I was feeling that there was something off about my professional life that I could not identify for at least 4 years. I had a sensation I was wearing a beautiful dress, it looked nice to others, but it was too tight, certainly not the right fit for me.
I started feeling stuck and frustrated.
When I founded my company Praxis Socioambiental (Socio-Environmental) in Brazil 11 years ago I knew I wanted to have a positive impact in the world and, of course, make a living doing it. Starting and growing a business when you are young, female, in a considerably recent field at the time (sustainability), without sponsors, capital, or clientele is so hard… I had all in one: I was female, young and a mother.
When you look at it, women have less support from multiple perspectives and always have more to prove, but my little boy deserved all the love and the opportunities I never had.
My dream was so inspiring and my challenges were so monumental that a few years later after I launched my business I turned into a workaholic (exactly what I never admired or wanted for myself) but I completed my dream list:
In the beginning, I had the flexibility I wanted to actively participate in my son’s life.
I not only finished my degree but kept studying in the following years. I completed a MBA, got the international certification in Social Business, joined an extension course and many other programs to increase my knowledge and opportunities.
I expanded my business operation to 5 states, allowing me to travel to remote regions of Brazil, meeting new communities of people, working side by side with them to make a better world through entrepreneurship, education, social and environmental ventures. And I can say… Brazil is such a beautiful country and our people amaze me. What I learned from those I met in the field I would have never learned at College.
I hired a bigger team to expand impact. They were believers and doers, supporting the company’s growth and helping me to make a difference every place we served.
I rented a nice, charming office.
I wrote 3 books and many other materials to expand sustainability practices.
I bought my apartment and (finally) was able to travel anywhere in the world.
I had the opportunity to share with my son that you can build something you believe in, respecting your values and even sustaining yourself and your family.
Ironically, many people don't classify me as a success story, probably because I didn't make millions or have thousands of followers on social media in the past years, but from my perspective I achieved unimaginable things.
Most of expecting teenagers in Brazil according to research, don’t finish studies or work after they give birth. Early pregnancy is associated with social vulnerability and is considered a health problem in developing countries. Not to mention that prejudice and bias was part of my life and still is until these days. According to Datasus Research, in 2016 teenagers gave birth to one in to five children born in Brazil. 76% of Brazilians between the ages of 10 and 17 who have children do not study and 58% of them do not study or work. I not only did both but was able to give the best I could to support my son’s growth. I’m proud of that.
After I moved to California 1 year and half ago, I expanded my horizons. While managing my business in Brazil, I found a new job, started studying again, became an Ambassador of the Women Entrepreneurs Network, joined a 6 month volunteer program at Kiva (a reference in my field!), created the Global Women Mentoring Program to support women in developing countries to thrive, had an offer to join a startup in a C level position, and the list could go on and on…
Most immigrants struggle to rebuild their lives in a new country due a new culture. Also the language is a natural barrier, and there I was managing everything the best way I could ever ask for. Except for my fight with impostor syndrome, everything seemed to be in the right place.
The only problem was I still felt something was wrong.
I had the sensation something was missing and I just couldn't stop that nagging inner voice. I started noticing that I wanted to be in nature more often to rebalance and to think more clearly.
I started meditating and praying almost every night, aiming to reconnect with myself and express my gratitude. I didn't want to take for granted all the blessings I had in life.
Then one day, one of my co-workers who had been giving me a hard time suggested I see the Innsaei film that explores the power of intuition and how we turn this button off with our busy, stressful lives, full of to-do lists and idealization about what our lives should be.
Intuition is that gut feeling, that inner voice, that instinct appearing quickly in our minds without us being fully aware of the why, bridging the gap between instinct and reason.
We all have moments where we know the right path or decision to make without rationalizing it. We just know. It can be a good or bad feeling about someone, something, somewhere you are. Or a sensation that you should think better before taking action or sharing your thoughts. Try to remember when you denied listening to it and took the other way around based only on your reason. It’s impressive how disturbed we can feel when ignore it. I realize I was neglecting this natural capability so I wasn’t able to listen it properly.
Sometimes we are racing not only to achieve our dreams and overcome our biggest challenges, but running from ourselves because we are afraid of what we will find.
Because we don’t know who we are deeply or what makes us happy. For some people like me, it’s easier to pack my calendar full of activities rather than stay days at home getting to know myself.
So I stopped running from the strange feeling and started accepting my inner questions. What do I feel if something is not right? Why am I uncomfortable with some parts of my life? Why it has been so hard to change my path?
After chasing my tail for a while, looking for answers outside, I realized it was my intuition calling and guiding me to work on the inside.
I’ve accomplished amazing things by working hard, but a long time ago I stopped thinking about the difference between what I was expected to do ( Including that I always had to satisfy and support others first), from what I need, what truly makes me happy, what my heart and mind needed to be healthy and at peace.
After I became conscious about my vicious cycle, I decided to quit the automatic pilot and looked at myself without masks and the tons of expectations I put on my shoulders with or without external help. I finally decided to close my company in Brazil. It was time to move on. I said no to opportunities that a lot of people would die for because they weren’t aligned with what my inner self was looking for. This personal website was born with my own efforts, with my story, and now the first new job contracts are coming to fruition, reflecting a new life in balance. I feel desperate sometimes. I don’t know what comes next. I don’t have a lot of plans. I have so many questions to ask myself, so many places to visit, so much more to know but I feel I’m finally walking out of a box - and for now it’s all that i need. I’m in peace.