Do You Feel Stuck in a Life That Wasn’t Designed by You?

I did! I felt like I existed in a cocoon, and not the healthy, nurturing kind. I had been alcohol-free for a long time, and by comparison, some would say I had a pretty great life. I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t fulfilled either. It felt as though I lacked purpose and wasn’t living up to my potential. I was living more by default than design. Desperately wanting to change it all up, fear kept me stuck for a long time. What if I failed miserably and had to go back to what I was doing? What if no one took me seriously? What if I really wasn’t good enough? What if I screwed everything up the way I had in the past? These, along with hundreds of other questions, kept me firmly planted in my comfort zone—a zone where life was predictable, safe, and admittedly, kind of small. What would it take for the butterfly to emerge?

Approaching 50, the voice of discontent reached a volume that could no longer be ignored. I left a toxic relationship, went back to school to pursue a new career, and left my secure 9-5 job. These radical changes were fueled by smaller changes.

I began investing in myself and took the time to really listen to what I wanted. Drowning out the noise of familial and societal expectations was no easy task. Whenever I dreamt big, a million reasons why I shouldn’t flooded my thoughts. To overcome this, I had to learn to distinguish my own voice from theirs. I sought help from those who seemed to be thriving in this type of rebellion. I started caring for myself as if I were someone I loved deeply. The result was falling in love with myself, and self-care no longer required effort. I strengthened my level of faith and trust in myself by making and keeping promises and commitments, even the little ones that you say in your head and no one will know if you don’t keep them. You will know, and you matter more than anyone else. Every time you break a promise to yourself, you chip away at your self-esteem. Also, be mindful of your self-talk—it truly matters.

Building and nurturing this relationship with myself changed my self-concept. I began seeing myself as someone capable and enough. I no longer needed approval from others to pursue what made me happy. I became someone willing to take risks and handle the fallout if it didn’t work out. Failure became a source of information, not a life sentence.

Instead of fixating on the goal and comparing myself to the person I hadn’t become yet, I started looking back at my life and recognizing how far I’d come. I remembered that I can do the really hard shit. Shifting my focus from what I hadn’t yet done to what I’d already accomplished changed the game for me. It allowed me to put future goals into context, seeing them as something achievable rather than beyond my capabilities.

Today, I live a very unconventional life. It wouldn’t work for a lot of people, but it works for me. I travel the world with everything I own—all of it fits into one suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a small backpack. It’s simple, purposeful, and fulfilling. I’m living in a dream that was entirely designed by me, for me.