2022 life update: Bristol, journalism and a whole lot of growth

by Maddie

I don’t even know where to begin! It’s almost the end of January 2022, I feel like an entirely different person than I was when I sat down each week to write blog posts for Madeleine Mae in 2020, and I’ve wholly neglected this little space of the internet for what feels like an entire year. 2021 was… interesting, in many respects. There’s a lot I’ve been thinking about when it comes to Bristol, journalism and my growth over the last year. I think it’s time for a much-overdue 2022 life update, as I attempt to revive Madeleine Mae.

I started this blog when I was a teenager, in my first year of university, as a creative outlet because essays were driving me up the wall, my English degree wasn’t allowing me the creative expression I wanted, and I desperately wanted to land some journalism work experience. I was studying at a Russell Group university, amongst many, many people who had families that were richer than mine, and whose life experiences were utterly middle class. I felt like a tiny working-class fish in an absolutely massive lake. Whilst I struggled with my confidence day to day, writing this blog and building up my Instagram account during those formative years at university made me the person I am today. Whilst I’ve got a looong way to go in terms of the kind of confidence women are told to empoweringly possess, I’m now a full-time journalist, living in my favourite city in the world, and I feel more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been.

That’s not to say I’ve got it altogether – because that’s far from the truth. Ha.

Smilin’ cos I love Bris

What place Madeleine Mae has in my life now, at 24, I don’t know just yet, but I thought it made sense to sum up what the heck has gone on in the last year – and we can at least move forward from there. If you have any ideas as to the direction you’d love to see this wee blog go in once I get typing again this year, do let me know in the comments, or send me a DM on Instagram. I’d love to start having this site as a conversation starter again, as it always was before.

So, let’s go! Where the heck is Madeleine Mae – the person, not the inanimate website, aha – in 2022?

I live in my favourite city in the world, Bristol, and I’m making it my forever-for-now home

Last time I blogged, I’d been in Bristol a few months – and I was excited to make the city my for-now home. I had big dreams of moving to London; dreams that had been held in my heart since before I hit double figures. I’ve always known I wanted to be a journalist – I’m career-driven, and love the anything-is-possible heart of London.

However, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, and I’d been living in Bristol a few months, I realised something very quickly. The world of journalism, and subsequently the world of work, was changing, and my worldview was changing, too. I found myself falling in love with Bristol harder than ever before, my boyfriend and I found ourselves having serious, adult conversations about where we saw our future heading, and London was falling farther out of eyesight.

Bristol’s one colourful city (gives me all the style inspo, naturally)

Now, I call Bristol my forever-for-now home. I know I will always hold Bristol close to my heart, and I will always feel the gravitational pull back to this incredible, creative, outspoken city. Whilst 2022 still holds many unanswered questions about where life is taking us next, we know that Bristol will end up our forever home. If we leave, we’ll always, always come back. Plus, I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon, either.

Over on Instagram, you’ll find me gushing about how much I love the city, whether that’s my stunning home suburb of Clifton, the foodie recs in Stokes Croft, or the long, hazy summer evenings whiling away the hours at the harbour. In 2022, I plan to make the most of life outside, and as socialising and exploring is safer to do as we *hopefully* navigate out of this pandemic, I’m going to be sharing more and more about good old Bristol on this blog, and over on Instagram, too.

I’m a fully-fledged FULL-TIME journalist for BristolLive – and I’ve written for the likes of Cosmopolitan, ELLE and Refinery29

I actually can’t believe I just typed that – that I got to type that (!!) I have wanted to be a journalist since I was a tiny bean, and I spent so many years throughout university desperately taking every single unpaid work experience opportunity I could get, finding ways to make it work despite not having the money (from sleeping at friends’ family homes, to cutting short one work experience stint as the money I’d saved was running out) and I never took a single moment for granted.

In 2020, one of my past work experience placements really paid off, as I was asked back as a freelancer for the likes of Cosmopolitan UK, ELLE and Men’s Health, and that gave me the confidence to actually go for it. Until then, I’d been slogging away in 9-5 marketing jobs, feeling incredibly unsatisfied with my career, and never thinking I stood a chance at making journalism my everyday. Since then, I started pitching, getting articles published for publications like Refinery29, and I made the difficult yet incredibly worthwhile decision to drop my freelance work in 2021 and take on a full-time job with BristolLive. Whilst I miss working with national lifestyle brands, I am so grateful for the security, stability and opportunities I get working for a media brand in the city I love more than anywhere else.

To say I’m a full-time journalist is beyond my wildest dreams – and I never thought I’d see all of this work and stress pay off. In 2022, I’m reclaiming some time back for me, after two years of 9-5 and then some – constant round-the-clock working to finally land a journalism job took its toll on me. If work-related conversations are something you’d like us to have on here, please do let me know – I’ve got plenty to tell where that came from.

I’ve got a LOT to figure out this year, but I want to reclaim this space on the internet to make sense of the absolutely crazy world

Professionally and personally, I am so grateful that 2021 was a year of transformation. I moved into my dream flat with my boyfriend – and whilst it’s, as you will know if you live in a city, quite literally draining a chunk of our paycheck every month, we couldn’t be happier. It’s the living space we’ve always dreamed of, and it truly feels like home every day.

In 2022, I’m aiming to explore more of the world. Whether that’s UK staycations, trips abroad, or days out locally, I want to find out more about this crazy world to make a little more sense of it. Hopefully I can share that over here and on Instagram.

Could have made an effort with my socks, couldn’t I?

To bring us back to earth, in 2021, there were also periods I’m still trying to process and work through today. I finally accepted some support for anxiety, after years of holding off and trying to persuade myself I could handle it on my own. I’m still hit with panic waves of grief after now six years of trying to comprehend the death of my dear dad. I haven’t looked after my health the best in the pandemic, as I’m sure lots of us will feel- whether that’s lacking the motivation to exercise as much, or turning to Deliveroo when it’s been a hard week. But I’m determined to keep sharing all that crappiness with you, and being honest, because I don’t see enough journalists or social media people open up enough.

I may use this website as a space to share work, and write content, but I’m still literally the girl who started Madeleine Mae at her desk in university halls in 2016, who’d just lost her dad and was struggling to make sense of the world. Life can be shite – there’s no way to bullshit it isn’t. We’ve just got to make the best of things, and cherish the moments where life feels ‘just right’. I’ll be back soon with more. x

In the meantime, follow me at @maddiemae_xo on Instagram, where I chat shit every single day.

Here’s hoping I post *sometime within the next year* next – aha !

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1 comment

Eliza 23rd January 2022 - 7:58 pm

Here’s to more growth in 2022 πŸ₯°


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