You know, one of the most common questions I get after telling people that I'm a life coach (and often explaining what that is) is, why?  What is it that made me want to be a life coach?

So, I thought this might be a good time for a little story tellin', y'all.  So.  Pull up a chair.  Jillian is going into story-mode.  And it isn't a short one (after all, when have I been known to tell a short story?)

One morning, when I was probably about 5 or 6, I woke up remembering my dream from the night before.  And in that dream, I had been a famous actress, and had walked on the red carpet at the Oscars.  And it was glorious and exciting and amazing.  And I wanted THAT.

And from then on, I knew that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a famous actress.

Now, I'll admit, other ideas came and went as I grew up (a writer, a psychologist, and yes, even going into advertising - what?).  But the idea of becoming an actress was always solid and real and walked by my side every day.

As I edged forward in life, I could not wait until the day that I would be able to take drama classes.  I felt like I was constantly waiting for my career to begin.  And for me, being quite an impatient girl, it was FOR.E.VER.

Finally, 8th grade arrived, and I was finally able to start taking classes, and it was ON.  It was like stepping into my own skin - acting was completely familiar to me, and I thrived on it.  (To this day, no one is surprised to hear I pursued acting, what with my flair for being delightfully over-dramatic when it suits me). 

It was beginning.  From that moment forward, my life was centered around acting.  Everything in my life was connected to that.  All of my choices were driven by acting, and if it didn't have anything to do with acting, it didn't matter.

In high school, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a school that specialized in the performing arts (even sending the ballet students to Russia).  The acting program was quite advanced for a high school, with fantastic training you don't find in a high school, and even included a traveling acting ensemble that required an audition to get in.  Which, not soon enough, I was able to join my junior year.  I felt like I was at the top, I was in, and I was so excited to begin to travel around Washington and Oregon performing.

Well, life does not always go exactly as you hope.  Drama, drama.  I mean, do you actually imagine that high school students in a respected acting troupe would plan a mutiny over their teacher/director?  Well.  That happened.  People cried.  People threatened.  Principals got involved.  Teacher had to find a new job.  And so, things fell apart at the high school with the acting program.  And, my senior year I had to go to a different high school.  Which sucked, to be back down on the bottom again.

But, I persevered, and was able to get accepted to Boston University, which at the time was ranked #2 in the nation (not so much now).  This is the same school that Gina Davis went to, and Olympia Dukakis and Faye Dunaway, and on and on.  And, the school that Rosie O'Donnel and PeeWee Herman were kicked out of.  Emily Deschanel (of the TV show Bones) was one of my class mates (and I had quite the embarrassing crush on her male roommate, but that's another story).  I mean, this shit was ON.  I was ready to really launch myself into my future, and take on the WORLD.

Well.  Yeah.

For whatever reason, being at BU was extremely difficult for me.  Perhaps it was the pressure of the way the program was set-up:  after Sophomore year, they would cut half of the class.  And this was already after we had auditioned to get in (only allowing 30 students in a year).  So there was this constant feeling of needing to prove myself.  Or perhaps it was the change in culture - going from small Portland, Oregon (before anyone cared about Portland), to big old Boston, was quite a shock to me.

Whatever the reason, it left me feeling extremely insecure for the first time in my life.  I had difficulty making friends with the other actors, never feeling like I fit in.  I got paranoid and defensive and weird.  Completely unlike me.  My entire life I had always felt so confident in myself and my acting.  And here I found myself feeling totally unworthy.  I was completely and utterly unhappy.

Then there was a moment.  I was sitting in one of my acting classes, and this feeling just overcame me.  This feeling that I did not belong here.  That I was not one of them.  That whatever my calling was, this was not it, that I was not one of these people.

Now, at the time that was quite scary to me, because I had invested the last 13 years of my life totally focused on the idea that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.  And all of a sudden, I realized that I was wrong.

Not that I woke up to it all at once.  In fact, I ended up having to sabotage myself.

You see, I wanted to leave.  Badly.  I wasn't happy, I wasn't thriving, and something just felt off.  But I couldn't get myself to quit school - after all I had tried so hard to get in and here I was.

So, to make the decision easier on myself, I managed to cajole the Universe into helping me out.

When it came time for notices to be posted on who was invited back to Junior year, and who wasn't.  Guess who wasn't.


And I was relieved.  Because I did not want to be there.

And I was destroyed.  Because my entire life path that I was on suddenly dropped off into nothing.

What the hell was I supposed to do now?

So, like any good lost 20 year old, I moved back home to live with my mother.

Which was awful.  I felt like I was on the outside of life, looking through a window at people living life.  And that I was outside of it all.  That I was just living this numb, shadow existence. 

I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.  Did I want to act?  Should I become a writer?  What about psychology?

I took classes at the local community college, hoping to find some direction.  I bought a book about how to create a life worth living.  I explored, I tried, I talked, I searched.

There was no direction to be found.  Because what I wanted to feel was a certainty, that YES, THIS was the right direction to go into.  Because I was terrified of going down a path, and it being completely the wrong one.  And losing so much more time.  Again.

I waited and waited.  But nothing was clear.  I didn't know if I wanted to try to continue with acting or not.

I didn't know anything.

So, in that depth of despair, that darkness, I knew that I needed to have something to anchor my life around.  Previously it had been acting.  And that was removed from me.

The one thing in my life that felt true and strong, was my spirituality.  Specifically, my belief that we are here on earth to learn our life lessons in order to evolve our souls.

And so that, that idea of life lessons and soul evolution, became my anchor, my strength.  And every step that I took forward was focused around the idea of what it is I needed to learn, and how I could best do that.  Every experience that I walked into became a beautiful opportunity, even though it looked so ugly on the outside.

I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  But I did know I needed to do something.  I came to the realization that whatever path I took would lead me to my calling.  That whatever choice I made, corrections would be made along the way to help me get there. 

But I had to start moving, because I wasn't going to get anywhere standing still.

I moved to Seattle (with the idea that I would continue to try acting, though that fizzled out). I got my own apartment.  Got a "real" job.  Got friends.  Lived the life of a young woman in her 20's.

And I knew, even back in those early days, that I wanted to help other people learn their life lessons and help their souls evolve.

But I had no idea what that would look like.  And instinctively knew that it was not the right time to pursue that yet.

Time passed. 
My life continued forward.  I followed my guidance system as best I could (which took me to Ireland, Peru, and even back to Portland for a bit).  I stumbled down many paths, traveled the world, got my college degree (in psychology), and had found myself in a secure job that just was not me.  (Hello, little miss social extrovert, staring at a computer all day!). 

And then, eventually, it DID become the right time. 

When it came time to get my annual physical, I discovered I had high blood pressure.  At 31.  And, I knew this was a message from the Universe.  I knew that I was off track, and that if I continued down this lie of a career, that I would just get sicker and sicker until my body rebelled and I had an early heart attack.

I knew that it was time for me to get back to what it was that I was here to do. 

So, I returned to my idea of helping others with their life lessons.  Now, I had NO idea what sort of job THAT was supposed to be.  I mean, were people actually going to come to me to help them learn "life lessons" or for "soul evolution"?  I didn't think so.  But.  It was my anchor, and it was what was true to me.  So.  I began to plan.  I was going to call myself a "life guide". 

And as I planned and researched, I came across the job of being a "life coach".  And lo and behold, it matched up pretty darn well with what I was all about.

I searched around for training.  And, lo and behold again!  There was a program here in Seattle that trained life coaches with the flavor of the woo-woo stuff I was all about - higher knowing, intuition, the Universe and all that.

So.  I jumped.  I gave my notice (granted, an 8 month notice), got my business license, and got ready for my real life to begin.

And here we are.  Yes, there has been A LOT of growth in the time that I officially started down this path.  There is no better way to put soul growth on hyperdrive than starting your own business, for real.  I've had the most amazing opportunities to burn through my issues that held me back at college, and have had to face and move through all sorts of limiting beliefs to continue to hold fast to my truth.

I can't tell you how amazing it is, to have someone come into my office full of the pain of being fired, or the anger over a past relationship, or the fear of really committing to their true passion.  And as we sit, and explore, and dig up what the lesson is in the situation, I can actually feel the shift in the room.  As they realize, OH, that is why I had that experience.  Or, OH, I don't have to be so angry about it after all because it really is a good thing.  Or OH, all that stuff that I'm afraid of, really, there isn't anything to be afraid of after all.  And they walk out of my office feeling lighter, and excited about life, and ready to move forward.  And they've turned a corner, and things make more sense, and everything is okay.

I go home in awe, feeling excited about my own life and self all over again.  I think to myself, Wow, I was actually a part of THAT.  And as they shift, I shift.  And as they learn, I learn.  And as they grown, I grow.  And I feel like all the pain and struggle and difficulties that I've been through in life actually matter.  Because they help me help others through their pain and struggle and difficulties in their lives. 

And I can look at the person before me, and see past all their pain and doubt and struggle, and I know that they can do this.  I know that what it is they are dealing with is just an opportunity for them to become even more beautiful and wonderful.  I look at them, and believe in them completely.  I feel like the best version of myself shows up there, in the room with this other person, as we try to navigate them through the lessons and road blocks of their life.  And that, THAT, is better than any red carpet walk that I could have had in the first version of my life.

So.  When people ask me why I'm a life coach, I don't go into all of that.  And even here, I'm not going in to all the pain and the lessons and the challenges that I've gone through that have helped me learn how to look at these lessons we are working on.  But all of that is there, bubbling beneath the surface of my answer.

I found what it was that I wanted to anchor my life to, and I let it shape my life into something beautiful.  And you know what?  I'm pretty happy about that.