WRITTEN BY ALICIA KOCH, FOUNDER OF THE LEGAL BELLETRIST
When I was a child, I was fearless.
I believed I could do anything I set my mind to – and I had big dreams. Bless little me. I wanted to climb mountains, go to the Moon, swim with Mermaids, and fly a plane to Antarctica.
I may have been influenced by my favourite novels of all time – Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking glass. I have read both dozens of times (probably more, but who’s counting)?
It was Alice’s line –
“Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
That had done me in.
6 impossible things for breakfast she says? Why – I could gobble that all in one mouthful. I can do 10 impossible things before breakfast”! Ha Alice. Take that!
Little did I know how much that fearless attitude affected those around me. How could I know? A child can never truly see how amazing they are. They are too caught up in their own world and “becoming” that they cannot see who they are through other’s eyes.
Some of us still can’t.
But it was my life-long friend who, on my 21st Birthday got up and gave a speech. She said something to me that night that has stuck with me – through better or worse – ever since. She said “Fishy*, you will rule the world one day. I believe in you”.
*a caveat here – my nickname was Fishy because my maiden name was Fisher. Full disclosure.
Since I had known this friend, let’s call her my “BFFE”, from the day I was fresh from the oven – I figured she had a pretty good insight into my potential. Someone who had known me since birth (still does) can probably see something I could not.
And for a while, I believed her.
I wasn’t afraid of anything – dance on a table? Sure. Jump out of a plane? Absolutely (who’s packing my parachute?). Swim in shark infested waters – yeah (ok, at the time I wasn’t really aware there were sharks around but nevertheless), let’s go!
And then suddenly one day, I grew up (unwillingly).
That fearlessness and self-belief had dissipated. Like cotton candy in the wind. The moment I graduated with my second degree and my life loomed before me, I got an inkling of reality and responsibility and how hard it would truly be to take over the world. Lady Gaga had stolen my look and I didn’t even have one minion, let alone dozens.
But I still read Alice on an annual basis and I still believed I could do 6 impossible things before breakfast. So on to legal articles I went. And then suddenly 6 individual impossible things turned into 1 enormous impossible thing. A feeling I am betting most article clerks/trainees will share.
And that 1 enormous impossible thing grew. Like a little snowball that rolls down a hill and accumulates more and more snow so that by the time it lands at your feet it is a ginormous sphere almost ready to take on its own climate – the “big-bang theory” almost starting again…. A hot dense state and everything.
And like with most things in life, the more you tell yourself, you can’t, the less you actually can.
A once fearless girl who had believed she could take over the world, felt “less than”, unequal to the task and pretty scared. Of just about everything, but most significantly – failing. I started saying to myself – “Don’t do that, it wont work” and “You are such a failure” and “Why bother trying, you will only fail”.
It was the last one that really got me into some pretty dark, dank places in my life.
But almost like Samara from the movie The Ring, crawling out of the well, I somehow managed to pull myself out of my darkest place.
It wasn’t pretty, resembled a horror movie and I really needed to wash my hair!
But I got out.
BUILDING YOUR OWN CASTLE
Whoever told you starting your own business – whatever you may be doing – was easy, had clearly not done it themselves.
It takes guts, it takes self-belief and it takes someone who doesn’t mind listening to Billy Ocean on a daily basis – because “When the going gets tough. The tough get going”,
The lyrics becoming almost like a daily mantra –
“I got something to say
I’m gonna put this dream in motion
I Never let nothing stand in my way
When the going gets tough
The tough get going
I’m gonna get myself ‘cross the river
That’s the price I’m willing to pay
I’m gonna make you stand and deliver….”
And every day, especially when you are starting from scratch, takes having confidence in yourself and in what you can achieve. It takes getting up after being knocked down. It takes looking at situations with new eyes and a new perspective. And more than anything, it takes getting out of your own way.
Because you have probably had more than one person say to you “you are your own worst enemy”. I know I have.
And so my own version of Alicia in Wonderland continued.
I began The Legal Belletrist at the start of 2020, possibly the worst time in my own personal timeline to start a new business. Or so the naysayers said. But I did. And here I find myself doing the very thing I love the most – talking about me. No that’s not right, I meant – writing. That’s it, writing. For a living!
I never had this as part of my dreams as a child. I don’t even think I – with the biggest imagination and biggest dreams – could’ve foreseen this incredible turn of events.
And yet, I’m doing it.
Taking over the world, one article/blog/ (and one day) book at a time.
Just like my BFFE said I would.
But that doesn’t mean that on my first working day of 2023 I didn’t wake up in a cold sweat, freaked out and worried I wouldn’t be able to write anymore. That I wouldn’t be able to write anything coherent or meaningful. In fact, I am thinking that as I type.
I was scared that I would disappoint a client or all my client’s. I was worried that the very thing I loved would disappear. That I would fail. That I would lose my business, my livelihood. Or that someone else would be able to do what I do, only better – Billy Eilish standing in the wings ready to take on my leading role. Someone else stealing my look. Yet again.
Turns out that even in your own business doing your own thing, away from all the office politics and toxicity, you still have your own Jabberwocky to slay.
And the most unexpected one are your own negative thoughts – they can be the hardest. The thing is, all this negative noise is good for is keeping you in your status quo, stuck in the mud and deep down your own dark well, like Samara (and no-one needs that bad-hair day).
5 ways to slay your inner jabberwocky
Now anyone that has read Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” knows that it is a playful, whimsical poem that makes little sense, but is at the same time, beautifully bewildering and fun.
The same does not however go for the creature itself – which is a rather scary, horrific creature that is threatening to destroy Underland. And the Jabberwocky – which in your particular circumstance and the villain in this story – has got to go!
So how do we go about slaying it?
Take a moment – when you hear yourself talking badly about YOU, stop for a minute and realise what is happening. Realise that this is just your anxiety or an anxious moment that is taking hold of you. The thoughts are irrational, nonsensical and can threaten your very success and affect self-esteem. Realise that you are in a type of fight or flight (or in my case freeze) scenario that does not serve you right now. And then take a deep breath. In and out. And repeat. Then – and this is important – stick up for yourself, as you would do for a good friend. Tell your inner voice – No. That’s not true. It’s irrational. Because you deserve protection from your inner Jabberwocky sometimes too. Remember that.
Identify exactly what you are feeling – it’s very easy to feel negative about something, to feel like a failure before you have even tried. But understanding what triggered that feeling in the first place is key to slaying your inner Jabberwocky. Why do you feel this way? What was the precursor, what was the trigger? Did you see someone post something on the socials about a moment of success and feel envious, pressure, or subconsciously wonder how they did it? It’s a healing process to genuinely think about how your thoughts can affect your emotions. An effective way to do this is to write it all down – what you were thinking and how it made you feel. That way you can start to unpack any underlying emotions that need to be addressed. Think of this as starting a journal to help YOU. Not only will this create self-awareness, but it will also help you truly identify your inner thoughts and feelings.
Replace negativity with positivity – sure, it’ easier said than done. It’s hard to be positive all the time. But it’s time to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. It sounds so simplistic – like “sure why didn’t I think of that”? But the truth is, we often don’t. We don’t remember what we have already achieved or what we have already overcome. We forget our accomplishments so easily. I’m not even sure why this is the case. But it always seems like it’s easier to believe the negative over the positive. So, changing that is key. Every time you think to yourself “I will never succeed” or “I’m a failure”, remind yourself of everything you have already done, everything you have already achieved. And the more you think about those positive things the less you will focus on the negative Nancy in your own head. Your inner Jabberwocky is not who you should be listening to. It should be your inner Alice – remembering the 6 impossible things she did before breakfast!
Take it easy on yourself – living in such a fast-paced society, everything feels like it should have happened yesterday. You should already be listed on the stock exchange after just starting your start-up, right? You should already be listed on the Forbes Top 50 most successful people list, because you published one opinion article and have changed the world. At 40 you should already be a director of a global Law Firm, right? By 35 you should already have 2 kids – a perfect pigeon pair. How lovely. What nonsense! There is no time limit here. There is no age we should be doing anything by. It’s all according to our own timelines. So, take it easy on yourself. Instead, take a moment and celebrate what you have achieved and look forward to what comes next. Stop measuring yourself against everyone else. We are all on our own journeys.
Focus – something everyone who has ever run their own department or own business will tell you is key. Having focus. It is all too easy to get bogged down by all the little “to-do’s”, the accumulating unread emails in your inbox, the constant sales pitches or touch bases. It is amazingly easy to get overwhelmed. It can feel like you haven’t done enough – there is still more you should be doing. Again, overwhelm. It happens. But this feeling of overwhelm can cause you to lose focus on what your end-goal is. What you want to achieve. And when this happens, it can feel like your dreams are falling by the wayside. So, don’t let that happen. Keep laser focused on what you want out of your work, your livelihood. What is important to you. If it helps, write down what you want to achieve and stick it on your wall – like a daily reminder of why you started whatever it is you started in the first place.
The take-away from this article simply is – everything is achievable if you look at the facts that support and drive your ambition and desires to work for and on yourself.
Less listening to the inner Jabberwocky. More listening to your inner Alice! Instead of your own worst enemy, become your own best friend and most fervid supporter.
Believing in YOU is the absolute best thing you can do for your self-esteem, confidence and self-belief.
It’s time to become fearless again. It’s time to tackle 6 impossible things before breakfast!
Because you can….
About the Author, Alicia Koch, Founder of The Legal Belletrist.
Alicia, an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE, and now a legal writer and researcher, has established The Legal Belletrist to assist companies (in different sectors) to write well-researched articles that speak to each company’s core business, enabling growth and commercialism.
Click here to visit The Legal Belletrist website.