“I write stories about other people, not mine,” I reassure myself constantly.
But that’s not entirely true because I’ve been blogging about my journey to finding Mr Right since 2003 as Chick Wisdom (it hasn’t received much love for a very long time). I was young, free, single and self-indulgent. I wore my heart on my sleeve and told the whole world about it. Half self-therapy and half creative outlet, the stories were real, raw, honest but always peppered with light-hearted reflection.
When a former housemate and girlfriend felt the tick of her biological clock, I wrote about an obsession over her eggs and our adventures searching for an alpha male.
Finding myself single again, I declared war with Bernard Salt and Mark McCrindle on the Great Aussie Man Drought.
When I was locked out of my house, cold, tired and hungry, realising the SOS to my tradie-in-shining armour had been ignored, I made myself feel better by writing about the lover and his vanishing act: ‘Abracadabra…poof!’.
And when I climbed the corporate ladder in the male-dominated tech space, I shared my triumphs and wisdom declaring nice girls don’t get the corner office.
Which by the way is not true, but that’s another story.
I realise now that on both occasions I’ve put myself in the spotlight, I have done so behind caricatures of myself – characters that I thought were too far removed from who I am they couldn’t possibly be me.
Despite baring my heart and soul to be judged by others, whether on the dance floor or with my words, I felt safe. Unexposed.
It wasn’t me. It was a character.
As a ballroom dancer, I project a carefully choreographed character, from the way I stand and move my body, to the cheeky little wink and the self-assuredness of every step. The character is an exaggerated version of oneself – beautiful, confident, classy, bursting with energy and personality; a pocket rocket.
Similarly, as I blogged my way through dating mishaps, I created an alter ego. She was smart, funny, witty, likable and hopeful.
Everything I thought I wasn’t.
It hit me.
I have carried the self-belief that the real me is an awkward, boring, introvert. Not The Dancer nor the clever girl with her clever words. No, that’s not me.
So who would want to know about the real me or hear what I have to say?
So I hid behind my Latin Ballroom character. I hid behind Chick Wisdom. And now I’m hiding behind one of the most significant things I’ll ever do.
I also once hid behind an impressive job title: Group honcho something-or-other of an ASX listed tech company. People thought I was some shit-hot talent, a woman to boot, headhunted by companies who wanted cool kids on their teams. If only those people knew how trapped I felt. My successful career enabled me to buy expensive things but it also took over my life and left my dreams to gather dust. I realised I had defined myself by what I did for a living. So at the end of 2009, I quit corporate life, walked away from it all and went on a quest to design a life on my terms.
I’m still on that journey, sometimes taking one step forward and two steps back, but always finding little rewards and fist-pumping moments every time I venture back onto the scary, unknown, and unfamiliar path that calls out to me in my dreams. The same path has brought me to an incredible place and privilege here at woman.com.au – the privilege of sharing some of the most epic stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.
And I realise that I have been getting in my own way for far too long. The Dancer and those clever words are not the work of some character I created – they are reflections of my soul, my very being at its purest, finest, most glorious, unencumbered state. Beautiful, powerful, resilient and vulnerable at the same time.
That is me.
So I realise it’s time to start telling my story. To step into the light and own the stage.