I wasn’t what you’d call a confident child. I was scared of most things, from flying insects to playground slides. They once had to shut down a ride because I was afraid to step off a rotating circle.
This carried on throughout my teenage years. It didn’t help that we moved to a town in Manchester where we were referred to as “dirty pakis” daily. It got to a point where the police had to fix a panic alarm. So to avoid any interaction, I stayed indoors. My dad once bribed me when I was 15 to get on a bus and go shopping. I couldn’t wait to get back home as the anxiety of being approached and being called some abusive name was too much.
I’m not sharing this experience for sympathy, yes it was horrific, and I wouldn’t wish what we went through on anyone. But that experience allowed me to become who I am today. Over time I started to believe in myself and I refused to let others make me feel less than what I’m worth.
Of course, there have been blips during my career where my confidence dipped. But then I remember where I came from and what I went through.
Calling my business CommsRebel was a nod to how far I’d come as a person. My business is about using communications to help organisations cultivate a culture where people can thrive and belong – because I know exactly what it’s like not to belong.
I also knew I wanted to use my experience to help others. It’s one of the reasons Priya Bates, ABC, MC, SCMP, IABC Fellow, and I set up A Leader Like Me.
We wanted to create a space for underrepresented women of colour who wanted to boost their confidence and connect with others. That’s what our Nest and Flight community offers. We also created our conference series to help allies understand and learn how they could support minorities further.
I’d love to go back to that scared little girl and tell her “You’re going to be alright, you may still not love slides but one day you will be doing what you love!”
Here’s a quote from Maria Milagros Vazquez that has helped me lots, I hope it helps you:
I’m not intimidating, you’re intimated.
I don’t take up too much space, you’re just used to people playing small. My inner light is not too bright, you’re just to used to dimming your own. I am not mean nor aggressive, I am honest and assertive, and that makes you uncomfortable. And I do not make you uncomfortable, my presence challenges your comfort. All of that is yours, I will not be less for you to feel better about yourself. Own your stuff.
Thank you Priya for encouraging me to mark International Day of the Girl 2021. Inspiring Girls International has launched a new global campaign to make women role models easily available to girls on social media!
Share your post between 13th September – 11th October 2021 in the lead up to the International Day of the Girl 2021 to shine a light on female role models and encourage girls to follow a range of inspiring women. #allmecrew #thislittlegirlisme