How Deep is Your Love?

RUOK? Day is always gorgeous. I love seeing so many of my friends offer their homes and ears and hugs to anyone who might need it. I love seeing my agents donning yellow and actually asking me how I’m doing throughout the day, not just jumping in to work chat. It’s means a lot.

Pretty recently I’ve been going through some things. Most of us have these patches where we get low, real low, and we can’t really pinpoint why but everything just gets a bit hard.

During that time, I found it really fucking impossible to talk to anyone- and you bitches know I can talk. It probably also seems like I’m a really open person. Things change.

I guess I’ve been trying to work through a lot of deep seeded issues that I have with insecurity and lack of self worth. Ironic when this blog spews that out constantly. It’s so much easier to teach that to be.

It just goes to show how good we are at hiding it.

When you ask people if they’re okay, make sure you mean it. Really listen. Look in to their eyes. Maybe just tell them you love them, even if they’re not ready to talk you.

I want to make sure I do the same.

Thank you to those of you who do this already.

Just mean it, and support your people. Sometimes there’s no solution, they just need a cuddle and an ear.

Don’t judge, don’t preach, just love.

HarleighQ

x

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Why You Are Most Important: the Journey of Self Worth

Our generation is full of a lot of contradictions. If your newsfeeds are anything like mine, you probably follow a few body positivity pages. Maybe you have some pretty quotes or nice messages appearing about loving yourself first. I find in between all those beautiful things there’s still a lot of negativity. There’s the products to whiten your teeth, big perfect boobs on tiny models. Sometimes there’s some cellulite or a makeup free face. Usually there’s mean comments from troll profiles. There’s a few pictures of your friends having a sunset swim, a fun night, a movie quote, a couple kissing.

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Then there’s you; alone on your bed, double chin, hair in a bun, comfortable pyjamas. Scrolling, reading, messaging, liking.

I think my feeds are a pretty happy place to be. I’ve spent ten years of my life on social media. I know how to avoid comment sections I don’t like, tag my friends in memes and quizzes. I get dolled up and blinged out in my gorgeous outfits and take photos I think are lovely and I post them, because I like them. I get likes, sometimes sweet comments. I get messages with compliments or questions about where I got my things, but I don’t do it for this reason. Fashion is probably the one thing that I proudly show off and will cop any criticism. It’s how I show who I am. It’s the one place in my life where I am strong and unbending. It’s my way of showing other people that’s its ok to feel yourself!

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And yet, in regards to all else but my clothes, there I will sit, in my comfy stuff with my annoying broken out skin, pouting lips and heavy heart because I still don’t feel right.

A dear friend woke me up to this: there’s a difference between confidence and self worth.

I don’t doubt that our generation will put all others to shame when it comes to promoting self love. I noticed my beautiful friends have joined me in cutting negativity out of the way we speak about other people. We praise each other for feeling ourselves. We’re less critical, more supportive. We try to lift each other up instead of putting each other down. It’s a beautiful time.

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But where the fuck is my self worth then?

I have got the best friends on the planet, who love me wildly as I am. They show it through responding to my long messages of woe, coming to comfort me when I feel a bit shit, tagging me in quotes and giving me hard lines of advice when I need it. I get mad that that isn’t enough for me to appreciate myself, when I am so loved.

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I think I come across pretty confident most of the time. I’m not going to lie, I do love me. I think I’m pretty and funny, and I have a good heart and I let the people around me know how valued they are. I care.

But, all it takes is one person, who for whatever reason I have decided matters more to me than me, making me feel like I’m not important, for the carefully constructed walls of self-belief to come crashing down.

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A man I admire greatly called Matthew Hussey has done so many videos on this topic: core confidence. It’s important to appreciate yourself first, and not let other people bring you down. It’s attractive to know who you are, be strong in your convictions and unapologetic.

Comfort, Nice and Perfection.

Yet, full of life and love, guard-less and boundless, I’m lost within my own self doubt about 70% of the time. The above video really spoke to heart. I recommend a watch.

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It’s easy to say you shouldn’t care what other people think, and take it on the chin if someone you like doesn’t like you back. I’m unsure if I’m just missing that self-preservation chip that other people have so readily in place, but I really really struggle to keep feeling good about myself when someone doesn’t value me the way I hope they will.

I had an epiphany the other night. Something that I probably already knew, but is really hitting home.

It doesn’t matter how loved you are by other people, if you don’t really truly value yourself.

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I might love me, but I’m not valuing me. I let other people dictate to me how important I am with how much attention and love they give me, instead of realising that if they mattered at all they wouldn’t make me question myself in the first place.

My art is my lifeline, my writing is my soul purpose. I love to read, draw, sing and dance. I love music. I love people. But I seem to lose me every time I put myself out there, because instead of embracing all of those things and pulling back in to me when I feel devalued, I push harder outwards until I get a hard no and all the things I just mentioned don’t matter anymore. Only validation from someone else can soothe me. It’s bloody bullshit really. This need for everyone to love me isn’t fun anymore. It’s toxic.

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I feel like there might be a few of you, like me, who do the same. Why do we so readily give ourselves away? Why do we try so hard? It’s not even like I want to be in love. I know I’m not ready for it. I think I’m just desperate to be loved by everyone though. Why?

Life is so short. People aren’t always going to be there. In fact, you are the only one whose going to be there at the end of it all, looking back and thinking, did I do it for me or someone else?

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I want to do it for me.

I’m moving to Melbourne in July. It’s the one thing in my life I am 100% sure I am doing for me. Regardless of whatever ever comes to pass, there will be music, dancing, writing and reading. There will be tears, I’m sure, new friendships and probably many more failed relationships, but I am me. I will always be me.

To my queens: do not change because you think it will be easier. Do not hurt others because they have hurt you. Pull inwards, and go back to you. You are home base. Only answer the door to people who show that they care. You are valuable. You deserve to feel valued.

Do the things that make your heart pound. Do the things that make you sigh with relief. Stay inside you, if that’s what you need. Only venture out when your cup is half full.

If you’re single, your happiness should be your number one focus. We’re going to spent the rest of our lives taking care of other people. This is our time.

Like Matthew says, contentment within yourself radiates outwards. Suddenly you’ll find yourself attracting all kinds of wonderful people, because your magnetism is grounded by your security within yourself. Only when you’re ready, though.

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Boys are boys. Girls are girls. Sex is sex and you are you; glorious, kind and gentle. Love comes when it’s meant to. Kindness costs nothing. Don’t send drunk messages. Don’t forget who the fuck you are.

The further you bend, the harder you’ll break. 

I shall leave you will the immortal words of sweet Michael.

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Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

Worship the ground you walk on baby, like you do for others. Don’t be ashamed to be your own biggest cheerleader. I’m in the bleachers cheering you on too. Stop trying for others. Let them try for you. Vanity is a myth. Why the fuck shouldn’t we love ourselves?

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Live every day like it’s Rex Manning day.

Love you.

Harleigh Q
Champion of self love

Xox

Self-Love Part Three

In this edition of millennial bs I’m going to tackle some confidence killing taboos. As I know a lot of you are just like me, hence you being my friends, I hope this will make you feel a little bit better about being a sweet hot mess.

Be you sensitive, needy, emotional, shy, an over-sharer, awkward, a bit daft or all of the above, I'm sure you'll find something in here to make you feel a little bit cooler. You're actually very very cool.

The People-Pleaser – I Love You

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Hi, my name is Leigh, and I want everyone to love me.

It’s an issue.

Working in sales it is of the utmost priority that I can bend at will to fit myself around the person I am talking to. I need to fulfil their needs, make them feel comfortable. Most of all, I need them to hang up the phone with a smile.

Making other people feel good makes me feel oh so good.

I absolutely love my job.

There’s nothing fake about the way we all adapt to people though. We have so many sides to our personalities, and after a while you just get good at picking which side it is that this person is going to respond to most. Is it the dry, sarcastic down to business woman? Is it the sweet, giggly joker with the compliments? I find I’m a little bit different with everyone I know. I’m sure we all are. There’s only a handful of people who get to see inside my head, and I’m very careful about who I truly let in; because I’m actually mental.

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There’s nothing more earth shattering than being your true self and having someone reject you. It happens though.

That’s why I think it’s easier to put on a bit of a show, and know that if you’re making people feel good, they’re going to regard you well. If it doesn’t work, it is okay, because that wasn’t 100% you anyway.

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I guess maybe it’s a defence mechanism, this performance. This need for love runs through every fibre of my being. Maybe it’s manipulative… who knows! I am a Slytherin after all.  Maybe pretending I don't fall fast and hard is a show in itself. Jeez Louise I wish I could switch it off! It's hard work being this open and emotional all the time. I could do with a holiday from it.

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The Faux Vanity – I Love Me

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Hi my name is Leigh, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I love a good selfie.

I think we have officially come to the era where it’s becoming acceptable to like the way we look. Some days I think I look like a bag of dicks but some days, I’m feeling it! I like my wog nose and big mouth and brown eyes. I like that I still have my boobs despite losing quite a lot of weight. I like my curvy hips.

The way I see it, we are only in our twenties once. This is the hottest we are ever going to be. I want my teenage daughter one day to have some photos of me to look back on, and laugh and think ‘what the fuck was mum wearing?’ But also aspire to vibe with confidence and like what she sees when she looks in the mirror, because mum does.

I feel like the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ ideal is our best bet of living a happy, confident life. This world is full of negative forces trying to get us to spend money on products we don’t need. There are false representations of body ideals, Photoshop, magical camera tricks. I have filled up my Insta feed with amazing body positivity pages that make that app a pleasure to scroll through. I used to be so ashamed of my cellulite and stretchmarks, and the way my tummy wobbles a little bit when I walk. Now I genuinely don’t give two hoots. We all have it! I mean don’t get me wrong, I am still desperately insecure. I just have a core confidence that I can come back to every so often that reminds me that I am brilliant when people make me feel otherwise (and I let that happen a lot sadly).

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We don’t have to be shy and uncomfortable and unhappy in ourselves anymore. We are allowed to like the way we look. It’s absolutely mind boggling that we weren’t in the past. Being labelled as vain is so bizarre to me. There’s nothing wrong with self-love. We should all be enjoying ourselves, or making it our mission to do so.

If you see someone’s selfies and your inner thought is ‘ugh, they are so vain’ that’s honestly a bigger reflection on you and your insecurity, and you may want to take a moment to reflect. There’s no need to put other people down. It’s not going to make you feel any better. People can be confident and nice.

My personal reaction to my friends gorgeous faces plastered on my newsfeed is YAS QUEEN YOU’RE PERFECT, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, YOU LOOK LIKE LINDA EVANGELISTA, YOU’RE A MODEL and that’s how it bloody well should be.

Lift up your sisters.

The Love Guru – I Love Everything

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Ah that old chestnut. Hi I’m Leigh and as Jessie coined it, I have a lot of love to give.

A big challenge I face in my life is the fact that I will pour affection in to people, probably because that’s how I was raised, and I take it ever so personally when they don’t receive it well and pull away.

A skill I really need to develop is working out who needs my love and who doesn’t.

Receiving affection from people, kind words, attention, hugs, makes me feel really good. It’s my love language. Words of affirmation and physical touch are my jam baby. Guess who has a stable family unit and grew up watching Rom Coms – me!

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Because I am so willing to give my emotional support wherever needed, it tends to mean that I will expect a lot in return. Most people are not as sensitive as me, and they don’t necessarily need someone to talk them off the ledge for an hour every night while they over-analyse the way someone said something. I mean, I am getting a lot better, with many thanks to the strong ladies in my life who have started taking the ‘snap out of it’ approach. Every so often though, I do need my fellow gentle angels to give me word caresses too.

I am ridiculously lucky that I have these people in my life. They might live all over the world, but I have people who listen to my rambles, and check in on me, and send me love where it’s needed, even when it’s not in their nature to do so.

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I think I've got the best looking support network on the planet I mean holy shit…

I want to thank each and every one of you, for getting me through my darkest time. It’s because of you I can keep being my stupidly sensitive, overly-loving and deeply caring self. I have not let the world harden me.

I know one day my soulie will come along, and for them I won’t be too much. I’ll be just enough. It’s because of you guys that I never lose my faith, because if my ladies can love my madness, I’m sure I’ll find someone in my life who will want to marry it.

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Have faith, single people.

My message, through my own story, is to stay soft. Do not let someone’s rejection make you scared to love, or be labelled a clinger, or whatever other stupid thing people say to put people down when openness scares them.

People have their own issues, and a lot of the time it’s not their fault. They might have been really hurt by people, and it might be really hard for them to open up or trust. Sadly, it’s really common.

So sweet little butterfly people do not take it personally. Your love is just enough. You are perfect. Do not play games, or be cruel, or be mad at them. They’ll work it out eventually. Just put your energy where it is appreciated.

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The Good Intentions – Lets All Just Love Each Other

At the end of the day, I think all most of us want is to love and be loved. We want the people around us to be happy and healthy. We want to smile lots and cry rarely.

It might be demon people in your life or demon chemicals in your mind but most of the time the above just isn’t possible, and that’s okay.

Try not to let the black hole swallow you up completely. The world is full of good and bad, just make sure part of the good bit, no matter what.

Love you.

Harleigh Q

xo

The Millennial Crisis

HarleighQ is back, baby! I hope you didn’t miss my love-filled rambles too much. I came to the realisation that something has been missing in my life, and although I don’t always take myself seriously as a writer, this thing is my baby! I have been throwing myself in to my fiction (we’re about 10 chapters in to my yet untitled epic) but my baby needs to be nurtured. As do I.

Which brings me to the topic at hand… the Millennial Crisis.

Welcome to the beginning of a series I’m going to call ‘First World Problems’ where I will unashamedly discuss things that are petty but relevant to my generation, because we all deserve to be heard, and we all need to know we aren’t alone.

Our government rarely listens to us, we’re struggling financially, we don’t know what we want to do with our lives, our love life is a shambles, our mental health is struggling, our friends are just as fucked up as we are or they’re already married with kids. There’s constant pressure to work out our future, have savings, be loved by everyone, settle down and appreciate how ‘good’ we have it. Fucking hell. Hello quarter life crisis. My name is Leigh and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my guilt when it comes to how overwhelmed I feel. I often sit and reflect on how it was for our parents’ generation, and their parents. They didn’t have the freedom we do, the endless opportunities when it comes to careers and following our dreams. They were ruled by obligation and inherent sexism. We are so lucky! We are so privileged! Yet why do so many of us feel like we are swimming upstream, mere seconds from drowning?

I think it comes down to the simple fact that we want happiness to be a constant, not a fleeting memory. Every human on this planet deserves happiness. Otherwise, what’s the point? Just because it’s taken until now for us to practically be able to pursue this mentality doesn’t mean that we’re wrong, or dumb, or dreamers. We’ve just finally come to terms with how short life is and how important it is to live it to the fullest. Why shouldn’t we spend it smiling and choosing not to hurt anyone in the process?

What’s my crisis? Take a seat friends.

I am a dramatic person. I will own that. But I also struggle with quite severe anxiety. It’s come on as a mixture of things in my life, a combination of genetics and experiences I’m sure. Sometimes I don’t know where to draw the line between my dramatics and an actual genuine feeling of being overwhelmed by life. Then I start to feel tremendously bad. I have the most incredible family, and career wise I am totally sorted. But you know what? Everything else is a struggle! I’m allowed to admit that. At the moment, it really is.

I travelled so much in the last couple of years with little regard for future Leigh, and now I’m paying for it. It was so worth it at the time, but now my life is on hold while I move home to do damage control. Yeah that’s right, most of my issues are totally self inflicted!

Let’s not even get started on my love life. There’s a reason I declared myself Millennial Bridget Jones on Facebook the other day. I am well and truly stuck in Daniel Cleaver faze. Honestly? I don’t deserve any better either. I’m not ready.

I’m pretty lonely, living in quite an isolated suburb in an isolated city spending more time with myself than anyone else. I’m an extrovert. I drive myself and my family crazy after a while. I really am a lot. I start fixating on things like the news as a mental escape which only drives me more mental.

I feel guilty when I don’t believe all of the claims in the #metoo movement pinpointing men in Hollywood, my heart bleeds for my American friends dealing with a tyrant like Trump. I want to cry because our government wasted billions of dollars humiliating my friends in the queer community just to prove a point, and the reef is dying, as are the people abandoned on Nauru. There are so many things swirling around my mind at all times that sometimes I wish I could revert back to childhood, when my only worry was if my bike chain fell off. Even then, I knew how to fix it.

None of this is a poor me, or a poor us. But if we don’t change this mentality of ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ whenever people bring up mental health issues, we’re going to go backwards. We have come so far from that toughen up mentality. Let’s keep moving.

We are such a powerful, caring, socially conscious generation. I’m writing this post to remind my beautiful friends that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. We are just trying to do our best, and make the world a better place as we go. That weighs really fucking heavy sometimes. We are trying to reverse decades worth of damage. We have to remind ourself and our peers daily that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t have to hide anymore. You don’t have to feel ashamed; be it your sexuality, mental health, gender identity, kinks, dreams, stupid financial decisions, putting travel before your career or vice versa.

You don’t have to be strong and closed off. Openness is beautiful. It’s not dangerous to let people in, to wear your heart on your sleeve, to stand up for what you believe in. It’s okay to be kind, honest, sweet. Getting hurt is a part of life. Pick yourself up, dust off, and let them all back in again. If you need help with that, I’m always here with advice. I don’t follow my own, naturally. I’ve got lots of love to give though!

Pain is relative. I have nervy b’s every few days and you know what? I’m going to stop beating myself up over my sensitivity. I have pretty valid reasons to be upset most of the time, and just because I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t cry. We all need to cry it out sometimes.

We don’t have to know what we’re doing, or where we’re going. We just need to be kind, listen to our hearts, surround ourselves with supportive people and the rest will follow.

I love you all so much. Never feel like your feelings aren’t valid. Life is a roller coaster, baby. It’s better to feel the highs and the lows than nothing at all.

Some people may call us weak, but you know what? I’d rather be weak than an asshole.

I hope a few of my fellow crisis kids feel a little better after reading this. I promise, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay.

Harleigh Q

Xo

Who Are You?

My darlings.

I'm starting this post having just rewatched the first ever episode of a show I feel I've grown up with, Catfish.

For anyone unfamiliar with concept, Catfish features two amazing men, Nev and Max, who help people who have started relationships online with people they have never met. Spoiler alert, more often than not, the people they are speaking to aren't who they say they are. Be it fake photos stolen from someone else on the internet or pretending to be someone they know personally, it's clear that the Catfishers are unhappy with who they are.

Often they've been bullied or have had a hard time and use this persona like a shield. They don't feel good enough.

I think it takes a pretty cruel person to bring someone in to your insecurity, and use them to boost your self esteem through deception. However… imagine if they channeled their negative life experiences in to making themselves better people. Instead of using a mask of someone else.. imagine the self love they could generate!

Dialling it back, let me tell you my story.

I remember starting high school. It was a big public one a half an hour walk from my house, just outside the Yorkshire village I grew up in. Almost all the kids I went to primary school with went with me. Masses off us trudged through the rain and the snow, across the train tracks to the intimidatingly massive new chapter.

In time I grew to love that school and it's long corridors and kids twice the size of me, shoving everyone around for fun. You had to have a drawstring bag otherwise someone was bound to unzip it and knock your stuff on the floor. You had to keep your hand down in class so no one could take the piss out of your answers. You also knew very quickly who the top dogs were and to remember your place.

Bullying is such a normal part of growing up. I put it down to trying to fit in to this new environment, and me being a bit of a bossy boots by nature, but my two best friends from primary school decided they didn't like me anymore. After that, I had a really hard time making friends.

When I did start to bond with someone, often a false rumour stating I'd said something behind their back quickly ended it. I guess that was the thing with me. If I took issue with someone, I would just say it to their face. Maybe that was my problem. Being too upfront made me a target for the whisperers. I was so scared of what I did say getting twisted that I just stopped speaking. It took me years to get the confidence to voice my opinion back. I make up for it now 😊.

I wound up having to go to a 'friendship group'. It was designed for myself and fellow lonely kids who were struggling a bit. We'd do quizzes and talk about our interests and hobbies. Everyone was weird and it was nice to have people to eat lunch with. Yes, there were a few sandwiches ate in a toilet cubicle. What a cliché.

A few long months in, having truly learned the importance of empathy, I reconnected with a couple of the girls from my primary school. We ended up in our own tight knit group.

Rarely a week went by without some of the five of us falling out, of course, but blissful were the lunch breaks spent giggling our heads off in the hot lunch room and getting kicked out for being too loud. Through many hours spent in the library, I discovered Louise Rennison's book series about the most relatable tween on the planet, Georgia Nicolson. I was proud of my new little Ace Gang.

Times got real tough again when I found out I was moving to Australia. Slowly but surely I felt the girls retreating from me, my closest friend especially. She became quite cruel, and though an adult brain understands self preservation and the primal need to lash out in order to protect ourselves, a scared thirteen year old did not. Some of my memories of this time are so vivid. One, I was sobbing at my work station in Food, not wanting anyone to see me. I'd been handed the notes some of the girls had been passing about me. I think it said something about me being a try hard and a made up thing I hadn't said. I'm pretty sure that was the day we made rice pudding.

In the very end they had tried to fix some of the damage caused, and there was a leaving party at my best friends house with Sing Star, baked goods and lots of trampolining. It felt like the end of the world.

Then I left England and didn't really look back.

As with most new kids, I found myself right back where I started in Australia, too.

This new high school was tiny, and I started week three of term three of year nine to be precise. I was buddied with one of the 'cool' girls. I think my teacher thought she was doing me a favour, but she and her friends were very uninterested in me. We were very different people.

In this school watched Napoleon Dynamite, I heard rumours about a boy getting a hand job behind a textbook in class, and got teased for my big shoes. I had to wear UGG boots and a miniskirt to be cool, and I definitely had to shave my legs and pluck my mad Wog eyebrows. What a different world this was!

Yet again, I had a hard time making friends. I'm a girl with a lot of passions. At the age of fourteen, it was Harry Potter and Home and Away. I could barely make eye contact with a boy without turning crimson and I was best friends with my family (and still am).

It was a long and lonely summer, but year 10 began my ascent in to one happy young lady. I made friends with four incredible girls. I can't remember how we found each other exactly, but I distinctly remember one incident in particular.

I was eating cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch. English people reading this know what I am referring to I'm sure. The two Australian girls that would let me sit near them had no idea what the weird brown stuff I had was. They were loudly ridiculing me, for not the first time unfortunately, when a tiny, wonderful, sparkly eyed girl from southern England barked at them 'its Branston pickle?' With a level of sass I've yet to hear since. They soon shut up, and I soon changed who I sat with at lunch.

Next joined Shaz, a witty and cool as a cucumber girl whose best friend had recently changed school. Then there I was Bek, the green eyed and incredibly intelligent girl that I absolutely idolised (and still do). Thus, Ace Gang 2.0 began. We had sleepovers, long chats, giggles and an obsession with YouTube videos. We talked and sang and danced and we're allowed, encouraged, to be 100% ourselves with each other. We were not without our disagreements of course, teenage girls are a nightmare, but we thrived together. They saw me through my first kiss (literally) and all those other fun things 15 year olds do.

I got in to anime and started writing fan fiction and making music videos. I made the pilgrimage to the city for the final Harry Potter book with Abby and Danica, the two pickle-girl life savers, at 530am one brisk morning. I drew a lot, very averagely. I had a puppy Rio and two six month long crushes that went absolutely nowhere. Two others joined our crew, and soon we were going on adventures to Freo for Timezone photos and sushi train.

My second six month long crush, and first taste of heartbreak, got wind of my affections when I got up the courage to ask for his number on the school bus one day. 'I don't know it,' was his earth-shattering response. Lorraine, one of our new editions, heard from a mutual friend that he intended to pretend to like me and then thoroughly humiliate me in front of everyone on the bus the next day, so she decided to berate him in the hallway for all to hear. My heart was crushed but my friend was golden.

Of course, things changed over time. Boys, Abby moving back to England and just growing up different pulled us apart. By year 12 I was back to my lonely self, this time with two equally lonely companions, Jessie and Arran. Those cynical bastards are still my best friends to this day. God love them.

It wasn't until many years later, having lost all of the things that made me me, that I realised just how important it is for us to be true to ourselves.

I can pinpoint the time when I started to lose my kook. I was deep in a relationship where I didn't feel like myself anymore. It can be hard for natural born people-pleasers like myself and every other Cancerian in the world to stay true to ourselves when we're in love. Sometimes we go too far the other way.

For a lot of people it's their experiences with bullying at school that dilutes their colours. They're sparkling too brightly, and it seems to be in a lot of humans' nature to dim that rival sparkle as much as possible. But the thing is, if we don't care what other people think of us, it completely removes their power.

I am incredibly proud of baby Leigh, because my God did she stay true. I wore all of the nerdy, weird shit I loved on my sleeve for all the world to see and I never felt any shame for it. I surrounded myself with people who were proud of me, and I was proud of them. We lifted each other up and protected one another from the evil outside which slowly stopped mattering. My self preservation developed in to completely cutting people out who I feared would hurt me. It's served me quite well so far. I just can't do fake politeness. My face is too emotive. I give myself away.

As an adult I've gone through the cycle again. When I don't feel like I can be myself I tend to retreat. I look inwardly for that place of peace and power. I remind myself why I like me, regardless of if others do or not. I'm still a pleaser, and I still need validation, but I'm getting better. Maybe I need to ask baby Leigh how she did it. Through all the shit, I was always me.

In telling this story I'm hoping that others who have been shaken by self-doubt due of external factors realise that they were never ever the problem. If you have a good heart, that's all that matters. Let your freak flag fly! The most attractive people in the world to me are the passionate ones. I don't care what you love, if it matters that much to you then you're a dream come true. Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.

At the ripe old age of 26 I know who I am and what makes me happy.

I love the Beatles, I love looking like I just walked out of the 70s, I love loud live music and I love writing. I love connecting with people, and I love talking about aliens and politics and nature. I love the ocean, and I love red wine and cheese platters.

Most of all I love all of the incredible people all over the world that I have met. Be they weird, loud, artistic, spiritual, gentle, wild, funny or my polar opposite, they are completely and unapologetically themselves.

Being a people pleaser isn't as good a quality as it sounds. It's easy to lose yourself, or change to fit an ideal instead of fulfilling who you really are. Being judged is scary. It's a constant battle not to care too much.

Two years ago I would never have walked down the street in my Rockabilly gear. I also didn't eat much and was overall pretty fucking lost.

Now I find myself curvaceous, sassy and proud of my wild outfits and huge smile. I am proud of myself for all I've done, and I love the person I have become very much. I still love all my nerdy things, and I will gladly talk about them to anyone with remote interest (glazed over eyes works too). If it wasn't for all of the negative experiences I've had, not fitting in, feeling lonely, having my heart broken, I wouldn't be who I am now.

None of us would be real without the shit. Don't let it change you, though.

There may be people who love you unconditionally, but it's you who needs to love you most. You're the cheerleader. You're the one whose been there through it all and lived to tell the tale. You're a bloody legend!

Talk about yourself, be proud. It's ok to blow your own horn sometimes. If the people around you don't want to listen, they aren't your people babe. We should all be rooting for each other. What are friends for?

We are all so unique and have so many stories and experiences. We are all part of this great big mad world, but there's only one YOU.

So be you, be free, be everything you've ever wanted to be. Let the love pour out of you. You'll attract the right people, this I promise you.

In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

So tell me, beautiful people, who are you?

Love your second biggest fan,

Harleigh Q

Xo

The Trouble With Social Media

Hello Millenials, Gen X & Y and Boomers.

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How are you?

Good I hope.

This week I fell from my perch a bit. I have been making a shift in to profiting on this little talent for eloquent bull-shitting lately. I sponsored a couple of my posts to reach a vaster audience and started a little hub of love on Instagram named @HippieHarleighQ and my very own Facebook like page.

It’s a big stretch for me. You guys know I’m an open person, but I’m also extremely sensitive.

Like, very.

I guess I don’t care if people judge my selfies or photo shoots because I know I’m just a normal girl trying to love myself and inspire others to do the same, and the overconfidence is just my sense of humour. But when it comes to someone questioning my insides? Oh boy…

Someone that I don’t know commented under one of my posts ‘sponsored? Hahah’ and I was bubblingly upset for the rest of the day. Yeah. I’m that bad.

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I promptly deleted the ad for the day it had left.

One thing I don’t want to be is ‘Insta-famous’. However, I do want to connect with more people. I guess it’s the same thing, isn’t it?

As a result of my new found need for money, I’ve been spending more time analysing my online presence. I’ve been looking at other people’s pages, reading their captions and hashtags and working out just how they do it.

Due to my ridiculous hyper-sensitivity I’ve also been questioning myself a hell of a lot more than usual.

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Where my anxiety had become very manageable, suddenly I am opening myself up to the devil known as comparison; the thief of joy, they say.

Oh boy, they are right.

I’m not happy at the moment. I have stopped enjoying my moments and I have started caring way too much about other people’s opinions. It’s like being a looney teen again. I’m a 26 year old woman! I thought I was supposed to be over that by now!

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I’ve been working out, eating right and I’ve cut right back on the naughty drinking. I’ve practically quit smoking. I’ve also stopped reading, I’m struggling to write and I’m losing my connections with my friends. Why? Because I’m thinking too much.

One of my spectacularly beautiful and intelligent girls said to a few of us a while ago that she found Instagram depressing. I couldn’t relate.

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I loved Instagram. I loved the amazing #bopo pages I follow; the gorgeous vintage collections, artists and hippie clothing companies that fill my feed. Facebook was much the same; interesting news articles, friend’s hilarious titbits about their day to day and some cool travel photos. I thought it was maybe something she could control by changing who she follows.

I was so wrong.

When you’re in the headspace of comparison (aka: thief of joy) the things you were looking at before that made you smile suddenly cloud your mind in a dark way. I enviously analyse the photography skills of my #bopo girls. I skip over friends’ posts and seek out my target audience to see why they aren’t engaging with me more. I’ve picked people who aren’t giving me as much attention as they used to and I’m agonising over it.

I have stopped valuing the good in favour of the goal.

Specifically, artist friends, do you know what I mean? The success of something locally doesn’t mean much when your reach isn’t vast enough? Something you wrote is no longer measuring up because something from last month did way better?

I want us all to stop.

Stop stop stop.

Social media is not real. We also can’t control who is seeing our posts due to the very money-focused algorithms. Don’t think less likes means people aren’t loving you. They aren’t seeing you.

~

Today I scrolled back through my Instagram for photos that looked out of place (I’m notorious for archiving mismatching colours in favour of a flowing theme rather than honest expression).

I came across my America and Europe photos.

I zoomed in on my and Martina’s smiley faces on our way to the opera dinner in Rome. I remembered vividly how incredible that night was, and how none of us had had signal in that little underground restaurant so we just talked and talked and talked like it was going out of fashion.

I saw myself standing at the top of the Rocky steps, one of my biggest life goals, for the second time.

I scrolled a little further and saw the gorgeous beach photos I took when I went down the coast with my Kate for a sneaky getaway, and the Melbourne food market tour I went on when I was learning how to use my new DSLR.

Not a single one of these times did I have my fucking phone in my hand.

I then scrolled back up and looked at my tagged photos, and I saw my face hanging in an art gallery in Maryland.

No, no one has written a song about me and no, I haven’t appeared in a music video and no, I haven’t collaborated in writing a great song, but someone liked my face so much that they decided to stare at it for hours and create a beautiful work of art that is now selling for $650USD. One day I might be hanging on someone’s wall. Wow.

What the fuck is wrong with us? Why do we always strive for what we don’t have or feel discontented when our lives are filled with amazing things to be proud of?

We can’t blame the media for everything. It’s not going to change any time soon. I think it’s our own doing, in a lot of ways. When we don’t switch off, we don’t absorb.

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Our phones are glued to our hands and life is witnessed through a screen instead of through our square little eyes.

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I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to switch off more often and get out in to that big bad world without a shield of phone to guard me, and I’m going to see how my happiness level goes.

I have an inkling I might feel just that little bit lighter; and not just because my phone is a brick for the blind.

If we don’t get out there and do, how can we be?

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I hope this little shake up helps some of you guys too. I hadn’t been able to pinpoint my lull but now I have, I’m going to try to fix it as best I can.

One hour free of technology after work each day to focus on my other things e.g. pile of unread books and neglected keyboard and guitar.

You’re all beautiful, interesting people. That’s why you’re my friends.

Now let’s go and be that without validation (said the queen of needing validation). Life is short, don’t spend it sad because some people are cooler than you.

No one will ever be as cool as Ringo Starr. It’s time we accepted it.

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Forever your honey,

Harleigh Q

Xo

Self Care Part 2

This is a reinforcement for the messages I brought up in a previous blog post, Self Love Club.

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I have been in wallowville the last month. I’m sorry for the neglect. I’ve moved my inner monologue to my diary rather than my blog. Some T does not need to be spilled on here.

The world is spinspinspinning and I’ve been feeling very much behind the curve. I’ve bitten off a lot and set a really high standard for myself and now I feel like I’m drowning a little bit.

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I was thinking back to a few months ago when I was on cloud nine and I’m trying to work out what the main triggers were. One big thing was that I was listening to Nico Tortorella’s ‘The Love Bomb‘ podcast. I was filling my ears with love on a daily basis and it was pouring out of me at the same rate.

Yesterday I picked up my copy of Pamela Des Barres’ memoir ‘I’m With the Band‘ again. I’m starting to feel that old tingle and flood from my chest to the kindred spirit within the vanilla coke stained pages (don’t ever let me borrow your books). Her life is mine, she’s just a bit ahead, a bit wilder and in a much freer environment. I get that same taste, the tendency towards hero worship. Giving and receiving magnetisms. There’s that old fire again!

I was worried it had gone out, because the last few weeks I’ve been retreating further and further in to myself. Sleeping more, doing less, working, drinking, resting, nothing. No health consciousness, no exercise. It’s got me completely and utterly drained. It’s a bit of a jump from my Self Love post. I might love me but I’m not taking care of me.

Humans are so flawed. I don’t think it’s possible for us to click on to something instantly and never have setbacks. You can have all the knowledge and good intentions in the world, but life gets in the way!

That’s why I’m writing this part two.

~

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Self love is all well and good, but it takes a lot. It takes practice. I get mad at myself. I feel like there’s two Leigh’s. There’s the hippy lover with the kindness and the openness and the world at her feet; then there’s crab Leigh. She puts constant pressure on herself, a negative running commentary. She doesn’t want to do things. Incredibly good at justifying, she’s fucking stubborn and she’s mean to me.

It’s a battle. I feel like we all have an inner crab, some are just louder and stronger than others.

Mumma and Papi tell me constantly ‘stop putting so much pressure on yourself‘. I’ve always liked to know which direction I’m heading. I like to have a 2 year plan in place and even though everything changes constantly, I need to convince myself that I’m moving on up. I can’t handle routine and stagnancy. In the same breath though, I don’t seem to like accepting my own achievements. When I do well at work, which to be honest has become a constant, I still don’t accept that it’s my hard work.

Ugh. Why can’t we take ownership of good things? Is it just easier to fail? It’s easier if something does go wrong to be able to shrug and say ‘well it wasn’t me in the first place’. It’s like I’m holding my breath waiting for it all to go to shit. Crab Leigh is chilling in the wings waiting to give me a big fat ‘told you so!’ Fuck that. Maybe I’m just good at my job.

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You’re the only one thinking you aren’t good enough.

The wild thing is, from the outside no one would ever know we feel this way. I am my most honest when I write. I just want to make a difference in someone else if they are feeling the same thing. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of isolation. It’s crazy how quickly things become overwhelming when you stop spending quality time with yourself.

So, how do we turn off these inner killers?

Self care is hard. It’s easier to eat shit, not work out; be tired and stressed. Let it beat you. But then… what do we get out of that? Bugger all is the answer.

Life ends. Don’t let that happen while you’re still breathing.

Do you feel me?

~

I’m going to make a pact with myself and any of you lovers who have been struggling with the same thing. Can we promise to be kindest to ourselves?

If you do good, celebrate it. YOU did it.

If you’re buying lunch, get something green. Tummies like it.

If you’re feeling stressed, take a bath, go for a walk. Nourish your body and your mind will follow.

If you’ve got a day off, don’t sleep all day. This one I’m going to struggle with most!

Imagine you’re a plant or a pupper. You need just as much love, care and attention. Pupper Leigh needs a daily walk or run and nutritional value in her food. Look I know I’m weird but it works for me, and I know you guys are weird too so get on board.

Stress has a choke hold on me at the moment and I’m tired of it. I’m tired tired tired. I just want to be refreshed, excited and happy like some of the incredible girls on my news feed living their truths. No, no one can be happy 100% of the time and I know we all only show the highlights (unless some of you caught my not so hilarious meltdown over missing my flight), BUT we can all take steps out of the darkness.

Let your conscious mind rule you instead of the inner killer. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing. I’m going to try to make more of an effort to do it. Sleep when you’re dead and all that jazz; except Sunday which is going to remain do nothing day.

Also, I’m going to stop drinking as much. Simple as. It’s yummy, but it’s expensive and it’s not helping.

Most importantly: The hard work really does come back around. Bite off more than you think you can chew! You’ll be surprised how much you can handle. I was. Now I get to host agents in my favourite destinations, I get people calling and asking for me. Way to make a girl feel special. Yes it’s hard, but it’s so so worth it.

I really hope there won’t need to be a part 3. I’ve got some big adventures ahead (in one month to be exact) and I want to be sound of mind and heart for my travels. I’ve earned that from myself. I deserve a break and pure enjoyment. So do we all.

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~

Just a little reminder that this isn’t about the number on the scales. This is about mental health. It’s far more important.

We need to keep addressing it.

If you’re struggling, reach out. I’m learning to and it does help, I promise. Even if this post doesn’t change anything, you aren’t alone.

I may have a bit of a cool girl persona (I can hear those of you who know me well scoffing at that), but I will always be open and honest with you guys on here. I’m bloody kidding myself if I ever think I could pull off mysterious. It just ain’t me, and I still seem to attract the rad kind. You do you.

Final note, everyone please watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I watched it in a day. It brought a lot of things to head for me and I hope it can help you guys too. It is an incredible and important show.

Be strong, be bold, be unapologetic but most of all: be kind.

Harleigh Q

Xo

You Do You

Today I wanna penetrate the skin. I want to talk about who we are on the inside. I want to discuss authenticity. Let’s talk about the power of being a weirdo.

Tell me if you feel me here, but do you guys ever find yourself surrounded by perfectly nice people having a perfectly nice time, but feel kind of.. on the outside?

Some of you might relate to this in the form of when you return from travels, or move to a new places, start a new job, spend time with old friends who aren’t on your level, meet friends of friends that you really aren’t digging.

I don’t know why it happens, and it genuinely does suck when you like people but you just don’t feel yourself around them. It’s probably the reason so many people prefer their own company; they find it hard to vibe with people.

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I’m just here to remind you guys, and myself, that the world is absolutely full of angels. They will come to you in all forms. They will shine bright, and they will pull you up to their level. They will love you, all of you, just as you are. They won’t let you flat-line. They want to see you succeed.

~

A couple of weeks ago I spent a two hour car ride with two ladies, one I’d never met before and another who is quickly becoming one of my favourite people. We spoke deeply about our experiences and what makes us tick. I was so in awe of these gorgeous, authentic ladies and their openness. I know I’m an open person, I feel no shame in it. I love it when people say things to me like ‘you’re very honest, aren’t you?’ Why yes I am, and it’s attracted some pretty incredible people and experiences in to my life. Being vulnerable is so powerful guys. Sadly, I rarely find people who are the same.

When I told the girls this we came to the conclusion that sometimes with certain people, you feel like you need to dim your sparkle. You don’t want to shine too bright, talk to much, be too interesting; you don’t want to come across as an arrogant asshole to put it bluntly. If that same person still expects you to listen to the ins and outs of their mind, they aren’t loving you the way they should.

You know what I loved the most about the time I spent with those ladies? They made me love myself more.

So choose your tribe wisely.

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Something I think gets taken for granted a lot these days though is the beauty of authenticity.

There are so many people that try so hard all day every day to fit an ‘ideal’. They mold themselves around celebrities, the people around them… is it for acceptance? A sheep in a herd of others all following the same script. Where is the realness in that though?

When I was 11 a new girl joined my primary school. It was our final year and she was called Caitlin. I had never met anyone cooler in my whole life.

She is my first memory of falling in love with someone’s spirit. At that young age she had the kind of calm confidence that girls in their early 20s dream of. She was from a military family, had a strong southern accent and had been to a lot of schools. She introduced us to songs that were trending in London, games those kids would play, but overall, she was just so real.

She didn’t seek other people’s acceptance because she already had her own. I used to love our sleepovers where we’d discuss her old schools, what she thought of the kids at ours. Every boy had a crush on her because of her chilled out aura. I was fascinated.

I have no idea what she’d be doing these days, but I’ll bet she’s killing it.

As I’ve gotten older I have realised the most attractive thing about people is a quiet confidence. Never questioning themselves, just being.

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When you know who you are, what you like and what you want from life, it’s quite intoxicating. So many people spend their whole lives seeking out people to tell them what to do and how to be. I made a decision to never, ever do that again.

I remember being mortified when new friends discovered my extensive manga collection, and even worse when my passion was referred to as ‘weird’. I used to buy trendy clothes and talk about people instead of events or ideas. I would like bands because the people around me liked them. I’d go to nightclubs for the same reason.

I no longer recognise that person. The only approval I want is my own.

I don’t know if most people realise this, but we are completely in control of our own personalities. If there is something that you don’t like about yourself, it is within your power to change it; be it recurring negativity or a snappy way you speak when you’re tired. Sometimes it’s a judgmental thought train. I’m talking about negative personality traits here, don’t change your loud laugh or goofy smile. Those things make you you.

If you’re shy, though, and think that it’s holding you back in life, don’t let yourself use that as an excuse. I have been incredibly shy for the vast majority of my life (I’m talking crippling, physically ill and shaking level of anxiety every single time I had to go somewhere new or meet someone I didn’t know very well), but I trained it out by throwing myself in to the unknown at every opportunity. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to die if I diverted from my safe routine. It’s a heavy topic I’ll probably write about in more detail one day, and please don’t think I’m downplaying anyone’s struggle, but I really do know what I’m talking about with this one. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

You can craft yourself in to to being a person that you would fall in love with. It’s powerful to choose that path. It’s important.

I hope it doesn’t always take earth shattering events for humans to change their ways, but for me that was when I decided all I wanted in life was to become my most authentic self.

I took away the shame I felt for not fitting in and just started being me.

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I proudly discuss my love of graphic novels, pop culture and small Aussie bands. It’s an amazing way to connect with people that are on your wavelength. You wouldn’t find them if you weren’t being you.

A mod, a hippy, a pinup, a groupie, a lover, a groover, a woman, a Goddess.

The moral of the story my babes, is that not everyone is going to like you; but some people will simply adore you. Surround yourself with people who tell you so, and don’t worry about the rest. Be happy in yourself. They aren’t meant to be part of your story.

It’s better to be alone and content than surrounded by people who make you feel lonely.

Vibe baby vibe. You’re perfect, just as you are.

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Your friend forever

Harleigh Q

xo

Self Love Club

I was 15 when I decided I didn’t like my body.

I’d never thought much about it before. I grew up playing football (English) and dancing so I was very fit. I’ve always enjoyed a good chocolate bar or packet of crisps. No biggie pre-puberty!

Then I got my little soft tummy and my hips came in. I was so uncomfortable. I’d hide in my over-sized uniform and never draw attention to myself. I honestly don’t know a girl who didn’t feel this way at some point.

Boys started becoming a concern. I had two very long and heavy crushes on boys in my high school. One of them I see occasionally on the train now (Mexican boy for those playing along at home). The other got wind of my affections and decided he would pretend to like me, then as he got off the school bus, would tell me he actually hated me. One of my girls found out about his plan through a mutual friend and proceeded to berate him in front of everyone. Queen.

Ahhh school. I don’t miss you in the slightest.

Moving swiftly on, none of this does much for a girl’s self esteem. Especially when you’re a codependent little book worm with a passion for anime and YouTube videos. Thank God
I grew out of that phase! (Hah)

To be completely honest, and I don’t need to go in to detail with this, I have struggled with disordered eating for a very long time. It’s something I still battle on a daily basis, one extreme to the other.

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I have a weakness for instant gratification over long term goals in every aspect of my life. It’s fun, until there’s consequences; be it money, men or pizza.

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I have always cared far too much what other people think of me, and that’s really impacted the way I behave as an adult. It’s only in the last couple of years that I have stopped doing things because people want me to; I have started doing things because I want to. My happiness is the priority. So it should be,when you’re young, free and single. You’ve got the rest of your life to take care of partners/babies/families and only a limited time for you.

In turn, I am slowly but surely trying to change the way my mind works when it comes to my body. I’m quite tired of punishing myself for not fitting in to an ‘ideal’. Whose ideal is it anyway? It’s not even mine. I have hips. I’m never going to look like Twiggy. I can still be a mod icon!

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Do you feel me brothers and sisters?

It’s ingrained in us to desire what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean that what we have isn’t desirable.

I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of my beautiful friends last weekend. As we relaxed on the veranda of an old pub in Eumundi at 7am, we discussed whether we thought it was harder these days for males or females when it comes to living up to the media’s depiction of attractiveness. I love getting the male perspective on these things.

One sat on one side, one on the other. I personally think it’s equally hard for both. Skinny guys are constantly bombarded with images of body builders the same way girls are with tiny models or curvaceous sex symbols. You can’t be all things to all people.

I think it’s a matter of preference. We are all attracted to different things.

I don’t like muscles in men (except for that really intense, slightly creepy thing I have for Sly). I’m too vividly reminded of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an angry rant because someone chose not to get up early and work out. That, of course, wasn’t my fault. I’m not a big trainer. I don’t want to be with someone who is. I love men with soft tums or slimness. Tattoos are great. I want someone who will eat pizza and stay in bed all day; someone I can exchange music with. I find thick dark hair, a great smile, intense eyes and deep conversations irresistible.

We’re all shallow in our own way. There’s nothing wrong with preference, and there’s people out there who think you are 10/10 perfection just the way you are too (I hope you’re one of them). Never forget that. You are someone’s thing. There’s your happy thought for the day.

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~

I bought a size 14 skirt (shock horror!) because I’m tired of feeling uncomfortable in my cute little minnies when I’m lounging. I wanted something comfy for the hours upon hours I’ll be spending on a bus on my next adventure.

That’s two whole sizes bigger than I was this time last year. That’s 4 inches. I have gained 4 whole massive inches around my hips. I’ve also gained a feeling of self worth, travelled America and Thailand, moved interstate again, become one of the top consultants in my field and ate a ridiculous amount of pizza.

But, you know, God forbid 4 inches.

I’m tired of thinking I’m unhappy with my body. Why? We only get one, just like we only get one life. I don’t want to spend mine counting calories and obsessing over food like I have for years. I just want to be happy, and love myself the same way I love you guys.

Can we make a pact?

Look in the mirror and find the things you love about yourself. For me it’s my incredible boobs (duh) and wee waist. I enjoy my hips and poot – aka little tummy; thanks Joey for the excellent word. Remember that this is the way other people look at you. Only you focus on the negatives. We are our own biggest critics.

Now let yourself love. Smile, gently caress the bits (oo-er) and take a moment to be proud. We’re alive, in tact, whole and healthy. Life is good. We are great. Have a boogie.

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Mummas, your tiger stripes are sexy as fuck, you warriors. Fellow mermaid thigh bellas, your cellulite is beautiful. If Mischa Barton has it I’ll take two.

The more you love yourself, the more other people can love you.

~

This brings me to the final part of this little post. The Self Loath Club.

Please, please remember my darlings that negativity always comes from unhappiness. If you have someone in your life who points out your ‘flaws’ (there’s no such thing unless you smell like eggs) or negs you out, it’s because they’re unhappy.

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I don’t know a single happy girl who does this.

I know several insecure ones who do.

It’s horrible, and commenting on other people goes completely against my polite English nature, but it happens a lot. If you find yourself thinking negatively about someone else, question where it’s coming from.

As strong ladies I think it’s our job to change this culture.

I’m the biggest coward in the universe, except when it comes to shutting down dick heads in bars, but if you find someone is negging you please call them out on it! Do not let it penetrate your shield. Stay firm and glow with self love, and do not take their words on board. They’re only saying it to make themselves feel better. That’s really sad, isn’t it?

If it’s a dude/chick/person of the non gender you dig negging you just tell them to fuck the fuck off.

I love you babies.

Thanks for reading.

You’re welcome for the Joe gifs. Though you probably preferred the Franco one.

Harleigh Q

Xoxo

P.S. Re-reading this post, I reference pizza a lot. Mi piace.