Confessions of Losing My Identity

This past week, I made a big decision, one that I have been avoiding for a few months now. I have decided to switch the focus in my coaching business from helping expats navigate change to now helping women in general (even those who have never left their hometown).


Now I know this doesn’t sound like a big shift, but for me it was. For me it meant releasing my grip just a little more on my “expat-ness”. It meant opening myself up more to the relationships here in the US. It meant shifting the conversation from the unique challenges expats face to general challenges all humans face while experiencing change.


Every time this decision would come up, I would well up in tears.


“I feel like I am abandoning my people, who I believe are the most under-resourced and under-served group of professionals in the world.”


“I feel like I will forget what life is like as an expat.”


“I am afraid of losing my connection to the expat community.”


“I’m afraid of who I will become in the process.”


These thoughts would go through my mind, and immediately, I would feel a pit in my stomach. I would feel my throat clench up. And the tears would begin to flow.


Now look, I am a CHANGE coach, for crying out loud. This is my jam!


But that doesn’t make the shift less shaky, the grief less intense, the pain non-existent.


What it DOES mean is that I could breathe into that grief and loss and support myself through the emotions.


It means that I know this is all part of the process, and I could lay my hand on my heart and say, “I know. This isn’t easy. But I am here with you.”


I could remind myself of what is true, “You can still stay connected to this group of people you love in other ways. Coaching is not the only form of connection.”


It means I know how to focus on how resilient and full of grit expats are and trust that they will find the resources they need, even if I am not one of them. AND, I could remind myself that I still AM one of those resources.


After that, I felt that subtle but powerful shift inside of me. There was that sense of excitement that always comes with new beginnings. My mind began to reel with the possibilities that this new life might offer. And I got back to work, fully open to serving anyone who is experiencing what it feels like to go through change.


What things hold you back from letting go of “what was” and moving into “what is”? What things help you mentally work through that small but powerful shift? Share your wisdom with us all.

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