In 2008, I was 3/4 of the way through a Masters Program to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. I had done really well in my coursework, was receiving rave reviews from my supervisors at the training clinic where I was working with my first handful of clients, and I was absolutely miserable.
The work was very heavy and I didn’t have much of a support network at that time in my life. I also didn’t know how to manage my own stress very well yet, so I stuffed it, and was suffering with terrible anxiety, insomnia, and a loss of appetite. Essentially, I was a total wreck.
I knew I wanted out, but I felt trapped. I had invested a lot of money and 2 years of my life in my graduate program and was horrified at the idea of quitting without even getting my degree. Even worse, I had no Plan B, so leaving my program felt like the equivalent of drawing a giant question mark on my entire life and as someone who likes (read: really strongly prefers to have) a plan, that was terrifying.
Most of the people in my life told me to hang in there, to tough it out, and reminded me that I had only had 6 months left of practicum to complete my degree. But that 6 months seemed like an eternity and my body was begging me to listen to what it was saying. So, I did the unthinkable. I dropped out of my program to search for a work life that felt right.
I had no idea where to begin, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find the path that was right for me when my vision was so clouded with fear, stress, and the pressure of should.
I decided that it was time to get back to basics and to re-connect with the things that brought me joy as a child, so I took a series of jobs that allowed me to explore things that I had always loved: baking, connecting with others, writing, and learning about wellness.
Over time, I began to see the threads that connected all of my various passions and I got really clear about what I wanted to bring into the world. Eventually, I realized that it was time for me to take another huge leap of faith, and I started my own business offering content development and brand consulting to wellness-oriented business. Only a handful of years later, I’m very excited to be launching a second branch of my business, in which I will offer holistic health and wellness consultations for individuals and organizations seeking to create practices that support lasting health and happiness.
While my work life isn’t always easy or 100% stress-free, I can say from the bottom of my heart that I absolutely love what I do and that it’s a deeply authentic expression of my values and gifts.
I also know that I would most likely have never found this path had I not taken one of the biggest risks of my life. Listening to and believing in your own inner wisdom takes dedication, courage, and some serious grit, particularly if the people around you are telling you not to, but I truly believe that our desires are a form of intuition about what we are meant to be and do in this life.
If you feel that you might be meant for something more than what you are doing right now, or simply something else, take some time to be still, listen to what your heart has to say, and begin to search for ways of fulfilling its requests.
Maybe that will mean something as dramatic as leaving your current job and changing professions, but it could also be a much smaller step, like signing up for that class you’ve been secretly wanting to take or setting aside more time to work on passion projects and hobbies. You truly never know where following your bliss might lead you, but there is one thing that I know to be true. We make the most powerful and positive impacts when we do things that light us up and fill us with joy, and that is something that our world needs much, much more of. So we not only owe it to ourselves to do the things that make us want to jump out of bed in the morning, we owe it to our family, friends, and communities as well.
Photos by Karen Marie Co.