A cocktail of low self-esteem, poor self-awareness and a habit of burning the candle at both ends.
Updated: May 28
I was a shy twenty-two-year-old when I started my PhD — with a cocktail of low self-esteem, poor self-awareness and a habit of burning the candle at both ends.
I was convinced that gaining a doctorate title was the key to freeing myself from my own negative self-talk. I imagined how my life would be with “Dr” in front of my name.
My future self was confident. I was respected. And, most of all, I respected myself.
In 2009, I graduated with a PhD in Molecular Biology.
Was I transformed into the confident woman I dreamed of?
Don’t get me wrong — my brain chemistry HAD changed. But not in the way I thought it would.
I was smarter, for sure.
I finished my PhD with an amazing ability to investigate, experiment, solve problems and defend my research to the absolute tenth degree.
But that wasn’t enough.
I still felt empty.
Surprisingly, having a new title didn’t solve my low-self-esteem problem.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I knew things needed to change. My twenties had been filled with either work or parties (to escape the stress) and now I had a new focus — a baby!
After a few years of working and balancing family life (and another baby), I took a leap of faith and left science to retrain as a web designer. Like most small-business owners, I wanted the freedom to choose how and when I worked.
Life was good for a short time. I had some lovely clients and it felt good to be free from employed life. But, to be honest, nothing had changed inside. I was still hiding, only this time behind a company logo.
On top of that, my people-pleasing tendencies meant that I undercharged, over-delivered, and failed to set good boundaries — a recipe for disaster in business.
I was unhappy, and my inability to express myself left me feeling deeply frustrated.
The odd occasion that I did manage to show up to business networking events made me feel worse. Why couldn’t I talk about my business? Why was I so quiet? Why was I always so frightened to share my opinions?
Reflecting now, I can see the damage that keeping quiet was doing to me. We are put on this earth to express ourselves, and I was failing.
Thankfully, everything changed in 2019, after a chance stumble across a copywriting course, and I began the journey of rewriting my internal dialogue.
Each time I embraced vulnerability and wrote a piece of content from my heart, my self-esteem grew.
I created a strong, bold marketing message that resonated with people, and my ability to write with clarity and confidence snowballed. I didn’t know it at the time, but learning how to write sales copy was empowering me.
Each new enquiry, each testimonial, each payment into my bank account gave me the confidence to show up as my true self, and my self-esteem grew and grew.
And now, in 2021?
I’m unrecognisable from my former self — completely transformed into the confident woman I always wanted to be.
Not because I gained a title (although I did change my title from web designer to copywriter) but because I learned how to be vulnerable and express myself clearly. I worry less about what others think.
Don’t get me wrong — my journey isn’t over.
I still have my moments; we all do. Life’s one big lesson, isn’t it?
But, for now at least, I have the answer.
Be brave. Be vulnerable. Show up. And speak up.
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Hannah Gibson, PhD
Copywriter & Copy Coach
Helping introverted entrepreneurs write with clarity and confidence |
Six-Weeks Personalised 121 Copy Coaching Package
Owner at Gibson Copy Ltd