Overcoming Our Past, My Story + 5 Tips for Future Success!
I've talked to so many babe entrepreneurs lately who are holding on to so much doubt and shame because of their past. Who are feeling unworthy of success because they have let circumstances and struggles in their life define them. Although this has hurt my heart in a way that I can't even describe, it's also given me more purpose in what I do here at Babetown. Encouraging creative entrepreneurs to find success and happiness, regardless of the mistakes they've made or the circumstances they've come from. We can all obtain it. Today, I've decided to share more of my story in hopes that it will inspire you to overcome the shame and guilt, and allow yourself to achieve all the amazingness that is out there in the world for you.
My story starts just outside of Baltimore, Maryland in a way that is similar to so many others. A struggling mom and an addict father which quickly led to a single mom just trying to get by and provide me with love and happiness. After moving around and my mom meeting my Step Dad, we moved to a smaller , more rural " country" town closer to the Pennsylvania line.
From the moment that I have memories of my childhood, I remember two things.
I remember always wanting to be the leader. I was the oldest out of all my cousins ( 4 of which lived with us ), and I was constantly trying to insert myself into their lives, giving them advice, and feeling like I had to protect them and somehow guide them through a life that I still had no fucking idea about. Organizing talent shows, bake sales , events, and business ideas( I mean what is a business at 12? ) figuring out how we could make money, thinking about flyers and marketing, and loving making people happy with those ideas.
I also remember really struggling with what I know today to be manic depression, anxiety and ADD. When I was having all of these ideas, I would be in a manic state. Putting it all together, organizing with binders and folders, getting giddy over pens, paper clips, highlighters, post its and lists. Reading everything I could into late middle school and early high school about business owners and idols that I looked up to. Because I was not yet diagnosed, I didn't know how to manage those states or even to identify what was happening. So quickly after the high, the low would come. I would sleep all the time, feel like I was the dumbest person on the planet, throw negative self talk at myself that I would never even utter here and be destructive of myself and the people around me.
In high school, I began skipping class or not going to school all together. I didn't understand why I had to read a paragraph 10 times before even half of it was recognizable to me. I didn't understand why so many of my peers looked like they were having the time of their life and I was always just uncontrollably sad and overwhelmed. To my moms defense, she did take me to a therapist as well as try to get me on medication but the approach to mental health in the late 90s and early 2000s was very different than it is today. Even in the "safety" of my therapists office, I always felt judged and crazy.
I felt so alone that I packed a bag with my cousin and a friend at the age of 14 and ran away to New York City on a Greyhound bus. I know it may seem cool and bad ass, the truth is the experience was anything but. In that manic depressive point in my life, I didn't care about the feelings of anyone around me. My skin was crawling and my brain was such a negative space that I had to do something to get away. I quickly found that the answers weren't out there, and when the excitement was over, I was just as lonely, depressed, and confused as I was at home. Thank god, I came home.
Meanwhile, I was struggling with my sexuality. In the town I grew up in, there we're nearly no queer people. My coming out story wasn't beautiful. It wasn't fun. It wasn't accepting. Maybe that's a story for another day. I just didn't understand why I was so different, in every way from the people around me.
At 15, I was trying so hard to deny the queer side of me ( I identify as bisexual, and no , I don't think that's a dirty word ) that I jumped into a relationship with a 20 year old man. It was the most abusive and self destructive time in my life. We were both broken in ways that I can't describe. I began drinking and doing drugs at 16. When I went to school, I was probably still drunk from the last nights adventures and more than likely with bruises or more emotional scares from the toxic relationship I was in. But I didn't care. I would endure almost anything to feel like I was part of something else besides what was going on in my head. To feel loved and accepted. All while putting on a smile so I could try and be like all those happy people around me.
I dropped out of school. That relationship ended painfully. There was nothing left of that little girl who was so driven and passionate about making those around her happy and succeeding in this world because I had nothing left of myself.
I continued to have an extremely hurtful and toxic relationship with my father. Got my GED, went to college and dropped out due to more diagnosed factors working against me. Jumped from job to job, never long enough to really mean anything. Wracking up credit cards and debt. Complete self destruction in a way that I didn't even know I could correct or gain clarity on. I just thought, this is who I am. I suck. I'm never going to amount to anything.
At the time is when I met my now husband. As cliche as it sounds, he saved me. He was/is patient, kind, free spirited and the calm to my almost always revolving storm. He understands and accepts me all while seeing the worst parts of me.
I began working a lot of self care. Seeing therapists, sticking to medication that is life changing for me and doing a lot of self work. I still struggle all of the time. I still get lost in my mind and what it's able to turn me into. I still am constantly misunderstood because of it. The difference is, now I don't let it define me. I don't let it tell me what i'm worth. I don't let it have ownership over me. With each and every failure that I go through, I choose to learn from it. I choose to grow from it. I choose to fight back against it.
I've had failed businesses because I've gotten into lows that I couldn't get out of. I've turned down huge opportunities because I couldn't get over the fear and negative self talk. I've lost people in my life who don't understand and aren't in a place to handle it. But with each and everyone of those "failures" I've become better. That's where success happens.
I don't tell you any of this in hope that you'll feel back for me or " cut me some slack" . I tell you this because I want you to know that YOU can do this too. No matter what you've gone through, at any age, you can come out on top. You can overcome the victim mentality and embrace the amazing human that you are. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy, it doesn't mean you still won't have failures - but they will be fewer and farther between.
Start putting processes in your life and business that set you up for success.
Understand how YOU need to work in order to be your best and most productive self. Some things that might help:
- Stick to a routine. Mornings should set you up to have a productive and mostly stress free day. Dedicate certain days of the week to certain tasks within your business so you aren't overwhelmed with to dos. Schedule calls for earlier in the day before you have hit your limit, so you can approach them with confidence. Know a schedule that works best for you and stick to it.
- Be transparent with your team and those around you. Don't hide who you are and the struggles you face on a day to day basis. Let your team know what you'll need from them, what signs to look for when you are headed for a negative head space, how they can take over day to day tasks if you need to step away. Those people around you who love you, will be more than happy to help where they can. Catching them off guard isn't fair either, so be transparent from the beginning.
- Have a plan. Track and celebrate your success. When you don't have a plan in your business or you aren't tracking milestones, it's way too easy to see all the wrong you're doing and way too hard to see where you are killin' it. Set bite size, attainable goals + milestones that you can celebrate in a way that feels awesome to you! Can you have a dance party at least once a week? Can you treat yo' self once a month for crushing those milestones? Figure out how and make it trackable!
- Focus on your health. Health means something different for everyone. It doesn't come with an attachment of a number on the scale or a jean size. However, you can do things in your day to day life that make you feel better. Drinking more water. Getting out and walking. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly visits with a therapist or counselor. Feed you body with nutrients to support brain power, focus and happiness. ( I'm still not giving up french fries or chicken nuggets. Just limiting them )
- Give yourself grace. We all fuck up. Some of us more than others and in different ways, but does that matter? Constantly be striving to do better. Learn more. Heal more. Above all else, giving yourself the space to do it. You can't "fix" things overnight and that would be one hell of a project for most of us. Remember these three things when moving through the world. It would be a much better place if we could practice more humility, forgive human error and embrace human evolution and growth. We are all getting better with time, we should embrace that.
I hope that this inspired you to move through your own past and current struggles with a sense of empowerment to live fully, and earn success. You deserve it.
I would love to hear more of your stories in the comments or in our Facebook group!