If you’re in a hurry, the short story is…
I’m a naturally meek, 30-something from Yorkshire, England. I’ve struggled with general anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks and depression in the past and whilst I manage to manage these days, the fact that I’m terrified of most things in life isn’t without drawbacks. Ironically too, I seem to be drawn to do things that are completely at odds with my nature, like teaching, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and as of January 2018, running my own business, Skills with Frills Education Ltd.
I love to learn. I love to write. I love to laugh. I love to help others. It’s in this spirit, that I’ve set myself a challenge of blogging every day in 2018. The blogs with be short(ish), to the point, relating to theme of happiness/wellbeing/mental health in some way. Writing is my therapy – if it can inspire someone along the way, then why not?
If you’re into the nitty gritty, the longer version is…
I’m Jo. I’m 5 ft 2, 33 years old and the owner of far too many scarves. I live in West Yorkshire, England, with Mr. G, my long-suffering partner of nearly ten years, and our 2 cats, Kimbo and Mr. Wonderful. We love them dearly, even though they’re extremely demanding and often unpleasant.
I have been working as a teacher in primary and secondary schools for the past decade. My specialism was History at first – a good excuse to watch ‘The Tudors’ – but quickly morphed into life skills and teaching of special needs children. In July, 2017, I left my job with a view to starting my own educational business, and I’m happy (and terrified) to report that ‘Skills with Frills Education Ltd.’ launched this January. It’s been a lot of work, but teaching children about things like kindness and resilience and self-care and happiness is just making my heart sing! As nervous as I am, I can’t remember ever feeling this excited just to be alive.
Alongside this, you should know that I have also had my battles. From the age of about 11, I developed intense shyness, which became social anxiety – I had an extreme phobia of public speaking. I suffered from general anxiety, bouts of depression, panic attacks and general low-self esteem. Following a course of CBT, a wealth of self-help and numerous lifestyle changes, these days I am able to manage my anxiety. I’ve accepted that there is no cure. My anxiety will always be there – but now I am the boss of this rather unwilling employee. I can’t fire the guy, but I can sure as hell make sure he follows the rules.
Throughout my life, I’ve always been drawn to vulnerability in others, whether it be in students I teach, colleagues, friends, family and even strangers. In part, this has to be because I can relate to their anxieties and struggles, having experienced my own. It’s more than that though. I’ve always been obsessed with growth and transformation in myself and those around me. I’ve learnt to thrive in the daily grind; in the challenge of getting up when you’ve fallen (or been kicked) down; in life outside of your comfort zone.
Even as happy as I am nowadays, there are still bad days – days when the negative overthinking just makes me so tired I want to crawl away and sleep for days. It’s on days like this that you need your ‘team’ around you – true friends who you can be truly honest with; who will listen to you without judgement; who will offer you common sense advise to pull you back to reality.
If you’re like me – stubbornly ambitious, but terrified of everything from parking in a new space to the most minor of social interactions – life can sometimes feel like a cruel joke. There are certainly times when I wish that I could be satisfied with less… but I can’t. And I won’t. And I don’t want you to be either.
In writing this blog, I hope to combine my love of learning, writing, challenge and transformation, to inspire you to be all that you can be, despite what your mind may be telling you. Along with my fantastic team of contributors, l aim to provide practical tips and guidance, product and experience reviews, inspiration and of course, a good dose of laughs along the way.
If times when you’re feeling lost, lonely or just curious, I invite you to search through the blogs here and see if you can’t find something that might answer a question you’ve been pondering, try something new that you hadn’t thought of, or look at things from another perspective. When your team aren’t around – we’re here for you.