It all began with a dodgy dad who ran way with my cousin, a series of sticky post-it-notes and a colossal hole in my life that nothing I purchased seemed to fill.
I have been at odds with my surroundings for as long as I can remember. As a teenager while my siblings adored Versace, I adored second-hand florals. While my gender meant I should feel lucky to have a man, inside I questioned, that surely he should feel lucky to have me too. At primary school, while my race meant I couldn't possibly read music and so was always relegated to the metal silver triangle with a stick (so the teacher could tell me when to bang), I longed to play the flute. Inside, I just have never felt like the labels society gave me, all except that is, for not having a dad.
He had gone AWOL before I was even born and for that wee boulder in my life I whacked a post-it-note on my forehead and labelled it incomplete. In my quest to tear it away, I learned the art of public speaking, and while juggling a career the city, went into broadcasting in the vain hope that he would see my name one day and squirm with regret. It'd be true to say that beneath my smiles, my childhood and adulthood were spent hallucinating about how amazing life would be if only I had a dad. Yes indeed, I gave permission for this ONE human being to define my worth. Combined with the medley of Peter and Jane books I was intravenously drip-fed at school (the facebook of the day depicting the oh so perfect lives) there was always a gaping hole in my life that everything I chased never seemed to fill: house, car nor shoes.
Driven to the brink of insanity in my quest to look and feel just like the shiny families in the glossy magazines, on one miserable rainy day sitting in a pub in Balham waiting for my son to finish his hundredth activity for that week, I said to myself that's it. Enough was enough. Over the years I had achieved all the external symbols of success that had been stuffed in my face and felt not a darn bit happier. I decided there and then, I was complete just the way I jolly well was.
The opposing external messages were so powerful, nonetheless, that I found there was only one way to cut through the noise of the inner critic in my mind - and that was to get badass. Holding the pen like a knife, I scrawled my father's name slowly on a napkin, went outside and burnt it. With each flicker of flame I forgave him and forgave myself for choosing to give him this power. Under the intense heat the post-it-note, the incomplete label I had given myself, lost its glue and fell from my face too.
Here's the truly great bit however. Driven to prove my father wrong, I was blind to the stereotypes which said that because I was a woman, a woman of colour and a single mother, I was less able to achieve success than those with 'perfect' lives. Indeed, the most success I had ever had was when I was just that, a woman, a woman of colour and a single mother.
I became intrigued, therefore, as to why, despite the stereotypes, some women thought something was beyond them while others didn't. It took years to unearth the answer - their mindset.
I now use my skills in public speaking, storytelling, broadcasting, life coaching and NLP for others to get badass too, that is, to ditch the stereotypes, develop a growth mindset and to rock their authentic voice.
My lovelies, while you are not living your authentic self the world and the organisations you work for are missing your voice and the unique perspective you bring to the world.
* It is time to take your power back and dance to the rhythm of your own drum.
* It is time to forgive the parents, siblings, teachers, loved ones, institutions, bosses and bullies who have made you feel you are not enough just the way you are.
*Most importantly, it is time for you to forgive yourself for believing them.
Ingrid Marsh - Director