I spent my younger years building a life around becoming a professional dancer only to have it come crashing down around me on the cusp of finding my big break; I found the break, just not the one I was expecting.
In the past 15 years, I’ve recreated myself three times in three different career fields.
My first career, I was a lifelong dancer. The only career I ever wanted was to be a professional dancer. I lived in the dance studio from the time I was three years old until I was twenty-three. I went to college and obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
However, I regularly burned the candle at both ends between school, multiple jobs, an audition schedule, and a performance schedule. I rarely slept, I rarely ate, and I was always business networking. We were taught that every connection could lead to a possible job. Looking back, we were told to work connections even if they did not align with us.
As an artist and an introvert, networking was the most exhausting and draining practice. I constantly pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and never gave myself any recovery time. For anyone who is an introvert, you know how important it is to have your recovery and recharge time. Since I made no space in my routine for that time, I hit the burnout zone fast and then kept pushing through.
By the time I was graduating college, I was burned out, exhausted, and over the idea of a dance career. I had no idea what else I would want to do for the rest of my life. I kept doing what I knew even though it made me miserable.
Since I wouldn’t stop, my body finally made me stop. It was the beginning of an audition when I heard a double pop in my right knee. As I finished the combination, I was having difficulty with my right quadriceps responding. Nevertheless, I continued on with the three-hour audition.
On the drive back from the audition, my knee had seized up and I was in pain. I later found out I had torn my meniscus. Many may think that is not a career-ending injury. You are correct, but it was the break I needed to end a toxic cycle that was no longer serving me. I was twenty-one when my life and everything I had worked for came crashing down around me. It was time to figure out; Who was I if I wasn’t a dancer?
I stepped back to completely re-assess my life. Not only that, but who I was and what I truly wanted for myself. During this time of reflection as well as recovery, I was honest about how I really felt when I thought of having a dance career and what I really wanted for my life. I made a list of the things I wanted which, at the time, were:
- One job
- Consistent income
- A home, a car, and to live outside of the city.
Essentially, I wanted to live the Corporate American dream. It was the stability I needed for that time in my life. I went back to school to become a paralegal and ended up specializing in Trust & Estate Law as a Trust & Estate Administration Paralegal. I got the house, the car, and lived outside of the city.
But, something was missing.
Living The Dream
By the time I was five and a half years into this career, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. Doing the same thing over and over with no change. My life was dictated by the alarm clock, the office schedule, and my hour commute Monday to Friday. Anything I wanted to do for myself was crammed into the weekend or smashed in between meetings and lunch times during the week.
I was, again, burned out and always tired.
I would have full-on conversations with my fiance, now husband, and not remember them the next day. There was nothing left for myself and my loved ones at the end of every week. I started to ask myself, was this really what I wanted for my life?
I went back to the drawing board to search for what was missing. I wanted freedom over my schedule, I wanted to build something that was mine, I wanted work-life balance, and I wanted to make the income I wanted without fighting for it in the boardroom.
One of the things I loved most about being a Trust & Estate Administration Paralegal was working with the clients. Technically, our clients were the deceased, but it was the Executor/Trustee family member we supported in their role. I loved being able to help support them and put their mind at ease along the way. Coaching started to call to me very loudly as I entered the final year of my corporate career.
At first, I was hesitant to leave the second career that I had worked so hard to break into. I would have thoughts about what my fiance would think, what my family would think, and so on. I, of course, doubted the financial stability. I had been working so hard in my current career that even though I had very little cash flow to show for all the hard work; the income was a constant I could count on. Any extra funds went into car maintenance, car payment, mortgage, and education debt. There was nothing set aside to begin my own practice.
Living My Dream
I made a plan to find another job in the coaching field to allow myself space to build my own practice. However, at the time, no one was interested in or doing remote-online coaching. I wanted to build an online coaching practice working from home while also working with an online coaching company. I felt it was absurd how much we spent on housing to rarely enjoy it between work, appointments, and extracurricular activities. My thoughts were always, why not meet people where they live.
I was no longer able to tolerate the commute and job, I left my corporate career to work at a local marina. I started to slowly build my practice. It was rough to start. I had to work to focus on my why when I was met with naysayers. As I held on to that dream in my mind, I took it day by day one step at a time; building my network, making connections, and learning where I could.
I worked on letting go of past and current fears to allow my network to flow toward me. As I let go of those fears piece by piece; my network slowly started to rebuild in the entrepreneurial world. This network became my support who also believed in my dream. I do not know where I would be without them to this day.
This journey to building my dream started in 2017. By 2020 I started working for an online coaching company. As I reflect on where I was in 2017 to where I am now:
- I have complete autonomy over my work schedule
- I work for an online coaching company in mid-level management supporting other coaches and their careers
- I have my own private practice supporting high-level career women looking to make similar changes to their life
- I get to create something entirely my own
- I make the money I want to make without fighting for it in the boardroom
- I have found my work-life balance.
Things still continue to grow and expand. The growth never stops and it becomes more fun each day.
If I had never taken the time to self-reflect on my own needs and desires I would not be where I am today. Self-reflection is a crucial first step to acknowledging ourselves and our desires; without it, we become lost in the daily grind feeling stuck.
The first step is also one of the hardest steps to take. Once you acknowledge what it is you’re looking for in your life; you can create a plan of smaller steps that help get you there. This process looks very different for everyone. We’re all different people with different desires. Each of our journeys uniquely reflects ourselves. No two stories are the same and they shouldn’t be. It’s what makes us and life interesting.
I would like you to find some quiet time to self-reflect on what it is you are truly desiring in your life, without limitation, and consider one small step that will help re-direct your path towards that desire.