It is quite ironic that as I launch a campaign about #raisingaconfidentgirl it coincides with me having one of the biggest crisis of confidence that I've had in a very long time.
Raising Women was born out of my journey of self discovery and the thing about the journey of self discovery is that a lot of the discovery comes from learning to have faith in the uncertain. And the problem with this is that in order to learn that faith, you also have to learn to have confidence and self belief in your decisions and choices. This sounds relatively simple and easily done. But it is not. For me it is not.
There are a lot of things I've learnt about myself during this journey and one of the things I've learnt is that due to my circumstances growing up, I've associated my self worth with my work. When my family separated I clung to my studies like a life raft, in particular my creative subjects, work was my constant, my escape, the only thing that I could control, team that with a dose of perfectionism and that means that not only do I put 110% into my work, my work is also really important to me, and it is also important to me that my work is received in the 'right way', that I'm satisfied by my work and that my work makes a difference/has a reason. That all the work/effort/headspace/energy I've put in for all these years was not in vain. Essentially that all the pain was not for nothing.
There is a very big difference between planning your life and living an intentional life. And over the last 5 or so years I've been learning to live life in a more mindful way, to be more intentional about the steps I take, which means that each step has become important to me and is considered. In some ways this is positive in others it becomes stifling because it means I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things 'right', because when things have felt 'wrong' for such a long time, you try and avoid that feeling like the plague.
Dents in our confidence can stem from many things, but I believe that there are two factors that knock it the most.
- Inner lack of clarity in who we are and what we are doing
- Negative comments or behaviour from other people, particularly those in our closer circle.
My close circle is small and so the opinions of those in my circle matters to me and this weekend I got completely derailed due to the words of one of the people in my circle. Rightly or wrongly I care about what this person thinks about me and how I spend my days. I am someone who is used to harsh words, growing up with a father who had little brain to mouth filter, and had no qualms about speaking in a derogatory manner at any given opportunity, however, having come so far in my journey and with my business, these words cut deep.
The problem is when this happens it's like opening a can of worms, all those questions that keep you awake at night, that you ask about yourself, your life, the choices that you've been pondering, the endless thoughts you were previously able to quieten become so LOUD to the point where you just 'can't'. Everything felt such a mess that I couldn't deal with anything for a few days. Any sense of clarity or confidence in what I'm doing had gone. I felt like a rabbit stuck in the headlights of a oncoming truck.
Five days later and I'm able to start writing these words, partly because I know that I never really know what I'm thinking until I've written it down. Will I post this, probably, will I want to delete it, probably, will it help me gain some clarity probably, nothing is certain, but this is what I've learnt to do when I just don't know.
The day to day life of being a mum and running a home can already be overwhelming, add in the uncertainty of growing your own business and I sometimes find it all too overwhelming. Too much.
This journey started because I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore or what I was supposed to be doing with my life. There have been moments along the way where I have felt more 'me', felt like I was on the 'right' path and at other times I knew that I was off the beaten track and got used to ignoring my ego and doing a U turn. Looking back, a lot of the times I have not continued on the right track was due to comments from people in my close circle or because my creative brain had just too many ideas and I wanted to pursue them and didn't check in with my intuition.
I stepped back from social media this week, simply because I needed the headspace, I often find social media stifling and it can often feel like a full time job on top of the mountain of things I already have to do in my day. But then how do you make an online business work if you are not online?!
So I've been feeling completely blocked, questioning everything and everyone in my life. When you've been hurt by those who 'love' you, trust is not something that comes easily.
Now I realise to some social media comes naturally and it's easy to play the 'instagame', but my business is 'me', it's part of who I am and how I see the world as I figure things out along the way, so it's also hard because I'm evolving and expanding all the time, and as I do that my 'voice', opinions and confidence in what I'm doing changes all the time too. So comes the fear of what the wonderful people who have been following this journey 'expect' of me. These ramblings and my thoughts on social media are my way of figuring things out, I don't have a 'plan', I just have an intention, so I don't know where all this is going. I work it out as I go along, as I learn, evolve, grow and make mistakes. The mistakes are the most important because they teach me what I don't want and therefore enlighten me as to what I am really trying to achieve here.
When you lack confidence it is often hard to put yourself into the arena and being someone who often challenges the status quo as I have struggled so much in the past with living inside 'the box', I often wonder if it would be easier to create my own arena, where I feel comfortable and things go at a pace I feel comfortable with. It seems to me Instagram, for example, has become far too strategic and if you want your business to work you have to post at certain times, a certain number of times etc etc, and this for me takes away the joy of using it as a helpful tool of connection. It's also hard not to get caught up in this (no matter how hard we try not to) and feel like we have to do everything in a 'certain way'. Being a creative soul this just does not sit with my well at all and does not feel at all authentic.
I'm also someone who is an advocate for people living life in their own unique way, because how else will people shine and give the best of themselves to the world if we all become carbon copies of each other.
When I started this post, I had no idea what would spill out onto the page and that's what I like about blogging and posting, the unexpected, the inspiration, the clarity.
Every new chapter of this journey has started with a 'first step' and this has been another first step, another revealing of 'truth', another layer shed. Another action that has moved me forward through the fog. And with that clarity the confidence is slowly clawed back.
So what has become clear to me this week? That it's OK to do it your way, it's Ok to set your own rules and boundaries and in my case I very much need a little less time doing all the things I think I should be doing and more time doing the things I must do, write, read, research, spend time doing the things that fill me up, with the people that fill me up, rather than just knowing I need to do that, allow myself to do it, knowing that me stepping away from my work has no effect on my self worth.
As I wrote earlier in this post it is really important to me that my work also means something/has a reason, that I'm not just doing things for the sake of it, for the should of it. This week has made me even more clear about why I run campaigns and why I'm supporting GenderHopes this month and what my why is.
There will definitely be more thoughts to come, until then;
Love J x