So much of the time, we’d rather stay small and imprisoned than face the uncertainty of becoming who we’re meant to be. The resentment that comes with keeping our dreams under wraps may be a life sentence, but it’s also a known commodity. It’s within our comfort zone. In order to stay there, we have to slip into denial, numb out, and stuff down our real feelings and our true selves. What a high cost we pay for that so-called “comfort.”
By refusing to remove the golden handcuffs of my legal career, I wasn’t allowing the full expression of my life to emerge. And looking back, I realize that my lawyer “identity” was another hiding place for me. As long as I kept my head down, worked myself to the bone, and accepted my father’s “wisdom” that I had chosen an “appropriate” career path, I could hide from what I truly wanted and from all I was capable of becoming. Leaving my legal career meant I would no longer have excuses for not fully inhabiting my life—a terrifying thought.
I became aware that my denial had caused an underlying tension in almost everything I did, and tension is the opposite of freedom. People-pleasing and workaholism became escapes. I kept jumping through hoop after hoop in order to receive recognition and earn a gold star. But the recognition and gold stars rarely came, and even when they did it was never enough to fill the emptiness of living an inauthentic life.
I’ve learned that betraying myself can never be the price I pay to avoid betraying someone else. We don’t serve anyone if we’re pretending. We don’t owe anyone the denial of who we are.
Mine is not a solo story.
The majority of my coaching clients come to me with no idea of what they really want. They’re in some sort of transition knowing they need to make a change yet facing the prospect of living life on their own terms aligned with their own desires for the first time is daunting.
Simply naming desires – feeling worthy and deserving of them without worrying about the logistics and implementation – is the portal into the process of healing, truth-telling and transformation.
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For most of my life, I needed validation. I looked outward for permission. Permission to ditch my corporate job and embrace who I really was. I put everyone else’s dreams, needs, and desires before mine. I spent my days managing the perceptions of others, keeping up with the Jones’s, and projecting an image of perfection. In the process, I forgot something.
I forgot to live my own life.
I didn’t feel valued for who I was (in fact I was constantly reminded that I was a disposable cog in a massive legal machine), so I believed I never would be. I checked out. Went to sleep. And was awakened by an emotional explosion of epic proportions.
After the dust settled, I had a choice. I could either stay numb and go back to sleep. Or, I could face my fears. I could embrace change. I could stop living my life in reaction to others. Own up to my purpose and passion.
And so began the journey to owning my dream business.
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I reclaimed time lost; my unlived life. Forgiveness arrived, tentatively at first. Then—now—in bursts of disbelief. Inhabiting my life completely– no hiding, truly living – is unparalleled.
What do I know, now? I know that happiness, gratitude, compassion, service to others—these are the necessities. I know that by living on the other side of my greatest fear, I can do anything.
I know that endings and beginnings are kick starts and catalysts. An invitation to a life I never knew was possible: this extraordinary life I’m living now.
I offer my heart to you with the hope that it serves as a compass to lead you back to yourself, with an invitation to find and trust your own voice as you dive deeply into your purpose and passion.
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Whose life are you living? Leave a comment and tell me about it!