JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Streatham, London
For a longtime I tried and very much failed, to be the stereotypical version of how people see me. Being mixed race and plus size, others will often assume I'm a party animal, I'm sociable, I'm outgoing and I'm always up for a laugh (remember the time you'd refer to someone who looks like me as bubbly) FUCKING KILL ME LOL. And whilst there are aspects of me that are all of the above, none play a key role in who I really am.
I don't know why, but growing up people would be surprised if I said that I didn't enjoy clubbing, I wasn't a big drinker, or that I would rather sit at home and do nothing, than go out and engage in small talk. This is how I've always been, but I would often suppress this to be seen as "fun", because there is definitely a slight stigma (stigma is probably the wrong word but I can't think of a replacement), attached with being 'boring'.
Back in the day your mates would turn their nose up at you, if you didn't want to go out on a Friday night, or you couldn't really be bothered to see your friends, sister's, ex's cousin on her birthday. And when I was internet dating, men would often gasp or pull a shocked face, when I told them that I'd been out clubbing only a hand full of times and that I'm usually in bed before midnight - even on the weekends.
I remember in my early 20s, that I would literally force myself to do things that I didn't want to do, so that my social circle would stop going on at me lol. I'd go to parties, out for drinks or events and smile and laugh and pretend that I really wanted to be in a room full of people that I didn't particular know, or like. And you know what? It was draining and I hated it.
And I still hate doing it now.
As a blogger, as a confident person and as someone who people assume has lots and lots of friends, I sometimes feel as though as I am expected to be sociable. To be the party animal and/or the life and soul of the partaaaay.
When my career REALLY took off, I began working with a PR company who would get me invited to lots of events and parties and social gatherings so that I could be 'seen'. In layman's terms 'be papped'. I get it. I get that its a way to grow your profile and for the general public to start recognising who you are, outside of social media. However, I found this incredibly difficult and somewhat soul destroying. I don't particularly like industry events as it is. I gave up attending lots of events years ago, when I realised you didn't actually need to go to them in order to gain success within the blogosphere. So when I had to attend events for the sole purpose of showing my face, it just didn't sit right with me. It felt wrong and after 3 or 4 attempts, I just gave up and decided it wasn't for me.
Part of the reason I struggling with mingling, is because I just find it draining. I feel other peoples energies and aura's so profoundly deeply, that when I am constantly on and around others, its like I've ran a bloody marathon. I hope some of you reading this know exactly how I feel and that I'm not coming across like a moany bitch lol.
I'm an introvert at heart but take on an extrovert's tendencies because its all part of the act. When I say act, I don't mean in a fake way, I mean in a way where you have to be a people person in the field of work I am in. I have to meet people when on shoots etc and attend meetings with brands - when in all honesty, I just like being at home working and doing bits and bobs around my flat. But part of being an introvert is feeling alone when in crowds. Enjoying your own company. Getting angsty when you've been active for too long and ignoring calls and dodging conversations until you've mentally prepared yourself for them. (does this sound familiar?)
So how do I navigate life when who I am and who I have to be is often completely different?
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Over the last year, I've tried super hard to do everything with love and from a kind place. There is an age old saying of 'do more of what makes you happy' and that really resonates with me. Whilst I do believe the importance of seeing friends and socialising, I also believe how paramount it is to do the things you really want to do. For me, that's staying in on Friday nights so that I can recuperate after a busy week, order my favourite Thai food, burn some candles and incense and watch a film.
Going out and engaging in conversations is healthy, don't get me wrong. And I don't want this post to be twisted into 'I hate all humans so I'm a recluse and stay inside' lol. I actually see a select few people on a regular basis and LOVE spending time with them - but that's the catch right there. For my own sanity and mental health I have to be selective with who I let in, and who I allow to share my energy with. When you recover from trauma, you see the world differently and that means you become different too. I can only really be around people who's morals align with mine. You may see on social that I often use #spiritualfamily when I hang out with certain people - these are the kind of people I like to spend time with.
I know its a personal choice to navigate life in this capacity, but its honestly a way that I practice self care. I like to be around others who feed my soul and I feed theirs. People who are healing and vibrating at a frequency that sits outside of their physical self. People who leave me feeling high instead of low, and full instead of empty.
Being unsociable is a way for me to protect myself and a way for me to recharge and reset.