No, this is not a story of a former drug addict who used to live in her car. I was not born in a slum, nor have I ever been homeless (so far). Was I forced to only eat instant noodles and drink boxed wine for some period of my life? Perhaps. Also, I used to work as a dish washer and dog sitter whilst being eaten by bed bugs at night, but that was pretty much the lowest point in my life, at least financially.
I am not specifically gifted, smart or special. I’m someone who did not think she had any specific “calling” in her life until four years ago. I have failed in many things, many times, over and over again. It did not happen in a spectacular, TED-talk-worthy kind of way. My failures were rather dull, repetitive and insignificant.
I have no heroic, inspiring story to tell about my life. And yet, I feel that some people need to hear a story like mine – a relatable story of someone who is unremarkable and average in many ways yet however managed to give herself a chance to pursue her dreams.
I’m writing this text sitting in a cafe in Taipei, wrapping up my 8-month digital nomad entrepreneur trip. I feel happy, motivated, free and fulfilled. I do what I love, I have a lifestyle that matches my personal preferences, and I see the impact of my work every day.
My dream was to make a living out of something that has always been natural to me, something that very few people consider as a “payable” skill. As a life coach, I’m helping people to transform their lives.
Some people ask me – How did you do it? How did you make it happen? We want to start our own business/travel the world / quit our 9-5 jobs – but we are not that extraordinary, courageous kind of people!
The thing is, I’m not that special kind of person either. I tend to feel like an impostor working from this hipster cafe, doing yoga in Bali with all those beautiful, healthy people or even networking with other entrepreneurs in Amsterdam. I really do.
My cave-woman brain keeps begging me to play it safe and go back to “normal”. Every day, I feel scared, and I crave safety. At the same time, I know that safety crushes me.
How did I get to this point?
I have spent almost 30 years of my life expecting failure as an inevitable result of nearly everything I did. Did this approach serve me or anyone else? No matter how many shots I gave it, it did not. And so I decided to start using my strengths rather than overcoming my weaknesses, start doing what comes naturally to me and expecting success or learning instead of failure and disappointment.
I finally gave myself trust, for the first time in my life. And I made a promise that I will never stop trusting myself, no matter what happens. And you know what? I did disappoint myself a couple of times. But instead of punishment or self-pity, I have offered myself learning. And I have learned a lot – for free.
Perhaps you keep telling yourself that you will start pursuing your dreams when you build more stability. Do you remember the time in your life – maybe when you were a student – when you did not have much to lose? And so you did many risky, irresponsible, crazy things that made you feel so alive? And now, when you should feel freer to take risks because your safety net is already built – you feel paralyzed by a fear of losing it all?
I think the only actual difference between the people who think I’m brave or special and me is that I have embraced fear as a part of my everyday life. I live with fear, and our relationship constantly keeps shifting between intoxicating excitement and wanting to give up. There are paralyzing days but also the days when I feel like a carefree, open-minded student with all opportunities ahead of her, no matter what happens. I find it worth it. I show up every day, and I do my absolute best. And the results of my work show that trusting myself was the best choice I could have ever made.
There is no other story to tell. There is no difference between you and me. And there is no difference between those cool, Instagram people in the Bali yoga studio and me. It is all about the stories we tell ourselves.
The new version of my story is: There are many qualities in me that other people see, acknowledge and benefit from if I let them. I have the strength and skills to impact other people’s lives in a significant way. I don’t need to be liked by everyone, and I don’t need to have the capability to serve everyone. Not all people need to think I’m amazing. But I definitely have a lot to offer certain people, and it is my responsibility not to hide from this. I can see my impact, and I believe in what I see. I acknowledge myself. I am allowed to succeed and learn on the way.
What could YOUR new version of your story look like?