Before your train of thought even goes there, yes I am fully cognisant that 2020 was a shit year for everyone, however, it was a weird one for me. Compared to a very large segment of the world, my year was fantastic: my business grew, my family was safe, and I was shielding since the first lockdown, enabling my lifelong dream of becoming a socially acceptable hermit. Yet, the year ended with a bitter taste for me…
The last five years, upon reflection, have been challenging, but it was because I take risks, don’t settle and I get some serious skin in the game. When you risk big, the reward or losses are of equal magnitude. Reflecting on where I was in life when TILT Creative in the sunny Caribbean first opened its doors, I believed I was making the next step in a logical plan to settle down into a more traditional life. Yet, nothing about me is typically traditional. I do not have this yearning for children and a cute family unit filled with offspring that share half my DNA, or however it works… I do not think about buying a house, settling down, and planting roots. It’s against every fibre of my being to be stagnant, but my partner at the time wanted those things, and I thought that if I had them, I’d settle into a cute cookie-cutter life and never look back.
Opening TILT in Trinidad meant I had to quit my stable, high-paying job and jump headfirst into the unknown, and I did so without hesitation as my instinct said, “jump,” and what a rollercoaster experience that was! So many lessons learned, so many wins, and so many losses, but the experience and knowledge gained was paramount for my next big move. The year following the opening of TILT in Trinidad, my life turned upside down, and the economy shrank into a recession that it still has not yet recovered from.
Without those tribulations, I would not have been the free bird I became to make one of the most fundamental moves of my life: migrating back to the UK. This happened at the height of winter in 2016. The two years following that migration were incredibly tough, full of days of counting pennies for petrol and skipping meals to make ends meet. Then I had a car crash, and I began thinking that I might have made the wrong choice, and I did in some ways… I did not choose me.
For a long time, I was making choices for things right in front of me, but that’s what you do when you’re in survival mode: you choose to live, not to dream. And from 2016 until 2019, I was only making survival choices, so much so that I forgot how to have ambitions or dreams.
My confidence shot and my creative tether all but functional, I found respite in a small support system of my partner and new mother-in-law, both of whom gave me the security and safety to heal and recover. The fight was still in me, and once I regained some positive energy, my spirit dreamed again. And so I quit my job again, and opened TILT Creative, again. And I was back to my old warrior self, but not quite… Losing everything changes something fundamental in a person. It can break them in ways that time sometimes cannot even heal, as dust settles on the cracks it leaves, allowing them to hide in plain sight and silently grow until they become chasms that threaten everything in their wake. While I had the cognitive part of my spirit back online, the creative part laid broken and ailing. The years prior left me feeling lost, alone and broken, like a part of me was missing, and under the wrong guidance, I felt as though I could no longer fend for myself. If you know me personally, you’d know that I’m a focused, driven, ambitious persona, so this is a startling opposite of my usual self. Hope was not lost, and having a support system allowed me to breathe for a moment and recover, emotionally, mentally and physically. Old wounds could not only heal but were replaced with new skin, massively increasing my potential and spurring a new age of ambition.
Ringing in 2020 with a house party filled with love and family around me for the first time in more than a decade, the year started with such hope… My month-long trip to Dubai should have provided my brain the needed replenishment to power into what should have been my most productive year yet, and the year I draft and publish my memoir. While I wrote a lot for clients, I did no writing for myself, and it was not because of a lack of time or want. I felt stuck. While I was being paid to write and clients were happy with my work, it did not sink in that I am a writer, not just by ambition but professionally. To understand this, we must go back in time…
Growing up on a small island in the Caribbean made becoming a writer an impossibility as a viable career. It was so out of my reach that I didn’t even consider it a fantasy; I just tucked that away with ‘artist’ and all the other impossible careers. It’s regrettable that I did not have the nurturing to allow my creativity to flourish, but that’s okay… I didn’t die and we’re here now. But rewriting established programming is no easy feat. I spent the best part of 20 years telling myself that becoming a writer would never happen for me, and I could never make a comfortable living from it. Imagine what that does to you, the depth of that mental conditioning…
When I opened TILT UK, I could finally offer blogging as a service, and being good at it meant that clients noticed it and wanted more, so that service outgrew the rest. While I delivered work, time and time again for clients, I developed a dangerous habit of procrastinating writing. I would start writing blogs and not finish them, either giving up halfway or giving in to the perpetual distraction my inner critic provided, hence the stagnancy here on Désiré Writes (or rather Désiré doesn’t write).
Having an ongoing identity crisis spanning your entire life can really mess up the way you see yourself, and adding the pressure of denying my creative self a healthy outlet did not help one bit. It took everyone around me and hard work mentally to break the cycle. An entire year of working full time as a writer, typing 172 648 words for other people, and countless hours counselling from various friends, a valued business colleague and my mother-in-law, all who just kept saying that I need to believe in myself, is what it cost to understand truly the extent of the damage I had truly caused by suppressing my creativity.
Once I identified the block, I began making slow progress. I didn’t know how to believe in myself, because I never thought I would be a writer, so I couldn’t believe in something that I believed was an impossibility. The first step was learning to believe in myself. The second step was getting off of social media, which was probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a decade. I then began consuming books about being a writer, conquering writers’ block and writing small pieces for fun. Those smaller pulses of creativity grew into longer, more confident pieces, and psychology books about inner thoughts and controlling rumination were devoured, as intrusive negative rumination (you know, that inner critic that needs to take a hike) became a new trigger once I sat down to write. Headphones are a godsend for intrusive thoughts as it provides a physical avenue for focus, and there’s no mood that a melancholic piano playlist can’t improve for me.
Focus restored, belief took root. It might sound silly, but I also bought a few things to remind me of the fact that I’m a writer… A brass owl, sitting atop some books, grasping a quill over a half rolled scroll about owl wisdom, stares at me from the side of my monitor. There’s something about owls that’s writing magic to me, and it helps. A bracelet and a phone wallpaper that remind me that only the strongest women become writers have been fundamental for this mindset change. But the most important part of this process was my journey to discover and remove the obstacles that I built as a child. Without that, I wouldn’t be writing this article you are now reading, and that’s tremendous.
2020, like 2016 and 2017, saw me like a wounded animal in an unfamiliar forest: scared, lost and directionless, which is the polar opposite of the strong, focused woman I normally am. Now that I have healed and found more familiar territory, unburdened by historical self sabotage, I am ready to step back into my natural state, as an Alpha Woman, only this time, I have rediscovered my superpower and intend to wield it until I cease to exist.
Welcome to the Alpha Woman blog.