I grew up as a gay woman in Ireland when it was under the rule of the Catholic church. Oh, and I didn't drink tea or alcohol, so three strikes against me! I learned early on that living inside the box that people expected me to live in wouldn't work for me, so I forged my path.
I had a fabulously strong mother for my female role-model and learned kindness from my father.
I was always championing people's causes but was cautious not to draw attention to the fact that I was gay. I rebelled with my hair and my clothes but was a supportive and kind friend to anyone who needed me. I am independent yet need acknowledgment from others—that pat on the back that says you're doing a good job.
There was, and still is, I suppose, a yin and yang to how I live my life.
Photo by Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash
At 20, I traveled to the other side of the world and spent a year in Australia. I was young yet confident in my skin, and I had an amazing time. It was here that I kissed a girl for the first time (and liked it!)
One of my other adventures was going to wine country to pick grapes. My sister and I lived in a three-man tent (we needed a three-man tent for the two of us and our ridiculously large suitcases). We stayed at a campground and one evening had a bit of a harrowing experience. We were out by the picnic tables having dinner. There were other "residents," including a few men who had consumed a few too many beers. One of them offered me a drink, but I don't drink, so I declined.
He became persistent, took offense, and became belligerent. Somehow, I managed to stay calm and dodge the guitar he swung at my head. I haven't thought about this incident for many years, but it came up as I was thinking about resiliency. If I had been a different person, this event would have had me running for the hills! But I stayed and persisted.
I don't claim to be stronger than the next person, but I have been in many situations in life that I've been able to learn and grow from rather than let them bring me down. Even when these situations do bring me down, it's temporary. I come back stronger than before. I attribute this resiliency to my ability to embrace change and lean on my strength of perspective.
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash
Ah, perspective. I've always been able to see various sides of most situations. I'm sure that's in part because I'm a Libra, so I have a natural tendency to be balanced. This ability is a blessing and a curse.
Sometimes balance makes it hard for me to make decisions, so I vacillate between options (including kissing that girl in Australia). Being in balance can occasionally get me in trouble when I chime in with alternative ideas unsolicited. Most of the time though, balance is an amazing gift, and I love it! Having this gift means that when someone is beating themselves up, I can help them see another way to look at themselves. This advice often leads to a new appreciation of themselves, and I love it when that happens! When a client is struggling with determining a way forward, I can help point out alternatives and strategies, which can lead to amazing action and outcomes. Perspective is pretty cool!
I turn 50 this year, so there are many stories to tell and adventures to relate, but I'll save them for another time. During the years between my journey halfway around the world and today, I've studied character strengths, coaching, management skills, and meditation, and all of it has taught me there are many ways to approach change, challenge, and commitment.
We all have many skills and strengths, and when we learn how to leverage them, we become unstoppable. My advice is to take any opportunity that comes your way to learn, grow, have fun, and persevere. If you feel like you're "done," take another look at the situation. Can you use a new perspective and change the situation?
Sometimes you don't know how amazing you are until you surprise yourself with what you do.
All life experiences have brought me to this point in my life. I am a woman unleashed, and I'm here to make a difference.
So, what's next for me? I want to help those of you who are socially progressive entrepreneurs—women running for office for the first time or women who are working and trying to make—no are making
a difference in the lives of others—especially those that society marginalizes. If any these examples resonate with you, reach out!
Originally published on Ciara Gogan Life Coaching