Good afternoon! 🙂
Well I’m back again with another post (I wonder if I actually could do this everyday this time like I set out to do?) Anyway, here I am and I’ve been having a long think about something that, thought it might sound like a negative thing, it also kind of draws a positive too for others who are starting up in business or starting a new job, or any new thing really, and that’s confidence. Do we have the confidence to take that step into getting started? Are we brave enough to get past the hurdles and the set backs without letting it personally get to us and knock our confidence down?
I think, to me starting a business or venture, or even starting a new job is like starting that first day at school. How many of you can remember your first day? Was it exciting? Scary? Can you remember being taken out of that comfort zone of being at home with your Mum and your siblings, that safe environment where the outside world couldn’t bother you?
I can personally remember in my life that I was the new kid at school, let me see, about 6 or 7 times if I remember, it seems less, seems about 6 but it feels like more. Anyway, we moved house a fair bit when I was a kid and I was the new girl a few times, so I remember that terrifying feeling more than once or twice – will they like me, do I look weird, am I good enough? All sorts went through my head. The worst was – what if here, nobody likes me? And yeah, being the new kid that did happen every time I started a new school. Standing on my own in a playground looking all strange, being all quiet, because I didn’t know anybody and I was nervous as hell, so next thing because I was quiet I was a wierdo. I was a skinny tall thready thing with teeth that stuck out a mile (later on in child hood). I was an only child and terrified of the other kids so I was a loner and got bullied a hell of a lot from school to school.
So that feeling, if you’ve been knocked down before, shit sticks right? Then you’re trying something like starting a business or a new job or career or something, any new venture and if you’ve been knocked down or been through a lot, it can kind of transport you back mentally to that time again. I know when I’ve started new jobs and I’m all like that quiet kid again, but worse!
You see, and this is the issue I wanted to talk about.
For me, starting a business (which yeah, I have tried before, but got only as far as online freelancing and about 5 wedding shoots, and a handful of make up contracts because I was too scared to take it further socially) was so tough that the first time, I messed it up! And messed up because I let my own personal issues get in the way of my success. And my personal issue that I want to address, perhaps to help people who work with me to understand a little bit better, is that since those days (long ago) when I was younger I took a lot of things to heart. Because of that, I developed some mental issues with regards to my self confidence.
Social Phobia – People (and I am blaming a little bit), people can add to it a lot. They don’t realise they’re doing it, they don’t often mean it, but comments about how you look, how you conduct conversation, what you do with your life, all sorts, you end up constantly on the receiving end of personal criticism and that is unfortunately what fuels my social phobia. Like a mate makes a comment that my hair looks awful, or that my outfit looks ridiculous, or I’m told I’m not trying hard enough even when I’ve been busting my balls to achieve something, or someone calls me a wierdo and can’t even back that up with a reason other than “You just are.”
I’ve had criticism from bullies, friends, family and partners. And so at times I’m afraid to walk down the street. When I walk into a pub, or a shop, or even into a new work environment I go into full on fight or flight, my hackles are up because I’m certain people are looking at me and judging me on how I look, how I walk, my shape, my face, it all starts. I feel like a right wierdo walking down the street and only way I feel safe is to pick up my phone and call somebody. Usually family because everyone else is too busy to pick up their phones. And I will do that walking up the road, sometimes I’ll speak to my Mum on the phone all way around Asda whilst shopping because I feel safe having someone to talk to. It’s stupid really.
When you step back and look at it, and I have done, and said myself – f****** hell what are you doing? Do you realise how ridiculous what you’re doing is?
I’ve missed appointments because of it, then lost out on potential contracts. I’ve been afraid of getting on the bus so I’ve spent a shit load of cash on taxis everywhere. It’s not happened every single day, there have been good days and bad days, it depends on how confident I feel on that day, but it’s been ruling my life excessively. Funnily enough however, I am totally fine what I have been on stage (as I have worked in the past also as an entertainer), or at a venue doing my photography or make up work. I think it’s more than likely the security of “I’m in charge, I’m in control.”
When you have little or no control over a situation and it takes you out of your comfort zone it creates all sorts of anxieties.
I remember landing a job in February and I was so excited about it. But it was a massive challenge because I had to travel on public transport daily to the job. And it was slap bang in the middle of a city centre. I had to get on a crammed train in the morning, walk through the station where there were lots of people, walk to the workplace where people were walking this way and that way, and then go into this open plan office where again there were lots of people. And I was so self conscious!
So much so my hands were shaking, I couldn’t concentrate on what I was meant to be learning, and people ended up not wanting to train me (I caught two guys bickering because neither of them wanted the job of sitting with me that afternoon, lol), because I was all quiet, my voice went funny whenever I spoke, I tripped up over my own feet a couple of times, and my office chair when I tried to wheel it to another desk I was going to be working at one afternoon. I was a mess! I bet they thought I was a right weirdo. I even had a panic attack at my desk which I managed to hide sipping at a bottle of water. Then I remember one afternoon after work sitting in a bar for 2 hours psyching myself up to get the bus home, because I knew I had a choice of the busy train station or walking to the other end of the city centre to the bus station. I nursed one bottle of Desperados (quite apt) and chain smoked for 2 hours, before finally making it back home on an hour long bus journey.
I remember thinking about it all the way home, thinking “what the f*** is wrong with me?”
To friends I just go quiet, they don’t know really that I’m feeling all that even when I’m in social situations. I hide it. I tend to hide it at work, people just think I’m quiet and a bit odd ball. But deep down I’m kicking myself for being so god damn freaked out at being around people.
I’m a lot better now than I was. I now can go round the supermarket without using my phone. I can now get the bus without getting too freaked out.
We’re all different. I was talking to someone not so long ago about how stuff affects me and they said they couldn’t fathom how on earth I let the past affect my life so much, and they really criticised me about it. I got “It’s in the past for God’s sake, just get over it! It’s all in your head! You take too much to heart.” – Well yeah, that’s true it is in the past, but I can’t “Just get over it” (and this person I was talking to suffers depression, now imagine if I said “Slap a smile on your face, get over it, cheer up you miserable ****.” It’s not acceptable is it? You can’t say stuff like that to someone who’s going through stuff), because we’re all different, some of us more emotional than others, some more logical than others, we all handle things differently, and God, I wish that I didn’t let it affect me, I wish it would roll off me like water off a ducks back, but I’m porous – I absorb the f****** water.
You know, I would love to wake up one morning and have the confidence to say f*** you to all the criticism and crap that I’ve had and start again with my head held high. And so this venture, this time, I’m doing it differently.
Now I’m taking the bull by the horns, I’m restarting my business.
It is important when you start up that you have some money already, that was my first boo boo.
I didn’t have anything at the time other than a credit card. I’d ended up with shit credit after my marriage ended yet somehow I managed to get a credit card and maxed it out within a week on a website and advertising. Then I was skint again, and sourcing work from freelancing sites, and doing courses as well which skint me more, but trying always to improve my prospects.
Then in order to get some more clients I did a free month offer, so then clients took advantage of that and then buggered off after that free month, and either did it themselves or found someone uber cheap, or a got a friend to do the work them. So I ended up broke again.
I found myself doing more writing than photography, doing content here and there for websites, some virtual secretary work, some PR and online marketing work, copywriting, some SEO, social media management, some telesales, stuff like that, just to pay for my food and rent. And jumping for absolute joy when I got a wedding photo job in or some make up work, or sold a painting, it was absolutely awesome! But that got few and far between because I could no longer afford to sustain myself let alone advertise, I ended up unable to keep up with freelance site subscription payments plus I was letting my personal life get in the way of my progress, and I just didn’t know what to do next.
So learning from those mistakes, I’ve started rebuilding myself and my business a different way. My business will begin very part time to start off with. And will probably run alongside another job for a long while. I mean, I might even find a position that I really love and do both jobs indefinitely and progress, and keep the photography part time, I don’t know at the moment. I’ve managed to get a website and some business cards ordered and stuff (thanks to some help from my family), in the mean time I have been temping via agencies, and looking for something a bit more permanent. So I can’t just focus on solely the business until I’m earning regularly and saving even for a year or more. Baby steps.
So it’s all a big journey at the moment. And I can only encourage myself to do it.
So, this blog I guess is not just about the art and photography, but its about my journey too, and finally (hopefully) achieving success after a lot of tough times.