It occurred to me recently that I have never taken the popular option in my working life. If there is something that people don’t understand, don’t value, or poke fun at, you can usually find me involved somewhere!
I am a trained Reflexologist. Yes, I like feet. Not in a kinky fetish way (I’ve been accused of that by non-believers) but in an ‘I understand that manipulating feet can have health benefits’ kind of way. When I worked for a University, I was even accused of being (paraphrasing) ‘A voodoo witch doctor who is trying to flog pills and potions’. I guess that was to be expected from a lecturer who only deals with facts, facts, facts. I doubt very much that this person had ever had a Reflexology treatment or felt the benefits but rightly felt he should express his opinion. C’est la vie. It’s a holistic treatment that has existed for centuries in countries such as China and has proven health benefits ie. helps with the dispersal of lactic acid in athletes (lots and lots of research studies prove that fact). Many people simply see it as a nice foot rub that helps them relax. Even cynics can see that at a very (extremely) basic level, the benefits relaxation offers to a person’s well-being are evident. I had my own holistic therapy business for a while and constantly encountered negativity in terms of what people believed Reflexology was.
Next, my charity work. I have M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) I KNOW what I am talking about in my role as an M.E advocate. M.E is not a popular illness. Many in the healthcare profession either deny its existence or severely doubt its impact on lives. The general public, unless they are friends/family of a sufferer, do not understand that it is so much more than tiredness. Due to a very ill-thought out name change a few decades ago to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, our battle to get M.E recognised as the severely debilitating illness that it is is an acute-angled uphill struggle. Despite my daily activities and personality flying in the face of this mentality, many believe sufferers to be weak and lazy. I personally believe that my health has made me a stronger person because of the struggles I encounter every day. It has also made me fantastic at time management! I have to get all of my work done through the most direct route possible before I flatline when my energy runs out. I guess you can only truly understand the nature of the illness if you experience the illness for yourself, either as a sufferer or as a friend/family member who has to watch a loved one wilt and become a shadow of their former self.
Finally, proofreading and social media marketing. I have been astounded by comments from UK university staff recently, I have been told that their students are expected to have a very good level of written English and would not need the services of a proofreader. Ahh, ok. So I imagined the hundreds of students I encountered whilst working for a university that asked if I knew a good proofreader ( the inspiration for my business) because their English was ‘rubbish’. I have proofread for native-English speaking lecturers whose grammar and spelling was dreadful. To say that undergraduates should not have need of a proofreader is frankly delusional. You would think that social media marketing would be a trendy profession. However, I have experienced so much negativity from businesses who don’t think that my work requires skill and creativity. They do not understand that social media marketing for business is completely different to updating a personal page with pictures of your food or family. It takes strategic planning, quality content and analysis. Some business people begrudge paying for something that isn’t a material thing. They can’t touch it or see it as a tangible product. They may not understand that social media is not an instant thing, it may take months to build a potential client base and for revenue to increase. I have had potential clients walk away because they think I charge too much (I don’t) because they don’t see the value in what I do. Purely because they don’t understand the amount of work that is involved.
Walking on the unpopular, misunderstood side of life can be very frustrating but the challenges make for great continual development, and the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from success makes it all the more worthwhile!