I was introduced recently to Bethany Connor, the author of a new book “Cherished”, and an Army Nurse Corps Officer. She was introduced by a friend and we set up some time to talk on the phone. Within the first couple of minutes of our phone conversation, I was struck by her authenticity. I resonated with her story of how she had tried to define herself through her job, being in control, and running on a hamster wheel of accomplishments.
A crisis of job and family is what it took to wake her up to finding out who she really was. Indeed for those of us who face crisis, it is truly a beckoning to discover who we really are. Here is her story.
Bethany Connor – My Purpose Journey
“What is really hard, and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself” ~ Anna Quindlen
For the first 35 years of my life I thought I knew who I was. I acted confident in who I was. But deep down inside, I didn’t know myself. Being an officer in the military, I had learned to wear masks – the mask of perfection; the mask of being in control; the mask of being tough and able to handle anything that came my way.
Those masks had served me well. They allowed me to move up the ranks and be ‘successful’ in my career as an officer. Those masks also kept me from reaching my true potential as a leader.
Defining Ourselves Through Our Jobs
The me I thought that I knew was defined by her rank and her job. I worked long hours because I felt passion for what I did and I felt satisfaction from being needed by my patients and by my staff. I was driven to perform and accomplish because it was rewarding and it was rewarded; and that made me feel good.
I was good at my job. And as long as I received those accolades I was able to feel important, wanted, and needed. Personal life? I didn’t have time for that. I felt fulfilled by my job, by my accomplishments, by achieving and by influencing. At least that is what I told myself…
Deep down inside, I was lonely. I longed for true connection with something deeper than myself. I wanted to love and be loved. But I had tried that before and it didn’t work. I had let myself be vulnerable, fall in love, give my heart to another and it brought nothing but heartache and pain.
So, I numbed the pain with the best salve that I knew ~ hard work and busy-ness. I put up walls of protection to keep myself from getting hurt ever again and threw myself into my work. My satisfaction and feelings of worth came from what I did. When I accomplished, it felt good. It filled that void, for a split second. But, it was an insatiable void, so I would need to keep working longer and harder to fill it again.
Breaking The Walls
Then there was a period of my life where all my walls seemed to come crashing down. Everything that I thought I had control over, I lost control over. Life circumstances converged ~ an unexpected break up at home, oppressive leadership at work, way more to do in a day, than time to accomplish it… I kept on my game face for as long as I could, but eventually the layers of masks came off leaving me feeling hopeless, helpless and powerless.
I remember lying one night on my bedroom floor, sobbing. I was filled with despair and at the point of giving up. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t want to suffer any more. I didn’t feel like killing myself, and yet, I didn’t care if died. I asked myself, “What are you going to do, give up?” My answer was no. It was at that point that I decided to push through to the other side of the pain.
It was at that point of utter brokenness that I found my true power. It was there I was able to look inside and discover who I truly was. I had been living my life for other people ~ trying to please them, to look good, all the while living someone else’s dream. But I had latent dreams buried deep within my heart ~ passions that had always been there that I had suppressed. As those passions re-ignited, so did my spirit.
Holding up the mirror to myself, I was able to recognize the greatness of who I truly was. I was able to own the strength of my humanity. I was able to step into the power of who I was created to be and now share that gift with the world!
“To know that I AM everything that I always thought that I wasn’t. I am now free to be me ~ free to be who I was created to be! I am free to live in authentic confidence of who I am and the value that I have to share with the world. I am no longer defined by my circumstances or my accomplishments. I am defined by the One who created me!” ~ An Excerpt from Cherished: One Woman’s Journey to Love and Be Loved
This article was written by Authentic Leadership Expert Bethany Connor. Bethany has a deep passion ~ awakening authentic leaders. Through speaking, facilitating and coaching, she supports the transformation process of individuals and organizations in creating culture change from the inside out. Bethany is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps and a Registered Nurse with an advanced degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. She also serves as a certified coach, speaker and trainer for The John Maxwell Team. Bethany is an author of the book: Cherished: One Woman’s Journey to Love and Be Loved. Connect with Bethany at www.acherishedwoman.com.