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To Be, or Not to Be

Have you ever sat back and truly asked yourself – Who am I?

What kind of person am I?

What kind of person am I becoming?

What kind of person have I turned out to be?

As you ponder these questions, are you overwhelmed with reasons and excuses – and even more questions – as to why you turned out the way you did?

Why am I the way I am?

Who did I want to be?

What did I originally set out to do?

Now, think back to that dream of yours that still keeps you awake at night – that dream you just won't allow to come back to the surface. Who did you want to be when you grew up? Who did you envision yourself becoming? What did success look like to you before THAT THING happened?

I'm this way because of how I was raised.

I’m this way because something bad happened to me.

I’m defensive and closed off because I was bullied.

I’m a go-getter because I always have something to prove to someone.

On and on we could go listing all the reasons, both the good and the bad, that made us into the people we are today.

Here's another question – Can people truly change?

We all want to believe that a person has the ability to be whomever they want, but whether or not they choose to be that person is a different story.

Personally, all these questions make me think about the things I wish I had either started or stopped in my life, and the million excuses I made as to why I thought it was completely out of my control.

In the hustle and bustle and throes of life, around 2006, I found myself a single parent of an eight-year-old and a five-year-old. I was the only breadwinner in my household and the burden was mine to bear. I knew I would have to miss out on field trips and playdates and many of the little things that make childhood (and parenthood) so fun (and fulfilling), just so I could keep food on the table for them.

I felt like the worst mom ever, constantly struggling between career and family, but when push came to shove, I had no other choice – I had to work to make money and keep my family afloat. How else were we going to buy food and pay the bills?

I vividly remember thinking to myself what an awful mother I was because I couldn't attend this or that school function, like all the other moms whose husbands were business owners or came from wealthy families and, thusly, didn’t have to or chose not to work. My kids were hanging out and having a blast with their friends (and their friends’ families) while I was fretting over whether or not the lights would still be on next week.

Looking back on these times, I can laugh about it, but I now know that, after my divorce, I was in a dense mental fog that lasted for almost five years. Eventually I realized that I had to decide not only who I was, but what was I going to do. It didn't matter why or how I had gotten to the place I was in, what mattered was that I was strong enough to claw my way out of my despair.

Fast forward to now – my grown children are healthy and happy, I’m married to the love of my life, and I’m running two successful businesses doing work that brings me joy. Back then, in my deepest, darkest, foggiest days, I would have never thought this would be happening for me.

Maybe your next question is – How did you do it, Darla?

It wasn’t an overnight epiphany, but eventually something just hit me, and I came to a place where I knew exactly who I was, and why, and I just decided to accept it. It didn't matter what anyone else around me thought. No one else had to live my life but me.

To be, or not to be – never mind all the who, what, when, where, why, and how – I had to accept that, simply, “I am.”

Just BE Darla! DO Darla! GO, Darla!

I realized I could be or do or become whomever I chose to be. It didn't matter what happened in my past – my past was only holding me back if I allowed it to. Those echoes from my first marriage that told me I wasn't good enough only mattered if I allowed them to.

A lack of education, a lack of money, a lack of talent or skill only matters if we allow it. We tell our kids all the time to believe in themselves. As leaders, we tell our teams and staff to just go do it – to believe in themselves – and we must lead by example.

Do you believe in you? Do you believe in your personal power to change and become and do whatever you set your mind to? We sure say it all the time, but how often do we act on it?

There will always be obstacles in our way. There will always be other people saying we should or shouldn’t do or be this or that. But those obstacles and opinions only have meaning if we allow it, which only holds us back from accomplishing what we want to achieve or becoming who we want to be – and accepting who we are.

What’s the new position you want at work? The business you want to start? The career change you want to make?

Believe in the power of the human spirit. It starts with you. Do what you always wanted to do. Be who you always dreamt of becoming.

Last question – What's stopping you?

(The answer is YOU!)

– Darla


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