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That Time I Was Told That My Gut Was Wrong, And That My Passion Was Stupid.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting on the couch immersed in drawing the best outfits – outfits that were timeless and classic… with a stunning, but understated element to make it special.

I was so proud of myself. It was the best idea EVER! I was giddy, focused, and my heart was beating so hard that it felt like it was going to come out of my chest. It was hard to breath. If I wasn’t getting over the flu, I probably would have jumped up and down with excitement!

I ran to my mom who was was cooking a traditional Serbian bean stew in the kitchen to show her my creations….

“Look mommy Look! No one will ever have to buy a coat again! Look at how pretty the pocket is, and the inside.” And “Mommy mommy… look at these pants! You could wear them forever and never have to buy another pair. Aren’t they classy! And look at this pretty design on the back!”.

My enthusiasm was met with my mom’s loving chuckles and well-meaning but crushing advice… “Oh sweetie. If you want to be a fashion designer you need to make things that are sooooo different and unique. You can’t just make something plain. Look at the fashion designers they show on the TV. You have to make something so crazy like that!”.

And while this was not the intention at all, as an impressionable pre-teen all my subconscious gleaned from that was:

  • “You are boring!”
  • “Your idea is dumb.”
  • “You have no idea about anything.”

But I think the deeper message was “Don’t trust that feeling!”.

It’s so weird to have such a vivid memory from my childhood. I don’t actually remember a lot from it but I was probably around 8 or 9 when this happened and remember it like yesterday.

…Sitting on the couch under my cozy blankies watching the Gummy Bears cartoon… with the smell of onions and fresh vegetables in the air!

And getting TOTALLY immersed in this weird idea.

I think it’s such a strong memory because it was the first time I had a real business idea. It was that feeling of obsession or passion that went beyond playing with Barbies or My Little Ponies.

It didn’t totally destroy my entrepreneurial spirit, but it changed how I approached it.

It also solidified the feeling that was already starting to grow inside me, which is sadly part of growing up and something that every single person I have ever met has experienced…

“Don’t trust your gut. And definitely don’t follow your passion!”.

Or simply You are not ok. To survive and thrive, you need to be something… someone… else.”.

Some people give up forever. Others, spend most of their lives unlearning it, and the lucky ones unlearn it fast or never really fell for it 100%

I wobbled between not 100% falling for it, and taking forever to unlearn it.

I believe that was the case for me because the next time I really remember designing was when I wanted to design a dress for my sister in highschool.

I remember sitting on my waterbed at 10pm on a Thursday night staring at my sketch pad.

I literally remember thinking to myself – “Do what mom said – “Make something DIFFERENT. It has to be unique. CRAZY even!“.

And while I think it’s good to be pushed outside of our comfort zones, I remember it feeling contrived.

I wasn’t designing out of a love or passion for it. I was trying to not be me… because the unintentional message I heard a long, long time ago is that ME wasn’t good enough.

There’s kind of a sad message in that right?!

Here’s the thing about my first experience that on day when I was a little girl cuddled under my blankets drawing my first pair of pants and jacket.

It was actually a good idea. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of versatile, classic clothing that was meant to withstand time. Especially really special pieces with details that people would fall in love with.

I digress though…

Here’s what happened with my sisters dress?

Well… It’s the red dress I’m wearing in the feature image for this blog post. I ended up drawing some really cool dresses. But, I couldn’t go through with making any of them.

Instead, I made something more me.

A classic red dress with a neat detail on the back. I’m not sure if she ever wore it, but I really liked it.

This is the back 🙂 It also had a sexy slit up the back and a little peak-a-boo shoulder detail.

At the same time, part of me was always ashamed of it – which I think comes from the mixed emotions that seem to come with growing up and questioning what you feel, what you think, and what you’ve been told.

Be what others tell you to be.
But not REALLY being able to do it – and sorta hating ourselves for it.

When looking back on moments like that, I think that most of us can agree that we try to hide who we are, but we really can’t. It seeps out in one way or another.

When we’re putting on another personality I think that a lot of us project a lack of confidence – even if no one can put their finger on what’s actually going on.

But those conflicting feelings of “I want to be what you want me to be. But I can’t and feeling disgusted” is (IMO) a big part of what makes it hard to trust or believe someone who’s in that space.

And I know this is a bit woo’woo, but I even think that it energetically repels TRUE success.

I think that ignoring our gut, not following our passions, and essentially not being ok with who we are is something we all have to unlearn at some point in our lives if we want to find true happiness and success as entrepreneurs.

A lot of people never do, but as entrepreneurs and we’re trying to brand ourselves it’s something we really need to find the courage to do.

I have been doing a lot of work over the past couple of years to find myself and start confidently coming out as myself.

There’s been a lot of trial and error, over-sharing, bossiness or know-it-all’ness…. and mostly vagueness about what I do.

But that’s all part of the process, especially if you’re going it alone.

But, it is very, VERY worth it and I if you’re feeling uncomfortable, I really urge you to put the time in to figure it out.

What’s Next?

Great … you need to like yourself so you can brand yourself. I bet you weren’t expecting that doozy of advice when you read this article 😀

I can’t tell you what will work for you, but here’s what worked for me.

  • I started connecting online… a lot!
  • I created a FB group which felt like a smaller, safer space to share my opinions and ideas
  • I read lots and lots of books
  • I worked with coaches – one on confidence and another to help me actually launch something
  • I journal’ed daily
  • I wrote affirmations while I journal’ed

Do that, and you will get so, so far. And if you want you can set up and appt to talk to me about my program. I go through all of this with my clients in my program “Clarity, Confidence And Cash”.

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About Susanna Miles: ...Designer, Stylist,  branding coach, and photography aficionado

Susanna turned to online marketing in 2008 to escape the suffocating fashion industry. And much to her amazement, she landed right where she started > with a life in pursuit of helping women love and accept themselves. Then expressing who they are confidently. 

In this age of personal branding, she shares a unique perspective for freelancers, creators, and coaches trying to understand how the personal and business brand work together with content marketing, design, and selfies.

And because of what she has done and where she has been, she is able to help bootstrapping brand as well as booming ones! 

~ Why fit in when you were meant to stand out?