Here’s My Story of Starting a Creative Business

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Sharing stories about your products or services is the way to deeply connect your customer with you and your business.

In this article I explained three reasons why sharing stories was so important:

  • People love stories.
  • Stories change objects into something better.
  • Sharing your story gives your customer something to share.

And I also said:

Sharing your story is a way to connect you, your creative work, and your community in a deep, magical way.

So, let’s connect you, me and my work in a deep, magical way. Let’s share my story.



I’m not going to start at the very beginning, because no-one wants to hear about a nerdy-looking baby who didn’t have any hair until she was 18 months old.

And I’m not going to start at adolescence because no-one wants to hear about a nerdy-looking teenager who dressed in black a lot and thought it was cool to smirk and not like stuff (while secretly really liking stuff).

Let’s start at the end of 2014, when I decided to quit my job and was still pretty nerdy-looking.



Working full time in marketing for about four years had equipped me with extensive skills, in-depth knowledge and significant appreciation for the way communication between business and brands worked.

It had also given me crippling self-doubt and sadness.

Marketing is a tough business. The creative industries like to show off about their ping-pong tables in the office, beers on a Friday and free sweets/massages/insert treat here for staff, but a lot of the time that comes with unspoken agreements: work long hours. Be on call on the weekend. Don’t talk back to clients. Go with the boss’ whims. Party hard, because you’re working harder.

Some businesses get people to work extra-long and extra-hard with the carrot. Other businesses use the stick. In the name of productivity, they accidentally end up building a culture of self-doubt and negativity. People’s work is unrecognised, so they start to believe the work isn’t any good. Sticking your neck out gets dangerous, so people become timid. Workers get institutionalised in a very real way.

I’d worked hard for my colleagues and clients. I’d also been difficult to manage. I am honest, clear and direct – which means I can be brusque, rude and impatient. I’m strong and brave – which means I can be pushy and impertinent. But after several years working in these environments, I’d ended up believing that I was brusque, rude, impatient, pushy, impertinent…and nothing else.

I felt like the work I did, and the person I was, wasn’t worth anything. I had no confidence in what I was doing.

I had two options: stay secure and rot, or risk failure and flower.



I decided that I would start a creative business, my own business, where I would feel proud of the work I did. I would value my own work, and so would other people. I would leave sadness and self-doubt behind.

The most important aspect of this business would be that the work I did would show other people how valuable they are. It would give other people the confidence I had yearned for. It would be a business where people knew they were worthy of love and belonging.

I saved up my money until I had just over three months of living expenses, I started contacting people about work I could do, I bought myself a golden stapler and I quit.



Every time I write an article…
Every time I hold a one-to-one session
Every time I run a workshop…
Every time I design a marketing strategy…
Every time I do a talk on running your own business…

… I am giving people like you the confidence I never had.

I’m letting you know how valuable you are, how much you already know, how much you can achieve, how much potential you have.

I’m saying “You can do it”, because I know you can.

Your business is never ‘just’ your business. We all bring our unique stories into the work we do, the emotions and hang-ups and beliefs and behaviours long-embedded into our lives.

My story is one I want other people to have, and I decided to run my business to help make it happen: to go from self-doubt and sadness to feeling confident and valued.



My challenge to you is to share something of your story in the next seven days. Do it on your website, social media channels, email newsletter or in store. Share your story and see how it can connect you, your creative work and your community in a deep, magical way.



My Story of Starting a Creative Business - Pinterest


Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Sharing Your Story as a Creative Business Owner

In my recent workshop on How to Present Your Products Online, one of the factors I talk about is sharing your story.

Your story – where you come from, what inspires you, why you do what you do and a thousand other things – is a core ingredient of your marketing.

In presenting your products online, via sites like Etsy or Folksy, you can use your story to help customers form a deeper relationship with your product. Rather than ‘just’ a nice cup or pair of earrings or workbook, that product is now a part of a much bigger story.

The story of your travels and how you’re inspired by traditionally-woven fabrics to create textured coffee cups.

The story of your grandma’s jewellery box and how it helps you dream up new jewellery designs.

The story of discovering your ikigai and how it led you to try and help more creative businesses fulfil their brand’s potential.

Stories are magic, fun, exciting and integral to who we are.

But one of the themes that came out of the workshop feedback was this: how do I share my story without feeling embarrassed? Without feeling cringey? Without feeling cheesy?

There are a lot of tactics you can use to share your story in a way that makes sense for you, your business and your customer. But before you know HOW to do it, you need to know WHY you’re doing it.

Knowing WHY you’re doing it defeats the feelings of embarrassment. It helps you feel confident and organised. It stops you from feeling like what you’re doing is cringey or cheesy.

Here’s why you should share your story.

1. People love stories.

Every culture uses stories to teach people how the world works. We use stories to frighten, cajole, encourage, impress or enlighten someone. There are stories for everything around us, from how we should behave to how we make a cup of tea (never milk first you heathens).

Stories help us make sense of the world because we are pre-disposed to pattern-spotting. Pattern-spotting helped us survive by explaining the world to us in a way we could understand and maybe predict. So a story is a pattern we can understand very quickly and easily, which makes us feel comfortable and pay attention.

Sharing YOUR story with your community is a natural part of being human. You are showing them a pattern so they can say “Oh, I understand”. Your story might be different to their own, unusual or even unique, but it’s still a quick route to making them feel comfortable and pay attention.

It’s like the magic touch: a sprinkle of your story and you’ve connected with your community in a very deep way.

2. Stories change objects into something better.

Each one of us will have emotional attachments to certain objects in our lives; maybe a dress, a ring, a certain picture or an ornament. This emotional attachment doesn’t come from the object itself – the actual material or design or shape or colour. It comes from the story attached to it.

The story is that your mum handed the dress down to you, or your dad made the ring, or the picture is a scene from where you grew up, or the ornament is a memento from your travels.

When someone says “That’s a lovely picture”, you don’t say “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”. You say, “Yes, it’s where I grew up”.

Even things we buy because we like the look of it come with a story: “It reminded me of autumn leaves” or “My first house looked a little like that” or “It was the perfect size for my morning coffee”.

Even services we buy are made better by the attachment of a story. A florist doesn’t just create fabulous arrangements; they help create your dream wedding. An accountant doesn’t just sort out your finances; they help you save up for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

By attaching your story to what you do, whatever product or service you sell suddenly gets better. It gets magical, because it’s attached to a story. And people LOVE stories.

3. Sharing your story gives your customer something to share.

People love stories, but more importantly they love sharing stories. Spoken stories came long before written stories, and we tell stories to babies long before they can read – stories our parents told us.

By sharing your story with your customer, you are giving them something to share. You’re giving them something to share in a transaction that would normally be fairly solitary.

Here’s an example: You buy a beautiful scarf for yourself from a local knitter. Without a story, you have a beautiful scarf just for yourself. With a story, you have a beautiful scarf for yourself AND something to give to others.

People want to connect with each other. We want to give and share and be part of something. So buying something is nice, but it’s just for you. Sharing a story about what you bought makes that transaction into a potential opportunity for connection.

The difference between saying, about a picture, “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”, and “Yes, it’s where I grew up” is the second statement starts a connection. I’ll ask, “Where did you grow up? What was it like?” and suddenly we are two people in a vast cosmos sharing a magical connection.

I like to call it the ‘dinner party worthy‘ story. You’re giving your customer something to share at a dinner party when someone points out an item in their home.

By sharing YOUR story, you’re giving them the opportunity to connect with others.


This is WHY you should share your story.

People love stories.
Stories change objects into something better.
Sharing your story gives your customer something to share.

And, ultimately, sharing your story is a way to connect you, your creative work, and your community in a deep, magical way.

Next time you feel like sharing your story is too embarrassing, too cringey or too cheesy, remember these reasons WHY you’re doing it. We’re here to connect, and stories help us do that.



Looking for time and space to understand how to tell your story best?

I’m taking bookings for One-to-One Marketing Reviews in January 2018.

Click here to learn more.

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Sharing your story as a creative business owner | Eleanor Snare

Here’s a Checklist for Using Your Values in Your Creative Business Projects

A checklist for using your values in your creative business projects featured image - via Pexels


Having strong personal values tends to be a common factor among creative business owners.

You can use these values in lots of different ways for deepening or growing your business.

One of the ways might be understanding which are non-negotiable and which are negotiable values, so you can choose the projects you want to work on with confidence. Read more about that here.

I have clear personal values which help ground me and my life, including the work I choose to do.

Before I take on any job, I have a checklist of questions related to my values which I run through to see where the job fits, and where it doesn’t.

I wanted to share how I made that checklist with you so you can create one for your own creative business.

Everyone’s values are different, so me sharing my exact set of questions won’t be that useful to you – but sharing the way I’ve constructed those questions will help you get organised so you can use your own values with confidence.



The first question I ask is always:

What are my first impressions and intuitions?

Sometimes, our intuition can tell us everything we need to know. We might not be able to explain, logically, what the problem is, but our intuition feels it.

The value questions are therefore a way to counter this intuition and make sure you’re not just relying on gut instinct.

How am I using [a value] in this project?

I ask myself exactly how I will be using each of my values in this project. Some of them are very clear: for example, for my personal value of ‘helping’, I can ask “How am I helping in this project?”.

Other of my values, like ‘nature’, require a bit more thought: the question might be “How am I valuing and respecting nature in this project?”

According to [a value], what specifically will I get out of this project?

I then ask myself what the benefits are to me of doing this project, in relation to my values. For example, one of my values is ‘learning’, so I ask myself, “What specifically will I learn during this project?”.

If I find it difficult to answer these questions, I can then ask myself “Why am I really taking on this project?”. The answer may be because it’s bread-and-butter work, in which case I can answer the remaining questions with this in mind.

Will what I get out of this project according to [a value] be useful to me in the future?

It’s important to think long-term with your creative business, so I consider what I might get out of a project, according to a value, which might be useful to me later down the line.

One of my personal values is ‘play’, so I might ask myself “Will the playful experimentation and new ideas I get out of this project be useful to me in the future?”.

You’ll have noticed that I don’t stick to a rigid question scheme, and instead mould it to fit what I’m talking about.

The key is to developing a themed question you can actually answer, not reproducing a specific question structure that might not make much sense to you.

How does the client/customer fulfil [a value]?

You’re going to be working quite closely with someone on a project and therefore writing down your understanding of how they fulfil (or don’t fulfil) a particular value of yours is very useful.

As an example, one of my personal values is ‘love’, so I ask myself: “Do the people who work at this company really love what they do?”, “Does the client demonstrate love and connection in their relationship with me and their customers?” and “Does the client believe love is an important part of their work?”.

Finally, I ask myself a set of questions based on the principles of sustainable marketing. These are more specific to my way of working, but I wanted to share one question with you which will add something extra to your values checklist.

How does this project acknowledge its role and responsibility in shaping the future of:
… the businesses involved in it?
… the customer receiving it?
… the community surrounding it?

As an independent creative business owner, this last question is so important. You want your business to last, and you want it to deepen or grow. You want to connect with your customer and other creative business people like you.

Understanding how this project – this one on your desk right now – will be shaping the future of the businesses that are involved with it (including your own), the customer receiving it and the community surrounding it is therefore essential.

By understanding these things, you can understand whether the project will help your creative business connect, deepen, grow and live for a long time. From that, you can make a more confident decision.


Here’s the full checklist of question structures so you can start creating your own:

  • What are my first impressions and intuitions?
  • How am I using [a value] in this project?
  • According to [a value], what specifically will I get out of this project?
  • Will what I get out of this project according to [a value] be useful to me in the future?
  • How does the client/customer fulfil [a value]?
  • How does this project acknowledge its role and responsibility in shaping the future of:
    … the businesses involved in it?
    … the customer receiving it?
    … the community surrounding it?


Having a values-led creative business means having a business that’s true to who you are and what you want to achieve in the world.

These questions are a simple way for you to organise those values so you can feel confident about selecting the right projects for you.

If you’ve found this article useful, please share it with your network.


A checklist for using your values in your creative business projects

How I Pick My Projects Based on Personal Values as a Creative Business Owner

How I Pick My Projects Based on Personal Values as a Creative Business Owner - Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

The other week I had a fun brunch with Alix, who asked me:

“How do you do the work you do, and manage to stick to your values?”

If you run your own creative business, there will always be a time when you have to make a decision about a job which pays well, but doesn’t fit your values.

It might be that it’s the wrong sort of client, the terms of the project aren’t ideal, or it’s just not the sort of work you want to be known for.

The decision is between your personal values and the money.

Sometimes, you will choose the money, and I think that’s completely fine.

Bread-and-butter work might not be exciting but it pays the bills. It’s not called champagne-and-cupcakes work. It’s called bread-and-butter because it gets the cash in the bank and basics on the table.

I’ve taken jobs for the money, because I see what that money could do. It could pay the bills. It could be invested.

It could also buy me time elsewhere to spend developing projects and work that aren’t commercially viable yet. That money can get me organised and help me feel confident.

The key to taking on a job, even it’s mainly for the money, and still running a values-led business is knowing which of your personal values are negotiable, and which are non-negotiable.

For your creative business, a negotiable value is one you can easily find in your life without having to do it through work.

If the job doesn’t fit a negotiable value, you can choose to take the cognitive hit (and the cash).

For example, one of my values is ‘play’. It’s a negotiable value. Not all of the jobs I’m offered enable me to ‘play’ in one form or another.

But I might take those jobs because I can easily get ‘play’ elsewhere in my life at the same time as doing that job (for example, through creating my planner or what I wear that day).

One of my other values is ‘helping’. This is a non-negotiable value. I won’t take a job if I believe my work or the outcome of my work won’t help someone. Normally, this is the end user.

For example, if I got offered a copywriting job where I was ‘helping’ the client, but the article I had to write was focused purely on selling to the reader (the end user) and not giving them anything ‘helpful’, I wouldn’t accept that job.

It’s about knowing your personal values, knowing which are negotiable, and allowing yourself to take that bread-and-butter work if you can see that it will help you elsewhere.

Problems happen if you, as a creative business owner, consistently allow all your personal values to be negotiable.

You end up feeling frustrated at yourself, frustrated with the work you’re doing, and disappointed that you’re not creating a space in the world doing what you want to be known for.

I’ve worked in businesses whose values all became negotiable, and it ate away at the confidence of the people who worked there. There’s nothing to believe in when you negotiate on all your values.

Values are like roots; they steady and support you, and in times of confusion they can be relied on to ground you in what you know to be right.

Some of those personal values will be negotiable, and that’s okay. Know them and make sure to find them elsewhere if you decide to take on work which doesn’t fit with that value.

Sometimes you will take on a job for the money, and that’s okay too. Use the money wisely to help support yourself and direct the time towards what you really want to do.

I want you to think about your personal values.

  • What are they?
  • Which are non-negotiable, and why?
  • Which ones are negotiable? How could you fulfil these values if you take on work which doesn’t fulfil them?
  • What questions would you ask about a job to find out whether it fulfilled your values?
  • Do you know how much ‘bread-and-butter’ (aka cash) you need each month to keep doing projects which fulfil your values?


Knowing my personal values and deciding to build a creative business and brand around them changed my life. The key is knowing exactly how to use those values with confidence.

If you’ve found this article useful, please share it with your network.



How I pick my projects based on personal values as a creative business owner

How to Organise Your Creative Business so You Can Take a Holiday Without Worrying

How to organise your creative business so you can take a holiday without worrying

You’re convinced you need a holiday. Now what?

(If you’re not convinced you do, read this first.)

The biggest myth for creative business owners when it comes to taking a holiday is that their business will collapse without them being there.

The truth is it won’t.

It might be tricky to manage. You might have to set up some things in advance. But you are not going to lose all your customers, piss off all your suppliers, and your business will not go up in flames if you are not there.

Your creative business does need you to function effectively and brilliantly, in its 10 out of 10 perfect experience. But if you go away, it might come down to a nine out of 10. Eight, at a minimum. Because you have a good business, with great customer service and good processes in place.

It doesn’t matter if your creative business is not perfect all the time.

(I really need to take this bit of advice to heart, pronto.)

You will go, you will drink sangria/long island iced tea/martinis [delete as appropriate], you will return and your business will still be brilliant. In fact, it’ll be more brilliant for the break you’ve had.

Here’s how to make that break work.


How to take a holiday as a creative business owner (and relax while you’re there)


1. Let customers know you’re going on holiday

Yes, that’s right, tell people you’re going away! Admit you need a holiday, and you’re taking one, and you’re going to bloody enjoy it. You are a human and so are your customers, and they will respect your honesty.

Be clear on how long you’ll be away for and what changes they should expect to your normal service. This information will alleviate any issues that might arise because you’re not there; people know you’re away so are likely to cut you a little bit of slack. How many times have you visited an Etsy shop to find that the owner is ‘on holiday’? No-one gets pissed off; you just favourite the shop, sign up for email notifications and forget about it.

On that point; remember the appearance of exclusivity I mentioned in my article about saying ‘no’? A holiday does the same sort of thing. You aren’t always available – customers will have to wait. And if you have the right processes set up – like an email wait list – then you can actually encourage that exclusivity and gain an eager customer base at the same time.


2. Schedule marketing content

You can let your existing customers know you’re going to be away while at the same time making sure you’re still drawing new customers towards you by scheduling marketing content.

I’d recommend you do this for digital marketing content only; responding to print amends are too stressful to try and do while you’re sunning yourself on a beach somewhere. You can schedule social media content using the channels’ in-built tools (for example, scheduling Facebook posts for your business page) or do it all in one place using a third-party scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

You can also schedule blog posts for when you’re away, as well as other digital marketing like email newsletters. All of this, of course, does require extra time before you go away to set it all up. But to keep things ‘ticking over’, and especially if your holiday coincides with a useful marketing season for your creative business, scheduling marketing content is incredibly useful.


3. Avoid marketing clashes

This seems like an obvious one, but make sure you don’t accidentally schedule any marketing promotions – like a sale or a discount voucher – while you’re away on holiday. Ongoing content which keeps customers engaged is fine, but anything designed to draw in big crowds is difficult to manage from afar and there’s more chance of things going wrong.

Depending on the type of creative business you own, you might find your potential busiest periods are also during traditional holiday times; for example, around Christmas boutique retailers might not get much of a break as they put in the hours for gift-buying customers.

If you can take holidays at the quietest times of your business year, it can be useful for managing your business and making the most of that productivity kick when you get back and jump onto the next busy period.


4. Be clear about whether you’re available or not

If you’ve been used to running your creative business single-handedly, the idea of not being in regular contact with customers and potential customers probably makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s also totally natural to end up checking work-related emails or messages on holiday – especially if you love your work.

However, before you go on holiday be clear on whether or not you want to be contacted by customers, suppliers or staff. Once you’ve chosen what you want, stick to it. You might feel like the constant communication – like the ’email pressure’ I mentioned – is actually what you need to escape from. If so, let your customers and other contacts know, and do not look at work messages while you’re away.

If you do, you’ll slide back into it very quickly. If you’re worried things will slip without you to field the communications, you could hire a virtual assistant (VA) for the duration of your holiday, who’ll be able to manage any issues that come up.

Alternatively, if business communication isn’t the thing you need to escape from, then let people know you’ll be available but set yourself specific times when you’ll check and respond to work-related communication. It’s a good idea to do this all the time, but especially on holiday, so you have clear boundaries of when you can switch off from work.


Time to enjoy your time off.


Taking a holiday when you run your own creative business is essential for your health and the continuing health of your business. It’ll mean you come back refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

Managing your business while you’re away is possible: let customers know you’re going away, schedule your marketing content and avoid any big clashes, and be clear on whether you’re available for business chat – or not.

And make sure you enjoy your holiday.


 How to organise your creative business so you can take a holiday without worrying

What I Wish I’d Known When I Was 18: Some Advice from a Creative Business Owner

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare

Last week I spoke at the Glug Leeds networking event along with four other people. We each shared our thoughts on what we wish we’d known when we were 18.

After a lot of thought in preparing for the talk, I realised there were only a few really important things that I wish I’d known. Some of them I’ve only just come to in the last few years, and I think that’s an important point; it’s never too late to take on board advice, and it’s not useful to berate yourself for not knowing it earlier.

We’re all on a journey and we can’t get to where we are now without having trod our unique path.

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare


The first thing I wish I’d known when I was 18 is that relationships are everything. As an 18 year old, I believed I had to make it in the world. I was the one who was going to achieve great things, and I had to do it on my own merit. It couldn’t be part of the team; it had to be me and me alone.

What I’ve realised as I’ve got older is that success is not an individual accomplishment. There are many, many people here helping us do what we want to do with our lives. That might be as small as someone explaining how to use specific tools to run your business more effectively, or as big as a bank manager giving you a loan.

It’s easy to believe in the culture of individualism that we’re living in, but our success and failure in work and in our lives is dependent on the relationships that we have with others.

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare


The second thing I shared with the Glug audience was that boring stuff is surprisingly important. I’ve worked with lots of different businesses since I was 18 – in fact, in the last six years I’ve worked with over 40 brands – and one thing all the most successful businesses have in common is that they run their business in an effective way because they care about boring stuff.

That might mean they focus on doing well all those things which frankly sound completely dull, like HR, operations, facilities management, health and safety and progression plans. Working for myself, I’ve had to be in charge of all the boring things (as well as all the exciting thing) and I’ve gained a newfound respect for how important these elements are in running a business.

Lots of modern marketing businesses attract people with perks. These might be a ping pong table in the office, free massages, beers on a Friday afternoon, company days out or some other fun activity. These are great for team building and for lifting people’s spirits, but ultimately they’re not a replacement for running a business sensibly and effectively.

I think it’s easy when you’re 18 to be distracted by these perks and not ask important questions of the employer you’re talking to, like “How does your HR department work?”,  “What’s the progression plan you have in mind for me?” and “What’s the pension scheme like?”. Thinking about these things feels very boring, but getting it right can aid you in business success; you won’t be worrying about small things because they’ll be sorted, so you can focus on the big, fun, exciting stuff instead.

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare


The third thing I wish I’d known when I was 18 is not to ignore the causes of mental health problems. I think this was something which resonated with a lot of people in the audience, and it’s because we don’t talk about it enough.

During my second year of university, I realised I was suffering very badly from depression. Since that point I’ve undergone therapy a number of times, most recently last year when I suffered with anxiety for the first time in my life. I feel very lucky that I had access to therapeutic practices when I needed them, and was able to address the causes of my mental health problem – not just the symptoms.

When we’re busy or when we have limited funds, it’s very easy to try and find solutions for  the symptoms of mental health problems, rather than the causes. The symptoms are sometimes easier to treat, because they may have a medical solution. For example, if anxiety gives you problems with your digestive system, you can take medication to calm this down. Sometimes, it’s essential the symptoms are treated rapidly to protect your health and the health of others.


I see a lot of my students who are struggling with mental health problems for, perhaps, the first time in their life being given access to symptom treatment but not cause treatment. The reasons for this are many and highly political (hey, stop cutting funding and resources!). But it’s also on us to recognise that mental health problems are often rooted deeply in our past and the lessons we’ve learnt about how to behave or how to think, even if those lessons have been unconscious.

By addressing the causes of mental health problems, not just the symptoms, we can start to work on how we feel and how we relate to each other in a much more meaningful way. I don’t think symptoms should be left untreated, but neither do I think the causes should be ignored. Having the time and space to talk about some of the causes behind my mental health problems dramatically improved my happiness, as well as my empathy for others.This in turn has increased my successes.

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare


With that in mind, the fourth thing I wish I’d known when I was 18 is to lighten up.

My mum will tell you I was always a very serious child; very thoughtful, often with my head in a book or distracted, often thinking about the problems in the world or the problems that I was involved with. As I got older, this translated into an attitude where I was unable to laugh at myself. I took myself and my work very seriously, to the point of which I became po-faced and sometimes paralysed with fear of being embarrassed or laughed at.

Over the last few years I’ve learnt that I can be silly, funny and even ridiculous – and I can still be respected and liked. For all of the problems in the world, which we should absolutely be fighting against and looking for ways to solve them, the world is an irrational, bizarre, ridiculous and joyful place. Things happen for no reason. The universe is chaotic. We have a silly streak inside of us that makes us do things we didn’t anticipate.

It’s really important we embrace this and make it part of who we are. When I did this, I realised I could let go of the way I thought someone should act if they were successful or happy or cared about their work. Instead, I could just get on with actually caring about my work, being happy and being successful.

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18 | Eleanor Snare


The final things I shared with the Glug audience that I wish I’d known when I was 18 is a quote from Brené Brown.

Brené Brown’s TED Talk videos on shame and vulnerability came at a point in my life where I really needed to hear those messages. Since then I’ve read her work, watched her Facebook live videos and tried to integrate the messages she shares from her research into my own life.

One of these messages is this: you are worthy of love and belonging.

This is one of the most powerful statements I have ever read. When I first shared it with my partner, he immediately began to say “…if you do what?”. This is the point of the statement; knowing that we are worthy of love and belonging not because we have done something or said something or acted in a certain way, but just because we are human.

Acknowledging this statement has enabled me to feel happier with myself, care for myself more and care for others even when they are acting in a way which makes me feel frustrated or sad.

In this article about valuing your time I said this:

I want you to know your time is worth something, because it’s precious. You do not have much of it and you must value it because of that. It’s not about your skills or education or any other factor; you must value your time simply because one day it will run out.

My ideas on this are inspired by Brené Brown. Your time is precious because it is limited, not because of who you are and what you do. Because you exist, you are worthy of love and belonging.

I wish I’d known this when I was 18, because so many things in my life were done out of the belief that I was not worthy of love and belonging. I think lots of us do things because of this belief.

We’re in relationships we don’t like because we think we’re not worthy of real love. We’re in jobs we don’t like because we think we’re not worthy of being at a better company. We shy away from making new friends or trying new activities, because we think we’re not worthy of being accepted into a community or being shown affection and care. I definitely did all of these things at some point in my life out of the mistaken belief that I was not worthy.

Acknowledging that you are worthy of love and belonging is hard because we’re conditioned to believe we are only valuable if we do something ‘valuable’. What Brené Brown is asking us to do is give unconditional love to ourselves. Many of us struggle to even give unconditional love to others, let alone our harshest critics. But even beginning to think it could be possible that you are worthy of love and belonging will change the way you feel about yourself.  

It’s not easy to remember it, and it’s not always easy to practice it for yourself or others. Here it is again so it’s clear in your mind:

You are worthy of love and belonging.

What’s next?

I loved doing the Glug talk and really enjoyed watching my co-presenters share lessons from their lives.

If you can this week, spend some time thinking what you wish you would have known when you were 18.

What one lesson or piece of advice would you give that person? Even more importantly, do you think you are living and remembering that advice now, when you have the opportunity to put it into practice?

Please do share your thoughts with me on Twitter @ebsnare.

What I Wish I'd Known at 18 - Eleanor Snare