Hello! I’m Bay
COACH + PODCASTER
I had a wonderful childhood. Like many people, my childhood lives in a rosy glow of nostalgia. Unfortunately, that nostalgic childhood was also filled with chaos, dysfunction and traumatizing events, though I was able to find beauty and joy in it, and when I couldn’t, I could always escape into my imagination. Funny how we can live through just about anything and not notice at the time. If you’re interested in learning more about my personal story, you can find it below.
In the face of everything being, in fact, quite difficult, being good became my safety net. Succeeding was my insurance policy. Being perfect was my guarantee for being loved, or at least finally worthy of love.
For the record, I see this now. I didn’t see it then. I saw nothing but room to improve and be better than I was. I saw nothing but my not-enoughness, which made me push myself all the harder.
Sometimes, people forget they had dreams and then they forget that they’ve forgotten, falling into the lull of numb contentment, which can be a mercifully comfortable way to exist.
Me, though? I wasn’t content, I didn’t feel numb and I certainly wasn’t comfortable. I felt empty, dissatisfied and almost desperate for things to be different. I was always looking for something better than what I currently had. I was resentful that this world, this life, was letting me down. Adventure and magic had abandoned me.
Most of all, I’d been so hell-bent on getting “there” and fixing myself that I didn’t realize that, in the process, I was crushing my soul with all of my impossible expectations, perfectionism and self loathing.
Everything about me was a project. I was something I could improve, and should. I was a problem I needed to resolve and for more than four decades, I relentless chased the solution of trying to make myself better than I was.
I thought I wanted success. Enough money. A great job that also looked great (so people would know I was good enough). No matter how well I did, I had the same inner experience of “this is not enough for me”, leaving me constantly looking for something better.
I was trying so hard to get “there” because then, finally, I was sure I’d be happy and content and worthy of the love I didn’t think I deserved. “Better” was the only path to being good enough to be worthy of the love and belonging for which I so desperately yearned, although I had no idea that love and belonging were the things I was chasing.
This is what had been driving me all along, even though I couldn’t see it. A deep yearning for unconditional love that was only available from others and definitely had to be earned by improving upon the version of me I was. It’s so clear in hindsight, but I was blind to the irony of my pursuit.
Like a greyhound running after a fake rabbit, I ground myself to pieces just to get something that didn’t really exist. Unconditional love is not a destination or a trophy and it doesn’t come from outside ourselves. Well, I mean, it certainly can, but it won’t matter how much love is poured upon a person if they believe they’re unworthy of receiving it. The way I was chasing it was ensuring I would never catch up to it.
Slowly, I’ve learned that self loathing is not a personal development strategy. I cannot hate myself into a version of myself I can love.
I’ve slowly learned that not only am I worthy of love, as I am—no conditions necessary—but that the key to being able to receive the love and belonging my soul desires is my ability to love and appreciate myself, as I am—no improvements necessary.
I’m still just as driven as I always was, but now I’m driven by my desire, joy, curiosity and love.
Self acceptance has turned out to be a much more sustainable fuel than trying to squeeze myself into a version of myself I thought was acceptable. For the record, it was always easier to gain other people’s acceptance than it was to gain my own.
These days, when I want to do something, I let my desire fuel the journey. I don’t play the “results-at-all-costs” game; I am as clear on the experience of life I want to be having as I am on my desired results. I’m still driven, but I let myself enjoy the ride, rather than fixating on the destination at the expense of missing all the scenery.
I’m still learning and practicing. My story is still unfolding. And, for over a decade, I’ve helped driven, resilient people just like me to unfold their own stories, not only creating a beautiful life, but more importantly, developing the ability to enjoy it.
Want to know more about me?
The Back Story
Growing up, I was a typical, happy little kid, though, given the circumstances, there were plenty of reasons not to be: a traumatic divorce and custody battle, plenty of significant family dysfunction resulting in my big brother growing up in a series of foster homes by the time I was 7 years old, persistent poverty that meant my single mother and I lived on welfare and food bank donations and never knowing if we could make next month’s rent. I moved at least twenty-two times that I can remember before I moved out at the age of 22.
In the face of everything going wrong at home, I was a model of grit and resilience. The teachers, social workers and family therapists all agreed that I was thriving.
Bay was okay. We don’t need to worry about Bay. Everyone could see—she’s doing just fine. Bay was great.
But the thing about resilient people is that we make it look so good on the outside that it’s easy to forget that no one becomes resilient without needing a damn good reason in the first place. Resilience is a by product of surviving challenging circumstances or experiences. It looks good—inspiring, even—but it’s a sign of a person surviving, not thriving. I could write a book on this some day. I think I will.
My resilience showed up in my absolute focus on high performance. I became incredibly driven. I fixated on my goals and nothing shy of perfection was acceptable to me. I set impossible standards and I tended to meet them.
I’ve been accused of being an idealist, which is a badge I’m proud to wear. I think to be able to overcome challenging circumstances and still be able to see light and possibility is a superpower. That being said, it can be difficult for an idealist to distinguish between how things could be and how they should be, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and a lot of disappointment.
Despite my humble beginnings, it never occurred to me that my life would be anything less than amazing. I believed I could do anything if I was willing to work hard enough. I believed in impossible things because mostly anything I wanted seemed impossible from where I was.
The most impossible thing I believed was that I could be perfect. My winning strategy? I was so sure that if I could do everything just right, I could make everyone happy, and then my life would finally be perfect, too.
Now, of course, we all know that perfection is impossible, but you know what? You can get pretty darned close, if you try hard enough. And trying hard is something I’m exceptionally good at doing. When something felt hard, I just pushed harder, no matter the cost. If you’ve read this far, I bet you know exactly what I mean.
I was obsessed with ballet, even though I really didn’t have the body for it and would later discover that I literally bent my leg bones by forcing them into ballet-perfect flexibility I didn’t have.
In my typical all-or-nothing approach, I took more than 15 ballet classes and rehearsals a week, seven days a week, while whizzing through school at the top of my class (except for math, because math is my kryptonite).
I attended an exclusive and highly competitive performing arts college. Over a thousand people auditioned and forty of us were accepted. I was invited into a fine arts writing program without submitting the requisite portfolio, because of my grades and because my high school English teacher had shared my writing with a friend in the university writing department.
I became a police officer when I was 21 years old, because I wanted to help people change their lives, idealistically forgetting that not everyone wants help or change or life to be different just because I did.
My university offered a wonderful internship program called Co-op: select students would be able to apply for and work in fields related to their degree program. Co-op offered students the opportunity to test-drive their education with work experience they would otherwise not likely be able to get. In typical Bay fashion, I didn’t just get into the Co-op program, I literally became its student ambassador, speaking on behalf of the program for university events. Other students did three or four work terms (12–16 months) added onto their degree; I took on 33 months of co-op positions, always trying to find The Thing that would make me happy.
Before I knew it, however, I’d become so driven to succeed that I’d lost sight of what I was seeking. I was looking for the stability I’d never really had, forgetting that what I really wanted was a life of adventure filled with love, magic, joy and passion. And in all my pushing forward, it had never occurred to me that these things could co-exist.
Instead, I sought out safe, well-paid government jobs, creating the security that had been missing in my life. I thought that once I had the stability I’d never had, Life would become magical again. Without realizing it, I’d shrunk my dreams down to fit within the cubicles in which I’d chosen to work.
I was So. Very. Bored. It was all too easy and too disappointing at the same time. I needed something more. I needed a master’s degree. But not just any master’s degree: I needed an MBA. That would be my golden ticket. It was the hardest thing I could do, so off I went to do it.
Now I could do Important Things! Now people would take me seriously! It would be years before I realized that no one was going to take me seriously if I didn’t value myself, first.
I had a great career, an exceptional education, a wonderful husband, a beautiful home with pets I loved. I traveled to places that seemed like fairy tales and owned a shoe collection that made Imelda Marcos look like a novice.
It should’ve been enough to make me happy, but it wasn’t.
Enough wasn’t enough for me. It never has been, and honestly, it probably never will.
I still wanted more and I was starting to realize that “enough” might always be just out of my reach.
It would take years, a lot of deep work, training, support and soul-searching to learn how to harness my “never-enough” so it didn’t drive me into a deep misery of always striving and never arriving, which you can read about above.
P.S. I made my shoe collection sound like a past-tense thing: I still own that shoe collection. It brings me great joy and a little bit of embarrassment, and it brings Adam a great deal of frustration. 😉