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Why did I think I was not enough?


By IMAGE
20th Mar 2023

Eva Blake

Why did I think I was not enough?

As women, we often play small, belittling ourselves and our achievements. Wellness business mentor Vicky Shilling reflects on seeing ourselves as equals, setting up her inspiring Supper Club when she first moved to Ireland, and how buying her ticket for this year’s IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards was an important step in reminding herself – and others – that we are all worthy and all "totally enough".

“I’ve got my ticket to this year’s IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards ceremony already, have you bought yours?” When I shared this on my social media recently I was inundated with comments from people who all had the same undertones:

“I’ve always wondered about going but didn’t think I was a big enough business owner.”

“I didn’t really think it was something for me.”

“Would I fit in? I’m not sure I’m the right sort of person to go to something like that.” 

The comments saddened me, but they didn’t shock me. Because last year, I thought like that too when the tickets went on sale. As I looked through pictures of women who had businesses with far bigger turnover than me, with employees, international reach, and who were well-established household name brands, I didn’t think I was “one of them.” Surely this wasn’t an event for me. 

But as a coach and a mentor to other business owners, I got curious about this. What exactly was it that I believed that made me think I wasn’t “one of them”? That I was somehow not worthy, that my work and my business were not good enough, to allow me to step onto the same red carpet as these people? 

Social conditioning

As women – and everyone who identifies as female – we often play small. We often belittle ourselves and our achievements. 

Sadly, a large part of that is social conditioning – that as females we should be seen and not heard, that we should be likeable and not brag or make others feel uncomfortable in our presence, that in order to really be “successful” we probably need to do something more like get another qualification, do another course, get another promotion, or make more money. 

Joins us at Ireland’s most inspiring business awards of the yearNomination button for Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2023

It’s a cycle I see my own clients in and I am not immune to myself, that somehow the message is always “you’re not enough.”  But when we can see this for what it is – a story and a belief that simply is not true, we can start to shake it off and step more into self-belief and confidence that the way we are, the things we do, and the achievements we have reached are already more than enough. We are just as worthy and just as valid to take up a space in the same arenas as others who have achieved at different levels. 

What I also know is that just telling you “you are enough!” isn’t enough, ironically. A big part of inspiring others to do things out of their comfort zones and believe in themselves is not, in fact, through the tips and advice I share or the words I write, it’s how I show up and act in my own life and business. And I knew last year when I looked at those tickets and the photos from the red carpet that this was an opportunity to role model to my own audience what knowing I am worthy looked like. 

So, I bought the ticket. The funny thing for me to reflect on when I look at my reluctance to buy that ticket is that there was a time a few years back when I invited these very same women into my own home. Let me explain. 

Whether we’re in a designer dress drinking a glass of champagne or in the trenches in our business with a scruffy top-knot working from the kitchen table, we are all worthy.

Supper Club

Before I moved to Ireland in 2017 I had been running some supper clubs with a friend in London for business owners. It was a chance for us to grow our own network and have an informal way to gather and talk shop over delicious food and drink. 

After I got settled in Dublin the natural suggestion was: why don’t we recreate the supper club for business owners in Ireland? The problem was, I didn’t know many people then. I’d only been in the country a year or so. Added to that, when we had run the evenings in London our goal was always to stretch ourselves. We didn’t just invite friends and peers, but people who inspired us and that were further ahead than us in business too, so we could learn from them in exchange for some home-cooked food (did I mention I did all the catering for 15 people?!). 

So if we did this in Ireland, where was I going to find a list of inspiring female business owners that I didn’t know yet but was going to invite to my apartment for dinner? The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards list, of course.

So that’s exactly what we did. We planned the supper club at my own home. I put together a menu and then I invited names from the winners of that year’s awards. I didn’t know these women at all,;they were names on a list. And so I treated them exactly like I would any other – as human beings who I’d love to talk to more.  

Vicky with her Supper Club co-host Charlotte Argyrou

And do you know what? They said yes! They came to my apartment, and we had a wonderful meal (I had roped in a good friend and recipe book author to help this time). We talked and connected, shared about our businesses and our journeys, and everyone went home full and satisfied with wonderful conversation and delicious food.  

The weird thing is I look back and think I’m not quite sure how I had the confidence to do that now. Living in Ireland longer and seeing the status of some of these people, the networks they moved in and the businesses they created, I wonder if maybe I should have been more hesitant and played a little smaller with my guest list. Who was I to think these incredible people would want to come to my event?

Melanie Morris and other guests enjoying the evening

But I didn’t think like that. Because at that moment in time, I saw these women were my equals and they still are. They are amazing humans who just so happen to have had the audacity, strength and determination to create brilliant businesses. And that’s how I identify too. 

I hope you read this and take away the simple truth that all women in business are just humans at the end of the day. Whether we’re in a designer dress drinking a glass of champagne or in the trenches in our business with a scruffy top-knot working from the kitchen table, we are all worthy. We all have difficult days and we are all working to build something that has a positive impact on the world. We are all the same. 

I really hope I’ll see you at the awards. You are totally enough. 

self-belief

Vicky Shilling is a wellness business mentor, helping health practitioners turn their expertise into income. She is dedicated to making well-being solopreneurship as simple and supported as possible in a world of advice overwhelm. She shares tips and straight-talking action steps through her Just Start Now book and award-nominated podcast, community, and 1:1 mentoring. To learn more details, visit www.vickyshilling.com. 

Photography by: Brid O’Donovan & Eva Blake

Tickets for the IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2023

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