Michelle, current Chair of Lichfield Ladies Circle, delivered a heart-warming and inspirational speech during their 70th Charter in February 2023.
“I have thought long and hard about what to speak about here today. Over the past few years I have spoken publicly about body image in a post-Covid events industry, destroying imposter syndrome and the power of knowing one’s own strength…essentially just what it’s like to be a woman in 2023.
But why am I up here? How am I even up here?
Well, about six years ago, two very special women came to me at a kids’ party. I was terrified of kids’ parties…crippling social anxiety, low self-esteem, ‘the other parents will think I’m a crap mum’ – all of those things. They don’t know it but those two women changed my life that day, when they approached me and told me about Ladies Circle. Kirsty was membership officer at the time, I honestly can’t remember what Steph was – only that it was love at first sight! They said hello…and next thing I knew I was running social activities and involving myself as a key member of Lichfield Ladies Circle.
I was amazed – it was a diverse, hilarious, welcoming bunch of women and the activities were amazing. I could turn up on every other Tuesday night and just be ‘me’. For my entire life, I didn’t fit in…I was the fat one, the boring one, the fun sponge. Didn’t have many friends, and if I did, I changed something about myself for them. At 32 (ish!) I could finally be myself.
From then, my confidence grew. I continued to inwardly battle depression, binge eating disorder and imposter syndrome, but I began to talk about it and manage it.
The support from Circle is unconditional. You could have been a member for a day or a decade and still these amazing women are just there for you.
2018, after running a few half-marathons and with the running bug firmly cemented, I decided to enter the Manchester Marathon, and apply for a charity place for London for 2019. Shocker…I got in…
The support I had from Circle empowered me through months of crazy training, motivated me to raise more than £3,000 for Mind, and began to destroy my imposter syndrome. This girl could…
I almost didn’t finish Manchester…about 200m from the end – the longest ‘end’ ever…I spotted Kirsty and Steph. I cried, uncontrollably…the two women who had encouraged me to join Circle were there…just when I needed a little reminder of how far I’d come. How far Circle had pushed me, and nurtured me.
They were there in London too, but I sort of expected that from these crazy people!
I wasn’t done with running…I decided in 2020, it would be fun to run the virtual London marathon. I had 24 hours…Harriet, Steph, Kaye, Emma, some of our kids…came to support me as I ran laps of Lichfield to get me to my target.
I can’t say this enough, this group of women empower… somehow there is a magic within belonging to Circle in that you can do things you never thought you could do…you somehow like yourself more, respect yourself more, care for yourself more.
Since I joined circle I have had two promotions, bought a house, given birth to twins, won numerous awards at work and more importantly, learned to love myself and have pride in myself.
The ladies in my Circle lift each other up, celebrate successes and actually compliment each other. They understand when life is a bit crap, and celebrate when life is awesome.
I completed a mentoring program in 2021. My mentor happened to be a long time Tabler… so knew what I was on about when I said my ambition was to speak at a Circle event. I didn’t know then which, or what about, but it’s been a goal for two years.
So that’s a bunch of the why…what about how? Well, I’m Chair, so had to get up here anyway. Since I joined Circle I wanted to be Chair. Not just because I’m a control freak, but because I wanted to see everyone, connect with everyone. This year has probably been the biggest transition year Lichfield has had since I’ve been a member. Lots of longtime members have left, and newer members are joining. The diversity continues, and I took a moment at the Christmas party this year to look around our massive circle of dancing women to just celebrate us. Through COVID, in a cost of living crisis…I won’t pick on individual members as I know they won’t appreciate it – but seeing the growth in confidence, self-belief and self-esteem in some of the newer members just set me alight…the magic was still there and I see it empowering even prospective members now.
So, as I end this love letter to Circle, I persuade you all to reflect just for a moment, on what Circle has given you, and what your life would be like without Ladies Circle…if it didn’t exist? What sort of person would you be?”
I would just like to thank Michelle for allowing me to share her story – Stacey Humphries
Come and see what Circle is all about.