I write about celebrities in bikinis for a living while teaching teens there's more to life than looks. Some of my friends are among the most controversial reality TV contestants in history yet I preach that kindness costs nothing. And I've dyed my hair garish pink for nearly a decade despite stressing that happiness comes from accepting who you are.
Sound like a contradiction? It's certainly the primary critique hurled in my direction when people struggle to understand how I can work in showbiz but also educate on self-esteem.
To be fair, it's taken me a while to get my own head around the secrets of a sound mental health thanks to a two-decade long battle with self-harm and growing up with the confidence of an ant, but a little miracle arrived in the guise of the word 'resilience'.
To me, resilience is like a sheet of armour. It's the coat I wear that ricochets off trolls, smears adverts that bully me into feeling insecure so I invest in their product, ridicules designers who insist 'clothes hang better on thin people', silences snide remarks from those I simply don't gel with or erases a stranger that belittles me from memory.
It's the rhino skin that helps me adapt to any situation; whether family, work, or social. It's the gift which makes me see three sides to every argument; their version, my version, the truth. It's the strength to know I am good enough. The humility to know I'm not always right. The tenacity to get off my arse and try again. The spirit to be pleased when others do well.
It's the act of not being sucked into things that won't matter in five years. It's rejecting the 'how dare they treat me like that' ethos for the 'I won't let them treat me like that' mindset. It's the insight that people say things in rage they don't necessarily mean.
It's the ability to question the world around us rather than soak things up like a sponge. It's owning insecurities, using them to grow from rather than hide behind. It's promoting what you love instead of bashing what you hate. It's choosing optimism. It's expecting the bullshit but never accepting it.
Resilience is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
We cannot control those around us, nor the fate propelled into our path, but we can choose the attitude with how we then deal with what comes.
With resilience, the holy trinity of self-esteem, social media and a 24/7 world can co-exist.
Still, it is a skill that needs nurturing, and just as physical health is a work in progress (exercising and eating the right foods daily), so is mental health.
That is why The Self-Esteem Team, the group I work with who go into schools teaching students on mental health, self-esteem and exam stress, are writing to David Cameron every single day for the next year with our #letters2dave campaign until he agrees to meet us, in a bid to revolutionise the education system by including mental wellbeing on the curriculum.
Until that date is in the diary though, here are seven ways to build resilience:
1 Know this, every time you login to social media, it is 0.02% of reality. You are comparing your every day to everyone else's showreel. While that friend who posts kissing/yoga/anniversary pictures with the 'love of my life' may be nauseating, it doesn't mean their life is better than yours. It's just that arguing or crying into pillows don't make as cute snapshots. Besides, those who upload frequently are likely to lack self-esteem if they need constant validation from others. And always remember, your worth is more than the number of likes on your last selfie.
2 Don't waste energy on those who don't like you, their opinions won't pay your bills in future. It's not nice to know that haters gonna hate, but equally you'll be okay. Think about it, do you like everyone you meet? Create a tunnel vision to focus forward, cut them out your periphery, then just do your best and screw the rest.
3 In a world where the blame for low self-esteem is cyclical - is it the media bombarding us with stories of Kim Kardashian, is it the celebs sculpting their bodies with surgery to court headlines, is it advertisers who justify Photoshop with 'we're selling a fantasy' - what would happen if you turned the finger on yourself? For example, whenever the public click, share or comment on a Katie Hopkins article, it gives editors the green light that readers want more of this kind of story. Consider each link you click on like a vote, so if you don't approve, don't feed the monster by clicking.
4 Tricky as it can be, understand you may not always be right. In a world where beauty, money and fame are idolised, humility is massively underrated. Giving yourself permission to hold your hands up and admit mistakes (even if it's just to yourself, you don't need to shout about it) is crucial in growing as a person. This also applies to choosing wisely what you are offended by... and letting it go. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Besides, if someone insults you, judging you says more about them than it does about you.
5 Be prepared that bad days will come; it's part of being human. Whether it's hormonal, you're overtired, or someone says something to upset you, it's normal to have black days. Don't beat yourself up. What you can do is tweak your thought process to 'What can I do to make this better?' rather than 'This is so depressing.' Train yourself to think of solutions not problems.
6 Understand that mental health is not something only reserved for people with 'issues' while frothing at the mouth in a straitjacket. Anyone with a body and brain has a mental health (so everyone then). Treasure yours by challenging self-deprecating views. They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness... but what if it was the first sign of sanity? Having a daily dialogue inside your mind allows you to take control and essentially tell negative/unwanted thinking to shut the hell up. Be your own cheerleader.
7 QUESTION QUESTION QUESTION. Rather than just absorb things thrown at you, ask yourself why, how, who does it benefit. Why are you being told by that advert that your hair is lifeless, or your skin needs tightening, or your tummy needs toning? Is it really going to make you happier, or them richer? Why did someone post near-nude pics on Instagram; to impress others, just because, or a cry for help? Why are your mates ganging up on you; because they're jealous, angry, or just not that good a friend? Why do you want to lose weight or bulk up; to be healthy, for a reaction, because you don't have the emotional vocabulary to express how you feel? The tools to question the world around you, to have the critical faculty to think for yourself, to brush off the thousands of conflicting messages thrown at us daily, is possibly the greatest gift you can ever equip yourself with.
For more tips and tricks, check out The Self-Esteem Team's Guide to Sex, Drugs & WTFs?!! or follow them on Twitter @_selfesteemteam