1098265_146518062222695_1278786551_nBy Ashlee Secord, LMFT

I had a young woman in my office several weeks ago, we’ll call her Janine.  Janine has been looking for a career change for some time and in the course of her search she and her boyfriend broke up. Although she knew there was a possibility of this coming she stated that she didn’t know who she was without him in her life and was very sad about the new physical and emotional distance between them. She had come to rely on him in so many areas of her life that it became easy to have self-confidence in who she was and rested easy in the life and decisions they made together. In his recent absence she became less self-assured. Her confidence seemed to disappear and new questions and doubts arose: “Who am I without him?” “Am I loveable?”  “What did I do wrong?” “What do I want?” “What is the truth?” You could see that she genuinely struggled with losing this young man that had come to mean so much to her, but reluctantly let go at his request.

As is to be expected, Janine felt lost and unsure of how to rely on herself again. She seemed flooded with emotions that she typically didn’t have to deal with on her own up until now. Simply, she didn’t know what to do next. I brought her attention back to her job search momentarily and asked, “What will you be like when you have your dream job? Who will you be then?”

She thought for a minute and the first word that came of out of her mouth was “Confident.” I ask her to keep going. “Respected, honest, a leader, creative, and easy to talk to.” The list came easily for her. Although she did not know what her Dream Job was, she knew EXACTLY who she was, who she would be, in that ideal role.

I return back to where she is in this moment. The confusion. The sadness. The lost girl still longing for what she had. I remind her that her boyfriend did not give her the qualities that she enjoyed about herself while they were together, they had been there all along. Even now, amidst the pain and frustration and sorrow she can be the woman she knows she can be with or without her Dream Job, with or without her boyfriend. It is simply who she is.

Deep down we know who we are, who we are intended to be, but we tend to think that all the circumstances have to be just right.  We are each incredible individuals. Even amidst our pain, anguish, mistakes, challenges, weaknesses and trials we are able to make a tremendous impact on the world around us. Regardless of the trials you face, lost support, or pain you endure don’t become derailed. Your circumstances haven’t changed who you truly are, who you have been all along, they are shaping you into who you are becoming. Remember who you are, keep your eyes open and never lose sight of path set out before you.

You are needed.


Ashlee Secord is Marriage and Family Therapist at Thrive Therapy, which is located in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Contact Ashlee to begin the counseling process of discovering who you are in light of the circumstances you have endured.