When you stop running, doors start opening.

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I’m writing this post tonight as I reflect on the people I’ve met recently through work, who’ve opened up to me rather quickly about their own personal battles. I don’t know if it’s because A) They feel like they can trust me or B) They just want someone to talk to. It’s probably a mixture of both, and don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen and engage in deep conversation early on into meeting people. None of this small chat about the weather! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. But I can’t help but feel a little guilty for initially trying to appear as someone I’m not. You see after the awful year I had in 2016, I wanted this job to be a fresh start where I could leave all my past behind. I wanted to be cool, calm and collected. I wanted to leave my personal life at home and be the ultimate professional on the job. But after my recent conversations with these colleagues, I’ve realised how much humans crave that connection – and how important it really is.

I spent all my energy last year trying to cover up the fact that I simply was not okay. I wasn’t okay going into those meetings, or making those cold calls. I wasn’t okay with that workload, or with that pressure, and I most certainly wasn’t okay with pretending I cared about such meaningless tasks. So this year I told myself that I would focus on me, and what I really wanted. I would take a less stressful job where I didn’t know anyone, and they wouldn’t know how close I’d come to rock bottom. I didn’t have to disclose the battles I’d come through, and I intended on staying that way. I’d come from a workplace culture of keeping your mouth shut and carrying on – you were a cog in the wheel and every cog was replaceable. So I tried, for as long as I could to keep my cool – but as many of you will know that became impossible.

Since meeting the staff in my new job and having them open up to me about their own battles (be it sexual identity issues, domestic violence or mental health problems), I’ve realised that it’s OKAY to be honest with people straight up. We don’t have to wear this mask we create for ourselves, and we don’t have to be ashamed of whatever we’ve gone through. We should feel empowered to be transparent, be trusting, and lean on each other. After all we are in this job together, and how can we really perform to the best of our abilities if we don’t know each others triggers and weak spots?

From now on I intend to be completely honest with my colleagues, both current and future. I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not, and you can either take it or leave it. We’re all unique individuals with our own stories of perseverance, and we should lift each other up – not bring each other down.

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Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & hautepunchmag

Excuse me, can you not?

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If you’ve ever experienced the relief of getting away from toxic people in your life, then you aren’t alone. Having gone through some recent life overhauls, I’ve distanced myself from a lot of relationships that I knew weren’t serving me in a positive way. Trouble is – there’s always another one waiting around the corner. I think the secret lies is knowing how to manage these relationships without letting them affect your energy and self-worth.

From the nasty colleagues at work to the over-bearing friends, we’ve all been there. In almost every situation we encounter, we are going to meet people that we simply don’t vibe with. How do we know that something isn’t quite right? I’ve learned to identify a few factors – feeling uncomfortable around them, looking forward to the time when you can get away from their presence, and feeling like you can’t be your authentic self to name just a few. So why are these kind of relationships so toxic to us? For one thing, they are DRAINING. You’ll never leave a conversation or encounter with these people feeling happy or refreshed, you’ll feel absolutely exhausted in fact.

From the manipulative people to the drama-queens and everything in between, I’d rather not even bother. Having a few select friends (to go alongside my family) is all I need, and a good book to fill the time. I think you can identify the people who are toxic to you from early on – if their energy doesn’t mix well with your energy, then that’s okay. They’ll find a companion, and you don’t have to deal with it. Of course, in the workplace it’s a little harder to separate yourself from these kind of people. Keep it polite and professional and they’ll soon get the hint that you’re not interested.

We’re going to meet people from all walks of life on this journey of ours, so finding the right people to surround ourselves with is pretty important. Not only will they be your friend – rain, hail or shine, but they’ll be there through all your milestones and genuinely want the best for you. I hope to be very old one day, sitting with my friends and having a laugh about the good times and the wild ride it’s been.

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Photo credits – ocelomeh.artisans & life.wl