2. Better days are coming

with Rochelle Robertson's words to live by

Welcome to Notes On, the brand new newsletter from The Imposters Club. Every other Monday we’ll be sharing what’s on our minds, what we’ve been loving and thoughts & tips from our community.

Melissa: cautiously, excitedly overwhelmed

Monday 22nd February 2021 19.19

Me: “We can meet from 8th March! Wanna meet halfway somewhere?!!!!!!!”

Mum: “Sure. We’re allowed to meet one on one outside. Perfect”

I haven’t seen my mum in nearly 6 months. It might be the longest time I’ve gone without seeing her. We’ve spoken every day, though- we’ve accompanied each other on car rides, cooked together and had countless (painful) video calls focusing only on her chin. She’s deciphered meaning from my teary calls but nothing beats having your mum look you in the eye and say, “It’s going to be alright”. 

I can’t wait to see my mum. But the rest hasn’t settled in. I’ve almost forgotten that there was life BC (Before Covid). I daydream about impromptu trips, busy weekends and celebrating like it was 2019, but I can’t remember how it all worked.

What if I’ve forgotten how to do it? Do life; do socialising. I’ve existed in these 4 walls for the past year; I’ve shrunk myself and I don’t know if I can expand again. I already feel the pressure to do everything and see everyone, which makes me want to crawl back under my blanket. I suppose this is the time to actually implement those boundaries I preach about and learn to say “no”. 

I’m cautiously, excitedly, overwhelmed about the easing of lockdown. 

I keep asking myself, how did I pack it all into one day? In life BC, my husband used to passive aggressively joke that I was out all the time. Do I want to return to that? Can I?

4.55pm: shut down computer, pack everything away, out the front door at 5pm on the dot to get the train into central and secure a table at one of those “no reservations” restaurants. Each friend arrives at different times: Rose might meet me first, as she’s working from home; Sinéad would be next, after finishing at 6pm. Phoebe would arrive whenever she could make it, usually with her makeup kits in tow and a horror story of how she got to us. You know, I'm starting to feel a bit better about this.

But do I have to see all those people I haven’t seen for a year? Can we all agree that we haven’t really spoken, so let's keep it to Whatsapp pleasantries? The past year has shone a light on who we want around. Those people who we’ve been willing to travel across London during a global pandemic for a soggy winter walk with. Those people who have the ability to recharge your soul with enough energy to make it through until the next time. Those people I’m grateful for; those people that are the first I want to squeeze.

What I don’t want to squeeze is myself under someone’s armpit on the commute. That feeling of dread when you see the timetable flashing red with the words “cancelled” or the sprint to a door where the carriage isn’t completely full like human sardines. Will we give each other space now? Will we be kinder? I’ll probably get my “tuts” out straight away. Ugh, men staring at my...

Living and working in London you grow a thick skin. You get used to moving fast, travelling constantly and speaking loudly. But after spending the last year inside a one bedroom flat in Zone 6, I feel like Central London is a friend I used to know. We used to fit, but now we’ve grown apart and I’m left feeling a bit intimidated by them. I’m a bit softer now. Do we still work?

I think I need to take it step by step. Take it slowly, take my time. Say “No” more, say “Yes” more. Safeguard my energy, use it wisely. 

Sinéad: tiny tentative joyful things

It feels like the world is exhaling, somehow. This week, my Instagram feed filled with screenshots of calendars, life begins again scheduled on June 21st. The sky was the kind of blue it feels like we haven’t seen in forever. Gently, we began whispering hope.

I’m slowly, tentatively, quietly excited. I’m slowly, tentatively, quietly nervous.

I’m excited to see my mum. To stay at her house and be woken up by her dogs barking at passers-by in the window. To walk and talk with her, rather than on daily phone calls. I’m nervous that public relations will supersede public health and she won’t be safe. 

I’m excited to sit in a garden sipping cold rosé with friends in the summer- and run inside together when it starts to rain, as it inevitably will, unburdened by the panic of restrictions and rules of six. I’m nervous we’ll be back where we started come winter, asking ourselves if the summer was really worth it. 

I’m excited to be a stranger somewhere again, burning the top of my foot while hiking in the midday sun because I was too excited to remember to apply sunscreen on both sides. I’m nervous that it’s all happening too soon, though my heart feels like it couldn’t happen soon enough.

I’m excited to get married and lose all sense of personal space from the surge of love and gratitude and, let’s be honest, champagne. I’m nervous that we’ll be too excited and forget that we still need to look after each other.

I’m nervous that we’ll go back to normal. 

I don’t want to go ‘back to normal’. I don’t want the people we rely on to keep our lives moving to be exploited and underpaid. I don’t want us to stop questioning our systems. I don’t want people to forget what it was to be kind to each other. I don’t want to get on a train and sit next to someone struggling through a cold to go to work, the obligation to show up greater than their need to rest.

We’ve worked so hard at sitting with difficult questions and understanding what’s important to us that I’m scared we’ll lose it. Can we hold on to the quiet moments of the past year, to finding joy in the simplest things as well as the most exciting? Weddings, festivals and restaurants, yes- but also early morning walks while the world is still waking up, freshly washed pyjamas and Sunday afternoon films. 

This year I’ve kept a list of tiny joyful things in my notes app. Every time something made me smile, relax or feel closer to myself I’ve noted it down- even the smallest details of satisfaction. Warm socks taken from the radiator, releasing steam from my Instant Pot, saying hello to a dog and moisturising my hands. Dippy eggs for lunch, the popping of a coffee pod, highlighting notes and sitting with the end of a book for a while. Pandemic-proof moments to celebrate the joy of everyday life.

There are bigger joys, too. I chose myself over a job that was burning me out. I can get married this year. I learnt to make challah and soda bread- I exclusively bake the bread of my ancestors, apparently- and soon I’ll be able to press still-warm loaves into the hands of the people I love. 

Better days are coming. And they’ll be better still if we remember the days in the Before Times that we don’t want to repeat. If we remember the ways we’ve made recent days good, or bearable, or only okay. All of those tiny joys that have carried us through the past year- a beloved caller ID popping up on our phones, the smell of sunscreen, thickly buttered toast- will carry us into something better. 

Things we’ve loved

Listening to new podcast Black In Power by Lost Kids CollectiveHost Koko Brown is joined by leaders in arts and culture, including director Nicholai La Barrie.  It’s such a gorgeous conversation about the power of collaboration, navigating cultural differences and responsibility. MM

Speaking to The Grownup Hustle - we had a fantastic time chatting to host Dani Attanasio about managing imposter syndrome, working with your best friend and redefining success. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or follow @thegrownuphustlepodcast on Instagram.

Rewatching Glow With incredible 80s hair and costumes, a diverse cast of women focusing on strength and agility, and a robust critique of damaging stereotypes (plus Marc Maron at his grumpy best), Glow is the perfect lunchtime boost. Read star Betty Gilpin’s article on how filming Glow helped her make peace with her body. SKK

Reading Jessica Andrews’ Saltwater - I will be recommending this lyrical, fragmentary novel exploring mother-daughter relationships, isolation, and the shifting sands of the class system to absolutely everyone. SKK

Running with Mel’s trusty playlist - I listen to the same playlist every time I run; each song has a magic power to propel me further. If Beyonce can keep changing the key in Love on Top, I can keep putting one foot in front of each other. MM

The Club: Rochelle Robertson's words to live by

Rochelle Robertson is the founder of TING, providing personal and professional development programmes for underrepresented groups of people. She is the host of the Vulnerable podcast and loves to talk to people about issues that get to the core of our experiences. Here, Rochelle tells us her 4 tips to live by; to help you stay focused, be kind to yourself and stay in your purpose. 

1. Don't overthink what your purpose is. People often ask me how I knew what my purpose was, the truth is I didn't. I just did what I liked, even if people didn't understand it. I did what I loved so much until I started to see the value in it, and people wanted to pay me to do it. My purpose was born out of that process, don't sweat it, just have fun doing what you like, and it will come. 

2. You don't have to be friends with people you don't like, or that don't have your best interest at heart. It sounds really basic, but I owe a lot of my success to having the best cheerleaders in my friendship circle. It blows my mind that people keep company with people that they don't trust or don't support them. It's better to have 1 loyal friend than a million fake ones. 

3. Don't feel guilty for your successes: Many people wouldn't swap their lives to experience some of the things you've experienced, so don't feel guilty for your successes, you deserve this and more. Those that are jealous of you wouldn't be able to walk a mile in your shoes if you paid them. 

4. Be kind to yourself. Show yourself compassion. Take breaks when it gets hard, then get up and keep trying. You've got this!

Follow Rochelle on Instagram @iamrochellerobertson

Listen to The Imposters Club

Notes on Resilience, Refocusing and Building your New Norma‪l‬

Now that we have a roadmap out of lockdown, it’s helpful to take some time to reflect on the past year and refocus. In this episode we chat about building resilience, refocusing your goals and redefining what success means to you. And yes, we may have been slightly jumping the gun last summer, but reflecting, learning and growth is a continuous practice! Listen now wherever you get your podcasts.