No apologies: for anyone who has ever been told you're not enough
Listening time: 13.30 mins
It's truly amazing the difference a year makes.
I wrote the post below a year ago today, and it popped up in the memories section of my phone and reminded me to "bloody post it already Angela".
At the time of writing it, I was living in Bali and struggling to get my words out when it came to articulating my purpose in life. You know, what I really wanted to do with myself. I was quite literally stuttering out a string of non-sensical words every time I started talking about things that were really important to me, and how I intended to make a difference in the world. Totally tongue-tied and twisted without a way to find my words; writing was my only way forward at that time. So, write I did, and the below was my first try. So, today, a year on, I feel it's important to honour that voice that was struggling to find its way out. A small but powerful voice, just asking to be heard.
I didn't publish this at the time because honestly I was scared what people would think, and I didn't believe in myself. I was afraid of really being seen standing in my truth, and scarily, I was actually okay with making myself small, dumbing down what I was up to behind the scenes of my tropical paradise life, going deep into my personal depths to see what was really happening. I was genuinely worried about how I would appear to others, and very cautious about "ruffling any feathers" or worse, feeling the judgment of people who thought I was crazy for giving up a successful corporate career for...what? Running around the jungle finding myself? Judgment central.
At the time I had all the right feelings and desires about speaking up for people who were marginalized, inspiring others, helping humans who just like me were sick of having their sunshine squashed because it made others uncomfortable, threatened or jealous. I just had nowhere to put these thoughts and words. And honestly, I wasn't sure I had the authority or the gravitas to speak them out loud. Who was I to talk about things like this? What did I know about speaking my truth and inspiring others? What made me think anyone would listen or care what I had to say? Turns out, I knew a lot more than I gave myself credit for then.
So began Miss Cook & Co.
These thoughts had to go somewhere, and here they are. In these pages on the "interwebs". A year later than when they first came to life, but better late than never I say.
But, as I said, a year ago, it felt "wrong" starting Miss Cook & Co with a litany of angry and gritty articles and posts, even though this was how I was feeling; stuck, weird and sick of status quo. Truthfully, I didn't want people to see the fired up me when I was starting a business, I judged it as "ranty" and "unattractive". It wasn't an "appropriate" way to launch my brand. I didn't want people to think I was a screechy woman (god forbid you be that archetype today) shouting into the internet about "enough is enough", and "we can do better". Dear God. I actually thought that. Seriously. I did. I was afraid of my authentic self, she was all a bit much. I thought all the life experience I had, meant pretty much nothing, and when I allowed any passion, emotion or drive to come through me, I would be seen as "screechy". FFS.
Well, that's definitely over. Things have changed in that department.
What I now know, is that speaking the truth and being honest about what matters to me, what I care about, for both myself and others, IS my brand. That is what Miss Cook & Co IS. It's why it was created, and it is exactly what I am going to do with it, all day, every day. It's not done to please the masses, it's done to authentically relate to those who can see some of themselves in the many different things we are going to talk about in the days, weeks and years to come.
So, now it seems like the perfect time to post this piece because not only the words are as true now as they were then (perhaps even more so), I am now so incredibly comfortable with and proud of my own true voice, even when it's not all sunshine rays and fluffy heart emojis. This mainly because I now see how important it is to be a voice for others, to inspire people and to lead by example. Hopefully, you are one of those people :-).
I hope this piece, this website and I (as a person) inspire you to really say what's on your mind, to not take "no" for an answer, and when someone tells you you're "too" this or "not enough" that...stand up for yourself and tell them, politely, to fuck off. You have no time for that, you areu busy being your best self, and doing what's right for you #sorrynotsorry.
So, here it is, the inaugural Miss Cook & Co piece, my personal manifesto: No Apologies.
This is the face of a woman will no longer waste any time apologizing for who I am.
I have spent a far too large a portion of my adult life apologizing to a plethora of different people (including myself) for parts of me that for one reason or another were unpalatable to them; whether this was as a woman, a lawyer, a stranger, a lover, a daughter, a friend or a girlfriend. I have been "too" everything imaginable; too intense, too much (wonderfully ambiguous that one), too smart, too wild, too emotional, too aggressive, too needy (ouch), too sexual, too sensitive, too crazy, too happy, too effusive, too pretty, too fat, too keen, too well off, too loud, too opinionated, too successful. Seriously? Give me a break. That list is like the Neverending-fucking-Story without Valcor.
I have also been lots of "not enough" of something else; not corporate enough (honk laughing at this one), not thin enough, not serious enough, not keen/hungry enough, not ladylike enough, not soft enough. FFS. Enough already.
Let me tell you something personal; each of those delightfully insightful "observations" (from such beautifully adjusted humans delivering them), each one really.f**king.hurt. Like handing someone a razor blade and a road map, and saying to them "X marks the spot to cut me the deepest". Some were (hopefully) well-intentioned but slightly misguided, however, in hindsight, many of these comments were borne out of that person's own sense of inadequacy and self-doubt, more easily projected onto me (or others), rather than to turn their gaze inwards and see what was really going on. And, that, that's not cool. Ever. Yet every cloud has a sliver lining.
So, to those who are responsible for delivering these intensely painful barbs, whatever your intent, I say this: THANK YOU. Thank you for making me into the woman I am today - I have a purpose, something beyond living my happy little life pottering around the world having an amazing time without a care in the world, and without realizing it, you helped me see that. You allowed me to step into myself in a way I could not have done without your unkindness. The irony that your attempt to steal my sunshine, only made it brighter, is not lost on me, but it may be lost on you.
BUT, a word of warning to those who may be thinking of taking this course of action in the future, I say this: the Miss Cook Apology Service is now closed. Permanently. I will no longer apologise for something someone else thinks I am or am not. The response next time will be very far from gracious or accepting, let alone apologetic.
So, what am I if not the eternal apologist I once was? Great question. After much searching, I have an answer: I am a whole, strong, flawed, sensitive, wild hearted woman, embodying a myriad of feelings, thoughts and opinions that I will no longer hide because they are not "popular" "pretty" or "nicely packaged".
You don't like that? That's not your thing? That is absolutely okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just do me this favour; take your opinions of me, shove them really far up your ass where I can't see or hear them, and most importantly, get the f**k out of my way.
I have big plans to inspire all those incredible women and men out there who mistakenly believe they should apologise to society, especially to those close to them, their parents, partners, employers or friends, for being "too" this or "not enough" that, or just "something". You know who you are: those of you being marginalized by any person who is previously or presently labouring under the enormous misapprehension that they know better about what you should be, or what is right for you. No honey. No, they don't. I am here to show you that you can do WAY better than being surrounded by people like this.
I will happily fall on my sword, hold myself out for you, in all my imperfections and shortcomings, and share with you all the ways I have failed, fallen down and subsequently picked myself up. How I came to realize that I am not just enough, not just not sorry, but I am incredible and extraordinary, unique and valuable, just like you are. If saying that here means one of you, just one, as a result, can finally see how incredible you are, in all your frailties and foibles, to take a step out of the shadows, and into the light with me, then that is all I need as a reason for doing this. I'll happily hold my foot to the flame if you can come out of this shining just a little bit brighter.
To you, all of you, who are nodding your heads "yes, this is me, I am sick of being sorry", come on babe, come with me. I will stand for you, and inspire you to accept nothing less than what you deserve. I will do my best, accepting I am imperfect and 100% human, to lead the way to show that we can do far better than tearing each other apart and spraying others with our insecurities under the auspices of "friendly advice" or something more sinister.
Love and acceptance is the only way forward.
You are all beautiful, extraordinary and fragile in ways unique to you. Be open, be honest, be strong and very importantly; be self-aware, but don't EVER be apologetic for something that makes you, you.
I have long waited for this moment; the moment when I am finally prepared to stand for what I believe in, unapologetically. At long last, I will put my money where my mouth is. I'm ready to rise up, to serve you, to hold space for you. I am in all in; for you and for me. You better believe I have a lot of fight in me, and I come with an incredible tribe of extraordinary humans, far too many to name, who are ready to take their places as thought leaders, as people inspiring others to greater things, and who are prepared to sacrifice a lot to stand for those who can't stand for themselves.
Let's do this. I am tired of sitting on the sidelines, apologizing for all the things I am not, instead of stepping into everything that I am. After all, a tiger doesn't apologise for being a tiger, and all that it brings. It just is what it is. And so it is for me. All that I am. No apologies.
All my unapologetic tiger-like love,
Miss Cook xoxo