Who is Driving Your Bus?

The work I did with my career coach was unlike anything I had ever done in my life.  Even though I would consider myself pretty introspective, I wasn’t accustomed to dissecting myself in that way.  I approached it with an open mind because at that point, I was willing to do anything to make a change.

The first step was to discover “who am I?”

Only In Berkeley
Photo credit: pheezy

We started with the basics to find that answer, addressing the concept of a higher self. The higher self is the part of you that knows everything.  It’s your intuition, your wisdom.  It’s the part that’s at the core of who you are amidst a world of distractions, pressures, and outside influences.  I had very little awareness of this concept, and it took a short while for me to really understand it.  Maybe that’s because mine was dormant.  A lifetime of trying to please others, fit in, or just exist the only way I knew how pushed my higher self so far into the darkest corners of my being, that I didn’t even know it existed.

It was quite a learning experience.

We dissected certain aspects of my personality that were driving my emotions, and we compartmentalized them as if they were all different characters that make up me.  There was the perfectionist: the part of me that still cringes when I think of certain procedures that didn’t go exactly as I had intended.  There was the practical me: the me that had to make a good living, act responsibly, and keep up with the mortgage.  She made sure to remind me that there was no way I could survive without a steady income.  There was the people-pleaser: that girl who wanted to make sure everyone around me liked me and was happy.  And there was the 4-year-old girl: all she wanted to do was play and have fun while all the other “mes” were ignoring her, denying her wishes.  As Shawn pointed out to me, we were all on this bus together traveling through my life, each one fighting to be in the driver’s seat.  And where was my higher self?

She was taking a nap in the back of the bus.  But it was time for her to take the wheel.

Children on the bus driver seat, Egged Bus Mus...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

It was so eye-opening to see what was guiding me through these hard times, or you could say, what wasn’t guiding me.  It was a bunch of chaos.  I had no idea what I wanted.  So if I didn’t know what I wanted, how could I move toward or away from anything?  This was the first piece to getting unstuck.  I didn’t know if I really hated dentistry or if I just didn’t want to have adult responsibilities.  I didn’t know what I liked and didn’t like.  What were my true passions?  I had no sense of creativity in my life.  I felt like a robot going through the motions, without any sense of who I was.

And this was where the work began.

How about you?  Are you wandering through life like a zombie?  Living someone else’s dreams? Or wondering if you’ll wake up 30 years from now realizing that you wasted precious time being someone you don’t want to be?  If so, what’s stopping you?

If you’re looking for a change, and you’re not ready to ask someone to help you, I recommend a book called Finding Your Own North Star.  It breaks down the concept of the essential self and the social self.  The essential self is who you really are– the dreams, desires, and passions that move you.  The social self is the part of you who has been manipulated by everything around you to feel you need to be a certain way.  The two may be in conflict with each other, and the trick is to reconnect with your essential self.


18 thoughts on “Who is Driving Your Bus?

  1. Wow, what a powerful session that must have been! You remind me so much of ME! I may be a little further along life’s journey than you but that doesn’t matter. I wish I had been on such an inward journey when I was at your stage of life (and I don’t necessarily mean age. I just mean that I have been exactly where you are). I am really excited to see where this all leads for you. Don’t stop blogging.

    1. It was an unbelievably powerful session. I remember thinking it was all a bit of crazy talk at first, but then it just all made sense, and I couldn’t believe how that bit of knowledge started to change my way of thinking. It’s fun to hear about others going through similar things in life. I see that when I read your blog. I must admit that sometimes that inward journey gets old– I get sick of myself sometimes 😉

      It all turns out well– so far at least ;). Thanks!

  2. I love this one! I am living someone else’s dream, and I know it’s wrong and I’m working on changing that, but it doesn’t seem to be easy, specially with the practical me convincing the dreamy me that I need the job to get money so I could someday be able to follow my dreams without being broke… (Complicated? not really :P)

    1. As you can tell, Mina, I’ve been exactly in that place. That’s why your post on how much you hate your career struck a chord with me. Sounds like we have a lot of similarities there. Somehow, based on the title of your blog and the stories you tell, I have a feeling you’ll find a way to live your own life and not someone else’s. It took me years, but eventually it all worked out. It is complicated and totally worth it!

  3. I can see myself in your post about 12 years ago. That’s when I “retired” from dentistry, well actually, I went on maternity leave, moved and never went back to work. I think I used that as an excuse to slide out of dentistry because I was having a lot of the same feelings you have mentioned in your previous posts. I wish I had had the insight to seek out a career coach to help me sort out what I wanted to “be” because I struggled for years trying to find a new identity (aside from a mom) and would almost get embarassed saying I “used to be” a dentist. Now, I’m faced with having to support myself again so I’m back to being a dentist! I came to the realization that I’m not even remotely qualified to do anything else so I spent a year (including taking WREB again!) to get another dental license. (On that note… make sure you’re REALLY DONE with dentistry before you let your license lapse because it is a bitch to get it back again.) Anyway, my reasons for returning to practice were strictly financial although I’m trying to come at it with a different attitude. I’ll give it a few years but will certainly consider a career coach if I find myself slipping back into the unhappy place I was before in my career. I’m so glad you decided to blog about your journey because I have a feeling there are many of us who have been, or will be there, too.

    1. It’s interesting to hear you say that, Kristen. When you told me previously that you left to raise children, I thought you were so lucky that you had a great excuse/reason to leave! In my eyes you didn’t have to face the world as a quitter. 😉 Now I see how your experience was so similar. Even if you had a very noble reason to leave, you felt those same feelings.

      I also felt the same way about having no other skills. That’s why I stayed for so long– I didn’t know where to go!

      Btw- i’ll keep my license because you never know, as in your case. I bet that was hard to go back in some ways, but probably very good to have a break. I hope it serves you better this time around! Thanks! I love to hear how similar and different your experience has been.

  4. Sounds like a program I went though called discovery- training . Com
    It made me address issues in my life that I was still hanging on to and release me from there bondage so to speak . I went back after 25 years gone and got my hygiene license it was hard as hell but I did it. I had always felt like a failure because I never followed through .. Once I got it I was like yuck this sucks … I ‘m nothing more than a mouth maid subjected to gross stuff in people mouths , hateful assistants that think they know more than me but don’t want to suffer through school to get a hygiene liscence so they undermined me out of jealousy , dentist that don’t know the first thing about running a business and there either busy doing the assistant or there grumpy wife has them by the balls and is running there business into the ground . Now granted there where some good dentist and nice assistant and I was never a queen bee type hygienist .. I used to he a assistant a long time ago so I got it and always did my own stuff and some of there’s if I had time .. Many assistants where shock that I would get down and dirty with them and clean .. I always looked on it has we’re a team and we all want to go home at 5:00 lol.. I eventually did find my nitch with pedo .. Love me some pedo but those jobs are hard to find and now dentist want to replace us with assistants so save a all mighty dollar.. So after going through discovery training I realized I wanted to work more with people and the whole life not just there mouths.. I will graduate may 12 2012 with my BSW in social work and one year more for masters.. I love what I do and no it doesn’t pay as well but I go home happy and fulfilled .. I don’t need muh stuff at my age 50 and I love helping others in various parts of there life. I still kept my liscence in hygiene and I still temp .. I will have about 30 thousand in student loans when I graduate and I will probably die before there paid off but I am happy and that matters most of all.

  5. Haha! I love your description of working in the dental offices. Yeah, it seems most of the pedo prophys get done by the assistants.

    It sounds like the program you did worked well! What I love about your story is that you have made all these changes at 50. It goes to show that it’s never too late. I know people that I used to work with who are SO unhappy, and their excuse to stay stuck and miserable is that they are “too old” at 50 years old. That’s BS. I know that’s probably driven by fear, so I understand that, but it’s so sad to see people suffer when they have a choice to change.

    This is the other great thing about hygiene– you can always work or temp part-time to help pay off some of those loans. As you know, it’s worth the trade off.

  6. For a lot of people debt is the hindrance. This was the case for my wife and me, until we finally woke up and changed our whole outlook on finances.
    But until we were willing to overhaul our spending habits, we were allowing debt to rule over us and keep us from doing everything that we wanted to do. Damn. That sucked too.

    Glad to say we took care of business and went debt free. Took four years of misery, but the payoff has been better than either of us could’ve imagined.

  7. I agree. Good for you for making that change– that’s a tough one. It’s good to see that you are reaping the rewards of that hard work. Actually, dental school debt was a qualifier for me. The day I paid it off for good, I felt really free to move on. It was like a clean break.

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