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Cherish Your Challenges and Find Your Authentic Self

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

My quarter-life crisis kicked into high gear about six months ago.

Take this as evidence: I quit my job. I quit my apartment and moved back home. I quit booze and boys. I quit gluten and sugar. I quit friendships I’d imagined would last a lifetime.

I’m not asking for an A+ or gold stars for my “self” work. I wasn’t hit by a spark of spiritual lightening and magically committed to this transformation. In a lot of ways, the Universe didn’t give me much of a choice.

There were cysts, and scans, and rashes, and allergic reactions, which ignited a powerful underlying anxiety about the fact that I hadn’t been “healthy” since I could remember.

This anxiety festered and danced into relationships with my roommates, ex-boyfriends, siblings, co-workers, and, most importantly, myself.

It was the perfect mix of elements, a storm front hitting just the right pocket of pressure. And boom—a hurricane showed up.

I stood in the middle, watching as the winds of change tore through my life, uplifting anything that wasn’t serving my purpose, my passion, my inner peace or my health.

This ripping and tearing of people, places, and things that I’d brought into my life—assuming they might help me grow into a happier, stronger version of myself—was at first paralyzing, upsetting, and infuriating.

I was tempted time and time again to numb out, to play the familiar role of the victim. After all, I had more than my fair share of material to work with, courtesy of the endless doctor’s appointments, unrelenting stomach aches, and my never-ending anxiety.

Instead, I decided to bow my head, nod, and accept that the Universe had sent a storm to help me clean up my act and fall in love with my best self. I surrendered and allowed those gusts to take with them all the other versions of Kate I’d built for everyone else.

I started to hang out with myself—to accept being alone as my assignment. I shut my cell phone off. I allowed myself to RSVP to parties with polite nos.

My new rule became: “If it doesn’t feel good for you, don’t do it.”

I spent a lot of time asking and re-asking myself the question, “What’s one thing you would really like to do today?” I learned my immediate responses often reflected where friends and family members wanted me to be, not necessarily where I felt revved up, plugged in, and powerful.

I realized old habits didn’t feel very authentic.

I stopped spending my weekends shopping for “things” to fill me up, buzzed on vodka at clubs, or gossiping with my girlfriends. I was pulled in different directions—like the yoga mat, meditation class, and organic farm stands.

There are days when I find it awkward and uncomfortable to be re-learning myself. There are days when I slip back into being a victim, but now, I always pull myself out.

Because looking back, I know that without all the cysts, hives, hospital stays, Epi-pens, anxiety, and heartache, I might never have come to this place. I might never have taken the time to get to know myself better.

The word challenge leaves a very different taste in my mouth nowadays. It feels like a dare, more playful and less painful. An excuse to meet a part of me I haven’t yet had the chance to bump into.

Here are three tools I use on a daily basis to keep getting to know myself amidst (and sometimes because of) my challenges:

1. Do one small thing to make today better than yesterday.

Allow yourself to settle into the idea of small little shifts that add up to a more peaceful, centered you. Say a prayer for someone you know who is hurting. Put yourself to bed early. Pack yourself a healthy lunch.

I am always amazed at how one little thing can have such a drastic impact on my mood. You reclaim a piece of your day, even if it’s just a small one.

2. Begin to embrace your own brand of happy. Don’t ask it to look exactly like “everyone else’s.”

Be open to the hobbies, places, and people who make you jazzed about your future, regardless of what others may think about them. You were given specific skills in order to shine. Cultivate them in small and big ways.

If your current friends aren’t interested in your new passions, ask the Universe to guide you to others who might be.

3. You’re holding the remote; go ahead and press the pause button when needed.

Make an effort to turn inward and reset your frequency if you feel like things are getting funky. Whether you take a two-minute walk outside, meditate before you go to bed at night, or simply pause in the doorway before you zoom into “go, go, go” mode, you create a split-second opportunity to be present and show up for a day full of possibility and miracles.

Photo by exoscull

Avatar of Kate Lamie

About Kate Lamie

Katie Lamie is a writer, social media enthusiast, soon-to-be yoga teacher and one of Gabby Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie girls. Visit her blog, A Little Yoga, and follow her on Twitter Katyz15.

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  • RJ

    Blimey… it’s as if you were ghost writing this artcile on my behalf!
    The universe conspired to give me this ‘stop in you tracks’ moment almost 4 years ago to the day and ever since I have gone through the process of embracing challenges rather than pushing them away and stand before you today as a man much more in tune with my authentic self than I could ever possibly have imagined.
    I said no to drink, to friends that didn’t allow the true me to shine, girlfriends that inhibited me… and now my job (director of my own company)!
    I’ve since embraced meditation, more me time, the opportunity to say no more often, more play time, singing, dancing and friendships with people who light up my life.
    Life is not perfect, but I do now believe that every challenge I have ever encountered has been a blessing in disguise…
    RJ

  • Joseph Webb

    Thank you!

  • Souzahne

    …just wondering..You moved home? Easy to quit your job then, isn’t it? And all the rest. But what about those people who can’t “lean” on someone else? Or perhaps who have kids?
    I bless those people who have no back ups and can Still go through conscience changes. But I’m glad you still went through to get what you needed.

  • thisisme

    Im a bit in the same situation…thank you for sharing. its good to know that there are other people who are making these hard decisions…

  • Anonymous

    *long hug*

    I’ve walked that journey, anxiety and all. I deeply admire you for having weathered that storm so consciously and coming out with your hands full of gems of wisdom. :)

  • Ed

    Great article! In the midst of my own quarter life crisis and discovering, this was uplifting and inspiring to read. Please contribute more!

  • Katyz15

    Thanks very much Ed! My “crisis” ended up being the catalyst for so much positive change in my life. I hope yours is too! I’m very grateful for the kind feedback and the nudge to write more.

  • Kate Lamie

    RJ, thank you for such a lovely comment about my article. It is so wonderful to have Tiny Buddha bring so many “like” souls together. You sound like you really rose to the occasion with your “stop in your tracks” moment, and reading your words inspires me to continue to do the same!

  • Kate Lamie

    *long hug* right back atcha!

    I feel so strongly connected to folks who have walked the anxiety path. It is sometimes so exhausting to keep fighting your own self, your own mind and your own head games. I’m not quite sure how it will all work out, but I’d like to start teaching yoga to kids and teenagers with anxiety and PTSD. Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate them!

  • http://twitter.com/Surinat ★ s u r i n a.

    I really like this, “There are days when I find it awkward and uncomfortable to be
    re-learning myself. There are days when I slip back into being a victim,
    but now, I always pull myself out.” I feel like i am always re-learning myself as well and it frustrates me when I find myself doing this because I feel like I should know myself! But in reality, we are always changing and relearning ourselves, right?

  • Kate Lamie

    Thanks very much for your comment Souzahne. You bring up a very important point that I didn’t really make clear in the article. I waited to quit that job until I found one where I knew I could be happier. Regardless, there are folks who have mortgages, and children, parents in nursing homes and a variety of responsibilities that have to color their decisions. My situation was certainly different than theirs. But I do believe the Universe conspires to help us realize our full potential =)

  • Katyz15

    You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment Joseph!

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow, working with kids and teens so that anxiety management can be fostered through non-external means (ie: no alcohol, no drugs, no boddily harm etc.), is going to be magical! Do it!

    You don’t have to worry about the hows. Just stay centered and expect the miraculous. :)

  • Amar

    Beautiful truths,spoken from the heart, listened with mine.aum

  • JWM

    Lovely lovely lovely, just like you – wonderful words, Klammie!

  • 2cheekymonkey

    This really resonated with me. A similar thing has happened following a recent bout of depression. I have suffered from depression for longer than I care to imagine but I’ve never sought help, or even admitted it. Earlier this year, my GP diagnosed me with depression and it really shook my confidence. Anxiety set in. I suddenly didn’t know who I was. As time passed, and as counselling progressed, I realised that I was spending far too much time being what others wanted me to be. Slowly, but surely, I am re-discovering ME. Friendships have ended, new hobbies have emerged, things I used to love leave me cold and things I used to dislike are suddenly appealing to me. I am having a lot of fun finding out about the real me…and putting myself, and my needs, first. Thank you for sharing this and giving hope to us all.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kate. I really liked your piece. I have initiated much change since a crisis in my life about a year and a half ago, all of which has been positive. However, I still find myself basing my happiness on that of others, and at time getting bogged down with other negativity that comes and goes with the natural stresses of life. Where I used to use depend on substance, I look for alternative methods now. I consciously attempt #3 every so often with mixed results.  I’m thinking I’m maybe going about it wrong. And so my question for you, is when you get in a funk that is a little more difficult to shrug off, what approach would you use or suggest? Thank you. 

  • http://www.chibijeebs.com Chibi Jeebs

    “Do one small thing to make today better than yesterday.”Oh, wow. So simple, yet so powerful. Love this article!

  • Michelle

    This is an AMAZING story. It runs so parallel with what I have experienced myself the last two years. THANK YOU SO MUCH! for sharing. You helped give me a better perspective on where I am now and what I need to continue to do for myself and my own happiness :)

  • Katyz15

    Thank you so much Amar. I am glad you enjoyed my article. 

  • Katyz15

    Thanks so much for commenting Surina. It is funny isn’t it? Every time I think I have myself all figured out, I change again! I try to remind myself that growing and changing lends itself to more opportunities and staying “static” wouldn’t feel very rewarding.

  • Katyz15

    Hey Chibi, I’m so glad you enjoyed my article. Thanks for the comment!

  • Katyz15

    Thanks so much for your comment and question. I have learned that when I get stuck in something real negative I tend to run away from experiencing those emotions. I have found teachers that resonate with me (yours may be different) – so I will usually play a meditation or podcast from Gabrielle Bernstein, Marianne Williamson or Wayne Dyer. You can buy them all on iTunes. When I allow myself to feel the feeling, to actually say out loud, I am afraid of XX. It sort of tends to dissipate after that. I have learned a great deal about energy medicine (not sure if you would go for that), but Donna Eden’s book is fantastic for grounding yourself, protecting yourself and getting yourself re-balanced. That allows me to be around people who are angry, upset, needy, whiny, rushed, unhappy ETC, without picking up any of their stuff. Instead, I just stay centered in me. Also, going out in nature allows you to naturally cleanse and clear the bad vibes. 

    When I’m upset I often end up talking to myself. Why are you feeling like this all of the sudden? Where did this come from? Very often I just need to forgive myself.

    I hope that helps!!

  • Katyz15

    JWM, you da best. Thanks for being you!!! 

  • Katyz15

    Thank you for sharing so much in your comment. Seems like you have done a lot of the hard work! It also sounds like you have made many brave choices, and I’m sure that you are inspiring others around you (without evening knowing it!). 

    A few months ago one of my mentors said to me, “you’ve done a lot of work to get here. make sure to enjoy it.” Kudos to you for all the steps you’ve taken. 

  • http://liveohana.blogspot.com OhanaMama

    Katie, this is fantastic. “Begin to embrace your own brand of happy.” That’s probably the most important thing for all of us. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy

    Wow you have no idea how timely this is for me. These past few weeks I’ve been experiencing panic attacks and high levels of anxiety which is a totally new experience for me. Little by little I am coming to realize all the things I have been clinging to instead of allowing them to fall away which has caused a load of stress in my body as well. My 8 year relationship ended, I have to find a place to live and a new job and I’m in a city 3,000 miles away from my family. Everything is so overwhelming I have to keep reminding myself to take one small step at a time. Then I hope a lot of these physical symptoms that popped up seemingly out of nowhere will simply fall away as well. Anyway, thank you for sharing and for the reminder to that it’s ok to be me.

  • http://facebook.com/expressivista Jennah Ferrer-Foronda

    “create a split-second opportunity to be present” – ahh, to take in 3 breaths that you are the miracle, abundance… & breathe out fear, perceived limitations… You hit the nail on the head with “reset your frequency,” Kate. Your openness with sharing your story, your voice, your insights & tools of wisdom struck a chord. Thank you, I loved this. I agree with the previous comment: “please contribute more!!”

  • Louise Aylmer

    Thanks for a great article Kate – enjoyed it and could related very well.  I had a very similar development in my life and became very ill because of serious stressors in my life.  I had to wake up to how important I was to myself and put myself first before others.  I had spent all my life thus far putting others needs in front of mine and all it got me was seriously anxious, depressed and broken.
    These days I do not compromise on what is 1st – me.  At all times I make sure I am doing what is best for me – it is not selfish it is self care…and in this way you can be fulfilled enough to then love others in the way they deserve.  I am the best person at looking after my own needs.  Now that I have made radical changes to my life – I am so much more peaceful – I don’t worry much and I am not tired and depressed and sick all the time.  Meditation, affirmations, running, sleeping when I need it and lots of prayer have all helped tremendously and I feel very blessed to have weathered my own personal perfect storm.

    Thanks for highlighting your evolution Kate – it sounds very very like mine.  Glad we both made it!

    Hug to you,

    Lesa

  • Katyz15

    Thank you for your beautiful comment Lesa. It is quite an interesting journey because at first I did feel wildly selfish, and then, all of the sudden, you realize you’re not able to truly show up for others if you can’t first take of yourself. Congrats for digging deep and doing all the hard work to change your story. I’m so glad my piece resonated with you.

    Hug to you too!

  • Katyz15

    Jennah! Thank you for your beautiful comment and your angel wings. You inspire me so much!

  • Katyz15

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it Michelle. I feel lucky to have been able to share it here with so many kind, inspired readers. I am happier, calmer, and more peaceful today than I ever dared to dream of. Keep digging deep, listening to your heart and following your intuition. The rewards you will reap are mind-blowing!

  • Katyz15

    Thanks for your comment. There are certainly many people in the same position (you aren’t alone!!). Let me say from all of us collectively: Making the hard choices pays off down the road in unbelievable ways.

  • Brittany Nicole

    I have a strong feeling that I will be revisiting this post.  For a while now, I have been realizing that some parts of my life just feel like extra weight to me, and that although it has always been hard for me to let go, I can’t deny the always-present desire to “reclaim” my life and seriously make the effort to know my true self.  I think that part of what has made it difficult in the past is that I did not know where to turn once I began changing my situation, friends, and plans.  But Tiny Buddha has provided inspiration for me for some time now, and I am happy to say that your post really did put it into perspective for me that many people struggle with those things and there is a way to push through the fear and create the life I want.  Thank you for your story!

  • coco’s mom

    I really liked your dea to do one small thing everyday to care for yourself.  I took a walk with a friend today, that sure felt good.  I picked up a beautiful leaf.  I’d like to put myself to bed early tonight too.  You’re lucky to learn such important lessons at such a young age.
    A.A.

  • Anonymous

    “I hadn’t been “healthy” since I could remember”
     
    Glad I’m not the only one!  I was blessed with the ability to take a 3 month hiatus from work.  During that time, I put on more muscle and lowered my weight set point farther than I had in my life… through daily exercise.  I’ve been back to work for exactly a week now… and I’ve not only gained half of the weight back, “see” a significant drop in definition, but my head feels significantly cloudy and I’m exhausted all the time.  …in one week!
     
    It’s amazing how our insides manifest our outside health.  But, that revelation and experience solidified that I’ve got to move on.  Great article!

  • Introvert

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m saving it to look at on a daily basis.

  • Steven

    Great Article Katie! Good that you got away from all the superficialness and you’ve become the true you!

  • Guest

    I have two responses to this article.. 1) Agreeing to things “expected of me” (but not what I really wanted), is a source of problem in my life.  I realized most of my life up to now is the result of doing what was expected, rather than what I had wanted.  2)  My family came to visit me after I moved 2000 miles away.  I griped about every annoying thing they did.  Then I realized.. how many families would make that trek – at their expense – to visit someone?  So I threw out my expectations, and in turn enjoyed their company, thankful I still had them in my life.  Their visit may have not matched my visions, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Natalia

    Like others have said, I felt like this article was written for me!! I found this after one google search and came across something that said exactly everything I had been feeling and thinking. It feels great to know I’m not alone. 
    Thank you for sharing your crisis, so that we can learn from it, and not have to reach rock bottom first. I remember saying to a friend a year ago, “I don’t want my future to be on top of a bar stool”. Now those words have even more meaning and I am feeling more empowered to step away from the shallow life of parties I had been living. 
    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart <3

  • xiaoxiu11
  • Lizzie

    Looks like this was written a year ago, but I just came across it today.. and it couldn’t be more perfect timing. I also went and am going through similar winds of change.. thank you for the reminder to keep going on this adventure of falling in love with myself!

  • Janelle

    Thank you for this! I am in the midst of my quarter life crisis right now and really felt inspired by your post.

    My anxiety came into full force a couple of months ago and seemed to really, really focus on my relationship with my partner. This man has been my best friend since we were 13, lover for the past 6 years and someone I have never pictured my life without. Gradually, doubts and fears began to seep in which were foreign to me and, to be honest, terrifying. One day I stopped dead in my tracks, overcome by uncertainty and debilitating anxiety.

    As much as I wanted to run away, I’d consult my heart and find leaving the relationship wasn’t the next step I was supposed to take. I felt utterly confused by that. Everything I did felt heavy and weighted by my relationship anxiety. My anxiety was not lifting by staying, but if I’d make a move towards leaving, I’d experience more excruciating sadness than I have ever known. Finally I asked my heart what my next step is towards living a life through my authentic self if ending the relationship is not the answer. I received a beautiful message about how this is a time for self-love, self-care, self-prioritization and self-discipline, but a break up was not needed for this to happen. In fact, I knew that if I did end it, I’d be continuing down the path of living through my ego. A path that will always lead to more suffering.

    Now, I am commencing the journey of healthier eating, regular exercise, maintaining balanced living, accomplishing my tasks and goals I set out, a regular meditation practice, letting go of ego behaviours and desires, letting go of expectations/fears/doubts/judgement, focusing on giving love rather than receiving love and more.

    My anxiety was focused on my relationship I now realize because I did not acknowledge any of the other signs that something is wrong. Since my attention was far too focused on my relationship, it was the one sure thing that would wake me up. I am so glad it did too.

    I am still struggling with anxiety from time to time and of course doubts and fears, but I know I am on the right path now. With each step forward, I know it’ll lift more and more.

    Thank you for your tools, I will definitely incorporate them into my life on a daily basis as well :)