I mean, do those words even go together?!
For me they both do, I’ve been in national papers, magazines, I’ve done live radio and TV shows.
I’ve even spoken at Mansion house in front of the mayor and his peers, last year I won an award for leadership BUT what you might not know is that I often deal with crippling anxiety.
I am an introverted empath, I hate talking on the phone and my hyper sensitivity means observe a lot, my past has taught me to be wary of people.
I have met some wonderful people despite this, including my friend Annika who understands me very well and its nice to have someone in this ‘ entrepreneurial world’ who gets it.
Motivational, leadership type talk often goes on about going out into the world, being brave, moving mountains and some would say I have done that.
I’m going to be honest with you, to get me to achieve any of those ‘great’ things, I have to fight a battle with doubt and anxiety. The build up to any speech, talk, event, TV/Radio appearance, has been filled with anxiety.
In my mind and physically, my body tenses up, I get migraines, my body shakes, my stomach hurts, the fear of the worst/judgement and saying the wrong thing and making a total idiot of myself becomes a cloud over me.
The funniest thing is that, my fears have NEVER been realised, but nonetheless anxiety couldn’t give a toss about that, it will tell you its going to happen each and every time.
Then there’s the ‘come down’ after any of those events which triggers my anxiety, it often takes me a few hours to bring my mind out of the ‘high alert’ mode where anxiety often takes me and it is exhausting.
I remember in October 2015 when I won an award for youth leader of the year, sitting with my friends and hearing my name. As happy as I was, suddenly my mind was filled with dread and my legs started to shake! ‘I’m going to have to walk now everyone’s going to be watching, I have to go up stairs, up on a stage and say something, everyone’s going to look at me and I’m going to totally blow it’ anxiety told me. Instantly I grabbed my friend Shalyces hand ‘You are coming with me I told her’ bless her, she came along with me on stage to accept the award.
I’ve almost had to take on a slight alter ego to get me to do half of the ‘public’ things I’ve done. That’s not to say I’m not myself, I often fight to be myself because of pressures and the things I’d rather not deal with in the world of entrepreneurship (that’s another blog post)
It would be easy to smile and be fake in the vain of coming across inspirational and confident. This brings me back to another memory of when I was invited to do a talk at a school, someone else went before me and gave an impressive and confident ‘yes you can’ Obama style speech. Then came me, quieter, less movement, just giving an honest account of my journey to the children, which still often makes me emotional. I remember feeling annoyed at myself for not being able to be loud, more out there and abit more bolshy like the last speaker.
I mentioned it to someone and they replied ‘but that’s your style, that’s what makes you, you and it wouldn’t work any other way. That is your authenticity’ and she was absolutely right, from that day I decided to walk in my truth and nothing else.
People are often surprised when they meet me, they expect me to be a bit more out there than I am, because of what I’ve achieved.
The truth is I am more shocked than anyone else that I’ve got this far!
I often use my social media to tell an honest account of how I deal with my anxieties.
I started my YouTube channel to overcome my fear of public speaking which I now feel has given some a false sense of confidence which I don’t have, I mean I know the truth I guess it doesn’t always come across.
I didn’t write this to make anyone feel sorry for me, more for them to understand that my reluctance to jump at any opportunity that comes, is looked at with caution. My hesitation to meet up with the many strangers in this business world that send me offers, is met with wariness if it doesn’t feel right. Ironically I believe that sixth sense has been a help as well as a hindrance at times.
Not because I think I’m better than anyone, but because of my anxiety, and yes I wish I could just ‘overcome’ it but it doesn’t work like that.
I remember after visibly showing how nervous I was at an event I was speaking at, I was subtly invited to a speaking workshop, it was a kind offer, but I declined because anxiety doesn’t work like that, it has roots far further than a 1 day workshop could achieve.
My anxiety is a work in progress, I’ve had it since I was a little girl so I have a lifetime of unlearning to do, its something I battle with everyday and some days are better than others. The purpose of Free Your Minds mission is what gets me fighting back against it.
In the name of authenticity I want to show anyone that follows my journey that despite this, you can still achieve great things and be safe.
So please, don’t judge people before you get to know them, you don’t know what it took for them to get of bed that day.
We truly don’t know the daily struggles of another and the struggle of anxiety and mental illness is very real.