I was born a very happy baby in a loving family with two elder brothers. Laughing, singing and exploring were my favourite activities. From the moment I went to school I started to adjust myself to outer expectations. More and more I became focused on fitting into the system, being a good girl, getting good grades and working hard. Down the line I forgot about myself and what I wanted. This was my story.
Being a good girl
When I look back most of my life felt like a struggle. Maybe on the outside everything looked fine, but on the inside it was not. I was born as a highly sensitive girl and I felt everything really deeply. My own emotions and those of the people around me. I remember feeling the emotions of the grown-ups around me at birthday celebrations. I could feel their saddness, grieve and irritations. Real emotions were not expressed and all I saw were smiling faces. I felt confused, it felt wrong, but at a certain point I tried to do the same.
I was a good girl in school, did my homework on time, had side activities like ballet and playing the traverse flute and at the age of 14 I started to work in side jobs. All was going well, but most of the time I just didn’t feel happy. But I kept going. Until I started to develop health problems in the last year of high school.
For almost a decade from the age of 17 until 27 I had problems with my health and energy level. I suffered from chronique fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and allergies. My body urged me to slow down, but I hated it. I wanted to put my emotions aside and work hard. It had become one of my survival mechanisms. I would always put a smile on my face and kept going. On the short term I succeeded in many things I set my mind on, but on the long term I got depressed and burned out.
The turning point in my life
At the age of 31 I was living in my big beautifully renovated dream house on the Dutch country side, together with the love of my life, had a normal job, 3 adorable cats and I was planning to have a baby. All seemed to be going well.
But I got a burnout. I remember coming home crying every evening after work. I felt trapped in a job I did not like, had legal problems related to my dream house and was experiencing a lot of private problems. Everything felt like a mess. I didn’t like my life and had no idea how to change my situation. All I wanted to do was sleep.
Over the months I had frequent conversations with the company doctor and she advised me two things: go do nice things and to start doing sports. This advice sounded simple, but I just didn’t know where to start. At that point I felt nothing, was completely numbed and could not think of a single thing that I liked to do. Looking back I now know that this was the lowest point in my life.
And this is when I started my soul search. I got a coach, visited therapists and slowly but surely I found out what made me tick, what fills me with joy. It became clear to me that I needed to get out of systems that did not match my identity and values. I wanted to follow my heart and pave my own path. This is how I became an entrepreneur. And I felt my life had finally started.
Step by step I tried to build up a new life, but I was still in the old situation that was limiting me to fly. One side of my life became brighter and brighter, the other side darker and darker. It didn’t match anymore. And then at the age of 34 I literally lost everything. The longtime relationship broke, I lost my dream house, my sweet cats, a lot of money and most of all my old sense of self. I lost the person who I was trying to be, to finally discover the person that I really am.
Life has completely changed ever since.
New choices in the right direction
Is this a sad story? Absolutely not. Was it tough? Absolutely. Would I do it all over? Yes. Because it got me to where I am today.
These life experiences taught me many things. I finally came in touch with who I really am and all the grieve and losses opened my heart and finally I was able to feel again. It gave me the courage to make many scary decisions.
The periods of low energy and burnouts taught me to take better care of myself. I quit smoking, started doing sports, yoga, walking, eating healthy food and taking breaks. I also learned about my priorities in life. My health, my loved ones, my personal growth, enjoying life and doing my part to make the world more beautiful. And I learned to say no to other things.
Loosing my big dream house made me realise that all I really wanted was to feel free and safe. Having a huge mortgage and big garden to maintain did not feel like freedom at all. I felt more free in the simple apartments I rented afterwards.
Being single allowed me to connect with myself and not always think about other peoples needs. It gave me the energy to connect with other people, go to events and take personal development courses all over the Netherlands. This is how I got in touch with like-minded women. It gave me the courage to keep moving on the scary path of being an entrepreneur.
It also gave me the courage to go traveling alone through Europe. If you would have told me this 10 years ago I would have laughed at you. I didn’t think I was a person who could do such brave and scary things. And yet in a period of 3 years I traveled and worked all over Europe where I visited beautiful places and met wonderful people.
But this didn’t feel like a big decision. I just started with one travel in 2015 to look after a house of a friend in Tenerife and brought my laptop so I could work while I was there. I was a tourist during the day and an entrepreneur during the night. While I was getting lost in the breathtaking nature of the northern mountains, I got in touch with the most beautiful feeling inside of me. Connection with all there is. Pure love. Never could I have imagined that I would actually live there myself three years later.
Loosing loved ones in the last years has made me realise many things. Life is meant to be celebrated, not just to be stressed out about or to cope with. And the purpose of life certainly is not to settle for less. I can now see the little things that fill me with joy. The sunset at the end of the day, a flower on the street, a kind gesture from a friend, or a stranger. I have learned to be grateful, but to take nothing for granted.
I can be who I want to be
Most of all I realised I can be whoever I want to be. I can be myself. I can be the best version of myself. Fear and doubt have kept me side-tracked for a long time. And fear of what? To fail at a corporate job? To loose love, people, things, money? To loose everything I have? Life has given me the chance to experience what that is like. It was hard, yet I am still here.
I guess I had to loose everything, to realise what is really important. It made me stop surviving and start living. I want to live a good life and do my part to make the world a better place. I would love to encourage you to do the same.
About the author of this blog post
Hi my name is Mirjam Overbeek, a Dutch Authenticity Coach living on Tenerife.
I love helping women to reconnect with themselves and their dreams, stop living up to expectations of others and have the courage to pave their own unique path. I believe it makes the world a better place when we follow our heart. I offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype & Zoom and retreats on Tenerife.
Want to see what I can do for you? Schedule a free Clarity Call with me. It will give you instant clarity in the area of your life where you feel stuck right now.