When I was little, I knew for absolute certain that I had a purpose in life and that I was here to make the world a better place. I didn’t know what this purpose looked like but if I did nothing else in my life, I had to find it.
That meant following my curiosity, excitement, intuition, ideas, and dreams toward all likely possibilities. Which usually meant I quietly did my own "weird" non-girly, tomboy thing. Which meant I quickly met people and situations that told me "you can't."
Here are a few favorites:
- My high school running coach told me I shouldn't try out for the college team because I wasn't good enough.
- The adult women in my extended family all followed the traditional route - got married, had kids, and didn't work outside the home.
- My mechanical engineering college class was far less than 10% female when I signed up and I was told the best I could do was be a “home engineer.”
Each time, I believed other people knew better than I did. I believed that I had to follow along or that I was the small, inconsequential, failure they said I was. I believed the coach and even though I loved running, I stopped just as I was setting out to find my way in the world and sorely needed that confidence and grounding. I got engaged to a wonderful guy even though that conventional life script felt like prison. I believed I'd fail as an engineer, and started struggling in school even though I knew I was smart.
I tried to do the expected until things came to an irrevocable, life-or-slow death decision point. In which case, I leapt for life and the unknown and found it wasn't that bad.
- After a few years off of increasing misery, I ran a mile, then some 5ks, 10ks, marathons, ultras, then finally a 100 miler, and have built an extraordinary running career that keeps getting better.
- I gave back the ring with no idea where I was headed, and have created an independent life I love and own my own business.
- I eked out my engineering degree, stumbled upon niches that were perfect for me, and received multiple promotions in a traditionally male career field most of my adult life.
Slowly, I learned that I was still responsible for what I believed. I got good at flowing around rocks like this in my stream entirely, but despaired I'd ever find my purpose. I accumulated tons of amazing experience and stories from ultrarunning but wasn’t making the world a better place. And most troublesome, I kept watching women, some of whom were dear to me, hold themselves back to a painful fraction of what they were capable of.
Out of nowhere, I hit a rock bottom (long term relationship breaking up as four of my five cats and dogs died of natural causes in quick succession). I tried everything imaginable to get out of that pit of despair until out of all remotely normal options, I signed up for a few sessions with a local life coach. When we finished, I had a sparkly new direction and enough momentum to breathe.
Somehow, I stumbled upon and consumed Martha Beck’s books, then noticed she taught life coaching. Nope, too crazy, woo-woo an idea for smart, practical people like me. But when the exact sum I needed to do it magically appeared a few days before the deadline, I took it as a flaming neon sign and leapt big.
To say life coaching changed my life is an amusing understatement. It helped me create a life I love, gave me that long-sought purpose, created a way to use all that ultrarunning wisdom for good, and gave the tools i needed to help lift others up. All in one.