Okay, so I'm feeling pretty mega honoured to have been chosen by the lovely Aycee Brown, to be featured on her blog. Aycee is a Creative Super Producer & Confident Strategist (and just an all around awesome human being), whose blog serves as a platform to inspire and motivate. I seriously recommend checking it out HERE.
In my interview with Aycee, I talk about #littlefoolbook, about confidence, the importance of self-care, and I even spill the beans on the 3 things that make me feel more confident on crappy days.
You can read the full interview below, because sometimes links break.
Who are you in the world?
My name is Reanne Derkson. I am 26 years old and I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, and a writer. Each one of these labels has had different implications on my life and has helped to shape my identity, to "find myself", my voice, and my place in the world.
Through writing, I've found solace in my multi-faceted identity. I've learned to channel all my deepest darkest thoughts and emotions, my funny stories and chance encounters, my coulda-shoulda-woulda’s into stories aimed to empower and inspire other little girls like me, teenaged girls like me, adult women like me.
What do you want people to know about your blog or brand?
The fictional Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, “The Great Gatsby” once said that the best thing a girl can be in this world is a “beautiful little fool”. I have been that little fool, and now I’m on a quest to disprove Daisy’s theory. I am writing LittleFoolBook for the little girls like me, for the teenaged girls like me, for the adult women like me who believe that being a woman is about more than being beautiful.
Littlefoolbook is a collection of stories, essays, lists, letters and learnings, exploring themes of beauty, vanity and self-worth with humour and honesty. This is a book about a girl with nowhere to grow but up. A girl who learns to love herself despite beauty magazines; despite popular culture and a parade of bad boys, and men behind cameras, and boys who turned out not to be boys at all; despite a self-diagnosed and self-treated case of body dysmorphia and a flirtatious addiction to catcalls. This is a book about mothers and daughters, about love and sex and hair in unwanted places. This is a book about beginnings and endings, about creating new beginnings and rewriting your own ending.
It’s a self-proclaimed “Bad Feminist’s” manifesto, where no subject matter is off limits: eating disorders, diet pills, internet predators and more. Littlefoolbook is the companion I wished I’d had growing up. It’s a confessional of sorts, but also a manual for other modern young women like me who shouldn’t have to feel alone. Because we’re female and we’re in this together and sometimes the greatest happily-ever-after comes from falling in love with yourself, first.
What’s your definition of confidence?
Confidence is more than just self-assurance. Confidence is waking up in the morning and owning your day, because you can. It’s looking in the mirror and appreciating your defining features—the eyes that are like no one else’s in your family, the nose you got from your dad’s side, those wild, gorgeous freckles sprinkled across your cheeks—and feeling beautiful, because you are. Confidence is believing in yourself, trusting your gut, and following your heart. Confidence is rebellion; it’s daring to love yourself despite a society that is constantly trying to point out your “flaws” (spoiler alert: you don’t have any).
How did confidence play a part in becoming the person you are today?
Throughout my youth, my years as an awkward teenager, and growing into the woman I’ve always imagined myself to be, I have lost and found my confidence many times. While I played off the self-assured teenager role throughout high school, I couldn’t have felt more out of place. While I had good grades, a popular boyfriend and a starting spot on the basketball team, I felt ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin. I was on a constant mission to lose 5 more pounds, to have the nicest clothes (spending every dollar I earned from babysitting at the mall), and be the “it” girl so talked about in all the magazines I was endlessly digesting, page-by-unhealthy-page.
In university, I tried to re-invent myself once again. I wore more makeup, I was “going out” often, I had a new group of friends in a brand new city, and I felt like a new woman. But as much as I tried to hide behind the facade of this “new woman” I had become, the problem was that I was still hiding. I wasn’t confident in my path, my place, my direction.
I gained and lost my confidence again after graduating. I had a cool new job, a cool new apartment, in yet another cool new city. But I was constantly comparing myself to my peers, the people I follow on social media, and this idea I had in my head about where I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to be doing and how I was supposed to look.
It’s all these losses of confidence that play the biggest role in becoming the person I am today. Because losing my confidence has forced me to re-evaluate every area of my life, to dig deep within myself to figure out what makes me happy, and to stop looking outward. Losing my confidence, and all those accumulated years of self-doubt, sent me on a wild journey of self-discovery, self-evaluation and the eventual realization that confidence is all about choices.
Life is a series of choices. You can choose to be happy by making choices that build you up instead of break you down. Choose to love yourself and show yourself love by taking care of your body, mind and heart. Go for a run. Nourish your body with whole, healthy foods. Write in your journal. Kiss your boyfriend on a street corner just because you want to. Stay in all night, laughing with your best friend, instead of going out to “the club.” Make choices that make you happy. Learn to love yourself, first, before anything else, and your confidence will flourish. The more in love you are with your self, your life, your choices, the more confident you will be in every area of your life.
I’ve learned that my confidence comes solely from within (not from the amount of “likes” I get on an Instagram post), and the more I am true to my authentic self, the more that I make choices that serve my happiness, the more my confidence grows.
When was the last time your confidence was tested? And how did you turn the situation around?
At 24, I was sure I had it all: The job, the boyfriend, the friends, the hip apartment, and the latest hair ‘do.
And then I almost lost my boyfriend.
And then I did lose my job when I chose my boyfriend over everything else and moved across the country to be with him.
And in moving, I no longer had my friends just a block away from my hip apartment, because I didn’t even have my hip apartment anymore.
And then all my hair fell out from a botched bleach job and not only did I not have the cool new ‘do, I also didn’t have much hair left.
And there I was, living in the basement of my boyfriends parents’ house, convinced that I had lost everything that once defined me. I was lonely, I felt ugly (mostly because most of my hair had just fallen out), and I felt like a no-job failure.
I spent a solid week feeling sorry for myself, sitting around in my pyjamas all day and watching an entire series of a television show I didn’t even like on Netflix.
I cried and cried and cried, wondering what on earth I had done? I cried some more and felt a little bad for my boyfriend who probably felt a lot bit concerned about whether or not I was okay, whether or not I would bounce back, and when might this crying end?
My confidence was being tested and I had two choices (remember how I said that, “life is a series of choices”): continue on this path of feeling sorry for myself, or put on some lipstick and pull myself together.
I chose the latter.
"if you could do anything in the world that you wanted," he asked
"what would it be?" he asked.
"Write a book."
"Okay," he said.
"That's what you're going to do."
So, here I am. It's been 8 months since I started writing #littlefoolbook. And writing is just as hard as it's ever been and that's the part I love. Because every single day, I challenge myself to put one word after another. Every single day, I muster up the confidence to continue.
The other day, my boyfriend came home from work and surprised me with a cake.
"Happy 100 Pages!" he said, before urging me to blow out the candles so we could get to the eating part. And while I can't tell you what I wished for, I can tell you—whether or not the wish comes true—it's all been worth it. I can tell you that this whole idea of chasing your dreams and pursuing your passions, and having enough confidence to believe that you can accomplish anything is definitely along the road less traveled, but the sacrifices you will make to get there will be worth it. Even if you fail.
I know this because I've only written 100 pages, and the other day I got to eat cake.
If you could go back to a time when you had less confidence, what would you say to yourself?
Looking at a photo of myself taken on a family vacation in Costa Rica in 2013, I’m sandwiched between a few of my favourite people in the world—my older brother, my best friend and her boyfriend—and the fuzzy peach sun is setting softly behind us painting the sky in a beautiful ombré of fuchsia to goldenrod yellow.
I remember this trip well.
I remember the 4-day crash diet I went on 5 days before we left. I remember plugging my nose and guzzling back smoothies—containing un-smoothie-like ingredients such as onion and garlic and entire whole cucumbers—for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I remember cheating on the diet when my dad took me for lunch at a Chinese restaurant and we ordered half a duck and one giant bowl of hot and sour soup.
I remember running on the treadmill in sweats and a sweatshirt because in 3 days I would be on a beach in a bikini and every time I stood naked in front of the mirror I wanted to puke and cry and chop off all the flabby bits.
I remember being disgusted with myself: my hair’s too limp, my body’s too soft, I have acne on my chin and a painful razor burn on my bikini line. I wish I was taller, I wish my thighs didn’t touch, I wish I was blonder, these eyelashes aren’t natural and neither is this tan.
I remember laying on the beach subtly comparing my body to that of my brother’s pregnant wife—who somehow still had abs—and feeling like the female version of the Pillsbury Doughboy (with a tan) beside her.
I remember being embarrassed to do yoga in my bathing suit because of my big butt and imminent belly roles in every position other than savasnah.
And while looking at the photo, I do exactly what every girl does when they’re tagged in a picture on Facebook, or come across any photo of themselves ever: zoom in on myself for a good and thorough examination.
But the first thing I notice in this picture is that I look happy. My smile is neither forced nor strained, it’s natural in that way that my rosy freckled cheeks look like little miniature crabapples and even though I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup in the photo, my skin is glowing, smooth and flawless. My hair is beach tangled by the wind and the salt water, but it’s golden as the sun that’s lightened it and hangs long past the bottom of my bikini top. (Because this is months before the whole hair burning off incident, and if only I had known then what I know now, I would have had a whole new respect for the hair that I had). My body is curvy and smooth and all soft lines and I wish I would have appreciated it then.
I expected to look at this picture and feel embarrassed, because I remember all the insecurities that were top of mind when the photo was taken. Instead, I see a girl who is glowing and happy, and I’m realizing how much time I waste in the present, worrying over the way my bikini digs into my hips, when really, I could just buy a bikini that fits and flaunt it with confidence.
“Appreciate what you’ve got now,” my mother always says. “Because outer beauty fades and you’ll never be this young again and while you’re busy worrying about all the things you don’t like or wish to change, you’re missing out on everything that’s already so beautiful about you.” And my typical answer would be rolling eyes or a succession of complaints about how I don’t own a single pair of jeans that actually fit me and how it’s not that I’m buying the wrong jeans, but that I’ve been given the wrong body.
My point is, we spend so much time worrying about what we don’t look like, that we fail to appreciate everything that we already are. It’s a dizzying merry-go-round that will make you sick if you don’t get off it.
If I could go back to that trip, here’s what I would tell myself: Stand still. Enjoy where you are. What you are. Who you are. For all that you are. Because you are beautiful and perfect just as you are.
What are 3 things that make you feel confident on crappy days?
- Lipstick (I’m particularly fond of the shade, “Airborne Unicorn” by Lime Crime — It’s wild and unique and makes me feel bold).
- My boyfriend who loves me endlessly, believes in my talent, and will tell me I’m beautiful even when I haven’t showered in 3 days and have chocolate on my face.
- Taking a deep breath and reminding myself of my goals, where I’m going, and how far I’ve come. Self-love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey and I believe that confidence comes from loving yourself, fully and unapologetically.
What do you say to yourself when you need a boost of confidence?
When I need a boost of a confidence, I like to remind myself of all that I’ve accomplished thus far, all that I am and the direction I’m headed.
More often than that, when I’m lacking confidence it’s because I’ve been slacking on my own self-care, and it’s a sign that I need to show myself some love by spending some quality time with me, myself and I. I’ll go for a run and make myself sweat, or spend an afternoon cozied up with a book, or draw myself a nice bath and just bliss out with a bath bomb.
Favourite song? The song you dance to in the mirror when you’re feeling yourself?
Murder on the Dance Floor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor…or any song sung by George Strait (The King of Country).
Anything else you want people to know?
Come along with me as I explore themes of beauty, vanity and self worth with blatant honesty and (almost always self-deprecating) humour. Follow @littlefoolbook on Instagram, and join the littlefoolbook community at littlefoolbook.com.