One of the best parts of my childhood was dreaming about my future and trying to imagine how it would look. What would I become? There were so many possibilities – would I be a writer, a performing artist, a lawyer, a computer engineer or the ubiquitous “businessperson.” Was money important or did I want to be happy with my chosen path? There were so many questions and so little time, it seemed.
In college, I eventually settled on a major in Professional Writing with minors in dance and journalism. Some of my best memories of college are from my journalism classes and my dance and musical performances. I woke up most days excited to get to school. I loved interviewing my subject for the school newspaper and working on longer feature articles for the alumni magazine. What I hate, however, were my work study hours when I was stuck in an office doing paperwork – that really should have been my first clue.
As a staff member of the school newspaper, I enjoyed asking questions, pushing boundaries and getting to meet and interview new and interesting people. I spent a summer in New York City as an intern working for a small magazine and loved every moment of the experience – writing book reviews, interviewing an up and coming artist at B. Smith’s in midtown, researching and gathering information for my various articles and learning some valuable lessons about the publishing business. I just knew that this was going to be my life!
Then, in my last year, with the ever-growing voices in my head from well-meaning relatives and loved-ones who were afraid that I would starve to death – “writers don’t make any money,” “why don’t you get into computers?” “how about becoming a lawyer instead” – I switched paths. I found myself hurriedly enrolling in pre-law classes, taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and applying to law schools. I had let doubt and fear kick in. It would become a recurring theme in my life.
I got into law school, several in fact, and I found that I enjoyed most of the process. However, unlike most of the uber anal type-A personalities in my class, I was not as intense...yet. What did I do in my first semester? I became a member of the school’s student magazine and continued to scratch my writing itch. That should have been my second clue. Still, I imagined that I would at least enjoy that part of being a lawyer – getting to write engaging content while assisting my clients in achieving their goals.
Predictably, my love affair with the law did not last. Twelve years after graduating from law school, I was miserable. The truth is, I had been miserable long before then, about three years into practice, but I had persisted because that is what you do as an adult…that is what I do. I never give up, I never back down and I always finish what I start. But since I could not deny that I was miserable, I started wondering – are we were supposed to enjoy our careers and be happy to get up every day and go to work? I convinced myself that I was asking for too much – we were not supposed to enjoy work…work was work. If it was supposed to be fun, it would be called something else. No, I decided my tribe was lacking. I needed to strike a balance. I needed to find some hobbies, get my romantic life back on track and rediscover my “passion.” But then the strangest thing happened – I did not have a clue on how to move forward. I was 41 years old and stuck. I spent my days advising my clients on how to run their businesses and yet I had nothing left in the tank for myself. I was completely unmotivated to better my life.
One night while sitting on my couch, likely on my third glass of Moscato (what? It’s not even real wine!), I decided that enough was enough. I decided to get some help because even I was sick of me. I knew I did not need a therapist though– it was not that kind of problem. What I needed was an accountability coach…a life coach. I had heard of “life coaches” before but truthfully, I had not given the idea much thought. I scoffed at myself for even considering it because a life coach seemed like a totally useless and unnecessary venture. How was a damn stranger going to help me better live my life? Only I could do that. Therapists I understood, they were trained to help you through psychological issues. What training did a life coach have? Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try.
It has been five years and, while I cannot say that it has been easy, it has been an amazing journey and I am not done yet. Finding my life coach, Gabriella Flores, was a godsend…a literal godsend. She became my biggest cheerleader and along the way, seeing myself through her eyes, hearing her “you got this!” and having it pop into my head whenever I was feeling defeated enabled me to start sincerely cheering for myself again. Life coaching has been the answer to questions I never even knew I had. Am I exactly where I want to be? No. Did I embrace everything right away? Nope. Do I still mess up and make not so great choices? Yep. Even after meeting Gabriella and starting on this journey, I took some wrong steps. For example, I am still at my job. Yes, the same one I have hated for quite some time. I am a partner now, I accepted the offer three years ago, not because I wanted to, but because I had no real plan in place. The compensation has increased, the satisfaction has not. But, on paper, I appear successful.
Somewhere along the way, I had stopped dreaming. I stopped focusing on the wonder, beauty and possibilities of life and became dogged in my pursuit of “success.” I lived for the salary increases, the bonuses, my 401(k), house renovations, my next house, the sporty car. My health was deteriorating, my relationships were non-existent, and I let go of all my outside hobbies and interests, except traveling. I love to travel and I do so often but I typically spend several months as a pent up ball of frustration, anxiety and anger, going through the motions waiting for the few times a year when I could get sweet release for a week or two. Henry David Thoreau said – “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Today, on the outside, my life looks the same, but I know it is different. I have a plan and a path to a different life. I have dusted off a few of my old ambitions – I am writing again and actively working on becoming a freelance writer. I’ve enacted well-needed boundaries between my work life and my private time and now I regularly take time to do things that I enjoy – reading in the afternoons, meditating a couple times a day, yoga on the weekends and the occasional cooking class. Soon I will be enrolling in some on-line writing courses to brush up on my skills and I may even dip my toe back into the dating game. I am no longer stuck. I have admitted that I do not enjoy the practice of law. Now, I can see the other side and I am excited. I accept that am in control and I have the power to make changes. Not only do I know that I can walk away at any time, but I accept that I have the right to because I have a right to be happy exactly as I am. I accept that I am enough, and I am worth the best life that I can cultivate.
This was not an easy path for me, and I have no doubt that without Gabriella, I would still be at the beginning of this journey. Floundering about and accept a half-life. So, if any of this is resonating with you, give life-coaching a try and most importantly give Gabriella Flores a try. Our sessions have scaled back now but that is only because of the wonderful progress I have made. Maybe you will only need a few weeks or a few months to get started on your path. Or maybe, like me, you will need her guidance a little while longer. Everyone’s journey is different. She was my light in an exceedingly long, dark tunnel and with her help, I have lit my own bright light and am now finding my own way.