Working for yourself is such a fascinating journey. Personal development is catapulted forward – it becomes essential to help you get out of your own way.
While that’s not always easy – some fears and blocks can be TOUGH to see – it comes with such incredible rewards that I am forever grateful I took the ‘road less travelled’.
I’m currently doing a bit of copywriting (an icky cold bug that I have right now has actually helped me get in the zone which is surprising!) and reflecting on how I have written about myself and my work in the past and which photos I have chosen.
SO many people adore the photo that I’ve posted before of me in a white/cream suit jacket. Most have said it’s their favourite shot of me from the whole photo shoot! I must admit I love it too, except, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t quite feel same about it being the best choice to represent me and my work today. I know we always have a different view of ourselves than others do, but that wasn’t quite it…
The suit photo is amazing (truly blown away by Caroline White’s photography talents!) and I’m sure I’ll use it for what it was intended for some day (as a professional biography photo), but the act of wearing a suit feels a little odd to me and not natural. I suppose, in my eyes, it reminds me of the ways I actually lost my connection with myself because of the fact it doesn’t feel natural to me and is quite a corporate look versus who I am day-to-day (getting dangerously close to being a hippie!).
To illustrate what I mean: when I was lost… I had just read the book called “Yes Man” (Danny Wallace) which describes how wonderful life can be when you say ‘yes’ to every opportunity. It was a leaving gift from my last job and wow it took me on a ride…
Rather than being an experiment in surrendering to what life had in store for me, I followed a path of ‘shoulds’ and other people’s recommendations for me, sure that I would be taken on an amazing journey and nothing could go wrong.
Let me tell you that opening up to opportunities and surrendering is a beautiful thing… but when you STOP listening to your OWN intuition and checking in to see if those opportunities are actually things that feel good to you, that’s when life gets ALL KINDS of crazy!
I am an introvert that likes connecting deeply and meaningfully in small groups or 1-to-1…. Yet I did conferences and public speaking on a GRAND scale (ended up speaking at an international conference in front of peers and colleagues at the Excel Centre in London… gulp!) This did NOT give me the connection that I craved. I definitely did not thrive on stage nor in big crowds. Sadly, on the other hand, I had very few close friends with whom I could connect with and spent most of my spare time alone, yet amongst thousands of strangers. Such a paradox, but sadly it seems to be a common one for people these days.
Nature has always been my church and yet I moved to the centre (Zone 1) of London (11,760 people per square mile!), sure that this is how I would improve my life. Instead, I struggled to sleep because instead of the gentle sounds of birds or trees rustling outside the window I would hear brakes screeching on the buses going past that sounded like someone was dying… all through the night.
I’m naturally very spiritual and yet I felt like I broke my own spirit by driving myself so hard in work, working all hours in my job and side projects. I made no room for spirituality, only science, analytics and tech. All hobbies were actually career-based side projects, not an opportunity to switch off either. While I adored this type of work and still do in many ways, the softer, more ‘feminine’ and creative parts of my personality and the emotional parts of it were suppressed, only to come back into action at night when my dreams of how my life should have been would haunt me and remind me of how far I’d got it wrong.
The result? Crippling panic attacks on every commute, energy mysteriously fading away, hair loss, and paralysing loneliness to name a few. My lifestyle was horrendous: poor nutrition, insomnia, sporadic yet brutal exercise, no creativity, no true moments to be myself and BREATHE. My internal dialogue was probably the worst of it all: full of self judgment, berating myself for every little thing, totally being a slave driver to myself with NO love or compassion whatsoever.
The only person I had to blame was myself for not remembering who I truly was and honouring that, and especially for trying so hard to be someone I wasn’t on the outside. OF COURSE it was impossible to keep that up… something had to give eventually.
And it did.
Life had an intervention planned for me. Health would mean I had to take a diversion away from this path to self destruction. Thankfully, I chose to learn from it all and truly came back to myself.
I didn’t come back to the place where I began, though, I came back to a place that included all the lessons from the journey and accounted for the fact I am older, wiser and craving different things than I did when I was younger.
I genuinely DO enjoy wearing the jacket in the suit picture, but I wear it in a different way than in the past. Instead of wearing it because I’m needing to be formal for work and to impress others, I wear it because I want to and it feels good. It’s a big change – but it’s an internal one. Back when I was living in London I’d be wearing the ‘London uniform’ black, grey or navy, too! Now I know better and that the colours I love to wear are the ones that suit me best anyway: cream (like the jacket), warm autumnal tones and gold.
So, I’m going with my intuition now. The suit photo will be used how it was intended (maybe I’ll even discover a different type of speaking event that works for me and my work today and use it for that!) and I’m pulling out the photos that show a more approachable person that *I* wish I could have connected with back when things were crazy. That means a mix of beautiful and imperfect photos, some by Caroline and some questionable selfies by me! Oh, and plenty of colour and photos of my world, too…
Simply love how all this is evolving! What a journey it has been. It’s so nice to stop sometimes and take note of how far we’ve come and all the transformations along the way. 🌱