In this episode of the Curl Squad’s Curl Power Podcast, we talk about:

  • The pressure of finding your direction when leaving school
  • Being a square peg in a round hole
  • Passion being misconstrued as aggression in male-dominated environments
  • Being a rubbish employee
  • Innovating ideas or problematic behaviours
  • Knowing your worth as an employee
  • Lacking the confidence to make a change
  • Impact of doing meaningless work
  • Living and working with anxiety
  • Counselling and personal transformation
  • Finding freedom and purpose after trauma

 You can read the full transcript below.

Here are the links referenced in the episode:

Episode: My Boyfriend Died

Youth Art Charity


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Curl Squad is a community of women on a journey to self-acceptance, pursuing passion and discovering their purpose.

We discuss growing up curly, overcoming obstacles, traumas and triumphs as well as sharing a natural hair care essential or two.

I’ll be introducing you to some incredibly inspiring curly creators and innovators as we discuss the natural hair community, representation, healing, doing meaningful work and building bigger tables.

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Read the full show transcript here

Transcripts are 90% accurate, please do not trust them for quote or news media purposes. If you need clarification for a story, a blog, or a reference, please contact us directly.

Intro Hook: Is this what life is really all about? dreading going to work? So many of us get stuck in the nine to five doing jobs that just don’t fly our fires. We’re getting paid, but like, what is the trade off? What is your life worth? We get one shot at this life and it’s short. You know, we don’t know what tomorrow has got planned for us.

Hi, Curlfriend. Welcome back to the Curl Squad’s, Curl Power podcast.

In today’s episode, we are going to dig into the subject of facing change and connecting with purpose. Over the years, I have done a whole host of jobs and things all on a mission to try and figure out who I am and where I’m going in life. I remember at the point of sort of coming into the last year at school, and the pressure of trying to figure out what I want to do and who I want to be and you know, what I was going to be doing after college or after school and all of that sort of stuff. I found it, I found the pressure of that really intense because I didn’t know, to be honest. I’m a creative person that never really got to nurture creativity when I was younger, so I feel like I was trying to pursue an academic route. A little bit like being a square peg in a round hole.

It’s sort of left me feeling like I was a little bit rubbish to be honest and not really very good at anything. So I remember the careers teacher who hated me anyway. But yeah, that careers teacher, Mrs Donnelly, I am calling you out live on air. And you know what, I’d love to have a chat with you. Now I’m a big woman. See if you’ve got that same energy for because you were a bi Tch, you were horrible. I went into this woman’s classroom, I was sent in by another teacher to ask her something. I stood and waited politely for her. When she paused. I thought it would be an okay time for me to ask the question that the teacher had asked me to ask her. But I got a whole tirade from her. She was just angry. I went home and I told my mom and dad, and I remember my mom and dad came into school to speak to the it was like the deputy head about it. And she was called into a meeting and I remember on the way into the meeting, she tried to shake my dad’s hand and my dad blanked her. Yes, dad having my back since 19. Long time. But anyway, Mrs Donnelly or Ms. Donnelly didn’t exactly inspire me to find my destiny. Did you have teachers at school that just didn’t like you for no reason. And you know what her hatred for me was so strong that when my brother started the school, she hated him too.

So, left school, went on to college, and I studied English and Media Studies. And I was doing a levels although at this point of time that split them into AAS levels. So if he did a year, he got an AAS level, if he did the two years, you’ve got the A level, I ended up dropping out. After one year. I can’t remember why I just think I wasn’t particularly inspired or motivated by what I was doing there. But on the side, I was doing little jobs here and there. I did. We went for a meal once in a Caribbean restaurant with my mom and dad, my brother, a Caribbean restaurant that had opened not too far from us. And then I ended up I don’t know, getting a job there, which I think I did like one shift and I was absolutely crap. So I don’t think I got invited by but I was just like really anxious and like probably just shaking curried goat plates. And they were just having visions of customers ended up wearing the plantain on the head and yeah, I wasn’t the greatest waitress, but I tried.

And then there was the clothes shop, which, in fact, I think I used to pretty much volunteer in I don’t even think I got paid. I think I just used to go in and hang around to help the man who worked there Zaf, hold tight Zaf on Kings Heath High Street, man like Zaf with this little ladies clothes boutique. Oh bless I was just pretty rubbish at everything. I remember one day I’d put all of these clothes onto a rail and then I was walking past it. And you know the bit that you belt goes in on your trousers out the little loop. The loop of my trouser got stuck on to clothing rail and I walked past it and then pulled this whole rail down my trousers came hanging down everything was on top of me. It was just a disaster, but bless him for allowing me to come and hone my, my working skills in his shop. Then I did a little stint in a greasy spoon. In fact, I did a couple because my, one of my school friends mom and dad had a cafe as well. So I did a couple of I did a few shifts in there as well learnt the art of washing up. It was there that I learned if you use really hot water to rinse your plates, they dry really quickly, learning life skills everywhere.

And then after that I got a summer job. Yes, a summer job in McDonald’s. And like, am I the only person that worked in McDonald’s that thought, You know what, let’s just nice at the customers, you know, let’s like give them a decent portion of chips instead of like five chips in the thing like I was just serving abundantly. But that didn’t last for very long. Then I did various temping jobs. I was actually temping for Ofsted when my boyfriend died. If that’s a story you haven’t heard yet, I do have another episode all about what happened when my boyfriend died that you can go and check out. Yeah, my temping job. I didn’t go back to that, obviously, with everything that was going on having to deal with the different my boyfriend.

But the next job I got after that was working in a Wetherspoons In fact, a brand new Wetherspoons opened on the local high street and I went in and I applied and I got a job working in the kitchen. There, which was interesting. In fact, I think I was pretty much on the verge of like Insanity when I was working there. Because I was going through such emotional turbulence following the death of my boyfriend that I just, I wasn’t emotionally sound. And I was working these really long shifts in a really busy kitchen of this new pub. But my emotions were haywire. I remember like serving plate in salads, and then pick up a handful of tomatoes and say you’re only supposed to put five tomatoes on the plate, but had six I’d be having internal crisis is about, oh my gosh, I’ve picked up six tomatoes. Now I have to pull back feeling really guilty on the tomato that had to put back into the bag. But, you know, I was still there trying to keep functioning as a normal person while coping with the most extreme set of circumstances I had ever met emotionally. I think in the end, like doing 12 hour shifts, and sometimes split shifts as well having to scrape cigarette ends of gravy-soaked plates, will it will just got a little bit too much.

So after that my next job was like I’d landed my dream job. I was working in a record shop. And this was a record shop I always used to go into to buy my vinyl to listen to tunes, and I got a job there. And it was amazing. I really, really loved it. Not so much the steroid pumped class, a snorting aggressive vein popping out of forehead management. They weren’t all like that one in particular. But I really loved my job. I was given like an area of responsibility in the hardware store. So I was looking after all of like the DJ equipment and all of that sort of stuff. And then I ended up getting into a confrontation with another member of staff. And they got called in the office by this manager. And he was just in a roid rage. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it should be a thing. Like he was so angry. It didn’t even make sense. It wasn’t proportionate to whatever it happened. But I remember going into his office and I was like standing by the door, and his head was red and exploding. This man’s vein was like pulsing. That was gonna bump the germ in his forehead. But he was just furious at me. Anyway, I think I had the audacity to speak back to him. Because sorry, me, you don’t get to speak to me like Shi T. And me just stand there and take it.

So I got sacked for gross misconduct, for having the audacity to speak back to the Almighty master. So yeah, for me that was like, I wanted to take it to tribunal and everything at the time, but like that, in itself was a whole process. So that was the end of that. The next job I was to take on. It seemed great to everybody. It seemed great to me. Oh, I felt so professional. Now I’ve got a job. I was in Birmingham city centre. I was working for a bank, you know, the height of professionalism and finally made it doing meaningless tasks for soul devoid people. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t understand the whole banking thing. But I ended up there for 12 years 12 soloists Yes. But this theme for me have been a square peg in a round hole just continued. Like I was finding that I was getting into situations where I was getting, you know called in by management in fact It’s something that has happened quite a few times in my professional career is somehow my passion gets misconstrued for aggression. That might be a familiar story for some of you out there. There’s this caricature of the angry black woman. It’s like, I’m not angry. I’m just passionate, or I’m feeling something deeply or, you know, I’m really excited about something. So I’m speaking like this in a way that’s like that. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m feeling it. Need to get aggressive? aggressive? You think this is good? You think this is aggression?

I ended up leaving Birmingham, a job opportunity came up in London. And I was just like, Yep, I’m going for it. I love London always had my eyes on the big smoke. I spent so many weekends coming down to London, raving enjoying myself. I had a lot of friends down here. So you know, the allure of the big city was calling. So I applied for this job in the city. I got it. Amazing. Such an exciting time. So I landed on this team. I was the youngest person on the team. We had this like sort of a manager and a team leader. Let’s call the manager El Gammon. And let’s call the team leader. El Gammon Number two, it was like Britain’s first What dream kind of thing. Those men, they hated me. We were doing things that just didn’t make sense. Like doing all this manual data input. And I’m like, Guys, this, like, there’s ways that we can improve this as a system. Like, it doesn’t make sense that we’re doing it like this. I can do this. And just make it a lot easier for every one. And they’re like, No, we’ve been very nice for 50 years this way, it must not change. I’m like, okay, doesn’t really make sense to me. But if you insist. And then there was another woman on the team, who called me a diva. Not to my face, but to the other women.

I think these people get so used to people that are just like, yes, yes, Master, no master, and I’m like, sorry, that’s, that’s not me. I will come, I will do a good job, I will do an amazing job. But don’t take me for a deck. Don’t speak to me like I’m a deck. Like, the respect thing. It has to be mutual. You don’t get to just bark at me and command more respect, it doesn’t work like that. So I’m starting to get the impression that maybe I don’t make a very good employee. Or maybe I’m just not that good. Maybe I’m a problem. In fact, I am a problem. Now, every year, the people in the team, a few people in the team will get a bonus. So I’m coming up with all of these innovating ideas. Not once did I ever get a bonus. All I used to get was barked out. I remember, there’s something about these men in power that don’t like young brown women like me speaking up to them. Well, you know, might just be young women speaking up to them in general, but I can only speak from my experience. Again, I had another foaming at the mouth, rage induced manager getting angry at me because I’m not letting him speak to me like I’m an idiot. Like, you have to know your worth enough to know when people are out of line. Like I’m not unreasonable.

Some people might be listening to this thinking she’s an employer’s nightmare. I’m the wrong employers nightmare. But if you like someone who is innovative and challenges processes, and wants to streamline and improve things, then, you know, my talent just wasn’t appreciated or nurtured. Although I say that one of the senior managers, he saw what I was trying to do, and he actually really appreciated some of the improvements that I was making to the systems. And I got an award for it. And we got to go to an amazing dinner at a fancy hotel and, and that year, I still didn’t get a bonus because that was up to L Gammon. He just gives the bonuses out to his friends regardless of what they do. But apart from the senior manager recognizing me I was I wasn’t recognized. And then we got made redundant, or what a shame the universe was saying get out of there says, run while you can. But the whole time I was at the bank, I sort of that confidence, really, I was getting all this pushback from the managers. I thought it was there with this energy of excitement and curiosity. But it wasn’t welcome or reciprocated. In an industry that was sort of stuck in old ways of doing things.

Like one of the jobs that I had was to do with statements and international banking statements. And I’m like, Guys, when it just makes sense. If we turn this into an online process, and did it online instead of having to speak to banks in South Africa, who then have to fax us through or post us this stuff. Like there’s better ways we can do this. But anyway, they just weren’t ready for the future. And then guess what happened? The financial crash In 2009, we lost our jobs, our positions became redundant. They were taking our department and many others out to India. That’s the one good thing that happened was I got to develop lots of processes and systems to help to take the rolls out to India, and train up teams in India. So I was so fortunate to get to fly out business class, and spend a month in Chennai, taking the processes that I developed, and teaching our colleagues in India, how to do our job, so I could come home be made redundant and have no more job.

But yeah, it was an amazing time. But when I came back, yeah, we got made redundant. And to me, it just felt like everything was falling apart, because I was really lacking a lot of confidence. And I was, you know, suffering with a lot of anxiety. And my experience was in the banking industry, but it wasn’t sitting my soul on fire. It felt like I was having to drag myself out of bed every day to go and do work that I just wasn’t passionate about. I didn’t even understand what I was doing in the bigger picture like, it was meaningless work as far as I was concerned. So on the side, I was doing stuff that was like, a little bit more in line with who I was as a person. I was working with promoters in London at club nights. In fact, me and my best friend put on our own club night, which was great fun.

And at the weekends, I was moonlighting as a presenter, we got to me and my best friend, Colette again, we got to present an interview some of the world’s biggest underground artists, at music, festivals and clubs. So like, for me that was living the life, turning up at festivals, jumping in like little golf buggies, going around to the backstage catching the artists when they finished or if it was in a club, we’d go into the VIP room and catch an interview. And it was good fun. I was really sort of like shy and anxious. And looking back, I don’t look as anxious as I was feeling. But inside it was just like, I wasn’t even listening to what the artist was saying. All I was doing was thinking about what I was going to say next. So yeah, just so much anxiety, but I was trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and just try and do stuff that brought a little bit of joy and enjoyment to my life. And actually, it was there in Spain at one of the events that we were, we were doing the interviews, where I met Kane, the love of my life, and I interviewed him. And that’s where the sparks began to fly. And the rest is history.

So I continued with my love of club land. And you know what it was pretty much clubbing and rave in the I was living for like the soloist days doing soulless work in a soulless bank in a soulless City of London was just made a little bit more manageable by living for the weekend, and just partying hard to try and ignore the pain of the way I’m like, is this what life is? Is this what life is really all about? dreading going to work? Like it just didn’t make sense to me that that’s what life is about. But so many of us get stuck in the nine to five doing jobs that just don’t lie our fires internally. We’re getting decent money, we’re getting paid, but like, like, what is the trade off? Like what is your life worth? We get one shot at this life. And it’s short. You know, we don’t know what tomorrow has got planned for us. But there we are spending so much of it, doing stuff that we hate, especially in London get on cramp tubes in some sweaty Man’s armpit. If you’re lucky, you might even get groped. This is this is what it was like getting on the tubes to work. And obviously I’m being sarcastic when I say if you’re lucky enough, but this is the sort of stuff that women are dealing with out there on the way to work. And just the levels of aggression because there’s so many people on the underground go into jobs that they don’t want to do, wasting their lives in misery projecting out on anyone who dares to cross their path or dares to open up the newspaper or have their leg touch their leg by accident on the tube and oh, by the time you get home, you need to decompress, eat your dinner, go to sleep, get ready to do it all over again then next day.

So, after being made redundant, even though the universe was trying to say to me go you are not about this life, I was like please master find me another job in the banking industry. I love it so much. Just because I lacked the confidence to go out and pursue something that I that I really loved and enjoyed. So I went back in got another job in the banking industry, all while suffering with generalized anxiety disorder, like pushing against everything that my body was trying to stop me from doing like just having the most amount of issues Getting on the tube with anxiety bursting into panic attacks, to do work that I didn’t understand or enjoy a rate less than what my colleagues were getting paid because I didn’t know how to negotiate better salaries, working for managers, again, that just thought I was a problem, because I was emotional, or because they have no understanding of mental health and the impact of that on behavior. So because I was actually really suffering at this time with, with my generalized anxiety disorder, and it was impacting my health, it was impact impacting my ability to work.

I actually applied to my manager to change my working hours, you would have thought that was asking to do to get paid the same amount to do less hours. I wasn’t, I was literally just asking, Can I come in earlier and leave earlier to avoid the really intense periods on the tube, because they’re causing me great emotional, it’s causing me real emotional distress, getting on the tubes, having panic attacks, having to see paramedics, you know, it was just a nightmare. I was constantly sick. My immune system was shot. I was getting like tonsillitis, three, four times a year. Any common cold, you name it, I was getting it. I was rundown, beat down, disillusioned and miserable. And then I was lucky enough to get a new manager. Valerie. God bless Valerie, I love Valerie. I’m still in touch with her now. She, for the first time in my working life had a manager who, who got me, Valerie is amazing. She’s beautiful black woman. And there was just a lot of things about me that she just got, she didn’t misconstrue my passion for aggression. It was like that was so different for me. For the first time in my working life, I just felt understood. And there was a lot of things that didn’t need to be said, because she just got me and it was great. So while I was trying to come to terms with these anxiety issues, I was happy. And hey, HR, actually, at that particular bank, helped me to connect with a counsellor. And that was like a life changing move there.

So I started counseling. And it was a real game changer. The counselor that I saw just really helped me to unpick some pieces and understand like, you know, I’m not going mad, I have got this anxiety disorder. But her helping me to gain some perspective on that was absolutely transformational. So much so that it prompted me to want to become a counselor myself. So I went to uni. As an adult, I went to Birkbeck to study counseling and counseling skills. And it was great. It taught me so much about the mind, and actually didn’t go on to become a counselor, because it was a ridiculous amount of money to get my master’s. So I didn’t pursue it. But what it did teach me was so much about myself, I finally had the skills to be able to distill everything that was going on in my head. And I started to be able to understand the impact of everything that had happened in my life, and how that was all connected to how I was behaving. So that was a real transformational point for me.

So while I’m studying counseling at the weekends, the universe’s like I kid, you weren’t listening, when I said you’re not intended for this banking machine, time to leave. But again, it doesn’t matter how miserable I was at the bank, thought of even trying to apply for another job was just like, so scary to me that I just stayed stuck. Even my miserable reality wasn’t enough to make me want to stand up, go out and find a job that I was passionate about. Because I was just so beat down by everything that was going on. I would rather have stayed in misery, then push myself out of my comfort zone to see what was possible on the other side of it. So anyway, another redundancy, these greedy bankers, honestly, this time I was like, I am not going back. Well, that’s a lie. Because before that, I did apply for a job at the Bank of England. I thought I’ve made it I remember going to get myself a nice little suit from Marks and Spencers turned up at this bank of England, interview my hair all out and natural because I still was like, you know, take me as you find me. And I remember walking in and the guys which is sort of like it, you know, when you you walk into a room and from the get go, the vibe is just off. Like To be honest, I don’t think the recruiter should have sent me there in the first place. But it was just the interview from how I just felt like saying, shall we just stop wasting each other’s time and I just turn around and walk out now. Needless to say, I didn’t get that job.

So after 12 soul crushing years in the banking industry, I was free. I was free from it. And now a job came up a charity He is a youth arts charity with a guy that I know shout out to Lady MC. She started a charity to serve the young people in disadvantaged areas of London, she had this bus and the bus was equipped with studio equipment. So we would take the bus out to different areas and the kids would be able to do workshops in like MC in DJ in graffiti in all these different creative areas working with some amazing talented tutors who are actually creatives in the real world, like these guys are real producers and MCs. So I was in project management, they’re so responsible for organizing the events. And we’ve got to do festivals and all sorts. So you know what this was the first time where I actually felt like part of something, I actually felt valued for what I had to offer, I actually felt like the people that I was serving, like they got me I got them and everything just felt congruent for the first time. And that was really special. The charity had to make some cuts. So that had to come to an end.

And then after that, I joined forces, I took my project management skills, and joined forces with my brother and our business partner, who’s just like our homeboy from day, Danny, we set up a digital marketing agency hold tight digital group media, my brother had been in web design for a while I have my project management skills, Danny is a done in sales. So we just pulled together and built up what is now an award-winning agency. So me and my little brother were like super close, he’s like one of my best friends as well as my little brother, let’s say probably wasn’t the healthiest thing for our sibling relationship. So the business dynamic changed, I stepped away from the business. I had my daughter, my long awaited precious child. And then a few months after she was born, I went back to work working for them. But I was working on a freelance in a freelance basis now. So doing creative project management, in the digital marketing space, and everything was going swimmingly well, until dun, dun, dunnn 29th of February 2020 When I sustained a spinal cord injury, and everything changed.

So just when I felt like I was feeling empowered, feeling in stride, doing stuff that I was enjoying, getting paid, everything was going nicely, then boom, life changed as we knew it. So, you know, the projects had to move on, they couldn’t wait for me look where I am, almost two years later, I’m still not in a position where I can work in a full time capacity, unfortunately, so naturally, the projects had to move on, which was heartbreaking for me, and I’m sure it was difficult for my brother as well to have to then go on and find somebody else to take on my role. So I had to do some grieving, you know, I was grieving for the body, I’d lost grieving for the life I created, grieving for the mother that I envisioned that I be that I couldn’t be any more because of everything that was happening to me. And there I am feeling at rock bottom, having to pick myself up and start all over again.

So I’m carving out a new way of being in a new body with a new perspective. And more than ever, I’ve just been called to follow my heart and to only do work that feels congruent and authentic with who I am as a person. When I launched Curl Squad, it was about connecting with like minded people, finding people out there who had similar sort of life experiences, people who have been through stuff, people who are growing through stuff, but just finding people who are on a level after so many years of working out of authenticity, it’s more important for me than ever. And I’ve still got a digital marketing client who I work with. And he’s a really, really great guy. I’ve worked with him for years. But again, being able to forge really authentic working relationships, where it’s figuring out how I can best serve people. So for my with my digital marketing client is like, How can I best serve him? What are his objectives? Where’s he at in his life? What’s important for him? And how can I help him to reach those objectives?

So yeah, I’m just really working at providing service at the moment. And the more self reflection that I’m doing, like the louder My heart is getting, the more I’m hearing the call to work with other heart centered creative women who, yeah, just want to discover their power and purpose after trauma as well. For the women that know that life is worth something more than where they’re at at the moment. Like you’ve got that voice inside that is telling you there’s something more perhaps you don’t know what it is yet. I spent years not knowing what it is, but always been driven by a sense that I was worth more Then the life that I was experiencing. And my life has been really, really rich in life lessons and experience. And through years through these big things that have happened, these sort of major traumas and challenges that I’ve been through, I’ve always had this underlying feeling that there’s a purpose within that. Like, these things aren’t just happening to me, for fun, I’m here to learn things. I’m here to take what I learn, and use that to help other people to come through their challenges.

I know there’s going to be some of you out there listening to this podcast, that were fighting battles before the pandemic hit them, boom, life changed as we knew it. And I don’t know one person who hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic, it pretty much knocked us off our feet. But if there’s a little voice inside you a feeling and intuition, whatever you want to call it a little vibe, that is telling you that life is worse, something more, because the way the media is going on at the moment, is all doom and gloom. But I don’t know, I’m excited. I’m excited because I get a sense of a greater purpose. And if you’ve got that feeling, but you haven’t quite tuned into it yet. But you get that sense that this life is worth something more, I wonder what it would be like to just really slow down and decompress and take the time to tune into what your heart’s trying to say, because your heart is the window to your soul. And your soul is here for a purpose. Sometimes it’s really hard to decipher what that is, when there’s so much noise and so much negativity going on around us and so much distraction, that social media is a relatively new thing.

We’re not designed to be constantly consumed by this scroll, scroll, scroll, looking at what everyone’s got going on in their life. Well, we’re constantly looking outwards at what everybody else is doing. We’re not looking within, we’re not tapping into what our heart is trying to say to us. So I think it’s really important to be able to try and find the quiet time to see what that means for you. Like your soul came here with a purpose. Like, I know that transformation is possible. Like I’ve been there, there were points through this career history that I’ve just spoken about with you what I was at my lowest ebb considering suicide standing on the platform on the way home from work. But here I am now, in what some people on the outside might think is a really actually crappy situation with my spinal cord injury. But I have never felt more free. I’ve never felt more content. I’ve never felt more purposeful, because I’m starting to get a real sense of what my purpose is.

So if this does sound like you, I would love it. If you would just DM me on the socials like directly, you can hit me up on Instagram, come and follow me at Zoe e dot Fox, where you can follow the curl squad too. But if there’s something in this podcast that is speaking to your soul, just slide into my DMs and message power and purpose. And let’s see if there’s a way we can connect to help you discover your power and purpose. Yeah, let’s just make the rest of our lives as meaningful, as purposeful, as joyful as we possibly can. Because we weren’t put on this life for a life of mediocrity. We were put on this planet, so we could live our life to the fullest and tap into our purpose. And I don’t know about you, but I’m excited at that prospect. Let’s see what’s possible curlfriend. Until next time, big love. Peace out and catch you then

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