Andrea HarmanVisible Start Graduate

Ready to be more fearless, in the hope she can help others do the same.

Like many, Andrea has often found it difficult to fit in. Perhaps it’s due to her parentage, the daughter of a complicated man and a very straightforward woman. Or, born in East Africa, a childhood spent in Singapore and her teenage years in England? Throughout life she’s asked herself the questions “Who am I? What do I want?” Her nature telling her to say something interesting, a cautiousness telling her she should have lived a little more first. Growing up Andrea wished she’d worn a T-shirt that said ‘Come and say hi!’ Andrea’s shy disposition often posed the risk of holding her back.

Except it never did. Because once she learned it wasn’t only her that felt that way, she made a promise that it would be something she’d overcome. Despite Andrea’s shyness, she loves people; to observe them, to understand them. As her father often told her: “People who understand others the best are the ones who have had trouble fitting in.”  It was being reminded of this that helped her realise what she was best placed to do.

Andrea wants to be a mentor. To coach women of all ages — women just like her, lacking in confidence, in direction, in the belief that they fit in — in creative, sincere, meaningful, fun ways. Andrea has certainly lived enough to know what it is that sparks joy.

And so she’s preparing herself to be – cutting back to part time work to free up her day, taking volunteering roles which involve mentoring, signposting and helping people access resources to help themselves. Financially, it’s been a challenge, but Andrea knows the reward of a simple life. She reads as much as she can about her new field. She’s invested in the next chapter; in the women she will share it with. Enrolling in Visible Start has been partly about challenging herself and learning, but also about improving her confidence, having the opportunity to hear from some of the best. Andrea knows there’s an exciting community of dynamic midlife women out there. And it’s a community in which she can actually see she fits.

In Pat Mitchell’s recent TED talk, she declares that she is a ‘dangerous woman’.  She is calling for more of us to be more dangerous, to be more fearless, to change the nature of power. Quoting Bella Abzug, who believed “women will change the nature of power rather than power changing the nature of women”, she encourages us to come together to make change happen; to make this dangerous world we currently live in, safer for everyone.  It’s a powerful watch. And Andrea is ready to be more fearless, in the hope she can help others do the same.

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