I never thought of myself as someone who played small.
I put myself out there, I tried new things. I traveled, I took risks. Heck, I once dropped everything and moved abroad on a whim.
I dressed down. I accepted less than I deserved. I failed to advocate for myself. And I started playing safe.
In the first decade of my career, I spent a lot of time doubting myself. I worked for a number of different employers who took advantage of me, manipulated me, lacked trust in me, and ultimately convinced me that I had no idea what I was doing.
I had employers who looked at me like I was stupid because I was blonde and had a high-pitched voice, or treated me like a threat because I spoke up for myself and my ideas. They made me believe I was too loud, too bold, and that I was the crazy one. And even though I had more than enough experience and more than enough education, I always found myself caught in these uncomfortable scenarios where I felt like I couldn’t leave and find something better for me.
I was afraid I wouldn’t find another job. That I’d go broke and have to move back home. That I’d lose friendships and connections in an industry I so desperately wanted to be a part of.
So I made myself small. I stopped asking questions and started taking directions. I dressed in black and stayed quiet, desperately hoping to hide from the attention I never asked to receive. I began to lose trust in coworkers, ignoring their Facebook friend requests and opting out of team pub nights.
As it turns out, that didn’t benefit me either.
When I was pushed off a cliff into a full-time freelance career, it gave me a lot of time to reflect. It also forced me to step into a role I wasn’t sure I could handle. I didn’t believe that I was experienced enough in my field to run my own business. I didn’t believe I knew enough about finance to manage my own books and thought my website was so basic I’d never get clients.
But when I actually took a minute to believe in myself, I realized I could attract clients. I could manage my own business. And my website didn’t need to be perfect for me to start.
Now, in this new phase of my life where I’m determined to level up, I’m done playing small. I know that in order to attract the type of projects, connections, and relationships that I want, I must embody the type of person who deserves them.
So I’m asking for (and earning) the money I know I am worth. I’m networking and speaking about my skills honestly. I’m taking on projects that push me and make me uncomfortable in the best possible way. I’m surrounding myself with people who raise me up.
And I’m wearing red.
Article Written by Kyla Clarke. Based in Toronto, Kyla is a writer, a podcaster and a community builder. Her mission is to help people to stop feeling stuck and start building the life of their dreams. She’s also a freelance marketing specialist who writes blog content and website copy for brands and small businesses. Check out her website and follow her on Social Media.