There are not many journalists who can say that their most powerful stories to date stemmed from back bending on the floors of Shisha Bars as a professional bellydancer, and it's something I always felt embarrassed about when presenting as a guest lecture in front of the next generation of journalists.
These blurred lines between personal and professional from a paid hobby as a performer to my professional life as a journalist and business owner used to make me comfortable as I struggled to fit in whether it be in the entertainment world where most people were from private acting schools unlike me who shimmied her way through community groups and funded courses for the “under-represented” or in the media world where it is also not always what you know but who you know.
Somehow, I managed to navigate my own way through the side door of the stage.
But I would secretly straddling roles as I tried to hide my multi-faceted life as an aspiring woman in the media who loved (and needed to earn the cash to fund my efforts) performing as a dancer. My multidimensional life became even more complex as a young mum with classed ‘disabilities’ and in one day alone I would drop my daughter off at nursery en route to a social enterprise course to fund a community magazine, before quickly changing into student clothes for a postgraduate journalism lecture, before a business meeting, then changing into a bellydance costume to perform that night before returning home to care for my daughter and then the following morning I would reappear in smart clothes on the news desk of a national newspaper before collecting my daughter and my long commute to home to tend to housework and admin for my journalism, businesses, hobbies and life.
I felt less superhero and more like a Quick Change Artist, my scarcity mindset of “where there’s muck, there’s brass,” meant I was always hustling trying desperately to reach this ‘other world’ of a career as a journalist. Ironically, rather than asking to be paid for my endless ‘work experience’ stints, I would try self-fund my dream and make ends meet elsewhere.
In recent times however we have all been forced to accept and celebrate the spectrum of humanity we come into contact with via video call ‘unveiling our professional masks’ with so many others are working flexibly from home.
It was during a video call with my life coach Emily of Quantum Coaching where I had the realisation that I too was responsible for transforming my mindset rooted in my own past and me subconsciously trudging a ‘rags to riches’ fairytale, when in fact we are one world and the ultimate transformation comes from within, as Emily said: “Most of those money sayings are outdated and only serve to keep us in our past. If how we feel about ourselves is determined by anything external, we give away personal power. If something outside of ourselves has the power to make us feel worthy, valued and happy, then it has the power to take that away too. But when we love ourselves unconditionally and hold our value high, money is welcome as an expression of love, gratitude and appreciation.”
With a rekindled fire in my belly and the new found confidence of speaking up on Zoom for myself and others from the comfort of my own creative home office, I realised that ‘true empowerment’ and inclusivity, means that to truly inspire the next generation and myself that we need to pay for people’s skills and services, because of their background, not just promote a more diverse world, we need to cherish and cheerlead it.
By Sophie Mei Lan
Offices in Sheffield & Wakefield
Evoke Media Group Ltd.
6-8 Bond Terrace