Looking back at my life, I find it very fitting that I am a counsellor and coach specializing in transitions, though it might seem slightly ironic that I owe my current clarity and satisfaction to a past that was about as stable and accommodating as a transit terminal!
I moved to Canada with my family at the age of 11. The initial excitement only briefly delayed the anxiety and the sense of dislocation that accompanied our immigration. My parents never actually managed to 'settle' in Canada as a unit; our previously tight-knit family gradually disintegrated into a loose assemblage of 'frequent flyers' who didn't see nearly enough of each other. Struggling to cope with the move culturally and financially, my parents periodically travelled in and out of Canada while my siblings and I stayed full-time in Vancouver during the academic year. Conflict inevitably followed, and despite my parents' best efforts, we were not spared from the drama. I recall being painfully aware of the fragility and temporariness of our circumstances; I felt like all would unravel if I made any big movements.
During this period, I came to know the most resilient side of myself. I did what was expected of me as a daughter and sister, and finished school with relative success. But it wasn't until later that I realized that my survival routine had replaced all of my own dreams and ambitions. By the time I entered university I felt stripped of all my resolve, passion, and imagination. I fell into a deep state of paralysis that some may call depression. life was passing me by with a palpable speed, but I was too exhausted to even attempt to keep up. I couldn't even muster the energy to feign ambition! Every attempt at progress was demolished by self-doubt, and eventually I was resigned to bitterness.
A 'simple' but life changing epiphany came from my father, whose choices I blamed for my vegetative state. It was during one of our usual heated arguments where he'd march into my room, find me staring at the wall, and procede to criticize my lack of ambition. And there was so much to be criticized for: I was unemployed and penniless, had cut ties with my friends, and had no direction or purpose to speak of. To make matters worse, I had just ended a relationship. Normally I'd blame him for my pain and confusion and the argument would fizzle unresolved. But this time, I had barely begun my finger-pointing monologue when my father suddenly stopped and looked directly at me, for the first time in a long while, as he simply said, "ok, I get it. You are right! It is our fault that you are where you are in your life". A pause, then he asked "okay, now what?". Indeed, now what? Just like that, my father gave me the acknowledgement I had longed for, but now what? I was still so far from the vision I once had for my future. I still owed myself a life! So now what? All of a sudden, I saw the vacuum I was festering in as an open space of opportunity. That's the thing with moments of transition: they give you space to re-imagine yourself, if you let them!
My story actually begins here, and it's one of tireless work: within days, I was reading, googling, making appointments with counsellors, coaches, and school career services, personal development training, seminars, trying to remember what it was that I liked to do.
I worked with an amazing and dedicated coach who taught me to own and accept my past, and to take sole responsibility for my life in order to make free and authentic decisions for my future. We then worked to shed the fear and self-doubt that had piled up over the years ; I had to recognize my own merit and recover my ambition. This gave me the confidence to set realistic and practical goals; I set a timeline and went back to school. I even allowed myself to take risks, like throwing myself in situations where I would have to speak in front of a large group of people or I would put myself in a situation where I would likely get rejected. Although I often felt my heart pounding out of my chest and couldn't feel my limbs each time I took a step, I went ahead and did it anyways. I had realized that the price of not taking those steps was much higher than I could afford. Things quickly started to change on the outside as I was making changes on the inside. Before, I knew it I was graduating with a masters degree in Counselling Psychology, a dream that I had forgotten about since I was in middle school. Along the way, I began a successful career in management as well as my clinical position, and I met my wonderful partner.
Now, I'm not at all saying that I had some sort of awakening and life has been virtually crisis-free ever since (this is not that kind of a website!). I can never banish difficulties or avoid transitions (and why would I want to?). I learned firsthand how to, not just cope with, but to continually make use of cross-roads and uncertainties to rethink things, become better, and get more out of my life. And this is precisely a skill I have worked to transfer to my clients.
What I mean to say is:
Rest assured that I am a successful practitioner of what I preach!