Are You Living Your Dream... Or Somebody Else's?

What I've learned is this: Life is a series of piling on layers. Posturing. We try so hard to be that person others want us to be.
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"Who is the real girl?" he asked.

"Huh? I'm trying to tell you," I replied, a little confused by the question. "I'm a mother and a wife, and I run a small tech business that has grown really fast these past couple of years, and ...."

"No, no, no. Who is the real girl, though? And, why are you here today?"

At first, I felt myself getting a tiny bit annoyed. Wasn't he listening? But, that annoyance quickly turned into humbled reverence. I gulped as I realized my uncertainty on exactly how to answer that simple question. I mean, I thought I knew who I was. But, did I really anymore? Lost inside my roles of mother, wife and CEO (to name a few), was I really tapped in to my truth and higher purpose? It was in that holy instant that I felt an awakening stir inside of me. Who was the real girl??

This was several years back in Vail, CO at a retreat for women business owners -- 3-percenters who had grown their businesses to 7-figures in revenue. It felt great to be amongst this powerful tribe of intelligent women who got each other on a deep level. We shared our joy, successes and big dreams. We also shared our struggles, stress and tears as we knew all too well the full spectrum of emotion that came with the territory of running a small business.

As part of the retreat, many of us had booked spa services to unwind, and some also ventured into something called pranic healing sessions with a lovely buddhist man named Felix. I had absolutely no idea what the session would entail, but I somehow knew I needed to talk to him. I was guided to making that appointment and remember feeling so nervous in the waiting room, a sign of something major to come. That day, as we talked, I felt him look into my soul... and then call me out on the stories I was telling myself. Our deep conversation had me feeling vulnerable and uneasy at first. But, I left feeling introspective, inspired, energized and awakened.

Since then I've been intensely and lovingly committed to deepening my spiritual practice and peeling back the layers. I realized that I had become my titles and my roles in life and, in the process, lost touch with the essence of my soul. I felt like I was living somebody else's dream. I had people cheering me on and supporting me to grow my business. But the reason I started it in the first place was for freedom. And, yet, as the business grew, my freedom shrank. I became a slave to it. My free-spirit was no longer let loose to soar. I inherited stress. And, at one point, my health even deteriorated as I fueled myself with caffeine during the day, calmed myself with glasses of wine at night and even developed stomach ulcers from the high-stress. Something had to change.

This began a voyage of self-discovery. I started writing again, a lifelong passion that I had pushed to the backburner. My personal blog was born and has since gained more views than I ever would have imagined when I sat there that first day, nervously hitting the "publish" button. Daily meditation, yoga, healthier living and renewed self-care have become the norm. My morning coffee has been traded in for green juice and the alcohol cut back to on occasion instead of in excess as the norm. Major shifts started to happen as I honored the urge to create, be artistic and let my spirit free.

The reward? Through this journey, I've been blessed to be of service and connect with so many beautiful souls and I've nearly brought a lifelong dream to fruition as my first book, Type-A Zen, is well on its way. This work truly lights me up from the inside out! And to think, I was missing out on all of it before I woke up and tuned back in to my real identity.

What I've learned is this: Life is a series of piling on layers. Posturing. We try so hard to be that person others want us to be. Who can blame us? We're constantly being marketed to: the luxury car, big house, flawless skin, perfect body or that special other person to "complete" us -- you know, all the things we supposedly need to be happy. All our lives, we're taught the "right" path which usually means going to school, getting a degree, getting a safe and cozy job to make lots of money (that you probably don't really love, but it buys you all that stuff that is going to magically make you happy).

At some point, we must take a stand against the constant pursuit of living somebody else's dream and stop looking for outside validation. Because, in reality, the best stuff happens when we turn our focus inward, tap into our truth and embrace our beautiful authentic self (aka that person you were before the world told you who to be).

It won't happen overnight, but subtle shifts have powerful impact over time. Spend some time each day in meditation. Connect your breath with movement in yoga. Breathe in the air, the earth, the flowers, the trees. Let your inner-artist free. Create. Connect. Let go of perfection. Find time to just be. Start today. Take small steps towards living your dream, to peeling back the layers, to being aligned with your truth, to bringing your passion to the forefront. Dig. Dig deeper. Then dig some more. Who is the real girl (or boy)? Dig until you find that beautiful buried treasure within. It's not easy work. But, the efforts are infinitely rewarding.

Much love, namaste, and happy digging.

Written by Dawn Gluskin, a recovering perfectionist & former (stressed out) CEO who has given up the 60+ hour work weeks & saying 'yes' to every project that comes her way in exchange for more peace, joy, and connection to spirit. She's founder of the Type-A Zen movement & authoring the forthcoming book by the same name. For more inspiration, get on the list, join the inspiring Facebook community, and follow on Instagram.

This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones, entitled 'The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.