Labels, conforming and opting out

I’m writing a book and would love your help if any of the theme’s I’m touching on resonates with you.

What happens when you’re no longer the brand and the job title?

I’m a regular person.  Just a mum of two kids, who found herself in a place of no-man’s-land after resigning from a comfortable and secure job with no game plan of what to do next.  I hadn’t even updated my CV.

Suddenly, I was brand-less.  Without the anchor of a company or job title that in my mind was the signal to the world, to others, that I was a person of value.  I realised that my personal identity was my professional identity, and so without it, what value do I offer if I’m just, well, me?

I felt that without the brand name, without the job title, I didn’t exist.  And I could only re-appear when I had something of value to offer the world, as recognised by what other people thought, not by what I actually wanted to do.

For me to understand how I’ve got here, at this point of my life, I decided to give voice to my own experiences and so I started writing a book.   I’m typically not very good at reflection, preferring to gloss over things that make me feel uncomfortable or that force me to stop and think. I found that my decision-making process is much quicker and less painful if I focus on what, rather than why.  On how, rather than how come.

It’s probably why I don’t like answering the question ‘what’s your story’.  It anchors me in the past, I find, and makes me over-analyse what I’m saying, conscious of the need for it to make sense to the person I’m talking to.

Am I just a little fearful?

We don’t like to talk about what scares us or makes us feel anxious.  Because to do so might mean we are treated differently, so we hold it in, and pretend everything is okay.

I worry that I’m not smart enough to make a living out of not being in the corporate game.  That I don’t look the type to be a public speaker, that I don’t dress right, or I’m too much for some people or not enough for others. 

We are told that our lives need meaning and purpose.  But I worry that I don’t know what my life’s purpose is.  I mean there are things I care about, but is that a purpose?  Am I making it into more than it is so I can say it’s my purpose? Ordinarily it wouldn’t be a problem, but if everyone is talking about purpose and I don’t have one, does that mean I’m lacking?

I think many of us are fearful of just drifting (i.e. taking each day as it comes) because it might be perceived that we lack ambition.

Yet we can also make ourselves anxious in the relentless pursuit of meaning.  Because what if we die before we’ve found our life’s purpose? Does this mean other people will think we’re a failure?

Trying to fit in.

Keep learning, we are told, but practice is better than theory.  Be open to opportunities, but learn how to say no. Don’t overestimate what you can do in the time you have.  But don’t underestimate how good you are because you are worth more, girl.

Be yourself, but maybe you should think about dialing back some of your opinions because that can be a turnoff.  You’re too quiet so try expressing yourself more so you’re not overlooked.

I worry about what people think of me.  So I tried to make sure I show up in a way that makes it easy for me to be accepted, to be liked so I’m not overlooked.

I work harder, stay late, miss school assembly’s, skip the bedtime stories so I can boot up my laptop and carry on working.

All to prove a point.

That I’m good enough.

All that pressure. That wasted, unnecessary pressure.

What the book is about?

This book is about the unintended consequence of the labels we place on ourselves and those that we have placed upon us.  I want to free us all to live according to what we want to do, without feeling the need to justify and with a reduced fear of worrying about what others think (because it never really goes away). 

It’s my perspective (and the perspective of others) about how it feels to be squeezed into a box to feel accepted, how it leads us to hold back on parts of who we are and what led us to take a different path. Invariably opting out of the 9-5 traditional working culture.

This book isn’t about the destination, it’s putting a spotlight on the journey and understanding the feelings, perspectives and opinions of those who have felt the way I do, or are going through it right now.  

This is not a ‘look I made it and now I’m about to show you how I live the life of my dreams’. Nor is it a ‘here’s a surefire why to be successful in 10 easy steps’ or ‘here are the lessons I’ve learnt on my way to building a 6 figure business in less than 12 months.’

It’s an honest book, coming from an honest place.

I would love to talk to you if…

You have a perspective, story or opinion on any of the themes I’ve mentioned?

You are on a similar journey yourself and just want to connect with someone who understands what it’s like. Those late night thoughts can be a killer, right?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to connecting with you. Ps You can hear my interview with Matt Phelan from Happiness Index talking about this very subject.


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