Live a life true to yourself

The most common regret when people looked back on their life was not to have lived a life true to themselves and to have lived the life others expected of them instead.

As I share some of my experience, I hope to inspire you to reflect on your life and any dream that you might have left unfulfilled…

The other day, I was in the car with my girls when the Song Purple Rain from Prince came on the radio – the same day after I had received a beautiful message from Océane’s surf teacher telling me to “Never give up on your dreams”.

So I started explaining to the girls how Prince had been booed by the crowds at a Rolling Stone concert and how he had not given up his dreams. He had such a successful career and was an amazing Artist, whether you loved him or not. And dancing on Purple Rain… The thing is, there will always be people who love what you do and others who don’t.

Let me tell you a story…

As far as I can remember, throughout my school years, I was labelled as a studious BUT reserved girl. RESERVED girl – yes, that was me. Because I was scared that others would laugh at me if I said something silly. So I never participated in class and was mortified if the teacher asked me anything.

My dream was to work in the tourism industry. So when I applied for a school which would train me, I went to my teachers to get some recommendations for my file.

I will never forget my english teacher who rolled her eyes when I said I wanted to work in Tourism. She wrote on my file that I was very shy. I didn’t get into the school. But I didn’t give up on my dream.

I ended up going to University to study English & American civilisation and literature. I was extremely bored so when I got the opportunity to go to Ireland with a friend, there was not hesitation. I got a job as a waitress in the well known Blue Haven in Kinsale. 

Then, in 1998, I got hired by a Tour Guide company in Dublin who trained me. The shy – reserved girl would have to speak on a mic in front of a whole tour bus… I trained, passed my exams and went on guiding.

My first tour was a school tour, with a french coach – some experience!!! I was discovering Ireland at the same time as the group!!!

But I managed and went onto my second tour: a group of retired teachers!!! They all had their guide book, studied as much as they could before arriving and they kept on checking every single facts I was sharing with them in their books.

To be honest, I wasn’t experienced or knowledgable enough to guide them. It was only my second group… The Tour Leader, who was a retired english teacher, kept complaining. She needed more, she wanted to do more visits than what were not included on the itinerary, and no matter how much I did for her, it wasn’t enough. We toured around Ireland for 10 days and I did my very best.

The Tour Leader sent in a complaint, she wanted a refund. She wrote a long letter explaining how useless I was. She said my french was bad, my tour guiding skills were terrible and that I should give up that job altogether!!!

I was only 23. For the first time in my life, I had found a job I enjoyed. For the first time, I felt that I was going to be ok and not struggle as I had been before. I had an inner fire that was so strong that no one was going to break me down. And there was NO WAY I was going to give up.

I got paid half of my salary for this tour – but that was ok. Instead of giving up as suggested by the Tour Leader, I decided to make a few changes.

First, from that day on, I told all my groups that I was franco-irish with an Irish mum from Cork and a French dad from Brittany (half was true!). NO ONE ever said after then that my french wasn’t good enough. In fact, everyone thought that it was excellent!

I also introduce my little “book of memories” and asked everyone after each tour to write a little note. I could then use it if I’d get a complaint after a tour. The thing is, during that difficult tour, no one was complaining to me other than the Tour Leader, the rest of the group was really pleasant and seemed satisfied. That little book was gold, and for the rest of my career, I never ever had anymore issue.

Finally I studied, A LOT. Every night before each day trip, I would prepare what I would talk about. I knew all the dates, the facts and the history of Ireland. I could talk for hours without having to look at my notes. I became one of the most demanded french speaking tour guide and was never out of work.

This experience taught me one very important lesson:

No matter what people say or think – if you have a dream or something that you really want to achieve, just go for it – NEVER GIVE UP and follow your intuition.

I’m very grateful for that Tour Leader who taught me that lesson.

Today, my daughter Marine who’s 12 has a dream of having a Dog Hotel. That dream has been burning inside of her for the past year. While in Portugal, she volunteered in a dog shelter and I had to go with her, which I really enjoyed. As soon as we came back to Ireland, she designed a poster to offer pet sitting in our house! I can tell you that our cat Praline wasn’t too impressed, but Marine is amazing with pets. She had 3 clients this summer, 2 who stayed with us and one that we had to visit twice a day in her house. As you can imagine, it did put pressure on all of us but we want to encourage and support her to make her dream come true. Knowing what she wants at that age and being so dedicated is amazing! We are so proud of her…

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