Rise & Thrive: Finding Myself in Motherhood with Holly Pels

Holly often feared she would lose her identity in motherhood. But after three miscarriages, she wondered if she would get to be a mother at all. Listen as she shares her story and how becoming a mom helped her find out who she truly is.

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“I've never been super confident in who I am. I've spent most of my life limiting myself, at least outwardly, to be the most agreeable, happy, positive, buttoned-up version of me.” —Holly Pels

Holly often feared she would lose her identity in motherhood. But after three miscarriages, she wondered if she would get to be a mother at all. Listen as she shares her story and how becoming a mom helped her find out who she truly is.

If you’d like the chance to take part in your own fear interview like Tiffany did for Season 1 of Scared Confident, text the word FEAR to 317-350-8921.

Rise & Thrive: Finding Myself in Motherhood with Holly Pels

Tiffany: This is Rise&Thrive, a mini series from Scare Confident, where we highlight the stories of seven remarkable women. As they learn to stand tall and their story. In this episode you’ll hear from Holly Pels, VP of Marketing at Casted.

Holly: I've always heard that you lose yourself in motherhood, that you become someone's mom, and suddenly it's hard to find the person you were before.

It's not exactly the case for me. My daughter, Lucy actually helped me find myself. I've never been super confident in who I am. If you know me, you know that I'm a lifelong people pleaser and I've spent most of my life, limiting myself, at least outwardly, to be the most agreeable happy, positive, buttoned up version of me.

Because other versions of me, maybe the more vulnerable sides always seem to make people uncomfortable. And I know I have lots of people in my life who love every bit of me. Some of who are sitting in this room right now, laughing because they're thinking, oh, I have seen the other side. But I've also had a lot of moments in my life, both personally and professionally, where I put myself out there, I was vulnerable, direct opinionated and told that I'm too emotional, pushy temperamental.

And for whatever reason, those are the moments and the people that stick out in my life. They've reinforced this idea in my head that people only like me care about me, respect me if I am this positive agreeable buttoned up version of me. But motherhood, even the journey to get there is one of the most vulnerable things I've ever been through.

And let's be honest. It never lets you be the buttoned up version of yourself. Right. Because anybody with the kid knows it's hard. Even the process to get pregnant was extremely. I lost my first three pregnancies early on, and I quickly realized people don't talk about pregnancy loss. Like we just don't do it.

And if you think about it, society kind of sets us up for them because all while you're going through this, the world just expects you to go on as if nothing. Happening work life friends. They expect you to roll with the punches, never letting any of it show through and just keep moving on. And at times that's really lonely and soul crushing to carry the weight of your everyday life.

And then go through these two week weights, scrutinized pregnancy tests every single morning, and then ultimately suffering disappointment only to do it all over again, month after month after month and all, all this is going on. I needed to be the most happy agreeable, positive, optimistic version of myself, because that's the version of me that made people the most comfortable.

I even had a friend told me to stop talking about it because it was depressing. And I hear them note taking happy, positive Holly reappears. I don't want to make anybody uncomfortable, but when I did get pregnant with Lucy, I kind of internalized that and my anxiety magnified. And for the longest time, I didn't really want to talk about it because I feared every single day that I would lose her, that my body couldn't do this, that there was something wrong with me and that I didn't deserve it.

Yeah. And I didn't always feel like I could be open about it or that I could let it impact my day-to-day life, or God forbid your work, because that would be messy, uncomfortable, bad for business. And because people expect pregnancy to be the happiest time in your life, not one of the most stressful, there is a silver lining here, obviously.

As the months went on, I did get more comfortable being pregnant. And honestly, I got stronger, stronger because I realized I had a life to protect to care for, and I needed to protect her at all costs, but that meant I needed to take care of me and I needed to stop prioritizing other people's opinions, expectations, comfort over my own.

If there was ever a time to prioritize health. It was when I was growing a human. And when she did get here, my fear and anxiety of something happening kind of just disappeared. I went from being very fearful and anxious to what motherhood would be like to very chill. Almost serene. And let me be clear. I was still dealing with the realities of postpartum and new mom life.

It's hard it's training and you are literally giving all of yourself to this tiny human, but it's also incredible. Motherhood has been one of the greatest choice of my life. My daughter, Lucy gave me a new perspective, her perspective, because while I might doubt myself, my abilities, who I am, she loves me for all of that.

Even what I can't see to her. I'm comfort. I'm joy. I'm safety. I'm hilarious. She doesn't see my insecurities. She doesn't know that I've struggled with who I am and who I want to be. She just sees someone who loves and cares for her. And I want her to always think of me that way, but in order for that to happen, I need to see myself there.

And I need to take care of myself because the greatest thing I can do for my daughter is to continue leaning into my confidence. As a woman, a mother, a wife, a friend, a marketer, a leader doing that. We'll show her everything she can be. You can show her that she doesn't need to change herself to fit the mold of others.

That all of her, the good, the bad, the ugly is important and worthy of love. Finding myself in motherhood doesn't mean that all I am as a mother and that motherhood has somehow fulfilled or fixed. It means that motherhood gave me the strength to lean into myself and into who I want to be so that I can be a good role model for my daughter.

For the past few years, I've spent time doing that, to leaning into the things that I want to do to leaning into things that make me happy and confident. And sometimes that means I get to be opinionated and direct and wear my vulnerability on my sleeve. And let me just tell you being vulnerable is a super.

It's helped me grow so much personally and professionally, over this time I left a job. I kind of hated to go work at a growing startup, as you just heard shortly after Lucy was born. And I know that sounds crazy. A newborn sister. Doesn't mix, but it's a decision that's made me happy every single day.

I've gotten to spend time leaning into discovering who I am as a mom and spoiler alert. Lucy says I'm the best mom around. I reevaluate did relationships and commitments in my life. And I've leaned harder into those that lifts me up and fulfill me and away from those that just no longer serve. And maybe most importantly, I have spent time prioritizing me, like investing my time and energy into this program at a time in my life when it would have been so easy to say it did not feel like the right.

I know that the stronger I am and the braver I am about leaning into exactly the person I am instead of who other people think I should be. The more I can show Lucy that she can always be all of herself, even if it makes other people uncomfortable. I have this very vivid memory from maternity leave, where I was pushing Lucy around Kohl's and I saw this big plush Lucy van pelt.

And since my Lucy also has the initials LVP, I obviously had. And as I was bending down to get the doll, I saw this cute little book be kind, be brave view. So I thought, oh, how fun, let's get this to go along with the doll at the time of purchasing it. I had no idea that this little children's book would resonate with me or they would kind of become important to me as a mother.

Yes. But also as a woman who was growing and learning to love all of her. It's now a book I read to Lucy every night before bed, even when she doesn't want me to, I force it on her because, well, I want Lucy to continue hearing these words and believing them. I also want Holly to continue hearing these words and believing them because of the, I believe them, it will be much easier to show Lucy Hamilton.

I tell you this story, because I want to leave you with a very simple last line of the book with the hopes that it can be a great reminder for you, even as adults. That the best thing you can do for you is to lean into every bit of who you are. Take this to heart. The best thing to do is be the kindest and brave.

Most wonderful you

Tiffany: where you are in your journey, community is so key for where we're all going. And I'm on a mission to reach 100,000 people with this message of being scared, confident. So I would love it. If you would share your favorite episode with your friend, just pull up your tech. Send them a link. It'll take like two seconds the show isn't about me.

It's about helping other people on their journey of living full and complete lives. When we step totally and into an understanding of our fear, we can step fully into our stories. As a thank you. I'm giving one fear interview to a listener. Put your name in the ring by texting me the word fear to 3 1 7 3 5 0 8 9 2 1.

The word fear, F E a R to 3 1 7 3 5 0 8 9 2 1. And over the next couple of weeks, we will pick one person to go through the fear interview. Thanks for listening.

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