When the Going gets Tough…

Sometimes things are tough. We are all strong and competent, but sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves in are tough. Even the strongest and most experienced of us have bad days. There is no nirvana level of badass that we reach where events can no longer bother us. But life, or at least working in a male-dominated industry, isn’t about how we get knocked down – it’s about how we get up again. Why would I allow my knockbacks to define me when I could choose to let my recoveries do so?

How do you recover from a knockback, from that awful gig, from finding out those you thought had your back didn’t? Firstly, stop. Stop, take a breath and think: Is there anything about what happened that you could learn from? Is there any responsibility you can take for any part of what happened? If there is, then you will become stronger by admitting it, if only to yourself, especially to yourself. Can you afford to let this one thing rock you?

Where to look for sources of strength

Ever since I was a girl, I have found books, both fictional and factual, to be a great place to mine for inspiration:


‘Granny sighed. “You have learned something,” she said and thought it safe to insert a touch of sternness into her voice. “They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one-half so bad as a lot of ignorance.’

Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

‘Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.’

Terry Pratchett

‘If you trust in yourself….and believe in your dreams….and follow your star…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.’

Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

‘“The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up, and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going. You cannot fool me any more. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.”’

Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men
I’ve been a huge fan of Terry Pratchett since I was a girl. It struck me as magical that a grown man could know what it was like to be a teenage girl. He has written a whole cannon of works that have a variety of women in lead roles, overcoming obstacles, and not caring what the rest of the world thought.

Iain M Banks

I discovered the fiction of Ian M Banks when I was a teenager. He wrote both science-fiction and a strange (to me) type of mainstream fiction. The Wasp Factory was the first novel of his I read, and it changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I also spent a lot of time reading his science fiction novels as well.

Although fiction is stirring and often empowering, I find factual accounts to be more so. Knowing that the things I am reading actually happened, that other people have faced challenges greater than any I personally face – I find it especially humbling and it helps give me perspective.

I Write What I Like is a collection of works by Steve Biko, a journalist, and activist who was killed by the South African government for speaking out about Apartheid.

‘The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.’

Steve Biko

‘You are either alive and proud, or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.

Steve Biko

‘A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine.’

Steve Biko

My Own Story is an account of the British Suffragette movement. It chronicles Emmeline Pankhurst’s struggles with the police and the British Government.

“As long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they will be.”
— from Pankhurst’s speech in Hartford, Connecticut on Nov. 13, 1913
‘Men make the moral code, and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.’

Emmeline Pankhurst

Who do you surround yourself with? Are the people that you allow into your life supportive, or are they happy to give you a bit more grief when you are trying to push through a rough patch? There is a theory that the five people you spend the most time with will have a great influence on how you live your life. I don’t know how true that is but I do know it’s important to have people around you that make you feel supported.

‘You can’t change the people around you. But you can change the people around you.’
Joshua Fields Millburn.

Fix your own oxygen mask first – that is what you are told during the safety drill on an airplane. You can’t take care of anyone else if you are letting your own state slide. Taking good care of yourself is especially important when you have faced a setback. Even if it can feel indulgent to be extra nice to yourself, it is important to realize you need a bit of support from yourself at times.

We all have difficulties at times but, if you think back to the difficulties you have had in the past, you overcame them. There is no reason why you won’t overcome this as well.

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