I was in serious danger of losing myself. I haven’t been true to myself in years, especially once I began working after college. I was literally shrinking myself to fit in these impossibly confined spaces that were never meant to hold a force like me.
I did what I was told.
I followed the rules.
I didn’t take any risks.
Anyone who knows me whether in person or online knows that I am definitely a tad extra, expressive, creative, and dramatic. My dream since I was a little girl was to be an actress. I’ve always felt at home on the stage. So, when I didn’t follow my heart and try to make it as an actress, the disappointment in myself eventually suffocated me.
Each time I walked through the office door of my corporate jobs over the years, tiny parts of me died until it became larger chunks, and then ultimately my entire spirit died. I had a huge collection of various musicals on cd. I had thrown all of them away except my three all-time favorites – Rent, Jekyll and Hyde, and Chicago. I thought my days to be creative and fuel my soul doing things that mattered to me permanently were gone.
Why did it take a pandemic to force me out of the coffin and restore life back into me? I thought going through breast cancer and all the ongoing complications from it would’ve pushed me to follow my dreams, but no. The fear of being without decent health insurance sucked the life out of me.
This forced pause by the world and not by my body is what breathed life into me again. I’ve been networking in a way I didn’t have the confidence to do prior to COVID-19. I no longer wanted to put myself in job situations where I would be utterly miserable but feel forced to accept it for a paycheck and insurance.
When would I finally rise up and be who I was meant to be?
That time has come. I didn’t realize the transformation from death to life had been taking place until this week. Others have believed me for years, but I didn’t believe in myself enough to do anything about it until now. Once I began asking others for help and suggestions, I couldn’t believe the sheer number of people who have been willing to take the time from their schedules to chat and brainstorm ideas with me.
Since this transformation, the following things have happened with more in the works:
I was in the NY Times.
I was in People magazine.
I landed my first part-time freelance job with a clinical trial company in Europe.
I landed my first paid speaking engagement for an upcoming panel about the lack of diversity in clinical trials.
I auditioned for my first ever voiceover job and got it.
I’m finally taking some risks in order to pursue what fuels my many passions and feel deeply empowered. It’s hard to describe the feeling. My smile has been exhausted but genuine in the past few weeks. I see a glow in my face. It’s like the light has been turned back on.
It was once so hard to breathe, but I now rise up in a way I never have before with new purpose, vision, determination, and belief in myself. I give myself permission to accept that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes but to continue to rise up. I’m finally being true to who I am.
These are the two songs and quotes that inspired today’s blog piece
Rise Up by Andra Day and Who You Are by Jessie J
Until next time,
This post originally appeared on Life on the Cancer Train on July 19, 2020. It is republished with permission.