Each week, I photograph about 5-10 people and every so often there's one that I simply adore from the first moment we meet and Pooja is one of those clients. She's starting off her new career as a life coach and needed some new headshots and I was happy to oblige. Pooja has such a dynamic personality and interesting story that I thought she'd be perfect for a guest post on Awfully Grand. She's super high energy and you just can't help but to smile and be inspired when she's around. If you're needing a life coach that is super positive and very business like and not too woo-woo, then she's the girl for you. She wants to help women find their awesome and I fully support that. We need more cheerleaders like that in the world. Check out this great postcard project she's doing HERE. Big hug to you, Pooja!
You know the feeling when the risk of staying and changing nothing is much greater than the risk of just walking out even when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing to do?
I was in that situation. 9 months ago.
I grew up in Kenya in a loving supporting family. I loved math and was obsessed with acing every single test (yes…uber nerd hello!!!). I moved to the US to go to college to study actuarial science, the application of math in business – sounded perfect to me! What followed were years of struggle with my career choice.
I did not enjoy my college classes. I did not really love the work in my internships. I didn’t even love my first job out of college (even though I got paid $55,000! At 22!!!!)
But what was I to do? Stray away from my foundational belief of sticking with it no matter what? No. That wasn’t responsible. That wasn’t me.
So what did I do? I worked my butt off, got qualified as an actuary and went through 6 different jobs (4 as part of a leadership program at one of the top companies in the country) and 12 years…(yes I said TWELVE!!!!) of working as an actuary.
Then one day I had the moment. Steve jobs passed away and I read his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. And then. I read it again.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Oh. My. Gosh. I had had it. What was I sacrificing my life for? What was I scared of? How can walking away from something that killed my spirit (and no…I am NOT being dramatic), be a bad thing? How could that be risky?
In that moment, I decided this was it and I was out. I quit my job on the SAME day that this hit me (yeah, told my friends over my lunchtime workout that I was going to quit that afternoon).
Everyone (including my boss who didn’t accept my resignation at first) thought I had lost it!
You know what though?
I had FOUND it.
My life. My courage. RESPECT for myself.
I was too freaking good to waste my life doing something that I wasn’t passionate about.
What if I didn’t find my dream job? What if it didn’t work out? These questions didn’t matter. I was ALREADY NOT in my dream job. My career had ALREADY NOT worked out!
Yeah, I was making great money and got a lot of respect but hell, I wanted my work to make me want to dance!
Mediocrity was NOT an option. AWESOME was the only road to take.
Fast forward to today and I am living my dream. As a life coach, I get to work with clients to discover what’s truly important in their lives. I create customized plans designed to help them achieve their goals. I help them find and live their AWESOME.
So now I’m working on my website and that’s how I met Sarah whom I hired to take a ‘not so corporate’ picture of me.
Another freaking dose of AWESOME.
She’s authentic. She’s sassy. She’s stylish. She’s sexy.
She’s everything I aspire to be – AWESOME.
Thank you Sarah for the chance to tell my story. Here’s to finding and living our awesome!
PS - Pooja's website is in progress, so you gotta wait for that, but she is currently taking clients, so email her if you're interested. All photos by me!