Growing up the phrase ‘I need to find myself’ made me think of backpacking to Nepal, finding religion or giving away all my worldly possessions and whilst I admire anyone that does those things, I’ve definitely never been that girl.
But what happens when you’re in your mid (ok late) 30s and realise that you have no bloody clue about your life, your business or your money? Did I suddenly find myself selling my crockery on a Facebook for sale page to get the plane ticket money together? Was Nepal looming big and bright like a monk on top of a mountain in the golden sunshine during a glorious morning chant?
Eurgh, how could I be so sure about other peoples businesses but not truly understand my own self and how that self should be the foundation for my own freelancing career?
When I was a child I used to write down my biggest dreams, fold them up and place them behind a beloved picture. I was just a child but I’d read about it somewhere and, eager to meet a 6ft 5 dark haired, blue eyed, academic engineer (I was very particular about that – I even think his name was Michael) I diligently began the practice of writing down my dreams.
I would go to school all awkward in my silver puffer jacket all curly hair and long legs, wearing my jodhpurs or mens black nike jogging bottoms (I have been over 6ft since I was 11 – it was not easy to find uniform) desperately doing anything I could to be forgettable and blend into the background, being best mates with all the boys whilst secretly wishing that either of the Jasons would fall head over heels in love with me.
At school I was this awkward girl who was friends with everyone and was kind and nice and mostly forgettable. At home, I wrote all my deepest desires and said all of the things I had left unspoken during the day on those pieces of paper. I would clip them behind the pictures in my bedroom, hoping and wishing that their awesomeness would somehow seep off the page and into my body as I slept.
You are shaped from birth but there comes a time when it’s a choice
As I became an adult it was like having an angel and a devil on my shoulder. Part of me longed to explore life, relationships, careers and would go barrelling headfirst into all those experiences (at weekends these were mostly fuelled by snakebite and Jack Daniels with the occasional aftershock and sambuca thrown in for good measure) with the power of booze flowing through my body I would be confident and fun and refused to be kept in the shadows.
I even spent one of those nights sucking face with one of the Jasons. It was teenage Amys biggest wish and though it was lovely it was also pretty average – the earth did not move, the fireworks did not go off and I most definitely did not have anything more than surface level attraction for a time gone by.
Why couldn’t I figure out who I was?
The problem I had in figuring out who I was, was that when I was sober for the working week I was incredibly shy, bored most of the time and I had awfully low self confidence. I lived in such a way that I separated my week into three very separate areas – exhausted necessity (work), family and home and unadulterated fun (pub/clubs). Oh and the key to this – those lives never met.
I guess the problem I found was that whilst I was masking myself in one area and being brazen in another in order to present to that world the Amy who I thought people wanted, I was fracturing my spirit a little and it was becoming ever harder for me to figure out whether I was one or the other, let alone a complicated mix of the three.
Over the years to follow I found that I wasn’t sure about myself in a lot of ways.
- What genre of music did I like?
- What career suited me best?
- What did I want to do with my free time?
- What kind of food did I like?
- What did I want to contribute to my community?
- What made me happy?
- What did I do just for fun?
Honestly, I had no bloody idea and frankly the fear I felt when I found myself asking these questions made me shove them firmly in a box and lock it shut.
What happened next
As I got older, built a career and created a family based on this fractured, boxed off self image and its fractured, boxed off dreams I began to unravel.
Long story short I cycled through everything, homes, relationships, money, friendships and jobs. I could never truly understand why but I used it as another opportunity to label myself as a failure.
Unlovable, incapable and just a poor version of what I thought people would consider an acceptable Amy.
As luck would have it I came to a weird crossroads later in my life (not that many years ago) where I was slapped in the face with my own self. I wouldn’t have called it luck at the time, I would have called it burnout and heartbreak then but now I can see it for what it was.
It was time to meet the real Amy and figure out what I wanted in this life.
I started exploring doing different things, going to different places as well as being different things.
- I learned I like all music genres depending on my mood.
- I learned that I wanted a career in which I supported women building their businesses but I wanted to do that on my terms, with flexibility and the ability to work from home (or anywhere with an internet connection). I also wanted the ability to pivot, change, learn and evolve as I would no doubt do in my life.
- I learned I am for the most part a homebody.
- Me and my waistline learned that I love most food but that Greek, a Sunday roast or something Mexican will nearly always win me over if it’s on the menu.
- I learned that I wanted to be of service to my local community though I had and still have no idea how I want to do that.
- I learned that an inviting home, eating with my loved ones and working for myself makes me feel happy.
- I also learned I love to listen to podcasts, read books, drive my car, laugh with a handful of friends, be touristy wherever I go as well as just sitting quietly alone and enjoying the peace are some of the things I enjoy just for fun.
What I also found was that in starting my business without really understanding the kind of person I am I floundered a little longer than I needed to. Oh it was all in the learning curve and my first year was pretty successful in my opinion but the way with which I had structured it had been through fear, exactly in the same way I had split into 3 different people.
This meant that I had little to no flexibility, had ended up working predominantly with men and had little time dedicated to my freelancing/business/professional growth. It was not quite the right fit and I felt sectioned off again into little boxes.
Figuring out who I am has been fundamental to being able to implement processes and share my business and skills with my clients. It does it in such a way that it maximises the benefit of my business to both parties and as I begin this next chapter, I am working it in alignment with who I am. More so than ever before.
I don’t have all the answers but I know that when you figure out what, who and why you light up and what, who and why you feel drained (I believe these are the simplest yet most powerful questions) you can mould your business model to make the most of it and we all know that time flies and joy expands when you are living and working in an environment designed for your own growth and happiness.
The most interesting thing about all this is that who you are is not a static thing but in fact is a gently flowing river that constantly ebbs and flows. The joy should be taken not in getting to the other side of the river but in fact by enjoying the nuances of the flowing water and embracing them.
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