This past spring I fell into a depression. I had been trucking along and a couple small events completely derailed me. I won’t get into too much detail about those specific events, but it gave me a glimpse into the future, a road I was heading down. This was a huge wakeup call which has lead to some positive changes in my life.
First, I want to mention, and remind myself that personal growth is a lifelong journey. I will never be done. Actually, I feel like that is what a lot of my thirties have been about.
This depression was hinged on the fact that I suddenly felt like my whole identity was tied up in my job, or more specifically, the industry I’m in and social media. My self worth was much too tied up in the noise that can surround telling my story through Nesting Story and it had to stop.
I slowed down, switched my focus to my family, work that was on my plate and babied myself for a few weeks.
Just as I began to pull myself out of the fog at the beginning of summer, our whole house got sick. So I rode it out. But I promised myself that I would slow down enough to enjoy summer, enjoy my family and create content for Nesting Story that I was really passionate about.
Yesterday I was one of four women who recorded a podcast together. Myself, along with three close friends in the industry discussed friendship. This almost two-hour raw and honest conversation forced me to not only self-reflect, but receive feedback from my dear friends. This feedback was surprisingly positive.
Isn’t it sad that I was surprised that they thought I was a good friend?
Since yesterday it has dawned on me, I, once again, despite promising myself I would never do this again, had lost my identity.
Nesting Story was born from a place of loneliness, isolation and a promise to myself that I would never lose my identity again. Something which I did during my first three weeks of motherhood.
I worked hard to not lose my identity when my twins were born, and I kept it in tact. But in the past couple years as Nesting Story has grown, I feel like I have lost my way.
Back when I switched Nesting Story over to a personal blog, and I sat at my small desk in the corner of my living room, poured my heart out in the evening to the handful of readers that I had, and buzz words like monetization, strategy, engagement, etc… never entered my mind.
I just told my story.
A lot has changed since those days. My kids are older and my last two are beginning school. My little corner desk has turned into a large office space. Nesting Story has gained a lot of media attention. I have a team of three amazing women (and moms who I couldn’t live without) who work behind the scenes at Nesting Story. And Nesting Story has become a full-time career, providing an additional household income, taking a lot of weight off of Mike’s shoulders.
But through this amazing growth in my business, I lost who I was. Yes, I had weekly date night with Mike, and I was secure as my identity as a wife and partner. Yes, I was constantly pouring love, time and attention into my kids, which made me know who I was as a mother.
But who was I? What was I doing for me? What did I like?
Everything else was tied up into my workaholic tendencies and I needed to go on a journey of self discovery. This realization isn’t new. The writing has been on the wall for a while… just check out the theme of my blog posts during the last year.
I am happy to announce that since writing those blog posts about finding joy, slowing down, self care and happiness, I have made some changes. Here are a few:
- I’ve begun working out… for me, not a trip or an event. Just to feel good.
- I’ve made sure our family is vacationing more, because I’ve realized I really like travelling with my crew.
- I love playing Marco Polo. I know, this is an odd one. But for years when we’d go swimming at my parents’ house I’d just sit and watch our kids swim. But this summer you can find me with goggles and flippers on, swimming all around the pool. It’s so fun!
- I love running with our dog Oliver. But, I don’t like long distance running. Two kilometres, three times a week is my sweet spot.
- I love my friends. I have reprioritized my closest friendships and have been investing in those relationships more.
You get the idea. I am finding me and it is wonderful.
When it comes to work and Nesting Story, I’m still here. In fact I am hoping this new zest for life will trickle into the content I create. I am being more selective about how much time I learning and strategizing and will be sinking more time into creating. I will be delegating more to my team so I can focus on storytelling.
But here’s the big one…
I am going to write like no one’s reading.
That might sound weird, but when I went from getting feedback from a few hundred people on one platform, to tens of thousands on multiple platforms, it messed with my head and made me hold back.
Actually I think the image of me playing Marco Polo is a perfect metaphor for what I want my life to feel like. I don’t care who’s watching, despite the fact that my kids think I look like an sickly Ninja Turtle with their googles on.
So here’s to a new chapter. An imperfect, authentic chapter full of self discovery about who I am at this stage in my life.
You can find more of Nesting Story on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook.
5 thoughts on “Did I lose my identity again?”
Yes, yes, yes!!!! Love it all, Joanna. <3
Love you Jo!
Yes, go for it! Love that you’re going to write like no one’s reading
Speaking from personal experience, depression is nothing to shake a stick at! I’m happy to hear that you took time for yourself and spent some quality time with your tribe. I am starting my own blog in the next couple of months and your writing is really inspiring! I too plan to “write as if no one is reading” to create real and honest content.
Keep up the good work!
Joanna, you probably don’t remember me, but we were in a due date group together ages ago, for the summer of 2014 twins. We were both bloggers, (although you’ve been far more successful than I ever was) and I always loved reading what you wrote. I stopped blogging and left so many of my groups and stopped following so many bloggers when I started to feel so much pressure to perform for whatever measly social media following I had. I just wanted to say this post really resonated with me and I love the sentiment of writing like no one’s reading – I need to do more of that! xoxo Maigen
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