This last year has been a great time for my ‘personal growth.’ I do feel a bit gross saying that but there it is.
In the last few months I’ve done things that I never would have thought possible for myself previously. It’s probable that most people my age are wildly ahead of me in the self-awareness stakes, but sometimes you’re in a place where the questions are so many, and the doubt and uncertainty are so consuming that even the most straight-forward of things are forgotten. If you are in that place, I hope this helps.
What’s the point?
In June last year I started writing this blog. I hadn’t done any kind of writing before, other than essays for university, including a short and totally mediocre creative writing module for my undergraduate degree. I didn’t really know what I wanted to achieve when I started: I just knew that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I was bored, frustrated and in dire need of a hobby. In the past , I had always thought there had to be a point to any course of action I undertook. And I could never quite see the point. Everything seemed futile. Then I read an old cliche somewhere, ” if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.” Eventually, the idea of things remaining as they were became the worst case scenario. Which brings me to lesson number one:
1. The doing is the thing.
Don’t be too fixated on the end point, at the beginning. Just do – something.
2. Baby steps
Whilst I’m proud of the blog , what I’m more proud of is the events I have organised. Putting together panels of smart, engaging and informed people and moderating discussions in front of an equally smart, engaging and informed audience.
Organising and chairing a panel of broadcasters, journalists, academics and a Senator seems like an overwhelming task if you consider it as a completed thing. But if you break it down into pieces – send an email invite to a speaker, make a room booking, do some reading, tell some people about it – it’s more achievable.
3. Write it down
Too often we keep our ambitions and goals in our heads. It’s all too easy to make excuses to yourself as to why you didn’t do something. But if you tell people you’re going to do something, it makes it much more likely that you’re going to commit.
4. Say Yes.
Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t do something. Of course you’re going to feel a bit scared doing things you’ve never done before. But good scared! If you’re not scared every now and again, you’re too comfortable. So if someone asks you to do something you really want to do but it makes your stomach churn with fear – say, Yes Please and do it anyway.
5. Not everyone will like you
I put a lot of my new found confidence and courage down to The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck . It really helped me get to grips with not caring so much about people’s opinions of me. Whether people like you or not is beyond your control, and, believe it or not, it doesn’t matter if some people don’t like you. I cannot stress this enough: Being liked, and making yourself likeable should not be your life’s goal.
6. Be yourself
Another book that helped me in the last couple of years is Quiet by Susan Cain, on the power of introverts in an extrovert society. I always would have described myself as an introvert, but really thought it just meant that I had a tendency to be quiet in large groups. I’m happy to let others take the limelight, but I used to look on at my louder and more outgoing friends and colleagues and wish I could be more like them. Now, I’m happy with the qualities of my introverted self. The world needs both.
Passing down the wisdom
The only thing that bothers me about all this is that I am 37.
WHAT HAS TAKEN ME SO LONG??
Speaking to a friend recently I said I hoped my daughter didn’t have to wait so long to find her confidence. It seems to me, that at three years old she is full of self love and confidence. I hope that she can hold on to that. Or at least that if it wavers, she finds her way back to it quickly, and completely.
We want so much as parents to pass on the things we have learnt to our children so that they don’t have to go through the tortuous years of insecurity and self-doubt. But the reality is that we all have to make that journey (so sorry for using the ‘j’ word).
We can point our kids in what we think is the right direction, but ultimately they have to find their own way.