Embrace the Slow Down

Written By: Jenna O’Grady

Growing up, I always wanted “more”. I was a happy, fearless adventurer, a risk taker, a dreamer, a hard worker, honors graduate, not afraid to make big moves, but afraid to make one place my home for too long. I’ve always known I was destined to live in Europe. I often experienced tiny coincidences that were tied with living in another country. I know the UK isn’t part of Europe anymore, but let’s just pretend for the sake of this blog! I constantly adapted to my surroundings, but didn’t let myself get too comfortable. I grew up in Littleton, Colorado. By the time I was 27, I lived in 3 states and 3 countries. After meeting the love of my life in New York City on that sunny day in March of 2017, it was pretty apparent I would be making the big move to the UK to not only be with him, but to seek out all the global opportunities London had to offer. Talk about coincidences, right? The stars were aligning. Being in the events industry, I knew it would be silly not to pursue living in the global hub for all things events, aka London, and based on our serendipitous meet cute, I knew my British lover would definitely be my forever. It was time to settle down and call London my home.

It hasn’t been the easiest transition moving here, but I have definitely learned so much about myself and had loads of breakthroughs on my journey that I would love to share with you. I hope you can relate somehow! Visa issues aside, that’s a whole other conversation, I realized how difficult it was for me to fit in here. I packed up, left my family, all of my friends and moved to a place where yes, they spoke ‘English’, but the culture was slightly different than what I was used to. I still couldn’t wait to jump right in and start my life.

After living in London for a year, I weirdly felt shy, like I had to mask my accent and my identity. My colleagues would often make fun of me, random people would give me a hard time for living here or I would be criticized for tragic things happening in the US that I clearly had no control over. I was lost, confused and realized I was slowly abandoning myself. I became super insecure, anxious, worried about everything and kept questioning whether I was meant to be here. I was trying so hard to fit in that I had completely abandoned who I was as a person so I could fit in with a culture that I felt like, at the time, was rejecting me. I kept finding myself in toxic work situations, micromanaging bosses, people telling me “it’d take years to do that”, “you can’t do that” or “I had to establish myself here first” which made me incredibly unhappy. I was working so hard to prove myself at the office, I hardly had any friends, and I just felt like an outsider. I hated who I was, and often questioned if London was the right place for me. I was so happy at home with my fiancé, my greatest support system, but the second I walked out the door, I was terrified. I quickly spiraled down a dark rabbit hole, quit my job, and could hardly get out of bed most days. My light had blown out.

I took a much needed break for a bit, read a ton of ‘self-help’ books, went exploring out in nature, traveled and worked on shifting my mindset. I was finding my happy place again and felt more like myself. I got a new job, with a title & pay upgrade, I was engaged and so eager to find my ‘in’ in the events industry. It was time to get my name out there. I had an amazing feeling that 2020 was going to be my year. COVID and the global pandemic had other plans for me (& the rest of the world)...

Lockdown was tough, we all know it, my mental health was already pretty shaky, so this really could have gone one of two ways. Sooo let’s talk about the positive parts and breakthroughs I had. It was time to make ME my biggest project - my mental health, my fitness, my personal and professional development, everything and anything that had to do with ME. I was always a busy girl, always on my toes, NEVER slowing down. My to-do lists were endless. I was scared of the QUIET, of the slow down, of just being. I didn’t know how to just “be”. I was also too busy caring, pleasing and doing things for other people that I completely neglected myself. However, during COVID times, I couldn't run away. I couldn’t get up and move to a new location. There wasn’t a way out except to go within. Whilst I sat in the quiet, learned patience from training a puppy, soaked up all the wonderful sunshine, reflected, journaled, read, and did some CBT therapy, I slowly rose from the ashes. As Courtney Stanley would say, “remember who the F you are”. I quickly remembered who the F I was, why I was here, how excited I was to move to another country, how grateful I was to find my soulmate, and how great of a person I am. I was tired of being sad, playing comparisonitis, playing victim and allowing myself to be bullied. Why did I care what other people thought of me? It was time to show up fearlessly as my authentic self, but an even better version!

I decided enough was enough. Of course, I was meant to be here! I was surrounding myself with the wrong people, the wrong companies, the wrong opportunities... I needed to find my community, my tribe, people who will accept me for ME and not think twice about it. England is my home for the foreseeable future and it was time to unapologetically establish myself here! I was ready to make friends, level up with my goals and career choices, show up as my genuine self and make things happen. I joined Event Goal Getters, the Wedding Business Club and the Female Hospitality Network because I felt these groups really aligned with my beliefs, values, career and who I wanted to become as a person. I wanted to be surrounded by empowering, ambitious individuals and WOW, have I found my community! I completely punched away my negative thoughts of thinking I “didn’t belong” in this beautiful country. I was so wrong!!

Moral of the story, I believe because I was moving so much when I was younger and not allowing myself to settle, I kept running away from something. I kept running away from myself and my feelings! I had many past instances that I needed to heal and never allowed myself because I would just get up and move. Moving into the unknown clearly brought out a lot of fear and insecurities I hadn’t faced so I mentally crashed. Calling England my home has actually been a blessing! This global pandemic, in a challenging way, has been a blessing for me because it’s forced me to slow down, focus on myself, appreciate my surroundings, reflect on how far I’ve come, take action and realize just how much potential I had with the opportunities I was surrounded by.

This might be an obvious one, but please don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have to talk or act a certain way. YOU DO NOT. Be brave enough to remove yourself from the situation and find the right fit for you. Feel those feelings, take a couple days to recover, then move on! Give your energy to things that are true, immediate and important. Magical things happen when you show up as your authentic self. Get outside of your head and have more fun just BEING.

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