I was invited along to an event recently, which was a first birthday bash and a celebration of women in business. The day was about giving likeminded ladies a chance to come together, to eat wonderful food, to network and to listen to a panel of business women talk about how they’ve managed and made it in a sometimes male dominated world. Sounds pretty good, right? Hugely inspiring yes? On paper, yes. The problem was that I didn’t think too much before heading there and when I got there, I panicked. I felt like a total fraud.
I rocked up and was greeted by a room full of smart, cool, glamorous women and er, me. Everyone seemed to know each other, and the noise that filled the entrance hall was immense (what does one call a collective of women nattering loudly?) Despite a quick chat with the hosts, I felt very alone despite the amount of people I could talk to. I suddenly felt very in my ‘shell’ and spent the initial networking time stood to the side, on my phone, thinking about whether or not I should stay. I really struggled with my inner monologue. I went through all the emotions: I had nothing to say to anyone, I shouldn’t be there, why was I there? What an idiot, why did I agree to go?! I didn’t own a business! I felt like a child on her first day at school. I felt like a big fat fraud.
After the initial networking hour we moved to another room to sample some amazing food. And away from the bubble of everyone catching up with friends, the chatter calmed and groups broke up. Stood on my own again, scoffing my face (free food, don’t judge) still too afraid to talk to anyone lest they discover me as a fraud and banish me from the room, a lovely lady called Petricah (amazing name) came over to talk to me. In the space of about thirty minutes we had covered everything from our work lives, kids, husbands and family life to my IVF and fertility problems. Petricah talked to me about her work and business and after chatting for a good while, I realised that I wasn’t a fraud at all. A lightbulb pinged. I realised that whilst I don’t have or own a business, my business as such, is me. Little old me. It’s this Blog, my Instagram and my Twitter. I am a writer. That is my business and I could, and should confidently class it as such. I felt a huge weight being lifted as this realisation dawned. It was a funny process of events that I went through mentally, to make me realise that I wasn’t a total fraud and that I was allowed to be there. From that point on I found myself chatting happily to more and more women. It just took that initial bit of conversation to make me relax and find that bit of confidence.
Coming away from the event I realised that all too often in my life I feel like a fraud. In being a mum and constantly feeling like I’m not doing the right thing for Olivia. Am I feeding her the wrong food, can she count to the required number for a 3.5 year old, is she having those mega meltdowns because of something I’ve done? Do I shout too much? Am I just a terrible mother in general? And I feel like a fraud with my writing, I compare myself to others and look at their stats and views etc. I wonder that I’m not good enough and whether I should give it all up. I don’t live in a permanent cycle of gloom I hasten to add, these are just some of the things I find myself thinking at times. But being at the event and going through this cycle of initial panic because I was out of my comfort box, then coming away having a confidence lift, was well and truly worth it. I came away with my head buzzing, in a good way, not the 5am-home-from-a-club way. I realised that it’s OK to have these doubts and wobbles, and to feel that lack of self belief, it happens to us all. But sometimes if you’re feeling a bit lost, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone can actually really help in these situations. Sometimes hanging out with a bunch of inspiring women can be empowering and can make you feel motivated. It can make you believe in yourself and it can sometimes give you that kick up the arse or shake up that you’ve needed.
(Check out the She.Space site for inspiring events and meet ups, and whatever the title, don’t think you can’t go along and have a listen. You’ll meet some awesome women, that I can vouch for)