I’m ten years old. In the fifth grade. I haven’t learned what to do with my curly hair, so it’s frizzy. My corduroy pants are just the wrong shade of blue, and just the tiniest bit too tight, and I’ve tucked my shirt in, which doesn’t help.
I’m carrying my spelling book plus the two books I got from the library last period, hugging them to my chest, and walking towards English class.
At the far end of the hallway, I spot Marcy, Laura, and Diana. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.) These girls have been my friends since kindergarten, and normally I’m walking with them.
But ever since Jocelyn showed up this year, it’s been different.
Jocelyn waltzed into school with her perfectly straight hair and her clothes from The Limited and turned my world upside down, and not in a good way.
She invited every girl in our class to her birthday party, except me.
She turned all of my friends against me.
And now, she comes around the corner, links arms with Marcy, and the four of them turn around and run away from me, laughing.
I’m now 40 years old, and I can still hear the sound of their laughter echoing off the school walls.
It sticks with you for a long time, and its effects show up everywhere.
In my corporate jobs, I was more comfortable working in the background, not wanting to draw attention to myself.
When I started my consulting business, I’d walk into meetings with potential clients, and I’d wait for everyone to laugh at me.
Even when I had great working relationships with my clients, I’d be so afraid to say no to a request because they could fire me at any moment.
I hated the idea of putting myself out there on LinkedIn or Facebook.
I allowed my former business partner to take all the credit and be the face of a business that I was fully running and an equal part of.
That lonely little girl was still inside me, still hurting, still afraid.
Can you relate?
Is there a part of you that’s still that scared and shy middle-school kid, just hoping you’d have someone to sit with at lunchtime? If so, you’re not alone. There’s nothing to say except that rejection sucks.
But here’s the thing.
In order to become the version of myself that I am now, I had to go through some serious change.
I had to fall in love with myself. I spent a year doing it. I did only the things I wanted to do, that made me feel good: I flew kites, ran two triathlons, made my mom’s chili recipe, visited my parents, moved closer to my sister, and went to therapy.
I got hired by a client who saw me, despite my best efforts to hide myself. And when she saw me, it forced me to see myself.
I saw that I was the person who transformed her speaking and consulting business. I doubled her revenue in a year — and then turned around and doubled it again.
And I realized that I could help more people — but that I’d have to be visible. I’d have to be seen.
It was terrifying — but I did it. Because somewhere between fifth grade and ten years ago, I turned into a grown-ass woman.
If you’ve been made to feel less than, if you have this deep fear that you’ll be rejected yet again, I get it.
But I want to help you fall in love with yourself and claim your spot on the stage. You deserve to be seen. You’re worthy.
You’re a grown-ass woman, and you’re here to do amazing things.
To your success,