanzant, and I’m sure many others too said, everything you’ve acquired in life so far is a manifestation of what you’ve been able to create with the knowledge you have. If I measure my current situation and accomplishments by those words, I’ve done amazingly well, but I know I was meant for more. What has hindered my success in all areas of my life is fear and damaged self-esteem. Perhaps like me you’ve had the same negative self-talk for so long you feel trapped, and have begun to realise nobody sees you because of it. Who I am in my mind is not the person most people experience, and this is what I’m attempting to address without costly talking therapies – although I remain a staunch advocate of the practice.

“If you look underneath your depression, you’ll find anger. Look under your anger and you’ll find sadness. And under sadness is the root of it all; what’s really masquerading all the while – fear.” Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert.

The term ‘self-love’ may sound airy and vague, but how much you value yourself governs every thought and therefore every decision you make. However you prefer to term it, the concept can’t be ignored so I guess I’m on a self-love mission of sorts. Millions of other people around the world and I often don’t feel very special so I thought sharing what I’m doing to correct this, would be an ideal starting point.

Reiterate who you are

At times I forget who I am. My motivations, likes, dislikes, values etcetera, all merge into the 50,000 thoughts a day I’m apparently having and the humdrum of working. I love writing everything down (clearly!) so I started a mind-map with a bubble in the middle of an A5 page: ‘Who am I?’ It’s almost a summing up of what makes me ‘me’ – my qualities, interests, and my best bits – make it visible to you on a daily basis.

Be honest

However unfavourable, admit to what you’re feeling and experiencing. Be honest about your behaviour or negative habits because you need to understand the cause to effect the outcome. One of the key things I’ve had to be honest about is jealousy, which is borne from a lack of fulfilment. It sounds awful but it’s a change signal for me. Another is dedication issues. What are yours?

Think back

A lot of the passion I had in my youth has disintegrated. I exist, but I don’t live. However, much of what moves me hasn’t changed, it’s just I no longer, or don’t, do them. So think back to the original source of motivation, the purpose for doing, because remembering and feeling it again can be really helpful.

What do you do? Share some of your self-love practices and tips by commenting below so we can add to this working progress. While you’re at it, watch this TED talk.

Audio Blog: Would you be in a relationship with you?

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Source: meloveletters.com

A lot of the topics for my blogs have been inspired by conversations with friends, whether I say little or a lot, there’s usually something that sparks a trail of thought for potential posts. Problem is, when I don’t rush to get those written down, they shrivel back up, though gasping for air, in this sardine tin I call, my mind.

“Part of growing up is being able to find solutions to your own problems. At the end of the day, if you can’t do it, there’s no amount of asking for advice that’s going to help because it’s you that has to implement this advice.”

Last night, I decided to not procrastinate quite so much and take action when the thoughts were fresh and relevant. There was no time to write this down, it would have turned into an epic piece of waffle, and I can’t say that waffle hasn’t been transformed into ramble, but I ran with the momentum at least. No edits, I’ve recorded and uploaded this just how it is and as you may have guessed the question: ‘Would you be in a relationship with you?’ will crop up in this audio, eventually, when I get to the point.

“Like I say to everyone, which is probably slightly negative, I feel like your twenties are just – can be – slightly overrated. This kind of image of being ‘twenty something’ which is thrust upon everyone, isn’t what it actually is, which is why I love my website so much and writing because at the end of the day, I think I present a honest account, even if it is slightly self-depreciating, I just like to be honest.”

Apologies for it being so long, I guess I do like the sound of my own voice after all…

“You need to think about the value that you’re adding to other people’s lives. And before you think about the value that you can add to another person’s life, you need to think about the value that you’re adding to yourself.”

Running in Heels Competition

I am a Successful woman, I embrace Happiness, I attract Abundance, I crave Knowledge, I am Tenacious, I am Inspirational.

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With the world at our feet, 21st century women are demanding to have it all – promising career, equal rights, beautiful family life and an enviable wardrobe for the office because we can. But climbing our way to the top is a slippery incline, and maintaining balance within our hectic lives, as well as minding our professional interests can sometimes be a task too many without support from others who have been there.

Introducing Running in Heels: Breaking Through Barriers, presented by Shakti Women in partnership with Vision2Reality, the themed networking event just for women will have you clearing those hurdles and embracing a new invincible you. Sound amazing? A sophisticated and dynamic occasion, with leading international speakers from the fields of business, personal development, coaching and technology, be prepared for lots of networking and fun for the whole afternoon.

With just over 24 hours until the much-anticipated gathering, Twentysomething Me has been blessed with one golden ticket for the event. Worth £15 tickets are soon to be sold out so don’t miss out on mingling with some of the UK’s most influential females.

For your chance to win simply send us your most powerful and positive affirmation beginning: ‘I am’. Leave your answers at the end of this post, tweet me @Vi_Gayle with the hashtag #RunningInHeelsComp or email vicky.laura@live.com Competition closes Sunday 21st April 9am giving you plenty of time to grab your best heels and handbag to make it to Loft Lounge.

Good luck!

*Sponsored by brap, Spurgeons & Birmingham LGBT  *Supported by Creative High

Cherished Imperfection

Imperfection – in things, in people, in places – add character to life. Tell us about an imperfection you cherish.

The words ‘cherish’ and ‘imperfection’, I have to say don’t form much solidarity in my vocabulary. ‘Imperfection’ is usually followed by ‘improve’ and then an attempted radical overhaul of whatever it is that seems to have aroused the mild but fortunately, brief episode of self-loathing. This is coming from the girl who did a critical SWOT analysis of their style – highly methodical with the intention of being practical but at the same time, deeply OTT and another neat acronym, OCD.

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Image taken from: Issuemagazine.wordpress.com

Needless to say, our so-called imperfections rarely go noticed by those who hold any relevance in our lives. I see my mother every day and not yet has she ever commented that my face sometimes looks hormonal (puffy, fat, not safe for viewing) – like now – and whatever society deems imperfect usually becomes the inspiration for something beautiful – my friend, Ayesha Jones, is a wonderful example. But the one weird and wonderful imperfection I’ve grown to respect and admire, and I expect a lot of contorted faces after I declare this… so here it is… – stretch marks.

There I said it. I’m smirking just a little bit, by the way, but how well placed that the sunshine was beaming onto my notepad and illuminating the page when I wrote this. My stretch marks – thread-fine and indent various places across my not-very-curvy body. There was a time during puberty when I too despised them. How unfortunate to have these unsightly lines that not even cocoa butter seemed to erase? Breaking out southwards towards my ankles their distinctive tread mark made me self-conscious and weary of wearing my gym skirt. What if the boys laughed at these tears in my skin? Totally rebellious, when they couldn’t be contained by my calves anymore they snaked their way to the backs of my thighs, then dispersed in opposite directions around my hips without apology or warning. An invasion of the worst kind.

Powerless to what mother nature had in store for me and lots of Google ‘How to’ searches later, I think quite simply, I gave up. It wasn’t a huge moment of enlightenment looking at myself in the mirror and hugging my war-town hips but as a woman who appreciates the female form, I started to embrace my stretch marks for what they truly were. Signs of growth and feminine development. I clung onto every line as a display of my coming-of-age; not something to complain about but to celebrate. To look down now they’ve pretty much  vanished away but when they return again as reminders of a child, I’ll adore them even more then, than I do now.

What are some of your most cherished imperfections? Please let some be as wacky as mine….