I have shared this story with a few people through my coach training and it has grown in significance as I have retold it, so it's time for me to be vulnerable as much as I expect that of my clients. Here goes:
I struggled with confidence in my life when I was young as much as the next person. Looking back, as difficult as it may have seemed at the time, I had the same self-doubt, fears and feelings of loneliness as any other person. But nothing could have prepared me for what I would face in the future.
After going to college and getting married, I set off in my career in Public Relations, despite having gone to school for Psychology. I felt a bit directionless, but was okay with knowing I had a job and a work ethic to see me through. My husband and I hadn't decided whether or not we wanted children, so my career WAS my direction. Life threw us our first curve ball when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. We had only been married 11 months. My husband had just caught a plane to New York the night before. I was home alone when the phone woke me up at 6 a.m. It was my husband who said "turn on the TV, the phones are about to go dead here, just know that I'm OK... I love you." CLICK. When I turned the TV on and realized the devastation that was taking place, my mind almost instantly changed about having children. Same for my husband. We realized that there was more to life than getting up and going to work to earn money. Fast forward 2 1/2 years, I gave birth to my first daughter. The joy she brought to our lives and the way our marriage was enriched was overwhelming. I never knew I had so much MORE love in my heart to give.
A few years later, my husband's job moved us to Texas. We learned shortly thereafter that we were pregnant again. This time, we learned that we were expecting TWIN girls. Due to the high costs of child care for 3 children under the age of 3, we decided that it was best for me to stay home. Nursing twins for 12 months is no easy feat - MAD respect to all the moms out there who have done that for a year and longer! During that year, I began to feel the weight of trying to keep up with life. And THAT'S where it began...
I LOST myself (ha ha, I mistyped LOVE instead of LOST there... coincidence?! I think NOT!). I began to think that constantly doing for others was what I was supposed to do. There was little time for myself, despite having a supportive husband. People always say that a day can take forever, but a year goes by in a flash. My days felt like they lasted FOREVER and the phase of life I was in would take a lifetime! I'll never forget being on my knees sobbing when my twins were 5 months old when I called a friend and asked "when does this get easier"? I felt incredible GUILT for feeling that way, and was conflicted by wanting the babies to hurry up and get older so they could start putting their OWN shoes on and feeling the need to cherish each and every precious moment of toddlerhood.
Fast forward 4 years. We were living back in the Bay Area due to a job transfer for my husband's work. We were back among our childhood friends with family close by. It was a blessing, but life got busier with keeping up with the pace of seeing friends and family and with kids getting older and beginning extracurricular activities. I had found a job with Care.com that allowed me to work from home part time. I was overjoyed and remember thinking "Wow, there are so many women out there who would kill for a job like mine where you get to stay home, raise your kids AND earn a paycheck (albeit, small)". I would take the kids to school, come home, pour myself a cup of coffee and settle in to my same green chair, day in and day out. My job took little to no thinking and didn't challenge me at all. All the while, the GUILT in my head would tell me "think about how LUCKY you are to be able to earn a paycheck from home" but I was dying inside from the MONOTONY my life had taken on.
One morning, I was in the kitchen making a PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY sandwich for my girls when my husband came downstairs and said "whatcha doin'?" My response stopped me in my tracks "oh, just making a PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY sandwich... that's WHAT I DO". In that moment, I heard my disdain and resentment and thought to myself "SHAME on you for letting yourself get to this point. What example are you setting for your kids?". While that WAS my wake-up moment, I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life or how to change it and began to put pressure on myself to figure it out. Going back to work didn't seem like an option yet. I stayed in that job for 7 years, slowly dying, until one day...
I was having lunch with a friend who told me that she had hired a Life Coach. I asked her what that meant and what kinds of things they were doing together. As she was telling me about it, I noticed myself sitting on the edge of my chair listening intently on what she was saying. By the end of that conversation, I said to her "THAT'S what I want to do! That sounds awesome!" A few months later, I quit my mundane job that was sucking the life out of me, enrolled in CTI (The Coaches Training Institute) and began my year-long journey training to be a certified coach.
As I sit here now, having just gotten the news that I passed my written exam, I'm 1-hour away from coaching the required 100 hours and all my paperwork is turned in awaiting the date of my oral exam, I look back on my journey and I have met SO many people who have been through something very similar. It is SUCH a common tale for people to get sucked into the conundrum of being grateful for what they have, being afraid of change, and putting everyone else first in their lives. I don't mean you need to be selfish, but you DO need to take care of yourself. You cannot be at your best and successful in all aspects of your own life if you're not truly happy. When you are living your best life, you will EXUDE positive energy that comes from living your truth and your relationships will be more fulfilling in return. EVERYTHING changes for the better. I have grown EXPONENTIALLY as a person. I LOVE life, I LOVE people, I am running my own business, and have a spring in my step again. I have celebrated with my clients, and I have cried with my clients, but all in the name of honoring their OWN growth and transformation. Stop and notice things in your day that fulfill you or give you a moment's pause. Mine was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; and it changed my life!