Perhaps it will really make me feel old saying this but – blogging and the world of online has changed a lot since I’ve been on it.
I made my first website and had my first online platform when I was around 10 years old. I won’t retell the whole story, but in quick sum – my cousin told me one night about a website she had made on a platform called “Freewebs” and asked me if I wanted her to make me one too. That night, I said yes.
A few people started to make their own websites back then – Piczo in particular was our form of “social media” before MySpace and shortly after Bebo and Facebook popped onto the scene. These Piczo or Freewebs websites were usually where you’d share pictures of your days out, write all about what you got up to and dedicate pages and paragraphs to your besties. What websites weren’t, were places to post up coding and webdesign tutorials, with thoughtful posts about different topics. They certainly weren’t spots to have you very own domain names. If your website didn’t meet the specifications of the former – well then whatever you were doing was officially not “cool”.
Whilst these days, having a blog or some sort of online platform of your own is the absolute norm, back then we treaded the aforesaid thin waters of what was “cool” or not… and you know how it is at that age – I didn’t want to threaten the status quo. I remember I told one friend in Year 7 that I had a website and gave her the address, and when we one day had an argument, she spread it around our class and people started asking me about it and not in the kindest way. I was so absolutely horrified that following this, and for several years, I kept any online endeavours totally secret from everyone in my life excluding my immediate family and the odd friend here and there if I also happened to discover that said friend similarly had a (secret) blog.
To polish off my new Hannah Montana lifestyle, I at first made websites with the nickname I pegged for myself – “Sweets”, inspired my one of my favourite bloggers at the time genuinely called “Love”. As I got into my teens, I quickly outgrew this and went for my “English” name – Catherine (let’s not even get into that, it’s a whole blog on it’s own…)
The fear of getting “found out” was real. Sometimes, I would even dream about it and imagine what I’d do if my website leaked and people at my school found out. Online, things were going well – at some point, I even started to get paid for blog posts. But offline, it was as though my blog didn’t exist. When I eventually got into beauty and fashion blogging, I’d cut my face out of every photo to stay hidden in the shadows I had formed for myself.
Before university, I decided I was going to shut down my blog/website altogether and quietly remove all traces of “Skylish” from the internet. I just didn’t want to continue with the pressure of living what felt like a dual life into the depths of adulthood and university. But – shortly before I had planned to do this, The Body Shop contacted me about a sponsorship; at the time, this was the biggest brand to ever reach out to me. Really, they saved my blog because I thought, how can I just delete something that can bring opportunities like that?
I kept my blog a secret until I was around 20-21 years old. Aside from my friends that also had blogs, or my immediate family, the only other person to make that secret list before this was Levi (it felt strange hiding it going into a serious relationship!) At the time we met, I was even still going by Catherine online (he was thoroughly confused). During my first few years of university, I would sneak off to brand events and tell my new university friends that I was just going to visit other friends; and I would be casually nonchalant about why I had a tripod in my room and why I was always browsing other blogs. It became second nature to hide things.
When I got to age 20/21, having a blog or YouTube channel started to become more of the norm. In fact, it was even praised because people were now making amazing livings off of these online endeavours. I was a little older, and wanted to escalate my blog to the next level, so I slowly started to allow these cards I had held so close to my chest for so long to seep out. First of all, I casually moved my name back to the name everyone calls me – Hi, I’m Kemi. Then, I started to reference my blog on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages here and there. Levi soon nominated me for a women’s spotlight event at my university’s student union, and there was a big chunck in my feature about my blog / blog stats; really, that ended up being my very scary and rocky “debut” of this secret I’d been hiding for so long.
Did the world implode?
People told me if they thought it was cool, a few followed me on Instagram, and then everyone moved on with their lives. I know that people I know do read this blog, but to be honest, the majority of my most dedicated readers are people I haven’t actually met in real life and have been able to connect with through words, through this wonderful thing called the internet.
Years of fear and nervousness eventually resulted in this blog now being absolutely intertwined with who I am, and this being open to anyone. I don’t necessarily go around shouting it out, but if you ask me about my hobbies, I’ll mention it; and if you follow me social media, you’ll see it. Gone are the days of violently guarding such a huge piece of me.