Express Yourself. You might be surprised.

What if instead of criticising and instilling fear in other people’s ideas — we had their backs. What if your friend who always wanted to write a novel, did it? What if that novel changed the world? What if it didn’t? Who cares? It would certainly change their world.

Laura at a Flylancer meetup in Barcelona.

At the last Barcelona Flylancer meetup we were given free beer. Maybe I hadn’t eaten much for lunch that day, or maybe I’m just a lightweight in general (who knows?) but my tongue was loosened a little by the time it came to playing a networking game.

We were asked to find someone who was wearing similar clothes to us and tell them three things we were passionate about. Their job was to then ‘sell’ us to the other Flylancers in the group on the basis of our passions and interests.

What came out of my mouth when it came to explaining my passions surprised me (I was amazed about what my partner Flylancer Leire shared with me, too). Somehow I managed to tell my lovely new friend — and incidentally myself — what I cared about most in my life. Now that the effects of a fuzzy beer brain have worn off, the importance of what we spent our five minutes talking about is just starting to sink in. Here I go…

I care about people having the ability to express their true selves…

… despite that statement looking a lot more wanky in print than it sounded at the meetup. It’s true & I stand by it.

I care because there is nothing that makes me sadder than to hear someone say ‘I always wanted to…’ and trail off into ‘…but I’m too old now’ / ‘…but I don’t have time anymore’ / ‘…but I can’t afford to these days’.

Okay, if you wanted to be an Olympic gymnast and you’re approaching 62, then probably you are too old. (Sorry.)

But if you just wanted to be able to do a handstand, or a cartwheel, or a back flip… maybe not. Who knows? Maybe a roly poly will do. I hear such a story begin and my brain is immediately in overdrive, thinking about how to point the person in the direction of someone who can help, or break it down for them myself if I know how. (I do actually want to learn to do a backflip, so if anyone can help me with that one…?)

Laura & her team working on her project: Healthy Start Holidays

I care because it’s more serious than somebody simply wanting to have a crack at something different. I care because helping someone to experience & try something they’ve always wanted to is how we become full members of society.

Because I truly believe that life is about finding the courage to not simply ignore things just because they’re messy and difficult to achieve and that there might be some awkward conversations involved. Trying is part of it, and helping is part of that.

I’m talking about empowerment and confidence and exploring a fuller life; about not limiting yourself or anybody else. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of diminishing other people’s dreams & then applying the same to yourself. You see this everywhere in our media and it’s deeply rooted in our ‘system’. Instead of celebrating people’s attempts, we focus solely on the black and white of achievement vs failures. I believe that simply putting yourself out there and trying something different, whether it works or doesn’t, should be lauded. Life is a journey, after all…

Why do I care so much? Just imagine what the world could look like if — instead of criticising and instilling fear in other people’s ideas — we had their backs. What if your friend who always wanted to write a novel, did it? What if that novel changed the world? What if it didn’t? Who cares? It would certainly change their world.

We need to find ways to not limit ourselves or allow others to limit us. The best way to do that is by empowering each other in our everyday life. To help where we can. Just like that game.

There are so many alternative paths waiting there for us to tread. For me, moving away from my home in the UK to Barcelona in Spain fortunately proved the suspicions I had been harbouring for years as a part of the ‘system’. There are so many alternative ways to live and work and it’s worth trying them.

In Barcelona I now share a co-working space with other Flylancers who are blazing their own trails, and I feel in awe of them. They take an idea and bring it to life, and it’s amazing to see. It even inspired me to start up my own project, learn to play an instrument, take life one day at a time, and keep exploring.

I did all this with the encouragement of others (and a few free beers). I’m surrounded by people who are willing to listen, go out on a limb to help me, encourage me and even ‘sell me’. And that’s the secret sauce — supporting each other.

Sure, there are days when I look at my friends’ careers back home and I get panicked that I’m not keeping up. I have to battle those demons regularly, but I would fight that fight a thousand times over to keep the experiences and lessons I have had in my time Flylancing in Barcelona.

Laura teaching her coworkers how to maintain a healthier diet based on her own principles: “Somewhere between kale & cake”

I feel more and more confident in myself and the world around me. The sky isn’t going to fall in if my idea doesn’t work out. But if I had never tried, I might have always regretted it. And in my view, that’s just asking for trouble down the line.

So tell me,… What frightens you? What are your most hidden desires? What stops you from making them come true? Can I help? Can we all help you? Can we ‘sell you’ and your amazing ambitions? Let’s make them happen together.

Author: Laura Hopkins, Barcelona Flylancer