My Own First Client

When did I decide to start coaching? It wasn’t a decision. It was a necessity. 

My first client was a typical case. 

As a child, she was bright, curious, and highly imaginative. 

As a teenager, she was emotional, broody, and severely romantic in thought. 

As a young adult, she was ambitious yet reckless, motivated yet doubtful, and remarkably insecure. 

Throughout her short life, she experienced big trauma and little traumas that led to triggers that infiltrated her life in the most infuriating and draining ways, but she was a fighter; feeling helpless but refusing to admit defeat. 

One day she came to me, she was a child and we knew each other well already, and she said, “I know I can survive, but why can’t I feel happy?” 

“Great question.” I responded. “What makes you happy? Why don’t you make a list?”

She thought for a moment, responding with a simple, “ok”. Off she went to create a list. It was quite a long list with things and people and places and hopes and dreams and activities and concepts. Remember she was quite bright, curious, and imaginative when she was a child. The list ended up in a journal that ended up in a drawer that ended up in a box in a dark cool place. 

One day in her teenage years, she came to me again. We knew each other even better at this point and she said, “Sometimes I wonder if I will survive, but deep down inside I know I will if I just get through this right now. Will I ever feel happiness again?” 

“Great question.” I responded. “What does it mean to feel happy? And where do you draw that meaning from?” 

She thought about this for many moments over many years. She kept a running tally in the back of her mind. “Is this meaningful to me? Why or why not?” She evaluated and reevaluated. She got overwhelmed and exhausted by the idea but, every once in awhile, a carefree moment of giggles and fresh air would slip into her life and she would think, “This. This is meaningful happiness.” And the tally would continue for a moment and then fade away again. Remember she was quite emotional, broody, and romantic in thought when she was a teenager.

One day within her young adult years, she came to me again. We knew each other quite well at this point and she said, “I’ve survived, but I feel like I’m just surviving. Will I ever feel well and healthy again?”

“Great question.” I responded. “What are you doing when you feel most well and most healthy?” 

She thought for a moment with a feeling of vague remembrance. She dug the list out of the cool dark place and copied the tally of meaningful happiness onto paper. She investigated it, edited it, and created a plan of action to support the establishment and maintenance of well-being into her life. Remember she was quite ambitious yet reckless, motivated yet doubtful, and remarkably insecure as a young adult. So she went full force into her plan of action only to give up on it time and time and time again. She fell back into old patterns. Her insecurities showed. Her recklessness resurfaced. 

This time I came to her. 

“Tracey.” I said to myself. “You have to keep up with it if you want to feel happy and healthy and well. You have to work towards it steadily if you want to thrive. You can’t give up and restart over and over and over again if you want to flourish.” 

Looking in the mirror, I nodded at myself. 

It was not a decision. It was necessary. 

I was my own first client.

I learned the theories, the concepts, and the practices. I recreated my plan of action into a manageable and achievable form. I implemented and maintained these practices into my everyday life even ever so slightly at first. People started to notice a difference in me. I started to notice a difference in me. I felt lighter and freer. I felt happier, healthier and, finally, well. 

It’s hard to identify how to introduce more happiness and wellbeing into your life in order to be thriving. It’s hard to commit to change. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of work and school and family and distractions and commitments while putting yourself on the back burner. It’s hard to confront burdens, limitations, and fears when in the modern world distraction is so readily available.

But it’s necessary. And it’s time.

Fireflies aren’t meant to live in jars. Let your light shine. 

Published by Fireflies and Jars

Hello! My name is Tracey Gerlach. Professionally, I am a Positive Psychology Practitioner and a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Unprofessionally, I'm a doubting dreamer who's just trying to make every moment count. Follow along!