I’ve been a follower all my life. I’ve followed boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, lipsticks, alcohol, food, self-harm…sometimes I even follow recovery. But I’ve never felt like a leader. I’ve never felt like the captain of my own ship. I have always been chasing that elusive ‘something’ that will make me feel like a whole person. I have always been in pursuit of the thing that will make being me okay. In the pursuit of this one moment of contentment and wholeness I have been dogged by alcoholism, eating disorders, depression and anxiety. I have at times, drunk and sober, lost myself completely.
Luckily for me, at one of these times I met Clare Campbell. Clare had recently lost herself too, and was starting to allow the rest of the world to see the courageous leader she has always been. Clare frightened me. People who seemed like they knew what they wanted frightened me. When you’re lost, nothing is more intimidating than someone with a map in their hand walking briskly in the right direction. And when you’re as lost as I was, everybody looks like they have a map in their hand. I didn’t even think someone as bright and beautiful as Clare would be able to see me.
Clare showed me the first steps on a road that has become my life’s journey. When she met me for the first time I was unemployed, anxious, depressed, purposeless. This was all I could see in myself: the things I thought I was failing at. No job, no hope, no ambition. I hadn’t yet realised that I wasn’t a collection of negatives. I hadn’t yet realised that I was somebody’s sista. I started slowly: I whispered tiny little dreams into the air and did not expect anything to happen. When they blew back as a great wind of blessings I was surprised. I whispered to the universe that I wanted change, and movement, and something to happen. So many things happened, and they continue to happen.
My life’s purpose used to be running after anything that looked better than what I had, when everything looked better than what I had. I have changed that. I have made a commitment to myself. I try not to follow today. I try to trust that I have been, can be, and will continue to be loving, hopeful, ambitious, inspiring. I have carved a life for myself in the rocky terrain that I used to live in. Being in circle with women allowed me to see that we all have our own place, that we all need each other. That people you don’t expect to even see you can become your greatest friends. That someone who has followed everyone else her whole life can stand in front of the mirror and say: today, I’m only following myself. Today I am my own leader. I am my own sista. And now that I can be a sista to myself, I can say sincerely: I am your sista.
Alison was a participant in Big Love Sista: 100 Women in Kirkby and Knowsley Create, and working with the project has enabled her to follow her dreams of writing, having purple hair and working in Lush. Find her blog here: http://mizalisonclare.wordpress.com
Clare Campbell is Chief Executive of Big Love Sista CIC. She is an artist, a creative activist and skilled facilitator bringing together communities and creating wild magic. Find out more about clare on our web site www.biglovesista.com
Big Love Sista CIC is a leading Social Enterprise based in Merseyside working internationally to celebrate creativity, authenticity and peoples stories. To find out more check out our web site www.biglovesista.com