I’m thinking about all the clients I’ve worked with this week, and all the things they’ve been telling me about how fear, shame, guilt and self-sabotage waylaid them for years and kept them from getting their brilliance out there, from helping the people they were put on earth to help, from having a life they loved.
It threw me into memories of how it was for me a handful of years ago. Because we have safe space in here, I want to share a difficult and painful story. It’s about:
Feeling shamed & laughed at
Feeling invisible & marginalized
Feeling like those we love don’t support us
Feeling “less than” another person or group
Feeling afraid to fail
It’s about your health being attached to the health of your business. It’s vital that both are in synch. And if something goes wrong with your health…your business will suffer too. This more than goes for mental and emotional health as well as health of the physical body.
All of these have come into play in my life, and maybe yours too…
A handful or two of years ago in a galaxy far, far away….I was losing the weight I’d gained while lying in bed paralyzed, was getting my diet figured out and was back in the gym. I was starting to look better and feel great, and a hundred and twenty-five pounds slid off me with the effort I was putting out. My energy was high and I was getting more clients, and a lot of props.
But then…as my relationship creaked to a close a few years later, the weightloss also ground to a crawl. It didn’t matter how many hours I put in at the gym or how great my diet was. Plus which, my face had started to show visible signs of age. Slowly, no matter what I did, some of the weight slowly piled back on. Midlife hormones had finally hit.
And a strange thing happened.
It was a little thing, but it was everything. At the gym, in the women’s locker room, which is always full of middle aged and older women along with the younger gals…my appearance was held up to criticism by two smug, thin, and younger women.
One said to the other: “I hope I’m never old and sad looking like some people” and flicked her eyes at me. Her friend laughed. I thought I had misheard. But then they both laughed, looking just barely past me, and rolled their eyes, giggling. I looked away. I didn’t know what to think. And what did she mean by “sad”? I was in a great mood at the time…or had been.
I have a hugely healthy dose of self-respect and always have, but I’ve had my challenges feeling worthy, loved and respected just like anyone else. I don’t feel or see myself as old today, and certainly didn’t years ago when this happened.
And as a woman who has spent much of her life overweight from the effects of being bedridden when a paraplegic, fat-shaming no longer affects me. I did my work on that ages ago. But being shamed for the natural process of aging…that was something new, horrible, and tremendously diminishing.
Even worse, when I told my friends later, they said I should get over it and not be so sensitive. I was humiliated by the incident, then again when I shared with women who should have supported me. I haven’t shared this story since, until now.
It was the first time I was made very firmly aware that I had lost my place at the table of Relevance and Inclusion. It was the first time I was aware that others viewed me as older, not in my still-relevant thirties or even early forties. Relegated to the “quaint but harmless” category.
I slunk out of the locker room trying to blend into the wall. I felt everyone could see my fat, wrinkled, old-ass self and looked down on me…even though I know that’s not true and I have been fondly regarded by everyone I’ve met there.
I was just getting my new business out there and was starting to catch fire and go viral. Clients were crawling out of the woodwork to get on my waiting list. Everyone wanted me to partner with them in their next business venture. I was on every telesummit, radio show and podcast.
But when I heard those words “I hope I’m never as old and sad”, my heart sank, I fell into a horrendous cycle of self-hatred and despair, and couldn’t complete on any business assignment that involved speaking or being visible in any way.
Months went by and I actively avoided speaking engagements, conference keynote and breakout requests and doing videos.
I went into mourning for the young woman I had been, wondering when she had been lost along the way, and not knowing where to find her again or if it was even possible.
Finally, my business coach reached out to me in a “get real” session and we flat busted it back to normal Maryam…who found out that she is still attractive, still useful, still smart as hell, still young, fresh and beautiful within. Just with a more seasoned wrapper.
I cautiously began accepting speaking engagements again and realized that the people I was speaking to either didn’t care about my age or actively appreciated it. I became aware that my appearance was largely a function of the maturity of the person looking at me. Then I ceased to care what anyone thought of me. I made a video. Then another. Now I can’t get enough of it. I kept ramping up and the clients and speaking engagements increased and increased.
So if anyone makes comments on your appearance, or you’re at the point in life where your age is recognized and being negatively commented on, know that is just says more about the immature person throwing shade on you than it does about you as a person.
Don’t worry about what others are doing or saying. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you – that’s none of your business.
BE focused on the service you are here to deliver, on the immense gift you are in the world. GIVE your Perfect Clients exactly what they want, and you WIN every time.
You’re just fine. You’re awesome just as you are. And this is True.
If this story resonates with you, let me know in the comments below. And give yourself a hug for me.