Made in Manchester – My boring backstory

For a few months I’ve been lacking my blogging mojo (read: life mojo) and I didn’t really want to do one of those cringe worthy ‘I’m back’ posts, but there’s something I need to address. I’m well and truly lost in my 20’s. Like many of you, I’ve reached the point where I’m no longer striving for grades, relationships or a good job and I’m basically just floating around life without direction.

I’ve worked so hard to get where I am that life seems to have plateaued. When you can’t see what’s happening in the future, it’s easy to become nostalgic. With that in mind, I thought it would be a positive exercise to share with you guys why I proudly call myself a plastic mancunian. After all, this might not be the place I was born but I’d definitely say it’s the city that raised me.

I’m originally from a small dead-end town just outside of Blackpool. Yes, really. Home to BGmedia, M-kat and a sad excuse for a beach. When I was 13 I first visited Manchester on the train with my friends, without telling my mum where I was going! Young, rebellious and full of cheap cider – we used to swap our grey local town for the hustle and bustle of the city on the weekends.

Without sounding like a typical sheltered white girl – it was Manchester’s diversity that struck me first of all. People of all cultures and classes surrounded me on my first few steps out of Piccadilly train station. A stark difference when compared to my hometown, which has a population less than 20k made up of mainly white middle class folk. My impostor syndrome took a break for the day and I felt like no one cared what I looked like or where I came from.

This feeling of wonder was swiftly followed by a harsh element of FOMO every time I left. What was I missing out on whilst living in Poulton/Blackpool? What could I achieve if I lived in the city? It was the first time I realised I wanted to make something of myself and the only way I could do that was to escape my hometown. So that’s when I started plotting.

I started cleaning up my act, attending school and figuring out what I wanted to do. My attendance rate leaped from 64% in year 9 to 95% in year 11. Most of my immediate family didn’t go to college, let alone university, so I actually didn’t know what was available to me. I continued to sneak off to Manchester and I had a little group of people that I kept in touch with via Myspace and MSN who kept me sane.

After a couple of turbulent years I met my boyfriend Ryan. I was 15, he was 16 and just about to start college. I finally had a role model I could bounce off, who empowered me to consider further education. However, he lived in Manchester and I was still stuck in Blackpool. The urge to escape grew every day, but I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I had already ballsed up my GCSEs for a number of reasons but that didn’t stop me going for it. I applied to study a mix of A-level and BTEC courses at sixthform-college.

Long story short, I was accepted. However, I still didn’t really know what to do. It wasn’t until someone in my textiles class discovered my Tumblr account that things got interesting. I was aiming to be a social worker, but Karen was amendment that I was wasting my talent for blogging. We started blogging together under the name Bon Vivant Clique (if anyone remembers us, hola). It’s my biggest regret in life not keeping that blog during uni. We used to get crazy traffic but didn’t know how to harness our audience into sponsorships – this was 2009/10 when collaborating and blogger outreach wasn’t really a big thing.

Then came phase two – work experience in Manchester. I was sat outside my college library laughing about being declined an internship at the Blackpool Gazette: ‘Imagine getting declined by The Gazette but being accepted by The Financial Times‘ I said to my pal – this is exactly what happened. I was given a shot at life in Manchester with a huge publication and I took it in my stride. At the age of 16 I was crashing at my boyfriends house, working in the city and being published in a broadsheet newspaper.

Forgive the cliche – but if I can do it, I promise that you can too. The trick really is to create your own opportunities and crowbar your way into a life that you want. It never gets handed to you. Just to add a little context, my mother can’t work due to illness and my dad works for the council – I’ve not taken a penny from my parents. I’ve done this by myself.

It’s safe to say I would have never achieved any of this if I had never fallen in love with Manchester. I’d have stayed in Blackpool, struggled to get a job and probably driven myself insane.

Since then, I’ve graduated from Salford university and found a flat in the city center. Believe it or not, my boyfriend from the age of 15 is still with me and inspiring me to do better daily. I started Philocalist in 2014 and I’ve been popping up across various internet sites ever since.

I guess maybe the point of this post is to process just how far I’ve come. Self-indulgent yes, but perhaps you’ve reached the same point. All those achievements and then suddenly you’re an adult who chases a paycheck instead of day-dreams. My life has somewhat stagnated and instead of discovering new cities and reaching goals, I’m doing the same thing day in day out. Maybe it’s time to make a change again!

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  1. July 19, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    Creating your own opportunities in life really is the only way to get ahead… No one is going to give you stuff for free; you have to make it. Well done for doing so!

  2. Hannah Gets Hench
    July 19, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    This is an amazing post! You inspire me every time we see each other and you will continue to keep doing great things. Plus your hair is as long as Arianne’s! Go bronde 😉

  3. July 19, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    You’ve done amazing- so lovely you’ve been with your partner since you were 15 too!

  4. July 19, 2017 / 10:00 pm

    At the moment I am that girl who doesn’t know what they want to do – similar to your adolescent self – I want to be a counselor, however at the same time I want something bigger, something I can really express. This post has really helped me put a few things into perspective. Thank you!


    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      July 20, 2017 / 9:35 am

      Whitney, I was exactly in your shoes. I remember going over to an NHS careers stand at my school’s job fair and they legit laughed in my face for wanting to be a counselor. Which is why I swapped to social care! You’re 18 though, you have so much time and you can always defer any university course/try to find an apprenticeship that gives you hands on experience.

  5. July 20, 2017 / 10:13 am

    It really does show that your location can make a difference to the opportunities you have, lovely story about the move and I’m impressed you’re still with the same boyfriend x

  6. July 20, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Good for you, this is so inspirational. I live not far from Blackpool or Manchester and yet they seem worlds apart. I’m so glad you have made a life for yourself there.

  7. July 20, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    You’ve come so far – as you say it is so important to create your own opportunities!

  8. July 20, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    Sometimes it’s nice not to be trying to achieve that next thing and to just coast along. Although I agree it does feel strange because all your childhood life and young 20’s you’re always trying to reach that next point.

  9. Jemma
    July 20, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    I love that you’ve been with your partner for a ll that time. Congratulations.

  10. July 20, 2017 / 7:15 pm

    This is not a boring backstory at all! It was a nice read, and like above I think it’s great you are still with your boyfriend!

  11. July 21, 2017 / 8:45 am

    This is a great post, and a lovely story to share! Creating your own opportunities is the way to go sometimes to achieve your goals and get what you want!

  12. July 21, 2017 / 10:29 am

    You have come so far, well done you for going out and getting what you want!

  13. July 21, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    I wouldn’t say it is self indulgent I always think that it is good to look back on how far you have come and it is amazing to see how Manchester has shaped the person you have become today x

  14. July 21, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Well done on coming as far as you have! I really believe you have to go out and get what you want from life x

  15. July 22, 2017 / 10:12 am

    There is nothing wrong with self indulgence, not that I believe this post is at all! It’s so important to reflect! xxx

  16. July 22, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    I’m in my late 20s and I feel really stuck with life right now. I don’t know what I want, where I want to go or who I want to be. Great to read your story, well done on your journey and how great that you’re still with your boyfriend

  17. July 23, 2017 / 1:05 am

    You have done well and it is amazing how life changes and you grow. I enjoyed reading this post.

  18. July 26, 2017 / 1:12 pm

    Great post Jess – amazing to read about where you’ve come from and where you are now, plus all the stuff in between x

  19. July 28, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    Such a lovely read, such an inspiration to fellow bloggers you’ve done amazing and I’m sure there’s more amazing things to come your way!

  20. Yasmin
    April 14, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    I’m from Manchester and now living in Blackpool, ha! I definitely think theres a massive difference in opportunity working here, which is really sad, and I hope in the future that changes. It’s great to read about what you accomplished though! Manchester truly is the best city in the world.

    Thank you!
    1 x patterned dress in Size 8, I’ll pay using PayPal. It’s the patterned dress for £18 you posted today. x