Personal Development

Overcoming the Fear of Judgment

April 19, 2018

I’m Michelle.
A modern maker with a classic approach to design. Ever in search
of beautiful typography and
baked goods.
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Do you let the fear of judgment from others stop you from pursuing the things you want most in life? In this post, you’ll learn how to become brave enough to become the truest version of yourself.

Do you let the fear of judgment from others stop you from pursuing the things you want most in life? In this post, you'll learn how to become brave enough to become the truest version of yourself. Includes a video + a free 4-step guide. // From Michelle Hickey Design


The desire to be my own boss and to work on my own terms was something that was always there, but it had felt like one of those pie-in-the-sky dreams. I might get to it someday, but only when the stars aligned or the opportunity dropped itself into my lap.

I suppressed that desire to start my own business through the first three years of my professional career. As time went on, and I advanced, the notion of self-employment began to feel more ridiculous than ever. I was raised to be responsible, and responsible people don’t quit their jobs to start a blog.

I knew that if I decided to make that leap, that I would be opening myself up to judgment from all the people who loved me most. My friends who had recently finished college and had found their self-worth in securing a full-time job. By my parents who had just paid for my education. By my younger sisters, to whom I was supposed to be setting a good example.

Even my husband. The last thing a newlywed wants to hear from their spouse/mortgage co-signer is that they’ve quit their job.

I recognize now that what happened next was fate stepping in to pull the trigger on what I was afraid to do myself, but at the time, I just felt like a huge failure who was letting everyone down.

I was let go from my full-time job, and my soul was crushed. In one fell swoop, I felt the judgment of everyone I knew fall upon me, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. That is, other than to find another full-time job as quickly as possible so that I could regain acceptance.

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find one. I used to blame the recession, but now I know better. Less than six months later, the company who had acquired the business who had let me go, brought me on as a freelancer, paying me more than my old salary, working half the hours.

With my newfound time, I was finally free to do my own thing. Were people still going to judge that I wasn’t utilizing my college degree to work full time and climb the corporate ladder? Yup. How about the fact that I was 25 years old, working from home, without kids? Of course. But at that point, I knew that I had just been handed that pie-in-the-sky dream on a silver platter, and I wasn’t about to give it up.

I was already designing wedding invitations for family and friends, so I scaled that into a business. I started a blog. Got sponsors. Created products that people of the internet purchased. Partnered with some really cool brands. Started a podcast.

I’ve basically spent the last ten years geeking out, learning, getting to play, working on my own terms and generating way more income than I would be had I stayed a full-time employee.

All because I was forced into a situation where I wasn’t given the option of pleasing other people. And guess what? Everyone still loves me.



You would think, that after learning this HUGE lesson, and realizing what I would have been missing, that I would have gotten over all that people-pleasing nonsense. But nope. I just found new people who I was afraid would judge me and new things I wanted to do that felt too ridiculous to pursue.

That is, until now. Over the last six months, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching. I’ve come to accept the fact that, people will judge you no matter what you do or don’t do. And that the best way to serve, is to become the most authentic version of yourself—and then to go out and live it.

So that’s what this post is announcing. I’m doing something new. It’s something I’ve been doing for years— because I am so passionate about it that I can’t help but live it. But I’m officially owning it, and embracing it as a new identity:

Hi, I’m Michelle. I help creatives start and grow businesses that use their greatest gifts to support the life they’ve been dreaming of.

You might have just read that without blinking because that’s how you’ve always known me, but the truth is, I’ve felt like an imposter. I’m sure you’re well aware that there are many, many people out there who claim to be coaches, or an expert, or someone who can change your life for only three small monthly payments.

I didn’t want to add to that noise. I didn’t want people to see the prices of my services and roll their eyes while thinking; she’s just another one of those.

In a recent Mastermind Meeting, my mentor Cliff asked me to define my unique value proposition. The silence echoed in my head (and also our Zoom call). I had no idea. It was in that moment when I realized that this is what had been holding me back.

My identity and my “uniqueness” was some mixed up version of what people expected of me and what I feared people would judge me as. Not exactly the ingredients for a great mission statement.

Over the next few weeks, I owned my strengths and embraced my imperfections. I worked with my friend Muriel, who shared her marketing expertise to help me identify what I wanted to do and who I wanted to serve. My Instagram friends flooded my inbox with words of affirmation and stories of how I’ve helped them over the years. And I found my answer.

My unique value proposition is as follows:

I believe that everyone should be living to serve others, by doing the things they love. I help creatives identify their gifts and leverage them to design a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.

And here’s what you can expect from me going forward:

Free content centered around big picture concepts that will help you go after everything you want.
Video. Real talk about challenges that we all face as businesses and creatives— and how to overcome them.
Solutions. For the first time since this site launched almost two years ago, I’m serving up a menu of services, for those creatives who are looking to scale their business quickly.

I’m so excited about this new chapter of my journey and am grateful to be surrounded an supported by creative spirits like you.

For more inspiration on taking leaps, check out Episode 009 of A Podcast for Creatives. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before I go out and pursue the next crazy dream that I casually drop in the show.

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