For a long time, I wished I could be more *normal*. That I could fully accept and conform to the standard path more easily.
That I could be thin and *perfectly beautiful*. That I could be wealthy and have parents who provided me with a trust fund cushion. That I was the best player on my sports teams. That all guys thought I was hot and desirable. That I could be the top performer at a top corporation, and enjoy that process, including the long hours getting lost in and being dedicated to my work.
I used to look at some of my peers who seemed to be truly passionate about the path we were on together and wished I could be more like them. And while I don’t actually know if some of them were / are as passionate as I perceived them to be, the point is that I was essentially wishing away my own personal will.
I wanted to blindly follow.
Yes, I did just say that. I know it sounds crazy intellectually. (It did to me, too, until I realized that was exactly what I was doing.) But I didn’t want to have dreams and desires that were risky or off the path well-traveled because that likely meant I had to either:
– live a life being torn and unfulfilled OR
– take a chance and believe I was capable of making those dreams happen
Neither of these options were very appealing to me at this point.
Yet at the same time there was this feeling inside of me that kept popping up. This feeling felt a lot like: “Something needs to change. You are miserable.”
As time went on, I suppressed that voice and stuffed it deeper and deeper inside of me, hoping it would shut up and leave me alone. I figured if I buried myself enough in my efforts, I would grow to love what I was doing more and be happier. I believed I was complaining too much. I was being a *whiny millennial*, like all those articles, studies, parents, and bosses say.
I wanted to be one of those people who just puts her head down, does the work, and meets all the requirements of a *successful person*. A hard-working, hustling adult who proves that she can do and have it all – the money, the prestige, the body, the man…you get the idea.
But as time went on, that feeling grew and the voice got louder. In addition to “Something needs to change. You are miserable.”, it began to also say “Have the courage and the faith. Trust this feeling. We need you to step up.”
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to stand out or step up in a potentially controversial way. At this point, I was wishing more than ever that I could stop feeling this way. That I could drown out this voice and just keep moving along as I had planned.
The challenge when the noise comes from within, though, is that it’s really hard to avoid. I tried to drown myself in more and more distractions in attempt to at least reduce the volume a bit, but it seemed like this time around, it wasn’t giving up. It was just continuing to raise the volume in response to my escape tactics.
It persisted through depressive feelings. Through anxiety and stress that made me so sick I sometimes struggled to get out of bed or make it through a full day at work. Through physical symptoms and manifestations of those feelings. Through some seriously tough beginnings, endings, and transformations of relationships with everyone around me.
I reached a point where something had to change. I was completely drained of my energy and therefore also my power.
This was all a part of my realization. I had come to learn that trying to be perfect in every area of my life was not an act of power but rather was an act of giving my power away to other people and letting them decide what I would and wouldn’t do. What was or wasn’t *good enough*.
That’s why I was exhausted. I literally gave the most powerful role I have in my life, the one of decision-maker, to the forces around me, focusing on fulfilling their wishes and desires and meeting their standards and expectations – whatever worked best for them, not for me.
Sometimes it felt like being Gumby and being pulled in a thousand different directions based on whose voice I was listening to at the time, so no matter how hard I tried, I was never truly satisfied with who I was, and eventually, I could hardly recognize myself. I decided something needed to change.
However, in full transparency, when I decided to reclaim that power, I learned that it isn’t 100% easy, light, and without challenge. Let me explain.
As with all things in life, this shift was an example of how the things we do are what we believe, consciously or sub-consciously, are best for us at the time.
Using myself as an example, I was choosing to live life this way because I believed it kept me safe. My brain and body felt safe doing things that were *time-tested and proven* to make me feel safe. So yes, maybe it made me miserable in some ways, but there was a benefit to this, it wasn’t all downsides.
Maybe you have something, too, that you’d like to change but don’t know how. I’d ask what the benefit is that you’re getting from continuing on, and if there’s a way you can get that same benefit using a different approach.
For me, that meant having to really work on my relationship to the feeling of safety and security, and what that actually could look like for me in my life.
I say this because once I began the shift from perfection to a more conscious, intentional approach to living, I learned that it can be really freaking hard at first.
I was being asked to switch from going along for the ride (albeit begrudgingly, at times) to being asked to make some hard choices and own that I made them, which sometimes also includes consequences that aren’t what I wished for.
That’s something people often don’t talk about with releasing a perfectionist mindset. I know this because I was there too.
And I’m sharing this because I want you to know, if you are feeling or fearing this, you are not alone. But also please don’t let this feeling stop you. It’s all part of the amazing and freeing, yet sometimes complex, journey.
So in relation to my story, after I finally reached the tipping point and was like “OK screw this, I’m gonna take my power back”. Then came the first decision, and then the one after that, and then the one after that. And all of a sudden things were happening because I made a decision and put it into motion. It was pretty cool.
However, it was also really overwhelming at times. When the questions and impacts started to result, I didn’t know what to do. No one had prepared me for this part of the process.
No one told me that some people wouldn’t like that the power they used to have in my life was gone. No one told me that I was going to have to seriously practice trusting myself and my decisions and begin making them from somewhere deeper within.
I was actually going to have to begin believing that I knew the answers for myself. That my mind and body were constantly working together to bring me toward wherever I needed to be.
Perhaps you can relate to some of this, and once again, I want you to know you are not alone in feeling this way. One of my core values in my coaching practice is transparency, so I always like to share my own journey, the pretty and the not-so-pretty.
Because the truth is that protecting your precious source of power and trusting yourself is going to open a whole new world of opportunity up to you. But this journey back to yourself can certainly feel scary and confusing at times.
Part of what I do is help people along this journey as they shift into reclaiming their power. We work together to find those power leaks, patch them up, harness that reclaimed power for good, and deal with the challenges that come along the way.
I know this year a lot of people are feeling called to step up more in our world, which may bring with it fear, overwhelm, excitement, sadness or any number of feelings. If you want to start taking back that power to figure out how you’re going to do your part and then use it to make things happen, know that I’m here to support you.
And regardless of what you do, remember that you are incredibly and innately powerful. You’ve got this. <3
As always, feel free to share this with anyone who may find it helpful, and I would love to hear how it helps you or if you have any questions.