Have you ever been intimidated, shunned, or duped by someone?

It happened early in my design career —an initiation, of sorts. I’d landed a dream-come-true marketing project with a name brand client.

Contract. Design. Approvals. Press check. Project completed and delivered. All went swimmingly well.  Thrilled at the success of the project, I mailed the final invoice.

Ten weeks later, a hefty $7521 invoice from the printer reminded me I wasn’t the only one needing to get paid on this project.

I tried everything to reach the company. Phone calls. Emails.

My client had ghosted me.

“How could I have been so stupid?” I doubted myself. “Who does this?” I judged them.

I recalled our interactions. “Was I  just a minion?” Many times, I’d felt owned by this client–a puppet to their whims. Other times, I felt disposable and disrespected. But I stayed optimistic because again, this client was kind of a big deal.

A few weeks later, a voicemail provided clues. “Hi Feroshia, just wanted to let you know that we’ve gone with another agency.”

Okay, but what about the check?

I was fuming. My mind raced, as I continued to harshly question myself and my client equally.

Most situations have a problem and a truth. In this case, the problem? I was star struck.The truth? What I had long suspected was now being validated.

I knew better. This partnership wasn’t right for me for many reasons.

But the lesson this experience gave me… priceless.

People can be unpredictable, and their actions irrational. That you can’t change.

But you can become a stable force in your own life by trusting yourself, especially when those internal signals are flying.

Acknowledge your gut feelings and let them know, “I heard you, I trust you, and follow them accordingly.” (This can be a dialogue with a higher power.)

The only thing that “owns you” are the thoughts you choose to abide by and those you ignore.

Listen to the whole of who you are, especially the quiet parts. They hold the keys to liberation, peace, and often your sanity.