Several years ago, when I started working for a large company, I soon discovered my reputation pre-ceeded me.
I was very excited to join my new team because I’d wanted to work for them since they were a PR client of mine several years earlier. A win-win situation it seemed.
I remember those first few weeks very clearly. I was thrilled to finally be on ‘the inside’ and working for a company I believed in.
Then one morning in normal water-cooler conversation I discovered it wasn’t my professional experience that had the girls in a gossip, but my previous party-girl ways.
I was horrified.
Yes they still employed me and I was in an awesome job, but I was humiliated to know my team assumed I was still the same party-girl they’d seen evidence of at least 5 years before. Oh, shit!
I felt trapped. Is that the girl they expected me to be now?
The truth was, I didn’t drink anymore and rarely left the house. I had become a Mother in the years prior and spent my nights singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, not “Tequila… Tequila!”
I’d also found my life changed thanks to the discovery of Dr Wayne Dyer, Gabrielle Bernstein and Marie Forleo, but when I discovered my Kylie Minogue ‘Spinning Around’ impersonation had a life of its own, I instantly felt like I had to hide my new self away from my colleagues out of fear that they wouldn’t ‘get me’ anymore.
Let’s be honest, it was a corporate and conservative environment. I couldn’t talk about mediation, crystals, finding your Inner Mentor and choosing love over fear. They would’ve laughed in my face.
So I shut that part of my life down at work and never let on that I was no longer the PR party-girl they had first met all those years ago, in order to fit in.
Of course I still loved fashion, shoes, jewellery, TV, fitness and beauty products, so I found common ground in these areas of our lives, but on Mondays I would accidentally (aka on purpose) omit significant details of my weekend such as attending mediation classes, reading self-help books or writing business plans to create an organisation for women.
It wasn’t until 3 years in – when I had travelled on my self-development path long enough – that I realised I was making myself the victim.
I had told myself so convincingly that I would be laughed at, ashamed and held back in my personal journey because ‘they’ wouldn’t understand, when in reality I had already made that judgement for them.
Perhaps it was me who didn’t believe in myself enough? Was I ashamed of my own growth and change?
Was I holding myself back and denying my truth because I thought I had to please others?
Ding. Ding. Ding. Absolutely!
While I would never have turned up to work in a kaftan and mala beads – aside from the fact that I don’t wear those clothes any other day –I was scared of what others would think of my new way of life because it no longer matched the persona I had created years earlier.
But then on the other hand, it wasn’t right for me to act righteous and better than them because I had ‘found the light’ and they hadn’t. Or so I thought. It would’ve been very arrogant of me to believe no-one else among 16,000 employees hadn’t discovered the latest Spiritual Guru either. Who did I think I was, Oprah?
So how did I turn this around?
Simple. I started very slowing by dropping a few things in to conversations and picking up on their queues when I realised some of my colleagues were also discovering meditation and several Authors I had come to know and love.
As I opened up more about my new way of life I noticed others shared themselves more authentically too. By giving myself permission to be honest and compassionate towards my new path, I gave them permission too.
What did I learn from all of this?
Over time I came to realise, that it is natural for us to hold ourselves back at the beginning of a personal transition because we are fearful of the reactions we might provoke.
But it is only when we truly believe in ourselves and our journey that we can create an authentic, loving and compassionate environment to shift in.
It’s like this great saying I found on Pinterest (fountain of all inspirational quotes):
In summary, if you find yourself holding yourself back to please others or make them more comfortable with your new path remember these three things:
1. You’re not the victim. Don’t dig yourself in to a hole because you ‘think’ you should be there. No-one else even realises you’re in the hole and you’re left alone suffering by yourself. You’re holding yourself back.
2. People change. It’s human nature. It is an honour to have the ability to change, grow and follow a different path – many don’t have the same privilege. So treat others with the same love and compassion that you wish to be treated and your world wont feel so small or isolated.
3. Those who genuinely care for you will support your development. Don’t feel obliged to hide your emerging self away out of fear of losing friends and alienating people. Those who fall away weren’t meant to stay anyway. New people, that are right for you, will take their place in your life.
Now it’s your turn.
Have you put up any roadblocks on your own path of change and growth to keep others happy? Or perhaps you noticed changes in others when you have owned your truth and shared your journey? How did that play out for you?
Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.