Are you in hiding?
Is the real you hidden behind a cloak of shame?
Are you keeping your true self under wraps out of fear or a sense of imposter syndrome?
Many of the women who come to me for coaching say they feel like they’re in hiding – hiding in their careers, in their relationships, in their lives, hiding their true selves.
It’s frustrating and exhausting to keep hiding. And it’s depressing.
I know because I’ve been there.
I was in hiding for years, but I’m gradually coming out as the real me. This blog, which I began eight years ago, was a major stepping stone on my ‘coming out’ journey and I’ll be forever grateful for my courage to start writing it, and for all of you who’ve read it and commented on it.
And my journey continues.
Today, I posted a blog on LinkedIn called Coming Out As Me and I’d like to share it here. It’s a long one!
It took me ages to change my LinkedIn profile to reflect my new career as a transformational coach, motivational speaker, writer and author of How to Fall in Love.
My ego got in the way, as did a cocktail of shame, fear, low self-esteem and my old friend, imposter syndrome.
Many of my LinkedIn connections knew me as a globetrotting journalist – a foreign correspondent for Bloomberg and Reuters and a political correspondent based in the UK Parliament (that would be an interesting place to be right now!).
And I figured I had your respect. They were cool jobs, with cool job titles and bags of kudos.
My ego liked the reaction I got when I told people that I flew around the world with prime ministers, went to drinks parties in Downing Street and press conferences in the White House, travelled in military planes in Afghanistan and Iraq and reported on earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorist attacks.
It still does, which is why I just wrote that.
I’d done good. The little girl from the single-parent family in Liverpool had made it, via Oxbridge, into the corridors of power and onto the front pages of newspapers.
But it didn’t fix how I felt inside.
Burnout and breakdown
I burnt out and broke down in that ‘Wow’ job. I over-worked and got over-stressed, because I was always compensating for not feeling good enough.
I also got to a point where I felt soul dead. I had changed. I wanted different things. I knew I was in the wrong job, but I felt trapped and clueless as to how to get out.
My career was my identity, the thing I’d worked so hard for. And it paid the substantial mortgage on my one-bedroom London flat.
Voluntary redundancy gave me my exit from Reuters but I had no idea what to do next. I meandered for a while, using my 20+ years of experience as a professional writer, journalist and communicator to help others to craft their messages and get PR. It made perfect sense.
Only I knew the real me was still itching to get out.
The courage to be me
And then, gradually, I found the courage to be me. I found the courage:
- To write my truth, first on my blog, then in the media and then in my book – to write about burnout, breakdown, eating disorders, loneliness, dysfunctional relationships, grief, loss and a yearning for love
- To coach people to love themselves, change their relationship patterns, stop self-sabotaging their happiness and to find love
- To support people to find their passion, purpose and the courage to be true to themselves and follow their hearts, rather than stay stuck in a trap of their own making
- To speak to corporates and women’s groups about how to achieve our potential while maintaining our mental, emotional and physical health and how to be real and vulnerable at work
- To change my own relationship patterns and fall in love (getting married in June!)
And now my life and career make perfect sense. I can combine my writing and communication skills, my natural empathy and my life experience (including the heartache and pain) to help others.
I can especially help women who are stuck, like I was eight years ago: women who’ve been climbing a career ladder for years, achieving great things but feeling empty inside, wondering what on earth they’ve been striving for, wondering why they’re alone in their plush London flats or New York apartments, wondering why they haven’t found a partner yet and if they’ll ever have kids, wondering why they feel lost or depressed.
And it makes my skin tingle to think about the difference I can make.
It really does.
So if I’m so excited about my potential, why have I been so shy on LinkedIn?
I’ve always been too worried about what others think of me. I grew up without a secure base and developed low self-esteem. I have a craving to be universally liked, loved even. And I carry a lot of shame. It goes deep.
That’s why I don’t like shouting about what I do. That’s why I’ve designed my websites myself and not believed in myself enough to invest in my business. That’s why I develop amazing programmes like my new How to Fall in Love course and struggle to jump up and down about them (OK – so I just have – and it is amazing). That’s why I’ve failed, as yet, to get my book on booksellers’ websites in the U.S. That’s why I’m still prone to under-selling myself.
But I’m healing. I’m changing. I’m growing in courage every day. I’m here. I’m doing it. I’m not just thinking about it. I’m actually taking action. I’m finally getting over myself and doing what I can to get my work out into the world.
I’m finally coming out as me.
And I have nothing to be ashamed about, because I know I apply the same determination, commitment, professionalism and thoroughness to my second career as I did to my first. I am just as ambitious, conscientious and hard-working – but I’m ambitious for my own ongoing transformation and for yours.
How you can help
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I need your help.
You can help by cheering me on, by encouraging me to be true to myself.
You can help by asking me to speak to your business or team about the power of vulnerability or about how to achieve our potential while staying healthy and well.
You can share my coaching work or my writing with any women or men who are empty, lost or lonely, who are craving meaning or love, who want to break free but who feel stuck.
And, most importantly, you can help by being true to yourself, by coming out as you, by telling your truth.
That’s the biggest gift.
Thanks for hearing me, for bearing witness to my transformation.
How to Fall in Love Five-Week Course with Coaching, starts April 8 for 10 women.
Love Yourself, Love Your Body, Love Your Life Find Love, Turkey Retreat with Yoga, Oct 7-14, Spectrum. Earlybird ends Feb 28.
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