A Japan-born client in her late 20’s told me her story:
“I was a good student in school and my hard work often rewarded me with good grades. My teachers and parents were also very proud of me. When I was 21, I was even selected to receive one of the most prestigious scholarships awarded to those coming to the United States. Later, I received my master’s degree in macro-economics at one of the Ivy League schools. I was also very lucky to find a junior economist position at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. After the initial training period, I was also assigned to work in African countries.”
To this I responded,
“How wonderful! You are a hard-working talented young woman!”
I was impressed by her pristine resume. But of course, her purpose of seeing me was not about impressing me with her life story. she did not come to tell her story to impress a life coach. In fact, her reasons for seeing me involved the uneasiness she felt before her “molting period.” She mentioned,
“Something is not right. I feel like I was pleasing everyone but myself. At the end of the day, I am not sure what I really want to do.”
While she knows how to fulfill other people’s expectations of her, she was unsure of how to fulfill her own. By this point, she felt that her life goal had been met. She is no longer convinced by the need to stay at the World Bank to continue what she has been doing. The process of getting promoted one stage after the next no longer seemed appealing. At the same time, she was feared losing her hard-earned position where she developed a good image of herself along with her comfortable income. She emphasized the fear of not wanting to disappoint her parents in Japan.
By this point, I decided to share my chosen story of the molting process of a crab. She listened attentively and responded,
“I AM that little crab! I can grow and become a better person. That is exactly what I want to do!” The young World Banker related to the process the crab endured. The outside label that was projected onto her no longer seemed to satisfy her.
On the other hand, not every client is like this young woman. Others might say,
“I am happy as I am and don’t feel any need to change.”
At this point in time, they might be in the right size shell. This is also a wonderful indicator that they are in the correct size shell at that point in time.
The next time we feel discomfort or vulnerability, it may be important to reflect back on the molting process in order to embrace growth during difficult times.