200 days ago on the 20th June, 4 days before Brexit, I left my fulltime, well paid permanent job as a Civil Servant.
I’d spent almost six years working for the Department for International Development, with inspiring people in the UK, Sudan and Pakistan. As I was leaving the main comments I would get were along the lines of
‘you’re so brave’ and ‘I couldn’t do what your doing’
However, that wasn’t how I felt inside, I was petrified, my internal monologue was all about, would anyone employ me, could I make it as a consultant, would I be able to pay my mortgage, would I be coming back begging for a job in six months, did I have any skills outside of the Civil Service Bureaucracy and it went on and on.
There was research released the week I left that suggested that a quarter of girls wouldn’t describe themselves as brave and that 40% of girls were afraid of taking risks. Which forced me question my stock response to people which was
‘well you could say brave, I think it’s probably stupid!’
In the last 200 days, I’ve tried to own the brave label more, its been hard and there’s definitely been days where I’ve thought about crawling back to DFID with my tail between my legs, or days where I’ve wanted to stay in bed with the duvet over my head and never leave the house again. But I’ve done neither and survived. (well with maybe a few duvet days along the way)
There are lots of points where I’ve definitely not felt brave, but have tried to face the fear and do it anyway. Following transport disasters, I chose to cycle 40 miles across Mull in the torrential rain, I saw some awesome rainbows and had a beautiful campsite on a secluded beach.
I took on the interim CEO role at the British Youth Council as my first consultancy role, I needed to show my leadership and confidence for the organisation, when internally I was scared and felt like my personal life was falling apart. I came out the other side, having worked with an amazing staff team and board to start the organisation on a new era of its work where I know it will go on to make sure young people are heard in decisions that affect their lives.
I decided I needed to stop talking about Social Enterprise and actually start on that journey and with the help of the Melting Pot I pitched and got a place on the Good Ideas Class of 2017 to help me develop a Cooperative Care model through Social Innovation. I almost didn’t turn up to the first weekend, I wasn’t sure I had a good enough idea or the personal resilience to take it through but instead I became part of a tribe of inspiring people. I know over the next year we’ll all feel the fear and support each other through it.
So whilst I’ve got grand plans for 2017, my biggest focus is about being more confident in my own abilities, trying to feel less scared and remembering to embrace the fear and that good things come from those terrifying moments.
This blog is also on www.medium.com and is part of my challenge of embracing the fear, I’m dyslexic and scared that my writing isn’t good enough to be published!