I recently read an article on BuzzFeed entitled "12 Things Women Do Everyday That Are Fearless." I'll come back to why I wanted to talk about this article, but first let's talk about Bodyform, who shared the article on social media. Bodyform are currently running a campaign called 'Live Fearless'. The campaign encourages women the world over to 'face your fears and share a picture or video of you doing something that scares you', through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #LiveFearless.
Each month the campaign sets a challenge with prizes for the best entries. It encourages women to share how they push their limits, what makes them great and how they break out of routine and try something new. The most recent campaign ending at the end of November, (still time to enter here!) encourages us to embrace our fears and do something that scares us.
The first time I saw this campaign, I loved it. How could I not be a fan of something that encourages women to challenge themselves, be proud of who they are and be bold in the face of their fears?
The photos on the Facebook page speak for themselves...
So there I am, thinking away about this campaign and how brilliant it is to see so many people being awesomely fearless in their lives. I love the positive association and can understand how it's changing the way people consider Bodyform's brand.
What I can't understand is why they would share the article that prompted me to write this post.
"12 things women do every day that are fearless" on Buzzfeed. I clicked on the link and and started reading down the list. I couldn't believe it.
At least four out of the twelve are to do with hair removal.
Wow, that's life changing stuff. I really had no idea that shaving our legs was so fearless!
The campaign has had such a positive influence, that I felt so disappointed when I saw them sharing this buzzfeed content. In my opinion, this one post has degraded the campaign and the authentic fearless living of real women that Bodyform has been striving to encourage.
What you gonna do about it?
Every day I am impressed with amazing women I come into contact with, either by being fortunate enough to meet them and learn more about their story, or women I read about or become 'virtual' friends with through social media.
I've compiled my own list of 1o things women do every day that are fearless, inspired by the women who inspire me.*
1. Quitting jobs they are unhappy in
We've all been there. Unhappy, unfulfilled at work. Feeling under-valued, lacking in drive and not feeling stimulated by the work we're doing. Leaving is hard. Walking away from security, from a pay-check you need, from people you know, from the commute you've made work for you. Writing your resignation letter and handing it to your boss is not easy. Have you played that process over and over in your mind? Better the devil you know right? Wrong. It takes balls to leave a situation that's making you unhappy but life's too short.
You essentially have three options, quit without another job lined up, find another job whilst you're still employed or start your own business. All are really tough! If you leave without a job lined up you don't know how long you'll be unemployed for and perhaps that's a financial risk you are not able or willing to take. If you're seriously considering moving on, the chances are the situation at work has worn you down and you're not feeling the confident, driven, brilliant person you are. Applying for jobs and interviewing when you feel this way can feel like an enormous task. I'll come onto starting your own business in a minute.
There's no doubt about it though, if you want something different you have to change what you're doing. Be prepared to make sacrifices and bold decisions about your life, it will pay dividends over and over again.
2. Leaving relationships that are no good for them
I often think relationships are similar to jobs. You have to try a few, learn from each one and know when it's the right time to move on. The aim being that in the end, you will find the one that's right for you and stick with it forever. It's so difficult to leave a relationship that isn't working for you. It's scary, you don't want to be alone, you're worried about how much upheaval it's going to create in your life and you can't imagine having to start from scratch with a new partner in the future. You believe things will change and you try time and time again to make it work. Eventually it becomes too much and you have to make the move.
Nothing is worth making you feel that way.
Another bold, fearless decision women are making every day.
3. Sharing issues that are deeply personal to them and inspiring hope in others
A woman named Bethany recently wrote to me and shared her blog post about her experience with Postpartum depression. Entitled 'Love. It's a strange and unfathomable thing', it's hard enough to read, to feel the intimate words and experiences of someone you don't know going through such an incredibly difficult time. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it was for her to write it. To go through that period in her life, come out the other side and be able to summarise those months into a beautifully written, heartfelt blog post.
She's not the only one, there are hundreds of women sharing issues that are deeply personal to them in the hope of helping others to know they are not alone.
It can be hard for us to admit we are finding things tough and not coping with life.It can feel like failure.
Reading about other people's experiences is often the helping hand we need to find the strength to seek help and overcome challenging times in our lives.
These women fearlessly put themselves out there. They are heroes.
4. Setting challenges
Of course this had to feature on my list!! My mission is to encourage women to dream big and set themselves challenges that raise their own bar. Challenges where you don't know the outcome and there's an element of risk. I believe it's the most empowering feeling in the world to achieve something you didn't think you could do. Take those feelings of confidence, drive and resilience and use them to make magic happen in your life. We are all capable of far more than we think, prove it to yourself!
We don't know if we will succeed and we may fail, but none of that matters, we should always shoot for the moon as that's how we land in the stars.
The world is our oyster.
5. Starting at the back
No one enjoys feeling like a beginner, struggling to keep up at the back of the group. Not knowing the moves, the lingo, not being fast enough, strong enough, or having the kit the cool cats have. It doesn't matter. Putting yourself in this position is one of the most powerful things you can do. It's from here that you grow, fast.
6. Dealing with every day sexism
Being wolf-whistled at as you walk down the street, random men talking to you on public transport or leering at you from their vehicles. None of this is fun and can be pretty intimidating and horrible to deal with, yet it is something women face on a daily basis. Sadly, these are every day occurences that we brush off and often accept as a normal part of life, but there are many more serious occurences of sexual assult and harrassment that requires a huge amount of guts to deal with. Check out the Everyday Sexism Project.
Totally fearless to stand up for yourself and your rights.
7. Starting their own businesses
One of my favs! The Guardian shared findings this week from Women's Entrepreneurship Day, that show women are totally badass at running their own businesses. However, men are twice as likely to run their own businesses than women, why? It's our old friend - fear of failure. Rearing its ugly head when we think about striking out on our own and instantly shooting us down. I am in awe and those who have taken the leap! Keep going ladies, let's support each other with our pockets - buy the products and hire the services of the women you know who run their own businesses.
8. Re-inventing themselves
I love talking to people about their story in life. Their journey. Sharing a cup of tea and listening whilst they unravel their life and explain how they arrived where they are today. Re-inventing yourself isn't a light decision to make and feels like starting over again. But everyone has to start somewhere and often the place we start isn't where we want to end up. My first job out of uni was as a Sales Executive. Within two years I'd worked my way up the chain and was Head of Business Development, managing and leading a team of 11 employees for the UK's fastest growing technology startup MVF Global. I had no intention of staying in sales when I started my career there, and after a few years managing a team, I wasn't satisfied there.
I'm now dabbling in all things adventure related and on an entirely new mission in life! However, I left a huge amount behind when I walked away from that career path. A lot of people said I was crazy, that I should wait until I'd bought a house and paid off my mortgage... I'm not a fan of waiting, I believe you have to go out there and make it happen.
I try not to think about what happens if I fail, because I know I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try.
I recently had the pleasure of crossing paths with Simone Roche who re-invented herself and started Women1st, an initiative to raise the number of women in senior roles. Simone is amazing and one of the women I've met who have made significant changes in their lives to pursue their passions and strike out on their own.
9. Ignoring the critics and naysayers
Everyone wants to give their opinion, it's an unavoidable part of human nature. When we want to do something exceptional, the most important thing is to surround ourselves with the right people who believe in us and our mission, and listen to the voice within.
Emma Watson recently spoke out about gender inequality and feminism through the He for She campaign. She received a barrage of criticism and threats. She also received a huge amount of support globally. It can't have been easy for her to make that speech and it must have been pretty horrific for her to have so much anger and criticism directed at her.
However, she's pioneering a global movement and driving social change, talk about being fearless!
10. Asking for help
I touched on this earlier, but we can often find it difficult to reach out and ask for help. It can feel like an admission of failure. However, when we do ask for help and admit that we can't do this alone or that the current situation is not working for us, these are our breakthrough moments. The ones we look back on and realise were the fork in the road that led us to where we are now.
Be bold, be fearless, ask for help and breakthrough.
We're in this together.
• I don't want my male readers to feel left out or as though I'm any less impressed or supportive when you do these things than when women do! I wrote this blog to be a celebration of women and specifically of the women I know who live fearlessly, and to help others that want to be more fearless. Men, you are amazing too but this blog is dedicated to women.