By Natalie Amsden
I cannot help but be ME. Believe me I’ve tried otherwise. I was a weird kid. I didn’t know I was weird until one day in 5th grade. A boy at my bus stop told me, and I quote, “Natalie, you always act like an animal.” The truth is he was probably right. But, so began my typical childhood self-consciousness and approval seeking behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I was still weird, but I chose to share that side of myself only with my family members, who are just as gloriously strange as I am.
I’ve always been rather outspoken (that’s an understatement). My parents used to joke when I was in elementary school that I would one day run for president. As a young teenager I had a well-worn soap box, regularly going on and on and on about my idealistic notions of fixing the ills of the world and how ridiculous it would be to take advice from adults who hated their jobs yet insisted I follow the same path they did. When I was being coached about careers, my response was,
“I would rather live in a cardboard box. There HAS to be a better way.”
My parents used to poke fun at me, claiming that all I ever did was complain. They were right, but unlike most people I didn’t just sit back and protest, I actually did something about the things that got me riled up. In high school, I was the leader of a student-run hip-hop dance group that provided extracurricular activities and tutoring for at-risk youth. (Yes, I will admit, I used to be a breakdancer.)
You would have thought, had you known me, that I never, ever would have done what the adults in my world told me I “should” do: go to school and get good grades so you can go to college, get a good job, work most of your waking hours until you’re 65, retire, live in poverty for 5 to10 years, and ultimately die. But, I did start down that road. I was an A student. I went to college, got a career in Marketing, got married young, just like my parents and their parents had done, and bought a house in the suburbs. Everything was just peachy. But it wasn’t.
I had submitted. I had sold my soul. At 23 years old I was doing a darn good job living everyone else’s dreams. I might have seemed okay to the outside world, but I had become burnt out and dead inside.
I felt exhausted and empty, like someone drained my blood. At work I would look at the carpet under my cubicle desk (a.k.a., voluntary prison) and dream of curling up in a ball under there and taking a nap. When I would get home from work I’d frantically prepare dinner, eat and clean, knowing that once I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get up again. By 7:30 p.m., my young body was totally done for the day. Then one day I was stopped at a traffic light and thought to myself “I wonder how long this light is. Maybe there’s enough time to close my eyes for a few minutes.” Then I noticed how strange that thought was. I looked at the other cars around me, all filled with people twice my age, none of whom looked like they felt as terrible as I did. For the first time, I realized something wasn’t right.
I went to the doctor and had her do every test imaginable, yet they all came back showing I was “healthy as a horse”. Eventually my doctor labeled me with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” and sent me on my way with nothing more than book about changing my diet.
So, I started eating a natural, balanced, healthy diet, and when that didn’t help much, I finally woke up one day and realized that working in the corporate rat race I had so firmly resisted was slowly killing me. I said goodbye to my very last employer at the age of 24 and started my own graphic design and marketing company. I slowly began taking control of my life.
A few years later I did some soul searching and decided my purpose was to help others expand their minds and live their own purposes. I also had a deep caring for teenagers, and so I opened a non-profit teen life coaching center. I was feeling a bit more like myself, and my fatigue had improved, but I still had this deep ache inside—like a hungry beast—that I quickly pushed down and repressed, just like all of my deepest desires.
Through my new business venture my own mind expanded. The people I met mirrored back to me—showing me how much of my life wasn’t really mine. I had an epiphany and there was no turning back. I HAD to be me! After so long with my true self hiding in she shadows I wasn’t even sure who I was, but I was 100 percent certain who I wasn’t. Within a three-month period I totally wiped out EVERYTHING in my life: two businesses, husband, dog, house—everything.
Although there were moments in which I was temped to retreat back into the darkness of repression and denial, I clung firmly to my deep-seated desire to live authentically. As soon as I released all of which no longer served me and let go of the identity I had created around everyone else, the most amazing and perfectly aligned people and circumstances magically appeared in my life. I found my calling as an entrepreneur. I found my soul mate and partner in life. I found my tribe. I found ME.
And the Chronic Fatigue Syndrom? Changing my eating and sleeping habits helped, but what cured me was releasing the depression caused by repressing my true self.
Now I’m at a point in which not only am I determined to live my life in authenticity, I am applying this same value to my business. I want to pay it forward. I want to develop a true connection with my tribe and encourage all of you to live in alignment with YOUR true selves. And so, I offer you my business mission—the Transformation Manifesto.
We live in a unique point in history–a precipice
of human transformation. WE ARE AWAKENING…
We are no longer content with living someone else’s dream.
~ We long for something more ~
We are on a mission to change the world.
We don’t have a message, we have a MOVEMENT.
We’ve unplugged from the matrix.
We don’t just make a change, we totally transform. It’s not that we have no fear, it’s that we do it anyway. THE STATUS QUO MAKES US GAG.
~It’s a life worth living or nothing at all~
We are not going to settle. We don’t wait for a catastrophe to change: we consciously evolve.
We value integrity | We question authority | We rewrite our scripts | We release limitations
We let go of that which does not serve us and when we’re not motivated, WE DREAM BIGGER.
We TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for our lives and we TAKE ACTION!
We turn curses into blessings. We use our gifts and share them with the world. We are grateful.
We enjoy the simple things in life. We breathe. We live. **We dance in the rain**
We know that happiness is a CHOICE
and WE CHOOSE TO LIVE an audacious life.
We are authentically, totally, and emphatically US.
We own it. We don’t apologize. We are Transformation.
Natalie, Publisher of Transformation Magazine, has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. She is the former Director of a counseling center for teenagers and their parents. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. www.transformationservices.org