When making the decision to become self-employed, surprisingly some of my most difficult considerations weren’t ‘will I make enough money to survive?’ or ‘will people like my work?’ but actually ‘how will I deal with a difficult moment when it’s just me?’. The biggest fear for me was how to pull myself through something on my own and get things back on track and this is because I am acutely aware of my default setting which tends to be… I’m not good enough, strong enough, everyone else is better than me.
At the same time though, knowing this about myself was also one of the factors that pushed me into making the decision because I also knew that surviving those situations would improve my confidence, build my resilience and teach me skills that I just wasn’t learning anymore because the reality is, when you’re not a very confident person, it’s easier to hide in a big corporation if you want to and choose not face your fears.
I struggle with my mental health. On a daily basis I deal with (mostly) anxiety, but also at times low mood, panic disorder and overwhelming feelings of being unable to cope and not being good enough. Over the years I have built an armoury of weapons to deal with this but sometimes I do run out of options and I have to bring out the big guns.
When it comes to Craft Happy, I am fiercely protective. I have built a community of support around my work; I am hugely grateful for this and it’s important to me that my audience believes in me and what I do, I draw a huge amount of strength from this. With this comes huge pressure though, a reputation has been built and it needs to be maintained and protected, if it takes a battering then it can be difficult for someone like me to deal with and move on from.
The reality is, bad things happen all the time… something goes wrong at work and everyone congregates round the water cooler to have a good old gossip about it, who f*cked up and who’s going to take the flack. Occasionally the conversation might lean towards what can be learnt from it but essentially the process is one of working through it, venting any bad feelings and eventually moving on. The difficulty with self-employment is that you don’t really have this forum, I mean you can talk to your inner circle and you can talk to other business owners (if you’re prepared to divulge your fallibilities) but ultimately you have to find a way yourself to draw a line under it and learn from it.
For me, this is the toughest… I ruminate on EVERYTHING… every single comment I make or action I take reflects badly on me when I think back on it. I need to work on this because I can’t change how I react to something and actually I also need to remember that sometimes when we’re up against it we can have our finest hour.
Yesterday was a tough day... my work and my reputation came under direct attack and despite the fact that I knew one day this would inevitably happen, it still left me reeling. In response I went immediately on the defensive and after that gave myself hours of negative head space about how I dealt with it, what I said, struggled to process the anger, questioned myself and felt as if I had to further prove myself.
By and large, this event has (hopefully) gone unnoticed and I haven’t written this to elicit sympathy or bitch about the ins and outs, I’ve written this because this is my space to record milestones and learning opportunities as I travel on my journey so that I can look back and see how far I have come. The process of recording it is also cathartic and is my own personal ‘water cooler’ moment… the one where I think about what can be learnt rather than who f*cked up (that was yesterday and today’s a new day) 😉
Thanks for listening, Helen x