GUEST POST: I WROTE NEW RULES FOR DEALING WITH MY CRITICAL INNER VOICE

Kieran Moolchan’s inner monologue and story behind how he is learning to defend against his own negative self-talk.

GUEST WRITER INFO

Kieran Moolchan is a product manager, gamer and frisbee enthusiast, and mental health advocate in Winnipeg. He’s a charity fund organizer at A Critical Cause and is always willing to listen before even thinking about giving advice. He says ‘yes’ to less things than it seems like.

About 3 minutes ago there were about 700 words on this page about “being the best, like no one ever was.”

From that opening Pokémon joke, and went on and on about the our internal desires for greatness and how the process to achieve that greatness was blah blah blah

Shut up, Kieran.

I usually hate the first thing I write.

But that’s because it usually sucks.

…Or it’s because I’m conditioned to be extremely critical of any work that I do.

Many of us are conditioned to bring ourselves down. That conditioning comes from different sources and triggers, but it nags and criticizes some of us every waking second.

It’s that inner voice…can you hear it?

“That’s garbage.”

“Why would you do that?”

“You’re trash.”

I hear that voice all the time.

When I’m writing when I’m talking when I’m driving when I’m walking when I’m buying groceries when I’m making soup when I’m running when I’m boarding an airplane but don’t have my boarding pass on the right page of my passport so then it takes an extra five seconds to switch to my photo page the attendant looks up at me and raises her eyebrows for a second and there’s sixty people behind me and they just want to get home to Trinidad because it’s February in Canada and wouldn’t we all rather be in the Caribbean?

“You’re bad at airplane embarkation.”

I was thinking about trying to put together a plan to make it my priority to find some time to allocate some personal energy to sending a message to someone I respect about offering to, if they were into it, and only if they had a minute, do some work for them for free, only if they wanted it, because I’d love to help them out.

“They wouldn’t even want your shitty help why even offer?”

There was a moment that I was putting in a resume application to a place that I have always dreamed of working but then I didn’t do it for three months because if I failed then my inner voice would win and I’d be embarrassed at…myself?

Internally embarrassed?

Eternally held back.

Consistently brought down.

By myself.

By my own inner voice.

For some reason, I’ve always thought that my critical inner voice brought me a type of power. The kind of power that let me see my mistakes and look for a way to be better.

To be better next time.

Just be better.

But the negative aspect of that can be an inner voice that critiques with cruelty, instead of constructively.

Has my inner voice always been so destructive?

I think that when I was younger, I had a lot less ammunition to berate myself with when I tried to accomplish something. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and that was exciting, not terrifying.

As a kid, I was curious and confident, though prone to the occasional outburst of emotion that was quickly quelled by someone, usually my father, saying that it was disappointing that I hadn’t expressed my frustration first and then found a solution, instead of letting that frustration fester into anger.

My dad was pretty good at helping me feel what I needed to feel without losing control of those feelings.

I’m thankful for that.

And so, I could see what I wasn’t good at, analyze why I wasn’t good, and then improve.

But that was just something that I did, not something I felt I had a voice inside speaking out about.

I was me, and I just heard…ME, inside my head.

I think we don’t truly start to notice our inner voice until it starts to sound like someone, or something else.

In university, it was things like long mood swings, and missed classes because I couldn’t get out of bed. There wasn’t just a lack of energy. There was also something different, something other than the same inner monologue that I’d heard before, that perfectly reflected the way I felt or the way I thought I should be thinking.

It was a tired voice whispering: “why bother?”

I didn’t recognize this voice.

I’m not saying it was another person. It was just a version of me who I didn’t recognize.

But after a few weeks, that voice would perk up, and I’d sound like myself again.

Then, in 2011, my dad died.

Feel what you need to feel” was something that only lasted so long before I was stuck in the feeling. I was past grief and into depression. I quit school, basically. I stopped doing track and field…I’d been pretty good at it and I just dropped it. There were deeper reasons than just an inner, but it was shouting the whole time.

Why bother.”

I was acutely aware of that voice now, during that time, and it was telling me that this shitty feeling was going to last a lot longer.

I didn’t want it to.

So I went back to school, thinking I could ignore it, or function with it whispering within me.

But that was tough too.

Because, as I found out through therapy and a psychiatric diagnosis a few years later, everyone has an inner voice, but mine was supercharged with the symptoms of bipolar type 2. I’m open to talk a lot about that diagnosis, but all that means, when it comes to inner voices, is that I’ve had the experiences of all sorts of internal narratives.

Sometimes I feel so powerful and unstoppable that I have to recognize that what’s in my head is much too enthusiastic.

During the best of times, and more and more often now, through practice and self-awareness, my inner voice sounds like the one I recognize as mine: curious and confident.

But the hardest voice I have to deal with is one that is a saboteur.

The one saying: “Why bother.

Do you ever let your own inner voice get out of hand?

I definitely do.

And the times it gets out of hand means I’m no longer going through the process of trying to be better. Instead, I’m tearing down the thing I just did. I’m tearing down my own performance when I should be building on it. The thing is, there is almost ALWAYS something good about what came before. Even if what came before felt like a disaster.

The best we can do is build on what we did before.

Our inner voice, when it’s feeling like a particular kind of jerk, holds back our will to start and our will to build. It makes us feel so bad about the million ways that we could fail that we end up paralyzed and overwhelmed, unable to begin, accomplishing nothing.

And if we do nothing; if we have nothing to build on because we never started, then our inner voice has really sabotaged us.

The good news is that through all my experience I’ve come up with three steps that are simple to say and write down (but require practice) for when that inner voice is moving from helpful to harmful:

  1. Don’t pick up the phone
  2. Don’t let him in
  3. Don’t be his friend

Seriously, Dua Lipa ain’t wrong.

1. Don’t pick up the phone (Or, use your inner voice caller ID)

A lot of the time I can feel when my inner voice is going to drop some trash commentary on what I’m doing.

The monologue changes from “Let’s do this!” or “Let’s do this…a little better!” to something more nefarious, like “Are you sure you’re up to this?”, “Do you even KNOW what you’re about to do?”.

And then, before I can even answer with “Yes, I’m ready!”, it wants to answer for me.

You’re nothing. Don’t even try.

At that point, I’m not picking up that phone.

I’m going to dive in to the thing that I was about to get a negative comment about. If I just try it, just do it, and fail, that’s better than not trying it at all because my little voice was being a party pooper.

At least, after, I have a performance to improve on. And hopefully the rush of having done something a little out of my comfort zone.

I’m not giving that mean inner voice the chance to stop me from starting.

2. Don’t let him in (When that voice comes knockin’ don’t open that door)

Once I’ve done the thing, or I’m doing the thing, I have to keep up the momentum, no matter how many internal side-eyes I’m giving myself.

For example:

I am, embarrassingly, for some reason, stress sweating while I write this.

I’m alone in an office. There’s no one around. Yet, I’m stressing OUT.

What if you/they hate this article?

What if my Dua Lipa connection fails and I have to start this sucker all over again?

Oh yeah, that’s my inner voice.

I’m not letting him in.

I’m not letting that voice stop my momentum.

3. Don’t be his friend (create a new, more constructive inner voice)

We’re almost at the finish line. Maybe I’ll go back over this post and see what edits I can make. I’ll probably engage in a little constructive criticism and then seriously question if this blog isn’t just hot garbage but what if it is hot garbage and when I read this post over the next day I realize what a huge mistake I made and that not even light edits can save it and…

Damn, I woke up in his bed in the morning.

I’d just gone over for a little coffee and critique and the next thing I knew I was fully under him.

Come on Kieran, just charge ahead and hit publish.

Believe in yourself, the world won’t end if you missed a typo.

Most people are hopefully still on board with this extended song lyric metaphor, seriously!

But for real, if you shack up with your hurtful inner voice, using it to justify the inadequacies that you think you might have, you won’t be able to lean into improvement and constructive habits.

That inner voice needs to change, or, if you’re feeling extra dramatic, throw it out and make it a new, encouraging and positive voice!

It takes a lot of effort, and practice to do, but that voice doesn’t have to be so negative. It doesn’t have to bring you down.

I’m not saying we should never listen to our inner voices.

I’m not saying that a constructive, cautiously optimistic voice doesn’t sometimes keep us safe.

Our voices are a part of us. They’re an amazing, powerful part of us that can drive us to do great things.

But if you find that your inner voice is being cripplingly critical, like I did, for years, and sometimes, even now, I hope that you can start the breakup process with your jerk voice.

With practice, and mindfulness, your relationship with your inner voice can become supportive and safe.

And if you need an external supporting voice, let me know.

We can practice together.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR KIERAN

Kieran is going to keep as active as possible with ultimate frisbee, biking, and working out because one of the best ways to keep the mind healthy is to keep the body in motion. It also holds back the neverending tide of McDonald’s he eats.

He’s serious about listening and giving advice, so feel free to send him an email at http://kieranmoolchan.com or tweet in his direction.

GUEST POST: HOW I LOST MY JOB AND FOUND MYSELF

Emma Sherren of Blonde’s Eye View on when you do everything “right” but it still goes wrong.

GUEST WRITER INFO

Emma Sherren is a 25-year-old wine & cheese enthusiast, blogger, and self-proclaimed comedian. She has a degree in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg and has a career in events and marketing.

I always thought I was taking the right steps in order to set myself up for a safe and comfortable future.

I graduated high school, went to University directly after, backpacked through Europe during the summer, graduated from University and got a job. While I was in university I worked a full -time and part-time job in order to make money and also make sure I had some experience in my field once I graduated.

Every step I took seemed to be exactly what I thought I needed to be doing because that’s what everyone else was doing or had done before me. Although I felt generally happy, my day to day life had fallen into a robotic routine. Wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, start again. Of course, friends, family, and outings factored in, but I found myself going through the motions to get to the weekend instead of turning on my brain and getting creative.

Upon graduating, I had a couple of great positions that I ended up leaving for other jobs because of factors unrelated to me. In the past, when I would start looking for a new position I never had a problem finding another job. Finally, a couple of years and jobs after graduating, I thought I had finally found a job that I saw a future in. I was excited to settle into my position for the long haul.

Turns out, I was wrong.

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I was let go from the position about three months in. I was called into the boss’s office at the end of the day, was told I would no longer be continuing in my position, and effective immediately was being dismissed.

I was sent to my office with a box to pack, and as quickly as I had started, I was finished. I was in a complete state of shock as I walked to my car and immediately started sobbing out all of the tears I’d been holding in until that point while on the phone with my mom. All I could think was, “did that really just happen?” I had never felt this kind of rejection in my career. I was angry, confused, embarrassed, hurt, and mainly I felt as though I had completely failed.

The situation felt a bit like a break up that ended suddenly with so many unanswered questions. I was not given any feedback, and because of that I felt like I didn’t receive any closure and had nothing to take away moving forward. My mind immediately started racing through my entire time there picking apart every piece of work I’d done or email I’d sent. All I wanted to know was, “why did this happen?”

I thought I had taken all the right steps to get a job I deserved. I was in disbelief. While I should have been gearing up for the excitement of the holiday season, I found myself drowning in anxiety, scotch, and ego-crushing emotions.

How would I find a job right away?

What would my parents, boyfriend, and friends think?

Why wasn’t I good enough?

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I started to dread going to family dinners or seeing people fearing they would ask me about work or what I had been doing. Listening to other people talk about their careers or days at the office felt awful because I had nothing to contribute. I had never felt so lost in my entire life.

I decided I had to allow myself the time and self-care I needed to navigate this scary, confusing, and transitional time. This time included a lot of crying, carbs, wine, and feeling extremely sad and negative about myself. But during that process, I was also able to really think about what had happened, what I was feeling, and start looking for a solution.

Why did I keep thinking I wasn’t good enough? Why did I keep worrying about what everyone else thought of me?

When I had accepted this job, I had two other offers on the table but went with the one I thought would provide the most stability (ironic hey?). It took reminding myself daily that I was capable, hirable, and deserving of finding a job that I love.

I started looking at jobs but decided to not just apply for every single one I knew I was qualified for. I started to really think about what I wanted to do, and what I really enjoyed doing, opposed to throwing my hat in the ring for anything and everything. I began reaching out to companies, blogs, and other local entrepreneurs who I resonated with, looked up to, or thought I would enjoy working for. This time also gave me the opportunity to think about all of the things I did not want to do or habits I did not want to fall back into.

I enjoy a schedule and routine, but a few days after I was terminated, I found myself thinking about what had been happening in my life the last couple of years. I was losing my creative side, and feeling really drained at the end of the week. I would wake up in the middle of the night several times a week worried about work-related matters and was constantly anxious. I had stopped really getting to know myself, and I realized now was the time to become reacquainted. When I started to do things I was excited about or apply for jobs I thought I could actually be passionate about, I felt more in control about where my life was going to go, and although I felt unsure about where exactly that was I felt happier then I had in months.

This is what I’ve learned during my time being unemployed:

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s hard not to instantly fill your mind with negative thoughts after something like this happens, but beating yourself up isn’t going to help you find another job.

I understand, easier said than done. You aren’t going to feel amazing every day, and that’s okay! But the more you remind yourself that you’re a kick-ass modern woman (or man) with a ton to offer, the faster you’re going to be on the right track towards a job you’re going to love.

Remember all the reasons that the company wanted and fought for you in the first place.

Remember that a lot of times these things happen not as a reflection of your own performance, but because of matters out of your control.

Lean on your friends, family, and loved ones

These are the moments that your family, friends, and loved ones are the most important. As much as I was embarrassed and worried about what these people would think and ask, no one was casting blame or judgment. These people in my life rallied around me with advice, support, and were all understanding when I needed to step away and take time for myself.

Don’t let your own ego be the reason you don’t have a support system.

Take a breath (if you can afford to)

Of course, the first thing you think of when you lose your job is “how am I going to make money?”

I was terrified of what my income situation was going to look like, and initially, I thought I’d try to get whatever job I could as quickly as possible.

Then I realized that was the worst possible thing I could do for my long-term well-being.

I decided to take this situation as an opportunity to take a breather. I dipped into my savings and booked an impromptu holiday to Mexico with my boyfriend before Christmas, made new connections, began looking into jobs that really interested me and finally started writing again.

Things happen for a reason, and while you may not always know what that reason is, allow yourself the time to figure it out if you have the financial privilege.

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What Comes Next for Emma

Emma took some time off from her job search during the holidays and started 2019 in style.

You can read her blog here: https://www.blondeseyeview.com/

GUEST POST: HOW I LEANED INTO LIVING MY BEST LIFE

Richelle Ready redefined what thriving looked like on her own terms

GUEST WRITER INFO

Richelle Ready is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher trained in yin, restorative, vinyasa, hatha, and Bhatki yoga. She is the creator of Bloom Yoga, a community-oriented company striving to offer yoga that is accessible for all. Richelle has a Bachelor of Social Work and offers Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga from a trauma-informed and healing-centered perspective.

As of late, I have found myself waking up in the morning excited for what my day brings. I feel joy more often than I feel sorrow. When I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, this does not define me and follow me throughout the entire day. I find myself sitting with hard emotions and then releasing them to continue on. I say yes to things that bring me happiness, and say no to requests that do not serve me. I feel genuinely happy and content with how I am spending my time.

When people ask how I am, or what I’ve been up to, “living my best life,” has been my go-to answer. 

There are still bad days and stresses. I still worry about money, relationships and the state of the world. But in terms of the things that are in my control — I am living my best life right now.

This was not the case at the beginning of 2018. I was working as an assessment worker in the realm of child welfare. This means that I was assessing the safety of children within their families during times of crisis and hardships, as well as planning to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. It also meant that I was working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and going in on weekends to complete paperwork, in a position that was scheduled to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the work I was doing, as well as the vicarious and experiential trauma I was absorbing daily. I lacked the time and energy to process and cope. I was also trying to start my business, teach yoga classes, stay on top of my additional casual positions, practice yoga, go to bootcamp, eat healthy, read books for book club, sleep and maintain relationships with those closest to me. Needless to say, there was not enough time in a day or a week to accomplish everything that I put on my to-do list.

One Friday evening, I came home from work four hours late. My partner and I were supposed to go to a friend’s wedding social. He came home to find me curled up in the doorway of our bedroom sobbing on my yoga mat. I couldn’t form a sentence or even begin to explain what was wrong. I had not eaten throughout the day so I had no energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t go out that night. It was a social event we had been looking forward to for months.

I felt low and out of control.

Every day it seemed that my to-do list grew because I struggle with saying no and  perfectionism. I had ideas about how I wanted my life to look, and those ideas were shaped by expectations shared with me by my parents, co-workers and friends, books, television, social media and my own inner critic. The weight of the expectations I was placing on myself was causing a downward spiral, so I kept adding to my to-do list.

There was a month where I insisted on pre-making all of my meals from scratch. It was as if my inner critic believed that making soup (like my mother lovingly does oh so often) defined my ability to be a good partner and roommate. So I spent several of my Sunday evenings in tears over the stove (not because of the onions). I was placing my worth as a person in the number of things I could accomplish daily and weekly because I didn’t feel good about my job in child welfare. It was out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life, and I didn’t feel like I was positively impacting people the way I wanted to. I want to help — my moon is in Cancer, it’s in my nature.

With a lot of pep talks and encouragement from those who love me, I made a decision to apply for a position outside of my academic education doing something I was passionate about: teaching yoga in a studio. I was scared. I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time and money on my education only to pursue something that did not require any academic involvement. 

I was ashamed that I did not have what it took to work as a social worker. I was terrified to be without the level of income provided by government pay cheques. I was disappointed in myself. My inner critic had a field day with all of the things she had to say about me — failure, sap, suck, loser.

I had only lasted a year working in the realm of child welfare and this was where I was “supposed to” work until I was fifty-five and could retire successfully. I felt physically sick to my stomach when I shared my decision with my parents. But I also knew that I could not continue to live the way I was. When I received the position, I was excited and relieved. I had my out and began planning my new life.

But then I found out the new position fell through. Suddenly, I was headed for unemployment and into a place of uncertainty, a place I do not think I have experienced since I applied for my first job at fifteen.

It seemed like the easy option to turn around and ask for them to take me back in my old position.

Back to “Monday to Friday.” Back to misery. Back to stability.

Going back was the option many of the ‘adultiest’ adults in my life encouraged me to take. My heart knew and I knew — I couldn’t go back. Especially because some of my personal values are living in alignment and living my truth. I was tired of compromising. I was tired of spiraling into despair and drowning in lists of expectations. I was ready to stand up for myself and believe in myself. I was scared shitless but I was ready to move forward.

So I decided to go all in on Bloom Yoga and create a life I love. No longer sacrificing Saturdays to paperwork. No longer working for twelve hours in one day on something I did not wholeheartedly believe in. No longer witnessing the traumas of others day in and day out. I made a big change and a choice to honour myself and what I believe in.  

Now, I am teaching yoga and providing access to yoga to those who may not typically have access to yoga. I have had the privilege to teach at residential treatment facilities for women who are experiencing challenges with addictions, poverty, trauma, mental health and the justice system. I have shared yoga with youth who live within the child welfare system. I share yoga with individuals who work within the world of social work and are exposed to experiential and vicarious trauma daily. I am travelling because it makes me feel alive and joyful, but also to learn about techniques and strategies for teaching yoga. I had the privilege in October to travel to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida with my mother and my nana to learn about accommodating for the needs of survivors of domestic violence during yoga practices. I co-created a yoga teacher training program to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

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Photograph of Richelle with her nana and mother in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida in October 2018.

I am practicing yoga for myself. I am reading for enjoyment and interest. I am sleeping. I am eating in a manner that best suits the needs of my body. I am interacting with my loved ones in positive and meaningful ways. I am not saying this out of grandeur or bragging. These words come from a place of appreciation.

At the beginning of the year, I could have not pictured myself being where I am now, living the way that I am living. I am so grateful to be living my best life.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR RICHELLE

Richelle is continuing to travel, learn, teach yoga and partner with organizations that fit her style of teaching and values. She recently launched Inner Light, a trauma-informed yoga teacher training, created in collaboration with Wild Path and Ash Bourgeois.

You can see what workshops and events she has coming up on her website here.

GUEST POST: I LEFT THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Why Jessica Antony walked away from a career in publishing (and what she’s doing now)

GUEST WRITER INFO

Jessica Antony is the owner of Anchor Editorial Services, where she provides editing, content creation, consultation, and facilitation services to a wide range of clients. She also enjoys making immature fart jokes on Twitter, and posting photos of her dog and passion for powerlifting on Instagram.

I was raised by hippie parents. But not the “we use crystals for deodorant and don’t believe in vaccinations” hippies – the “we’ve dedicated our lives to social justice and think capitalism is a scam” hippies. My parents are ambitious, incredibly intelligent, and have worked hard to support my younger brother and I in whatever we want to do with our lives. I looked up to both of them growing up – my Dad a book publisher and my Mom a professor – so it’s perhaps not surprising that my career path followed both of theirs. I finished my Master’s degree in Media Studies at Concordia when I was about 25, and shortly after started working for my Dad’s book publishing company, while also teaching a writing course at a local university.

My Dad’s company had its head office just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, so when I started working for him he moved from his home office to a “real” office in Osborne Village. Working for my Dad was amazing: he is hilarious, passionate about his work, a very patient teacher, and was dedicated to my learning and growing within the company. The joke was that I was his retirement plan, so naturally he wanted me to succeed. 

I learned so much in a short time when it was just he and I in that office. We quickly grew to include an office manager and promotions coordinator, so we had to move to a bigger office. That’s when we bought the property I now live in – a house with a separate office built onto the front of it. I was literally living and working in the same building. No more waiting for the bus in -30 degree weather: I could roll out of bed and be ready and at my desk in 15 minutes.

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My Dad and I were co-editors, along with Les Samuelson, of the sixth edition of a social problems textbook, Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking About Canadian Social Issues, the most successful of all of the book’s editions.

The work I did for the publishing company was just what I had envisioned for my life: I read manuscripts, I edited, I collaborated with authors, I travelled to conferences, I pitched book proposals, I vetted book proposals, I pushed professors to use our social-justice-focused texts in their classes instead of the multinational publishers’ bullshit designed to bankrupt students and perpetuate the status quo. I loved it. I took on more responsibility at work, I got more comfortable teaching my writing course, and after a few years I even started a side hustle, Anchor Editorial Services, doing freelance copy editing and proofreading.

About six or seven years in, my Dad approached me and asked if this is truly what I wanted to be doing. He was going to retire eventually, and the idea was that the company would be passed on (in some way) to the employees. Did I want to be a publisher? Am I happy editing books all day? Of course I was. I had gone to school to do this. I had settled into this being my forever. But he could sense that I wasn’t as motivated or focused as I once was, and because he’s the Best Dad/Boss Ever, he checked in with me a few times to be sure I was truly happy. But, and perhaps this is because he was not only my employer but also my Dad, he was right.

I wasn’t as focused or motivated. I eventually found myself going into work and staring at the list of things I had to accomplish and feeling immediately overwhelmed. This feeling didn’t manifest overnight, but crept up on me slowly, unnoticed. The book publishing business is a long game – it takes over a year to turn a book proposal into a printed book. Editing manuscripts takes months. I was starting to burn out and I didn’t realize it until it got to the point that I became unproductive at work. Eventually, though, I couldn’t ignore it any more. I was exhausted. I was losing my passion. I needed more than a vacation. I realized I didn’t want to do this anymore and it terrified me. I was the retirement plan! I can’t quit my Dad! He’s done so much for you, Jessica, and this is what you do? Work for him for a few years, learn everything about the industry, and then bail?! You have got to be kidding me you are the Worst Daughter Ever.

Admitting to myself that I wasn’t happy at work anymore was hard enough, but telling my father felt impossible.  I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t keep my thoughts straight – everything confounded me. So I decided to go see a therapist, and this is gonna sound ridiculous but at first I genuinely didn’t know what I needed to talk about (seriously?!), I just knew I needed help organizing my brain.

I was unhappy at work, I was dating a guy who was…maybe fine (spoiler alert: he wasn’t), I was teaching an undergraduate course, I was doing freelance work on the side, I had taken up powerlifting and was training for competition…there was a lot going on. As you might imagine, the first and only thing the counsellor and I talked about was work. She helped me deal with the process of breaking it to my Dad that I wanted to leave, submitting my official resignation, and coping with the outcome of that.

The actual process of quitting was heartbreaking. I cried like a baby when I finally told my Dad. It wasn’t until I officially submitted my resignation to the rest of the company that it became real. I had been working for this company for ten years – I had a stable job and a stable income and the potential to become a stakeholder in the future and I was just…giving it up. Is this the dumbest thing I’ve ever done? All because I was kind of bored of reading academic manuscripts? What if you never find another job again and you can’t pay rent and you end up a shameful scorn on your family’s name?! The terror was real.

At this point I had already been looking for a new job, but I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go in. I had applied for probably forty jobs before I decided that I needed professional help and hired a career coach. Turns out my resume was trash and, perhaps unsurprisingly, not having any exposure to the job market in over a decade meant I had no clue what I was doing.

My career coach suggested that I only apply for jobs that I would be genuinely excited to dive into. When I started actually thinking about being in these offices and working for these companies I had be submitting my resume to, I stopped applying altogether. I didn’t want to work at any of these places! Why the hell would I leave a comfortable, stable job where I was actually contributing positively to the world, that was located quite literally in my house, to go to some corporate office where I have to wear pantyhose and write press releases about some horseshit nobody cares about? Pump. The. Breaks.

This whole time Anchor Editorial was still garnering new clients – entirely through word of mouth. I really liked the variety of work I got to do, the fact that I could do it anywhere, and the fact that I could do it all in my sweats. When my career coach asked, “What does your ideal work day look like?” I laughed and said “it starts with coffee and sweats.” Well, shit, why can’t that be my work day? I had never seriously considered freelancing full time. Who did I think I was? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the only option that made me simultaneously scared and excited.

Anchor_Editorial
Hire freelancers! Like the freelancer who redesigned my logo, Nicholas Luchak.

I’ve been working for myself for over a year now. My days always start with coffee at the dog park, and very often include sweats. I still teach a writing course and I still edit academic manuscripts, but not so many that they burn me out. I’ve also had the opportunity to facilitate a leadership workshop, speak at a teacher’s conference, edit books, consult clients on obtaining literary agents, write and facilitate a conflict resolution course, pitch and write news stories, edit dissertations and proposals, work as a client liaison for a tech start-up, and contribute regularly to a blog for women entrepreneurs. In the last year I’ve also competed in four strength competitions (including one at a national level), travelled across the country, and met more ambitious women entrepreneurs than I have in my lifetime.

Jessica Antony
You need something edited, written, or facilitated? I’ll get it done for you. Right here in the woods. I’m all business, baby. (Photo credit: Brenna Faris)


Leaving the security of a career path that wasn’t making me happy anymore was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, because it forced me to put myself first and actually acknowledge and address the fact that what I had banked on wasn’t working for me. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Put your sweats on and do the scary thing. It’s worth it.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR JESSICA

You can find Jessica teaching at the University of Winnipeg, writing for clients like The Ace Class, and working as the Media Liaison for the 2019 Canadian National Powerlifting Championship (you may even catch her on the platform!). 

GUEST POST: WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR, I DON’T SEE A FAT PERSON

Charmaine Jennings’ weight loss journey didn’t start because of a lack of confidence

GUEST WRITER INFO

Charmaine Jennings is the owner of Strategic Charm Boutique, a boutique marketing and public relations agency in Winnipeg. She also created Hustle & Charm Community, a group for female entrepreneurs and bloggers to gather, learn and grow together.

She’s an entrepreneur, marketing and copywriting whiz and all around boss bitch.

I ran into someone I went to elementary school with the other day. As soon as she recognized me I knew what must’ve been going through her mind, “Wow. Charmaine’s still fat!”

Now let me be crystal clear, I NEVER call myself fat. Not out loud, not in my head – never. I mean do you know what fat is? It’s yellow globs of gloop (that’s the scientific definition) and I can assure you, I do NOT look like yellow globs of goop. In fact, I’m quite adorable if you ask me. But I’m not ignorant to the fact fat is a word many people use to describe people who are overweight.

Anyway.

I’ve been overweight my entire life. Even when I was just a little kid and it shouldn’t have been that big a deal. Looking back now at pictures of me when I was 8, I wished being 15 pounds heavier than the other kids was something I didn’t notice. Was something no one noticed. 

Charmaine at age 6 or 7.

 

I always had a lot of friends, but there was always someone who had to comment on my weight. Although I was only called fat a few times before I hit puberty, I can’t pretend it didn’t make me sad when I heard it.

Once I hit grade 5 or 6, I started to hear it more frequently. Mostly from grungy boys, but from some of the older girls too. But you bet your booty I’ve always been able to hold my own. Sure I would get sad and upset when kids teased me, but I wasn’t the girl to bite her tongue and go home crying. I mean crying came at some point, but it wasn’t my default reaction. I dished out what I had taken, and kept reminding myself that I was cute, generally a good person (I had my bad girl moments, okay!), smart, and ambitious. And funny. Yes, I was funny as a kid too.

In about grade 7 or 8 I started to notice a bit of a pattern between the people who would call me fat or allude to the fact that I’m eating once again.

“Gotta eat to live gotta live to eat, tell you all about it when I’ve got the tiiiiiiiiime” (name that Disney movie!)

Angry Aladdin GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

By this time the older girls had moved onto high school, so it was mostly those grungy boys in my grade who kept yapping. The pattern I noticed was that these were boys who weren’t happy. Boys who had a hard time with their school work, and who would have a hard time making it to high school graduation. It’s hard to put into words, but I decided that if calling me fat was the only thing that was going to put a smile on their face that day, then so be it. Plus, I was going to spend the summer after grade 8 getting nice and skinny before high school, so who cared what they had to say now?

Grade 9 rolled around and I still wasn’t skinny. I was close to 200 pounds if my memory serves me correctly. Although I was fairly confident in middle school, I was nervous about what might be in store for me with high school kids. I was scared I might get teased more than I was before, and that someone might dump pig’s blood on me at the dance.

I watched a lot of high school horror movies growing up, okay?!

I won’t bore you with all the details of my high school experience grade by grade, but overall I had a blast! Tons of friends, new positive experiences, and I was a total joiner so I had my hand in almost everything. Band, drama, student council, yearbook committee – you name it, I was in it. And you might not know this about me, but booty shaking is one of my not so hidden talents. This talent obviously stemmed from my love of dancing. So what was one of the groups I immediately signed up for? Cheerleading!

Again, I was all about high school movies so being a cheerleader on the field at the big game was totes one of my life goals. And I did it! Sure I was nervous because cheerleaders in the movies were always thin, but thin or not, I was getting myself on the squad. And just like grade 5, the older cheerleaders looked at me with judgment. Like, how dare I think I belong on the squad? But I wasn’t going anywhere so they were just going to have to deal. I defied the odds, but not the laws of gravity so obviously, I wasn’t tossed up in the air or anything. But it felt good to be part of the team.

As far as I can remember, there were only two older boys who teased me consistently throughout high school about my weight. One of them even threw a shoe at my one day as I was walking through the halls, and you know what I did? I picked it up and threw it in the toilet. Boy, bye!

When I dished out what was thrown at me (literally!) some people didn’t know how to react since they expected me to crawl in a hole and hide in shame. Some left me alone after they realized they couldn’t shake me the way they wanted to. Others persisted but with hesitation; they waited to see if others would join in or not before making a move. A select few continued until they dropped out of school – their coping mechanism for dealing with their own anger and emotions.

Every summer in high school was the summer I was going to lose a bunch of weight and be thin and greatly desired by all of the popular fellas. But nah. All I did was gain weight year after year as if someone had put an obesity curse on me. Ugh!

My beautiful picture
Charmaine at age 18.

Once I hit my graduating year, I decided this would FINALLY be my chance to shed all the pounds and get it right and tight for university. Guess how that turned out?

Now here I am, 30 years old, still thinking this is going to be the year where I shock the universe and lose 100 pounds.

As you can see, I’ve been on a weight-loss journey my whole life. Last August I decided to make that journey very public by documenting my progress or lack thereof on the gram, using the hashtag #journeyto200 to categorize all of my posts about health and weight-loss on my way to 200lbs. For my first post of my public journey, I shared a video discussing what this journey was all about, and included a picture of me on the scale, weighing in at 327.4lbs. This is the first time I’ve ever disclosed my weight to anyone, and I decided to share it with the Internet. I paced back and forth in my apartment right after posting it, thinking I should take it down. But then I got immediate positive responses to the post, so I figured what the heck – it’s out there now for the world the see. Let the journey begin.

It’s 9 months later and I’m sitting at 315lbs. I haven’t even dipped my toes into the 200s yet. Ugh!

I’m frustrated by a number of things:

  1. I went from 312 to 279lbs in less than a year when I was living in Alberta, so I know I can do this
  2. Pastries are my weakness and I hate that I let them consume me
  3. My confidence about my body is part of my problem

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a fat person. I see a woman with curves, a juicy booty, muscles, and cheekbones that make my smile cute. I never shy away from wearing a bikini to the beach or a short skirt to go dancing. I don’t go out of my way to cover my arms because they’re almost as big as my thighs. I truly and deeply love my body. And as grateful as I am for the confidence I carry, I can’t help but notice that that very confidence sometimes holds me back from becoming a healthier version of myself.

IMG_1723
Charmaine at age 27.

I’m not waiting until I lose 150 pounds to finally wear that two-piece I’ve been dreaming of or those short shorts that show a little extra cheek. I’m already there and I’m enjoying every minute of it. And I know a dramatic weight-loss isn’t all about how I look and what I wear – it’s about living a longer and healthier life. 

There are times where I want to stop documenting this journey because who the hell cares that I’m averaging a loss of 1.3lbs per month. What I remind myself is that I’m doing this for me — but I’m also doing it to inspire others who are struggling to get their voluptuous booties over the same hurdles. And hey, the feeling of knowing there are other people on a similar journey who can feel even the teeniest inspiration from my story, might be just the motivation I’ve been looking for all these years.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR CHARMAINE AND HER JOURNEY TO 200

Guess you’ll have to follow her on Insta and keep up with her blog to find out!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmL6YUEnI_E/?taken-by=strategiccharmboutique