If the foundations aren't there, you can't build a tower.

Self-doubt. Worthlessness. Imposter Syndrome.

Where does this all come from? How does it manifest? Why can’t I shake it?

These feeling effect my business relations, my friendships and my family life. They effect my marketing and social media use. They buggar up everything.

I recently began therapy to help me deal with my anxiety and to unbox some of the incidents that have happened in my life which have shaped the way I feel today. First things first, my childhood was not bad. I wouldn’t say it was particularly happy, but it certainly wasn’t bad. My relationship with my family is different. My mum and I have always struggled with our relationship. I feel pangs of jealousy when I see close families. I know my parents love me, but it’s not something we say, or have ever said. I’ve never felt like I belong anywhere – I feel like a hindrance, and that people wish I would leave.

Anxiety and depression have been present right through my family history and have impacted me in a number of ways – which is my biggest reason to work to fix it now, so that Elliotte doesn’t experience the over whelming sense of absence that I have felt throughout my life, and to find my own way.

I was never at any point a “cool” kid at school. I had my handful of friends who I trusted, and the rest of the school were there mainly for taunting purposes. I had big bushy curly hair which grew up and out, I was chubby, awkward and shy. I can remember my first day of school, I was 4.5 years old and one of the year 6 students came running up to me and shouted, “Oh my god, I could turn you upside down and mop the floor with you”.

Well, I was flabbergasted. I’d spent the previous 4 years of my life with old ladies coming up to me telling me how lovely my hair was and how jealous they were…now it was bad? It’s funny the things that stick with you, I’m sure I had some other lovely memories that week but only that one sticks. That feels like the first moment I experienced self-consciousness.

I made life worse for myself really, I was a total teachers pet and loved getting their attention with my know-it-all answers to their questions. I got big into crochet and crafts, and used it is a way to keep myself busy and creating.

For my 10th birthday, my mum let me have a party at our house – my first one since I was around 5. So naturally I invited all the girls in my class. I’m still not sure why, but they poured lemonade in my bed and smeared chocolate cake on it and told my mum I had messed the bed. They covered my bedroom walls with nail varnish and ruined the wall paper. They scared the young daughter of a family friend who wet herself. I was humiliated, embarrassed and upset. My mum said afterwards that perhaps we wouldn’t have any more parties. Agreed.

Worthless.

By secondary school, I had found my place within my small group of friends – when I was with them, I was the funny one, I didn’t need to be somebody else around them or hide, they allowed me to be myself. When new people joined the school, I would always make an effort to befriend them, in my socially awkward and very uncool way. A few weeks into year 7, a girl joined our form and of course, straight away I was all “BE MY FRIEND” – she obliged, and she joined our crew of misfits for the rest of the year. After the summer holidays, we all headed back to school and the girl gave me a note on the first day back. “Dear Louisa, thanks so much for being my friend last year. You’re so nice. Over the summer I made friends with some of the popular girls who live near me, so we can’t be friends anymore. Sorry x”

Well, that was another block on the worthless pile. We never really spoke again. She did mention our brief friendship in my leavers book. I was too embarrassed to comment.

Roll forward many years, through lots of self harm, depression and other what nots. There’s an email from a relative that chips away another block from my self-esteem – I talk about it at length in an older blog post Self Belief and the Nay Sayers, so I won’t bore you with the details again. It basically said I didn’t have the skills or mindset to start a business.

A few years later, an old boyfriend and I broke up. We had tickets to an event, and I decided to still go along, I didn’t want to miss out (classic fomo). It was a couple of days after we broke up. On the way home on the mini-bus, he began kissing and, well I won’t give you too many gory details but they’re pants didn’t stay up. His friends looked to me for a reaction. I didn’t react, I laughed. What more could I expect. I’m worthless, why wouldn’t someone think my feelings were nothing.

I wanted to write this blog post to find some kind of conclusion, some kind of helpful advice to give to other people feeling like I feel. I’m not sure I really have one. I’m working so hard at the moment to tell myself everyday that I am not worthless. I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine. I will keep reaching out to people I want to know, want to work with and want to be friends with. I will not stay silent anymore if somebody threatens my self-confidence with their negativity, or cruelness.

I will love the awkward, shy, chubby girl who loudly shouts “BE MY FRIEND” at people I admire in this new-found glorious world of fibre crafts, even if they look at me like I’ve peed on their cornflakes. This glorious world that with one hand makes me feel so welcomed, so warm and fuzzy and with the other hand can make me feel like a failure and left out. I will not compare myself to others, I will look back to where I’ve come from and remember how much I’ve achieved. I will continue to keep my door open to others needing a space to escape.

If the foundations aren’t there, you can’t build a tower. If my foundations are feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness, then I cannot move forward.

louisa sheward