For the last five or six years, I’ve identified myself as someone who doesn’t know what she wants. I could see all the things I didn’t like about my life, all the things I didn’t want.
But the minute it was time to turn it around and start defining what I do like and do want? Instant static. Fog. I felt as though it was an unanswerable question, as though I had never wanted anything, ever, in my entire life.
A realization.It’s bullshit, and it’s been bullshit for years. And I mean that in the kindest, most compassionate way possible.
What did I get out of identifying myself this way?
- The safety and false comfort of the status quo.
- There was no pressure to move forward and act, because I simply didn’t know what to do.
- And there was no risk of having to renege on a path or admit defeat at some point in the future.
On the flipside, what did I sacrifice?
- The satisfaction of knowing I had followed my dream. (The possibility that the dream would turn out to be not-my-dream is irrelevant.)
- The adventure of learning that comes only by venturing into uncharted waters.
- Precious years of my life, just waiting. Waiting for the answers to come to me when the only way they would come is to Do. The. Thing.
So why did I buy into this lie?Why do I still slip back into this pattern of inaction due to (apparent) lack of desire and direction? Well, I’m sure there’s lots of reasons, but here’s a biggie:
I’ve been embarrassed.
Embarrassed to say it out loud. Ashamed to talk about it.
“It?” you ask. What is it?
*taking a deep breath*
Coaching. I want to be a coach. There I said it.
And until a few days ago, the irony was lost on me.
Here I am, dreaming to be a coach who can empower people to feel good about being themselves, feel GOOD about going after whatever it is that makes their heart sing. Yet I’ve beenÂ embarrassed to flat-outÂ tell people that’s what I want to do.
Sure, sometimesÂ my coachingÂ comes up in conversation, and I’ll concede that I enjoy the work and will probably do more of it “someday”. And then I usually go on about how “I’m just not sure it’s right for me, so I’m waiting until I find some clarity about what I really want.”
But not too long ago I realized that’s just a story I tell myself to calm the ache I feel when I’m aware that I’m not yet doing the thing I’m meant to do.
I mean, how can I truly help people do the thing they want to do, the thing they might even be afraid to want, if I’m afraid to tell the world about wanting to be a coach?
(In my own defense, part of my embarrassment comes from the extreme cheesiness that can be found in the world of personal development. I really don’t want to be one of those cheeseballs.)Even as I type this post, there is a part of me that’sÂ screaming inside. Wailing and stomping her feet to get me to stop typing. To just maintain the status quo and keep my damn mouth shut.
Just now, she said, “Nobody’s going to take you seriously if you publish this post. You’re too broken to help anybody.”
And I’m embarrassed for being embarrassed. If anyone else told me they wanted to do the very thing that I am wanting to do, I would cheer them on, and I would also be envious that they were going to make it happen. I would whine and wonder why they can do it but I can’t.
I wouldn’t think that they should be embarrassed or feel the need to apologize. Somehow that rule only applies to me.The contradictionÂ made it that much harder to talk about my dream, and to get help to move past the shame-factor.
I could try to analyze the reasons that contributed to me feeling shame around my heart’s desires, but I think there’s only limited benefit in unwinding all of them.
What matters is that I see the irony now. I see that it’s important for me to move beyond this and model the outcome I would want forÂ the people I work with.
Is this still terrifying? Hell, yeah.
Do you know how long I’ve been obsessing over this post and questioning if I really want to tell the whole world about all of this? (Well, not that the whole world is reading. But they could. If they wanted.)
And then there’s my tendency to go into self-flagellation mode when I realize how much time I’ve “wasted”. And how ridiculous it is that I feel this way. Blah blah blah.
Yes, the patterns are still there. And probably will be for a long time, if not forever. (It doesn’t matter, anyway, because even if these patterns go away, there will just be new ones to work with. Ask Havi.)
But really this is a giant gift. Because now I know what it’s like to want something really badly, but to be afraid to say it out loud to anyone.