My Amazing Life Series: Meet Katherine Johnson
My Amazing Life Series: Meet Katherine Johnson
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde
People often wonder why I am so passionate about supporting dynamic women through my work as an image consultant. You may even be thinking … “Isn’t that just about clothes and shopping … something superficial only for the red carpet crowd?” I know I even had those thoughts at one point.
When you experience congruence between what you wear and who you are — the power of that is transformative. I have helped so many women who have been living on either of side of their authenticity — either so big and bold that they were unapproachable or from a place of invisibility and uncertainty where they did not want to be seen. What I have seen time after time is this – when someone steps into herself fully, embracing all aspects of her intelligence, beauty, strength and vulnerability, she literally transforms into the best version of herself. She can be seen, heard and valued for who she is.
The question remains, why am I so passionate about this? To be completely honest, I have lived it myself.
I am facing a milestone this year and find myself reflecting about where I have been and where I am now. I’ve reached the point when I can talk about my life in terms of decades and recognize themes that ran through the years. I turn 40 this year and I feel more alive and radiant than I have ever felt before. I have my own business that is totally aligned with my values – bringing compassion, integrity and authenticity into everything I do. Each day is filled with laughter with my two beautiful kids, ages 6 and 8, and I am deeply in love with my partner and the life we are committed to building together.
It hasn’t always been this way. Ironically, it was almost ten years ago when everyone would tell me I had the perfect life. For a decade I was married to a great guy, a fellow Princeton graduate that everyone adored. We had hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, our dream house with two kids and a luxury minivan. It was everything.
Except the truth was, on the inside I felt like nothing. I was living on the periphery of my own life and going through the motions of this perfect life like a ghost. What I now know is that I lived from a place of invisibility. Up through my twenties I could check off things that made me look impressive to others — my parents were artists, my Princeton University degree, ten time national squash champion, and a masters degree teaching in high poverty communities. And yet, on the inside, I felt empty and like an impostor. Whatever I did was not enough to feel good about myself and I assumed I would be a disappointment to people if they really knew the whole me. So I hid myself.
People looked at me and assumed my life was completely enviable and that I had it all figured out. The truth was, I was scared, isolated and disappointed to be living somebody else’s perfect life. It wasn’t mine but I was too scared to steer my own ship because unless I got it perfect I believed I would be a failure. I was not enough. It felt easier to avoid being seen and heard than to find the courage to be fully alive.
This mindset was debilitating.
After over twelve years of being together, I began the slow and painful process of ending my marriage. Yet that did not fix my emptiness in a quick and tidy way. In fact, after the divorce I was even more confused about my identity and who I was now. A huge piece of my identity for over a decade had been tied to my marriage and my role as partner to my husband. I knew I was walking away from a secure, insulated life and had terrified moments when I could barely get out of bed. What if I couldn’t take care of my kids alone? What would I do to support myself and my kids? Overcome with nausea and anxiety, I would cry and hide under the covers until I had no choice but to crawl out and wake up my kids for the school day.
Until one day I woke up and I realized that I had a choice. I could live in fear and stay under the covers hiding from all the ‘what-ifs’ or I could start really living my life on my terms. I can pinpoint the exact moment. It was a very brief conversation with my young daughter and she blew open the way I was living. We were at her playground after school and casually talking about the plan for that evening. A babysitter would be coming over because I was going to attend a workshop in the neighborhood.
Without skipping a beat, she turned to me and said, “Why do they even want you there? Nobody even knows who you are.”
Holy shit. Hearing these words spoken so innocently and clearly from my six year old, they went straight into my heart. In two sentences my daughter had clearly articulated the way I was living. She saw it. Was this the role model I wanted to be for my daughter? The truth was, nobody saw me because I didn’t want to be seen.
Starting that weekend, I began the journey of discovering who I really am and identifying ways to show up more fully in my life. I invested the time, energy and money to reclaim myself and build the life I dream about. This is when I took the steps to intentionally surround myself with the people, career and values that make me come alive and engaged in each day of my life. The thing that changed for me is that now I can embrace this journey with the inner strength that I am enough to do this. I have reclaimed all the parts of me that had been silenced — all my joy and optimism, my intelligence and humor, and my natural radiance. And so my biggest accomplishment that keeps me going is not something I would list on a resume, it is my commitment to show up each day and really live authentically.
On this journey, I have learned how to literally show up in my brightest light, by aligning what I wear with who I am. I worked with, and later trained under, an amazing image consultant who focused on this inside out approach to personal style and knowing oneself. My work with dressing in my element — wearing the colors, patterns, textures and design lines that are most aligned with my energy – is like the icing on top. All my inner work is now reflected in my outer image. Instead of hiding behind my closet of black, black and more black, I now dress in a way that easily communicates who I know myself to be so that I have the joy and confidence that when I walk into a room people just get me. The real me – inside and out.
So back to the initial question about why am I so passionate about my work as an image consultant? Because I love to compassionately help women walking their own journey feel empowered, aligned from the inside out and living in their brightest light.
Katherine Johnson is Owner and Founder of Spark : Ignite Your Signature Style, an image consulting business that helps dynamic, successful women align their outer image to match their inner brilliance. She teaches women how to live in their brightest light so that the colors, patterns, textures and design lines they wear are harmonious with their own radiant energy. Katherine has worked with speakers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and professionals who want to be seen and heard for who they are, authentically aligned inside and out. Learn more about Katherine and her work at www.katherine-johnson.com.
If you liked Katherine’s story and want to learn more about your signature style, request your free Signature Style Breakthrough Session with Katherine here.