Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m a recovering people-pleaser and perfectionist.
I was the straight A student and top of the class, with color-coded notes in binders and a locker that was fantastically organized (with Backstreet Boys posters decorating the sides). I was in Spanish club, French club, dance team, the honor society, gymnastics, choir, and somehow still managed to squeeze in 8 hours of sleep each night.
I had dreams of attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, becoming a Child Life Specialist, getting married by 25, raising 2.5 kids and living happily ever after.
It was the story I had been told about what a perfect life looks like. I knew I could make it happen, if I stayed on the right track.
Say the right words, act the right way, wear the right clothes, meet the right people, and do the right thing. The “right thing”, of course, was whatever they wanted from me. And who was “they”? Whoever was in front of me at the moment.
“They” changed depending on the situation, the moment, and the costs at stake. And so I learned to become who they wanted me to be.
I lost sight of my own desires, my own dreams. I lost sight of who I was and who I wanted to become. I began living my life for other people.
After three years in a job that left me physically exhausted and emotionally drained, I realized that living your life for other people isn’t sustainable–and it’s almost impossible to do without burning out.
I knew I had to make a change, but I was terrified.
That’s the thing about other people’s expectations–it’s scary to let go. My whole identity was based on being who other people wanted me to be. It was built around making people happy, despite what I wanted.
Without that, I had no idea who I was. I was ready to begin pouring energy into my own dreams, but I didn’t even know what my dreams were.
After some serious self-reflection and soul-searching questions, I began to discover the things I truly love.
Things like deep conversations about hopes and dreams, visiting new places with an open heart, and reading books that leave me feeling inspired and alive.
Things like leaving the 9-5 world, starting my own business, setting my own hours, and choosing my own clients.
Things like going for a run early in the morning, drinking iced coffee on a warm summer day, staying in on Friday night, and eating cake for breakfast.
With a little practice, I began creating a life around these moments that made me feel good.
I began peeling back the layers and uncovering what I was holding on to just to make other people happy, and I learned to let that go.
I began listening to my intuition, honoring my feelings, and identifying my dreams.
Two years later, I’ve run three half-marathons, trained for a full marathon (which I’ll run on October 13th!), walked away from a toxic job, created Your Super Awesome Life, become a life coach, and created a life where I can travel and work from anywhere in the world.
It’s not the “perfect” life I was told to go after and it’s not what other people wanted for me. But it’s my perfect life because it’s made up of my goals, my big dreams, and ultimately, my happiness.
I know it’s difficult to let go of the need to make other people happy. It takes a lot of courage and honesty to figure out what kind of life you want to live, but I know it’s possible. And it’s what you deserve.
If you’re looking to live a life on your own terms, here are 3 questions to get you started:
1. What have you been telling yourself you want?
2. What do you actually want?
3. What needs to happen for you to let go of what you thought you wanted and turn what you actually want into your reality?
I know answering these questions isn’t always easy. There are so many emotions wrapped up in the answers because they’re part of our identity and our self-worth. So, if you want a little guidance figuring out how to get started, you’ll love Cake for Breakfast, my newest e-course which launches on Monday, October 7th. This program will help you figure out who you are, what you want, and how to make it happen. Everything I’ve learned about living life on my own terms is packed into this course, so that you can hone your own courageous clarity, abandon fears and doubts, and develop a purposeful plan of action. You can enter to win a free copy of Cake for Breakfast here.
[photo credit: beth19]