The entrepreneurial journey is a complex one. Building your brand from the ground up is a process that can come with many challenges. We all know this, but realize that personal baggage can sometimes get in the way. It quite often forces us to look in the mirror at ourselves in ways that we never have before. Self-reflection is key! Being self-aware has never been more important than it is right now.
I recently traded my ‘Mom’ hat for a ‘Business Owner’ hat when I decided that I wanted to build my own company from the ground up. I was excited and ready to put in the work it took to create my destiny. I found myself deeply immersed in creating my logo, website, content and developing programs and workshops. I got busy with connecting to people and places in the community to leverage myself and quickly became very busy with the hustle and grind of work life. Good work! Work that involved mental wellness and sharing tools of creative expression to help children and youth to navigate through the adversities in their lives. What motivated me was that I was once that child who faced parental addiction, domestic abuse, depression and anxiety and knew within the depths of my soul, how much art, writing and music helped me. Creative expression saved my life! I was feeling empowered!
My healing journey with childhood trauma and pain continues to this day. It’s a daily process. Some days have been really successful, and then there are days that I spiral back into those dark places. I would push through those dark days making myself ‘busy with work’! It was easy to distract myself from myself. I had to perform, be successful, shine, shine, shine!! The busier I was, the angrier I became. I felt lonely and frustrated. I was resenting the people around me. I began to see a side of me that I didn’t like. My kids were starting to point out that ‘Mommy had a hard day’ or ‘Mommy is tired today’.I was feeling this war brewing within me. This shame of being a hypocrite. I was getting up in front of young people to teach them tools for better mental health and at the same time neglecting my own healing. I wasn’t eating properly, sleeping well or taking care of me! There is was no time to self-reflect because I was too busy. I didn’t want to face myself!
We live in a culture where the glorification of busy is at a whole other level. Social media platforms further reinforce the ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ life painting lives of resilience and great success. Women that look like me doing amazing things all over the place! Seeing and posting success story after success story day in and day out. Keeping up with the appearance of accomplishment, feeding a false hunger to belong. Triumphs and victories, with memes to remind us of just how worthy we all are. It drove me even further to push and work and push and work. I was convinced that I was finally doing the work in the community that I was meant to do. Following my truth. Following my heart. Why was I feeling so empty still? What was this void that I was still feeling?
Then, this fall, I began facilitating a Relationship Well-Being Group every Monday. I began to get to know women who had dedicated their lives to relationships that had failed. These women were on their own for the first time and had to start all over. No support, no partners, on their own! For the first time, they had to take a hard look at themselves with no one else to point the finger at for the pain in their hearts. No one to come rescue them, or worse, enable them. We began the journey together, of forgiveness, self-compassion, healing, vulnerability and helping them to change the narrative that they have believed about themselves from childhood. This is when it dawned on me that I am these women! I saw my pain and fear in each of their stories and realized that I had been hiding behind the business of building my organization. It felt easier to ignore myself and keep it moving. Even as I write this, I know that it’s time to stop!
Self-work is the most important work that you can do. It is the most selfless and selfish work because you must first get into and uncover the complex layers of what makes you you. We have to rewrite our stories without interpretation, step back and change the narrative. Rewire our thought patterns and know that the pain of our past and of our failures does not define us. It is critical to do this self-work, to be selfish so that we can bring our entire selves to everything that we do. What I did not see was that in hiding behind my company and all of the work I was putting in, I was not really bringing the best of me to the table. I was not bringing the best of me to my family and to the relationships I was in. I was short-changing everyone and everything around me AND feeling exhausted and resentful at the end of the day.
So, now as I write this, I know that my healing journey continues. Self-love, self-compassion, checking in with my strengths and values and caring for myself, must happen every day! As a woman of colour, I was raised to be tough, to not show my weaknesses, to keep things on the down low and push through. On some levels this has made me resilient but showing my vulnerability is being authentic. Resilience is walking in my truth! Allowing myself to feel sad, expressing this to others who care about me is the first step to healing. This is the world that I want and we all need. Deeper, more honest and open connections are what bring meaning and purpose into our lives. The time is now ladies, to get real with ourselves and each other. It’s okay to need each other. It’s okay to feel down because we can help each other to not get stuck in that dark place. It’s time to open our hearts to each other’s pain and fear that is such a natural part of our humanity. It’s time to be vulnerable because without it there is no evolution and without evolution there is no growth.
Joanie is a happily married Mama of two munchkins, artist, writer, photographer and founder of Eternal Springtime. Developing and delivering creative wellness workshops to children and youth in the Durham Region. Joanie facilitates with Community Care Durham and runs monthly donation drives to give back to shelters throughout the GTA. Joanie is excited to bring a new initiative to the community – Vision Board 2017 parties to you! You host the party and she will take care of the rest! Drop Joanie a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Follow @EternalSpringtime on FB/IG/Twitter/LinkedIn.