I've had so many official titles in my life. Everything from trainee teacher to grants administrator, and from operations manager to data entry clerk.
The title I choose for myself, though, is VA Superhero!
In 2013, I started my life as an online entrepreneur as a virtual assistant. At the same time, I became a co-founder of SwanWaters— an organisation I headed as its operations manager for many years. The team and I supported survivors of abuse, like ourselves, overcome their trauma and thrive in life. Through this work, and my own journey in life and business, I gained so much experience working with trauma, and the specific challenges this brings to a business.
So, I decided I wanted to help the healers of this world do their amazing work. With many years of administrative and communication experience under my belt, and a head for project management, I can be the perfect sidekick in your business.
This world is constantly telling us that we aren't enough: not good enough, pretty enough, successful enough, productive enough, and the list goes on. As a result, much of our drive to grow and develop seems rooted in our wish to convince the world to like us. We just want to be loved, feel that we belong, and—at the end of the day—have a sense that we’re accepted for who we are.
Yet, when we set these types of goals (driven by these kinds of motivations), we often give up before getting halfway to reaching them. This is because, deep down, we know that our shame-based attempts at self-improvement aren’t actually going to make us feel the way we want to feel. Are you ready to join me in setting goals for yourself that are grounded in reality and compassion toward your humanity?
I think that pretty much everyone has some form of trauma that informs their life choices. If not from the relational sphere, then maybe within their schools or work environment. I mean everybody, like our whole society is one big “trauma bubble”.
It’s becoming more mainstream because people are not healing effectively or even at all. One of the reasons is because there is no room for healing in so many parts of our society. Like at work for example the ethos is “leave your personal shit at the door”. It’s all very well saying that, but where would you like me to put it during office hours? “Could you please point me in the direction of your ‘emotional baggage drop’?”. Wouldn't that be great if you had some kind of “trauma lockers”, where you could just leave it and perform in life and at work, unaffected by all that has happened to you in life? Haha.
But that’s not how we work; we are complex human beings. Organisations and business owners need to become more compassionate about the fact that we are operating every day informed and influenced by our trauma and if its unresolved it’s going to affect every area of your business and society as a whole.
I am sure that — like me — you have had many well-meaning (or maybe even some not so well-meaning) people tell you to find forgiveness for your abuser. Forgiveness is such a loaded term for survivors, and I think in large part that is because its definition has gotten a little lost. When people talk about forgiveness, they think of a pardon, they think of turning the other cheek. When a survivor lays responsibility for the abuse with the abuser, outsiders tend to think there is a lack of forgiveness. All there is, in actual fact, is a lack of willingness to subject ourselves to further abuse.
Let us reclaim forgiveness, as a tool for empowerment not a sign of submission.