Interior Design Judgement: Why the time I couldn’t speak gave me my voice
My introduction to the world of interior design.... well it wasn’t the friendly welcoming creative environment I’d imagined, I experienced a lot of judgement, snootiness and downright rude unfriendliness from some.
But why does this even matter to me? Why am I so passionate about creating a welcoming safe space? Why exactly is the no judgement philosophy at the core of everything I do and so incredibly important to me?
To get to the full story we need to head back to the start….. I’ll rewind to July 18th 2006, a date I’ll never forget.
Back to the start....
I was an ambitious newly qualified accountant in a construction company, eager to progress my career, eager to be a successful woman in a male dominated environment.
I’d been plaaaaaaguing my boss the group financial controller for more responsibility and a new challenge and I’d been given it. I’d done the work and with every fabric of my being….. now I wished I’d kept my god damn mouth shut.
After all the prep work, all the analysis, all the meetings, the day had come for me to present my MIS (there has to be a 3 letter acronym, this is the the construction industry) research findings to the senior management team and the group board of directors.
I was sitting at the boardroom table, palms sweating, trembling and absolutely terrified.....
“Natalie, are you ready?”
Shit, shit, shit…. It’s now. I stood up, shaking and walked to the front of the room...
I nearly didn’t go into work that day, when I arrived there, I’d spent most of the morning in the toilets being sick.
”Pull it together, you’re going to be fine, don’t worry about it, it’s just a solo presentation to 9 of the most important people in the whole group? F%*k
Nine of the most important men, in a male dominated environment, what’s to be frightened of? Double F*%K
Sure it’s no biggie, I mean they only make all of the decisions about everything and it’s not like the big cheese doesn’t glide around with the most domineering presence or live on the same road as, and play golf with, Gary Lineker (yes, that Gary) or anything...
Oh shit, yep he does, you’re going to die, what the F&*k were you thinking.
...After what felt like a walk to my imminent death, I got to the front of the room (just to make doubly sure everyone could witness this of course).
And that’s when it happened, I went to open my mouth and the words just wouldn’t come out.
I froze, I couldn’t even find the right words in my brain, what the hell was happening?? I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding out of my chest.
MIS details were literally nowhere to be found, I wouldn't have been able to tell you my name, all I could actually think..... I'm going to pass out. I'm going to pass out.
Standing there humiliated, and after what seemed like an absolute eternity, I managed to regain control of my breathing and managed to slowly, stumbly, and shakily get things out of my mind... and eventually my mouth.
The meeting was over, but it was only the beginning.....
Humiliated, terrified and so incredibly confused...I didn’t find out for a number of months that I’d just had my very first panic attack.
I’d activated my body's natural defence mechanism of fight or flight, and as I was about to find out, this could be activated in similar situations for quite a while to come.
It was the start of YEARS worth of battle trying to find out exactly how the hell I was going to regain control.
Like a poison, it started to seep into all areas of my life, all of a sudden I was acting and behaving differently, and it started to control my thoughts and my decisions.
It was the start of so many problems, things that i’d never even given a second thought about, all of a sudden became challenging.
I’d avoid situations, people and places. It affected my relationship with my boyfriend (*husband), who couldn’t understand where his fun loving, gregarious and outgoing girlfriend had gone.
My relationship with my friends, who would slowly stop asking me to places and things because it would likely be a no...
All areas of my life.
In 2009 I went through some major life changes, I now realise all of which further contributed to the underlying problem.
Leaving the corporate world to welcome my gorgeous son into the world, becoming a mother, leaving my life (and all I’d ever known) in the city and starting a new life in the country... Just a few of the compounding catalysts.
Slowly, bit by bit, things got worse and worse. I was a shade of my former self and I just didn’t recognise me anymore.
After years of battle, years of finding ways of coping, years of counselling, years of self discovery, years of understanding more about people, more about relationships, more about communicating, more about the mind.....
I’ve now learnt so much about how to regain control, and the six words that have changed my life.
The six words....
I have moments of course like we all do, but in the most part my battles have been won. Although it’s been a hugely hard, complicated and upsetting journey.
Want to know the simple key to overcoming the problem? The six words that have helped me stop panic attacks for good and regain control of my life...... the opinions of others are unimportant.
In fact it needs to be in shouty capitals it’s so important.....THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS ARE UNIMPORTANT.
The root cause of so many anxieties.... be that talking in a job interview. Talking on a stage. Introducing yourself to a person at a party/in a shop/on a bus..... the 'thing' that holds many back from even starting so many dreams.... it’s the fear of being judged.
Judgement is real....
Judgement is everywhere, and it’s so real. The first part of the solution is to accept that very fact….. It’s at the school gate, at your Husband’s works party, it’s at the conference, it’s at the trade event, we’re all making judgements all the time.
The danger is when you tell yourself it’s not happening, or worse when someone else does…. it’s all in your mind, get over it, don’t worry about it…. That is the worst thing anyone can ever do.
Removing interior design judgement + design snobbery....
As I was to discover in 2010 the interiors industry is a place where design snobbery and judgement are everywhere...... Where creativity, skillset, knowledge, household income are all judged by the snooty and elite.
And where if you’re new, or not as educated, or not as wealthy, or not as connected….. Well my friend, be prepared to fight for your right.
This is why I am so passionate about changing my corner of the interiors world and removing design snobbery and interior design judgement. If I can build up just one person and help them feel validated, to feel worth, and never to worry about the opinions of others, it’s safe, you’re welcome and there will be no interior design judgement….. Well that would be just amazing.
If you’d have asked me back then, I’d have given my spleen to have stopped panic attacks and anxiety in their tracks. But it was a lesson I needed to experience. One I know I've been given so that I can use it to help others.
Going through this has given me so many tools, a true understanding of mental health, a true understanding of people, and most importantly an understanding of myself.
Without these challenges and battles, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I perhaps wouldn't have created HomeEnvy. And I wouldn't have met and helped the thousands of women I've been so incredibly lucky to meet and support with zero interior design judgement.
I am incredibly thankful for all the sleepless nights, it’s made me who I am today….. I’m more compassionate, more understanding....
I’ve worked through the dark and feel like I’ve stepped into the light. If any of this even slightly rings true for you, I know you can too….. if I can do it, I assure you anyone can.
For anyone that’s dealing with anxiety of any form... Repeat after me: THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS ARE UNIMPORTANT.
Please know that you can gain control of your thoughts. You can get to a point where the opinion of others do not debilitate. You really are enough, even if sometimes it feels hard. If you miss the party or you decide to turn that thing down, that’s totally okay.
My biggest lessons.....
The biggest lessons I learnt through my journey. I wasn’t persuaded to do things when I didn't want to.
I stood up for you right to make my own choices. Even if that wasn’t what people wanted to hear, it’s where I found my strength. By saying no, I was honouring myself, giving myself the time to heal/recover…. Sometimes just to just wait for a better day. It didn’t feel like weakness, it felt like strength. Putting my wellbeing first and deciding what I was happy to do.
I didn't ask for permission, I made my own decisions. And I won the battle, you can too.
Even if it’s not you, try and remember many people are fighting a battle. If we could all spend a little time building people up more, wouldn't it make the world a much more lovely place?
The mental health charity Mind was such a great help and support to me when I was trying to work through things, trying to make sense of it all. I am now a member of mind and through what I do here at nataliegisborne.com and all the amazing members that have purchased my products and courses, I am able to donate time and money to help mind ensure that no-one faces a mental health problem alone.
So that’s my real why, you’ll find no interior design judgement here my friend, only loving support. My DM's, emails, door, is always open for anyone that going though anything they need a little help with. Help in your head..... or your home, I'm always here for you.