Michelle Gant is the editor of a new book, The Things I Wish I’d Known, a thought-provoking collection of personal essays written by women, launching today – International Women’s Day, today. Here, she explains how her daughter was her inspiration for the book
A few years ago, I looked at my daughter and thought ‘there are so many things I want you to know’. Things that I now know, knowledge gained through experience, through making mistakes, through learning along the way. So, I had an idea for a book. Things I’d learnt that I wanted to pass on. An idea that never blossomed amidst the busyness of life, and so many other priorities to focus my attention on.
Only recently that idea remerged but this time took shape as a collaborative project, similar to what I had done before with When The World Paused and When the World Paused Again. These were two books that brought together reflections from many people about life in lockdown, and both books have now raised over £850 for NHS charities.
This time, I invited women to share their personal stories and what they’ve learnt along the way culminating in The Things I Wish I’d Known. The book has been published in time for International Women’s Day and 100% of royalties will go to Women’s Aid.
Together with the personal essays, there are also tips and suggestions throughout this book which is intended to be a supportive guide, like a friend in book form beside you! Finally, at the end of the book, the reader will find space to write down their thoughts, ideas, reflections, goals, and hopes.
I am so grateful to the amazing women who have shared their inspiring, moving, uplifting, thought-provoking stories and knowledge within these pages. And to everyone who has supported the project too.
There’s no need to rush, take your time, Vicky Etheridge
Age and hindsight, what a marvellous pairing, almost up there with cheese and crackers (which I think is something I enjoy more with age by the way!). Ironically, as I get older and the time I have left diminishes, I favour slowing down, making time to think and reflect, to watch and listen to those around me. As my boys grow older and approach important milestones, I hear myself encouraging them to take their time, to give things a try, to be open to possibilities and opportunities, because you can never be sure what lies ahead, what might change and shift around you. And so, I find myself looking back and wondering how things might have been different if I’d only known to take my time, there’s no need to rush.
How to overcome Imposter Syndrome, Vicki Haverson
Most of us are much better at giving than asking for help. Help can feel uncomfortable and we can judge ourselves for asking for it. When we have imposter syndrome, we worry what people will think.
Just as we have strengths, we all have weaknesses. I like to think of our strengths as an opportunity for us to help others and our weaknesses are an opportunity for others to help us.
We can get help when we recognise those imposter feelings and talk about them. Remembering we’re not the only person that feels this way and there is nothing like talking to someone about your feelings who has earned the right to hear them.
It is always ok to ask for help, Haley Minns
It is always ok to ask for help if you need it, in any situation. It might not be a mental health issue, it might be something really small and it is still ok to ask for help. There will always be someone who cares, who understands, who has the tools or can just be there.
No regrets, just lessons learned, Lorna Blackmore
I have compared myself to so many people in the past and occasionally it still creeps in. But it can send you into an insecurity spin. So what if they have the smarter child, bigger car, better qualifications. So what if their life looks amazing; have a seemingly better job, look smarter, are faster on the track – whatever it is – don’t compare. It will eat away at you – not them – and moves you away from achieving what you want to achieve. Invest in you, focus on you, understand your gift to the world and trust the timing of your lif
There’s nothing wrong with telling people how you feel, Sarah Dennis
You matter. You really do. There is only one of you. There wasn’t a prototype and when you’ve left this earth, there won’t be another. Imagine that! There is just you! Unique, wonderful, amazing, funny, clever you! So why would you not want everyone to see that shine through? Don’t be comparing yourself to anyone else. (Ok, I’m not a saint, I still do this at times). Don’t be thinking your thoughts and feelings don’t count because they ABSOLUTELY DO! You will say and do daft things in your lifetime (I seem to have said and done enough daft things for several lifetimes), but this is what life is about. A cliché, but true.
There are so many ways to be a great mum, Michelle Gant
We live in a society where women are routinely pitted against each other and never is that truer than when it comes to motherhood. You’re a working mum or a stay-at-home mum. You’re a breastfeeding mum or a bottle-feeding mum. You’re a natural nappies mum or disposable nappies mum. You’re a cry it out mum or you’re a mum who responds to every sob.
And let’s not even go there on the unwelcome opinions routinely shared on just how many children mothers should have. Never mind the so called perfect 2.4, if you’re a mother, only you know what your magic number is – 1 or 21: it ain’t anybody’s business but yours.
It’s a battleground. And it’s exhausting. Especially for new mothers who may be emotionally vulnerable. As women, we can support each other, lift each other up, and be there for one another. After all, we’re sisters not rivals.