The Festival Gave Me the Kick I Needed

I have wanted to start my PhD since 2014, but I didn’t. I have written so many half-proposals, and even got to the scholarship interview with one uni before withdrawing. My friends and family are sick of hearing about my PhD plans that never eventuate. 

It’s not my path, it’s theirs

Every time, I have stopped myself because it was putting too much pressure on my family.

My income was needed for the mortgage, so I stayed working full time. I didn’t rock the boat. 

I’ve had great jobs in the meantime – with great conditions and opportunities. I’ve learned a lot. But it wasn’t the path I wanted to be on. The Get a Grip of the Grind 2020 Festival was extraordinary. It gave me the courage, the framework and the time to get back on MY path. 

An Extraordinary Festival Experience

I’ve been reflecting on what makes this Festival so extraordinary, and this is a list for a start – I’m sure others could add extensively to it. 

1. It is about women supporting women

Everyone is there to work through something – to find balance and manage her own personal grind better. Some people are looking for inspiration and new bravery in challenging their physical limits. Some are looking for guidance in decision making with family or work. Some are not quite sure what they’re looking for, but they know the current situation isn’t quite working. Many are not upholding their own needs as highly as others.  In recognition of this, it is a supportive space. Laugh, cry, walk away for some solitude – do what you need to do. 

2. There’s no competition, no facades 

You want to network and schmooze? This is not your gig. Inspiring women challenge themselves. So this festival is full of inspiring women, many of whom also challenge themselves in their career and are in executive and senior leadership positions. But you wouldn’t even know this as the usual things that demarcate status – our corporate clothes and our titles – are left at the door. We are there as individuals, not as a hierarchy. 

3. It’s structured for making real life changes 

This is not just an opportunity to get away from the grind and have a lovely weekend (although it does offer that as well – I enjoyed the most delicious quiet brunches and beautiful bushwalks). It’s easy to go away for a weekend and then go back to the dysfunctional existence you left. This festival is about helping you make your every day better– reducing the grind and finding your bold in your daily life. Sessions are structured around understanding yourself, your life, your priorities, and laying these clearly before you. You will make commitments to yourself. And you Will be reminded of them. 

4. It shifts the norm from ‘settle’ to ‘don’t’

As women we are so often encouraged to settle – for lesser titles, lesser money, lesser time, lesser dreams. This festival is an antidote to that – saying ‘Be More’. Blaze your own trail. It’s amazing how much we respond to our surroundings, and when every woman around you shares your belief that you can achieve more, and have a bigger world, it’s not only inspiring – it gives so much confidence. 

My Four Epiphanies

At the festival I had four epiphanies (that’s a good hit rate for a weekend!) I came away with 

  1. Clarity about the changes I was going to make in my life, which is really exciting;
  2. Direction and purpose; 
  3. I’ve discovered a supportive network of women who I know I can draw on if I need some reorienting;
  4. I feel brave, and as such have never felt better.

The Kick I needed

In the two months since the festival, I’ve 

  • Written and submitted my PhD proposal, 
  • Found an amazing supervisor, and all going well 
  • Will be starting in July. 
  • I’ve reconnected with my former professors and been reminded of their generosity and continued support. 
  • I’m also fitter, healthier and happier than I have been in years. 

This is all following the deep soul-searching and expertly guided conversations I had at the Festival; the tangible decisions I made there, and committed myself to during that sunny weekend in Bright. 

The author, Jess, on a hike in France with one of her bubs

If you like what you’re reading why not join us for our annual Get A Grip of the Grind festival held the last weekend in February in Bright, NE Victoria and get your own epiphanies. Our podcast AIFE tells tales about women who are rocking their world. You can join our AIFE Webinar Series every second Sunday of the month 3 – 4 pm. Once Covid is over our weekend warrior programs as part of The AIFE Series will return.

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