Welcome to what I hope will be a success. There are no guarantees and, when I announced this grand event, I didn’t realise that it was going to be such a massive challenge. You see, I’m not usually required to maintain consistent levels of output (and you do indulge me very kindly in that) but, as I’m going to keep reiterating this week, how are we all going to love ourselves if we stick in the same rut?
I’m also intent on making this a personal journey for me. I write better when I have a connection to the subject matter and, believe it or not, just like everyone else I struggle with self-doubt, low self-esteem, Imposter Syndrome and a whole gamut of other little gremlins – and I mean the ‘invest in canned goods’ type of gremlins.
In short, I need to learn to love myself a little bit more. Now it may be a personal journey for those of us who wish to try – but I hope that this community can prevent it being a lonely one. There’s nothing like the support you can gain from the likeminded.
My first act is going to be an explanation of Sophie’s Voice. It wasn’t always eponymous because, when I started, I didn’t have the confidence to use my own name. I was terrified of criticism and I didn’t really want to associate myself directly with something that, should it flop, would just prove that my dream was ridiculous. Or that I was pretentious. Or that my children were being neglected. Or that I had given up housework for nothing. Or that I would never be employable again. Or that, or that, or that….on and on and on.
But, as my first ‘proper’ blog post (on Tumblr so you can tell it was ages ago – I mean who does Tumblr anymore?) revealed, I was writing to save my sanity. It was something I had to do – or maybe I just had to do something…anything really.
So I wrote a manifesto – as you do. It read as follows:
“I launch my manifesto here: I will give all my friends a blog that connects with them – not their children, not their homes, not their husbands or partners – but them. The people they are without the baggage. The women they are when they don’t have to be writing the grocery list or working out which wash needs to go in first or how much time the commute will take. The woman they can be in their coffee break, or in the bath, or just in the five minutes before their head hits the pillow. Or, in my case, when they’re looking at what clothes they would buy online if they had the money or the figure that they used to have – but probably never properly appreciated. Join me as I journey through these previously un-navigated waters.”.
Then I had an epiphany – if I never started I would feel as if I had thwarted myself. It would be worse than trying and failing – at least then I would know that I wasn’t able to make it work.
So I took a deep breath and I jumped – and you know what? – the rush was fucking fantastic. It turns out that I’m a natural risk taker – weirdly, as I thought I was a control freak before then.
But ignore all that – it’s not important. The most crucial thing that I realised is that my leap of faith was in me – not my abilities. In me. And, you see, I’m not that bad. I can do this – I really can.
Now I believe that anyone can take a chance and succeed. Anyone can take a chance and fail too – but there’s always something to be gained from an experience. Even if it’s just the statement ‘I am absolutely, positively never doing that again’.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”. For the sake of equality, I should add that I believe the same is true of all.
We’re all so much more than we know we are. Let’s spend a little time working out what we want today and then try to go for it. Anything is possible. I’m not finished getting where I want to go, but I’m progressing – and, if I get down, I have a look at this version of me and remember who I want to be.
She’s the ‘old me’, that’s for sure – she’s carefree, successful and glamorous…but she wants security. She also wants children and intimacy. I want glamour, success and – sometimes – to be carefree. I have security. And children. And intimacy.
If I find the other bits of her again – and combine her with who I am now – then I’ll be the me that I want to be. Sometimes, now I’m working again, I connect with her. When both halves of me work together – both Mum and Sophie – I am unstoppable.
My present journey’s destination is the point when both women work together permanently. At the moment, I’m just trying to get everything to balance.
And here’s a picture of the Sophie I used to be. Sometimes I look at it to remind myself who I was before the seismic shift that is motherhood happened to my life.