I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid”. Ariel, a mermaid, dreams of living a life on land and participating in a world that she only dreams of. Everything and everyone around her is saying she is meant to spend her life under the sea but there is something inside of her that dreams and yearns for more. It is this inner voice that makes Ariel sacrifice a lot (her family, her friends, all that she knows)for the possibility of her dreams coming true. She is provided no guarantee but she is wiling to give all that she has in order for the chance to achieve her dream. (SPOILER ALERT) In the end, her sacrifice was worth it because she is able to achieve what she desired even with all the obstacles put in her way.
This story speaks to me because so many of us, myself included, used to hear this inner voice that speaks of what could be but silenced it so many times that for some the voice now refuses to be heard or felt. We live lives where we are not happy because we are not living our true authentic self. We silence our inner voice which is the voice of our soul, the voice of who we truly are, and now wonder if this voice can ever be heard again. But where does that get us? In jobs we don’t like, in relationships where we don’t thrive, buying material things to fill the void we feel in our lives.
Why have we silenced this voice? Is it because we think we know what is best for us (head vs. heart)? Is it because we accept the world’s expectations for us as our own? Is it because we have forgotten what the voice sounded like and now don’t know how to hear it again? Is it because we grew up and believe that the inner voice we sometimes hear is the voice of our childhood dreams and realize that we are no longer that optimistic or have the same capacity as we once did to believe that anything is possible? I believe it is a mix of all of these things. We feel so much pressure from both outside and from within that it is easier to adapt to what is expected of us than create your own path. It is easier to go with the flow and not resist. It is easier to set low or no expectations for ourselves because then we cannot be disappointed. We rather accept easy achievement then face the possibility of failure. We rather accept what is given than demand and create what we want.
I too accepted what was given but then decided to create what I wanted. I no longer wanted to live a life meeting other people’s expectations of me. I wanted to set my own expectations of what I thought and knew was best for me. I worked in government contracting for a long time. I loved my job and the people that I worked with but I didn’t feel whole. I felt that there was a gap between the environment I was in and the environment I wanted to be in. I was very good at what I did and I made decent money doing it. But I keep feeling this inner pull to do something else. I wanted to do work that mattered in individual lives. I wanted to improve the lives of those I met and wanted to help people realize that they can be the change that the world needs. I also wanted to help organizations create environments employees deserve. I felt this pull for service but I didn’t know how to answer the call. It took some time to figure out how I wanted to make an impact and how I could have the most influence. After much internal and external searching I came upon coaching and leadership development. Coaching would allow me fulfill the desire to help individuals one on one and leadership development would allow me to help organizations create an environment where employees are valued. Once I realized what my calling was making the leap to putting idea into action was difficult. In making this leap I would lose my financial stability, I would lose the collaborative work environment and coworkers that I truly enjoyed and respected, and I would be starting from square one. Everything was telling me I should stay where I was. But inside, my inner voice was screaming to take the leap and face whatever adversity was about to come. Even with all of these negatives I still decided to move forward because the thought of not doing what I was being pulled to do was much more painful. I took the leap and now find myself happier than I have ever been. There is still uncertainty but I am completely dependent on myself. I believe in myself and my ability to create the world that I know exists out there. Through this experience I have gained more confidence, skills and abilities.
Living a life that is authentic to you is an independent journey. It is up to you to listen to your inner voice and hear what your true self is telling you. It is up to you to act on what your true self desires. It is up to you to find your tribe and make your home. It is up to you to create the life you want but do not see. It is up to you to create a life that both challenges and satisfies you. It is up to you to create a life where anything is possible.
For some this journey will be too difficult and instead of obtaining the life they so desire, they will play it safe and stay where they are. In their minds, unhappiness is if anything consistent. Why risk all that you have for something that may be? In my mind, not taking the risk is much scarier. I never want to live a life of regret and think about what could have been. I chose to live my life as a crazy yet fun roller coaster ride. It may have its ups and downs, but in the end, it was all worth it. How will you choose to live your life?