Peeling back the layers of the onion
I felt like I lost myself
How weird is it that being yourself can be so HARD at times?
I don’t mean being a version of yourself. I mean being totally YOU. The warts and all person. The person that feels safe to be fully open and not judged...
“I am incredibly unhappy – dreading going to work, with a sick feeling in my stomach churning every night, my self-worth and confidence take a massive dip. This job is just not me. There is nothing about it that allows me to be myself. I can’t even wear what I want because of the dress code and that stupid black leather belt...”
This 👆 is just one of the reasons why I do what I do now. It’s a snippet from my book (Project FAB! No More Making Do) and an example of one of the times in my life that I felt trapped and unable to be myself.
I didn’t for a long time. I lost parts of myself for a variety of reasons. I became a greyscale version of me. A square peg in a round hole. Suppressing who I am in more ways than one. On the outside I might have appeared the same but on the inside I wasn’t. I could switch up the dial if I needed to temporarily and show up in technicolour, but it was tiring.
Recovering from depression
I touch on my journey with depression in my book Project FAB! No More Making Do. I speak of thinking I was fat long before I actually did become obese. I share my thoughts on how having a lifelong disability and limp affected my self-worth to a degree. I made do in lots of ways because of all of these things.
I eventually lost myself. My identity was compromised, and I was unhappy. It crept up on me. It wasn’t an overnight thing.
In the past I’ve been in jobs where I’ve not felt able to show up fully. Fearful of speaking up with my opinions in meetings. My integrity challenged as I worried about calling out injustices I was privy to. Trying to stay calm and unruffled when people are deliberately making things difficult but cleverly keeping it under the radar. I’ve been really bloody miserable, kept awake worrying at night but shown up with a smile. Prozac and counselling services my crutch as I continued going about my life feeling ashamed of struggling with my mental health.
Then big stuff happened, my life as I knew came crashing down around me. I could’ve easily given in. Somehow, I found inner strength and I chose to rebuild who I was at my core. Less making do and, as a result, improving my self-worth, I started to reconnect with myself. I slowly started to become more me again. More vibrant and sassy and colourful, I became self-employed.
People pleasing and lack of boundaries
But even then, as I started working for myself, I was still scared to fully embrace all that I am – what if people don’t like me and won’t buy my stuff? How will I pay the bills?
I joined networking groups where at best it’s plastering on a fake smile and schmoozing with folk who just aren’t on the same wavelength. At worst, I’ve felt like I’ve had to tread on eggshells, put on a show and be on my best behaviour. I’ve also taken on clients and jobs that haven’t been fully aligned with how I want to work.
I was STILL holding back in many ways, worried about speaking up or creating waves. People pleasing and doing stuff I didn’t really want to do. Not holding boundaries for myself. Still feeling a bit like a square peg in a round hole a lot of the time.
But I was better than before.
No fear of judgement
Then gradually, as I regained my confidence and self-worth, I started to feel more comfortable saying no and speaking my truth. I changed the circles I was mixing in. I felt supported.
There’s a whole load of baggage behind this stuff and I’ve slowly but surely been unpacking it. It’s not going back in the bag. It’s like the dry, flaky layers of the onion skin are being shed and gradually being peeled back. When I think I’m showing up fully as myself and get comfortable there, something happens and another deeper, fresher layer is revealed. As each day goes by, I feel safer to be even more me. To express myself without fear of judgement. It feels good showing the shiny new layer.
These days I’m so over making do with things that don’t serve me or fill my cup. Life is too short to be miserable. It’s incredibly liberating to not feel like a square peg in a round hole and to be more me than I’ve really felt able to be for many, many years. I no longer feel trapped. I feel free. Free to be me. I’m on a mission to help other women do the same.
You know that Oscar Wilde quote “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”? I say be more you, then be even more you than you were before.
These days I care less about the naysayers. I recognise that I need to walk my talk and be more visible if I’m to encourage others to be themselves and show up in their power.
Networking for self employed women in business
Which is why I created my super supportive FAB NETWORK - female authentic and ballsy.
It’s for women who are resilient and strong. They’ve often paid the price for that status, probably labelled negatively and stereotyped by others who feel threatened by them. Like me, they might’ve dimmed their light at times in the fear of being ‘too’ something.
This community is really special. Only six months in and it’s already got the most amazing vibe going. It’s a space where you can metaphorically fling off your bra. It’s women empowering women and providing a circle of support. I’m going for more of a personal development club with a heart centred vibe at the core of the community – no pressured referrals or other stuff you don’t like about networking. It’s birds of a feather networking together and sharing collective wisdom, a place to thrive and celebrate camaraderie. It’s a space where you feel like you have come home to self.
It is more than a business to me. It’s a mission.
FAB Network : female authentic ballsy - Women's networking
There’s the paid membership with monthly meetings (visitors welcome) and the free fb group if you’re not ready to invest just yet. Come and join in the conversation.
‘If you find yourself having to tiptoe around you are not walking amongst your tribe.’ Tanya Markul
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