Mental illness, medication and me.

Today, a friend posted on Instagram about her recent struggles and how her mental health has deteriorated enough to warrant new medication. She was already taking anti anxiety meds and how now been put on an anti-depressant of sorts; I know this because I’ve been prescribed both in the past. Anyway having only known her a short time I have seen how she’s gone from being quite guarded about her struggles with alcohol and her mental health to opening up and sharing her journey in such a brave and beautiful way.

On the flip side I was talking to another one of my new sober pals this week and she was telling me about how bad her anxiety gets. I have suffered from anxiety in the past but nowhere near as severe as this. It made me sad for her. Knowing that your thoughts can become so intrusive and debilitating that you start to believe the most ridiculous things that then impact your daily life. Anxiety is not just getting stressed and worrying, it can be so much bigger and scarier then that. When I asked her if she had seen her GP about it, she said she was worried they would think she was crazy. I didn’t like that she would even consider using those words but then I remembered how I often used to call myself crazy when I was with friends. It was a way to make light of something that was actually pretty frightening and serious.

Anyway the point of this post is to actually tell you about my experience with mental health and medication. I’ve been on and off medication for about the last 10 years or so. I’ve been on a variety of different things, mostly antidepressants, occasionally meds for my anxiety and once I was even on a lovely cocktail of stuff for my depression, panic attacks and insomnia. Over the years my thoughts on taking medication for my mental health has varied. There are times when I’ve been prescribed something and been reluctant to take it. Times when I’ve been so desperate for some sort of respite for my mind and haven’t given my prescription a second thought. Almost every time though, when I have gotten to the point of stability, when my moods are less turbulent I’ve always slowly come off what ever I was taking. I think the reasons were based on a mix of the physical affects of the medication but also the idea of having to be on them.

I have been on my current meds for a little over 2 years now. I am taking Sertraline and up until last month I was on the maximum dose. Now bearing in mind that they probably weren’t even doing what they should have been doing while I was drinking, I’ve probably only really had the full benefits for the past 6 months. Still, I made the decision last month that I wanted to start decreasing my dose with the hope that eventually I will not need them. That was until a few days ago.

Glennon Doyle was someone I hadn’t heard of until earlier this year when I saw the front cover of her new book, Untamed plastered all over instagram. At first I thought it was just another quit-lit type affair which I’m not against but doesn’t quite float my boat all that much; so I didn’t really think anything of it. But more and more people were declaring it a ‘must read’, so last week I used one of my free credits and got the audible version. The verdict: not quit-lit, but instead a compilation of stories and life lessons which I think most of us would benefit from hearing about. There was a little too much motherhood talk in there; which obviously is no bad thing but just not something I can really relate to. Some people think it’s a bit heavy on religion but that part didn’t bother me, in fact I love learning about people’s faiths because I’m a bit weird like that. Anyway the point I am trying to get to is she talks about her mental health and medication. She made a really good point in that why would we decide to stop using something that is making us feel better. Surely the point is that it’s working and to stop it would leave you at risk of suffering again. This made me think about the times I’d come off my medication after months of feeling better only to relapse and sometimes find myself in even worse of a situation.

One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not someone who would opt for medication if there are other options. The idea of filling my body with chemicals I know very little about doesn’t bode well with me. And don’t worry the irony of that statement isn’t lost on me, I clearly didn’t include alcohol in that category for many years. But I live in different times now and having removed one of the biggest toxins from my life I am much more cautious about the other things that go into my body. So I am very much open to healing of a different nature and undergo regular reiki therapy courtesy of my lovely Dad and I practice meditation. And of course there’s what I believe to be one of the best medicines out there; the art of conversation. Therapy is in my opinion underrated and should be considered by everyone whether they think they need it or not. I think people would be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of talking to someone about their life, even if just to use the other person as a sounding board.

Basically what I think I’m trying to say is that don’t see medication as too much of a big deal when it comes to mental health. If you have tried alternatives and have seen little improvement then just be open to the idea. At least go and talk to the GP about it. They can’t force you to take anything and even I on many occasions have come home with a prescription and never had the medication dispensed because I’ve decided against it. So whilst I don’t think my mental health has ever been this good I have decided that I will stay on my lower dose for the time being…and possibly forever. Because right now, that coupled with the other things I do seems to be working really well. So I see no reason to change it.

Vulnerability is…

“ She threw away all of her masks and put on her soul” ~ anon

Being open and honest is something a lot of people struggle with. Vulnerability is not for the faint hearted. It’s scary AF but what I’ve realised is that without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in certain situations we are always going to be holding back. Not being who we really are.

The need to be seen is increasing all of the time. People want to be noticed, want their voices heard, their wins to be applauded, and their pain and suffering to at least be acknowledged if not understood. The whole world is screaming ‘but what about me?’. Has it always been like this or is it that we are all so busy in our own lives to even notice what’s going on around us?

Vulnerability probably means something different to everyone. For me it’s opening myself up to hurt and ridicule. Which sounds bloody ridiculous because on some level I consider myself an open book. But I also think that comes from years of therapy and my empathic need to help others. As a child I was very much the opposite, no one knew what was going on in my head. In fact, I was so shy I barely spoke. Go figure!

Now I share a lot. On my social media, through my blog and with friends. And yeah it’s personal stuff and some people don’t understand why I feel the need to do this. Am I over sharing? Is it attention seeking? Or am I just trying to be real? To be honest, I hadn’t thought that much about it until this week when I was listening to my new audio book, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (obsessed!). The whole book is about vulnerability; what it is to be vulnerable, the ways in which it shows up and it’s necessity.

Do we really need to bare all? Well of course we bloody don’t. Everyone has the right to be as private as they like and people don’t need (or want) to hear all about your dirty secrets. But if you want people to really know you, I’m afraid you’re going to have to open up a bit. But being vulnerable is more then just opening up. Being vulnerable is going for your dream job knowing that there’s a chance you might not get it. Telling your best friend that you want to be more then friends without knowing if they feel the same. It’s telling people you no longer drink alcohol because you mostly drank to drown out the demons screaming in your head and those demons were getting louder and required more drowning out as time went on. All of these things are you putting yourself out there, letting yourself be seen but knowing that the potential to get hurt, disappointment, judged or worse…dismissed is there.

So how do you know what to open up about and what not to? I think it comes down to knowing why. What’s the purpose behind you sharing? Is it to help others? To improve your life? Of course you can share what ever you like but that doesn’t mean you are being vulnerable. You need courage to be vulnerable so if you’re just sharing something and it’s not affecting you emotionally I’d say you’re probably just trying to seek attention. And I’m not saying that’s bad because there are times when we need to be grabbing peoples attention. But that’s not vulnerability.

I think vulnerability also comes from caring a lot about what it is you’re doing or how you are showing up. For me this blog is me being vulnerable. I love to write, I think my written word is more powerful than when I talk on video for example. I try to write about things I think people will relate to, things that make people feel less alone in the world. While at the same time just simply writing about my thoughts and experiences. The truth is I’d love to write professionally but the thought terrifies me and I’d have to step even further into the vulnerability arena to find out if I’m good enough…and I’m not ready to do that just yet!

Basically I think vulnerability is taking a leap into uncertainty. It’s baring your soul not knowing how it will be received. It can be the biggest and best game changer ever. Or could leave you so badly bruised you recoil once more. All I know is that despite me having spent so much of my life recoiling I know that I have to keep trying and putting myself back out there because if I don’t, well I may as well just stay in bed for the rest of my life. And I just don’t think there’s enough on Netflix for me to maintain that kind of lifestyle, you know?

Who’s in charge here?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” ~ Oscar Wilde

No, but really. Who?

We are born. And then we die. And that time in between, somebody else is always in charge! Who the fuck decided that?!

I mean, I can see that having a more experienced human in charge of us until we can make our own decisions is a decent idea I suppose. Else we’d be eating dirt for years and I know I personally would have probably never learned to drive (reoccurring childhood dreams…terrifying!). But even then, who decided adult age? Who thought it was a good idea to let us run wild, doing what we wanted at 18? Why not let the older folk remain in charge until we were 25, 30? Okay, that’s ridiculous I know. But you see what I’m saying don’t you?

It doesn’t stop there either. Even when we are legally allowed to do what we want and make our own choices, there’s always still someone in charge. Your boss, your bosses boss, your dog, the custody officer, some knob head we voted in to be in charge. Like, how did all this even start? Who decided? Gahhhh, doesn’t it make you mad?!

Before I continue I’d just like to say I’m not mad at my dog. I love my dog. He’s a little shit. But I love him. A lot.

Ok, so what do we do? How do we take our power back? Because if you hadn’t noticed, we are so used to someone being in charge that we let people take over, tell us what to do, impact our decisions even when we don’t have to. Just have a think about everything you’ve done today; was it because you wanted to or because it’s just something you do because every does it or that’s just what you were told to do? It the same as doing things to keep others happy or because you feel you should. That again is you not being 100% in control of your decision.

I think for everyone it comes down to individual choice and priority. What matters to you the most and do you need to consider someone or something else when choosing how you live your life? For example, where you live. Let’s say you want to move to Australia; how much of that is in your control? I know that I’ve had friends who have not made a move like this because family have not wanted them to. But let’s say you’re single, no legal reasons why you have to stay in the country and there’s a job out there waiting for you. But family or friends or even your current employer are begging you to stay. And they are pulling on those hearts like you wouldn’t believe. We really need to follow our heart more than we follow other people’s. Why do we value their feelings more than our own?

I think it comes back to the impact of social conditioning. We are taught very early on to consider other people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings etc. But at what point did that turn from a consideration to an obligation? People think you’re selfish for putting yourself first but I don’t think we do that enough. And I hate that we have to decide to ‘be selfish’ to follow our heart or do what’s best for us because it’s not selfish. It’s just us making a decision based on what WE want or need over what other people want or need.

Of course there’s a balance to all of this and if you can find it then great. But I really think there aren’t enough of us tipping the scales in our favour. We have our proportions all wrong.

I’m very quickly approaching 40 and I’m only just realising all of this now. On Sunday I had a lovely conversation with a new sober friend I met through this new Bee Sober initiative I’ve joined. She’s almost 20 years younger than me and we had lots to chat about. But what I loved the most was that everything I’m realising now, she’s realising too. And that fills me with a sense of hope I suppose, because that’s one person who has figured out that she’s in charge before it’s too late. Before she starts doing things to please others, taking on jobs because she thinks she should, putting her dreams on hold or worse; not following them because of what others might think.

Up until now I’ve had a lot of regrets in life. And I was terrified that’s all my life would end up. A big fat regret. But I swear every little thing; good and bad was just getting me ready. It was preparing me for my next chapter…sorry, book. My coach said book, which I think sounds fitting because chapters are a continuation of what’s come before. Well I want that story to end, I want to close that book and it can go back on the shelf and gather dust. Because it’s time for a whole new book. And the story will be of how I decided to take charge of me. A story of no regrets.

Be a voice, not an echo

I’m trying to listen to my intuitive self more these days and it’s been telling me to speak my truth about this, so here goes…

It’s coming up to a year since I joined the network marketing industry, specifically Arbonne. Before I go any further I just want to say I have no regrets for joining, I love what I do and I’m fully behind the ethos of this company. What I do want to do though is share my thoughts and experience so far. And it’s going to be a no holds barred type of post. Honest and raw, but also 100% MY voice, sharing MY view point. These are purely my thoughts and no one else’s.

I feel like this industry is very much like marmite; you either love it, or you hate it. There are probably some who plod along in the middle of the road like clients or beneficiaries, but the majority are very much anti-MLM or ‘this is the best industry ever and I can’t believe it took me so long to jump on board’. So clearly I’m Team Love. But not for the reasons you might think. And not without a few sticking points which I’m going to share with you.

Like I said it’s been almost a year since I first heard about Arbonne. Although I got started towards the end of last year my mental health wasn’t the best so I had to put my venture on hold for a few months. At the time I had mixed feelings. I was relieved that I could step back because the intense excitement within my team and the community, although motivating was also a bit overwhelming. But I was also worried that I was going to get left behind. Which is a ridiculous thought to have because there is no behind or ahead; everyone is just on their own journey.

The phrase ‘stay in your lane’ is not uncommon in Arbonne. We are reminded that comparing yourself to others is nothing but detrimental to you and your business. Which of course is pretty obvious but we all know that society has conditioned us to keep checking to see where everyone else is at. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say. I’m so bored of hearing that phrase. I’ve said it myself many times I’m sure but ffs, we know!!! But we just can’t help it!!!!!

So with my blinkers on I did what was required during my little ‘career break’ to get myself back in a good head space. After which I jumped right back in with all four limbs, like a frog and this time I stopped looking sideways and focussed on the path ahead…for about a month before the sodding blinkers fell off I started looking around again. But that’s clearly something I need to work on.

So I was back in business (quite literally) and this time I was armed with a load of personal growth and valuable life lessons. I was also 3 months alcohol free which allowed me to find my own brain and think for myself, which is handy when you’re trying to build your own business. I also paid more attention to other people in the business, not for comparison but to observe and learn in order to figure out what kind of mentor I wanted to be. In this industry you can only reach a certain level of success on your own. In order to get get promoted further ‘up the ladder’ you need to build and lead a team. That’s why I’m not overly a fan of using the phrase ‘be your own boss’ when talking to potential consultants. Because yes you can decide your own hours, your working location etc but you are guided by your upline and you have to follow the company regulations. Now don’t get me wrong, this is no bad thing. In fact, it’s pretty brilliant if you think about it. It’s like you’re building a business without the hassle of figuring out all the back room stuff. You literally just have to talk to people, place online orders and the rest is taken care of. So why is it so simple and why do people earn lots of money for doing…not a lot? Well, what I’ve learned is, yes it’s a simple process but it’s definitely not easy. And the reason that consultants have the potential to earn so much money is because the organisation doesn’t pay out for high end advertising using celebs who don’t even use the products. They create the marketing material, send it to us and then we use it to give new and existing clients the lowdown on the products. We also use the products, so you’ve got real life people with real life results. They also don’t have to pay out for brick and mortar stores because everything is purchased online. And the difficulty comes from getting people to listen. For many reasons this industry has been tainted. By dodgy companies, people who haven’t been successful and those that just simply either don’t understand the business model or that think it’s ‘wrong’. But also and I hate to say it, a small percentage of consultants who work their business in a not so attractive way. I’m going to explain what I mean by that in a second, but here’s what I have to say about all the bad press in general. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. Every organisation has good and bad in them depending on who you listen to. I’m not saying ignore everything you hear. I’m saying listen, and then do the research before deciding for yourself.

Now back to the not so attractive ways of working the business. Firstly, a reminder that these are my perceptions and my perceptions only. There appear to be a lot of what I like to call MLM-robots in the industry. Because so many people join without any experience they rely on their upline/mentor team to show them the ropes. Which is fine, part of the deal is we get ‘on the job training’. The problem starts when the training, guidance and/or ‘how to’ examples are repeated over and over. People will only join you as a client or team member if you are genuine. And why are people going to believe that you’re genuine when you are spouting the exact same words as all of the other consultants in your wider team? I’m not saying what we are taught is wrong, far from it. What I’m saying is that the hunger for success is so strong that some consultants see how well their mentor has done and think they have to literally replicate to be successful themselves. That’s where the cringey messages and tactics come from. Now I totally hold my hands up because I was one of them at the start as well. I’d like to take this moment to apologise to everyone that had spammy Shaena in their inbox. I’m so sorry for being that girl. I’m sorry you had to suffer my ‘pass the vomit bucket’ messages. I just didn’t know back then, I was stupid. I was an idiot.

Ok, where was I? Yes so the robots, some of them are successful, some are not. What I don’t want to be is the person who is so desperate for that success that she loses her identity and forgets why she’s even doing this. I don’t want to be a sheep. They say this business is a numbers game and that after so many no’s, rejections, ghostings, verbal abuse etc you will get a ‘yes’. I believe that’s true but I don’t just want any yes. I want the right yes. I want the people that say yes to see me for who I am. I want my clients to know that I’m here to help them with their health and well-being. I want my consultants to know that I’m the kind of mentor that will help them play to their strengths, support them through the good and the bad and 100% respect their decisions and choices in terms of how they run their business. You’d think this was a given but believe me, it’s not!

This industry is tough because of the negativity that surrounds it, the robots and the fact that society like comfort and tradition. To a lot of people this isn’t a legitimate way to earn a living, they don’t trust buying from unconventional sources and it’s just not what they’re used to. Fear is what makes it hard for us, for me. People are scared of different so they won’t take a chance. My job is to educate them and show them a different way.

Many consultants are a lot further along in their business building venture than I am. Like I said each consultant is on their own journey. Obviously I am keen to progress and there are times I wish things were moving quicker. But then I stop and remind myself that for whatever reason THIS is my journey. The duration, the obstacles, the highlights, the breakdowns. They all have their purpose and I’m learning to accept and embrace that now.

But most importantly I’m learning that my voice is the most integral part in all of this. If I don’t speak my truth, if I don’t own my journey then I’ll just be a number. And I’ve been that number before, in organisations where you do as your told and you follow the rules. It’s suffocating and it can be soul destroying. The whole point of me doing this was to become my own person and do the things I’ve always wanted to.

I want to be the consultant that helps you become better. In which ever way you need to. I want to help you be happier, healthier and more hopeful. I don’t just want to be the girl that helped you order some skincare or got you a decent discount on ethical beauty products. I want to be more.

I want to be a voice. Not an echo.

Dear alcohol

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye. Life will reward you with a new hello” ⁃ Paul Coelho

It’s been 164 days since we were last together. Feels longer doesn’t it?

I wasn’t sure whether I should write this letter. I was scared of the feelings it would bring up. They say that there is no benefit in going backwards and digging up the past and I get that now. But with you, for us, there was too much left unresolved. I just woke up one day and I didn’t want you anymore and I think you deserve to know why, so here goes.

I didn’t really even like you at first, but all of my friends did so I just thought there must be something about you. So we hung out more and more, always with other people and I guess you grew on me. In fact we had some bloody good times over the years. But I think things took a turn when we started hanging out just the two of us.

Don’t get me wrong you were there for me when nobody else was, when nobody else understood me. And I am grateful for that. But I think you played on my vulnerability and took advantage when I wasn’t in the best headspace. Maybe you didn’t mean to, I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. But in time, you took control of me in the subtlest of ways.

You see I didn’t need you. I knew that and you knew that. But yet you just kept convincing me otherwise. I was lonely and you were there. I thought I could only be myself around you, but the truth is I wasn’t me at all. With you or without you. You changed me. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. The people in my life were getting further and further away from me and now I know that it was because of you. Im not saying you did it on purpose but maybe I wouldn’t have hurt and upset so many people if we hadn’t have gotten so close.

I’m not blaming you for everything that’s happened. And I’m not even angry with you. I’m angry with me, it was all my fault. BUT you definitely didn’t help. It’s weird because you were so not good for me, you were literally destroying me even though I didn’t want to admit it. But I won’t lie, I miss you a bit. I miss the comfort you brought me. Not enough to want you back though, no way. But like I said. There were some good times.

So I guess this is goodbye. But it’s also a request. If you see me around, please don’t talk to me. Don’t even look in my direction. Because the truth is although I know I’m so much better off without you (I mean, look at me. I’m smashing life…finally! better late then never I guess) I’m not sure I could handle it. You have a way of pulling me back in and I’m not quite ready to test this new found strength of mine. Not yet anyway. So as much as it would have been nice if you could have stuck around; we both know that would just have ended in disaster. Like a HUGE fuck off, end of the world type disaster. So, please, just don’t!

We had 20 years of ups and I’m afraid too many downs. So now my friend, I need to go do the next 20+ on my own.

Thank you for each and every lesson

Shaena

I am the 1%

It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.”

– Hans F. Hansen

All my life I’ve felt like the outsider. The one in the group who didn’t quite fit. Apparently, it’s a personality trait of mine but that’s something I’ve only recently discovered. 16personalities says that as an INFP (that’s what I am) the need to be understood is strong. And conforming to the norm or to be part of the crowd, is where that feeling of ‘I don’t belong’ comes from. Because we (INFPs) are not meant to follow the crowd, we aren’t meant to fit in with the majority. We can only be our best selves if we go against the grain.

It’s starting to make so much sense to me now. Wish I’d found this out earlier, but such is life. And really, the way things were going for me I’m just glad that I saw the error of my ways before it was too late.

I often refer to myself as ‘a bit weird’ but I’m not really sure where that’s comes from. Am I weird? What even is weird? If I’m honest I think I felt the need to excuse or explain my being a little different to the norm, so ‘a bit weird’ is what I went with. But why do I even need do that? Why can’t I be happy with just being me and not having to explain myself?

Our individuality is what makes us who we are but I think society makes us feel like we need to tone down certain things. In other words, basically shaming people for who they are. And then because you are made to feel this way you start looking outside of yourself, looking to other people, so you can try and be more like them. The ‘normal’ ones. This conforming has been going on for decades…longer probably but I wouldn’t want to speak for those born before my time.

I think these days what makes it worse is that there are people out there; leaders, influencers, even people close to us who we trust; telling us to be true to ourselves. Preaching that it’s ok to be who you are, imperfections and all. But then we do things that are a little bit different and we come up against frowning faces.

For years I tried to fit in and be part of the crowd because the ones in the crowd seemed to have it together. But did they? Fuck knows. Even if they did it doesn’t mean they were my crowd. But I didn’t know that then so there I was, Shaena the square peg. And I just kept trying to plug myself into every hole that I found that wasn’t square because I just wanted to fit. I just wanted to belong.

But here’s the thing about us square pegs. We aren’t meant for ordinary. There’s nothing wrong with ordinary, don’t get me wrong. But we like to do things differently and at first it’s scary because the majority don’t understand it. They get confused by our choices, actions and beliefs. They don’t know why we keep talking to the universe, why we love spending time alone with our thoughts, why we feel so deeply and fall so hard. Why we aren’t built for office jobs, settling down or just settling full stop. And all of this is okay, they don’t understand us because they’re not our crowd.

When I tried to fit, in I felt isolated. When I tried to do the same as everyone else, I got bored. When I tried to hide my feelings, I suffered with anxiety and depression. When I spoke, I didn’t feel heard. But now I know that it’s okay. Because all these things were like little whispers telling me ‘no Shaena, that’s not you’. And I get it now, I get why.

It’s because I am the 1%.

Brené Brown said…

God love this woman! She’s so freaking incredible. Like I would legit use her words in an argument. “You don’t know what you’re talking about bitch. Brené Brown said…so don’t you come over here, getting all up in my grill”.

I’ve just watched her Netflix show ‘Call to Courage’ for the 3rd time. Today I’m vision boarding so inspirational background noise is very much needed for this kind of activity. And yes before you read that again, I have a vision board. I stick cheesy motivational and uplifting quotes, along with pictures of goals and dreams on a board. And when I look at said board it brings me tremendous joy.

So back to Dr Brown and her wicked words of wisdom. Listening to her got me thinking. Why do we seek validation? Why do the opinions of others matter? And before you say you don’t care what other people think, you’re talking out of your ass. Because everyone does to some extent. And there are some opinions we should consider. What we need to not care about are the opinions and thoughts of people that don’t matter to us or as Brené says, are not in our ‘arena’.

I grew up in a Asian-British household. Both parents born and brought up in India before arriving in the UK in the 60s. We are not a religious family but I consider myself a Hindu and there are things about my culture I love. There are however, things I cannot stand. And that is the small minded, busy bodied nature of so many people in our community. And when I say community I don’t mean just people locally, I’m talking curtain twitchers all the way over in India!

Growing up me and my sisters were far from rebellious kids in compared to others our age. We worked hard at school, didn’t go out drinking in the park (mainly because we weren’t allowed out 😂) and were polite and (mostly) well behaved. But in our Asian community had we have been born into a more conservative family I’m pretty sure I’d have been banished in my late teens. Coming home with a white boyfriend at 17…outrageous! Once my parents recovered from their heart attacks my mum said she was more concerned with people talking about me. And so for me that’s when it started, that’s when the ‘what will people think’ seed was planted.

Over the next 20+ years it continued but like I said, we didn’t do things by the (Asian) book. We all went away to university, we all went backpacking, my sister married a white Australian dude after living with him for several years before getting wed. We all moved down under at one point and both me and my younger sister were unmarried at the time (still are) so that would have been a talking point I’m sure. And then of course there was my struggle with mental health and drinking. Basically, I’ve always been aware of judgment and negative opinions. I dont think I’ve let it impact my life that much but maybe on a subconscious level I have.

The need to fit in and belong is human nature. We are hardwired for connection. So when you’re highly sensitive in nature like me, that need to belong is heightened even more. So what do we do? We conform, hide parts of ourselves that people might judge, try and be like the others…just to fit in. Nobody wants to be different because from a young age we are conditioned to believe different is wrong.

It’s so incredibly sad that we are told to be brave and courageous through life. But then in the next breath it’s ‘don’t do anything too wild though, because what will people think?!’ It happens all of the time. ‘Follow your dreams…really, is that gonna work though?’ ‘Just be yourself…you might want to tone down the enthusiasm.’ ‘The world is your oyster…oh, are you sure you want to go there, I’ve heard things!’

Here’s the thing, courage and bravery is badass. Because it means putting yourself out there, showing up, taking a risk when the outcome is uncertain. It’s getting uncomfortable and opening yourself up to criticism and judgment. Letting yourself be seen for who you really are is vulnerability at its finest. And all of this goes against the majority. Because the majority won’t take the risk, they won’t choose passion over practicality, they would rather adapt to fit in than be the one who goes it alone.

There will always be opinions. There’ll always be judgment. And there’ll always be a majority. But what we should never do is listen to those who criticise but would never dream of doing anything risky.

So be courageous in your life. Go follow your dreams and find your passion. Because that kind of bravery will always be a better option then having to wonder ‘what if?’