* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.What matters is whether you believe in yourself, not how other people feel about what you’re doing
Shoshi Winstanley-Brown is the founder of Courage, an online membership site
As children, we’re told we can be anything we want to be, but as we get older, we’re taught to be realistic. For those of us who have big dreams and who are committed to being the truest version of ourselves, we have to get used to opposition and be prepared to welcome challenges that wouldn’t accompany an easier path.
I’d always wanted a stable job. I wanted security. But when I got it, I felt like my freedom was limited. Before taking my first job I knew I’d have to remove my septum piercing. It was a source of my androgyny emphasising my gender identity, but if I was going to have to take it out during my working hours, which was most of my day, there didn’t seem much point in keeping it.
My tattoos generally had to be covered, another part of me that had to be kept hidden.
I want other people to know that what matters is whether you believe in yourself, not how other people feel about what you’re doing.
When I first left my job, I had plenty of people tell me it was the wrong decision, when I knew it was right for me. We often trust others rather than trusting ourselves. We take other people’s advice before we take our own.
Especially within the LGBT+ community, it’s easy to think we have to fit in with what other people expect of us, how they expect us to dress, how other people want us to identity. When it comes to business ventures it can feel like we have to alter every element of who we are, dress and present ourselves in a way that fits in with the corporate world.
The truth is that our individuality is our advantage.
Don’t let yourself be dissuaded by people who don’t recognise the value in what you’re doing. Your honesty about who you are and your authenticity will make you stand out.
Having left where I’d been living meant that I probably went off the radar for a lot of people. Their lives carried on. Mine was put on hold. That meant there was often a lack of understanding when it came to what I was experiencing. No one’s fault. If anything, it was down to my own choices.
What we can do is help others understand. We can be open about our lives and what we’re doing. We can also try to reconnect with our choices and why we’ve made them. Even if we’re struggling, we chose the path we thought would be best for us in the long-term and we have to trust ourselves.
It’s always tempting to focus on what isn’t working out the way we wanted it to, but there are always aspects of our lives that are working well and focusing on those helps us stay positive and open to solutions.
I’d been prepared to make sacrifices for a better future, and there will be a period when the only person who really understands your vision is you. I’ve had to learn to find happiness, not from my circumstances but from inside myself, even when it felt like nothing was going my way.
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