I just came home from what was probably one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of my life. A huge company had cast me and a number of other young women to come to Berlin, take part in co-creation workshops for a new line, and subsequently represent it in advertisements once launched. I am in contact with the other girls and I can, five days after the project’s end, still barely fathom the interesting developments we got to be a part of and the amazing opportunities we were given.
Given how seldom opportunities like this arise (in my life at least, maybe you guys are fancier than I thought), I figured it would be quite interesting to talk about some of the things I got to do and what that did to my self-esteem and confidence.
My realization of what I was about to take part in only really started when I received my contract and Non-Disclosure Agreement (resulting in me omitting any names or information about the workshops from this article). For the first time, I thought, Oh, so this is, like, a real grown-up project, and I’m actually gonna be responsible for stuff. Damn.
The full professionalism of the project, however, only dawned on me when I checked into the hotel and was left speechless by the sheer fanciness of the interior and amount of pricey beauty/skin care freebies I had the pleasure to find in my room. I’m not one to be easily impressed, but when presented with huge walk-in showers and £15 cleanser, even I get weak. The standard set by the accommodation never wavered. Night after night, we would either be driven to trendy restaurants, whose prices I didn’t dare check, or have an accomplished chef come into the hotel and cook for us. A personal coach or taxis would take us everywhere, be that to the workshops in the morning, tours through the city or the restaurants. You can imagine how bitter I felt when I got back to Bangor and immediately had to cook for myself AND do the dishes, after taking four different trains, a plane and a rail replacement bus just to be here again. Wistfully, I thought back to the VIP floor we had to ourselves at our final party, or to the sommelier who promised me that the nice white wine I was about to consume questionable amounts of would not give me a hangover (he was right, thank god). One of the girls summarized it best in a text to her boyfriend: I’m going to get expensive now. And what a lovely sentiment that is! While I cannot afford the luxury I was afforded that week, I believe it is incredibly important to know your worth and to be able to reward yourself when you work hard, be that through good, high-quality food, taking time to do something you enjoy or a nice pampering session.
A day that all of us seemed to both fear and hardly be able to wait for, was the Photoshoot day. After doing our own Makeup, we had the honour of attending a Masterclass by a professional Makeup Artist. Honestly, her gushing about my Makeup is probably one of the best compliments I have ever received and I treasure it as such. After this, we were driven to the Photoshoot location, where more stylists were already waiting for us. While I did wear a dress that I had brought myself for most of the shoot, the way that they transformed my outfit with accessories and hair styling left me deeply impressed. We all looked like the cool, TV versions of ourselves in no time and by this point, we also felt like little stars and influencers. The actual production crew during the shoots mastered the craft of making us feel very important while also completely at ease; the footage I have seen truly makes all of us look like professional models. During the shoot I was also waiting to panic and get nervous and mess up and embarrass myself, but I waited and – oh wonder – the moment never came. While this whole experience has emboldened my confidence a lot, it also showed me just how much I have changed in the last couple years. The pride I felt at that realization probably made me glow all the more in the videos, photos and the interview.
Amidst all these fancy things and events, it’s easy to get distracted, but my very favourite thing about my week in Berlin wasn’t the food, or the interview, or the styling. It was the group of women I got to meet. Each one of us was so different and brought interesting ideas to the workshops. I’m not used to feeling comfortable among people I barely know, but everyone was so supportive and so creative, that, for the first time really, being myself wasn’t an uphill battle. I have grown so much as a person and in my belief in my abilities. When I described myself as a nervous Introvert during a break on photoshoot day, the girls I was talking to looked at me puzzled: Uhhh, no, you’re not? At the risk of overstating this, it made me think maybe they’re right. Never before has someone disagreeing with me felt so profound and so gratifying. It almost feels like that conversation and the week in general has let me let go of this identity of the ‘scared, insecure girl who doesn’t fit in’ that I was clinging to, but that ultimately just doesn’t work for me anymore. I am a young woman, bursting with creativity, who might not know exactly what she will do in life, but who will make damn sure it’s worth it. When women support other women, truly wonderful things can happen. Now, the important thing is that I keep up this energy in my day-to-day life. Not every week can be legendary. In fact, that’s probably for the best but if I treasure this wonderful experience, the confidence and the inspiring people I met, then this has truly been life-changing. And: Remember to stay expensive!