LinkedIn was my Lifeline
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
“Wow Sally you’re so successful!”
“OMG you’re crushing it girl!”
“Wow, you’re set up for life Sal”
I receive remarks to this effect oh so often, which is uplifting to a certain extent and they are indisputably intended as compliments – so thank you to those who say such things. Despite the kind-hearted and empowering intentions, whenever such remarks are made towards me I’ve always felt empty. They never really ring true to me from a self-assessment point of view.
After the fact I always think to myself a combination of the following thoughts:
“Does this person realize how I feel?”
“Maybe I should start sharing more of what goes on at home”
“Is this person delusional?”
“But I don’t feel that way”
Thanks to Success Resources, I had the opportunity to attend Tony Robbins’ UPW event last week (which was incredible by the way). During the event, Tony briefly discussed Robbie Williams (whom most are familiar with as an actor). Tony shared with the audience Robbie’s success story and went on to conclude the story with “he was so successful he committed suicide, leaving his body for his family to find”. The audience went from cheering to silence. My heart dropped. And it was at that moment I realized I wasn’t alone.
Tony proceeded to say, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure”.
Tears welled in my eyes; my throat became dry as it does when one gets nervous.
Now I’m not Robbie Williams, I am Sally Illingworth. But the way Robbie must’ve been feeling resonates with me beyond belief. For so long I’ve struggled to articulate how I’ve been feeling. There are so many scary thoughts that have entered my mind pertaining to decisions that would make or break my existence. And I’m so nervous to be sharing this with you albeit I’ve come to the realization that there is no shame in being human. We shouldn’t feel ashamed when how we feel doesn’t align with the world’s perception of us. Instead, we should use it as an opportunity to educate others and encourage discussions surrounding mental health.
The LinkedIn character limit restricts my ability to share the story in a detailed manner with you so I’ll give it my best shot at summarizing some of the events that have occurred and, I believe, have impacted the way I feel and why I don’t feel fulfilled albeit am perceived as successful.
By age 18 I had worked my ass off for two full years and finally became a business owner. Everyone was so impressed. I was excited to take the next step in my career albeit not impressed by myself. I had grand plans to become the dominant pizza player in the Northern Territory market however due to external influences I did not pursue this plan. Circa 8 months after opening my business, now 19 years old, I became a legal guardian to three of my younger sisters. Simultaneously, as a family our financial position was at rock bottom. I did as much as I could to help. I’d be in the office during the day strategizing or on the road picking up stock, pick the girls up from school and drop them where they needed to be (usually at an after school sports or at home), race back to the business to turn the ovens on, work in the store and then race to pick up the girls from wherever they needed, do a Woolworths trip to collect dinner items, drop the girls and dinner at home, race back to the shop and so forth.
So often my youngest sister would be waiting at the Gymnastics stadium for me and I’d receive an SMS saying “Are you coming?”. I’d feel horrible every time, responding “Yes sorry darling I’m just leaving the shop now”.
Or I’d forget an item at Woolworths and one of the girls would say “Sal we need more toothpaste”. To which I’d respond, “Ok I’ll get some tomorrow”.
And sometimes I was so exhausted I’d sleep past my alarm and wake up to the girls shaking me “Sal get up. Here’s a coffee. We’re going to be late for school”.
Each time I forgot something or slept in, I felt like an absolute dick. “I’m useless” I’d tell myself.
Oh and one time I received a letter in the mail from the school saying one of my younger sisters had won an award to be presented to her the following week. Excited for her I thought “I won’t tell her what it’s for but I’ll tell her not to have any other commitments on that night and I’ll take her to the school as surprise so she can get her award. She’ll be so excited”. Several days after the award ceremony she comes home, “Hey I got an award from school. I was supposed to be there on Monday to receive it but we mustn’t have gotten the letter”. My heart dropped. I told her the truth - I had forgotten.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to relocate back to Sydney for a corporate contract. My role (along with many others) was made redundant within 5 days, so I re-applied and secured an alternate position.
Dreaming of a bright future for my younger sisters, I gave them the opportunity to join me in Sydney. One of them took me up on the offer and moved several months after I did. She wasn’t an academic, akin to myself, so spent her time with the ‘wrong’ crowds at school. Her grades were poor and she was behaving rebelliously (it reminded me of myself at school). It got to a point where she was so close to automatically failing year 12 so I sent her to my mother.
“I failed” I told myself. “I couldn’t help her enough”.
Throughout this entire timeline, a consistent factor remained behind the scenes; a relationship that started rocky and became rich, at least momentarily. Before long this relationship didn’t provide much fulfillment. Thinking to myself, “it’s comfortable than compassionate”. It feels like a chore, not something that is cherished.
Life felt increasingly more challenging. Many decisions were made that didn’t reflect my spirit or my aspirations. I stopped speaking to my family frequently. A sense of pessimism continues to try and creep its way into my head. I’ve relinquished many dear friendships. I became lost.
Sure, I was living in gorgeous apartments and walking around with a dolled-up face of make up and pure blonde hair - everything looked "in working order" from the outside. But on the inside? I was deteriorating.
A sense of pessimism continues to try
and creep its way into my head
About 26 weeks ago, I realized I had lost who I was. I had lost myself in the midst of life and everything that was happening around me. I had lost my mojo, my sense of aspiration, my visions for the future and I felt alone.
So I decided to start producing videos because it seemed an easy way to share my learning’s particularly in relation to how our minds can play tricks on us. Quickly it became an escape for me. The publish button on LinkedIn became akin to a good friend. I’d press publish and feel a sense of relief as I’ve shared a thought pertaining to what’s going on in my head.
Not many, if any, people watched my videos. I wasn’t concerned with the metrics. I was wholeheartedly concerned by only the meaning the videos represented. Today? I’m honored to have a community of 26,000 people who are greater than the publish button. For you 26,000 I am truly grateful. You seriously continue to give me a greater purpose.
Why did I choose LinkedIn? Because no one knew me on LinkedIn. It wasn’t a platform of reference for me within my existing friendship and acquaintance groups. It was a clean slate.
LinkedIn became my lifeline. LinkedIn has inspired a greater sense of purpose in my life. Not because of the simplified logo or the blue dashboard design, but because there exists a community of individuals who aspire to become better and do better and I belong to that community.
“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure”.
Slowly but surely, I’m on a road of recovery. Re-discovering my sense of purpose and realigning my action compass.
Never deprive yourself of being human and feeling human, and letting others know so.
As individuals we must penetrate the surface of perception and seek purity.
Thank you for listening.