"Often the gap between where you are to where you want to be seems insurmountable. However, once you ditch the stereotype and change what you believe is possible, you'll suddenly see a very useful set of stairs to get you there."Ingrid Marsh - Founder
There are two things that brought me here.
I first noticed the link between stereotyping and self-esteem when I was coaching women in public speaking. Many felt they were unable to succeed at it because of reasons steeped in stereotypes, such as not being slim enough, as opposed to, not yet mastering the craft.
The second thing that brought me here is my refusal to accept the labels society wanted to place on my forehead. As a single mum, I have owned a series of successful authentic businesses. I have also raised an A* student. That was after having to move him mid secondary mind, from a school that had limited expectations of him. There, he was denied the opportunity to do treble science in his GCSE's despite achieving straight five's in his SATs and an impeccable behavioral record. In the new school, he achieved an A* in Physics, A* in Biology and an A* Chemistry.
Nevertheless, from a small child, I consumed Oprah in my quiet bedroom attic, away from the noise of my super large family downstairs, and the outside world. She was my role model and my unplugging enabled me to believe anything was possible and to not let stereotypes define me - all except one, that is.
My father didn't want to know me and for that wee boulder in my life, I labeled myself incomplete. I grew up in the days when we were intravenously drip-fed the 'Peter and Jane' books at school. They were the Instagram and facebook of today depicting the oh so perfect lives - two point, two children, and a dog. In trying to get back at my father I achieved extraordinary success in business alongside exceptional skills in broadcasting and public speaking in the hope that he would see my name one day and squirt with regret. All at the cost of my physical and mental wellbeing. Nonetheless, after becoming a single mother myself, with no family support, I single handily raised my son to be an A* student son in all academic subjects. This was only achieved mind, by having to move him mid secondary from an environment that had limited expectations of him. This was all while trying to deal with a narcissistic ex-partner who over 18 years subjected me to a tirade of emotional abuse by trying to take my son off his path in order to cause me pain.
In any case, driven to the brink of insanity in my quest to make my father pay, on one miserable rainy day in a pub in Balham I stopped. I pressed the pause button on my life and suddenly said to myself, S*D IT! Enough was enough. I was perfect just the way I jolly well was.
The opposing external messages and stereotypes about my social status were so powerful, nonetheless, that I found there was only one way to cut through the negative messages in my mind - to get badass!
Holding the pen like a knife, I scrawled my father's name slowly on a napkin, went outside and burnt it. With each flicker of flame, I forgave him and forgave myself for choosing to give him this power. I cried non-stop too from the release of what felt like taking a heavy rucksack laden with bricks off my back. Under the intense heat the post-it-note, the incomplete label I had allowed society to place on my head for not having a dad, lost its glue and fell from my forehead too.
I now use the speaking skills I acquired to get back at my dad to empower others to find and express their voices. For them to understand that their pain is their power. The main thing holding people back is the labels. It's why at age 50, saddened by this I totally transformed my health over 30-days, through rain and snow and vlogged it. It was to not only get stronger myself both mentally and physically but to show that it's never too late to change, to make healthy a habit and most importantly, to demonstrate how to make the seemingly impossible, possible