On this day four years ago, my day started off as any normal Saturday in January. Little did I know, it would be the day Lipstick & Ink® came to be – a day that would change me forever.
Leading up to January 13, 2018, I had experienced an action-packed few months: getting married to Adam, going on our honeymoon to Maui and New Zealand, and spending time with family for the holidays. As I began settling back into my “normal life” and entering the dead of winter, I naturally had more time on my hands. With that extra time came a heightened awareness that something in my life was missing. It had been nagging me for weeks, but I couldn’t put my finger on what.
It wasn’t until I was scrolling through Facebook that day that I’d get my answer. One of my Facebook friends, an acquaintance who had been in my college sorority, had announced the launch of her blog. Seeing her post instantly ignited a spark of envy within me. At that moment, I realized what was missing in my life. My writing.
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I like to joke from the time I was able to pick up a pen, I’ve considered myself a writer. I started writing in journals at the ripe age of seven and started dreaming up short stories and poems around the same time. I wrote my first “book” in the 6th grade and had my work published in poetry books and the Chicago Tribune in high school. I was Spotlight Editor for my high school newspaper, where I profiled our school’s student athletes. I was determined that I would be a journalist someday.
Somewhere along the way, my dream of being a writer shifted. I quickly learned as a freshman in college that journalism didn’t seem like a viable career with the imminent death of newspapers and magazines. I course-corrected and was fortunate to find another passion in the industry of advertising. Even though I wasn’t going to be formally writing as part of my career, I wanted to continue writing in some capacity. I found joy in writing Facebook Notes (remember those?) and testing different blog formats to publish my thoughts. But with putting myself out there came being subjected to ridicule, judgment, and the like.
I was judged for sitting home and writing on nights my friends went out and partied. I was laughed at for being “too emo” with the writing I shared. I was defeated when I compared my writing to those in my creative writing class. All of this and more led me to question why I was wasting my time writing. I let external circumstances and people negatively influence me to the point where I essentially stopped writing and publishing my work. I succumbed to doing things I thought I “should” be doing. I devoted my time to solely focusing on my career and climbing the corporate ladder. I got lost in hustle culture and people-pleasing my way through life. This went on for nearly six years – until that Facebook post jolted me awake. It was a reminder of how far away I had gotten from myself.
There was a reason I reacted so strongly to my sorority sister’s blog launch. Envy is clever in that way. It narrows your focus and gives you clues to what you really want. It guides you to discover what you’re yearning for. I made a choice that day to look in the mirror and face a part of myself that I had suppressed for nearly a decade. The part of me who loved to write, who had so much to share, who wanted to impact others with her words. The part of me who was eventually overshadowed by a young woman who doubted her talent, who quieted her voice, who feared rejection and failure and decided to stop writing altogether. I had been living as a version of myself that I had carefully crafted, blinded into thinking I was being true to who I was when in reality, I wasn’t. I was a writer who had forgotten how to write my own life, giving my pen to others to write it for me.
That very Saturday, minutes after seeing that Facebook post, I decided to start a blog of my own, my passion reignited. There was no doubt that my blog’s focus was going to center around career content. I wanted to write about my experiences as a corporate professional in the hopes I could help other women through some of the same challenges. I wanted to share my career advice, resources, and resume tips that people naturally already came to me for. More than that, I wanted women to own their power and embrace their individuality and authenticity. I wanted them to be the changemakers of their story and make their mark on the world.
It was blending my passion for writing and my knack for career guidance that ended up becoming the dual magic behind what would become my blog, Lipstick & Ink®, which launched a month later. (Read more about the meaning behind the name here.) Since then, I’ve introduced events, resources, and most recently, consulting and coaching services. I also officially began writing my first book – a dream I’ve had since I was the age of five.
Since launching L&I®, I’ve learned critical lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. They are:
Listen to Your Intuition
You possess a powerful guidance system within you. Don’t ignore it. Your inner voice is your inner wisdom that will lead you to your potential. It’s that immediate knowledge that points you to exactly what to do, guiding you to make the choices that feel right to you. Slow down, tune in, and take the time to discover and understand what it is your feeling so you can act on it. Had I not trusted my intuition to write again and start a blog, Lipstick & Ink® may not even exist today.
Shut Down the Inner Critic
While you have the power of your inner voice, you also have the inhibiting inner critic that never seems to go away. The inner critic loves to tear you down, making you feel unworthy and incompetent. It holds onto memories and experiences of failure, embarrassment, and judgment. It replays the words of others that broke you. I let my inner critic overwhelm me throughout most of my 20’s, living in fear of rejection. I learned though if I wanted to achieve my goals and make my individual mark on the world, I had to stand up to my inner critic and tap into my inner voice. The voice of encouragement, self-compassion, and possibility. I reminded myself that I was worthy and capable and that I was going to do what I wanted on my own terms. I was going to stop comparing myself and letting my past experiences define the person I wanted to become.
In the words of Brené Brown: “It’s worse to spend your life on the outside looking in, wondering what if, than it is to try and dare greatly and risk the chance of failure. Dare greatly; get in the arena and try.” You have the power to make a change. It starts with a choice. A choice to take a risk, seeking possibilities rather than accepting the status quo. A choice to courageously take action on what it is you want in life. A choice to live a life of impact and fulfillment. Starting a blog seems simple enough, but for me, it was vulnerable and intimidating. I was prepared to face all of the things that had stopped me from writing. But when it came down to it, I knew I’d rather try and put myself out there than wonder “what if?” Had I not dared greatly at that moment, I could still be wondering if I should start a blog of my own, losing out on all the wonderful growth that has happened since that day.
It’s tempting to look around and wonder if you’re doing things the “right” way or the “best” way. You may convince yourself that you need to change or alter yourself, the way you show up, and the way you do things to feel accepted and validated. Don’t. I speak from experience that that gets you nowhere towards who you want to be or what you want to accomplish. You are you for a reason and that is your magic, your superpower, your secret sauce. By staying authentic in who you are, you become a magnetic field. You will repel others, encountering those who want to bring you down. But you will also attract others – your people. You will inspire others to be authentic and true to who they are too. That’s always been my hope with L&I®. I wanted to stay authentic to who I am in the hopes that other women would aspire to be too. I’ve learned that when you choose to step into the power of authenticity with courage and confidence, the sky is your limit. Your potential for what you choose to do explodes. So much possibility and opportunity await when you accept who you are at your very core.
Trust the Journey
Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan or make sense the way they happen. But the beauty in that is that what you never wanted or expected can turn out to be what you needed. I started Lipstick & Ink® solely to start writing again and provide career advice. Never did I think I’d expand to hosting in-person and virtual events or partnering with organizations and being a guest speaker. Never did I think I’d grow L&I® into a legit business, offering services such as resume reviews and coaching sessions. While there’s certainly been an aspect of daring greatly and taking action, I’ve also stayed patient and allowed things to organically happen. It may seem woo woo, but I’ve had trust that there is a divine path moving me through this journey and that whatever is happening is happening for my higher and greater good. Who knows what will be next for L&I®!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.