From Active Alcoholic to Empowered Entrepreneur: The Proof That You Can Write Your Own Success Story

From Active Alcoholic to Empowered Entrepreneur: The Proof That You Can Write Your Own Success Story

by Sarah Shuttle

Have you ever felt that there is something insurmountable in the pursuit of your dreams?

I’m fairly sure that we’ve all been there at some point in our journeys into entrepreneurship.

The truth is, however, I never considered running a business until at least my mid-twenties. My dream was to be a success in whatever form that took.

I spent my school years as a high-achieving academic. I realise now that I went through the motions, heading to a prestigious university to study languages that I assumed would lead to a job in either law or international relations. I didn’t feel in the least excited about the prospect.

And then what I now consider a blessing in a hideous disguise fell into my lap; I fell into active alcoholism at the age of twenty.

Along with the 24/7 drinking came self-harm, eating disorders and other mental illnesses. I fell into an abyss of which I couldn’t climb out.

The years that followed were dark, destructive, turbulent and traumatic. Rehabs, psychiatric hospitals, therapy and frequent relapses… my desire for “success” seemed like an impossible dream. I couldn’t understand where it had all gone wrong.

And yet, here I am. The year I turn thirty, a decade since I fell into darkness and despair, and I am running not one, but two businesses. In my years recovering, I learnt graphic design. I turned away from a career in academia and used my undiscovered creativity to carve out a new path for myself.

As I grew in confidence and my recovery strengthened, I decided it was time to be my own boss and write my own story. And so, Wonderland Graphic Design was born, specialising in designing beautiful, strong brands for creatives. I officially launched in July 2016 and since then I have gone from strength to strength. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe this is real.

While this fulfils my creative side, up until recently I still had a passion inside of me that was going unheard. And from experience, I knew it was time to listen. That is how Girl Untold came into the world. A blog, movement and community aiming to make change in society, tackling the pressures on women to look, act, feel and be a certain way. It is a mission to smash stigmas, to unite, empower and inspire women and start conversations.

So yes, I can now see my alcoholism and other history of problems as a blessing. I’m not stuck in a job for which I never felt any excitement. I jump out of bed ready and happy to begin my day because I love what I do.

No problem is insurmountable, no block too big to overcome in writing your own success story. The pen will always be in your hand, no matter how long it takes or how hard you have to fight in order to start the next chapter.


Sarah ShuttleSarah Shuttle is the founder and editor of Girl Untold, a community, blog and movement aiming to unite, empower and inspire women to tackle stigmas and pressures faced in society by celebrating their individuality and owning their stories.



Share :


2 Replies to “From Active Alcoholic to Empowered Entrepreneur: The Proof That You Can Write Your Own Success Story”

  1. Tanea Smith


    This is a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing. Yours is a movement that is sure to help and touch others. I always say, as long as you’re alive there’s hope.

    Continued Success!

    Tanea Smith

    1. Avatar photo
      Melissa Stewart

      So true! I used to say “I still have a pulse so there’s still hope” – and hope is a renewable resource. This piece was beautiful and inspiring and truly the stuff that movements are made of. xo

Comments are closed.