What storms can teach us

For me, last year mirrored a long, hard storm. Juggling roles as a wife and mom, managing two burgeoning businesses, and grappling with physical health and emotional challenges, I encountered unprecedented loneliness and mental pressure.

That year really tested me and reshaped my understanding of strength and vulnerability. It also brought back memories of another challenging life experience that was very difficult but brought me eventual success.

Over a decade ago, I realized I had made a significant mistake a few years before in my personal life. To change my path meant significant family, cultural, and other consequences. The pressure was immense. I care deeply about family, and the knowledge that my decision would emotionally affect them and make their lives difficult, at least for a while, weighed heavily on me. 

It was a profoundly personal decision, yet it rippled through my life with severe consequences for my relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.

The heart of my concern lay in the taboo nature of my choice, perceived by many as against divine will and a breach of morality. This sentiment wasn’t isolated to strangers; my own family and close friends shared this societal belief, resulting in rejection and significantly compounding the difficulty of navigating this period in my life. For them, it signaled a critical shift; for me, it marked the beginning of rebirth.

As a result, my support system crumbled. Yet, through the steadfast presence of an old friend and my father, I began to lay the foundations of a new life. This endeavour wasn’t merely about recovery; it was an act of creation — establishing a new career and forging new friendships, all of which were instrumental in nurturing my mental and physical well-being. 

Make the choices that are best for your life 

I believe life is a one-time gift, and it’s my responsibility to pursue what I love and what’s right for me. Alone in my conviction, without any external support, I trusted my instincts and knew time would heal, and my family and friends would find joy in seeing my happiness and a better future for me. 

Read about: Embrace joy!

At the time my loneliness was palpable, the doubt and uncertainty immense. I lost the trust of those around me, faced abandonment, left my job, and underwent surgery for health issues brought on by the pressure. But I never wavered from what felt right. I am here today because of that decision.

Sometimes, trusting ourselves and following our hearts is essential, even though it may be incredibly challenging at first. We mustn’t fear the difficulties. It’s important to remember that it’s never too late to change course. With time, what once appeared daunting becomes clear: making a change was the right thing to do. 

It’s always possible to start anew, regardless of past choices.

Mary Yazdani and her children – The Honest Talk

Do it all and pay the price

Priding myself on self-reliance, I thought handling everything alone was necessary for my family, employees, clients, and businesses. Yet, this mindset brought stress and unhappiness to my world, leading me to realize the need for change — not just for my well-being but for the harmony of my personal and professional lives. Ironically, while I struggled I was finding success in business, winning multiple awards and recognition as one of Ottawa’s Top 20 Fastest Growing firms. But I did not feel complete joy. 

I learned that it’s okay to take care of me and to ask for help when I need it.

More lessons learned

During this time, I learned two more big things. 

The first was that confidence is about believing in your capabilities, whereas trusting yourself goes deeper, encompassing an intrinsic belief in your resilience through tough times.

About six months ago, my leadership coach, Patricia Muir, illuminated a path through the storm surrounding my life. She helped me understand that self-trust is like a strong, soft silk inside us. It’s about surviving hard times through our wisdom and experiences, not just through others’ perceptions.

The next thing I learned is that trusting myself is foundational for success, especially in leadership. It means listening to my own needs, embracing vulnerability, and keeping promises to myself.

Read about: Here is why you should have a mentor: insights from Canada’s most influential women

Sharing the lessons

As I share my journey, my aim is to inspire those navigating their own storms. Facing challenges is inevitable; it’s our response that defines us. Trust in yourself, lean on your support network, and prioritize your mental and emotional health. This commitment benefits not just you, but everyone around you.

To every woman braving her storm, this journey reveals your inherent strength and the importance of embracing vulnerability. In doing so, we discover our true power: the resilience and trust within ourselves. Let’s transform our scars into stars, using our experiences not as reminders of our struggles, but as beacons of triumph and resilience.

Finally, a few practical tips for the day-to-day management of work/life balance:

  • Review your time management skills. It can bring more order to your work. Take time away from work to recharge for yourself and your family. 
  • Recognize how events affect you. We cannot just shrug them off – get help if required.
  • Rely on your support network, both at work and in your personal life.