By: Kena Paranjape

A couple of weeks ago, I attended Gem Conference, a brand new business and lifestyle conference for women based in Ottawa. I was invited to speak on a panel about two of my favourite topics, brand and storytelling. The event opened with Amanda Aerin, a Toronto-based interior designer and TV personality who shared her story via a compelling keynote.

Amanda and I stayed in the same airbnb during our visit so we had some time to get to know each other. She shared that she was nervous about her upcoming talk. She makes regular TV appearances on The Marilyn Denis Show and speaks often about interior design. But this time she was getting personal.

I thought I had already a sense for Amanda’s story and what she was about when she took the stage the next day, but I found myself riveted throughout her entire speech. Amanda spoke about her personal journey through big, life-changing events and noted how transformation can happen outwardly (you get an incredible new job, you decide to go out on your own and start a new business, or in her case, you land an incredible opportunity to become a TV personality) but sometimes the transformation in how we see ourselves remains the same, which can hold us back. If our self-image doesn’t reflect where our life is now or where it’s going, we can’t enjoy our new success.  

In the midst of one of her most profound personal transitions, Amanda decided to make some bold external changes. She cut her hair super short. She dyed it from brown to blonde, almost white. She started wearing more edgy, sophisticated clothes. She eventually even changed her last name. She created a persona of herself. One that reflected who she was growing into.

Amanda spoke candidly about how she has not fully stepped into that persona. She is still brown-haired, unsure-of-herself Amanda on some days or even during moments in the day. But the outer changes she made along with continually pushing through her fears have helped her become the confident, decisive, strong Amanda on most days.  So that the new Amanda is no longer a “persona” but her truest self.

“I had to push through negative self doubt and create a persona in my mind that would allow me the confidence to speak in front of a crowd on live television with no experience or classes.” – Amanda Aerin

William James*, a philosopher and the first person to offer a psychology course in the US said there are three rules to follow if you want to change your life:

  1. Start immediately
  2. Do it flamboyantly
  3. No exceptions

I think that is exactly what Amanda did when she saw that there was a massive opportunity for transformation in her life.  

Transitions are most often hard and transformations are always messy.  We feel pulled between who we were, who we are becoming, who we want to be and how others see us. Sometimes our self-identity hasn’t caught up with where we want to go.  But bold changes or moves can help us get there by giving us a boost into the future. I can think of examples of this in my own life.

There are practical ways to steps into your best future self. There are simple ways to actively change how you see yourself (and thus how others see you) Ways that are exciting, creative and fun. What could that look like for you?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw

Kena Paranjape

Founder, All You Are

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