The Asian Equation

Do you know what’s worse than being a single woman in her 40s who lives at home with her parents, has mental health issues and an alcohol problem? A single woman in her 40s who lives at home with her parents, has mental health issues, an alcohol problem AND is Indian.

I mean when I look at my life situation it’s almost laughable. Single, never married, lives at home with her parents, unsuccessful career, ugly mental health history, ex-problem drinker gone sober, not a penny to her name…the list goes on.

I think I’ve been the talk of our sad little town since the day I brought home by first boyfriend at the age of 17, who by the way just happened to be white. Any of you who know my family now will be confused as to why this was an issue but life in our household was very different 20 odd years ago.

Anyway the details of that are irrelevant. My point is in the eyes of many I was the epitome of the black sheep. The failure. The shameful embarrassment. I often joked that if people were going to talk about me I’d give them something to talk about. I clearly didn’t think that would be the case but that bleeding universe is always listening and I obviously manifested my sad and pathetic fate.

Before I go on this has nothing to do with judgement from my parents. My Mum and Dad could not be more supportive if they tried. In the early days the choices me and my sisters made were a bit different then they would have initially hoped for. But they wanted for nothing more than our happiness so they supported us in everything.

I grew up like most people with the pressure of society weighing down heavy on shoulders. Do well at school, go to university, get a good job, get married, buy a house and give your parents some grandkids. I think we can all agree that this is a load of crap. But if you are anything like me you will have thought that but still kinda wanted it anyway. Now for me I had the added joy of being Indian. So take all of the stuff that society expects, stick brackets around them and there you have it, the Asian equation.

Now the theory behind this is two fold. Do what is expected but do it better than most. And do it the Indian way. As second generation immigrants we come from families that worked hard to give us the best start in life in a country that was not home. My parents wanted us to do well because they knew that as British Asians we would need to work that extra bit harder in order to be seen amongst our white peers. But the unspoken rules in most Indian families is to maintain your cultural traditions, go to university but come straight home after, find a respectable job and then get married to someone who is suitable, have children and don’t be the subject of any gossip. The End. This is obviously just a very short generalised version but in most cases not far from the truth.

I did not do that. I was not expected to do that. But that doesn’t mean the stigma didn’t exist. I think the worst part for me was perhaps I didn’t care what other people thought but I did care about what people may have been saying about my family; specifically my parents. There would have been rumours and gossip when me and my sisters all went off back packing on our own, when my sister married her white Australian husband, when we all moved overseas. Asian girls don’t do that sort of thing you see.

But even then my parents were proud of us. We were doing seemingly well, following what we through were our dreams and not causing too much of a nuisance. But black sheep Shaena over here decided it was time to shake things up a bit and what followed was ten years of hell for them and the rest of my family. My struggles with mental health started in my early 20s but I’d managed to keep them fairly under control. Things took a sharp turn when I was in Australia after I went through some difficult shit that my head and heart just couldn’t cope with. From that day on and for the next 8 years things were not pretty.

I’ve talked about my suicide attempts, hospital admissions, alcohol abuse before. I don’t hide away from it, I see no use in that. It may seem I talk about everything like it’s no big deal. It of course is. It’s a huge deal but I also know that it is way more common than you might think. Sometimes when we find ourselves drowning we think we are so far out at sea we can’t be saved. We don’t see the lifelines, in fact in some cases we don’t want to see them. We are drowning and we just think it might be easier to stop treading water, give in and sink.

You might be reading this thinking surely didn’t have it that bad. I didn’t. I know that, but when you are in the middle of all your failures, bad decisions, mistakes; feeling alone and insignificant, it is one hell of a horrible place. You can’t see past any of it and the voices inside your head won’t let you forget about. You spend the entire time trying to numb the pain and shut out the noise. It’s a bloody tiring past time I tell you.

The stigma around mental health however hard we try to erase it, still exists. More than we like to admit. Yes we talk about it more openly, but that doesn’t mean some people just don’t get it. And sadly, in Asian culture it’s still very much a taboo subject. I don’t know the exact reasons why but I think like most things not spoken about in our culture it comes down to shame. For a long time I’ve never really understood this but I realised today it’s always about one thing. Your marriage material rating.

I don’t think people would admit to it in this day and age but one of the biggest priorities in Asian culture is marriage. As a female that means you should ideally have the following:

• A good education;

• An aesthetically pleasing look (sorry, but it’s true!).

• A respectable family background (no skeletons).

• A good set of Indian culinary skills.

• An understanding of cultural traditions.

• A decent job.

These are just a few of the things that are taken into consideration. There are more of course and the importance of these will vary amongst families and communities. I am lucky, my family are more concerned with ‘is this person the right fit for you?’, and not ‘is this person the right fit for us?’ This does not however take away from the fact that in my culture this is what people look at and think about even if they don’t want to admit it.

So back to mental health; well I don’t think mentally unstable bodes well for matrimonial purposes. You might think I’m over reacting but I kid you not, if someone is known to have mental health issues they are looked upon as a bit crazy and no one wants that in the family because they will be the talk of the town. So that’s one black mark against me. And the drinking? Well, it’s not prohibited but it’s certainly not ideal if you’re a big party animal. Females drink, but mostly they do this discreetly and stick to lady like drinks. So to have a drinking problem well, that’s not just a black mark against my name, nah that’s just my name painted over in tar!

Thing is I don’t care about all this stuff. I’m not looking for a nice Indian family to marry into. I’m not looking for any family to marry into at all. In fact, it was the looking for things that triggered the mental health and alcohol issues. Looking to fit in (in a general sense), looking for acceptance, looking for love and looking for happiness. Looking for things outside of yourself leads is futile. It’s taken me a while and a shit tonne of pain and heartache (not just my own) to realise this. If you feel like something is missing, like there’s something more to find then stop for a minute and look inside yourself. There are lots of ways to do this and I have tried many of them. However this is not the post to discuss that. This is about me and my reign as Stigma Queen.

STIGMA (noun) – A mark disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person.

Who decided what is a disgrace and what isn’t? Who decided that not having a successful career, being unmarried by 40, not having kids, still living at home, who decided this was a disgrace? Who had the audacity to decide that mental illness, addiction, debt and the like is a disgrace? Clearly this is not the fault of a single person; instead its years and years of people’s opinions as to what is acceptable and what is not. It is also the result of a ‘them and us’ mentality, which we know is still very prevalent today.

This subject area is so big that I don’t know where it starts and ends. For me it started at a very young age. And it has gone on for too long. But it ends here and it ends now. Because for every black mark against my name is a story. A story, a lesson learned and a path forged. But it’s my story, my lesson and a path on my frickin journey so the rest of my community and the rest of the world can think whatever the f*ck they want.

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?

And it was all going so well…

Don’t you just hate it when things are going so well and all of a sudden, out of nowhere life, the universe, whatever you want to call it puts a stop to it? And it’s even worse when you have no explanation for it? Like, I seriously don’t have time for this bullshit. This week was meant to be full of productivity and progress, instead it’s been a bit like mouldy cheese. That might be the worst analogy ever but I think you know what I’m getting at.

For a start my early mornings haven’t been as early as I’d like and come to think of it my sleep has been a little bit disturbed lately too. So because my day has been starting later, I’ve been skipping bits of my morning routine just so I don’t get too behind with other things. And as a result that 30min slot I’d allocated for working out has been conveniently bypassed. But I’ll come back to that little faux pas in a bit.

Anyway after last weeks Arbonne revelation I decided that this week I was going to get stuck in with getting my coaching business off the ground and be proactive with all my Bee Sober ambassador stuff. Unfortunately my brain didn’t get that memo and just decided that this week it didn’t really want to do a fat lot. Every post I’ve tried to write, every email I’ve wanted to send and every idea I’ve had…all started well and then, nothing. I’ve parked so many things I’m almost out of coins for all the meters I’ve got running!

By hump day I’d all but given up. I’d spent all day helping my Dad decorate the front room, my head felt like it was going to explode by the evening. So much so that I had to cancel my walk with my mate Kass and instead I just crawled into bed at 8.30pm. I thought a good nights sleep would help but I was wrong.

Yesterday I woke up in wobble central. Not been there in a while. I kept tearing up over such small things and all I really wanted to do was nap. All day. I tried to focus on getting all my homework actions up to date from the business course I’m doing with Laura at the moment. The training videos from this week were so good and I really thought I knew exactly what I needed to do. And I did, except when I tried to write I just kept hitting brick walls over and over. Which infuriated me even more and in the midst of a teary rage I suddenly remembered I was still the size of a baby hippo and had failed miserably at doing any form of proper exercise. So in an effort to feel even a tiny sense of accomplishment I joined a gym.

Later that evening I battled on with writing content for my blog. There was something that had been tapping on the inside of my head for a week or so now and I thought by writing about it, it would stop said tapping. But again the words just seemed stuck. Where they’d gotten stuck I don’t know but they just weren’t coming. So I did what any coach does when they feel like they’re going nowhere…they call their own coach.

Laura has already gone above and beyond as a coach and often feels more like a very supportive and reliable friend. I didn’t want to take up too much of her time so I sent her a voice note asking for advice. Considering I started blubbing half way through she managed to figure out what I was saying and gave me some very helpful guidance and we worked through some stuff before I called it a night.

So was today any better? Ummm, it was actually but still far from really productive. I didn’t wake up until 7.30, it’s taken me all day to write this blog post (which isn’t really all that) and I’ve not done much else. BUT I did go to my first gym session in three years…yes, THREE years!

Sometimes even with the best intentions, with our plans all laid out in front of us life just doesn’t play ball. Things get in the way, our energy is off or quite simply we just can’t be arsed. What we need to remember is that a few days of feeling shitty and not getting it done isn’t going to make all that much difference in the long run. Focussing on what didn’t go well is just going to fuel the negativity so instead we need to try and shift that focus on what did go well.

I know it’s easier said then done because I lived in the land of negativity for years and couldn’t see a way out. But I learned to adapt my way of thinking, and although I need a reminder every now and again (we are all human) most of the time I know how to make that mindset shift. It takes patience, practice and perseverance but when you get there it really does take away so much shitty stress that so many of us put ourselves through when we really don’t need to.

If you’ve read this and know exactly where I’m coming from. If you’ve had similar days or weeks of feeling like you’re going nowhere fast and ended up hating on yourself for it. Then rest assured it’s not as bad as you think and I can help you see that too.

And guys!!! I went to the frickin gym! I worked out for a whole hour. AND I enjoyed it.

A positively positive pivot.

I don’t even know where to begin this post. I’m so full of gratitude, excitement, high energy vibes. All that really really good shit. I think I’ll just let the word vomit come out and not over think it. So here goes, get the bucket ready….

At the end of this month I will be changing direction. Well actually same direction, but I’m taking a more direct route. When I came back from India in May and started working with Laura we discussed where I wanted to go with my network marketing business and other goals. My online business was the focus at the time but I’d started toying with another idea and mentioned it to her as something I was considering in the future. And that was that really.

But a lot has changed, particularly in the last couple of weeks. I’ve got exciting new things happening, Laura’s magical powers have taken my vision and mindset up another notch and that future goal has suddenly become my current goal. Which I don’t want to be an annoying tease about but for now I just want to keep it to myself as I still need to figure a few things out.

But this post is mainly to talk to you about my Arbonne business. As of August 31st I will no longer be an Arbonne consultant. If you read my last post you will know that my energy and feelings around Arbonne were ever so slightly off (understatement). My experience was becoming a negative one and I didn’t want to get to a point of having to walk away from the company disgruntled, drained and resentful. My year in this business has had its ups and downs but what I want to be very clear about is that I do not for one second regret my decision to join.

People leave this industry for a lot of reasons. Not being successful is the biggest one. But personally I think that comes down to effort and not giving it enough time. Contrary to what my upline may think I worked my butt off and didn’t see the same kind of progress that others were seeing. And yes, everyone’s journey is their own but it just wasn’t happening for me and I think now I know why.

I think success comes from effort, faith and time. You need to work hard, trust in the process and give it time. But I think there’s one other major factor and that’s alignment. And don’t get me wrong I knew that if I didn’t feel connected to what I was doing on an energy level then not only would it be hard but it wouldn’t have been enjoyable. And for a time I did feel that connection, l really did. But things changed. I changed.

In the last couple of months the growth in my mindset and confidence has given me the courage to go after what I want and to speak my truth (hence the last blog post). But the more that I did this the more disconnected I started to feel from Arbonne. Doing the work became an effort. The vision was fading. And in all honesty it was draining my energy tank. But I’ll say it again, I have absolutely no regrets.

I’ve just had a message from a friend who has described this journey perfectly. It’s a train journey with connections. And my time on the Arbonne train has come to an end so I’m platform hopping and boarding the next one. And that’s just it, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without my Arbonne journey. You’ll often hear people in Arbonne talk about how life changing the opportunity can be. Well I wholeheartedly agree, except for me it wasn’t the dramatic life change I expected. It changed my life by starting me on my transformation journey. It opened my eyes to possibility, it helped me regain self worth and reminded me that I am enough.

So all I have for this company is gratitude. I am grateful for everything it has taught me, the people it’s brought into my life, the glow up it’s given me and so much more. But ultimately that world just wasn’t for me and I was only ever meant to pass through it and pick up a few things I needed on the way.

So for me now it’s time to board my next train. The destination will be revealed as soon as my train starts moving but for now just know I’m so bloody excited about this and I really hope you’ll stick with me as I move forward on my journey.

I’ll leave you with the wisest of words from my coach, Laura.

“Arbonne is now Argonne”. It was a typo actually but we both enjoyed how it turned out.

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.

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%.

Time’s Up Babe

People: What do you want to do later in life?

Me: I don’t really see myself as the career type. I just want to have lots of kids, maybe 5 and be an awesome Mum!

That really was my answer, because that’s what I wanted. I thought it’d be much easier than climbing the career ladder…clearly I was wrong. But at the time I thought having a successful career was a nice idea but it just didn’t feel right for me and felt like a lot of hard work which I frankly could not be fucked with. Saying that, I still went to university, got a degree and a masters, even landed myself a pretty decent grad job but my heart was never in all of that kinda stuff. I did it…well, because everyone else was doing it.

And I continued doing it, it being faking the career woman life. I mean the job part sucked ass but I lived and worked in some cool places and experienced some pretty awesome stuff so I just carried on. And if I’m honest I just thought I’d meet THE ONE at some point along the way and then I could reveal my true self and just be a baby making machine, you know?

But alas, it didn’t happen. My guy hasn’t come along yet, I say yet because one should always remain optimistic and the universe is always listening. A lesson I’ve only learned in recent months hence why my life thus far has been some what of a shit show. Anyway many of you might be thinking that I should stop moaning and there’s plenty of time. But you see, that’s the tea…my time is almost up.

I had an inkling for about a month or so but last week I spoke to the Doctor and my suspicions were right…menopause looms. I’m not quite there yet but it’s probably just around the corner.

So now what? Well, I don’t know really. Mother Nature is telling me I probably won’t be birthing a child so I guess that’s that. I mean I could go and find some random guy to knock me up but at this stage I very much doubt a one nighter is going to do it. And of course, that’s not the way I would want it to happen in an ideal world so…

I think I’m still processing. Up until now I’ve never really cared too much about my age. Since leaving university many moons ago I’ve always been the oldest in most of my friendship circles. But I didn’t feel much older than most of my friends and having been blessed with good genes I definitely didn’t look it either. But now, yeah now I guess I do feel kinda old.

The closer to 40 I got the conversations I had with myself about babies changed. There were times when I thought I didn’t want kids anymore. I’d gotten so used to being by myself and having that single gal freedom, did I even have time for a child? I mean, of course that was absolute bollocks. It’s not like I was living a glamorous life full of adventures. I was sat at home most of the time watching Netflix, drinking my feelings and talking to my dog.

Oh and you know what was really annoying and sometimes fairly soul crushing? The people who were somewhat lacking in tact and the ability to keep their nose out. My favourite lines were ‘you’re a natural, you’d make an excellent mother’ or ‘when are you going to have children?’. Ugh!

Anyway I guess for the most part I was trying to convince myself that maybe motherhood wasn’t for me. Maybe it isn’t. Who knows?! But what I do know is that the ability to make that choice for myself is fading. And that makes me really sad.

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?’

Play the tape forward

I hadn’t heard this saying until recently. It’s commonly used in the addiction/recovery world as a technique to make you stop and think when you get an urge or craving to drink. It walks you through the likely stages that will follow on from ‘oh go on, one won’t hurt’. Because with all the good intentions and will power in the world, chances are it won’t just be the one!

I haven’t had that urge yet so I’m yet to play the tape forward in that sense. But it got me thinking that the analogy could be used in a different way. What if rather then play the tape forward on a night out with friends, we play it forward in life?

Let’s say the tape is pretty long, five years long. If you played your life tape forward from this exact point today, what would you see? Where are you? Who’s with you? What are you doing? If you made no changes to your life today, where would you be in 5 years?

When I was in my 20s I had one of those 5-10 year plans. When I got into my 30s my plan hadn’t quite gone to plan. In fact I may have hit rewind rather than play…or at least that’s what it felt like. You see, my plan didn’t materialize because I didn’t do anything to help it. I didn’t look at what I needed to do or what actions I needed to take in order for me to be living the life I desired by my mid 30s. Some things were out of my control but I can see now that most weren’t.

So here I am about to turn 40 but thankfully I have a new plan AND I’ve already set the wheels in motion.

So let me ask you a different way. Do you have goals, ambitions, dreams? Of course you do, everybody does. The likely problem is you might not think they are achievable and that’s not your fault. When we are born our mind is infinite, we believe that anything is possible. Then as we grow older society tells us different. Limits are put on things, doubt is installed and you resign yourself to the fact that you are just not meant for extraordinary. So you settle. Because it’s safer. Less scary. Yawn!

But what if you chose not to settle? What if you believed your dreams were achievable? What if you found a way of to make your life a little less ordinary? Imagine a vehicle sat in your driveway with the engine running and someone is handing you the keys and telling you that said vehicle’s destination is your dream life. Would you grab them, jump in and never look back? Of course you bloody would! But what if all the Karen’s and Susan’s of the world were looking at you with that ‘hmmmm, I’m not sure’ look on their face, telling you that it’s too risky and that you should get your head out of the clouds and just be happy with what you’ve got. What would you do then? Would you listen to them and turn off the engine? Would you let fear stop you? The correct answer here is that you would thank Karen and Susan for their opinion and kindly tell them to fuck off!

No one is going to hand you your dream life, BUT they might hand you the keys. All you have to do is the work to get that car moving. And you also have to dig deep and find that fearless inner child in you. The one who believed anything was possible, the one who wanted to grow up and be an astronaut (yep, me!) and the one who didn’t let the risk of failing stop them dreaming. Remember when you learned to walk? No, me neither. But I’m pretty sure we fell over many times, acquired some bumps and bruises all before we took those magical first steps.

If life continues as is and you play your tape forward can you see the life you hoped for? Now, rewind the tape and imagine being handed those keys. When you hit play this time, what do you see? Keep that picture in your mind, hold onto it and know that it is possible. But it starts with you. It starts with you making a choice. A choice to remain stationary or to start moving.

Nothing changes, if nothing changes *pause*