Growing up in a small town in Poland, I was always aware that I was different. That I didn’t belong. I struggled to find my place and to feel accepted, and this story followed me into adulthood and my life in the corporate world.
Although I was ambitious and hard working, I never felt like I could bring my whole self to my work in the financial industry. I felt as though key aspects of my identity – being gay and an immigrant – were somehow limiting my life and needed to be hidden.
My identity really came into question when I discovered the unknown history of my family and my heritage. I began to unpick everything I thought I had known about myself, an undoing. I had to accept that even though I may never have all of the answers as to who I am and where I’ve come from, perhaps the process was just as important as the destination.
My professional identity came into question next when I accepted a new role in a new country, and soon realised that it just wasn’t me and I experienced burnout as a result.
So here I was, new country, no job, nothing to lose.
I had always struggled to ask for help in my life, but when I found myself in this place I realised that’s exactly what I had to do. Thankfully I learned that there are a lot of people willing and able to help if we only ask.
I was in recovery for a full year and during that time I began seeing a coach. I was able to clarify what I truly value in life – freedom, and being able to help others in a way that is meaningful. I knew then that I couldn’t return to the corporate world.
I knew that I wanted to become a coach – a role I would be able to bring my whole self to – both my professional and life experience. But as an introvert who was no good at selling, starting my own business felt daunting. At the same time I had the realisation that we only have one life and I wanted to live mine without regrets.
This became my driving philosophy and led me to quit the corporate ladder and finally come out to my parents, aged 40.
The day after I had that conversation with my parents my mum was diagnosed with cancer. I really felt then how important it is to do the things we feel called to do, to lean into our own vulnerability, to say the things we’re afraid of saying, and to really live each day without regrets.
I discovered and downloaded an app on my phone that is rooted in the Bhutan philosophy that in order to live a happy life we must contemplate death five times a day.
This perspective is one I bring now to my coaching clients to empower them to reevaluate what truly matters to them and find the courage to move towards it.
So this is my story. I am curious to hear yours.