I have re-written this post a few times already… It keeps evolving and sometimes I find it hard to put my thoughts into words. Confidence is hard to talk about sometimes! I feel that by ‘opening up’, I’m actually leaving myself open to negative response. But anyone who shares any thing on the internet must be happy to take the bad, as well as the good!
Last week was an eye opener for me. There were many ups and just as many downs. It actually helped me to put things in perspective! I went to a great event called Passion into Pounds, run by some incredibly inspirational women – Vicki Psarias-Broadbent and Jessica Huie MBE. The room was filled with people from all kinds of backgrounds, with all different aspirations and dreams. I was just one woman with ideas and hopes of fulfilling my dreams. I listened intently to these women who had ‘made it’… They are effectively ‘living the dream’! Whilst so pleased for them, It made me reflect on me, how I felt and where I am in life, right now.
I met some wonderful women that evening. There were two absolutely wonderful ladies in particular that made such a positive impression on me. The first lady I met I could really relate to. It made me feel so much better knowing that my thoughts and hang ups weren’t just me. She inspired me so much as I listened to how she juggled her job, family and blog… I was in awe. The juggling side hasn’t been my strong suit lately. Motivation had got the best of me a number of times of late. I’m still getting used to having two children to deal with, one of which is a pre-teen.
The other lady was just so full of positive energy, I wanted to bottle her up and bring her home with me. She stood up in the event during the skills swap section, and although I was a perfect match for her, I didn’t have the courage to meet her request. Other than nerves, was the fact that although I have the ability to carry out what she wanted, I realised it was my confidence that held me back. I did, however, stop her at the end of the event and tell her I could help her and making that one move made me feel so empowered. I can do this…
Confidence played a HUGE part in this event. It was the one thing that came up again and again from both the panelists and the audience. Confidence has been a real issue for me over the years, and in pretty much every area of my life. Confidence affects people in different ways and for me I think I come across as being overly confident in order to hide it.
As someone who, in the past had to be very social, I mastered the fake smile and the ‘I’m doing great, you?’. Inside, that wasn’t true but I felt the hard exterior was needed to get by and be successful. I’ve certainly mellowed a bit since having my son and my emotional side is certainly a lot softer. I’m more honest about my feelings, but coupled with my overly enthusiastic side, I have the tendency to overshare and in turn I feel like this has really affected my friendships (or lack of).
OK, so that might not make a whole deal of sense to a lot of people, so let me give you a quick bit of background to me. I was born in West London and grew up in Fulham until I was 4. I moved to Northern Ireland where I went to school from age 4 to 15. I had close friends, as most people do as children, however we moved back to England just before my 16th birthday. We moved to the London/ Surrey borders which tends to have a high turnover of people. What I mean by that is, in London people are constantly moving on. When I was 16, I made good friends, but they either went travelling or they moved out of their parents home into the city… People were always shifting. I moved to London when I was 18 and it was even worse than back home, so making lasting friendships were hard.
When I was working in the London Tech Scene, my confidence did start to grow. Due to the success of my tech website, I met some incredible people who oozed positivity and confidence. I partied most days of the week. It was the same people at most events and I finally felt like I had a regular group of friends to call my own. I was successful, I could hold my own in a conversation and my success had been recognised through awards and achievements! Times were good. Through this amazing group of friends, I met the love of my life, my husband Bob. We continued this awesome lifestyle together until I had my son in June of 2011. Honestly speaking, I really thought I would retain a lot of these friendships… I didn’t realise how lonely it would become once I had my son. This was where the confidence dropped and I started to question my ability and credibility.
When I left my job due to ill health, I found myself with little to keep me stimulated and became ‘just another mum’. I took this opportunity to do what I wanted, so I dyed my hair pink and threw myself into bringing up my son. This in turn created other confidence issues for me as I already looked really young (I’m actually 35 this year!), now I was this crazy bright haired chatterbox. I had a very high energy child who I felt like I was always shouting after to ‘come back’ or ‘don’t do that’ etc. I felt constantly judged. People didn’t take me seriously and talked down to me frequently. I felt confidence, credibility and ability drift away.
So, this is where I found myself at when I attended this event, last week. Low on confidence, questioning my credibility and desperately seeking motivation to become successful again. I realised that just by being in the room filled full of other women, like myself who also wanted to achieve boosted me somewhat. Seeing what the panelists had achieved despite having kids boosted me even further. I realised that I needed to continue to surround myself with people like this stay on track… to reach my goal… to be ‘noticed’ again. To not just be Mum, but to be Leila, award winning blogger, former Nokia Remarkable Woman who has been featured in glossy national mags, national TV and web advertisements.
I just want those people who feel like they have lost their identity since having children to think again. You are an individual. And whilst you are the world to your kids and vice versa, you can still achieve good things and still be a great mum at the same time. Honestly speaking, I don’t think at this time in my life I will meet that best friend that I text hourly and see almost daily and at times that makes me really sad, but build on the contacts you do meet by following your dreams. You never know, life has a way of surprising you!