Can you tell us a bit about your journey towards self-love?
I’ve always been ambitious.
My mum used to laugh and tell me about my childhood dreams, like how I was set on being an author, and studying English at Oxford University. How I loved to dance, and envisioned myself gracing iconic London stages. My head has always been filled with wild plans.
But, when I was 18, I was vulnerable and naive - I fell in love. What began as innocent young love, took control over my life, it was intoxicating, all-consuming and overpowering.
We were together for four years, and those crazy dreams of literature, dance and fame? I guess they just fell to the wayside. Rather than pursuing university, we moved to Australia.
One thing I know now, is that self-love is about pursuing what sets your soul on fire. I wish I knew that then, I lost sight of my fire, my self –love.
What dampened my flame? I honestly cannot pinpoint when it began. Maybe it was when the tone changed like, “I love you” turned into “I resent you.” Maybe it was the drinking, when a fun night out with friends turned into uncontrollable drunken rages.
Its hard to love yourself when the person you care for makes you feel unworthy, scared, anxious, and sick. These are the enemies of self love. These are the feelings that turned my flame into a mere flicker.
This is a hard story for me to tell. Most people know me as a carefree person, with a little bit of sass and a whole lot of gratitude and happiness. Even some close friends and direct family members do not know my story.
I guess I am scared to be pitied. I don’t want people to say “poor Blair.” I don’t want to be defined as a victim, or seen as damaged goods. But I also don’t want people to ignore the icky stuff. The awkward conversations.
I want people to realise that emotional and physical abuse is a very real problem, which young women aren’t educated about. I mistook unacceptable behaviour as a reflection of my own –self worth. I want other women to realise that no one has the right to extinguish your fire.
I have never felt more isolated in my life, than I did while I lived in Australia.
When my friends called me, I would tell them everything was peachy. When my Mum would Skype me, I would smile through the pain.
What they didn’t know about was the sleepless nights waiting for him to come home after a night out. His drunken threats. His name calling. His unpredictable behaviour.
They didn’t know about the nights I would be physically sick, because I was so worried about where he was, and what he might be doing. The nights when he was so wasted, he thought it would be funny to try and suffocate me with a pillow. The one night in an alley way, where he threw me against a wall, and couldn't remember the next day.
I would constantly justify the way he treated me. He is just drunk. He is just stressed. He is a different person when he is sober. Maybe I am just annoying. Maybe I am no fun. Maybe it’s all my fault.
Looking back, I was a very scared person - scared of being alone, and most of all, scared of someone I was meant to love, who was meant to love me.
When my relationship ended, I moved back to New Zealand. I was ready to pursue those childhood dreams of study, of fitness and of great adventure. But after years of being worn down, I still didn’t realise my worth.
This did lead me to pursuing love in places that weren’t fulfilling. Dating people that gave me attention, not respect. Partying hard, treating my body poorly, not eating enough, not eating at all.
Self love showed up for me because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible friends and family, they encouraged me to relight my flame. I was sick of being a shell of the person I knew I could be.
So, I began to pursue those things that set my soul on fire. I began so hungry for success that I chased after those A+ grades I knew I was capable of. I stopped downplaying my intelligence, and began being proud of my university achievements and I surrounded myself with people that radiated good energy. I opened myself up to change. ( continues )
When my fire began to return, so did my passion for fitness. I discovered weight training. And suddenly, working out was no longer an act of self-hatred, but self-love. I love that I can lift double my body weight. I love that working out turns me into a little pocket rocket of energy. I love the strength I feel each time I beat a personal best. I work out for me, because I love my body and everything it is capable of.
In August last year, I continued to fight for my self-love, and did something I thought I could never do – I entered a bodybuilding competition.
To me, competing is so much more than six-pack abs and a shiny medal. I didn’t care if won first place, or came last. I didn’t care if I had the most rounded glutes or the strongest shoulders. As I walked across the stage, I wasn’t fearful about what people might say. I didn’t question whether I was worthy enough.
To stand in front of hundreds of people, in a spangly bikini and six inch plastic heels, required a confidence that I had been denied, for so many years.No one could extinguish my self-love fire, because I knew that I was more than enough.
If anything comes from sharing this story, I hope women in a similar situation realise it is possible to get out. It is possible to let the warmth of your fire slowly begin to fulfil you again, and when you get there it will change your life.
What does self-love mean to you?
To me, self-love is an ongoing project. Self-love is the strength to embrace imperfection.
It is so important put yourself first, in a world that demands so much of women. We are expected to be the perfect partner, the perfect employee, the perfect friend, to present ourselves impeccably, inside out and out. Self-love involves a true connection to yourself, and ability to do what’s right by YOUR core values, not the values that society forces upon us.
Going to the gym and mastering my pull-ups, cooking a nutritious and tasty dinner, a cheeky wine with a childhood friend, a hiking adventure in the hills of Eastbourne, moments by myself amidst a hectic daily schedule, accepting new career challenges, meeting like-minded entrepreneurial women – these are all exercises in self-love that ignite the fire in my belly.
Why is self-love so important?
Self-love is so important, because despite what is going on around us, we have control over what is going on inside us.
Self-love reminds us to be gentle with ourselves in the face of failure. That we can make mistakes, be embarrassing and be awkward. I dance in the supermarket aisles when I am excited for my dinner. I get awkward giggles in inappropriate situations. I have failed a squat and completely totalled myself in front of the whole gym floor.
But guess what? Self-love is the quiet voice that whispers “no one can do it better than you can.” So, I will continue to moonwalk in Countdown, snort when I laugh and chase that 100kg squat, without fear of critique from others.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today
Adversity has been my best teacher in life. I am proud that I have the spirit and willpower to never give up. There has been so many times when reigniting my self-love flame felt too hard, or unachievable.
I used to avoid speaking about my academic successes, my gym goals or my self-love journey. But I have created a life for myself that I am genuinely in love with. To me, that is something worth shouting from the rooftops!
I have come from waking up each morning fearful and lost, to being excited to see what lies ahead of me. I have won academic awards, a university scholarship, a bodybuilding medal, and most importantly, I have won a positive relationship with myself.
What does Valentine's Day mean to you and what will you be doing for yourself for valentines?
Valentines Day for me is an opportunity to feel grateful for the connections I have made over the past few years. Without my beautiful friends and my amazing family, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today.
So this Valentine Day, rather than wallowing in single self-pity, I will spend at least five minutes talking to the important people in my life, and letting them know how much I value their existence. We are the sum total of the ten people we spend the most time with, and I’m freaking stoked that my inner circle is the ultimate good vibe tribe!
What do you believe a healthy relationship entails?
This quote really resonates with me: “something I have recently learned that chased love, is not love. If you have to run after it, talk it into staying, remind it of your value, fight alone for the both of you.. it’s not love, it’s not happiness.”
A healthy relationship should involve meaningful connection and genuine trust. Each person in a relationship is whole on their own, and does not sacrifice their core values for sake of another. There is no fear, resentment or anxiety. I think love should lift you up, inspire, and encourage to be the best possible version of yourself.
What advice would you give to our readers?
You are the most important project you will ever work on. Don’t forget you have the choice to choose yourself, and move away from what doesn’t fuel your self-love fire. You, and only you have the power to chose where you are headed next.
Don’t chase perfection. Embrace being boldly imperfect. Be unapologetically you.
In the past, I have been barely Blair. I undervalued my worth, understated my intelligence and underrated my body. I let another person dictate my value.
But now I am boldly Blair and I am proud of who I am. And you can be too.