Be Who and What You Want
Depression and low self -esteem
‘A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.’ Coco Chanel
Yay! We should. And these days I’m feeling far more ‘who’ and ‘what’ I want to be than ever. But what if you don’t know who or what you want to be or do? What then?
I didn’t always think like I do now.
For many years I lost who I was. In a nutshell this was due to depression that started after a serious road traffic accident when my car got hit by a lorry on the motorway on my commute home from work.
‘I remember how much you struggled. You’d call me and say you couldn’t cope with the day. Simple things like having to make a phone call to the bank were just too big a task for you. The smallest of things made you anxious, when you’d been this mega confident person before the accident where nothing seemed to phase you.’
This was the response from Lynne, my good friend, and neighbour when I asked her about what she could remember of the time around the accident, which is when my mental health problems started.
I’m ok now but I lived with depression and low self-esteem for many years, on and off medication several times. My life imploded in 2013 and since then I’ve been on a journey of rebuilding and getting back to me.
Loss of identity in middle age
Many of the women in business I work with say they felt a loss of identity on approaching middle age. For a long time, your kitchen calendar was full of activities that were meeting other people’s needs. Wife, mum, carer, taxi driver, nurse, career woman, chief of everything. All of a sudden, it seems, the kids have left home, and you've got a bit more freedom but realise that you've lost sight of who you are as an individual. It can be hard as you get older to have the confidence you might have had in your younger days due to all these factors.
The menopause has a lot to answer for too. Our bodies start to betray us and change shape, our sexiness curves all head south and become redistributed around the middle. The elasticity in our skin becomes like an over stretched elastic band, less taut, a bit looser. Add thinning, grey, sometimes wiry hair into the mix and you feel let down. You see yourself ageing rather than embracing the wisdom and experience you have; our western culture celebrates youth. All this contributes to you feeling like you might lose your visibility in society. According to a survey undertaken by Gransnet, 52 is the age that we start to notice being overlooked and patronised.
These days though, being in your 50’s is not about fading away into the background, biding your time until retirement. We are working and living longer these days than earlier generations. So many of us are seeing the menopausal years as a fresh start. A time for new beginnings. We can be out there, loud and proud. We have so much wisdom and experience to bring to the world of business.
For many, there’s a trend of starting afresh, becoming self-employed and doing something they’ve always wanted to do. I’m hearing more stories of women in business who’ve had a career change in their 50’s. Also, I think lockdown made folk reassess their priorities. There was actually a *thing* called ‘The Great Resignation’ as people recognised there’s more to life than working in a job you’re not loving – especially if we have to do it well into our 60’s, maybe beyond.
Turning 50 felt quite liberating
I know for me, turning 50 felt quite liberating. I’d hit rock bottom the previous year and knew that I needed to do something for me. It was as if the shackles of worrying about what other people might think or expect had been released. There was a sense of freedom. As if I had permission to reconnect with me. The me that had been muffled and quietened down for a long time. I know I’m not alone. That’s why it’s become my mission over these past few years to empower other women in business to be more themselves. To feel comfortable in their own skin and to show up in their midlife grey-haired power.
What is brilliant, and supports this opportunity of a fresh start, preventing you from fading into midlife mediocrity is the fact that 79% of those surveyed felt less self-conscious than ever before and cared much less about what other people think! So actually, it’s the perfect time to experiment and explore your identity, your outside matching how you feel inside. Your personal brand celebrating who you are at your core. Time to be you, be more you and then be even more you. It is time to show up in your power.
This is not necessarily all about external appearance it can also be about feeling seen and heard, being valued for your opinion and having a voice. Feeling part of a tribe and finding a safe space where you can be yourself is incredibly important too. We need to be able to express ourselves and have honest and open conversations with people who get it and won’t judge us. This is why I extended my business into the FAB Networking community.
Personal brand identity makeover
One thing I DO advocate, for all women in business, is that you give yourself a much better chance of expressing yourself fully if you are aware of what your personal style and branding is saying about you. Colours and clothes speak volumes, and your personal image and branding is supplying visual clues about you as a person.
All of this is why I see this time of life as being the perfect time to press the reset button. The answer to being who and what you want is to become proudly comfortable in your own skin. Rather than quieten down fading into midlife mediocrity it’s your time to dial things up a notch and be even more visible, showing up as the true you, especially as a woman in business.
‘And let’s be really clear…this is not just about ‘clothes’ it’s not surface, ego, fashion. It’s about self-awareness, knowing who you are and what you stand for. It’s about values – how I live them. It’s about personal and business brand. It’s deep. It’s been a journey of further self-discovery. An exploration of core values and belief… I so love working with you. You know your stuff and have the patience and the wherewithal to show me what you mean in ways that I ‘get’! You ask brilliant incisive questions that make me think…and I think we have created something deeply, magically resplendent and I am delighted and excited to see where our continued adventure takes us.’
Dr Jenny Gordon 3 months into her Gold FAB Network Membership package which includes a full personal brand identity makeover.
Take control of how you show up in business
So, if any of this resonates it’s time to take back control. Throwing away the metaphorical cloak of invisibility and defining who you are and how you want to show up is empowering. (By the way, 65% of those surveyed in the Gransnet poll believed that style and confidence have more to do with how people are treated than age.) You will be, by default, more visible, more confident, OWNING your look of both you AND your business. This, in turn, will accelerate the essential, know, like, trust factor and boost your bottom line. If you’d like to know more about how we can work together why not book a no obligation chat. It could be exactly the fresh start you’re ready for.
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