My Lab

I am an unorthodox 21 year old.

I am what I like to call an unorthodox 21 year old, that doesn’t make me alone or unique because there are many other like me, but someone that in our society is different to the ‘usual’ twenty-one year old.

Myself today, I am a writer, a wordsmith because I like to dabble in a little bit of everything I am just not very vocal with words because the introvert in me cries every time I have to talk to a large group of people (if unprepared), seriously, even picking up the phone and ringing someone requires a fifteen minute pep talk. I am hyper in sudden spontaneous spurts of endorphins and adrenaline. ¬†I don’t really drink, I used to drink a lot, when I was 18 I did the thing most 18 year olds do when they can legally walk into a pub and feel like a grown up. I guess I got it all out of my system then.¬†I also love being alone, but don’t like feeling lonely. I suffer with anxiety and depression and I’m no longer afraid to talk about it. Like most people my age I do have a loving family, a select group of supportive friends and a lovely boyfriend. So it’s all good there.¬†I don’t go out partying or clubbing – that’s not an introvert thing, it’s just because I don’t enjoy having some guy grinding up on my leg like an all-too-happy to see me puppy where I have a sudden urge to shout “Down boy!’. The music is always too loud – like you have to be drunk for it to actually sound good otherwise it sounds like it’s coming out of a tin can and I just don’t see the appeal of the clubbing culture. It’s just not my thing, many people my age have looked at me as though I have something wrong with me, but I think that’s okay.

I also am very ambitious but before I could never really pinpoint what I want, except for one thing – I want to be an author, not when I grow up or get older but now, I guess I’m impatient too but only with myself. Most people my age are in their last year of uni, some will probably go straight into a job, some won’t, some will go travelling and some will just be clueless with what next to do with their life. Me on the other hand, I am studying an Open University course full time. I originally started it part-time but then realised I’d be twenty-four by the time I finished. I also am a self-employed freelance writer, so I have to take care of myself and my job, occasionally when I have a melt-down, I cry for help and when the help comes in the form of slightly older and a lot older peers and copious amounts of tea or hot-chocolate I’m sure again about what I’m doing and the path I’ve chosen. I also run a project, currently by myself and so again I have to light up the S.O.S pile of wood and rejoice when people come and not only help physically but keep me going. I’m always tired, I rarely have time for myself let alone my family or friends; my mind never stops and I have to juggle three things at once and try not to feel guilty about focusing on one but not the other two. I’ve just got started with this new journey and it’s exciting, scary but lovely all in one go. So like I said, I am very ambitious!

But the journey before this change in destination wasn’t easy. I am young, I am busy creating something everyday, working and studying but I didn’t leave school with the answer, I didn’t wake up one day and say “Yes! This is what I am going to do!”. I slugged myself through years of unfortunate events, confusion, anger, despair and lots of lacking of confidence before I could get here. I left school with great grades, 6 A’s, 4 B’s and 1 C. Not too shabby for someone who’s attendance was poor, I studied hard and worked hard to get those grades and it paid off. I went to a college that took 2 1/2 hours (roundtrip)¬†to get to everyday because I was convinced that acting is what I wanted to do and I wanted to go to a college that would support that – so I did, despite not knowing anybody there or liking leaving my warm house at half six in the morning.

Nobody told me just how hard college was and I worked hard but I finished my first year with grades I wasn’t happy with. So I wanted to move to a college that was closer to home to do my second year of A Levels but I didn’t because being young and having your “first love” puts you in a position to make not so well thought out decisions. Girls, if your boyfriend (at any age) ever says to you that if you make a decision that will make you happier, that will improve you but doesn’t make him happy or improve him that he will leave you – run for the hills and don’t look back because if he truly loves you, he will support you. So that’s what happened and I decided to leave my course, do a B-Tec in Business and stay at that college, yes that’s right I did that, I changed my course, literally and metaphorically for him. This was okay for a bit though, again I worked hard, got Distinctions in all of my assignments and muddled through the first two months then my family suffered two accounts of heartbreaking news. My nan became ill of leukaemia, then shortly afterwards my grandma became ill with bowel cancer.

It was hard, I tried to keep up with college but I couldn’t between visiting my grandmother in hospital and then dealing with my boyfriend breaking up with me at one of the hardest points in my life. It sucked, I won’t lie, it really sucked. My grandma, one of the strongest women I have ever known died. She told me I was able to be anyone, be anything that I wanted, but I couldn’t believe her, how could I when she was leaving me? Eventually I dropped out of college, became withdrawn, stopped eating and talking and I had no clue how anything was going to get better. Obviously it did but at that time the light at the end of the tunnel was not even a spec. Between the ages of 18 and 20 I tried one more college course and dropped out, I worked in retail, in admin and volunteered. I had to try and stay busy whilst I found some answers, found my path, the thing that I wanted to do and would be happy doing. I had great advice given to me in between this time, I wrote a lot of poetry and even had one poem published – this was when I used to perform and I couldn’t honestly tell you why I’ve stopped. I wrote stories and kept the creative juices flowing. I just kept going and living and existing without feeling a sense actually being or doing anything truly purposeful. Until one day I decided I wanted a degree in English and Creative Writing and I knew that it would be tough because I didn’t actually have an A Levels or anything equivalent, so I looked up Open University I get support with tuition fees, I can do it online and at home and it’s flexible, it’s almost perfect so I started studying part-time.

Yet it wasn’t enough and the gap didn’t feel whole. Last year I was volunteering at a community centre and was managing their blog and social media when they suggested I did it as a job and after a lot of convincing and believing that I could actually do it, in 2014 The Blogatory was born and I went self-employed, doing what I love which isn’t something a lot of 20 year olds get the opportunity to say. Then The Book Club started and that has to be my greatest love, the best thing I’ve ever created and I am sure that it is going to grow into something that will inspire and help people to also do what they love and the platform that we (I say we, because there will be a team one day) will provide will allow local writers, authors and poets to shout their work from the rooftops in the form of print and if I can do that for even one person that will be amazing. Finally, of course one day I will be a published author myself, that’s all in the plan and I’m working on my first ‘proper’ novel now.

I know a lot of unorthodox people like me because naturally you draw yourself to the people most like you, I am surrounded by great people who are like me, thinkers, creators, ambitious, quirky and pretty darn cool. We are all at different stages and it’s amazing to watch these beautiful beings create these amazing projects, social enterprises and businesses. But my journey is just beginning, I am proud to be who I am and even though I have my down days and moments of deep despair I am sure about my destination this time around. ¬†I am an unorthodox 21 year old and given my experience I probably shouldn’t be where I am now but I’m here.

J x

My Lab

Something New – Progress & Thank you!

2014-06-18 19.30.28-2

This year has been the start of a lot of new things, relationships, businesses and much more; including discovering that I’m actually capable of more than I believed that I was, I never believed the people that told me that I had the smarts and the strength, I just always lacked in confidence, but now I can actually say how proud I am from where I started to where I’ve arrived with much more adventures to be had and this time I’m not afraid of the adventure – I’m quite excited about it. If someone had told me last three years ago that I’d be doing an Eng Lit & Creative Writing degree and starting my career in writing I would have laughed at them. Only luck could determine whether I made it as a writer right? Well I’ve started to think that luck is a state of mind, if there is something reachable and achievable that you want, why not grab it? ¬†And I can honestly say that making your dream you own reality is a crazy but fabulous feeling of warm and glowiness – even on the hard days – I look around and see all of my progress and smile.

Since I’m self employed I don’t have a manager to give me ¬†progress report, I do however have a supportive boyfriend and network of friends, family and associates that will, without a doubt in their hearts (or minds), tell me how good¬†and¬†bad I’m doing which is important when it’s only you managing your business (work and life wise). So I have learnt one big important lesson – “A part of your life is only as good as the people your surround yourself with” – especially when you don’t have a great social life because your career side has become the biggest aspect of your life, you do begin to realise; ‘Who is there for me? Even if I haven’t seen so and so¬†in two months and I didn’t reply to their ¬†text until two in the morning because that’s the time that I finished working.’. They are still there because they understand the chasm between the two facets in your life¬†and¬†everything is most definitely a grey area. But funnily enough people who don’t have your best interests or just don’t understand that you are busy, not ignoring them; seem just flutter away, and that is fine because it’s their choice and life is full of them. So maybe we are better off without that extra bit around the edges, your group, your people become smaller but it doesn’t make you any less you, if not just a bit better, in fact you might not have noticed them pick up their coat, tip-toe out the door and silently shut it behind them. I want to thank everyone that has supported me and stuck by me; even when I haven’t been around they sure let me know about it and I appreciate that!

Today as this goes out into the inter-web void is my little (not so little) sister’s prom. Four years ago it was me leaving school with all of these plans and ideas of what I was going to go, what college and adult life was going to be and really, none of those plans, went¬†to¬†plan,¬†BUT, adult life has been good to me (so far). I just hope that my sister takes her time to really enjoy today, look beautiful (which she will of course), dance and have bundles of fun. And then the real fun begins, but she has a vast support network as I do and she has me for every day that isn’t a good one. So for now Jess… have fun tonight!

J x



Au Naturel?

There has been a thought that has been buzzing around in my head since Monday and today I want to share and explore this thought.

It happened when I was getting ready to go out. I looked in the mirror like you usually do but this time it was different – I REALLY looked at myself. And then the strangest but the most beautiful and overwhelming thing as a young woman happened. I said out aloud to myself this, ‘I look pretty without any make-up on.’.

Why is it strange? Well that’s simple, because I’ve never thought I was pretty. Maybe I’m an attractive girl when my face is muddied with foundation and my features enhanced by kohl eye liner, blusher and lipstick. But never without it, without it I just¬†see myself as me; not necessarily ugly or un-pretty but just me as a person, yet I would never say that I am beautiful or pretty. And I have had twenty years of this.

Two things of curiosity entered my mind after I made this statement to myself. First, how have I managed to reach this epic conclusion about my natural appearance. Second, is it vain to see your natural-self as pretty or beautiful?

The issue roots from the majority of the population not being given room to believe that ‘au naturel’ is beautiful. Women and men spend most of their teenage and adult life being told how to look, who is beautiful or hot, what to wear, what to buy; what to eat, the list is impossible, and a lot of these companies write contradictory statements about natural beauty and loving ourselves for who we are. Well now that is real mind boggling and mental torture for anyone that religiously follows lifestyle/fashion/beauty in the media. And conclusively women mostly are fed and led to believe that we’re not beautiful enough or if even at all.



My Beauty Journey 

When I’d just got into my teens I wished I was white, I thought that being white meant that you were beautiful and being mixed race wasn’t. I soon got out of that notion when I looked around at my family and saw the gorgeousness of my sisters, my mom, my cousis; aunties and my grandmother. There was no reason to think that the colour of my skin made me any less beautiful because – it’s just a pigment! As I got a little older and began to get spots and skin blemishes I believed I was ugly because I didn’t have lovely clear skin like these celebrities do and I began to loathe my skin and so the make-up came. I used make-up as a way to hide what I thought was ugliness. People would always tell me that I looked beautiful without make-up on and I just could not believe them, how could I be when beauty isn’t blemished? Then I found out about airbrushing when I was fifteen and realised that actually these celebrities are just like me, they have spots, acne and blemishes, they just have someone who’s good at photoshop edit those bits out. They are not flawless. Which was when I cut down on the obsessive need to wear make-up to hide my skin, I accepted that I had flaws, because so did everybody else, after all we’re all human. Between then and now, so about four years, I’ve just been accepting of myself and what I look like, there’s days I wear make-up, but most of the time I don’t. I don’t need to because I’m in my house, or I just cannot be bothered with the effort and plus it’s so much better for your skin. BUT I still hate the blemishes I just rooted it somewhere to the back of my mind and come to terms with the fact that they’re there, if I could wave them away with a wand – I would. My family and friends still always tell me that I’m pretty without make-up and I still didn’t believe them, because to me my blemishes aren’t beautiful, because quite simply I’m just not pretty. I’m just me. But, when my boyfriend told me for the first time I was beautiful without make up on suddenly I began to accept this opinion, not believe it, but accept it. Every day he tells me I’m beautiful and I can be around him without ¬†made-up face of make-up, because I don’t need to be, I don’t feel as if I need to. And when people we love tell us that we are gorgeous or give us a compliment we find it hard to take it on board and just say ‘Thank you’, why? I don’t have an actual answer to that, but I know that we need to start accepting these compliments and believing that they are true, because they are, if someone that loves you wouldn’t change you for the world, if you love yourself, why would you want to change yourself? Believe you are beautiful and show yourself that you love yourself!


You’re So Vain!

Which brings me to the question of vanity. Is recognising yourself as beautiful vain? Are there ‘critics’ and ‘experts’ that say that it is because being excessive with your looks is vanity, and believing that you’re beautiful is excessive? I don’t believe that loving yourself in that way is vain, how can it be if you love yourself enough to recognise that you are beautiful just as you are. Of course if we all believed that and stopped using cosmetics there would be a lot of ¬†big companies going bust – it’s comforting to know that our insecurities put a roof over people’s heads and money in their pockets. I believe that there is no vanity in being natural, that would mean that nature itself is vain, so why don’t we begin to love ourselves, look in the mirror without the slap and say, ‘I am pretty!’. Maybe if we said to ourselves enough times we’d believe in it.

So do it, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re gorgeous, and you are; because you are you.



‚ÄúThe most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†Yves Saint-Laurent



My Lab

Coming soon from Jo’s Blogatory

I have been really busy lately so I haven’t had the time to get my blog on. There are lots of exciting things going in my blogatory at the moment and more things to come.¬†

So hang on tight and here are a couple of things that will be featured soon:

TEDXBrum International Women’s Day – I will say this: It was a beautiful four hours that flew by carried on wisdom, laughs and experience.¬†

The Book Club Launch highlights РThe fabulous Paul Stringer has been busy putting together the best bits of the Book Club Launch and it looks wicked! 

The First Love of My Life Рis a story about self-love and why it is important. 

Women of Inspiration – I’m taking a look at some of the most inspirational women in Brum.¬†

Keep your eyes peeled…

Hope you’ve all had a fabulous Sunday.¬†

J x 

Last Day

Last Day of the Month of Love!



Image courtesy of Ayesha Jones (AMO) at Love Is... campaign event 15/02/14

Image courtesy of Ayesha Jones (AMO) at Love Is… campaign event 15/02/14

It’s the last day of the month! So I wanted to write a reflective piece, which makes me feel like I’m writing a uni assignment, but this is much more fun¬†and meaningful. And I had better write quick because my laptop is dying…

February is¬†always a weird month, it’s the shortest, it’s usually the indicator of whether we’re going to have a smooth transition into the fresh beginning of (a rainy – we cannot deceive ourselves here) Spring or a freakish snow storm that brings nearly all of England to a stand still. It’s the month we see lurrrrve everywhere, shops, restaurants – the couple tonguing their food in each other’s mouths over dinner. Ew! And that V Day test of mans ability to buy cards and gifts at last minute – card shops probably¬†see their most intake of male customers (at one time) on this day!¬†

And whilst I am blissfully happy – celebrating Valentines Day with my lovely boyfriend, really it was fab! There are bits of life that fill around this month that have been for me, the start of my year and are taking me into a new month feeling wholesome. I have, launched a business, been to some amazing events filled with talent and the support of others so strong its meshes a family unit of love, I have met and spoken to some great people who have given me tools of inspiration that has lead me to here… The last day of February with a weekend ahead that marks the start of March with a huge BANG! (Which you will have to watch out for, nothing will be revealed yet!)

I should probably start March off with buying a new charger for my constant companion – Sony Vaio.¬†But the biggest and most fabulous thing I take with me into March and hopefully the rest of the year is, self love. This month more than any I have felt the love for myself that has allowed me to feel like I can go anywhere, I can do anything – I believe in myself more and the realisation is, it’s always been there, I just had to believe it! And we all should believe it in ourselves.

It’s the last day, which means, a new month, another new beginning.

Love yourself! 

J x