Have you ever sat down and thought about when you made the decision on who you would become?
When I was 8 years old I made a decision that I would become a lawyer. I think it was because I loved English and lawyers seemed so professional, career focused, successful and powerful. I saw myself wearing a suit, living in a 'penthouse' in Sydney, travelling to exotic destinations in fancy clothes and driving a sports car, as that's what I thought all lawyers did.
From this point I steadily worked towards my goal. I studied, studied and then studied some more. My eight year old perception of being a lawyer continued to drive me as I determinedly laboured through school.
I didn't come from a family of lawyers, doctors, academics or professionals. My parents both left school at 16, ran away together, and after having my sister and I a few years later, settled down and worked damn hard to provide for us, living pay to pay. I was the first one in my family to graduate with a degree.
And while my parents loved us and supported us the very best they could, when it came to school work, careers, networks, and 'making it in the professional world' we were pretty much left to our own devices.
My parents couldn't afford private school and I hand-wrote my essays in year twelve. I paid for uni books with a casual job and lived at home while I studied. It took more than 15 years of hard work and sacrifice for me to become a fully qualified, practising lawyer.
And I lasted four years.
To this day I can't even believe I lasted that long. Two years in family law (at 24 years old - and an empath no less) and two years in corporate employment law in a big city firm. And I was ambitious, I was striving (like I always had) to be the best and to succeed. It was all about the future, enduring the sacrifices in the present to arrive at some distant place of success, wealth, status and 'happiness'. Things seemed to be falling into place, I was on the path towards making a life my eight year old self would have been so proud of.
Until the day I became exhausted and miserable. And not just one day, but for days which turned into weeks and then months. I became so tired I found it almost impossible to make it into the office. I felt sick on Sunday evenings at the thought of having to face another week. I couldn't sleep and I couldn't settle.
One morning as I dragged myself to the bus stop and hopped on the bus, I started crying on the way to the city with the thought of spending one more minute fighting in the pressured, competitive, manipulative world of corporate law.
It was on this revolutionary day, with red puffy eyes and a snotty nose dripping onto my suit, that I knew - deep in my heart and soul - that I was not meant to be a lawyer. That being a lawyer was not the real me. I was living somebody else's dream.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says:
"It's better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else's perfectly"
Since this day, it has taken me many years to separate who I am with what I do for a living, as these two things were so inextricably linked in my sense of self for so long. I know I was meant to learn this lesson quite early on in my life - and even though it was hard and painful - it was a necessary step in my evolution.
When I was able to begin letting go and discovering who I really am - the path towards the work I am here to do showed up - my real purpose for being here. And this I am so grateful for.
Amanda is a (reformed) lawyer turned holistic life coach, self-care advocate, workshop facilitator, writer, speaker, avid reader, nature lover, chai tea drinker and mother to a curious, active toddler. A spirit seeker who loves connecting with others on journeys of self-discovery, Amanda believes we can all find our own version of success and live an empowered life.