Ever since Andi can remember they have always looked at the edges, at those people who haven't quite fitted in and now feels that they also occupy that space - "on the edge"
Growing up Andi never quite felt as though she fitted in, despite as she says, ‘playing the game’ and following expectations by going to university and then starting her career in the corporate world. Throughout this time, she felt she was hiding who she was, her intrinsic self.
Growing up Andi never quite felt as though she fitted in, despite as she says, ‘playing the game’ and following expectations by going to university and then starting her career in the corporate world. Throughout this time, she felt she was hiding who she was, her intrinsic self. It was only after being made redundant and moving into the education sector, where she found new ways of collaboration, working together to grow and develop, that she finally felt she had found her real self and real space. This flicked a switch in her to stop pretending, realising that you don’t have to conform to a certain way of living, just because it is the norm and instead understanding what you have is valuable and that it is OK to be you. Being on the edge is valuable and can create change.
Andi worked within the education sector for 15 years and it was being visible as her whole authentic self which gave her the confidence to start her own charity, Chrysalis in 2017. Andi overcame initial difficulties and was able to push the charity to the ‘edge’ and its current state of celebrating every aspect of everyone and all of their differences, driven by a powerful moto that ‘everyone can be an ally.’
Andi believes this allowed Chrysalis to adapt well during lockdown and ‘turn on a sixpence’ as she was used to not following the crowd, or worn paths, knowing that because they work for others doesn’t mean they will for her. Her thought process being that if it’s what everyone is doing, then there must be an alternative, perhaps better option for them.
Both Joanne and Andi state that it is only recently that people can express themselves outwardly, showing the things that make them intrinsically who they are without fear that they would be interpreted negatively, especially in the workplace. This is especially true for things such as visible tattoos, piercings, different hair colours, although there are still some sectors that are further ahead with this, and it is still not acceptable at senior levels within the corporate world.
Andi believes we need to have seen a discrepancy to understand the change required and that everyone can do something about it, sometimes we need to take a risk. If you are in the middle, you are not taking risks with your core being, or stepping outside your comfort zone. Although for some might be anxiety inducing, we need to understand that people have their right to not join you on your journey, stay in their comfort zone and pick their own path, you cannot force anyone to join you. We all relate to things differently, but Andi states ‘if you develop yourself, you never lose.’
It is often the case that our own fears can hold us back or stop us from achieving our dreams. We all want to feel as though we ‘fit in’. From a young age many of us are attributed a label, often not of our choosing and this can have a huge impact on our lives, especially as it affects not only how other see us, but also how we see ourselves. However, if we were able to own and affirm a label that you have been given you can rub the edges of, it starts to fit a bit better and changes how others see themselves. We should be able to ‘try on’ these different labels and decide if they fit for us.
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