I’ve probably always been a bit of an odd ball. I like to do things my way and as someone said to me recently, “I can’t imagine you ever do anything somebody tells you to if you don’t want to”. That’s a fair statement, I hate being told what to do, although it’s also fair to say I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s better to go with the flow because I can’t always be in control and I’m definitely not always right!
My life went pear shaped in 2013, when I was told to stop riding my bike because of an irregularity with my heart. In hindsight it was probably the worst piece of professional advice that I could’ve received because cycling was my outlet, it gave me time to think, it gave me time to escape from the monotony of day to day life. Cycling kept me sane, in the loosest sense, and when I stopped I wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
You don’t realise what you have until it’s gone, your fitness, your health, both physical and mental. I stopped cycling and I didn’t replace it with anything else. I threw myself into work, I own my own business so I could always find something to fill my time. I was always busy, I never had any free time for myself and if there was an opportunity that gave me an excuse to work, I took it. Over the next couple of years, I was just working. I had lost my fitness, I hardly touched a bike and I couldn’t think of anything worse that going cycling. I started to spend a lot of time socialising which normally involved eating and drinking, a lot! The result was I put on about 10kg and I just felt more and more lethargic and whilst I would be out socialising, around a lot of people, I had never felt so alone.
I was losing control of my life, I had taken too much on with work, I was burning the candle at both ends and at some point something had to break. I broke. I had broken me. I was in a place I didn’t think existed and I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t give people around me the answers they wanted, I was constantly letting down those that mattered and others were demanding more than I could give. I reached a point where I realised I needed to take control. I don’t like to lose and the alternative was a loss in my eyes. I cut people off, I isolated myself from situations I couldn’t influence and didn’t have a positive impact on my life and with help, I started from what felt like the lowest possible point to work out who I was and what I wanted. That was a huge challenge whilst trying to run my own business given that it was very much customer facing and over the years the business definitely suffered.
It’s taken me a time, it’s not an overnight fix and I’m still on a journey of self-discovery but the past few years have allowed me to find my true friends in life, the individuals who would do anything for me as I would for them. I’ve never been as happy, as content with who I am. I’m back, and whilst the past number of years have been the hardest years of my life, I wouldn’t wish for anything different. I have some amazing friends (they know who they are and what they have done for me).
This year I have completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme which has been my biggest accomplishment to date. It has given me so much more than I can express in words. I graduate from the programme on Monday and it will be the proudest moment of my life. I’ve learnt so much (kids, you don’t know everything when you leave school, I thought I did and I discovered I didn’t the hard way!) and I have met some of the most amazing people that I now have the honour of calling my friends.
So, the moral of my ramblings, is never give up, life is far from easy, it will throw everything at you it possibly can but you will be stronger for it and in truth, we are all winging it, you’re not alone!