I wanted to get married, and I wanted to be his wife. We had booked the reception venue, secured a photo booth rental and taken beautiful, happy, smiling engagement photos. I had chosen a big white dress and had a countdown on my phone.
And then one day, everything changed. He changed. The future of my dreams was suddenly stunted by a nightmarish reality.
The details of the breakup matter very little for this story. What matters is that I was lost, alone, terrified and overwhelmed. We had a house to sell. Wedding plans to cancel. Save-the-dates to trash.
Up until this point, I had defined my success as a person by all my major accomplishments. I was engaged, working in my field in one of the best agencies in the state, had a house and a dog. And when half of that was ripped out from underneath me, I felt ungrounded.
But why had I let myself base who I was on what I had?
I had gone astray. These accomplishments — or lack thereof — don't define me. I had pegged my happiness on things that I didn’t actually value, and I wasn’t being honest with myself.
So, now that I was torn apart and back at square one, it was time to rebuild. But this time, I wanted to do it right. What did I value? What are my personal truths? I now had the opportunity to redefine who I was, based on things that actually matter to me.
I hadn’t been happy in my job for a while, so I focused my attention on thinking deeply about a new path that would make me feel more fulfilled. I had always had this idea in the back of my head that I wanted to be a dietitian. I’m passionate about helping others, and I’m naturally curious about nutrition and wellness.
Before I knew it, I was taking a huge leap of faith; I applied for school and suddenly found myself standing in my boss’ office asking to go part time.
Everything started to fall into place after that. I found a roommate and a cheap apartment. I started school. I began embracing a new future based on things that really mattered.
This whole story feels like a cliche, really. Twenty-something woman has a traumatic experience, listens to her heart to follow her dreams, and makes a drastic (somewhat crazy) life change.
But what’s important is the part about me finally being honest with myself. It sucks that it took a horrendous breakup for me to wake up and see what was important to me. What didn’t define me.
Do you need a gut check, too? Here are some tips to help you find your true path.
1. Be honest about what you’re striving for.
When I started my career, I was ambitious because I wanted a glamorous advertising lifestyle and money to buy things, like my house and a wedding. I loved being seen as such a motivated go-getter.
2. Be sure your goals match your values.
Having money and a job that others would supposedly admire me for don’t matter to me nearly as much as feeling like I have an impact on the world. And writing communications plans wasn’t going to do that.
3. Accept that you need to redirect, and define new goals that you can be excited about.
This is your life, and you only get one. Make it great. Another cliche, but it’s true. Don’t feel like you’ve failed because you need to make changes. See it as an opportunity to live a life you can feel better about. It may take a while to decide what your new path will be, but trust me, it’s going to feel so good when you figure it out.
I’d love to hear if you’ve made a big change in your life. Leave a comment below and inspire us with your story!