I was born in Moscow to an average, low income family. My parents divorced when I was seven years old, my brother just one. I grew up early because I felt responsible for my mother and younger brother. I always considered myself an ordinary girl without any evident talents.
At the age of thirteen, we had to move to a very small flat in an unfavourable area. I had to change my home, school and friends. It was here that I learned the hard way how it feels to be bullied, lonely and desperate – and even to be threatened with rape and death.
To survive, I had to fit in. I had to become a chameleon; blend in to fit my surroundings, and grow a very thick skin. I mastered acting so that I could convince people that I was “alright”. At that time, I didn’t realise just how much pain, anger and fear I had inside of me.
When I think back to my last year at school, I realise that I had no clue what to do with my life and what I wanted to become. When I had to decide which university to choose, my inner voice – after a long sleep – came out and whispered: “What if you deserve a better life?”
Even though this voice wasn’t strong enough at that point, some new thoughts began to stir within me. “What if I can become…someone?! Someone significant, not just average any more!”
I picked a very good university, but the fees were unbearable for my family. I remember trying really hard to persuade them that I was going to start working and that I’d manage to cover the majority of the fees. To my surprise, they agreed!
My first year at the university was just amazing. I was the first one in my circle to work that early. It was hard to manage both a full-time job and full-time study at university, but I did it. My fear of being seen as an ordinary, even stupid girl had been my driving force that time.
By the age of twenty-two, thanks to more hard work and dedication, my salary exceeded my very high expectations and I earned more than my entire family all together! Looking back, it was almost unbelievable how much had changed, how far I had come. From the outside, it looked just fabulous. Nonetheless, I had a hunger for more – more recognition, more growth and even more challenges!
During the next few years I was constantly chasing new opportunities, gaining more and more work experience, and focusing on the next challenge. Though despite the fact that I was getting amazing results, I didn’t feel much better about myself. I was only satisfied when I got good results, but after each failure my inflamed self-worth ached.
Flash forward, I’m 24 and getting married to a wonderful guy who is incredibly supportive and accepting of me as I am. After his graduation from Cambridge, we moved to London and I got a global role with huge responsibilities in a leading multinational company. I was incredibly proud of myself – along with being scared sh*tless because I’D NEVER CLIMBED THAT HIGH BEFORE!
Three months later, I found myself absolutely devastated by the words of my manager: “I’m sorry but you don’t meet the requirements for this position. Your English is not good enough, you ask too many questions… I have to extend your probation period to understand if you are a good fit for this role.”
I felt so miserable and exhausted! I had worked thirteen/fourteen hour days, yet it was still not enough. It was incredibly painful, but I didn’t want to give up. I decided that I’d prove her wrong at any cost. I was like a zombie for the next few weeks due to the micromanagement from my boss, long hours at work, a lack of sleep and nasty feelings in my body.
And then something very important happened… Something that pushed me to make one of the biggest decisions in my life! IT WAS THE MOST INSIGHTFUL MOMENT IN MY LIFE.
My body decided to stop supporting me and my continuous physical exhaustion had triggered a severe allergic reaction, so my health crashed. My body was a reflection of my inner pain and the damage that I had brought on myself.
Now I’m so grateful for this – because I realised: “Omg, what am I doing to myself?! My health is a top priority for me! No money or fancy job title will ever make me happy! I am absolutely miserable at work! I have to find a solution and do whatever it takes to make myself truly happy!”
And so I left that well-paid, global role with amazing perspectives and I jumped into the pure uncertainty, all-embracing, without even a shred of a sane plan in mind!
But for the first time in my life I started to think seriously about my identity, my interests, my values, my passion and what I really wanted to become. For the first time, I stopped serving my fears and started to think about my true emotions, interests and authentic self.
Despite all the doubts and worries about my future, I gave myself permission to relax and completely reboot myself and I bought tickets to Italy for a month! Weeks of pizza, pasta, gelato, amici -- and of course - self-discovery, reflection and therapy proved invaluable to me.
I managed to reconnect with my true feelings, interests, passions and dreams. Once I faced my deep fears, emotions, my suppressed pain and limiting beliefs, great things started to happen! It looked like THE UNIVERSE FINALLY PUT ALL THE PIECES TOGETHER FOR ME!
Fortunately, a few weeks after my recreational break, I came across life coaching. Having spent a day at the Animas Introduction to Transformational Coaching day I made a fundamental decision – to become a full-time Life Coach!
IT FELT SO RIGHT that I decided to go for it immediately and my husband supported me fully. Soon after, I was enrolled and waited impatiently to kick-start my dream!
I was so excited that I had my very first (paid!!!) session with the client before I’d even started the Foundations module!
After this very first session my client said: “Maria, you gave me hope!!” – Wow! I was completely blown away. I thought that if I could give hope to someone without even starting my education then I SHOULD NEVER EVER STOP DOING THIS!
I’m now a Confidence Coach and I AM ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH WHAT I DO. I help others to overcome their insecurities, limiting beliefs and to breakthrough to see how amazing they are!
When I signed up for the Diploma I thought coaching is going to be fun! Clients smiling at me and saying “thank you”, abundance of referrals, 100% conversation after first meeting and so much more! But it doesn’t always go quite like that, does it?!
At the time, my deep desire to help people and being great at what I do was still not enough! We have to work our butt off consistently and systematically to grow a good coaching business! We have to be seen, be open, which at times makes us vulnerable!
Don’t get me wrong, I have never been in the shadows! By the end of the Animas course I had three workshops, sixty hours of 1-2-1 coaching, and had thousands of followers on social media where I regularly posted a lot of valuable content! Moreover, I charged more than the average in my group!
My biggest learnings from this journey are that all my life I tried to fit in and be “significant”, but I’ve always been in a bad mental place and doubted my self-worth constantly. After my personal and professional breakdown, I was able to break through. As the saying goes, “To be reborn, you have to die first” – I love it because it’s so true!
After many long years of trying to fit in, I was finally able to happily stand out! I am now a qualified life coach, I did a U-turn in my life towards my authentic self and towards happiness.
Unfortunately, more often than not, it is pain that serves as the main trigger for changes in people’s lives, BUT I sincerely believe that we don’t have to wait until it is that bad! If we stop hiding from ourselves, pretending that we love our “comfort zone” – we have everything to achieve lots of breakthroughs in everything that we do NOW!
Last, but not least, start to try try try things out as soon as possible and, though it may sound strange, hopefully you will fail (Yes, FAIL!) multiple and multiple times before you finally find Your thing! It isn’t a bad thing. Lots of successful people failed multiple times before they succeeded, and it is a great way to really find that thing that feels so right!
Yes, being a coach is great fun and very rewarding in many ways but not easy because of a very important thing: we have to develop an entrepreneurial mindset along with a coaching one. I was lucky enough to learn this lesson very early in my journey that’s why my biggest priority was (and it still is!) building my authority and awareness on social media!
During my hard days I remind myself about exponential growth and that all the energy that we put in, we receive back! I also often remind myself that I’m not working - I am serving, I’m not employer - I am freelance, I’m not surviving - I am living, and I’m living my dream.
So I know that my best time is yet to come, and that’s why I allow myself to post imperfect stuff, to have imperfect coaching sessions, to make imperfect speech because it’s the only way to beat perfectionism! The only way to get things done and progress! I feel so empowered writing this as it is so true. Yes, I strive for perfection but I surrender myself to the imperfection!
If you are a high achiever as I am and also want to make a huge positive impact in this world, but for some reason you feel stuck, confused, low in confidence, exhausted or close to burnout – then you can find out more about a free discovery session and download my free ebook on my website.
Or you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn – I’m continuously delivering value and creating content to help everyone who wants to change! I’d be happy to help you find your right path, boost your confidence, reach your goals and have a lot of fun in between!
Shine bright and keep rocking!
Categories: Graduate stories