That I am finally happy being the real me ALL the time.

Lockdown 1.0 and being furloughed presented me with what I have referred to as ‘a unique gift of time’.

I am a single woman and live alone. As we near the end of 2020 I will become 37 years old. And it’s only now, that I have found my true sense of self. There is no longer a persona for family or work (my true friends have always seen the real me) and I have now let go of ‘the fear’. Bringing my true authentic self, in all situations, can only be a good thing – I have wondered whether that would at the expense of my career, however there are signs showing that is not likely to be the case.

Having spent the last couple of years on self development – including receiving counselling – lockdown allowed me to sit with my thoughts, figure out what I want for the rest of my life and acknowledge the woman I have become. I wrote this article which was recently published on Thrive Global. I haven’t had it easy. And there have been other challenges that have tested me, including a messy break up from a long term relationship, with my mum being diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks after the split. But you know what? I am grateful for everything that has happened. EVERYTHING. These experiences have built a reservoir of resilience in me that I would never have had otherwise. Thankfully my mum recovered from cancer and whilst it was a really sh*tty thing for us to have gone through at the time, I can honestly say that it was the best thing for our family. We are closer and stronger together now than we ever have been.

And one thing’s for certain…Nothing and no-one will ever shake my core again.

Lockdown also gave me the time to start a passion project. I launched my own podcast – The Diversity of Me; Keeping It Real – in just three weeks, from an idea to getting it out there. Many of the guests featured work in the UK broadcast industry, where they share their top three ways of ‘Keeping It Real’. I make a point of speaking to as many diverse guests as possible. A couple of bonus episodes are with a woman I used to have counselling with – I am an advocate for promoting emotional well-being and having counselling really helped me to start living my best life! I also share my poetry as I applied to become Bristol’s City Poet. My submission wasn’t successful but I was given this feedback: “the judges were incredibly moved by your application, which was the most original and affecting of all that we received.” I was subsequently mentored by the previous Bristol City Poet who was one of the judges. My podcast has reached listeners from 19 countries across 4 continents in less than 6 months.

I started studying towards a Diploma in Professional Marketing – although this was a knee jerk (and very expensive) reaction to being designated a furlough worker. I’m not so sure I will actually make use of the Diploma – as in getting a marketing role – but I have definitely applied some of the learnings to promote my passion project.

I hope to become a voice over artist for audio books and in the new year a recording studio I submitted a sample to have asked that I visit them to record a few professional samples that they can submit to publishers of non-fiction books! I was also approached by a community radio station to join them as a presenter – although at the time of writing this I haven’t heard back from them so that may not pan out. However, this has spurred me on to submit a demo to BBC Asian Network, as they recently put a call out to find 12 new presenters for 2021. I had the highlight of my career in October when I returned to freelancing (following redundancy – bloody Covid!) to organise a conversation between Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg at the virtual edition of Wildscreen Festival 2020, as well as organising other amazing conversations featuring the likes of Hollywood Director James Cameron, and Dr. Jane Goodall. I joined a membership group for women to obtain a ‘wealthy mindset’ so that I can learn how to make my hard earned money work better for me and before Covid I had vowed to NEVER EVER go on a dating app because I didn’t want my ‘love story’ to originate from an app. I’ve now joined Hinge. When in a global pandemic needs must! ??‍♀️

I am mindful that what I have written here is all so positive. I’m not the key worker at a hospital holding the hands of those who died alone. I’m not the mother who works full time and had to juggle working from home and homeschooling her children. I’m not the business owner who had to pivot (sorry I know this word has been over-used in 2020) their entire operation to enable remote working or make really difficult decisions around introducing redundancies to save their business. I was lonely though. I missed my family and friends terribly. I missed hugs. I missed being social, given I am 35% percent social (I know this because I once completed an Emergenetics profiling questionnaire). I missed swimming and dancing… dancing, with people. Dancing in my tiny living room on my own over Zoom just wasn’t the same.

The world descended into chaos. So many have lost and continue to lose their lives, their loved ones, their jobs (as did I in the end) and we’ve lived through and continue to live through, a time of huge uncertainty.

Yet, I have faith that we will become better human beings as a result.

I have faith that we will take care of ourselves better.

I have faith that we will take care of each other better.

And I have faith that we will take care of our home – planet earth – better. I’m sure of it.