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Holly's take on it


Believe in who you are card, by ARTHOUSE Unlimited 

Have you ever seen the film, Little Miss Sunshine? It’s about an adorable, young, pot-bellied, bright spark called Olive who is desperate to enter an American beauty pageant, but doesn’t look or act anything like the other girls. On finally making it to the finals (by chance), she arrives with her family who soon see the others and realise she might face humiliation by joining in, but decide it’s only fair to let her try.

When she reaches the stage, she knows she won’t ever have this chance again. So she goes out there and she dances like her very soul depends on it.

It’s the wrong dance for this competition as it turns out; a horrendously awkward, wince-inducing, rather ‘adult’ number to Super Freak by Rick James. Yet Olive has a calling. Olive shuns the haters. Olive has zero shits to give as she lives out her most magnificent dreams — and I defy anyone watching this film not to absolutely fall in love with her as a result. We all need to be more Olive. She reminds us to park the comparison. Put the ‘you’ in ‘unique’ and be the very you-ist ‘you’ you can possibly be. As wise Dr Seuss said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

Why is this important though? Because this is a moment you will never live again. If there’s something the wretched pandemic and abhorrent Ukrainian war stories alone have reminded us, it’s that each day of our lives comes to us all but once.

My life changed when I started living in gratitude and genuinely realising that time could be taken from me at any point. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We need to understand that if this could be one of our last days on earth, why in the world would we not be the fullest version of ourselves? The truest? The most ‘us’? And if we don’t believe in ourselves, who will? It’s not up to anyone else, we need to take responsibility for our own happiness and we must start today.

If we think about the one in four hundred trillion chances we have of being born, it is so solemnly important that we live in this way, otherwise what’s the point? The world doesn’t need more ‘average’. The world needs us to have the courage to try, to evolve, to stumble across something exceptionally original. We owe that to the next generation too, to show them what’s possible, especially our girls. A study by Zenger Folkman revealed that the only age where women’s confidence levels were found to rank higher than men’s is when they are above the age of sixty¹. Sixty!

That’s why I believe that building up confidence by finding your passion as soon as possible, and really celebrating it (no matter how niche it might be), is perhaps one of the bravest and most liberating things you can do. There’s real power in being unique.

Sparkle like you mean it pin badge, by ARTHOUSE Unlimited 

Take ARTHOUSE Unlimited for example — a remarkable enterprise featuring a collective of artists, each living with complex neuro-diverse and physical support needs. Its founder, Becky Sheraidah, is driven by a belief that offering a sense of purpose is at the heart of improving our happiness, health and wellbeing — and each artist is free to be 100% themselves and design as they wish, resulting in the most incredible range of products.

We’ve collaborated with them to be the champions of our monthly Work/Shop theme because the artists don’t create art — or a business for that matter — that’s like anything else I’ve ever seen. And like lots of pioneering small businesses, it’s exactly this that makes them shine.

Holly in the Work/Shop 

ARTHOUSE Unlimited artwork displayed in the Work/Shop

It’s important in a personal capacity, too. Research shows that being authentic in who you are leads to a happier existence. In a study of 10,000 Facebook users in 2021, Scientific American found that ‘those who expressed themselves in a more authentic — rather than self-idealized — way, reported more satisfaction with their life.’²

They are then, in turn, more likely to attract others which stands to reason. With one-of-a-kind people, you want to hear their stories, know what they’re buying, see what they’re watching or learn what they’re thinking. It’s a kind of magic you want to be a part of. A person that shows up with enthusiasm, positivity, ideas, entrepreneurialism, a vision — and most importantly, who radiates who they really are — will always be far more attractive, not only to be around but also, to hire or to shop with. 

For all you small business owners out there for example, I know you’re unlikely to have a marketing budget. You are your marketing. If you’re not able to spend millions on digital advertising, what else can you do to attract people? You need to stand out and the way to do that is to be different. That doesn’t mean being noisy, wearing loud clothing or creating loads of Reels. It could be through your writing, the work you do, the things you make, the way you treat people, your brand — but make no mistake, we have to be ourselves to be seen.

It’s not always easy to do this, but it is certainly worth it. There’s a lot to be said for embracing growth even if it feels uncomfortable. Much like the butterfly, transforming into who you were always meant to be can take time — but it is only once this metamorphosis has taken place that one can fly. So the moral of this story? To achieve great things, you must be yourself and believe in yourself. Try to find your inner Little Miss Sunshine… and then dance to your heart’s delight.

If you need more inspiration, see my articles on Why older people make great founders, and It’s never too late to fly.

Holly outside the Work/Shop 

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