We had to begin at an ending and make a new beginning.– Anonymous
I can say without a doubt that 2019 was one of the most challenging years of my entire life and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the year that I had confront my feelings about my career, my divorce, my father, my own happiness (or really my lack thereof). So while most people were out living it up to ring in the new decade, I decided to skip the NYE festivities and do a bit of reflecting about the last 10 years of my life. What stood out most were the number of major life events that had taken place that significantly impacted my life and shaped much of who I had become. To give you some context on these events:
- 2010 – Got engaged
- 2011 – Laid off after 9 years at company I’d worked for since I graduated undergrad in 2002 (first real grown up job)
- 2012 – Got married
- 2014 – Graduated law school & failed the bar the first time I took it
- 2016 – Death of my father
- 2017 – Divorce finalized
- 2019 – Sold 1st home that I owned since 2005
While all these things will always be a part of my story, the feelings I had been harboring when it came to them no longer had a place in who I was becoming and wanted to be. Much like a snake that sheds its skin only to emerge stronger, larger and healthier than it was before, 2020 was the year to shed my own skin. The new decade symbolized an ending and letting go, a rejuvenation and new life where I could finally put the past 10 years behind me.
I was a very different person ten years ago. I was 28 and thought I had this thing called life all figured out. I was living in Dallas, Texas already 4 years into owning my own home, I drove a luxury car, was an Assistant Vice President at a very large national bank, in a budding romance and solid relationship that not long after would turn into a proposal and marriage, I was seriously considering going to law school (which you probably know by now actually happened if you saw my 20 Fun Facts), and life was good. As a matter of fact, by society’s standards, the only thing that was probably missing were a couple of kids and I would have been all set and pretty much accomplished a good portion of the American Dream.
I’m that girl who on the outside looking in, has always had her “shit together”, been “a boss”, and generally crushed anything I said I was going to do. I’ve spent my entire life being a notorious box checker, playing by all the rules, and following a very predictable path. Go to college. Check. Get a “good” job. Check. Buy first home. Check. Get married. Check……and the list can go on. In a way, I feel as though so much of my identity has been deeply connected to my accomplishments and mastery of a lot of things. And as I took time to reflect about the last ten years of my life, I came to a crashing realization that while I have spent a significant portion of my life working hard to master & reach a lot of important milestones, I never really stopped to ask myself an honest question: Why was I doing these all of these things? Were they truly what I really wanted? Or was it just a means of trying to validate myself and be accepted by others?
It’s a tough pill to swallow when you realize that all the things you’ve been killing yourself to accomplish in life haven’t made you any happier or more fulfilled at your core. Somehow, some way, I got lost trying to keep up with this identify that had taken on a life of its own. I’d spent the majority of my adult life making decisions from a place of fear – fear of failure, fear of being seen as weak, fear of disappointing others, fear of not being loved, fear of rejection, fear of not truly being enough.
And now here I am, 10 year later, living in New York (Brooklyn), divorced, unfulfilled in my career as a lawyer, several unsuccessful attempts later at trying to start and grow a business, and in the midst of what often times feels like an early onset case of a mid-life crisis. I would have never thought that at 38, I’d still be in the process of trying to figure this shit out.
So as 2019 was nearing its close, I made the decision that it was time to lean into and prioritize getting reacquainted with myself over everything else in my life. I knew I had to get back to Sandra first on a very deep and personal level before I could continue to focus on business goals, relationship goals or any other goals that I had in mind. I knew it was time to check back in with myself for some long overdue soul searching so I could finally figure out what truly makes me happy and what I wanted my life to look like going forward. But to do this successfully, I knew I had to make peace with the painful events and traumas I had experienced in the past ten years (and some even way before then), my failing the bar the first time I took it, the death of my father, my divorce, failed friendships and relationships, and even the sale of my first house. I knew I had to commit to unpacking their impacts on my life and how I viewed myself so I could move forward with creating the life I envision.
I committed 2020 and beyond to doing my inner healing work. I’m trading in hanging on to the past and fear-based living for wholehearted, intentional and purposeful living. In many ways it’s a relief – to finally own my truth and take responsibility for my happiness. As a matter of fact, the moment I decided to own my mess, I immediately became more confident in the fact that I can change and that life can be exponentially more joyful. But it’s a conscious choice I had to make that requires focus and a lot of effort which is why I have chosen to document my journey here on SandrasDiary.com.
I’m finally embracing the zig zag. I understand that life is not a straight path to all of my hopes and dreams and there certainly is no checklist to follow. I’m embracing the fear knowing that when it rears its head, I must not be afraid and just need to face it head on. My perspective has shifted as I embrace this new chapter. I am keeping a few things top of mind that I will quickly share because you may even find them helpful along your journey too. If I had to summarize my advice to myself that I plan to keep in mind along my journey of self-discovery and growth, it would look something like this:
- Own Your Vision: Own whatever vision you see for your life. Until you see and believe what you are capable of becoming, no one else will.
- Dream Big. Really Big: As the saying goes, if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough. To see what you’re capable of becoming, you have to do it without barriers, without limitations. Limiting beliefs will kill your dreams and aspirations faster than a speeding bullet.
- It’s Ok To Change Your Mind: They say the only thing in life that is constant is change. You may have started that degree and now you’re not interested, or in a career you completely hate and want to make the switch to try your hand at something new or maybe you want to start a business you’ve been dreaming of, or maybe you’re stuck in a relationship that brings you pain, but you’re afraid to leave. Just know that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) stay committed to something that no longer serves you. Every day is a new day to become the person you want to be and every day is not promised. Don’t waste time doing or being part of things you don’t want to. The only one who will be disappointed with your decision to stay put is you.
- Focus on Being Present To Do The Work & Not The Result: Be ok with where you are even if it’s not perfect or feels like a bit of a mess. Every phase is part of the process. Don’t get fixated on the end result of where you want to be. That will only leave you feeling extremely overwhelmed which just triggers more self-doubt, fear and anxiety. Instead, just relax and enjoy the journey. You’ll be surprised to see how the baby steps you take while doing the work needed will turn into giant leaps towards your destiny.
- Live Bold: Be intentional about doing things outside of your comfort zone and taking risks. You are deserving of everything you dream about and you can’t get any of it by playing small, caring about what other may think about you or waiting for permission. Trust your intuition enough to put yourself out there and watch what happens.
All in all, I am looking forward to standing my truth unapologetically and living my life more authentically than I ever have before in 2020 and beyond. Is there anything you are looking to begin, change or improve in your life in this next decade? Drop a comment and let me know.