Natalie Savvides is a married Mum of two young children under five who lives in South-West London. She is the author of Full Circle, published in 2016 by Pegasus, which is a memoir with a difference. Natalie Savvides, now in her early 40s, has been called ‘the real Bridget Jones’ on many occasions, but the difference between her book – Full Circle – and the likes of Bridget Jones is that it’s 100% real!
Her book is packed with unedited extracts from her diaries from the age of 13 through to when, through a chance meeting, she fell in love with her husband, as well as memories and reflections on the different times of her life – from school playground politics to leaving home for university, finding her place in a different town, then in a different country, meeting new friends, discovering truths about people she thought were friends, battling an ongoing problem with her weight by eating erratically and drinking too much, the infamous dating game we are all too familiar with, launching onto the career ladder, burning the candle at both ends, and much more, Natalie’s life story is told with such raw authenticity thanks to the diary extracts.
Natalie now dedicates her time to helping others with their problems, much like a ‘happiness coach’. While she may have been brought up in a ‘nice’ part of London, given opportunities to go to university, travel and enjoy exciting new experiences, Natalie also went through myriad challenges of growing up, finding her place in the world, and looking for love, like so many of us do (and quickly forget/erase from our memories as we get older!).
Her ability to recall the exact language and feelings of times in our lives that so many of us choose to forget gives her an incredible empathy with teenage girls, those in their early 20s living away from home for the first time, through to women in their 30s on the dating bandwagon trying to find love after a string of bad relationships!
In honour of International Day of Happiness Natalie will, on the morning of March 20th, be giving away free copies of Full Circle to teenage girls, career women and Mums on Kensington High Street. Her aim is to show these women that they’re not alone in their problems, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and to give people another reason to feel happy on this International Awareness Day.
She is also going to be visiting secondary schools throughout south-east England, starting in March 2017, to talk to them about the experiences and emotions that are so overlooked and not commonly discussed in schools, from bullying to eating issues, drinking to friendships, drugs to anxiety. She will be gifting each school a copy of her book – Full Circle – for the library. She aims to continue this connection with the teenage students by returning to the school to answer their questions after reading the book (the content usually sparks a series of questions) and to offer one-to-one support when required.
Genre: Biography, Self-Help,
Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie
Publication Date: Jan 2016
We join Natalie on her mission to find true love and harmony. She allows us to read her diaries as she tells how her life unfolds, giving a unique insight into her enjoyable but mostly unfulfilling encounters with men - and all that life throws at her. Will she find what she's looking for?
Natalie holds many things dear: family, friends, Italy, parties, Tarot, and God. But what she wants most is a lasting, meaningful, loving relationship.
Despite her difficulty in finding "the one" she does get to know herself better, and lets us watch and learn from her experiences.
She asks many questions of herself, and encourages us to do the same, helping us realise that we all take similar journeys of self-discovery - and that this is normal and necessary.
"Each relationship we have changes us in some way and some have the power to change us forever..."
Extracts from Full Circle by Natalie Savvides (Pegasus, 2016)
Natalie’s pursuit of happiness that inspired the book…
It was a glorious, hot summer’s morning in Italy. I was there on one of my many visits and had just woken up after yet another weekend of constant partying and general self-destruction, when I decided that’s it. Enough.
Oh I loved it, the days of endless aperitifs, dinners, the beach, cocktails and dancing on podiums until the early hours. It was great, but it was gnawing away at me inside. I wasn’t happy with who I was. As I lay in the lower of my friends’ daughters’ bunk, barely remembering how I got there, head pounding, riddled with guilt, I questioned why I kept doing this to myself. The vulgarity of it simply accentuated by the innocence and purity of my surroundings, a pretty six-year-old’s bedroom, church bells and birdsong framing a beautiful home in a beautiful place, and what was I? No less than a grim stain on it all.
If I’d enjoyed it – genuinely enjoyed it – it would have been different. But deep down I knew it was getting me nowhere. The frustration of entrapment was increasing, yet I knew no other way to release my insecurities. I was searching… like we all do. The pursuit of fulfilment, for that last piece to complete the puzzle was killing me and it had been for some time. Every time I thought I’d found it, it either slipped through my fingers or wasn’t for me. No matter how hard I tried, that ‘longing’ persisted.
Outwardly I seemed together: I was slim, tanned, pretty, popular and even achieved that near impossible task of getting my highlights exactly right. What more could a girl want? But something was missing.
If you look you don’t find… is that it?
I had to do something about it. Find something satisfying, gratifying, with a purpose. Something to stop me retreating into such destructive behaviour, willingly, making the same mistakes over and over, chasing every opportunity to escape the void I was so unsuccessfully trying to fill. I was lost and somehow I had to figure out the way. I needed to steady myself but I realised that first I’d have to look back, to see where it all went wrong.
‘You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.’
I’ve kept diaries for as long as I can remember. Consoling myself, trying to make sense of the chaos in my head. Simple words they may be but they contained truth and looking back through them was enlightening. I decided to put it all together in a book. In a moment of panic where I felt the need to grab onto something tangible and potentially beneficial, this was the answer. A book would be constructive. It may even bring balance and some form of satisfaction.
And so I began… reflecting my words on paper yet again though this time with a different purpose, a real purpose.
I started by creating a clear picture of where I was, before ploughing through years of journals to piece the travelled road together, hoping to shed some light on where that first domino fell, clear the blur from my vision as to where I might actually be headed and with any luck, make sense of the continuous quest for whatever it was I was furiously searching for.
I’ve compiled my findings on the pages that follow. Parts are best told through diary excerpts themselves and part from memory. Tied together with the wisdom of hindsight, they paint the picture and reveal what only time could tell.
Questioning body image
Penny wasn’t the only one to notice I had a problem with food and I knew it didn’t look good to others. People often remarked that I looked thin or unwell. In my bid to take some control of the situation and de-emphasise my focus on what I was eating or not as it happened, I decided an exercise programme was in order and discovered the joy of aerobics, the forerunner to pretty much every exercise class going today. A group of us joined, so it was the social thing as well as immensely beneficial. We’d cycle there and back, usually risking our lives but reaping maximum rewards. I was delighted to feel my body moving and it had the effect of making me feel positive, indeed I began to evangelise about it. Sometimes I ask myself where this intense desire for control came from. I knew the regime I set myself – and broke on a regular basis – was not a totally healthy way of living but it gave me some power, not just over my body but over my mind and hence seemingly put me in control of my life. I wonder now if my early days at school, the spite and nastiness I felt from Tanya and others at such a critical stage had something to do with it. On the other hand there was the possibility that I was kind of messed up but it baffled me. My parents had never asked for perfection or put an emphasis on such things and for them looks were not the end game. They always encouraged me to develop my character and brain. I had a strong, loving family, friends who embraced food happily so I couldn’t excuse myself on the grounds that my peers were influencing me. As for the era we lived in, well it was no different to any other era. Sure there were women’s magazines but if you think back to the twenties when women went mad over the skinny flapper look, there were no celebrities in magazines like today – or on Instagram. The funny thing was that even if I achieved some control on a daily basis it didn’t make me particularly happy. The achievement itself wasn’t worth the agony I put myself through. I was also drinking too much and I wasn’t really enjoying it. The two were definitely connected. It’s funny but for someone who wanted to be in control I really wasn’t and the fact that I would sneakily drink before I went out and sneakily eat when I came back in, was symptomatic of something I was sure. Perhaps it was just that big, yearning, gap of emotion that exists in all of us and that we all try to push away.
Theoretically, I had all the things a girl should want. I had a boyfriend, a really good job, money to spend and an overflowing social life. What could be wrong with me? How was this not enough? Why is it that you get what you’re supposed to have and then it doesn’t make you happy? Or in my case it just makes you ask even more questions? Was I ever going to be like a normal person and just accept and get on with it? I could understand why my parents despaired. I was beginning to despair of me myself and yet if this, all this, wasn’t enough for me, was there anything that ever would make me content and stop me putting myself through ridiculous hoops both emotionally and physically to reach this euphoric, yet undefined goal? This was madness. I was sure of it but I didn’t know what to do. I really didn’t.
Natalie Savvides is married to a wonderful man and lives in South West London with their two children under five. She works from home, mostly writing and being a Mum, and has written diaries since the age of 13, documenting almost every thought, feeling and experience since then. Natalie is a self-confessed ‘observer and contemplator of life’. Her ultimate goal has always been to find true love and harmony. She has strived for what she calls ‘perfection’ for many years believing it to be the key to happiness. This has often been incredibly draining, even debilitating, but time taught her that perfection is neither the answer, nor entirely possible.
Natalie is regularly called upon for advice both within her own network in London but also further afield via her social media platform and blog, and now specialises in supporting women and teenage girls in their pursuit of happiness. “I don’t judge and I believe that the way I have lived my life until now, and what I have learnt, put me in a credible position to write the book and to help people live a happy, fulfilling life”.