Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On shame and honesty

At the time of writing, I am preparing to close down my business and declare bankruptcy. This has been on the cards for some time, now. While I have been open about the state of affairs, I have been very guarded about the effect it was having on me. I have been very busy presenting a brave face and looking as if everything is just fine.

It has meant that I have had to pull out of all the conferences I was scheduled to attend and/or speak at. It has meant that I have had to turn down invitations to all manner of interesting sounding events. This, in turn, has left me feeling largely excluded and marginalised.

Deep down, I have been feeling like an abject failure, and burning with shame that my ineptitude looks set to change the life circumstances of my husband and sons. My husband works unbelievably hard, and commutes two hours each way, every day. The thought that - through no fault of his own - he might lose his home, has been almost more than I can bear.

Finally, I confessed this in an email to a friend/colleague, and her response has overwhelmed me:

No Karyn, please do not feel shame, stand proud, you have never robbed anyone nor done anything underhanded, you have worked honestly and with sincerity, and you have done your best...and you are such an inspiration in yourself! i always felt lifted when talking to you and seeing your spirit.
Yes, dammit! I have never robbed anyone (although a few have robbed me). I have never been underhanded (although - again - a few have been underhanded with me). I am sincere and honest. And I have done my best. I am able to say with certainty that I have inspired some people along the way. Many have been kind enough to tell me so. And yes, I am by nature an encourager.

I know. I am naive. I have admitted it before. But I will not apologise for that. Nor can I see it as a fault. I would rather be naive, than be conniving, grasping, and looking-out-for-number-one-at-the-cost-of-everyone-else. I don't see how anyone could be in this business if that was how they rolled.

So, yes. Learning Anorak looks set to close its doors at the end of this month. And, no, I'm not handling it at all well. But as of today, I can add defiance the things I feel.

I'll let you know if that turns out to be a Good Thing ;o)


Unknown said...

Karyn, there are moments, lots of moments, when I doubt my decisions or fear future outcomes, and no...I'm not facing them just yet...but your post, and your honesty, and your fearlessness in taking risks, staying true to yourself and staying passionate is what makes you a phenomenal and inspirational woman. I think the universe takes care of us and in the end, our lives are richer by living passionately and following our dreams.

We've never met, but I've held you high in my esteem and close in my PLN...and now even higher and closer. Maybe the timing is just right for your next adventure. -Koreen

The upsycho said...

@Koreen Thank you so much for your kind words - here and on Twitter. I have been blown away by the response I have had to this post in all the various spaces I occupy, even though I published it just minutes ago. I just wish I could bottle all of that positivity and affirmation and take it to the bank!

But yes. My life is never boring, because I am just too driven, too outspoken, too impatient, too determined...

It will be interesting to see what tomorrow holds!

Stuart French said...

I have been there (12 years ago, but managed to avoid bankruptcy) I feel for you. From where I am standing now can I encourage you and say EXCELLENT! Failure #1 out of the way. Get on with failure #2 as quick as possible. By #3 or 4 you will be tougher, wiser and probably richer than you can even imagine right now!

The upsycho said...

@Stuart Thanks for the encouragement, although I assure you, this is not failure #1. At my age, I have experienced failure a great many times! I'd be something of an anomaly were that not the case.

I have to say that while 'tougher' and 'wiser' sound good (bring it on), I don't really have any ambition in the 'richer' department. I'm simply not motivated by money. Never have been, much to the consternation of all those who tried to turn me into a salesperson. I just want to be able to pay the bills.

Views from Malmesbury said...

Dear Karyn, I'm truly sorry you're going through this. I've seen the emotional turmoil friends have gone through, up close and personal, and it takes a lot of courage to declare yourself to the world. There's no shame in having tried and failed,the friend/colleague who emailed you has it quite right! Even when I don't agree with what you have to say I enjoy your blogs - they always give me something to think about and other points of view to consider. I've been impressed with your forthrightness, something I've always been lacking. I'm sure you'll find your way through all this and I look forward to following your progress.

Good luck and head high girl!

The upsycho said...

@Views Thank you. It is true: forthrightness is never in short supply, here... which is not always a good thing, I assure you.

And I welcome disagreement, by the way. I'd rather have people argue stridently with me than sit there with mutinous expressions on their faces. I value engagement of any kind. So thank you for your regular visits and for taking the time to comment. Long may it continue.


Nicola Avery said...

Hi Karyn, only just saw this, you are an amazing learning professional and it takes so much guts to get out there in the first place which you have in full measure.

Koreen said it rightly - you are a phenomenal, passionate and inspirational woman, I have enjoyed reading your blog, been lucky enough to chat with you briefly. There are so few people who really tell how it is and live it too xxx

Anonymous said...


I just have a quick question for you but couldn't find an email so had to resort to this. I am a progressive blogger on senior issues. Please email me back at when you get a chance. Thanks.


The upsycho said...

@Barbara If you follow the link to my website, there is a 'contact us' link.

V Yonkers said...

Let me give you a different perspective which might make you feel better. I'm sure if it was just you, you wouldn't feel so bad because your decisions would just impact yourself. However, when there are loved ones involved, you feel such a sense of responsibility towards THEM and such a failure to THEM. I saw my father go through that when the company he and some colleagues had bought and tried to turn around went bankrupt, having financial implications for my mother and us children.

In the end, everything worked out and we did not have to move. However, it was good to see the struggle and disappointment my father went through as we could then support him when things got him down. Unfortunately, this happened just as he and the other partner were both diagnosed with terminal diseases (and there were other factors such as a lightning strike which disabled one of the plants during a weak economy). However, seeing him as human, made me appreciate him more than during the times he was "successful." I was lucky to see how much time and effort he put into his work and dreams, which before I just took for granted. It also made me a much more ambitious person who was able to balance my dreams with the inherent risks that any entrepreneur must take.

I encourage you to make sure as you go through this that you allow your family the ability to support you rather than "not wanting to be a burden on them." I remember feeling closer to my parents (more than my siblings who were out of the house at the time) when I had to lend them money I had earned. I felt proud that I could help them and that they appreciated the help I gave them, rather than feeling as if my father was a failure. In the end, it made us all stronger.

Simon FitzPatrick said...

Sorry to hear that Karyn - my 'business' has also lurched along from crisis to crisis and I don't want to make a shedload of money either - you're in good company! Stick to your guns... Take care xx

Sahana Chattopadhyay said...

Karyn, first I think you are an incredibly brave person...and no I am not saying it just to cheer you up, I am saying it because it takes astounding bravery to reveal pain. And second, being naive and trusting is NOT a flaw. I don't think so and I have been accused of the same traits. Gradually, I have learnt that trusting people is not a mistake; if they can't live up to our trust, that is not our fault.

I have always admired you and thought of you an someone knowledgeable and also very willing to share.

A person as passionate and driven to learn as you are will always find good things awaiting you...

The upsycho said...

Thank you to everyone who has been so overwhelmingly encouraging: here, on Twitter, via my Facebook inbox and (for those of you who know my address) via my email inbox.

I have been deeply moved to be on the receiving end of such affirmation. I am privileged to belong to a network of people so generous with their good opinion, their time and their input.

I have also genuinely appreciated the personal anecdotes that you have been kind enough to share. Your reflections on your own past experience is hugely comforting, not least because it is past experience.

When one is looking down into the abyss, it is very easy to forget to lift your chin and look across to the far bank. Thank you for reminding me to do so.