Monday, 8 August 2016

6 Month Anniversary: What Safe Space Has Taught Us

Today marks the 6th month anniversary of Safe Space and boy has time flown! Since starting Safe Space I’ve definitely gone on a journey and changed as a person and so today to celebrate the 6 month mark, the Safe Space team are sharing how being a part of Safe Space has changed them and what we’ve learnt about ourselves along the way.

Jess: I can’t believe that Safe Space is already six months old! I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in that time and am excited to see what is to come in the next six months. When I first had the idea for this blog, I had a very clear vision in my mind of what I wanted this website to be and I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to work with some wonderful women who have already made that dream a reality.

Since creating Safe Space, I have learnt so much about both blogging and myself. I’ve learned new skills, how to write personal articles and how to manage and organize a team. But what has stuck with me the most is what I have learnt from reading the posts written by my co-bloggers. I’ve learnt about their individual experiences as women, how they grew up, and the things they’ve struggled with in life. As I’ve gotten to know each of them a little better through their posts over time, I have learnt that I am not alone with my thoughts and feelings. Before starting this blog I never could have imagined how many times I would read a post and relate so strongly to what’s been said. Online it’s very easy to only see the highlights of other people's lives, you never get to know what is really going on behind the scenes, you don’t get to see those days of self-doubt and insecurity, nobody wants to document the bad days. I feel very honored that so many women have shared their personal experiences on this blog and I’m proud of the supportive and honest space we have created together that doesn’t shy away from showing the good, the bad and the ugly of growing up as a woman.

I think the most important thing that Safe Space has taught me is that I have a voice. I have thoughts and opinions that mean something and when shared with other people, have the power to change things. Being able to be so open and honest and get such fantastic feedback has given me more confidence in myself and what I have to say. Safe Space has taught me so much in such a short time and I’m looking forward to seeing what else I learn about myself in the future.

Faye: The first thing I feel I should mention on this post is that I almost didn’t join Safe Space. When Jess first advertised looking for bloggers I was unsure if I could commit to it but then Jess finally, somehow, talked me round until I agreed and I am so glad she did because Safe Space is a blog that I love so much. It has taught me so much, I’ve grown in confidence both in person and online, I feel like I’m a much better person now than I was six months ago and while that isn’t all down to this blog, I know that a lot of it is because of this blog.

For example, six months ago I never would have gone out to a restaurant alone and I have now done this three times (thank you Debbie!), I never would have had the guts to come out of the closet (yay!), I never would have had the confidence to start wearing dresses again (thank you Jess!) or to not shave for a long time (thank you Jo!) or to even consider not wearing a bra (thank you Caitlin!). I have learnt so much from all of the amazing women who are a part of the Safe Space team and I feel like I can call them my friends too. They’re all so inspiring and wonderful.

In the last six months, I also believe (correct me if I’m wrong!), my writing has grown stronger as I become more confident of stepping into the limelight and shining it brightly on all of my issues. I feel stronger, prouder, and less alone. So for that, I just want to thank Jess again for creating Safe Space and for helping to convince me to join the team.

Laura: Woweee! Six months?! It feels like yesterday I started as part of the Safe Space Team. But what a lovely six months it has been; the ladies in this team feel like close friends and I love them all so much!

The biggest thing I’ve learnt during my time writing for Safe Space is that you really can’t ever judge a person because you will never know what’s going on behind the scenes in their life. I always like to think I’m very empathetic and try my hardest to be non-judgemental about every facet of my life but sometimes it’s hard. However Safe Space has constantly reminded me that just because people look like they’ve got their shit together, they might actually not have said shit together at all. I’ve been so proud of the stories, experiences and love that has been shared through the 100 posts we’ve managed to write so far! I feel so lucky to know such an inspiring, brave and beautiful team of women and know that even though they’ve been through hell and back, they’re still smiling, still going and willing to share their experiences with others in the hope that it’ll help someone else.

Personally, I’ve found writing a lot of the posts to be a very cathartic experience allowing me to re-live memories or talk about how I’m feeling without censoring myself at all. I’ve always found writing helps me to sort my head out and gives me a chance to explore how I feel and I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the past half a year whilst writing my posts. I feel like Safe Space is a genuinely safe place to talk about things without fear of judgement or ridicule and I am so thankful to Jess for starting up such a great place on the internet!

Long live Safe Space!!

Ray: Over the last 6 months I have written 11 posts for Safe Space and honestly? Sometimes I’m still not sure if I deserve to be be part of this team of amazing women who write so brilliantly and eloquently on such important subjects. I said as much in my first post and the feeling has never entirely gone away.

Blogging for Safe Space has been a painfully cathartic experience at times and I’m not sure if I’m a better person for it...yet. It’s fairly safe for me to say that this year has been a slow slide into the worst period of mental health that I can recall. I spent most of July tearing through books like they were giving me oxygen and finally cracked the tightly-sealed bottle of “shit I don’t talk about to anyone” enough to actually admit that I was feeling like hell to some of the most important people in my life.

I do think that being a part of Safe Space has helped me in that I’ve felt less alone with some of the mess in my head and it’s given me the confidence to open up to other people when before I would have simply bottled up my darker thoughts and feelings so I didn’t bother anyone with them. But I think there’s still quite a way to go for me - hopefully my fellow Safe Spacers will continue to inspire me to take the steps I need to get myself back on more stable ground. Here’s to the next 100 posts.

Debbie: Most of the time I still feel like a Safe Space fraud, as my posts are so far between, and also I don’t feel they are half as amazing as the other girls, but I am so grateful to be part of the team. One of the things that has surprised me most about the past six months is how much I’ve learnt. Not just factual things such as about feminism or medication, but also personally about my fellow bloggers and those I am lucky enough to call my friends. It has definitely brought me closer to my lovely flatmate Faye, as we have often hashed out Safe Space ideas together and talked about our worries and fears about posts. Every month I still panic about what to write and whether it will be good enough or important enough, but if I am taking away anything from the 6 months of Safe Space it is this: just be brave, in whatever way you feel comfortable with. I’ve witnessed the other girls take so many amazing steps, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Jo: I can’t believe six months has gone by already! It feels like we’ve been blogging together for forever, but also feels like it’s flown by!

Safe Space has done so much for me as a writer. I’d had my own writing/lifestyle blog, Jo’s Scribbles, for maybe a little over a year before joining Safe Space, but I had only really started trying to post regularly a month before Jess sent out a request for people to become members of Safe Space. Despite book blogging and studying Journalism at uni, I was full of self-doubt about writing about things that are important to me. “Would anyone care? There are so many people saying these things better than you, why bother? Why would anyone read what you write?” But with Safe Space, I have a set day every two weeks, which got me writing more regularly, and as there are a group of us, the pressure was off me to provide all the interesting content, so it felt like a good idea. But what I wasn’t expecting was finding such good friends in the Safe Space team members; friends who read each other’s posts, friends who give feedback, and friends who are constantly encouraging and complimentary about each other’s posts. And that’s on top of our wonderful readers who genuinely enjoy our posts and say such lovely things. Being a team member of Safe Space has made me so much more confident in my writing, in what I have to say - so much so that not only do I now write about whatever topic I feel I have something to say about here and on my own blog, but I’m now a regular contributor to other online platforms after becoming confident enough to pitch my writing to them.

I’m also more comfortable in sharing my opinion on, how I feel about, or my experience of a topic and confident in my voice. It doesn’t matter if people disagree or if other people have said something similar before, what I have to say is important, and my experiences and thoughts are unique to me. And, sometimes, what I write helps others, makes them think, or inspires them. That’s such a wonderful thing to be able to do for other people, and not something I would have ever imagined I’d be in a position to do. I have come on leaps and bounds since joining Safe Space, and I will be forever grateful to Jess for allowing me to be a part of something so wonderful. Safe Space is such fantastic place that makes others feel less alone - myself included.

And, finally, being a member of Safe Space and reading my fellow team members posts on mental illness partly led to me realising I have one myself and getting the help I need. And I’ve had such wonderful support from my fellow team members. Safe Space has literally changed my life.


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