This is how I feel right now.
WAAAAAAAAAA --> get yourself together Anna --> *rolls eyes* you're FINE, girl
Today I want to dump my heart and get real with you about GROWING PAINS, and what it looks and feels like to go out of your comfort zone and chase your dreams.
Do you ever look back at all the decisions, experiences, and choices that have brought you to where you're at right now? Life is CRAZY, I'm telling you, crazy sauce.
When I started this blog SEVEN YEARS AGO, I just wanted to have an online journal to share my life with my family and friends as I moved across the country for grad school. Since then, I've obviously graduated, moved back and forth across the country multiple times, got married, struggled through unemployment and a quarter life crisis, moved to Chicago, worked a bajilion jobs, quit my job, launched a health and fitness coaching business, and am now exploring my potential and purpose and going pro with this dream of mine: to create a thriving community of empowered women and establish myself as a life coach and brand.
I've always thought of life as an adventure and started reading (or more accurately - obsessively consuming) books like The Boxcar Children and The Chronicles of Narnia by age 6. These stories instilled in me an enormous imagination, sense of independence, and an unshakable belief in myself, and I've always known deep down that I can create anything I want or need, and that there is magic and possibility hidden all around us. I've never hesitated to follow my heart and make a pivot when I don't like the direction I'm headed.
However, the older and more entrenched in "adult society" I get, the harder it is to make these pivots and change course. It's easy to let the noise of the world distract us and pull us away from our heart and our intuition, and right now it's happening again and I'm caught in the crossroads between what my brain is telling me I SHOULD be doing, and what my heart is telling me I MUST be doing.
It's like a rollercoaster.
I've been caught in the "should's" so many times, like when I quit my job to follow my heart almost two years ago and thought I had to be an OFFICIAL ENTREPRENEUR ACHIEVING ALL THE GREATNESS! so I started to put a lot of pressure my blog to be a marketing tool for my business.
Even worse, I put a lot of pressure on MYSELF to be instantly successful at being a full time coach and entrepreneur, just like I found success at being a student in school. I didn't want to admit that I was terrified and struggling, because I thought if I wasn't showing massive success, no one would want to work with me.
But the reality is that there's no such thing as overnight success when it comes to entrepreneurship. It was a hard lesson to swallow, and hard to admit that I have to be a beginner and put in the work before I can create something really great.
And guess what?
The work is messy. It's not glamorous. It's a hard long slog, like training for a marathon. All we see on social media and online are the shiny success stories, but we don't see the years of hard work, failure, mistakes, late nights, tears, breakdowns along the way.
I want to share the full picture, not just the tip of the iceberg. I don't want anyone to ever think that success came easily to me, and most of all I don't want to perpetuate the myth that overnight success is to be expected, or that you're a failure if chasing your dreams is hard and messy.
Reaching goals and working towards a vision that's so much bigger than yourself requires dedication, consistent hard work behind the scenes, and SO MUCH PATIENCE.
I want to stop putting pressure on myself to create the perfect polished content, and start sharing more of what I'm going through and be completely honest and open. I want to document each step of this crazy adventure I'm on so I can look back at how far I've come and also so I can show you what it ACTUALLY looks like to chase your dreams and build a heart-centered business from scratch. (Spoiler: it's exhilarating, messy, and downright terrifying).
Yesterday one of my fave mentors Cassandra Bodzak shared a story on Instagram of a lobster outgrowing its shell and it resonated with me SO hard. You see, when a lobster gets too big for its shell, it goes through a period of discomfort and maybe even pain before it finally sheds the shell. Then it's left extremely vulnerable, soft, and exposed and has to go behind a rock and hide to wait until the new bigger shell grows and hardens around its bigger self.
I'm not sure if this is biologically sound BUT that doesn't matter, it's a story. All that matters is that holy shit I'm feeling a lot like that cute little vulnerable lobster who is in between shells right now.
As Cass said, "We can only expand so much in our shells and then sometimes we need to crack that shell open and feel quite raw and vulnerable for a bit while we figure out while our new more expansive shell grows. This process is beautiful and magical. I've been going through it pretty intensely the past couple months and when I first recognized what was going on, it came to me like I was trying to fit my foot into a shoe that looked good but didn't fit. It's not easy or pretty to kick the shoe off and run barefoot for a bit while you find one that fits (or attract one) but it's SO much better than the pain of continually wearing a shoe or a shell that's no longer working for you."
Yes, yes, and yes.
This is me right now, and I'm sharing this post in case you can relate too. Sometimes we just need someone else to shine a mirror on ourselves so we can understand what's going on in our lives.
Over the past year I've gone through the terrifying, painful, and uncomfortable process of breaking up with the "old Anna," the Anna who found value in achievements and external validation and was addicted to work and striving, who never quite felt like she was good enough because the more she accomplished, the higher the bar was set.
I've shed my old shell, worked with multiple life coaches, filled a stack of notebooks with brain-dumps, dreams, and fears, read dozens of books, invested in courses and programs, and I've grown exponentially over the past year.
I'm gaining a lot of clarity and confidence on who I am and how I want to be of service to the world.
But to be honest, I'm feeling extremely vulnerable and scared right now as I grow into this bigger version of myself. I'm running barefoot.
I don't want to hide anymore, but I'm scared of being seen. I'm scared to let myself fully shine and share my dreams, just in case I fail. Just in case no one listens or cares.
I'm feeling super vulnerable, but that's ok because I'm aware of what's happening and I'm trying to give myself lots of grace and patience as I work towards growing into this new shell.
Here are some of the lessons I'm learning along the way!
How to grow THROUGH growing pains
1. REMEMBER GROWING PAINS ARE A GOOD SIGN THAT YOU'RE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
Whenever we do something that's outside of our comfort zones or set a big scary goal, we're figuratively breaking out of our old shell and forcing ourselves to grow.
When we grow and challenge ourselves, we will start to experience growing pains that manifest as doubts, fears, insecurities, and a mean voice telling ourselves we can't do this or we're not good enough,
If we listen to these growing pains, we start to believe that we're doomed to fail, and we end up self-sabotaging, even though the voice inside our head isn't true! Fears and doubts are to be expected and they're like little nudges reminding us how important this big new adventure truly is.
2. DON'T BELIEVE THE LITTLE VOICE INSIDE YOUR HEAD LATE AT NIGHT.
This is SO SO SO important to understand, especially because our fears and growing pains usually hit us when we're feeling extra vulnerable, tired, or run-down (like late at night)!
Opening yourself up to success and bigger, greater opportunities is going to crack open the door to the darkness as well, but your light is SO much stronger than the dark. Use it to illuminate the next step. Just one step at a time, like driving in the dark and using your headlights to light the way.
3. THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO A BREAKTHROUGH, THE MORE UNCOMFORTABLE YOU'LL BE.
Your fears and insecurities and doubts will feel the strongest the closer you get to where you want to be, because they're making one last ditch effort to hold you back.
Breakdowns are usually followed by breakthroughs, so don't be thrown off when everything is going perfectly one day, and then you feel wracked with anxiety the next day. Par for the course!
4. GIVE YOURSELF ENDLESS PATIENCE AND GRACE.
Lean into the discomfort. Take deep breaths. Carve out white space in your schedule for down time to let yourself relax and be present. Surround yourself with other people who are going through the same types of growing pains, because in community we find strength and courage. The more we isolate ourselves, the louder the Fear gets... so remember that you are never alone.
Take off the pressure and give yourself credit for the work you're doing. A lot of times we're so focused on getting EXTERNAL results that we ignore the changes and growth that's happening on the inside. Just because you can't see it or tangibly track it doesn't mean the growth isn't happening. This is why I love journaling (and blogging)! It's a great way to look back and remind yourself how far you've come.
5. STAY IN ACTION.
Keep moving forward, and try to do one thing every day that will get you a baby step closer to where you want to be. No step is too small! Heck, when a baby takes its first steps it's the most miraculous and exciting thing to witness ;)
6. FIND SUPPORT!
This is the most important thing to remember. You are NOT alone. When we start to isolate ourselves, the negative voices in our head get stronger because they want us to believe we're all alone. When we find other people who understand what we're going through and can encourage us to find the positive and reflect how far we've come, the fears start to melt away and the whole terrifying process of growth becomes more fun.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Know that wherever you are on your journey, I'm right here in the trenches with you :) And guess what? WE ARE SAFE. Unlike the cute little lobster, no one's going to eat us (mmmm lobster...). So let's take off the pressure and do our best to have fun as we grow into our new shell, ok?
Stay tuned for more updates and news because I am SO excited about what's in store for this blog, myself, and YOU.
p.s. Speaking of growing and getting support, I just opened doors to my July Inspire Joy Challenge accountability group and I'm SO excited to work with the women who are joining me to commit to our health and fitness this month. I have extra butterflies because this is the LAST Challenge Group I'm hosting before I graduate from my life coaching course and officially re-launch my business in August eeeeep! I'm still dreaming and scheming what Coaching With Anna 2.0 is going to look like, but know that if you want to take action, NOW is the time to get your beautiful self in the door -- click here to book a complimentary call with me!