If you’ve been here a while you’ll know I’m basically a self-help junkie! I love anything that challenges or that helps me improve. But lately I’ve been thinking about this constant desire to be better and I’ve realised this: the process of self-growth fundamentally requires for me to be myself unapologetically and to accept my unique path. Only with that in mind can I truly find contentment and joy.
Now I know for some this idea might seem a bit weird. After all, who am I being each day if not myself? But I think self-awareness and self-acceptance are complex and being our true self is not something that automatically happens.
For me, understanding and living into who I truly am is a process of growth, one that I will always be on. But it started with some key thoughts and it’s been a process that requires courage. Because I’m not the person I was nor the person I once aspired to be. Accepting that requires me to own the decision and consciously choose to be a new version of myself.
Becoming unapologetically me is a journey. One that comes with a lot of resistance, which, if I do say so myself, I am choosing to bravely take on.
Here’s how it unfolded for me (so far!) and how I tackle the fear every day.
It all started with a nagging sensation
It was 2015. I was 32, newly married and had just bought a home on our favourite street. I’d landed my dream job and I had everything I’d ever wanted.
I’d made it.
But despite my successes to date and the new opportunities ahead of me, it felt, well, a little empty. Nothing was exactly wrong but I had this lingering thought: ‘Shouldn’t I be happier?’
I’d always had the feeling that one day I’d be completely happy and I’d be satisfied with the life I’d created for myself.
But now, as I stood with the life I’d imagined and a stack of accomplishments and goals achieved, I had a sneaking fear that joy and contentment would not one day magically appear.
It was then I went in search of answers, but instead I found more questions.
What is possible?
I started by doing day workshops to ‘explore possibilities’, then I started working with a coach. I began reading more and opened myself up to new and sometimes ‘woo-woo’ ideas. Having given myself the freedom to consider and explore, I began to pick and choose the things that resonated with me and to disregard the rest.
I allowed myself to dream without boundaries and constraints and to truly consider: What is possible?
This meant letting go of all the preconceived ideas I had about myself and detaching from my own definitions of myself.
It felt utterly indulgent and even reckless. After all, I was a successful professional woman with 3 degrees, a high paying and well sought after job allowing myself to consider starting from scratch.
Was I crazy?
Maybe. And that terrified me.
But the strongest emotion I felt was excitement.
What if I could redefine myself and create a life and I truly loved?
Could I truly be a woman who lived a contented life precisely on my own terms, regardless of what other thought of me?
The questions played on my mind and I gave myself the time to consider them.
Over a period of years, I allowed myself to curiously wander and explore. I reconsidered who I want to be and what makes me truly happy.
The answers I came up with surprised me.
Creating my new life vision
I’ve never wanted to be rich or famous. The thought of both exhausts me.
But I have always wanted to have an impact and to help make the world a better place. This idea has shown up again and again through my charity projects, mentoring work and my studies. Ultimately, I want to be of service but this has never been part of my ‘day’ job.
In creating my new life vision, this idea was front & centre: How can I serve others in a way that feels meaningful and true to who I am?
After much pondering I came up with this: I want to help professional women, like me, get clarity on their dreams and give them the confidence and strategies to unashamedly make them a reality.
Once I knew this, the rest started to fall in to place. First I started to explore options to become a coach and then I got to work retraining.
But this only covered one aspect of my life – my career. It didn’t consider my relationships, family, health or interests. So I kept journaling, compiling vision boards and working through what would make me content in all areas of my life. Debbie Millman’s ‘How to have a remarkable life’ helped me articulate my wildest hopes and dreams best.
Once I’d done this, I had the clarity I needed to create the life I wanted.
Being unapologetically me: Accepting my unique path
The kicker was that this life I now desired was not what I’d spent my life working towards. It no longer involved the C-suite or a hustling to try and squeeze everything and everyone in.
Instead, it involved a quiet content life full of people and things I love and serving and supporting others to achieve their goals.
I also had to accept that this new life I was forging for myself was unlike anyone else around me.
It was my unique path.
And the only way I could live into this new future was to wholeheartedly embrace it, despite what others thought and to commit to shifting gears.
I had to be willing to work through the resistance and keep the eye on my own prize which is easier said than done. But one idea that supported was this, from Marianne Williamson:
What if this were true?
What if I was always meant to be the person I could now conceive being?
I decided to say YES and trust that I was on the right path and that this was, in fact, me manifesting my highest potential.
It is the idea that sustains me daily as I live my life being unapologetically me.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Can you relate?
Leave a comment below about finding your unique path or being yourself unapologetically.
I’m glad you enjoyed it
I’m so glad to hear this resonates Michelle!