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At a business conference this past year, Rachel Hollis asked us to raise our hands if we weren’t the prettiest, most popular girl in our seventh-grade class. Without a doubt, my hand went up. Seventh grade was a transition year for me and I looked worse at 12 than I ever have at any other stage of life.

She asked us to keep our hands up if we felt like we would never be as “perfect” as that popular girl had been.

As I’m holding up my hand, my mind begins reminding me of all the things I never was. I wasn’t that tiny waisted, seamlessly flawless and overly confident cheerleader with perfectly flat blond hair, rolled jeans, and a scrunchie on her wrist with a Jansport® backpack.

It has been 27 years since I was in the seventh grade and my memories can still surface like I was just walking the halls of Woodside Middle School yesterday. I think that’s why Rachel brought it up in her speech. She knows she’s not the only one who has allowed experiences in her adolescence to impact how she views herself as an adult.

Looking back I see the blue carpet leading up and down the gray halls of the main section of the middle school. Rows of blue lockers line the walls as I walk quietly down the crowded hallway, head hanging a little low, reclusiveness in my eye gaze. I’m trying not to catch anyone’s eyes, but I am scanning everyone around me desperate to know what’s going on and learn how to impersonate those around me.

I see a few of the girls that always garner the attention of everyone in the school. The popular girls, that everyone else seems to covet after. They are all so beautiful and poised.

Then I glance down at my oversized t-shirt and dopey looking “mom” jeans, neither styled right or rolled at the ankles. I wear bulky white sneakers and my frizzy hair is a hot mess. I don’t have a clue about how to style myself and I have parents who seem to not care if I ever learn. They are two of the world’s most non-trending individuals. They live a life that is comfortable for them and show no sign of caring what other people think. That wasn’t a level of confidence I was able to assume at 12 years old. Especially not when I’m regularly picked on for my chronic dandruff.

Wow, reliving these memories is hard.

Rachel emphasized the point because she knows that living through an experience like this, carrying the burden to fit in, and the sorrow of never being able to do so, can still cause suffering as an adult.

The pain I felt then still lives within me unless I learn how to release it.

The anxiety of entering a classroom or the dreaded lunchroom, not knowing if I would find one of my few friends to sit with. The weight of feeling like I would never measure up, never be good enough, never beautiful.

You get the idea. Fill in the blank with whatever weighed on you.

And now acknowledge if those same thoughts and feelings are trapping you from moving forward in your life.

When it comes to launching your business or reaching for that next career milestone, these emotional triggers can pop up and hinder you from feeling confident enough to take that next step.

Rachel Hollis talked about not giving anyone else who hasn’t walked right there beside you in your business the power to have an opinion in your life. They just don’t have the right. They don’t have any authority over you and your business. They are just opinionated people, whether real or imagined, and have no bearing on what you choose to do with your life.

Let that sink in! So much power and freedom can be a result of accepting that in your life.

She closed out the thought by saying, it is not them who will live with the regret of what you don’t do.

Nope, that burden is yours and yours alone, so don’t let them steal an ounce of your happiness. Go for the gold. Try your hardest and don’t look back at the so-called popular girls in the corner. They have no say in whom you can become or whom you will become if you allow yourself.

Y’all, I was a hot mess in middle school. But now, I praise God that I was. It was that tangled mess of unruly hair, braces in multi-colored ties, and the lack of confidence in my disposition that kept the stupid, immature boys from taking an interest in me. It kept me home reading when others were out partying and screwing up.

It was hard then, but at this moment, I acknowledge that I was spared from relationships and circumstances that could have derailed my future. I was so desperate for acceptance that I most likely would have made some really poor decisions to get the attention I desired. As it was, I remained home night after night, my head buried in another book. I grew my mind and my mind took me away to college and life thereafter. A life that I consider blessed.

Throughout the years I have found my satisfaction in how God has made me and today I am proud of His handiwork, as a beautiful, empowered, and confident woman.

I tuck the perspective from Rachel Hollis in my heart as I move forward from here. Making the leap from full-time employee to independent contractor has yielded new challenges this year. I need to remember that the only opinion that matters in my success story, is mine. The feedback I garner on my work is one thing, but the decisions about how, when, where, and why I grow my business, are for me alone to make (with God’s guidance).

And the same is true for you! Dump those middle school strong-holds. Refuse to let that way of thinking deter your dreams any further. And go become the most amazing version of yourself in 2020!

Here’s to your marketing success. ~ Stefanie

Acknowledgment to Rachel Hollis for sharing her inspiring speech with the audience of entrepreneurs at the Kajabi Impact Summit in April 2019.

Wishing you all the best for your marketing success.

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Link to the article on apprenticeship in The New York Times

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