26 Aug When the Going Gets TOUGH…
2015 is only half over and yet it has been a rather trying period for me (as was most of 2014), both personally and professionally. Although many people would actually not have a clue the extent to which my resilience has been tested, but it has been. It’s funny because I mastered the art of the “all is well” nod and smile that truthfully it would not be obvious to a sole. I don’t even know if those closest to me understand the depth of my trials and tribulations.
I would like to preface this piece by saying that I am not writing to seek sympathy or pity (please, no pity) but to share what an otherwise happy & successful average 40-year-old can go through and make it out the other side. Women of any age should never be doubted or shamed for expressing their struggles but rather encouraged and embraced for being up front and authentic. It would upset me very much to think that another woman would take this honest expression and use it for evil instead of for good!
Let’s go back to September 2014 when it was a time when I keep saying my life was “in flux”. My second child had just started daycare; I decided to start my own HR consulting business despite not having a clue about entrepreneurship and was turning the Big 4-0! It was when I should have been my happiest and most fulfilled but yet I could not get past this overwhelming sense that maybe I was dealing with too much and should STOP! I knew that my days needed to be filled with intellectual stimulation and that I had worked hard over the previous 14 years to get to a point in my career where I wanted to be calling the shots (kinda). It was also important that I have the financial independence but remain available for my children and husband.
Step 1 was making sure that any decision I was making did not negatively impact my family in any way. Once I got the support of my husband, and the acknowledgement from him that we would be ok despite my not having a regular paycheck anymore, I knew that I could start to think about my business. I have blogged about my steps to entrepreneurship but never mentioned what it did and how it put my self-esteem and value into question. Hubby and kids are good; I have made some business contacts with people to get a better understanding of what I needed to do and how to create my own business.
Step 2 was facing the fact that I lacked self-esteem and belief in who I was and what I had to offer. It became a reality to me that all the years that I never felt good in my skin would be slapping me in my face, hard! Each day I thought about introducing myself to new people, networking and being “out there” terrified me! It was a deep feeling in my gut and my head reminding me of my insecurities. What happens if a client looked at me and felt that I would not represent their business well? If I attended a networking event, would these fellow entrepreneurs laugh at me, wondering why I was participating in the events? It nearly crippled me.
October 2014 rolls around and I decide that I will go full steam ahead into the abyss. No holds barred! HA! Dealing with two younger children also meant dealing with loads of sickness, theirs and subsequently mine. This lead me to have to cancel meetings with clients, networking events and even my own personal appointments. It lead me further into the part of my brain that speaks negatively to me, regularly. It was impacting how I communicated with both my husband and my children. I was so frustrated. It was as though every time I was making progress, I would then take several steps back because my family needed me. Please do not misunderstand me, they are my #1 priority however I was trying to build a business! Frustrated. Scared. Lonely. Lacking self-confidence. What was next?
I began finding ways to look for winning moments. That came in the form of small things like making a new contact via social media or other networking methods; getting the kids healthy and if they did end up under the weather, I would just roll with it. Things were looking up – or so it seemed. Then in March 2015 as my business is really taking off and I am feeling like Super Mama Entrepreneur…we have a family crisis. I am not able to disclose the details however it was a very long, sad and difficult time for not just my family but extended family too. We were facing the prospect of losing someone we loved tremendously! Thank G-D miracles do happen and a life was spared the gruesome ending that could have been.
Starting over again, but this time with the hindsight of true hardship (family crisis). It was time to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. There was still the problem of my inability to get past my lack of belief in myself and see what others saw in me! Could I really be so vulnerable and raw to open up and let people see who I really am? Did I have the courage to step into the spotlight that I created?? I took the advice of a very wise woman, who said to believe in myself and the journey I have taken and believe in my authentic self.
And so, after a lot of hours evaluating my life, work, family and business I concluded the following:
1 – I am stronger than I think
2 – the support from loved ones really does matter
3 – don’t be afraid to break down in order to build yourself back up even stronger
4 – in the event that all problems seem insurmountable, remember to take it one by one and concur with conviction
5 – BELIEF IN MYSELF is paramount
It is now July 2015 and I have built a successful business that keeps growing, so much so that I am “officially” collaborating with someone in Toronto who wants me on board with her organization on a more permanent basis. The balance is found and although nothing is ever perfect, I don’t have the same reservations about my success anymore and that is what I hope my children see. Lastly, and the most important lesson I learned over the past year is that all those insecurities that I have carried with me since High School (which is such a very long time ago), are not relevant anymore. The person I am today is strong, capable, fun, vivacious, ambitious and excited about life again!