Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Power of Negative Motivation

I'll always remember the moment I realised where my greatest source of motivation comes from.

I was about 15, sat in science class next to my best friend with whom I was bickering pointlessly with at the time, in the way we always loved to do, and after we'd just got our quiz results back and I'd beat him by one mark, he turns to me with a scowl and says:

"Goddamn it Katie, I swear the only time you ever get any work done is if you're pissed off."

And at 21, looking back from this position in life and everything that has happened since, this concept seems to have repeated itself over and over to a point which provides me which one irrefutable, and probably a little bit screwed up truth.

I owe everything I am now to everyone who has ever screwed me over.

This isn't about having 'haters' or any of that sickening stuff. It's just, you see,

Throughout my entire life, all I've ever been told is that I'm not good enough. To not bother trying because there are so many others out there better than me. That the idea of just 'doing what I want to do' is as good as laughable against the looming backdrop of financial and academic security and what is considered normal.

And for years, I let that beat me.

I let myself believe it was true, and I tried to make myself normal, be the child my parents wanted me to be, be the kid at school who didn't ruffle too many feathers and let my dreams dither into nothing but fading 3am notepad scribbles, hastily stashed away in the top drawer of my bedside table as the landing light flickers on.

But one day I decided enough was enough. If I didn't fight back with the last of my strength in one last valiant battle to save my own identity then I was going to be lost forever, a life of trying to appease other peoples expectations whilst constantly casting my eye away from 8 year-old me standing in the rain, tapping at the window, asking what happened.

That was the day I started this blog.

And as soon as I started to admit to myself what I really wanted out of life, revel in the selfishness in saying 'No, this is MY time.' I got my first taste of that long-awaited victory of proving people wrong.

I realised that there was nothing in the world which gave me more fuel, more drive to excel onwards, more passion and determination in my bones, than not being believed in and doing it the hell anyway.

And so this is my tale; 'And Ode To All Who Have Screwed Me Over'

To my parents, (although I know this was borne out of love and my best interests were at heart) who when I stood before you as a child and belted my heart out confessing my desire to perform, laughed in my face and told me I couldn't sing and refused to send me to stage school. Who wouldn't let me have music classes to learn an instrument because you thought I'd give it up.

The reason I am now the lead singer of two bands, have sung on stages in front of hundreds of people and taught myself by hand to play the ukulele and bass guitar.

Who refused to listen when I said I didn't think University was for me and forced me to head down the path of academia of which I was so unfit for, and I struggle daily with the pressure of Uni classes and projects.

The reason I chose to educate myself, and educate myself properly about the world and the universe and began to construct an online empire based around this learnings of life. I'll add here however, my parents who I still love and appreciate very deeply, and who I am very thankful for being proud of me now and allowing me freedom at last.

To my Uni professors, who told me they 'thought I was an intelligent girl' when I failed a module on attendance because I was at an internship, who have almost kicked me out on multiple occasions, once because we were instructed to 'think outside the box' while writing a journalistic article about drugs from a detailed press release on how to procure them, and so I decided to write a satirical piece questioning why our professors would provide such detailed information on how to buy drugs to Uni students.

The reason I chose to write my own work, instead of just spending 3 years and £9000 of finding new ways to recycle and rearrange the now irrelevant words of aging professors of a long-lost era.

To that internship, the tiny and long-afflicting clothing company now sinking into a pit of debt and obscurity, whose prime business model is latching onto the success of bloggers and attempting to drag themselves long with them, who after working 6 days a week in London unpaid for 5 months, despite giving me express authorisation and consent to reference them in my work, maliciously and unexplainably attempted  to file for copyright infringement and fraudulent claims directly to my university without even speaking to me, and almost got me kicked out.

The reason I was determined to become more successful as a blogger, to grow and perfectly develop my little world, and gained half a million hits since I left.

The boss of which, who's now quit, I bumped into at the train station the other day whilst waiting for my bandmate so we could head over to the launch of the creative agency I now work with in a Blues Bar in Shoreditch, and she was there snickering and gossiping in a little pack of hyenas who I simply smiled at and pitied.

To every guy who has broken my goddamn heart, who has cheated on me or made me feel like a speck of shit on the bottom of your shoe, who has reduced me to tears of anguish and self-loathing.

The reason I was able to take time alone and to learn how to love myself. To learn that I actually do have a beautiful heart and I am a good person. That I have the capability to perhaps even be a little bit wonderful.

To the bullies who made my life a living hell in my late teens when they discovered an arts website I'd been uploading some of my poetry and creative writing to, and later my anonymous youtube channel where I'd been uploading daily vlogs under a pseudonym. Who trashed my car and created an online hate movement which spread amongst the whole year, leaving me hundreds of anonymous messages telling me I should kill myself or drop out of school.

The reason I can now stand proudly with everything I create now and shout it from the rooftops, without feeling shame, the need to hide or keep it a secret, with any derogatory comment made now simply deflecting uselessly off my resounding satisfaction and happiness with what I do.

To every person who has shut me down and made me question everything I've ever held true to a cellular level, you have inadvertently allowed me to push through that dense fog of self-doubt and find a goldmine of passion, soul and an unwavering determination to succeed, and I have never in my life been more sure of what I want to do and who I am going to be.

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly vengeful person, but when I think of all those who have wronged me in the past, I feel this almost carnal sense of power surge through my heart like electrical wires which reach out, entwining around my arms and my limbs, electrifying my whole body. And to them I say, I hope it wounds you a little bit each day to see a fire you so maliciously tried to douse now a towering raging inferno. And even if you don't, the beauty is, that by no means lessens the blaze. Because a tiger does not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

They say success is the best revenge, and all though I'm by no means successful yet in the things I want to achieve, if you measure success alongside happiness, then I can't help but feel I've got a pretty damned good thing going.

And so I guess overall, it comes down to this.

I'd say 'Don't let people walk over you', but you know, being mistreated can actually be an incredibly positively powerful learning curve if you choose to acknowledge it so.

Throughout your life there are going to be so many times when you're reduced to nothing, when you feel hopeless and trodden on by the whole world. But if you can internalise that feeling and convert that negativity into a forceful kind of power, when you stand up and say 'Fuck 'em!' and decide to prove everyone wrong, you can begin to curate your own success and oh baby, does that victory taste so sweet.

And however much I actually dislike the song, there's a particular lyric that comes to mind, and has stuck with me ever since I first heard it:

"Everyone's the kid that no-one cares about, that's why you've got to keep screaming til they hear you out."


  1. I loved this so much (like all your posts). I can entirely relate to the letters to people who have screwed you over. Similarly, I was bullied at school for being different, for reading and writing stories all the time and for loving unicorns (I was 11 and was bullied insistently for being a baby). I was told repeatedly by my classmates that "You'll never finish a book" but it's only made me work harder.
    I agree about university as well. Thinking outside of the box seems almost forbidden; if you don't write/reference/research by set guidelines your grades plummet. If only there was a school for those with more creative souls!
    Once again, I loved the post I always so look forward to when you write a new one! xx

    1. Thank you always Jordan :)

      Yeah I got so much stick at school when people discovered the writing I put up online, it's so funny that that' actually become one of the most important things in my life right now haha. It feels so powerful to look back on that now.

      I agree too, I really wish there was some kind of creative school - look up on youtube at TED Talk by a guy called Ken Robinson about how schools kill creativity, some serious food for thought! x

  2. Oh God, the school point really resonated with me too. It really bothered me a year ago, but I can honestly say that everything they said to me has just made me so much more comfortable in myself and who I want to become than they will clearly ever be. Thank you so much for this Katie! X

    1. people can be so damn cruel in groups right? school absolutely SUCKED but I know a lot of those people now regret it, and anything I can do to make them feel worse about what they did I will happily do :) haha. Plus I always find it's the people who were shit on or ignored at school that go on to become the winners... x

  3. Another beautifully written and painfully truthful piece of writing that I'm sure will resonate with many many readers. You and your blog are the main reason I want to write more on my blog. I must admit that I have felt sucked in by the saturated blogosphere and felt pressure to just post photos of outfits that everyone wears with no writing at all. But that is not me and I want to be more honest with my readers. Sadly the main reason I still haven't made this change is because unlike you the negative people in my life have made me afraid to do so. I want to start using that as my fuel like you do. I become more courageous reading each post of yours so thank you. X

    1. That is awesome, I'm pretty dumbfounded, thank you! It still amazes me how my personal rambles could ever have an affect on anyone but I'm really really glad that they do! And in regards to negative people, as I said it took me so so many years to finally realise that I want to show these people up, it took a lot of time for me to finally make a stand and choose to prove them wrong - I still get things every day whichmake me feel bad and like I don't even wanna try any more, but the turn around time for wanting positive revenge is a lot quicker now! You can do it, I have faith in you :) x

  4. This post is such perfection. First things first, good for you Katie. Good for you for suceeding where you KNEW you would, and for not letting the haters put a stop to your dreams or goals for how you want to live your life. I can relate on all points - from the skinny, gap toothed daydreamer who was bullied in school for having an overbite and for being kooky and into my own world and just wanted to live and breathe history and the written word, to feeling like I had no choice but to go to university and suffering through four years of it and spending the majority of it wishing I wasn't there but feeling I owed it to my parents (whom I love dearly but wanted the best for me without realising their best wasn't mine...) I can relate to so many points and it is so inspiring to hear a blogger I really admire be so refreshingly honest on such a deep level that I (and I'm sure so many others) can really relate to. You're speaking from the heart honeybee, and my heart is singing it right back to you. You can do anything you set your mind to I believe. You WILL achieve it, and you'll be killing it. Thank you for this beautiful post x

    1. As I said on Twitter, this is one of the greatest comments I've ever received and i absolutely adore that line about your heart singing! Agh it fills me with such joy and motivation - this time the positive kind haha. I definitely think it's the quiet, picked on over overlooked kids at school who always go on to do great things... let's go smash it :) x

  5. This is such an endearing post. On the larger scheme of things, I haven't been bullied, and my parents haven't outright said no to my more 'wayward' aspirations. But this post has really resonated with me because I place so much pressure on myself that any negativity seems to have a really big impact on me. I'm still trying to garner this negative energy, and blogging has been a really good outlet for that. Thank you so much for sharing this, because knowing that you've come to gain something positive from all this negativity gives me hope.

    Mel // izzipenelope

    1. I agree with you massively, literally blogging absolutely saved me, starting this blog has changed my life beyond belief and allowed me to do all the things I've always wanted to do, and not a day goes past where I'm not grateful for that! And I can't stress enough that things get so so much better, I promise all hard work will pay off so well one day, and you can look back at all the times you suffered and know it made you a better person because of it :) thank you for reading! x

  6. you are so strong katie, and you are wonderful and such a talented writer. i can identify with so much of this, and whilst i am feeling weak at the moment i know i have to stay strong, not give up and do what i can to have some happiness and also some success in doing what i love.

    you are an inspiration!

    1. oh gosh this is such a wonderful comment, thank you so so much! I think only those with the greatest power are prone to the most debilitating weakness at times... When I'm super down and life seems to get on top of me, I try to view my darkness with the perspective of capacity. If I have this much of a void within me to feel sad/down, imagine the power i will have if I can fill that entire space with happiness :) life get's better, I promise :) x

  7. Damn. To have the guts you do, not just to write such honest thoughts down in black and white, but to have the conviction to damn well mean it. To live your life by this. I salute your cahonas and take a shitload of inspiration from you. Stay courageous Katie, and like you said 'fuck em'.

    Faded Windmills

    1. Haha thank you! I was actually a bit worried about posting this one because I thought it was perhaps a little bit too agressive/forward, but I'm glad I did. Honestly it feels so good to just stand up and say 'Bullshit aside, this is what I'm about.' and it's so good to finally have the freedom and a place to do this. Thank you so much for reading x

  8. its really great and shows a lot of mental maturity for you to overcome negativity and build from there. i wish i was stronger

  9. Wow, Katie. This is such a powerful post. Your thoughts resonated with mine for the most part. Please continue to be such an amazing inspiration to all mankind.


  10. I love this post - it speaks the truth and I understand what you mean! Blogging is something I've done because its one step closer to my dreams - it's a major part of my dream actually. There have been people who think me blogging is a waste of time, that it's rubbish and I shouldn't, but I've decided that it's about me. :) and looks like you have too :) stuff like this builds us up and makes us stronger. Keep going! I seriously admire you.
    Fatima :) x

  11. I love this post and your entire blog to be honest. Every time I read something you've written I feel like I can relate. You don't shy away from contradictions or certain feelings and that's really brave of you. I too was bullied, matter of fact I was bullied in my second year of university. I wallowed in negativity for some time but I somehow got some strength out of it, I threw myself at my academics. Now I get to study abroad and they don't, so yeah that makes me feel good.

  12. I loved reading this post. I can relate so much to almost everything you wrote. x

  13. I only recently started following your blog and I'm already besotted with it. You write so elegantly and with charm. This post rings very true and I'm glad you posted it, thank you.

    Alessia |

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