Not long ago, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I had made it through some difficult times and joined the military for 6 years. While I was in the military, I never had to worry about what to do with myself because I really didn't have much in the way of choice. I was assigned to live in a certain area, assigned to do a certain type of work, go to training at a certain time of year for a certain topic... I was even ordered to go to the doctor and dentist at specific times of the year. When I made the decision not to enlist for a second time, all of that went away. I went from almost no choices or autonomy to the exact opposite. I could do ANYTHING I wanted and I could go ANYWHERE I chose.
Having all of these options with nobody to tell me what to do or hold me accountable, aside from myself, was simultaneously freeing and overwhelming. I looked around me at everyone who seemed to have everything figured out and I wondered how they knew they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I was too shy to ask them and thought I would be asking one of those "stupid" questions everyone was always talking about. So I moved to South Korea to become an English teacher. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I still sometimes find myself missing those times, wishing they could have lasted forever.
The thing about being an English teacher in Korea is that it is pretty hard to find upward mobility and although it can be a stable gig for a while, there comes a time when teachers are let go because of their age, or the school shuts down because of incredibly fierce competition, or any other of the myriad reasons that teachers suddenly find themselves without a job, and then you're stuck. A lot of the time, there will be another school that will hire you, but not every time. And if you want to leave the country to go elsewhere, the requirements may be vastly different and you may be unqualified, or the visa process may be so lengthy that it takes too long to get there before the position is filled by someone else, and so you find yourself stuck again. So maybe you decide to go back to your home country and start a career there, but you're stuck again because the market for English teachers is so incredibly different than it is in places like Korea, so you've got to find something else to do. A lot of this is part of my story, and why I became... a real estate agent. (Thought I'd say wellness coach there, right?)
When I returned to the States I thought I would go right back into the career field I had left in the military, just as a contractor. That didn't quite work out as planned and I found myself, once again, stuck. So I figured I had to find something to do, anything, to bring money in to pay the bills while I waited for my plan A job to come through. I was willing to do what it took and applied all over the place even if I had no experience, like as an overnight shelf-stocker at Walmart. (They did not hire me.)
Real estate seemed like a dream job thanks to HGTV, so I spent some of my very small savings on the pre-licensing class and I found a brokerage that would pay for my startup fees to join all of the associations. That happened to turn out to be a good decision, but I didn't feel like I was doing what I wanted to be doing forever. Long story short, after I started up in the plan A job that I had been waiting for, I still didn't feel like I was doing what I wanted to be doing forever. I still felt stuck. I still wondered how anyone around me felt happy and fulfilled by what we were doing. As I grew closer to my coworkers and we spoke more openly with each other, I realized that I wasn't alone. Most of us felt stuck and most of us just figured we would suffer through the mandatory 20-30 years of working until we eventually hit retirement. I had been working on acquiring rental properties to supplement my income for years, but knew that I had a long way to go until it could serve as my sole source of income, and I figured I had no other choice but to continue to spend my time the traditional way, working a 40-hour work week office job.
I could go on a lot more about my ongoing journey toward financial independence (and perhaps that's a good topic for another day), but at one point I decided to continue pursuing another degree so I wouldn't waste the free money the GI Bill was giving to veterans. I didn't realize that once I enrolled in a Masters program in Health and Wellness Coaching, my life was going to be completely transformed.
Around that same time, I also started seeing a psychotherapist (and I still do) who has been instrumental in helping me work through the past. I noticed that our focus was almost exclusively on dealing with the past and I found that there was still a piece missing. Yes, we were "fixing" my problems slowly but surely, but what was going to happen when I was officially "fixed"? What did that even mean? What came after the absence of disease?
Wellness. That's what comes after. In fact, it comes before and during all of that, too. THAT is what transformed my life as I delved deeper and deeper into the world of health and wellness coaching. I learned to embrace life as it is, accept myself as the whole person that I am, approach the world from a place of non-judgment and explore my inner self to discover my values and passions, so that I can align myself with those values and passions for a fulfilled and satisfying life. I came to this point after years of exploration and with the support of many wellness coaches of my own along the way.
Having a sense of wellness is a feeling that I still struggle to find words to fully explain. Much of the weight is lifted from my shoulders, things are so much more peaceful, that "stuck" feeling is much less. I don't know if there is an end to this journey and I don't know that the answer to that is of any consequence. The present is where we are, and wherever we go is where we will be. Taking the time to embrace these moments is so transformational in itself and this is not something I truly learned until I began my own wellness journey with the support of my own coaches.
My life has changed because of things like mindfulness, being more intentional, and focusing on strengths that I didn't even know I had until my coaches helped me acknowledge them. The most beautiful thing about this whole process has been the fact that I already had it all within me, just like everyone else. My coaches didn't tell me what to do or advise me on anything at all, it all came from me.
My passion is wellness and I value playing a role in others' wellness transformations. That's why I became a wellness coach.