Be proud of who you are...
A slightly different personal blog from me today.
A few months ago I was named in the Northern Power Women #FutureList. To say it was a huge surprise to me is the understatement of the year, I had to read the email twice when it popped up in my in-box as I wasn’t sure it was meant for me. When I initially mentioned this to my family and friends I kind of did it with a bit of humour. Not because I wasn’t proud, in-fact I was bursting with pride but mostly because deep-down I felt I didn’t really deserve it and I thought they might think the same.
It was a weird one for me as I’m such a champion of people believing in themselves and never apologising for who they are, yet here I was feeling a little embarrassed about being on this list compared to what all the other fabulous people had achieved.
Around this time I was also going through a bit of a crisis of confidence, various factors contributed towards it but I did start questioning whether or not I was as good enough to do what I was doing.
Then around a month ago I was talking to someone who was just starting out in their career. They asked me one simple question: What keeps you motivated? – this one question helped put things in perspective for me.
My parents came over from India and Kenya more than 45 years ago. It’s the common immigrant story, they came with nothing and worked extremely hard to make sure my sister and I had everything we possibly needed. They worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so we never got the opportunity to have family holidays to Disney or Spain and we spent our holidays helping in the family business.
We also lived in an area of Manchester that didn’t really like the fact we were Asian and we faced racism every single day for 12 years. We had fireworks through the letterbox, the house set on fire, racist graffiti on the windows, chants telling us to go home and cars vandalised (in fact the day after my parents bought me my little Peugeot 106 for my 18th it was completely trashed). We had panic alarms installed, CCTV and the police were becoming regular visitors.
School wasn’t great either but I seeked solitude in the music department. I often jokingly share a stories about how the recorder saved my life, as I’m not quite sure what would have happened to that geeky Indian girl if I didn’t have the music department to hide in (thanks to a teacher who saw me sitting (hiding) behind the music block). I obviously didn’t love school, teachers were distracted by the bullies and I was an average student. Average in the sense I wasn’t an A* student nor was I failing or mis-behaving. The forgotten group who just plodded along hoping to leave school without too many scars.
When I relate this back to friends or colleagues they have a look of sympathy and disbelief that we actually went through all this growing up. However, as strange as it may sound I don’t think I’d change anything as it’s made me who I am today – I realised that these blips in life were/are my motivators to keep working hard and to give me the kick I need when I’m feeling sorry for myself. It also gives me the power to keep fighting and not allow myself to be a victim.
No matter what life throws at you, just remember one thing – no one can take away your knowledge. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on round you, if you keep working, learning and investing in yourself you will succeed. Without this knowledge I wouldn’t be working in a career I adore, I wouldn’t have been able to start my property business and most importantly I wouldn’t be who I am today. Take every opportunity that’s thrown at you and don’t allow anyone or anything drag you down.
Sure you may not be a CEO or MD at the age of 35 but it doesn’t make you any less worthy of your accolades, everyone has had a different path to get to where they are and you should be extremely proud of yours – I just needed that one question to remind me - so yeah, I’m on the Northern Power Women #FutureList, I totally deserve it and I couldn’t be prouder.
Huge shout out and thanks to my parents and my sister - my heroes - who have been with me every step of the way, throwing out encouraging words and a listening ear...none of what I've achieved could have been done without you!