Why Meg? She is a charismatic, creative writer and vlogger that has managed to rack over a million views on her video with over 75,000 subscribers, and has journeyed through student life, all with a chronic illness.
Catching Fresher’s flu is bad enough, but imagine how hard it is to get diagnosed with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) during your first year of university. The incurable neuro-immune disease leaves Meg feeling debilitated, with intense fatigue, exhaustion, chronic pain and immune dysfunction along with many more symptoms, making it hard for Meg to leave the house most weeks.
When Meg was unable to continue her studies and was placed on medical leave, the change from student life to constant bedroom life left her thinking that she knew she had to do something. Instead of sinking into a hole of despair Meg channelled her positivity into creating a successful online persona. This has not only led her to gain experience in PR and social media, but she was able to truly discover herself, and make lifelong friends along the way.
If you are yet to pursue that hobby you haven’t touched in a while, then it’s always worth giving it another shot. She explained how Meg Says came about, “Since childhood, I’ve had a keen interest in writing and always knew that I wanted to go into some creative field that revolved around it, and then I discovered the blogging world in my teens. At age 14 I started a beauty blog under the name ‘Meg Says’ which I loved but deleted, as I felt too busy ‘growing up’, and was unaware that blogging was on the verge of becoming this huge industry. At age 20 I restarted ‘Meg Says’ and a YouTube channel swiftly followed, as it was always something I wanted to try my hand at and I thought it was about time I kicked the nerves to the kerb and gave it a go.”
I asked her how she manages to stay so bubbly, upbeat and positive with a chronic illness. “I think it helps that I’m a naturally positive person but it definitely doesn’t always come easily, especially on extra bad days, but I just try and remind myself that I’ve gotten through every tough day I’ve lived through in the past and will get through the one I’m experiencing today.
“I also do my best to focus on what I’m doing without comparing myself to those around me, as we have different levels of health and ability. I know that I have to work twice as hard only to achieve half the same results which can be frustrating, but it’s about playing the hand you’re dealt and trying your best despite your obstacles. My best friend Hayley has the same chronic illness as me, and it’s invaluable to have someone who always understands and never judges. I think it’s important to know that you’re not alone, you’re never the only person in the world going through a particular struggle, and there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Looking at Meg’s successes, you can see her positive attitude has helped her go far. She was named by MTV as one of their 16 up and coming YouTubers, has worked with some of her favourite brands, collaborated with LUSH cosmetics, been invited to previews by Revlon, received job offers and was getting hired to present and model by brands like Superdrug, look Fantastic and P&G. She was also named the winner of InStyle’s Project 13 Award for ‘Rising Star’, and when attending the BONCAs Awards, she could rub shoulders with the YouTube stars she admired and meet celebs at the BAFTA party. She was also asked by BBC to present at the Team GB Ball, where she was given the opportunity to interview stars on the red carpet, which was shown on TV on New Year’s Eve.
It has however come at the expense of a lot of things, “I had to leave my job, my university degree and my days as a young, fun-loving student who ran every morning and met new people every day.” She explains that although her initial reaction when looking back at university experience was how becoming chronically ill defined the year, she realised it was actually the people. Meg said: “I met people who made me feel like I’d found my best friends, people who made me feel homesick and isolated, people who made me laugh until I cried and one person who made me fall in love until this very day. A question I often get asked by my viewers who are about to start university is, “I’m really shy and don’t like going on nights out, how am I going to make friends?” and my response is that there’s always someone out there who feels the same way as you.
“University is full of people from all walks of life, and it’s the perfect opportunity to meet as many of them as possible! I lived with a real mixture of total party animals and very quiet introverts, all of which got on really well and also had great friendship groups outside of our flat. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and if there isn’t anyone in your accommodation who you click with you’re only a moment away from joining a sports team or singing up to a society where you might find your ‘people’.”
If you are interested in starting a blog or YouTube channel but are worried that you won’t have time, then Meg has some advice: “Go for it! My only regret is not taking the plunge sooner – I was so scared that I wouldn’t be any good and everyone would be laughing at my expense, but as I got older I realised that I didn’t really mind. Life’s too short to miss out on things because of what other people might think, and I’ve ended up blogging and creating YouTube videos as my full-time job so it was definitely a risk worth taking! So with that being said, my best advice would simply be to get started without worrying whether everything is ‘perfect’.
“It’s way more time-consuming than many people realise, so don’t set yourself unrealistic goals like sticking to a strict upload schedule that could get in the way of your studies – a hobby should be fun, not stressful! It’s a really great creative outlet that can be both therapeutic and exciting. The initiative and dedication it takes to run a blog or YouTube channel may impress potential employers, plus you have the possibility of turning it into a self-made business in the future.”
Students go through a lot of struggles, but if you are suffering from an illness, whether its physical or mental, then Meg advises that you tell someone as the student support available is brilliant, and there are lots of people who can help. “When I became ill at university I wish I’d sent my personal tutor a quick email, in the beginning, to get the ball rolling, but as I didn’t have a diagnosis yet I felt as though I couldn’t be helped.”
She added: “Although I had to stop my degree as I simply became too unwell, that wasn’t the case at all – I met with the Disability Support Service at my university just before I went on medical leave and found that they were able to offer assistance, e.g. providing taxis to and from lectures, having someone take notes in my seminars for me, extra time in exams. They were also incredibly kind and understanding, and I have every confidence that they would’ve helped me hugely had I been well enough to continue with my studies. The first step is telling someone about your situation and seeing what can be done to ensure you’re able to do your degree to the best of your ability and live student life to the fullest.”
Meg says pursue your dreams, as the world is your oyster. She said, “I know everyone says it, but it’s true – the possibilities are endless, and there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you put your mind to it. I love the quote “Dreams don’t work unless you do”, as I honestly believe that everyone has the power to make their dreams a reality if they work hard enough at it and care hard enough about it. Someone asked me the other day what I wanted to be when I was younger (and aside from the slightly odd choice of ‘librarian’ – I was obsessed with Matilda when I was little!) I remembered that my dream job was being the beauty editor for a magazine. I still see myself as being a ‘small fish’ in the blogging world, but it’s crazy to me that I’ve pretty much ended up being a beauty editor, only I work for myself and not a magazine. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Check out Meg’s website and YouTube channel for interesting posts and great fashion and beauty tips.