If you’ve been following She can. She did. since the onset, you’ll know that every couple of months I’ve tried my best to check in with you all and update you on the lessons learnt/ ups and downs I’ve experienced since launching She can. She did. so far and my annual round up on New Year’s Eve just gone was no different. When I shared this post with you all on 31st December last year, I was on cloud nine that I’d renewed the contract for another Midweek Mingle roadshow to take place in the first quarter of the year; I was gearing myself up to launch the She can. She did. podcast (albeit I hadn’t recorded a single episode yet but I knew it was coming..!); and I was more determined than ever before that I’d hit the ground running in 2019 to ensure that I secure investment to get my bigger idea for this business off the ground.
Exactly nineteen days into 2019 however, my now-ex boyfriend and I decided to end the first serious relationship I’ve ever been in and just like that, all of the energy and determination and excitement that I had when I wrote that post, in the space of one mutual conversation on a Saturday night mid-January, buggered off.
Now for those of you that can’t handle anything too mushy, don’t worry, this post isn’t designed to be a sob story about what went wrong with me and my ex..! (I’m relieved to say that it ended on as good a terms as a break up could end though, the shitty heartache phase is done and dusted and three months down the line, the fog has lifted and I’m starting to feel like I can seize the day and all that jazz once again!)
Instead, given that I know full-well that I’m not the first woman to feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect of having to deal with something painful going on in their personal life when they have a business to run too, I want to use this space to fill you in on what the past three months have actually looked like for me behind the scenes (because let’s face it, I’d be a bit of a fraud if I asked every female founder that features on here to unveil the challenges they’ve experienced, whilst staying quiet myself pretending that everything was rosy with me!). Now that I’ve had some time to process what has happened over the past few months, I’ll also share the lessons that 2019 has taught me so far…
NB. I’m all too aware that many women are facing so many different personal challenges behind the scenes – many of which make a break up with a partner seem like a walk in the park in comparison – so it’s worth noting that the following is based on my own experiences only and I’m all too aware that everyone’s coping mechanisms are subjective…
1) Yes, your audience want to know the real you but when there’s a job to get done, there’s a time and a place for the baggage (And even though it might not feel like it at the time, working on your business can provide the best form of distraction if you let it…)
This one is definitely one of the more subjective observations on this list because ultimately everyone has different thresholds when it comes to how much they’re willing to share with their customers/team/audience etc… and in some cases, sharing the baggage as it unfolds works well depending on the business. She can. She did. however is about a whole lot more than just me, so no matter what was going on in my personal life, I had signed a contract in which I’d committed to hosting three events in Q1, therefore break-up or no break-up, the Midweek Mingle roadshow in March had to happen and there was never an option for me not to show up.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had days where I’d have much rather stayed at home and curled up in my pjs with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s for company à la Bridget Jones over the past few months (because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good pj/ice cream/ “woe is me” sesh!?) but had I done that every day I’ve wanted to since January 19th, I would have let a lot of Midweek Mingle guests and interviewees down, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the bills (!) and I wouldn’t have emerged from the fog with an event series and podcast that I’m proud of.
The same can be said for that podcast as it happens. When I recorded the first episode with Alice Benham back in January, at one point she spoke so eloquently about how going through a break up at a time where her business demanded more from her than ever, was the biggest challenge she had faced in her business story so far. That recording fell exactly three days after Andy and I broke up and rather than join in and share on record that everything she was saying was exactly how I felt at the time, I’m a big believer in only voicing something with the wider world (or in this case, whoever listened to that podcast episode!) when you genuinely feel comfortable sharing it and have something of value to add to what can sometimes feel like a sea of noise online. Now don’t get me wrong, we put the world to rights once the microphone had been switched off, but I didn’t yet know myself how I was coping with those circumstances, let alone how to articulate that in a way that would be beneficial to anyone listening.
Ultimately, when you have a business that can’t afford for you to hide away for the weeks/months/years it takes for you to feel ok again (depending on what you’re going through that is) sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a serious pep talk (or find someone that you trust to do that for you), be brave and put on a professional hat for the sake of your business and turn up, grit your teeth and do the job anyway.
Call it you’re very own ‘Sasha Fierce’ alter-ego if you will… unfortunately ‘Fiona Fierce’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it girls so I’ve borrowed Beyonce’s for the sake of this post..!
Not every hat that you’re going to have to wear as a business owner is a comfortable fit and as I always try and get across with She can. She did. there are days that will test you beyond belief. In my opinion, the trick is to wear those hats anyway, show up and no matter what, just do your best. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish even when you feel like shit (!) and you’ll be able to look back on that time and know that in spite of everything, you coped.
2) Repeat after me, “99% of the time, social media really is just a highlight reel and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt!”
I won’t labour this one because you all know it’s the reason why I started She can. She did. in the first place but the fact that I’ve had more messages than ever congratulating me on how well I appear to be doing in the past three months says a lot about how it’s all too easy to see a very warped version of reality through the lens of social media.
For perspective, three hours before The Midweek Mingle in Manchester started, I was sat in a coffee shop with my Mum crying on her shoulder because I didn’t feel as though I had the energy to stand up in front of a room full of guests. After recording a good three of the six She can. She did. podcast episodes that have gone live so far, I returned home from London and spent the night with family crying the second I walked through the door (and nearly started crying mid-interview when I recorded the episode with the amazing Mac & Moore… sorry girls… bit awks!) and when an article was published in the Evening Standard listing me as one of London’s “female game changers” on International Women’s Day, I got upset once again because I could no longer tell the one person I always told first. (Don’t worry, I went on to pour myself a glass of red and celebrate that one once I got over the feeling sorry for myself bit, but still, you get my point about it not always being rosy..!)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that every one of us has lives outside of our business (I would hope!) and some of those days don’t get documented because they really are shit. Before you do the jealousy and the envy and the comparison stuff, just take some time to think about what whoever you’re aiming that at might be dealing with/have dealt with behind the scenes to get there.
3) Remember that you are your biggest asset (so listen to your body, your gut instincts and prioritise your health always)
I’ve always had a good work ethic since I was a teenager in school and putting the hours in to get the job done well doesn’t phase me one bit (unless I run out of coffee in which case we have a serious problem!) but for the first time in my career, I haven’t had the energy or the drive that I’m used to and if I’m being honest, I also haven’t had the energy to fight that fact either.
Yes, I showed up and did the roadshow to the best of my abilities and yes, I launched the She can. She did. podcast as planned but all of the work that I’d usually be doing behind the scenes alongside those two things – the outreach, the planning, the work on the long-term goals stuff – that, I was happy to put on pause for a bit.
Instead, I’ve just done what’s needed to get done to get by and when that work has been ticked off, I’ve taken the pedal off and rested. I’ve listened to my body and shut my laptop earlier than normal; I’ve cut back on what I say “yes” to and where I channel my energy; and self-care has involved a lot more country runs and pilates in recent weeks, instead of the big HIIT workouts that I typically love.
Oh, and when the roadshow ended, I actually went on a night out until 6am with one of my best friends and felt horrendous the next day but it was so much fun so it was worth it..!
To put it simply, when life gives you lemons, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make lemonade for a while. I know full well that my work ethic hasn’t been on top form this year but I refuse to beat myself up about that fact. Instead I’ve just listened to my body, trusted my gut instinct on any decisions that I’ve had to make and have emerged from the fog with a clear head and a whole lot of optimism about the future in tow.
And last but not least…
4) The show must go on… and when the curtain comes up again, trust me when I say that you’ll come back fighting!
In my opinion, there are two options when you decide to launch a business. Either you work at it, no matter what life throws your way, and find a way to make the business work or you do the total opposite, you decide to walk away for good and your business fails. Ultimately, no one walks through life unscathed and if you’re going to launch a business, the reality is that there will be days where your personal life will clash with your resolve to run said business beyond belief.
For the large part, I’ve felt drained, I’ve felt sad, I’ve felt unmotivated and I’ve felt lost this year, but at not one point in the past three months have I for one minute doubted the future of She can. She did. and the fact that no matter how crappy it might seem right now, I’ll find a way to get through it and come back fighting.
And I don’t want to jinx anything but I feel like that time is now.
For me, when I got home from the last Midweek Mingle of the roadshow in Bristol last week and realised that I’d got through that on my own without the one person that used to be my biggest cheerleader, cheerleading me on, I knew that I was finally ready to stop feeling sorry for myself; that once upon a time pre-sidekick, I achieved a whole lot on my own; and reminded myself that if that was the case for early twenties me, there’s no reason why late twenties me wouldn’t be able to accomplish more going forward.
What I’m trying to say is, if you’re going through something painful behind the scenes at the moment, I have no doubt that when you’re ready to let go and move on, something inside you will snap and you’ll muster the strength to do exactly that. When that exact time comes for you, I do not know, but I do know that it will and that’s all that matters.
To round up, I don’t know if it’s the fact that spring has finally sprung/ time is a healer *winces internally at how cliché that sounds* or I’ve just reminded myself that I’m a whole lot stronger than I’ve felt in recent months, but whatever it is, I’m ready to press ‘go’ once again and as always, am more excited than ever about where, together, we can take this thing.
Have a great week girls and as always, you know where I am if you need a chat.