By the time she’d reached her late teens, Grace Victory had lived a life that many of us couldn’t even begin to imagine.
Growing up on a council estate in High Wycombe, domestic violence and drug abuse were part of her day-to-day life. Recalling her parents’ relationship, she wrote in her new book ‘No Filter’: “I could see, hear and feel it [the abuse], and it cut through me every time.”
A traumatic childhood made way for a volatile adolescence. Victory struggled with depression, self-harm, an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts and intense feelings of self-loathing throughout her teens.
But with therapy, friendship and her blog, she managed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Now an award-winning vlogger, TV presenter and social media star with a 124k following, it’s safe to say the 26-year-old has come a long way from her difficult past. She is now using her experiences to help inspire, empower and advise the next generation of women.
What was the last thing you did that made you proud?
“In all honesty, I feel pretty proud of myself a lot of the time. Of course, launching my book a couple of weeks ago was an amazing achievement for me, but I try to feel proud of the smaller things too.
“For example, last week I took the week off due to ill health, whereas I often prioritise work over everything. It made me feel proud that I actually listened to my doctor’s advice to slow down, although it was so weird not stressing over deadlines, getting videos up or checking what my Instagram feed looked like.
“Self-care won over work and that made me feel good.”
How do you practice self-care?
“I practice self-care every single day. I lean on self-care more than anything. It is imperative for happiness and is all about looking after yourself as you would a child or your best friend.
“I always try to connect with my core self and think about what baby Grace needs. Have I brushed my teeth? Have I prepared dinner? Do I need a massage? Am I stressed? Checking in on these small things is important.”
Who inspires you and why?
“I’m inspired by the everyday woman who is unapologetically herself. My therapist also inspires me greatly. She is so strong and driven and she has the warmest heart in the world. I adore her.”
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
“I really want a life for myself that is better than my past, and that is honestly all the motivation I need.
“I love connecting with people, creating content and, of course, being a female boss. I am lucky enough to have one of the most amazing jobs in the world.”
How do you think society views successful women?
“On one side, some people may be intimated by strong successful women because they may believe they are cold-hearted and will stop at nothing to get what they want.
“On the other hand, they are viewed as powerful and inspirational, and I like to think that is how most people see them.”
Does success have a downside?
“Like a lot of things, great success has its downsides. As my job is mainly online, I have become accustomed to a lot of people talking about me, and sometimes what they say can be quite hurtful.
“I’ve learned to block out the hate and to protect myself from negative energy. When things get too much, I will have a digital detox and remove myself from social media for a few days. There is also a way you can block certain words appearing in your comments, so I use those to filter through any hateful messages.”
What one piece of advice do you have for other women?
“Trust your journey. You will always get to exactly where you need to be.”
What’s the one thing you would change or do to push women forward in 2017?
“The lack of diversity in the blogging world is becoming increasingly evident.
“We still need to see more people of colour. I’d like marginalised bodies and dark-skinned women to become more visible.”
Grace Victory’s book ‘No Filter’ is published by Headline and is out now in hardback, priced £14.99. You can find Grace on Twitter and Instagram @GraceFVictory.
Fierce is a regular feature on HuffPost UK, asking trailblazing women what drives them. We’ll be speaking to a range of women including those who’ve found success in male-dominated industries, created a service to help other women and those using their position to empower others.