Andrea McLean’s mission is to empower 100 million women around the world to live, learn and thrive in a life they love. She is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Confessions of a Good Girl and Confessions of a Menopausal Woman and now This Girl Is On Fire.
She is an award-winning TV broadcaster, journalist and radio presenter, and the CEO and co-founder of the female empowerment site This Girl is on Fire:
“My goal is to one day have This Girl Is On Fire sites in every continent of the world, each articulating the cultural idiosyncrasies of where it is, to best serve women and girls. My wish is that every woman and girl is empowered in their education and personal freedom to make the life choices that serve them best.”
Her latest book talks openly about her battles with experiencing burnout and breakdown while putting on a brave face. She wanted to help women learn how to overcome whatever it is that is causing them to feel stuck. “It’s for women who feel overwhelmed or frustrated in their life, no matter whether it is something big and traumatic from their past, or small, everyday irritations that they can’t seem to overcome. It is to show women that it doesn’t matter what your personal ‘thing’ is, there are ways that you can overcome them.”
Andrea, you are one of the nation’s most-loved faces, how do you cope with such incessant media attention?
I see it for what it is. It’s not about ‘me’, it’s about what people think they know about me. I understand why people make snap judgements based on what they have seen or heard about me, rather than their own experience of me, as they haven’t met me! I don’t look for it, or check the papers or online to see it all. It’s not in my control so I just take control of the bits I can – what I personally put out. The rest is up to the universe.
How do you see the role of social media playing in your own personal journey with mental health and self-confidence?
Because I use social media for work, there is a line of separation. I am being myself, but I am not cataloguing every single aspect of my life which some seem to do. I put out what I think my followers will be interested in, what they can learn from etc. I have never got to the stage where
I am addicted to putting out every single moment of my life, and if I feel I am picking up my phone too much to check how something has been received then I step away. At the weekends I tend to leave my phone in my bag and just get on with my life. I can really feel the pull for the first couple of hours, then it eases away. These things are addictive, so it’s vitally important that we treat it as such and take breaks from it. As a family, we also insist that everyone leaves their mobiles downstairs overnight – no phones in the bedroom at night!
What changes have you noticed that social media has had on your wider audience?
The main change is the plummeting drop in quality of output. The tail is now wagging the dog, which is genuinely worrying. Media outlets no longer care about the truth, they care about how many clicks they get, how much traction they can generate, and they do that by causing as much outrage as possible, regardless of how much damage it causes to the person involved. Fake news spreads seven times faster than the truth (according to the very people who invented social media in the first place) and what’s scary is that people don’t seem to care whether something is real or not if it feeds their need for drama. It’s scary.
What one piece of advice have you been given over the years that has really stuck with you?
The wonderful thing about each one of these incredible people (for example Oprah Winfrey, Drew Barrymore, Will Smith and Amy Schumer, to name a few) is that they are one hundred per cent themselves. They aren’t trying to be like anyone else, which is what makes them so unique. In this crazy world where everyone is trying to be the next somebody else, they have all stayed true to themselves – which is not something they have necessarily said to me, but by osmosis it is advice I have observed and taken on board myself.
How do you manage to remain positive?
I am a pretty positive person most of the time, and I appreciate what I have around me – the love of my husband, my family, my health. However, you have to feel the shade as well as the light that life throws at us, otherwise we don’t appreciate any of it. So when I feel that things are getting on top of me I speak up and I step away. That gives me the head space to recoup and come back smiling.
Looking back over the past few years must have been truly emotional. What would be the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
If someone has to make you feel small to make themselves feel big WALK AWAY from them. Don’t hope they’ll change, don’t try to love them more so they’ll feel less insecure, don’t dim your light and lower your voice to keep them calm. Walk away. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, whether that’s from partners or friends and anyone who makes you feel afraid or unloved does not deserve you. Leave.
And what comes next for you, Andrea? Where do you see This Girl is On Fire taking you?
Oh my goodness! I have so many plans! We are working on the launch of a brand new membership for the site, where we offer mentors, workshops, courses and support for women in business and in their personal lives as well. It’s really exciting to know that we will be able to help more women feel empowered and supported.
What are 3 key take-homes you’d like readers to remember This Girl Is On Fire for?
1. If you don’t know where you are going, how on earth can you know when you’ve got there? So many of us exist as if we are driving around not knowing where we’re headed, and one day we just run out of petrol and stop and decide “this’ll do”. Then we wonder why we are unhappy! Think about what you want, why you want it, and then how to get it. Trust me; you’ll feel much better.
2. You think you can’t – that it’s too hard, too scary, too big – but you can. Maybe not right away. But you can.
3. Whatever you are going through right now is just that – your ‘right now’. It’s not your forever. It will pass.
Find out more about Andrea and her latest book This Girl is On Fire: thisgirlisonfire.com.
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Amy is a plant-based food blogger, recipe developer and content creator behind Nourishing Amy. She focuses on food, health and happiness to promote a nourishing lifestyle and regularly shares her positive vibes, inspirational affirmations and food creations on her social media channels and her website.