It’s my birthday! Which means it’s time for the annual post reflecting on yet another year on this chaotic planet and of course, I had to use a T-Swift reference as the title. I mean, I am officially 22 and one is practically obligated to use that song’s lyrics in any caption or title of content posted when you turn 22, right?
The beer virus has turned the world into an apocalyptic nightmare where loo roll is highly coveted and everyone practically has a heart attack if someone coughs within a mile radius of them. So, that means the only party I’ll be having today is the one thrown by my fellow villagers in Animal Crossing: New Horizons… And I’m surprisingly not mad at it. While I never leave the comfort of my room much anyway, the UK being on lockdown has provided me with a lot of time to really sit back and reminisce on all the old highs and new lows of 21.
So what ancient 22-year-old wisdom will I impart upon you today? Well, I tried to do some browsing to see what ideas I could siphon from other bloggers, but I don’t think ’22 Pieces of Advice for my Younger Self’ or ’22 Lessons Learned’ are my style. Frankly, I think I’m incredibly unqualified to be giving any other human soul advice considering the wild year of mistakes I’ve had. However, 21 wasn’t all bad. There were a few personal and career achievements made and I met some incredible people along the way.
OOPS, YOU’RE NOT INVITED // MAKE-UP: GLOSSIER, SAGE GREEN RUCHED POLKA DOT BODYCON DRESS, MERI MERI PARTY PAPER CROWNS
I kicked off 21 with the resolution of wanting to be kinder to myself. It meant learning to be more comfortable with all the things about myself that I struggle with. Did I manage to achieve that? Eh, well, sort of. It’s very hard when your career revolves so heavily around social media. I adore working in PR and marketing/digital content to the moon and back, but personally, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s no secret that I’m an incredibly anxious person and I will always be an incredibly anxious person. While I am beyond thankful for all the doors social media has opened for me career-wise, it has definitely exacerbated this anxiety.
I spend about 95% of my day on Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop editing visual content that’s a mix between photos for this blog and my own social media as well as press and online content material for clients. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love editing and playing around with light and colour settings and all that jazz. However, this also means for past six years of having this blog, I’ve spent an uncomfortable amount of time looking at my own face and body in Adobe CC.
Social media is a lot of pressure. When you eat, sleep, breathe it for work as well as for a side passion, it’s easy for it to become the primary focal point for most of your day. Part of my job involves sourcing influencers to coordinate posts with, designing and then posting content to socials, and all that means spending a lot of time looking at competitors or other people and what they post. It’s easy to develop tendencies where you’ll compare every inch of the way another person looks to yourself. You’ll worry you’re not using the right filter or start thinking ‘Should I get filler because my lips don’t look like that? Maybe I need to eat less Oreos? Ok, perhaps I need to get my jaw shaved?’.
While sitting here writing this, I realised I do feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I did this time last year, but it’s still a huge work in progress. Not to go overkill with the Taylor Swift references in this post, but I watched her new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, last week. The part where she spoke about her constant need for validation really resonated with me as I’ve spent the last year – and the better half of this month – attempting to deconstruct an entire belief system that I’ve built throughout my life. I’m hyper-aware of my desperate need to be liked and thought of as a ‘good’ person by everyone who I have the slightest interaction with. It’s a tiring way to exist because as I’ve slowly come to learn you can’t please everyone and I’ve held my tongue a lot and resisted voicing my feelings in person to people because I’m terrified of what they’ll think. It’s frustrating, but what are you meant to do when you’ve relied solely on praise in both professional/educational settings and in your personal life in order to get by and make you feel better about yourself?
Being able to dismantle this is make or break depending on the media you consume and the company you keep and let’s be real, it’s safe to say that many, many male mistakes were made throughout the twenty-first chapter of my life. Some of which have been well-documented both here and in press *cough* definitely not a plug for my Metro piece *cough* and I wouldn’t be Samantha Kilford if I didn’t round off the year by dating another disastrous boy!
During the first half of being 21, I was definitely still chasing validation and for some insane reason, I thought I’d find it in the male species. While I got to go to some amazing countries – this is the only thing I will give Tinder Boy credit for – I quickly realised in the fallout of whatever that was if I was going happy, I had to do it myself because to put it simply, men are trash. However, towards the end of last year, another narcissist who just really loved to make others feel bad about themselves entered my life. News flash: you’re actually not great at all, bbz.
Honestly, the less said about him the better, but it’s the age old story. Girls meets boy. Girl likes boy. Boy is actually a colossal arsehole. In the words of John Mulaney, “now, we don’t have time to unpack all of that”, but to sum it up, he was actually an incredibly horrible person. Sadly, I just didn’t realise the mental damage being with someone so arrogant and emotionally switched off could do. This is also the last time that I let my friends encourage me to not go for looks because guess what, I didn’t prioritise that this time round and lowered my visual standards and it still didn’t work! The next guy better be Adonis, I swear, because it would at least make the heartbreak worth it. Truly, you give an average guy a chance and they suddenly think they’re hot shit. No, hun. You know when you look back and you realise his chat was bad and he actually treated you with so much disrespect that you end up questioning why you ever offered that person even a fraction of your time? Yeah, it was one of those situations.
This person worked hard to unearth all those insecurities and even created new ones that I didn’t have which sucked – thanks a lot, man! Directly comparing me TO MY FACE to his previous conquests as well as treating not just me, but women in general in a very derogatory manner was a big yikes. I don’t think I’d want to stick around with someone who disrespects and demeans women to sex objects the way him and his friends do. Might want to reconsider your privacy settings if anyone in that friendship group – taken or otherwise – follows you, gals, because you’ll be the joke of their spank bank fodder and he will 100% slag you off to the next girl he sleeps with. Calling previous women you’ve slept with ugly and stinky and just generally bashing them while you’re trying to woo me truly shows an insane level of insolence to me and these girls which isn’t really a vibe when you’re a whole 23 years old and you’re confused why you’ve never had a real girlfriend. Him talking like he was some sort of sex god is hilarious considering he had issues in bed and I faked it every single time… @TheAcademy, where’s my Oscar? 🙊 Actually, if you ever date a guy who does this with his mates, bin the whole boyfriend. Don’t date a guy who can’t respect the relationship and doesn’t respect females as a whole. Definitely don’t stand for a guy who would rather leave you throwing up in an Airbnb after you spent £90 travelling down on a three hour train to see him to instead go party with mates he sees every other weekend with explicit plans to party with a close mate he shagged on the reg afterwards. It seems like I have a knack for encountering new levels of trash. @Bumble, I want a refund.
Upon reflection, he had more red flags than a ski course, but the worst feeling is when you have to beg someone to be nice to you i.e. not make rude comments about factors of your appearance which you can’t control (Hey, asshole, if you’re reading this – still haven’t forgiven you for the height comment!) and then to not consider anyone else’s feelings but their own… Was he even human? The biggest kick in the teeth came on Valentine’s Day which doubled up as his birthday. I’d spent maybe £300+ and several hours running London to collect pre-ordered presents that he actually didn’t show much appreciation for at all and this clown rolls up with a bag of Wotsits and Werther’s Originals fully wrapped up to look like signficant presents. We are not the same. 🤡 Having gone through the grieving process of breaking up, I think it’s safe to say that I got a lucky escape. He was a whole smorgasbord of problems.
Anyway, after the break-up, I took a few weeks to distance myself from social media. The coronavirus has made that slightly easier to do as freelance work has become drier than the Sahara. But, I didn’t generate any content of myself for just over a month. To be fair, I didn’t look in the mirror for over a month. I felt ugly, worthless, insert another negative synonym here. The relationship really regressed my self-image and knocked me for a six. Yet, oddly, here on my 22nd birthday, I’m the most confident I’ve ever been.
I’ve lost a f*ckton of weight which while perhaps obtained by the less than healthy method of subconscious starvation (I am not endorsing that!) means I’m now comfortably a Size 4 rather being a limbo between sizes 4-6 and at the risk of revealing how much time I’ve stared photos of myself, I think my face looks less round. This sounds like a weird thing to be happy about, but I’ve strangely always been insecure about my weight despite never being close to overweight in any sense of the word. That didn’t stop me feeling fat most days I saw myself on a screen though. Don’t worry, I’m now back to wolfing back to pizza and exercising so we’re all good!
Another significant change was that a few weeks before 21, I started taking antidepressants and now, on my 22nd birthday, I have been off them for just under a month. After meeting with some psychiatrists in my post-break up depression, he confirmed that I didn’t have any significant mental health conditions that warranted the taking of long-term antidepressants which has been a real game changer to how I view myself. It was reassuring to hear someone say that they think any of the severe mental health diagnosis I’ve had in the past, such as BPD, are in fact incorrect and that aside from anxiety, my emotional responses to situations were normal. Having spent a long time being gaslighted by various people or had people exaggerate my mental health to use as a scapegoat for being an arsehole, it’s nice to know I’m not actually crazy and just end up deciding to let the wrong people into my life.
As much as I loathe that person and regret ever getting involved with them, I think it was hugely important in showing me what I will not tolerate for even two seconds ever again. Obviously, the anxiety is always going to be a part of me, but I’ve taken solace in knowing that it’s actually super common for someone who is hyper sensitive after a distressing event. Going through the extreme of having someone treat you with next to no compassion and basic human regard on an emotional level has done wonders for my self-worth and I’ll be going into 22 with a much happier mental mindset. Honestly, every time I find myself slipping, I just think What Would Sophie Hermann do?
However, for every negative person I met at 21, I encountered some truly incredible human beings. The social media sabbatical gave me time to connect with the people in my life who do actually care about me and my well-being. My mother who is a constant source of positive reinforcement about all the good aspects of me and who basically channeled her inner Brenda from Bristol a few weeks ago when yet another indie band boy slides into my DMs. My friends, who let me vent about the latest trash boy to them. Fredster – looking forward to that bucket of champagne when COVID-19 is over! And Specs, who has provided such a grand insight into the mind of trash boys and his offered invaluable advice. How much lower in the barrel can I scrape when it comes to boys? Tune in next time!
Obviously, a special shoutout has to go to the wonderful Emily of Emztography who I’m sure everyone has seen me constantly mentioning on this blog and socials. We met around this time last year for a birthday/mother’s day shoot and she is simply one of the greatest, sweetest, loveliest humans on the planet. For someone like me who is so unsure of herself and anxious about her own appearance, I love going through our previous shoots and I can actually see how much more progressively comfortable I’ve gotten with being photographed by someone other than my phone on a self-timer and that’s literally all down to her! She’s the best friend a girl can ask for so can Coronavirus please do one so we can sip espresso martinis and have a goss about the most recent mistake of a man the Photoshop Patch Tool has managed to erase from photographic existence! 😜 Follow Emz on Instagram, Twitter and read her blog. I promise this wasn’t a cleverly disguised #spon for her biz, but I do endorse giving her all your coins and shooting with her once lockdown is over and it’s safe to leave home. Fund our cocktails and boy chats pls!
Also, to anyone who’s wondering why I may be slow with replying recently, I promise I’m probably not ignoring you. Animal Crossing: New Horizons dropped nine days ago which means you can expect a reply to your messages within 3-5 business days. To the boys who decided to blow up my DMs recently. A) Was everyone just waiting for this relationship to inevitably fail and the Instagram to disappear so they could shoot their shot – admirable, if I do say so myself and B) I do not fancy 99.5% of you. Of course, there are exceptions aka the ones who actually get a reply. The compliments are sweet and I know, I’m cute af, however, please for the love of all things holy, stop sending unsolicited butt and dick pics… or at least prepare yourself when I invoice you for my therapy due to the trauma caused by what my eyes had to witness.
when your new horizons islanders care more about you than your ex
I think it’s obvious to anyone who has followed me for awhile or has had the time to comb through the archive of Samantha Kilford that the journey to 22 has been one filled with espresso martinis, regret and a lot of learning. Hopefully, there’s a lot less regret and a lot more espresso martinis on the road to 23! A big, big thank you those who sent me birthday wishes and have continued to stick with me despite the scarcity of blog content recently!