Confident and Bold in 2017

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Here goes nothin'! My VERY FIRST blog post. A little backstory on me and how I got to this actual spot - as in this actual spot of actually posting my first blog post...

In 2008 I moved back to my hometown, Springfield, Missouri, after a few years in Minnesota and a year in Little Rock, AR. I was living on my aunt's couch with my two labs at their 400+ acre farm where I spent a good chunk of my childhood. I felt completely defeated and I had no idea what I was going to do with myself.

Without reliving all the details of this memory...I eventually talked my way into a job (I did have my degree and a great résumé!) and found a cute rental house with a garage and big fenced in back yard, perfect for me, the dogs and our next chapter.

I was working for local business entrepreneurs as a brand manager/marketing director and loving every second. Our offices weren't really offices but desks set up in a old, odd warehouse-type space and it was perfect. With a space heater blasting at my desk during the winter and sharing a gross, halfway functioning bathroom with three men, my love for local business began to develop! Ha! No, seriously, it was great! I started meeting new people and making new friends (one of which is now my husband!) and finding my place in a community that had always been home, but had never been my home.

"Building your personal brand is key," is something that my boss taught me during this time while guiding me along in figuring out exactly what my personal brand was. To this day, I still love this piece of advice and am quick to tell people this approach was the golden ticket for me. BUT, somewhere along the way of finding and developing my personal brand, I became my personal brand (and not in the best way for me). My thoughts are a bouncing ball of emotions in trying to describe this and the only thing I know to say is this: I became so caught up in being a brand - a brand of a person - that people liked, respected, wanted to have a beer with and collaborate with, that my own personal emotions, thoughts, feelings and personality started to hide. Depression. Yes. Anxiety. Yes. Low self-esteem. Yes. But my brand was on-point. People liked my personal brand. People respected my personal brand. Me, however, I began to struggle with self-doubt and feelings of not being good enough, of not living up to my brand.

Hang with me here...

While battling this roller coaster of an identity, the seed was planted in my head of starting a blog. (It could be my outlet, not my brand! My journal! I could talk about things and express my feelings - and I could do so somewhat incognito! YES!) BUT, *self-doubt surfacing*, who would want to read anything I would write about? No one would care about my silly dog stories, failed recipe attempts, the garden I was dreaming about or how college was a complete disaster for me. My personal brand was strong and confident and outgoing. Me? I was (am) shy and self-conscious.

So - this "blog seed" stayed in my head. I would dig it up from time to time. Create lists of what my blog wold be called. Jot down ideas of things I would write about. And then cover the seed back up, not willing to give it enough water to actually sprout. (Cliché analogy, I know!)

Fast forward 7+ years (and one more dog!) to December 2015. Somehow I met someone who saw through my brand and fell in love with me. I got engaged! (Super fun engagement story that I'll share later.) I rang in the New Year in 2016 with a new outlook and a sparkle of excitement that I had never had. 2016 was an incredible year for me! 2016 was also incredibly challenging for me. I married my best friend, (had the wedding of my dreams!), quit my really good job, spent two weeks in Italy on my honeymoon and found myself in a new home with a new last name - and no idea what to do with myself. Different scenery, familiar territory and feelings of uncertainty for me.

On my honeymoon, while my new husband was sleeping in, I read Big Magic (I highly recommend it!) and was completely inspired and empowered. I AM CREATIVE! Not just my brand, but ME! I am creative and capable and smart and outgoing... I'm going to water these seeds in my head, they are going to sprout, and I'm going to walk around with sunshine beaming on my face! Ha! (I want to live in that garden!) Seriously, this book has helped me SO MUCH!

It's time for me to start being outwardly confident, face my fears and doubts, and put ME, Laura Head Elliott, out into the world. I can do this. I want to do this. I need to do this.

So here it is. Happily Midwest. I've been working on it for a while; drafting content ideas, becoming a hobby photographer, creating an Instagram account... ya know, being super strategic so I could buy myself time (because I'm completely terrified) and linger on actually publishing this blog. I'm still working on confidence and more importantly, authenticity. It's difficult for me to separate ME from what my personal brand is/was. I'm learning and discovering. I want to inspire others. I want to be inspired. I want to be bold and practice self-love. I want to be confident. And I want to live 2017 without any fear or self-doubt.

I'd love to know your struggles and successes. How do you practice self-love and acceptance? How do you build yourself up? What makes you confident? We're all in this together, right? This life is certainly a crazy journey. I'm encouraged that I'm finally taking a step down a new path.

Let's do this, 2017.