"A donkey doesn't hit itself on the same stone twice." - Dutch proverb.
Well, clearly I am no donkey.
I managed to hit the same stone twice. It hurt, both times. But the second time I knew what to do about it. I turned away from the stone. That stone was the life path society told me to follow.
That career started at the age of 23, in a Belgium-based telecom operator. It was a very cool company for its size and I was happy with my job. During the first few years, I got promoted a couple of times and my young ego was proud. Then, even more ego-boosting, I was offered the opportunity to work at the European HQ in Amsterdam. Big title, big salary, big smile.
After just a couple of months in that HQ role I realized I disliked it. My material and egoic needs were fulfilled but I felt like I was making no impact at all, slaving away at fancy powerpoint slides all day. Still, I stayed. Mostly because of fear of the unknown and my inability to decide what I actually wanted to do. I often reprimanded myself; "what are you complaining about? You've got everything you could hope for." It was true, I was doing well on the path that society defines as the path to success.
I had the right job, the right relationship, the right lifestyle. But right for whom? Who ever decided on the definition of success, anyway?
Out of the blue, the worst thing happened. I got dumped by my boyfriend of 3 years. Over the phone. While I was solo-traveling. In Latin-America. It shook me to my core. In fact it shook me so hard, parts of me that I had long forgotten about started waking up, after years of being asleep. For the next 10 days, I spent my days walking around beautiful jungles, beaches and mountains without seeing a thing. I was looking within. At the time I didn't realize it, but I was learning how to do introspection. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I asked myself some difficult questions. "What makes me happy?", "What drains my energy?", "Why am I so terrified of change?" Long days on my own led me to answers. Real ones. I had to be honest with myself. I finally tuned in to my inner compass and found my north, my purpose. In the beginning I felt it had something to do with stories but could not put it to words. That came a lot later.
Back home I knew I needed to face my fear head-on. So I quit my job the day after I got home. And instead of finding a new flat in Amsterdam and starting up a new job-hunt I decided to go back to Belgium and follow my compass. I started writing again. It was difficult and amazing at the same time. However, before I knew it, I had two new job opportunities on my plate. One was very well paid, lots of opportunities for learning, a big car leasing budget and the chance to lead people for the first time. It was the perfect golden carrot. I took it. I got back on the path to success as society defines it.
The first months were amazing. I had financial security and was learning and working hard. My new employer was the same telecom operator I started my career at 6 years earlier and I still loved the culture.
But my honeymoon phase didn't last long. There really is no one to blame but myself. I'm not made for big organizations. Without even noticing it I had (again) put on the mask of the ideal employee: extroverted and competitive. The real me is neither of these things. I lost myself. Unintentionally and unknowingly, I stopped listening to my inner compass. Until it started sounding the alarm.
For a few difficult weeks, I walked around with a knot in my stomach. Luckily, this time I knew what I had to do: introspection. Off I went, walking and talking to myself. I found myself crying. My inner compass was pointing in a completely different direction then where I was going. It basically told me I wouldn't find what I needed on this path. That I would be unhappy for as long as I let fear make my decisions for me. My introspection weekend was confronting to say the least. But it worked. I let go of my fear. And my compass was clearer than ever about my purpose. I want to bring more positive stories into the world. I believe in the power of storytelling.
The next day, I quit my golden carrot job to start my own business, Story Flow. And at the same time, the idea for Clarity Kit was born. My intuition was clearly feeling inspired. That means I was working on two new businesses in the midst of the COVID pandemic and at the start of an economic crisis. Was I scared? Not really. I trust my inner compass. It feels like I’m on an adventure, made just for me. Who knows about the destination? I trust my guide, my inner compass, my purpose.
The Clarity Kit is meant to give people exactly the same thing I found for myself: a clear compass, showing them the path that is right for them. Because when more people walk their own path, life is better for everyone.
Are you scared, like I was? Don't let your fears control your life. It's your life. And here's the silly about fear: it scares easily. Face your fears. You'll see that they will melt away.