“You gain courage, strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Finding my passion made me fat.
Not fat in an “I have to wear a Homer Simpson Mumu” kind of way, but in an “I eat cookies and chocolate all the time and I’m not sure what happened to my muscle. Oh, and these pants, they don’t really fit anymore” kind of way.
I always was a stress-eater. Not early in my life, but as soon as I arrived, confused and distracted, into the world of corporate America.
I ended up being a consultant after merrily traveling the world and earning an international Masters Degree. But, tired of being poor and rained on (I lived in Belgium for awhile), I headed back to the East Coast and into an office. That’s when the stress eating started. And it stayed with me for years.
I managed, through a lack of grocery shopping and the occasional bad break-up, to control my weight despite a ready influx of cookies and cupcakes that always seemed to find me. But I thought to myself, “Okay, I’m eating like this because I’m unhappy and bored at work. As soon as I find my passion, I’ll be really svelte and trim. No worries.”
I spent years on the quest to figure it all out, dreaming about finding a career that required wearing a tiara and spending time at the pool, and complaining about how I’d be stuck in my day job forever.
Finally, I really did start to find my way. I thought about a few career fields that fit with my interest in helping people with their careers, and explored them. After attending a weekend on coaching, I was hooked. I knew career coaching in some form was my destination; I just had to get there.
So, I got certified as a coach.
I set up a website.
And, I finally quit my job.
And that’s when the stress eating really happened. Terrified about being without benefits, a steady paycheck, and a pretty fancy title for the first time in a long time, I panicked. Hard.
Cookies and ice cream and chocolate couldn’t do enough for me. They filled a void that I hadn’t even seen coming. And I ate. And ate. And then took naps because my blood sugar was out of control.
I was locked in a crazy cycle of eating, sleeping, and worrying—and I was terrified. I had found my passion after all, right? How could I be feeling worse than I did when I was consulting?
Every time I felt afraid, I ate.
And then I realized: every time I felt afraid…I ate.
I was literally eating my fear.
And that’s when I took myself out for a walk. Sitting and worrying and staying in my head was doing nothing for me. I had to try something else. Walking seemed as good an idea as any.
As I walked, I asked my heart this question: “Is this the right path for me?”
And then I kept walking, took deep breaths, focused inward on my heart, and listened.
As much as I was hoping for a “Yes! And here are three things to do right now to feel better,” what I got instead was a feeling of peace and certainty.
I was on the right path; I just had to put down the cookie and feel my fear instead of eating it.
I went back home and thought about all of the things I wanted to do with my life, even though they felt terrifying. Things like moving to a place on the ocean, traveling more, and only working with individuals and not companies.
I put together a list of everything I thought I should do, even though I felt weighed down by these ideas. Things like buying a home in my current location, working for anyone who would pay me, and traveling less and saving money.
Then I threw away that second list. I was determined to live life on my own terms, no matter how scary.
And I’ve never looked back.
So now it’s a few years later, and I did move from DC to San Francisco, I only work with cool people instead of big companies, and I’m kind of excited for my next trip… to Oregon. I know, nearby, but I’ve never been!
For me, the worst thing about finding my passion was the fear. The best thing about finding my passion was facing down my fears and embracing what I really want.
I still feel them, but they have less power over me now, and I don’t think I’d have the kind of success I do now without having taken a leap of faith and truly listened to my heart.
Struggling with fears around your passion? Here’s how to stop.
1. Get your body involved.
Go and do something that relaxes you and brings you some peace. Walking, yoga, crafts, fishing, sitting in the sun—do whatever you love to do. It’s time to get out of your head so you can hear what’s inside your heart.
2. As you do it, ask your heart: Is my passion the right path for me?
Take a few breaths, and focus inward. See what you feel in your heart.
3. Write it out.
Go home, and make a list of everything you want to do related to your passion, no matter how scary, and why it’s important to you. Now make a list of everything you think you should do instead. Throw the second list away.
4. Remember that feeling in your heart, and pick one thing on your list of wants.
Now plan how you will do it. You only need to take one step to start the journey, and with every step you take the less afraid you will be. You can do this!
Reach for the stars image via Shutterstock