Name| Annika Spalding
Tell us a random fact about yourself| I’m an outgoing introvert. So, at first glance you’ll assume I’m shy and timid, but within a few minutes of talking to me it will be quite the opposite.
What is your current occupation? | Mother, writer and university student.
Would you class yourself as an ambitious woman? | YES!
Have you always been ambitious? If not what was the turning point for you? | I have always had ambitions, I can remember being really young and having big dreams like going to university, teaching and being a best-selling author. I have an optimistic outlook and love to try new things, but there was a point in my life where I was ruled by anxiety and low self-esteem. It didn’t completely stop me because I still achieved what I wanted to, but it certainly hindered me. A turning point for me was a couple of years after my mom had died and a job in the paper caught my eye. I was 20 and had worked my way up to being a manager in a bookies, but this job in a women’s organisation was one I had always wanted to do. Domestic violence was an area of interest and even though I didn’t have the employment experience for the role, I decided to go for it anyway. I started on my 21st birthday.
Another turning point was a little over two years ago, in the first year of singlehood and I was still consumed by anxiety and low self-worth. I decided to go to a spoken word event that I had seen on Facebook, something I’d never been to but was intrigued by. That one night changed everything. Being in the company of creative people was inspiring, and I began to take my writing even more seriously than I had before. After attending that event in July 2013, I opened up an incomplete word document that I’d been working on for some time and that month I finished my first book. After that, everything changed.
What is your biggest achievement to date? | This is a hard one, really. I measure my success by the quality of people and experiences I have in my life. I’m a mother so anything and everything to do with my children feels like a big achievement. Parenting isn’t easy, although it isn’t meant to be, but I embrace it regardless and do my best to be a good role model for my children. I’ve published a few books now, spoken at events and even been on the radio, but more recently I’ve started University. I’m really proud of that because I never thought I’d be able to. I mean, I’m 29 now so I’m not quite sharing the same experiences as some of the other students, but it’s amazing that I even get this opportunity to pursue a dream I’ve always had. I believe everything happens for a reason and if I had tried to go to university at 18, I would have failed because I had so much going on at that time.
What is your long term vision for yourself? | I just want to be happy – and I am. I am on this journey of self-love and self-development, and although I’m not entirely sure where I’ll end up, I know I will be happy. I’m conscious that my children are watching and learning first-hand from me what it means to be a woman in this world, so this motivates me to be authentic and focused on building a legacy for them. I want to continue to follow my passions and have creative freedom at every step I take. I’d like to be known for my personal self-love journey as well as my writing, because they go hand in hand and I like to inspire others.
What have you sacrificed or willing to sacrifice to achieve your vision? | If I’ve learned anything so far in life, it’s that people are temporary. Everything is temporary really, but some relationships with people aren’t meant to last forever. As you start to experience things and begin to better yourself, you soon realise who is holding you back and who is growing with you. Not everybody will be comfortable with your level of growth but a true friend wouldn’t hinder you. I used to worry too much about what other people thought and whether I fitted in, but I’ve since worked hard on my self-love and learned to validate myself. It’s all very well living to please others but what about you? Why not try and please yourself? I’m not a massively emotional person and I’ve learned not to take everything personal. I’ve lost and gained friends over the years, and I am grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned. Not everybody will contribute positively to your life and I’ve allowed some friendships to dwindle because I recognised that there had been a shift. I want to focus on my children, writing, university, promoting self-love and raising awareness of domestic violence and mental health; if anything or anyone compromises any of that, I’m just not interested.
What advice can you give to other young women that want to pursue their dreams but are afraid to do so? | Just do it. Time is the one thing we spend and can’t earn back. So why waste it procrastinating? Sometimes we’re just as scared of getting it right as we are of getting it wrong. I think it’s better to try and see how you get on, rather than always wondering “What if?”. Even if you fail, it’s not actually a loss because you then know what doesn’t work and can try something else. It’s all about perspective. So, don’t think about all the reasons why you can’t do it. Think about all the reasons why you should. It doesn’t have to all happen at once, you just have to start.