The pay-off

I am brimming with feeling as I write this. When I started this little blog back in November 2016, I had just started doing the work on myself. I got a quiet intuitive hit in August 2016 that things could be better and that I had the power to figure that out.

I put down a deposit for a coaching certification program in December 2016. I had no idea what would come of it, but my heart told me it was the right decision. I had a loose vision of the kind of position in higher ed. it might lead to, a loose vision of the kind of relationship with students I wanted to build for myself outside of teaching.

For all of 2017, I did the program and I took care of my responsibilities as a PhD student and teacher and read for comps and read dozens of personal development books and listened to hundreds of personal development podcasts. I journaled. I networked. I told everyone who would listen what I was doing and what I wanted.

A little bit every day. Finding emotional alignment before action. Acting from my values and my soul’s purpose. Learning to love myself. Learning to say no. Learning to stop caring what others think. Learning to drop the naysayers and cling tightly to the encouragers and the cheerleaders. Trusting the process.

In 2018, I started acting on what I’d learned. A little bit every day.

I wish I could say that it was a “hard road.” Those words are legible to more people. Yeah, it was so hard. A hard-fought battle. A tough climb. Grinding it out. Hustling. I worked my butt off.

And sure, it was a lot of stuff. But it didn’t feel hard. It didn’t feel like work. Some days, I felt unsure. Some days, I felt impatient. I wondered where it was all leading. But I leaned into my feelings. I worked through them. I embraced uncertainty and developed patience. And I kept going. It didn’t feel like work because I was acting from internal alignment. Because I knew I was on the right path. Everything just flowed. I watched for the signs. I read my emotions as data. And I kept networking.

And you know what else? I rested. A lot. I sat quietly. I daydreamed. I took naps. I said no to so many things. I contemplated in silence what it might mean to release a vision I created for myself when I was 19 that wasn’t in line with who I was becoming.

In September 2018, a job description showed up in my inbox, thanks to a dear friend and colleague who knew what I wanted. It was at a foundation that I had been dreaming of working at since March 2017 when I first started my coach training. And the job description was me, exactly. The work I have been wanting to do. At a place I could hardly allow myself to hope I would end up someday.

I took a day to ponder writing a dissertation while working full-time. My heart gave a full yes. I spent a weekend editing my CV and drafting and re-drafting a cover letter. I sent them the day before my 33rd birthday. On my birthday, they asked me to come in for an interview. The next day, I spent two hours talking to three different people. The day after that, my boyfriend and I drove until 2am to Florida for my beloved grandmother’s funeral. During the drive, they emailed, asking me to come back the following week for a four-hour interview: a demo, a presentation, and four 30-minute interviews with sets of three people. The whole staff.

I had a heartwarming weekend with my family, and then came back and spent a day preparing. I went in, did the four hours, then began waiting. I felt really good about it. Even as an introvert, I wasn’t tired out by it. It was because I loved the people I talked to. It was also exactly the role with students I wanted: coaching, non-evaluative, long-term. The foundation is values-based and mission-driven. It seemed too good to be true. All the things on my list.

Two days later, they offered me the job.

I accepted.

I still feel like I’m living in a dream.

I have no illusions about how challenging it’s going to be to write a dissertation part-time. I won’t deny that the two-year process of shedding an identity I thought I would have forever hasn’t been weird and emotional. But I trusted my inner knowing on this one. And then it was a conversation with my sister that pulled out the final brick of the old me and the things she thought she should want. I was free.

Never underestimate the power of taking small steps every day. There’s no such thing as overnight success. There’s only culmination. Not all progress is visible on the outside.

Never doubt the power of investing in yourself. Time, energy, money, whatever it is.

Never tell yourself that it’s too late. That is a story I used to make up to keep myself safe and small.

I didn’t do this alone, but I first had to believe I could do it. I also had to believe I was worth it. I had to learn to act even when I was afraid. I had to learn that we’re all afraid. The magic happens when we take off our armor and show up anyway.

I just landed my dream job.

Two years before I thought I might start trying.

I can’t even imagine where it’s going to go from here. When I look back at the previous entry, I was so, so joyful and I didn’t even know this job existed. That is a big part of it. You’ve got to love the process. You’ve got to be grateful for what you have and celebrate your small wins every day. You’ve got to trust that the universe has your back and wants to meet you halfway. You’ve got to have faith that with every step you take in the dark, the next step will reveal itself. But only if you act. You can’t just think.

And when I look back at the very first entry of this blog–tentative but hopeful–I feel nothing but warmth toward that younger version of me who stepped off a ledge and trusted the landing would be soft because she would grow wings on the way down (I can’t resist a cheesy metaphor–I’m not even sorry!).

I’ll do it again and again for the rest of my life.

Start today. A little bit every day. See where you are in a year. In two. I bet you blow your own mind. I want everyone to live the life of their dreams. I don’t know if this one life is all we get. But just in case. What are you waiting for? What is the teensiest, tiniest thing you can do today to move in the direction of your heart?

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