We can never truly win the battle against the voice in our heads.
That is the realisation I had at the beginning of this month, when My Love told me that if I was really unhappy to be living in Bali, then we would just go home to Australia...
It wasn't that things were bad in Bali. It wasn't that I'd faced hardships, setbacks or difficulties. It wasn't that I didn't want to be really happy and wasn't trying really hard to find my groove.
But I was struggling. Emotionally. Overwhelmed with sadness most days, but hardly knowing what I was sad about. I was just unexplainably sad.
The build up to leaving Australia had been a super stressful time. The pressure to make money and have an income before I left the country was intense. Everything I had counted on for my income fell apart at the end of 2015, and I was struggling to find anything that even came close to the income that I had projected for 2016. Thoughts of money became my world and I wanted so much to earn it through Fox Park.
But I wasn't. I didn't.
And I couldn't seem to get a job. Just 8 months earlier, when I was first made redundant I would not have had any issue finding a full-time job - even if it was just doing admin work. But I didn't get a permanent job then, I thought that this was my opportunity to be free and start my dream business.
But nothing was working out for me. Fox Park Academy flopped, my subscriber numbers never grew, and I barely had 5 women sign up for a free Wardrobe Rescue session so I could create the opportunity of being a stylist... And then when I jumped on my sewing machines and began to create beautiful product that I could be proud of and sell, I had to abandon it for a short term contract and go back to working in an office environment spending 3 hours commuting everyday.
Right up until we left the country.
Until we sold everything we could, packed up the things we wanted to keep and emptied our lives of all of the stuff that we had spent our whole lives to date collecting... Furniture, books, musics, fabrics and keepsakes... clothing and shoes and jewellery... All of it left behind.
My future year, the year of Bali, the year of focusing on building my dreams, was packed into one small suitcase and one small bag. No fabric. No sketchbooks. No beautiful vintage dresses and gorgeous high heeled shoes. Just swim suits, beach gear and enough medical and optical essentials to get me through. The minimum to survive.
I was scared.
The first month, I worked. I had writing assignments to finish and they kept me super busy, full-time for almost 4 weeks. But then nothing…
My inbox went quiet. There was no more work.
At first, I didn’t mind. This was a chance to get back on track with Fox Park. This was a chance to invest back in me and my dreams. But then I was pushed off my bike by some guy trying to grope me. And then I ended up in the hospital waiting room with a rash that covered the back of my legs. And then my stomach was crook. And then I realised I was going to miss my Grandpa’s 90th Birthday. And I started to seriously struggle.
After a talking to by My Love, who just wanted me to be happy, I feigned motivation, bought a sewing machine, found some secondhand garments I could up-cycle, bought sketch books and all the creative stuff I love. But I floundered. I couldn’t shake the sadness. I couldn’t shake the feeling that here in Bali I was the odd one out, that I was vulnerable. That I was at the bottom of the food chain and couldn’t do anything about it.
Spending so much time alone while My Love surfed his brains out, I sunk even further. Every time I tried to do something on Fox Park, I was faced with an immense feeling of failure. If I tried to write, sad words just poured out of my mind onto the page. I was consumed with thoughts of my life - my past, my failures, my confusion, my future, my frustration. And I struggled to move forward.
So I did the only thing I could muster the energy to do and started to read anything I could to keep me occupied. At first, everything about philosophy, then sustainable fashion, then I got onto climate change, which lead me to environmental philosophy, and onto consumer philosophy….
I was a mess of mixed emotions. The horror of how bad things had gotten since I last read about environmental issues in 2010 when I closed my first sustainable fashion business, was intense. The hunger I felt for more knowledge could not be satiated. But the feeling that I had wasted so much time, so many years in not taking my dreams seriously, so many years not talking about the things I was deeply passionate about, so many years not improving my skills and knowledge, not working in the industry and not building up my authority in the market suffocated me. Dragged me deep into the pit of self-hatred - all I could see was my failure. All I could see was that I had failed at being me, that my lack of self-confidence had caused me to compromise again and again and again.
But below all of the self-loathing, there was a spark of my calling. I felt that I had rediscovered the thing that made my heart burn with a desire to take action. I felt that the situation we faced as a world was at a crisis point and that not one moment could be wasted anymore.
And this was when My Love said that one important thing to me, “If you are really unhappy here in Bali, we will go home.”
But I didn’t want to leave Bali! This was supposed to be the year that I actually make Fox Park a success - this was supposed to be where I could do the things I needed to do without worrying about money all the time - this was where I was meant to have all the time in the world to get all of the things I needed to do done.
How had I gotten myself to this point of complete breakdown when there was so much opportunity right in front of me to have exactly what I wanted?
The voice in my head whispered to me, “because you aren’t good enough.”
A lump formed in my throat choking me and bringing tears to my eyes. The voice got louder, “You aren’t good enough to be a fashion designer.”
And the tears flowed freely from my eyes, “You aren’t good enough to lead a consumer movement.”
“You aren’t good enough to have people be interested in what you are doing.”
“You are just a stupid failure who should go and get a normal job and stop wasting your time.”
There it was. Revealed for me to see. The voice in my head spoke my deepest pain, dished it out to me on a plate like a Sunday roast. There for me to gorge on until my appetite was satisfied.
And I ate from the plate for a while. Feeling the rawness of knowing that I would never be free of this feeling, that it would be with me for life. The voice was a part of me as much as the feeling of sadness was, that to be complete I had to learn to exist with it all. I had to learn to exist with both the bad and the good of what it means to be who I am…
And I had to re-learn that the existence of the bad was evidence that the good was there too… And I accepted that where I was, was just a part of the journey of life. And I let go of the struggle to feel ‘better’. And I just let myself feel.
And finally, I was able to start working on Fox Park again. I was able to begin sewing again. I was able to redesign the website and re-vision what I had planned for Fox Park’s future. I was able to choose that success might be an option.
And now, despite still hearing that voice that tells me that I’m not good enough, I am resigned to just keep going, because there is nothing else I can do but move forward and until I get there. Because we live in a world which is designed to tell us constantly that we will never measure up.
We live in a world which is designed to make us feel inferior. We live in a world which is designed to pit us against each other and against the voice inside of us. We live in a world that has pushed us to crisis point - and the only way to change this is by not fighting against it - but by establishing a new way of being, a new way of living, a new way forward. The way that brings us closer to freedom.