The Book That Made Me…Follow My Heart: Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell

Light is the New Black came at exactly the right time. Any sooner, the words would’ve broken me in all the wrong ways. Any later, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that arose when I started reading this.

Right. On. Time.

From the moment I opened the first page, Rebecca met me soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart, and for the first time I felt someone say the words I had no idea how to express. A sensation I had felt my entire life. Let me provide a little backstory as to how I came across this book and why it was so poignant…

Since I was around 15 years old, all I wanted to do for a career was “help people.” That’s all I had. That, in a nutshell, was my career goal. I had no idea what that looked like in practice, or what it even meant. It was simply the feeling I had in my soul. Whenever I shared this with someone, they would always reply “Oh. Like, a social worker?”

Umm…yeah, sure. A social worker.

And so my journey toward social work began, even though it never felt like it fully fit comfortably. Heading toward that goal always felt like wearing a pair of shoes that were a little too loose – slipping off my heels and clomping around. Despite that, the small steps I took toward my goal never felt like the wrong things. Always, in my heart, I knew I had to take these steps. It was just the end goal I wasn’t quite sure about but, when you had a career choice of wanting to “help people”, I really had nothing else to go on.

Cut a long story short, I ended up becoming a family support worker. The ultimate experience that I would need in order to go on and complete my Masters in Social Work. It was such rich experience, I learnt so much, and it was absolutely invaluable in shaping my interests and desires moving forward. I received so much insight into the human experience and understanding people. However, working side by side with social workers allowed me to understand the role and, actually, it soon stopped appealing to me. It didn’t discourage me too much as, by that point, I was actually in a job helping people so it was exactly what I wanted to do. A dream come true, so to speak.

Eventually, however, I fell foul of what I now understand as compassion fatigue. This, probably mixed in with some other personal shit I was going through at the time, made for a horrible recipe. My husband and one of my closest friends encouraged me to take an administrative job – something stripped back, a little less responsibility, and less stress. Something I could leave in work when I left the office at 5pm. I resisted for so long as I had worked so hard to get to where I was in the support work role but, on the other hand, I literally hated who I was becoming and I didn’t recognise myself anymore.

Enough was enough – I had to pack it in and take the advice I was given. (I did try moving to another place of work, wondering if a fresh start somewhere would help. It didn’t. By the second week of the new job, I rang my husband in tears telling him I couldn’t do this anymore.)

It broke my heart. For 12 years, I had been aiming this arrow at my little dream. It guided me through university, powered me through my first job, made me search for training…everything was pinned on “helping people.” Now, at 27 years old, I had no idea what the fuck to do. I had to find a new dream…

…Or did I?

When I quit, I had no job to go to. I was looking for that administrative role but, until I got one, I was unemployed. My husband was paying for everything and I had a small amount of savings to help me stay afloat. I’d had Rebecca’s book in my Amazon Wishlist for ages and, one day, it caught my eye again as I was scrolling. What the hell – I needed something to pick me up.

I went to my local coffee shop, settled in with a Latte, and opened Light is the New Black. I didn’t know what to expect but the first page cut through the bullshit and spoke directly to my soul:

For as long as I can remember, I had this inner knowing that I was here for a reason. I knew I had a purpose, a calling, but the whole thing stressed me out. It was like walking around with this huge weight of responsibility on my shoulders. It felt like I had this urgent thing to do and time was running out.

I could’ve cried. I mean, I didn’t – I was in a public coffee shop having my heart, mind, and soul blown open in the most incredible way and I had to sit there and sip my coffee like everything was OK but inside I was fucking DANCING in a downpour that drenched my parched soul. Someone else!! There was someone else who felt like I did! There it was, summed up on paper, the words I could never find to describe a way I had felt for so, so long…

And so began a pilgrimage into my soul, guided my Rebecca’s words, figuring out what I wanted and what my soul needed.

I didn’t have to give up on my dream. My dream is here – written on these pages of this blog. This is how I do it now. To everyone else, it’s just another blog but, for me, it’s so much more. With the podcast, too, it’s just another step in alignment with what I need to do.

That book shaped the contents of my blog as I got more in tune with my heart again, listening more to my soul, and hearing my deepest desires. I had always wanted to be an actor since I was very young but it was more “in an alternative universe” kinda thing – reading Light is the New Black made me realise that following what lights me up and getting lost in doing it was a sure sign that maybe it’s what I was supposed to be doing all along. I auditioned for a role, and got the part…which only served to highlight where I still needed to grow!

The book is beautifully structured into small, digestible, thought provoking, chapters. You can read it chapter by chapter until you’re so full you need to take a break to process everything that’s been said (I fall into this camp), or you can read a chapter a day, or you can Russian roulette it and flick to a random page for a burst of inspiration. Each chapter ends with a small question which act as great journal prompts, or a mantra, or a simple sentence you can chew on throughout the day. It truly is such a wonderful book that will wake up your soul.

Overall, this book made me realise that if you follow what truly lights you up, what makes you feel the sun from the inside, then you’d do well to follow it. Feel the nagging feeling, listen to what it’s telling you to do, and do it. Watch the doors open for you and leave your comfort zone – the world is waiting.

You can purchase Light is the New Black on Amazon

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