I have to admit something; I wasn't overly keen about being the centre of attention on my wedding day. Ok, there was a narcissistic part of me saying "this is your moment Sarah, they'll see how pretty you are with your hair and make-up done properly and not looking like your usual put-a-pair-of-jeans-on-and-leave-the-house self" but inside I felt like a complete fake. Probably because a) I love my jeans and b) I was thinking about other people's view of me and not my own opinion. I thought I was alone in this but I don't think I am, so if you're finding this too, know that there's someone out there who gets you.
So, I remember sitting in my flat, with my best friend and a glass of Bucks Fizz on 27th October 2013, dressed in a white t-shirt, on which I'd written "bride to be" in gold fabric paint, with my other friend styling my hair and another doing my make-up. It felt so surreal. Lovely, but surreal. I remember being a bit "meh" with everyone; not full on bridezilla or anything like that and not rude, just a bit...overwhelmed. People may say it was the stress but I'm pretty sure it was this sudden surge of attention that I wasn't used to that made me feel almost unworthy.
Now, that's not anyone else's fault at all. It was my mind set, not what other people were saying or doing. I floated down the aisle, ate a feast of amazing food and danced around in my silver sequinned shoes that I'd worn to nearly every formal event I can remember going to at uni. I felt good.
And then we got the pictures. I looked back at the photos recently trying to find a picture of me for my about page - yes, I need some headshots done, I know! - and I was surprised by how critical I was about the way that I looked in some of the photos. I didn't look bad. I just look like I'm not being myself, if you know what I mean. My personality was there in snippets but I look so uncomfortable in some of the photos. Again, this was absolutely not our photographer's fault, she did a great job, and maybe I'm looking back now with hindsight and compassion for what I was going through at the time - the stress from my job and the decision to leave it with no idea what to do next.
If I could turn back time, I wouldn't change any other element of our day. I would instead have woken up each morning before dragging myself into work and told myself that I was proud that I had chosen to maintain my professionalism when things were getting me down. I would have gone for an afternoon tea or a massage, enjoyed getting my nails done and felt excited talking about my wedding plans, not avoiding it because I didn't want to upset single friends or bore anyone. I would have put my foot down earlier on and spoken up when I felt that I was being used as a scapegoat for someone else's failings. I would have told people who said hurtful things disguised as compliments to piss off and embraced my "delicate" and "sensitive" soul, rather than putting on a façade that I was "fine" for fear that everyone saw me as a failure.
I would have recognised that no dress, hair or make up would have fixed my thoughts about myself. They made me feel amazing on the day, but the work had to be done inside. And instead of waiting for the compliments from others, I should have appreciated just how amazing I was. Because we all are aren't we? We all sparkle in different ways but we don't need to dull anyone else's sparkle to shine brighter.
I guess what I'm saying here is that, nearly 5 years on, I've realised how powerful our minds are. I've actually understood, for the first time, that beauty really does come from within and doesn't come from your perfect body, flawless skin or shiny white teeth. Yes, all three of those would be lovely thank you, but I understand now that they won't make a difference to the way I feel about myself. And I hope that you find that too; it will bring you unstoppable confidence when you do :)