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Finding your voice amidst the noise

Who would have imagined a year like 2020? A year where the whole world would come to a standstill due to a common, somewhat invisible threat.

Although we share a common threat and perhaps some similar experiences, only we individually truly know how the last year has affected us. Only we know the reasons for our reactions, pivots, and sometimes silence. I once heard someone describe it as being in the same ocean, but in different boats.

For me, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, fears, unearthing of insecurities, and struggles with my mental health.

I compared myself to everyone both in my personal life and in business. There was so much noise; it felt like I was drowning within it. I felt jealous when people seemed to be thriving and the shame I felt for feeling that way was in many ways worse than the feeling itself. I felt like the worse person in the world, underserving of love or grace.

The support of another

My husband Segun is great at reminding me that some feelings are there for a purpose, and sometimes need to be explored safely to reconcile with them.

On my reflection, I would ask myself – “Do you wish you were doing exactly what that person is?”. The answer was almost always no. It was difficult to reconcile this my mind, where somehow being successful meant being better than everyone else.

In school, at work, in social circles the unspoken definition of success seems to follow that narrative- you need to top your class; you need to be married by a certain age and have children; you need to have “that job” that everyone thinks is awesome. The problem is, these things don’t always make you happy.

And if you have those things and are unhappy, those achievements can become a rod that is used to invalidate our feelings of inadequacy. “Why are you sad? you have all this going for you, other people don’t have what you have…” are the kind of things you get told. For me, it causes such cognitive dissonance when people tell me I have the whole world, but my hands and soul feel so… empty.

MonAnnie Cakes – a true family partnership

MY best – not THE best

The last few years and this year in particular have helped me realise, that it is not always about being “The best” but “my best”.

I think -deep down, I have always known this, and something within me has been fighting for this. I think this is- and always was- my “why”; to be the best person that I could be.

Truly becoming this person involves being kind to myself, finding my voice and using it in my way, continuing to learn and grow. Being mindful and intentional about each task. For example in baking, it’s not just throwing ingredients together and hoping for a great cake- it’s thinking about the purpose of each ingredient; highlighting their unique properties and bringing them together in the right way to form an emulsion.

I’ve found that I have actually improved a lot of my bakes not by changing any of the ingredients or proportions, but by being more mindful of the reactions that need to happen to create something amazing.

I am learning to navigate the times by realising the things Segun and I need to do to meet our daily needs, the things I love to do and that bring me joy, and the things I would like to challenge myself to do to help me grow.

I know for each of us, the things in each category may be vastly different. Having honest conversations with myself and with Segun about our circumstances and the purpose of each action, sometimes distancing myself from social media and all the noise- these things have helped me.

Keep learning

I’m learning to allow myself the grace to fail, make mistakes, change my mind, have bad days and not turn them into a cloak of shame to wear daily. I’m starting from within and working on being the change I would like to see. I’m focusing on connecting with what my clients want and how I can best serve them both now and in the future.

I’m learning to let go of relationships that are not meant to be and nurturing the ones I do have. I’m working on no longer defining myself by achievements, but focusing on the love and passion I have for whatever it is I choose to do. I’m working on freeing my mind of baggage and voices that sometimes hinder creativity and logical thinking- nurturing myself to a place that is not void of fear, but where fear is a passenger- along with many other emotions, like excitement and joy- on a journey of growth.

Fen and Segun of MonAnnie Cakes

If you are reading this and have struggled with your mental health and finding your voice in the noise remember:

  • Please do not struggle alone, there are organizations with resources and people that can help. (Take a look at our Resources page )
  • Look back at your “why” and at your own unique circumstances. Do what works best for you.
  • It is okay to try and to fail.
  • You have a voice and it is valid, it matters and it may be just what someone needs to hear.
  • Surround yourself with people who push you to be your best, not because they think you are not enough, but because they know that within you lies so much greatness.
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