The most important story we will every write is our own.
You may not fancy yourself a writer.
You may not want to write a memoir,
but I promise you, you are writing a story.
I want to help you write the ending you so desire.
I graduated college Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Theatre Performance, on academic and talent scholarships.
I am one of 6,000 people in the United States to say I am a National Board Certified coach.
I'm telling you this, because I'm proud of these accomplishments.
And for Years I focused on big dreams, big action, and big goals.
I consumed all the information. I dove in head first. I pushed. I played all out.
I prided myself on being the underdog and my ability to get through anything.
I truly believed that getting 'there'
(wherever there was for whatever dream I was chasing) would give me something:
Joy and Peace (financially and emotionally), and then, I'd be successful.
What I didn't understand is that 'there' doesn't exist.
With every achievement, I would raise the bar and find a reason why it wasn't good enough.
That real success, just out of reach.
My schedule was packed, I was burning the candle at both ends, and heaven forbid I let a single ball drop or say no to an opportunity.
I had been paid for acting and choreography work, I had built my own fitness business, and leveraged that business to travel and teach around the world...and never felt successful. Instead of stopping and recognizing, "Wow, this is cool!", I missed all of it because I was so focused on the next level. The next step. The one that would really count as something to be proud of. All I found was more of the same, and with it, more exhaustion, frustration, burn out, and shame.
Yet, the harder I tried, the further I felt from success.
So I burnt it all down.
I closed up business, transferred my clients to another trainer, packed up my car with what would fit, and moved across the country to Los Angeles to pursue my biggest dream: Hollywood!
Imagine my shock, 5 years later, when nothing had changed.
I still had a packed schedule, I was still burning the candle at both ends, I had made zero progress towards my dream (not just zero progress, but zero steps in that direction), and I was even more in 'failure' mindset because my debt had increased exponentially.
I suppose I can't say 'nothing' had changed:
Everything was worse.
The schedule, the candle burning, all of it.
Because none of the stories I told myself about my success and my struggles had to do with my circumstances:
They had to do with me.
My stuff = My stories.
At this point, I had already passed my first coaching certification.
I was frustrated because I was working so hard trying to make ends meet that my schedule simply didn't allow any time for me to take on coaching clients!
(Which now I see was a complete self-sabotage strategy...)
There was a client at the Pilates studio I was working at who is a coach.
(A well known and respected one I might add.)
She offered to meet and see how she could help me.
I went to that meeting, sat down and showed her my very busy schedule.
I had printed it out - color coded and all - and brought it with me for her to help me see what I could move around.
She looked at me and said,
"Wow. That schedule is very full. Why did you do that to yourself?"
And that's when I got my first real taste of coaching.
At the end of that session, this coach looked at me and said,
"You can not lead where you do not go."
That moment was the Inciting Incident that lead me down my own transformational path.
I hired my own coaches. I did the inner work.
I uncovered some huge blindspots and faced some jolting realities:
Codependency, Anxiety (with a need to control to counteract it), and oblivious to all of it most of my life. Oblivious or in denial - I'm not quite sure which.
In screenwriting there's a concept to look for:
Characterization versus Character.
Characterization is the surface:
Mom, Dad, Doctor, Teacher, Teen, etc.
And the ideas of what that means.
Character is the way the person behaves or responds under pressure.
The codependency, anxiety and control were clear as day in my behaviors:
Trying to predict how people would respond to what I said or did.
People pleasing and over extending myself to make others happy.
Avoiding conflict at all cost!
I became really good at being who you wanted me to be and often never said what I meant, or denied who I was, because keeping the peace was more important.
Keeping so busy - so, so busy - that taking care of myself wasn't an option.
(Not that I could even recognize my needs if I was asked.)
I set big, audacious goals. Sometimes I reached them. Sometimes I didn't.
Either way, I never felt successful.
All the perfectionism.
Overthinking, procrastinating, and predicting (as above) so that no one would see how absolutely insecure I was.
...even though I was constantly told how people loved my confidence...
I would politely smile, say thank you, and think, 'You have no idea'.
The Dark Night of the Soul
There's a part in every movie, every story, where your main character (your hero) is forced to look at herself, who she is, and how she's caused the story up to this point. And this point is usually the 'I just can't any more!' moment.
She has a choice:
Go back to doing what she did before or take responsibility and learn and grow.
As uncomfortable as it was - I chose the latter.
I learned not only how to acknowledge emotions, but how to process them.
I became intentional with time and practiced being with myself.
Being with myself was a whole lesson on it's own!
Because from that time I was able to look at the motives behind my behaviors.
What I discovered was that my story was one of 'I needed to prove myself'.
If I no longer needed to prove myself, how much of my doing would I stop doing?
From there I learned the most valuable lesson of all:
When you don't think you're enough, nothing and no one will ever be enough.
It was time to look at my stories and rewrite them all.
Reprogram them all.
I began to peel back all the layers, raw and vulnerable as it was, and get to the heart of who I am.
Connect with my true self. My higher self.
And write my own Hero's Journey.
This is where my backgrounds and training marry:
Acting, Writing and Coaching.
Every story has a Hero on a Quest.
Every quest has obstacles and challenges.
Every story has a Crisis, a climax point, an impossible challenge.
And the Hero makes a choice to learn and grow or not.
If the choice is not - it's called a tragedy.
If the choice is learn and grow, well then, we get to watch our Hero complete the journey.
But there's one huge, vital thing about a Hero's Journey:
The Hero must be active.
Each choice the hero makes carves out the story - the journey.
The Hero's Journey is all about making the uncensconcious, conscious.
The Hero's Journey is about taking action, making choices, and learning along the way.
The Hero's Journey will always come down to the Dark Night of the Soul,
and whether the Hero is willing to continue or will retreat to the old ways of being.
The story literally depends on it.
In a movie, it happens in 2 hours.
In life, this process takes time.
And I'm still in it.
Constantly writing and rewriting.
But the motivation, how I show up, the energy behind it is completely different.
I still have big audacious dreams, big audacious goals,
but I no longer believe that my success or worth is dependent on the outcomes.
Write Your Own Story Or You'll Simply Be A Character In Someone Else's.
For the first time in my life, I realized I had to STOP DOING.
I had to stop trying to perfect.
I had to stop thinking I could control everything, everyone.
I had to stop thinking I could please everyone or be responsible for them.
I had to learn to say no.
I had to learn to set boundaries.
I had to learn my patterns, my red flags, and how to support myself.
In the wise words of Jason Mraz:
I had to learn how to bend without the world caving in.
I had to learn what I got, what I'm not, and who I am.
I had to stop worrying so much about what other people thought of me or what I was doing.
I had to write my own story.