When I was 12, I thought I would have been super successful by the time I was 40. Back then, I defined success by the material things you can see and touch. I envisioned myself with a nice power suit with large shoulder pads (please remember I grew up in the 80’s), single, working in a high rise building with a large window office, making lots and lots of money, and generally speaking, being the boss of life.
But my life turned out quite differently. Right before I turned 40, I realized that I didn’t own any power suit (maybe not a bad thing!) I was not single, but happily married with 3 kids. I worked really hard after college, but did not end up in a beautiful high rise corner window office or make obscene amounts of money. I worked in a modest office facing daily struggles with work, and generally trying to stay afloat balancing kids and career. I was not NOT successful, but I felt something was missing. I wasn’t the badass I thought I would be.
I didn’t want to turn 40 feeling this way. I decided to try everything I hadn’t because I was too busy or too embarrassed. After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,”I asked myself what I would do if I weren’t afraid. I wanted to explore my different interests, I wanted to expand! I started French, ballet pointe, scuba diving, Kpop dance and pole dance lessons. This may not seem like much for you young people, but for a 40 year-old woman to walk into classes filled with people half her age (and in much better physical shape), it was intimidating! It was especially hard for me to attend pole dance classes because not only does it require strength (I have very little as I never liked working out), it also requires you to bare some skin for safety as you need the friction to steady self on pole. And after 3 kids, I was not at all thrilled about having to show my flappy thighs, tummy, arms…basically my whole self.
I had to combat the little voice that says “Let’s just skip it! You don’t need this. You don’t need to know how to pole dance in life! You don’t have to embarrass yourself like this” every time before class.
What made me go through with it? I wanted to be my full self. I have learned that life already gives you a lot of limitations and I did not want to further limit myself. I thought, “what’s the worse that can happen? People laugh at you? You fail? And then what if you fail? Who has not failed at least a few times in their life? Doesn’t that make life more interesting? ” After attending a few classes, I found that even dancers with the perfect figure and great forms can be insecure about themselves. I learned that insecurity does not always correlate to what is “real,” it is a mindset that you have the power to overcome.
Out of all the classes I tried, I ended up sticking with pole dancing. It was the one that I feared the most, but it was also the one that was the most rewarding. After I overcame my insecurities and embraced growth mindset, I not only begun to improve in my skills, and also how I felt about myself. I judged my “imperfect” body less and started appreciating how strong I can be. To say feeling I had when I first accomplished a split upside down was ecstatic would be an understatement. I felt my power! I felt my strength! And I felt it coming from within!
Since then, I have made major changes in my career. I started my own coaching and consulting business at 47 when people thought it might be too old to start something new. But I wasn’t afraid anymore. I have also changed the way I define success and failures. I now see “failures” just as learning lessons, and I embrace them. I have also tried gliding, river trekking, canoying, and hopefully other fun stuff. I know I am successful now, because I don’t feel like something is missing. I know I am living my life to the fullest, and I feel the joy of life.