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Why Following Your Bliss Is the Key to Fulfillment and Success

A person holding a compass in front of them in the forest

I will be the first to admit that I have an absolutely terrible memory. So when I saw someone post about what they learned from their favorite elementary school teacher, I was impressed that they could even remember their elementary school teachers!


If I really think back on it (and don’t cheat by looking through my yearbooks), I don’t know that I could even name 5 teachers from my childhood years.

But one definitely stands out.


Ms. Wilson was my AP English teacher senior year. One of the things that makes her stick out so clearly in my mind is that she was unlike any other teacher I had had before. Some days she’d decide that desks were too formal, and we would grab one of the many pillows she kept in the room and sprawl out on the floor.


Other days, you’d walk into the room and there would be a picture of Jim Morrison on the projector. She’d just look at it, smile, let out a deep, contented sigh, and then turn off the projector and return to the day’s lesson (which of course had nothing to do with The Doors).


But what sticks most clearly in my mind are the three words she repeated constantly- follow your bliss.


These words enchanted and frustrated me in equal measure. Yes! Of course, this was the secret to a happy life... But what the hell is my bliss?


First I thought it was business. I wanted to be one of the sadly few female CEOs, kicking ass and taking names (and flying first class of course). But turns out accounting and finance aren’t very blissful for me.


Then I thought I’ll be a lawyer. You can ask anyone- I love to argue. And I’m also pretty good at convincing people to see things my way. In fact, I once convinced a fellow law school student to taser himself (but that’s a story for another day). And since I had already discovered that a big paycheck was not enough to constitute my bliss by itself, I decided to follow another passion- domestic violence law.


Here I was, representing women who had gone through unimaginable circumstances, trying desperately to get protection from the people who claimed to love them the most, and I got that first tingle of what my bliss could be—helping people.


This career choice was incredibly rewarding, but also draining. It takes a person with much thicker skin than me to be able to see or read about such atrocities and not get emotionally invested. So I had to step away for my own mental health.


Then I took some time to really think about what I love most. I read every book on fulfillment, purpose, and choosing the right career that I could find. In listing out the things I love and I’m good at, I realized that public libraries might be the perfect fit for me. I believe they are the cornerstone of a true democracy, and they aligned well with my legal interests because they support equality and freedom of access. Besides, I was there at least once a week getting my own books, so I might as well get paid for it.


I loved working at the library- I was helping people and surrounded by books! But I hated the bureaucracy. I (perhaps naively) didn’t realize how increasingly political the roles became as you moved up the ladder in this realm, and for someone like me who is incredibly driven and thrives on achievement and yet hates politics, this was a nightmare.


The stress of wanting to do more, to change more, but consistently hitting walls was incredibly frustrating, and like I had many times before in my life, I dealt with that stress by drinking. I wanted so badly to follow my bliss, to be like one of the happy people who wake up and can’t wait to get to work, but I started to believe that that would never happen for me. That I would just need to pick a career I could be reasonably happy with and accept it. Just accept my life.


But who the fuck wants to just “accept” the way their life is even when it feels like something is missing, something is off? I kept thinking to myself that this can’t be all there is, just working at a job that stresses you out and then drinking to temporarily relieve that stress—lather, rinse, repeat.


Thankfully, the voice in my head that was screaming for more was louder than the one ready to throw in the towel. And since I felt a lack of control in my career, I decided to look for the things I could control, like my unhealthy coping mechanisms.


Now, when I say things I could control, I don’t mean alone. I thought I could do it alone- I thought I could simply resolve to quit drinking, even for just a set period of time, but I couldn’t. And this scared me. So, through a coaching program, I got the support I needed to say goodbye to alcohol confidently and excitedly.


I wasn’t “giving something up”, I was gaining my life back. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore--I could now see my life and the opportunities it presented in brilliant color. I hadn’t been able to follow my bliss for so long because I had been using alcohol to numb the discomfort, instead of recognizing the discomfort as a motivator for change. When I was no longer willing to accept alcohol running my life or my decisions, I was also no longer willing to accept a job that didn’t fire me up.


So I quit my job at the library and started my own coaching business. I wanted people to feel that same excitement, that same bliss that I do now that my life is fully back in my hands. And man does it feel good to see people excited once again, growing their confidence, and completely changing their lives.


That doesn’t mean that my life is all rainbows and roses now, but I have regained the self-belief that I can handle what life throws my way, and that I can let go of or change the thoughts and behaviors that hold me back. And that, my friends, is my bliss.

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Marci Rossi

Hi ! I'm Marci

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