Who is Lolabees? Lolabees is me, Laura, but in a way, Lolabees is also so many of you.
I thought I had my life all planned out. I thought I knew myself well enough to trust in my plan, but I was all wrong in so many ways. While I knew I wanted a stable, comfortable, and successful life, buried deep inside of me was someone who longed for creativity, spontaneity, and adventure. I took the safe path and chose to be a dentist because I knew it would provide the perfect life that I could fit neatly into a box. I was going to be happy, I was going to help people, and I was going to have a dream lifestyle to go along with my dream career.
Something went wrong along the way because that’s not how it turned out. Instead I ended up trapped in the wrong life– the wrong career. During the 10 years I practiced dentistry, it appeared as if I had it all. From the outside it seemed I was thriving in a noble career that helped so many people, earning an amazing income, cultivating happy personal relationships, and living in total freedom. I had it all, or so it seemed. I had all those things, but I was far from feeling happy and fulfilled. Instead, I dreaded my days in the office. I wasted away my nights, worrying about the days that surrounded each night. I lived for vacations, only to be even more depressed when I had to come home and face the reality of my life. I was worried all the time– worried about work, worried about my patients, and worried that I couldn’t save enough money to retire early enough. For years I secretly suffered through each day, hating about myself the very thing that I had come to use to define myself: being a dentist. (See? It’s not just patients who hate us!)
I hated who I was, but I was doing nothing about it! Years went by, and I couldn’t get off the roller coaster.
I was stuck.
After a series of events, including an ultimatum from my husband, I knew I had to change. I had no choice but to finally DO SOMETHING, and that changed my life forever. It didn’t happen overnight. I worked with a career coach. I worked with a therapist. I tried finding new interests. Most of the time, it was discouraging, and I felt like I was going nowhere. But I didn’t ever give up, and then it happened.
I decided to take a risk like no risk I’d ever taken before in my life.
One night, my husband was reading the social column in the newspaper, and he found a blurb in it about a travel contest. He said, “hey, you should enter this contest to be a travel show host. It says anyone can enter.” Initially every possible excuse came flooding out of my mouth… I can’t make a video of myself, I wouldn’t be any good at that, and I’m not funny or creative. But the more I thought about it, I realized I had nothing to lose. I knew that if I didn’t take one single step out of my comfort zone, that I’d never take any steps at all. I had been stuck for so many years that I was so desperate, and I didn’t want to stay stuck anymore. So I went for it.
In October of 2010 I entered a contest to be a travel show host for an online TV show. Whether I had a chance or not was irrelevant. The point was, I was taking any step, and in some way, this would open a new door for me. It didn’t matter what that door was, whether it was the right door or the wrong door. What mattered was that I start doing something different, and this was definitely something I never imagined doing. Here is my push out of my comfort zone:
Guess what? I didn’t win!
After weeks of daydreaming that my win would rescue me from my real life, I discovered that I actually loved something! I knew I had to step through this new door, regardless of the outcome. I decided to start a blog about food and travel, another thing I never expected I’d do. If I couldn’t be a travel show host, why not keep pretending, right?
Through the simple act of blogging, my life changed subtly, but significantly. I found my voice, creativity, and the courage to continue taking steps forward. Since then, I have broken out of the golden handcuffs that trap so many of us, discovered that I am capable of so much more than I thought, and helped many people start seriously asking the same questions for themselves that helped me correct my path.
So where are we now? I traded away some of those seemingly important things to feel happy again… and I’m still here! I didn’t burst into flames or fall off a cliff. I survived, and I am thriving. I feel fulfilled, driven by the desire to help people like you and me who are stuck. Whether it’s finding a way to make your current career better for you, or taking the huge leap to leave it all behind, there are 2 thoughts that continue to guide my decisions:
We don’t have to suffer our way through life for it to be valuable and have meaning.
When I wake up 20, 30, 40 years from now, do I want to look back on these years with regret? No way!
So that’s me! How about you? Are you ready to correct your path?