A little over three years earlier, I had started my business. Beaten and downtrodden, I started working for myself in the middle of a nervous breakdown right after my last job had left me signed off work with stress.
I was speaking on stages around the country, spreading my message about fear and discovering your inner superhero. I became a published author, both with a publishing house with my first book, and online with world-renowned Envato for an epic series of articles. I had logos published in one of Taschen’s logo volumes, one of the world’s biggest publishers. I won awards. I was interviewed and featured online and in industry magazines. I was on a panel of industry experts in one of the most popular UK web magazines.
But inside, I was crumbling. I was riddled with anxiety most days. I was in near constant pain. I struggled with confidence in myself, in my abilities, and what I wanted to do in life.
I’m talking about my chronic illness. When I was just 20 years old, almost 21, I was diagnosed with (what was called then) Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III, the Hypermobile type.
The life I thought I was going to have ceased to exist. The future I thought was in my grasp was ripped away in an instant.
After experiencing harassment and unnecessary judgement when I worked in corporate, I decided to tuck it all away and hide how my condition affected me to the outside world. I told people that I had some sort of joint condition...but barely anyone knew how it affected my day-to-day life.
But I still worked. I pushed myself to be visible. I worked hard, to achieve the goals that I set for myself and my work - but also to show the world that I could DO IT after being told for so long that I wasn’t good enough.
And then, I was admitted to hospital in the middle of the night.
I had already started to open up about my chronic illness to the wider world, my community, and my clients. Because, quite frankly, living that double life was making my health worse and it was exhausting.
But you don’t expect to be told, particularly not at 25 years old, that you might be having a heart attack. I didn’t know how, but I knew that something had to change.
I had been slowly honing my own process for branding your business in a more authentic way.
I knew that one of the reasons for my difficulties with my health was because I’d been living out of alignment with my values. And that night, my eyes were opened to the fact that the self-induced stress and worry I’d been putting myself through in growing my business, as well as the continual hiding of my most authentic self, was causing me actual damage to my health.
In reality, my suspected heart attack was nothing like. A combination of issues from my chronic illness and my asthma all combined to trigger severe asthma attacks that my inhaler wouldn’t fix, which then triggered (understandably) multiple panic attacks.
That cold November night, I realised that this was no way to live. And so started my journey of connecting with my intuition, embracing my most authentic self, and taking a values-first approach to everything I did in my life and my business.
Of feeling stressed, overworked, or overwhelmed. Of wondering if we’re cut out to actually achieve the goals we set for ourselves.
I truly believe that I broke down, to break through. Clichéd, maybe, but accurate? Hell yeah.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that branding is NOT about the visuals. It’s not about how things look. That matters - but not as much as how your brand FEELS.
Incredible brands are created through how you live your life and run your business at its very core.
Incredible brands are built by doing things in a way that feels authentic to YOU and who you are, not just because the latest six-figure thought leader told you that you should do it.
Incredible brands are honed through connecting with your community in a way that’s more courageous and vulnerable than before.
It’s time you embraced who you really are, and showed the world what you’re made of.
Rachilli is a creative studio dedicating to helping create more authentic brands for creative brands & businesses ready to grow deeper roots with their audience & build their business in a more aligned way.
Rachilli is also committed to helping empower other's with chronic illness to carve their own path and create a life & business that works for them and to lead the way by creating a platform for, and being a voice alongside, those with chronic illness in business.
Rachel, the founder, is an award-winning designer and photographer, published logo designer and author, and is dog mama to two - slightly crazy - pups, Storm & Jasper.