I am a Vogue addict. I adore it when the monthly edition drops through my door every month. I await with glee who is on the front cover; I literally pour over the clothes and bags in there and of course the many inspirational articles from incredible women. I like to read it from start to finish and because of that sometimes I don’t get to read them the month they come out but they’re there – ready and waiting for me…
Today I was feeling a little reflective, maybe because I’d just had my 44th birthday – a wonderful day with many of my best girlfriends (dogs and kids were allowed but I requested female only).
I was supposed to be going to the theatre today – but you know what, I just couldn’t be bothered – the sun was shining and I knew I needed some me time. I took Rex out for a couple of hours, then popped to the garden centre and had some garden time (my project of the year).
Then I sat down and caught up with April’s Vogue and in particular this one – a supplement called ‘The Non Issue’ which is about older women. Now admittedly most of the women in here are over 50 but actually I’ve read this cover to cover and I love it.
Their ViewPoint section is about women who have truly done something with their lives and the articles are written in less than 500 words. I mean we’re talking about women like Christiane Amanpour (news anchor and war correspondent) and Belinda Gray (Breast Cancer Fundraiser) but the story that resonated most was Gerri Gallagher (Solo Traveller). Not sure if I’m actually allowed from a copyright perspective to share but I am anyway in this photo and of course *accredited to British Vogue.
And so it inspired me to write my couple of hundred words – because when I reflected, I realise I haven’t changed the world – but what I can always offer an opinion or guidance on is resilience and determination. So if Vogue were to give me a little article the headline would be a more inspirational version of ‘The Resilient and Determined One’. And so this is my little Vogue article in the spirit of the women in this issue…
Not knowing it at the time I would say my resilience and determination started to show through at the time of my A Levels. We moved house half way in between them and so I didn’t get the grades I needed for university (different syllabus) so I went out and got a job because the only other option was to resit another two years – you could argue that I would have been more determined if I had done that but given my fellow classmates on the whole got their grades my determination came from attempting to get to the place where they would be with a degree. My first job earned £5,000 a year as an office junior. Within a year I’d been made redundant once and promoted twice in the same company. I started clubbing, I met a promoter; I started writing for a magazine promoting dance music, he suggested I get a marketing job. So I did – not quite as simple as that but I listened and I did it and I loved it. Within a couple of years I studied and passed a post graduate degree in Marketing (in my own time and at my own expense). Skipping forward it got me a job at one of the world’s largest financial services companies where I got my second post graduate degree in internal communications. That move also led to the break up of my first long term relationship. I bought him out of our home but it was the most heartbreaking thing I think I’ve probably ever done because we didn’t end badly, we ended because I’d changed and he hadn’t.
Then my parents moved to Turkey. That also broke my heart – it was the best thing for them but I had been so used to them living less than an hour away it made me upset but also made me reassess. So a year later I moved to London – where the streets are allegedly paved with gold. And they are. It’s not about about the money – but about the golden relationships and friendships I made – most of which I still have to this day over 13 years on.
From a work perspective I’ve been one of the lead communicators at RBS at the time when they nearly destroyed the banking system; I had senior roles at Barclays (which I loved) and ‘an investment bank’ which I shouldn’t mention by name because I hated almost every moment of it. I left there with nothing to go to and I didn’t care, because your wellbeing and ethics are more important. Didn’t realise it at the time but that was a big decision to take. I then joined a wonderful company a few months later who I had the most wonderful five years with and one where I probably reached the top of my career in. But again, I left at the right time, jumping into the unknown because that just felt right. But my role in internal communications has always been about doing the right thing – and that’s important to me.
From a relationship perspective in London I met the love of my life and lost him. In learning how to cope with that I learned how to cope with me, and what I mean when I say that is that through counselling I learned that when things are out of my control, I go out of control, so all I need to do is bring control back – in any aspect. It’s a little thing, but it’s served me well.
Also in that time I had a relationship for seven years. He cheated on me. I went out with a close friend last week and he said to me as I relayed something or other that the guy had broke my heart – but he didn’t. He broke my trust. And that was worse. And that was another thing, that within 48 hours I had got my plan and I sorted out how to get out of the mess that I found myself in. I lost good friends because of it and in the ongoing decisions I made to get me into the life I wanted to live in I also lost contact with some family but you know what -although it was sad and is still sad it’s also ok too – because the ones who stayed around were well – bloody awesome. And to be resilient you have to know where the drains and radiators of your relationships are and act accordingly. One day you may get them back but you really do have to put yourself first.
Readers of this blog will know from ‘How did I get here Part 1’ that eventually I decided to go away. And like Gerri I became a solo traveller initially through Malaysia and Borneo and more recently through France. Both trips in their different way just changed me; I like my own time, I like my space but I like being with people too. It’s a small thing but I have no hesitation in going out on my own (I took all my wine qualifications on my own and met wonderful people) but I know lots of people who wouldn’t even dream of doing that; would not sit in their local, would not go to the theatre or the cinema or a holiday, I’ve even had people telling me they just COULDN’T do it. But why not? If anything, it somehow encourages people to talk to you or indeed for you to talk to strangers who become friends.
And now here I am (in a somewhat diluted few years) sat in my garden with my bestie Rex alongside me and actually very proud of the fact that even just a year ago I couldn’t just wake up and look at the to-do list and say ‘not today – today is a day off’. I love the fact that people I know and people I don’t, message me every day to say ‘thank you’ for the things I share and how it’s inspired them to make some pretty life changing experiences and that makes me very proud and happy.
I’ve worked hard to get to this place and that’s been through resilience and hard work. It’s not always easy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. So whilst I may not make it into a Vogue magazine I’m quite happy with my achievements. You don’t need to share it but why don’t you write your own couple of hundred words and sit and look back in pride on what you’ve achieved as I’m pretty sure you have all equally done things that have made a difference.