When we moved to Providence four years ago, I was nervous to tell the people I met what I did. What would happen if I told them I was a coach and the author of a book on reducing your stress, and they saw me losing my patience with my kids at the playground?
Wouldn’t they think I was a sham?!
This was seriously a very big concern for me. I, like so many other people, felt I had to be above reproach in order to do what I wanted to do. I had to be perfect.
No pressure there, right?
Here’s the thing. If I didn’t know what it was like to be standing on the sidewalk outside school with a meeting on the other side of town in 15 minutes and a child who was running in the opposite direction while all the other kids and parents streamed peacefully toward the door, how could I possibly know enough about stress, guilt and shame to be truly helpful to someone else?
If I hadn’t gone through postpartum depression and continuous anxiety after my son was born, how could I really be present to someone else’s big emotions?
Your pain creates your strength. Your message is your message. (Click to Tweet!)
The catch is, you have to have made peace with those struggles. If you can’t tell your story with grace, your story will be telling you. You will keep hiding your gifts because the way in which you honed them was a little too messy or traumatic.
And what a shame that would be. Because then you would continue to feel like there were parts of yourself that you had to keep covered up. And the people who need to hear your message won’t get the benefit of your insight and experience.
You’ll also probably spend a lot of time and money on things like degrees and certifications in an effort to make yourself feel more accomplished. I mean, listen, I’m a lifelong learner. I have a master’s degree (that I’ve never once been asked about in a job interview, although I enjoyed the learning I did) and certifications (in yoga, coaching, and acupressure), all of which I value. But they are just a tiny drop of what makes me able to help people slow down, feel their feelings, and give themselves new meaningful experiences.
And the same goes for you. You’ve already got 98% of what you need to do what you want to do. Yes, even you! If you ever start doubting it, remember, your mess is your message. Look to what you’ve experienced as a big sign post toward what your greatest gifts are. I promise you, they are there.