Friendship Interview with Shani Jay
(Author & coach)
I can’t remember when or how I stumbled across Shani’s Instagram page, but she got an instant follow from me. A wonderful woman fighting the expectations of how women should look, act and be. Her way with words give me all the feels, her honesty is so motivating and her fight for women empowerment is inspirational AF. I remember the day she followed me back…total fangirl moment of a wonderful lady who writes stories that find their way straight to my heart. I’m so excited Shani agreed to do this interview and I have loved getting to know her more. In this friendship interview Shani shares what life is like as an introvert, how she is ruthless in her friend choices and her mission to empower women.
Hey Shani, I love the positive messages you share through your work, when did you start your mission to help women and what ignited your passion?
Hi Gemma! Lovely to chat with you 🙂 It started 2 years ago, while I was working as a fashion designer in a normal 9-5 back in the UK, but I was really miserable. I knew I wanted more, and I had begun writing again as a hobby a few months before that, and knew that was where my heart was. When I started writing that year, I found everything I had to say was naturally gravitating towards empowering women, and helping them feel more confident about themselves and their bodies, and knowing their worth and not settling for less. I think that’s because these are the same issues that have plagued me for decades – I hugely struggled with a lack of confidence as a child and teenager, and I would put that down to being bullied for a few years at school. After that, it took the best part of a decade for me to re-build my confidence, and I had a burning desire to help other women overcome the same issues, because I knew I wasn’t alone.
When I see the shit that the media talk about on sites like the Daily Mail, or I see what “celebrities” like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian are promoting to young women, or I see TV shows like Love Island being rammed down our throats – I see it as my responsibility to tell young girls and women that they don’t need to be like those people. they don’t need to get a boob job, or wear fake tan, or drop ten pounds before they feel good about themselves. The world we live in today is so toxic for young women, and it infuriates me that we’re seen as easy targets for companies to beat us down and make us feel worthless, then sell us shit we don’t need so we can feel better.
Writing is in my heart, and I know it’s what I’m on this earth to do – so I’ve brought that together my mission to inspire and empower women worldwide.
As well as being a best selling author, you are an empowerment coach & run retreats, how do you juggle being so busy and seeing your friends too?
I only have a few true friendships, and I’ve always been that way. I also spend a lot of time away from the UK which is where the majority of my friends are based, and travel often, but my friends know and respect that – they love me for following my heart and my passions, so it’s not a problem. We keep in touch via text and Skype (technology really has made the world better), and whenever we do finally meet again it feels as though we haven’t been apart. I think real friendships are always that way.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? Has this always been the case?
I’m an introvert, and yes I’ve always been that way! That doesn’t mean I don’t like going out, but I’m more comfortable in small groups of people and with people I know, as opposed to large groups of strangers. I’m so happy on my own too, which is common for introverts, but I think it’s really important that we all learn to enjoy our own company.
Do you ever experience feelings of loneliness and how do you avoid/overcome them?
I think I did a little when I was single, but that was before I learned to fully love and appreciate myself. I think if you love yourself, you won’t feel lonely. And I tell so many women who want to be in a relationship, that being in the wrong one can feel even lonelier than if you were to stay single.
Back then, what I would do was force myself to meet new people, and say yes to invites out even if I didn’t feel like going (which I often didn’t because like I said I’m a total introvert!). I tried new hobbies, and was often the one suggesting things to do in our friendship group so that I’d always have things to look forward to, and wouldn’t be alone for weeks at a time.
But I’ve been in a relationship with my partner Sam for almost two and a half years now, and we live together and both work from home so we spend almost all our time together! I don’t ever feel lonely these days.
Tell me about your current friend circle and how have your friendships formed and changed throughout your life?
As I mentioned before, my friendship circle is very tight these days. I’ve been quite ruthless in cutting people out of my life who I believe no longer fit there, and don’t align with who I am today. It’s true what they say – you are the product of the people you spend the most time with. So take a look around you. Who’s there? When I did that, I realised there were a few people who weren’t doing me any good, so I let them go. And that might sound harsh, but don’t be afraid to do that, regardless of how long you’ve been friends with someone. You’ll be doing both of you a favour in the long run.
I’m much more selective these days with even just going out and spending time with new people – because I’m so focused on building my business right now. I have a lot of connections I’ve made through social media which has been a great way to connect with like-minded women who are in similar head spaces to me, who I can chat to and share my struggles and my wins with – things that my other friends probably don’t fully understand.
Have you been through a friend breakup and why did it happen?
I have been through many! And I think if we’re growing and evolving as people, we should be going through many. Most of the time it has just been a case of drifting apart instead of some huge fight or fall out, and just never finding a way back to each other again, usually because one or both of us doesn’t value the other enough anymore. I believe that not everyone is supposed to be in your life forever, so when these things happen – which they probably will – lean into them.
When was the last time you made a new friend and how?
The last time I made a new friend was actually by connecting to someone on instagram, then vibing enough with them to actually meet up in person! Instagram is great that way.
Tell a friendship story…
The greatest friendship I’ve ever had is the one I have right now with my partner Sam. He is without a doubt my best friend, and I never dreamed I would end up with a guy as my best friend (I’ve always felt more comfortable in female friendships). From this friendship, I’ve learned that the best ones are where you’re loving and supporting each other, while challenging each other to be even better than you were yesterday. It’s about growing individually, and as a team. Being stronger when the other person is feeling a little fragile, and knowing that person is always there for you no matter what. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way in a friendship before, probably because I don’t like to rely on other people or depend on them. But I have learned to let my guard down, and it has been the best thing I’ve ever done 🙂
Thank you so much Shani. It has been lovely to get to know you better. Now where can we find you online?