Summary: How a random conversation with a stranger brought me to tears in realizing my patterns of perfectionism and FOMO.

Since I just recently became a life coach, I was always excited to meet other coaches and learn from them.

I was playing tennis with a neighbor’s son, an old friend, when he mentioned he had a friend who just became a coach as well.

So randomly, so serendipitously, I got on a video call with him, and it ended up being a 4-hour long conversation.

It was so real, raw, and soul-baring I just have no words for it. At some point I was brought to tears as I admitted to this deep sadness I’ve been carrying for I can’t even remember how long.

I was in a place where I felt out of control of my life circumstances again, grounded and caged by the pandemic and the increasingly despairing and outrageous political climate.

I was trying my best to make the most of it and with lots of practice, had gotten good at thinking of positive spins and affirmations, but it’s one thing to think and believe them consciously, and a whole other beast to truly believe them subconsciously.

conscious vs subconscious fomo

I realized I didn’t truly believe in myself, deep down. I was so afraid to live boldly and take risks, such as joining the year-long coaches training program he had just finished which changed his life, more than therapy or any other things he had ever tried. I couldn’t see myself able to make back the $18,000 investment into it, even though he said almost everyone did.

All these patterns, he gently but firmly pointed out, and put them right in front of my face. They played out everywhere, from my inability to commit in so many areas of my life.

I’ve been a dabbler with so many hobbies, nothing wrong with having many interests, but I was so afraid of diving deeply into just one, from a combination of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and Perfectionism (wanting to be CERTAIN I’d be good at it first).

I couldn’t decide on where to live, wanting to see all of the world before deciding (these completionist tendencies played out since childhood as I obsessively spent hours catching all the Pokemon and completing every task in every game I ever played).

In my romantic relationships, while I loved deeply, there was always a part of me that wasn’t ready to commit to a lifetime with any of them. It very well could have been that I didn’t meet the right person yet, but what if it was me?

I craved and needed that certainty that I’d be a good and successful coach, in order to really go for it. I had so much fear and self-doubt.

Even though we had multiple conversations following and he saw so clearly and powerfully what I had to offer the world and continued to “stand for [my] Greatness,” it all means nothing if I don’t truly believe it myself.

Admitting to all this has truly been the first step in healing. I want to truly heal deeply, not just plaster on a smile and positive attitude no matter what, as I had learned to do my whole life from my Asian upbringing and especially during the brutal, soul-crushing years of medical training.

That’s only putting on a bandaid, minimizing the uglier parts of ourselves and our emotions dying to be seen, heard, and validated.

I see now that as much as I want to try to control everything and have safety and security in certainty, life just doesn’t work that way.

We can die anytime in a random accident, or some part of our body can give out. We don’t know how long we have.

Any semblance of control we think we have could just be an illusion. There is an element of surrender that we need to be okay with.

Being able to make decisions without that certainty, despite feeling terrified of that uncertainty, is a true sign of strength, and something I am striving to achieve.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s deciding that something else, such as our desire to serve the world and live out whom we were meant to be, is more important than that fear, and taking action DESPITE carrying that fear within us.

I struggled for so long trying to figure out the right next step to take. I’ve wanted to travel again, get back out on the nomadic road, but felt like such an irresponsible global citizen going against “no non-essential travel” advisories. I was relatively young and healthy, but what if I got others sick?

I was really drawn to this program, but I still had all these fears of what if I decide coaching isn’t for me or what if I beat myself up for putting a huge dent in my FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) goals?

But he suggested thinking of what the ideal Toni would do. The kind of Toni I want to be is one who fully trusts herself. It took me years to develop self-love, but I am still working on the self-trust piece.

self love fomo

Since I have not made finances work outside of medicine (sustainable income outside of medical-related gigs), the skeptical part of me still exists, especially when closest family and friends tell me to just give it up and just leave my passions as hobbies.

I felt I needed to see it first to believe it, that I could be anything but a doctor, FOR REALS. When I make enough income outside of medicine, only then I can lay that skeptical, pessimistic part of me to rest. But the tricky thing is, it’s often the other way around. We can’t see it UNTIL we believe it.

It’s hard, maybe even impossible, to achieve something/see the results we want unless we fully believe it first and have the right mindset.

I’m proud I was able to find the positives and make medicine mold to me rather than the other way around by choosing to do only telemedicine and travel doctoring gigs.

But I long to be able to fully step away and not worry about having regrets. It’s been a lot of work to keep a foot in the door cracking it open, keeping up certain skills and certifications.

It’s very fear-based thinking, and I’m sick of being that Toni.

Foot In The Door Phenomenon - YourDOST Blog fomo

I have to take some sort of action, make some sort of decision, rather than continuing to torture myself in this decision-making purgatory.

It’s a snowball effect as well. The longer we procrastinate, the easier it is to continue to procrastinate.

Conversely, if we take actions, even if small or seemingly insignificant, we can start a new snowball, in the direction that we want. Every day we can choose to step closer or farther away from our dreams and our ideal selves.

I decided the ideal Toni would not let travel advisories stop her. There is so much uncertainty out there with unstable flights, borders, and animosity towards foreigners and especially Asians.

But I don’t know how long the pandemic or restrictions will last, but I also don’t know how long I have left. My dad has thankfully recovered from Covid, but other complications or needs may come up.

And the ideal me would have enough trust in myself that she is capable, adaptable, and resilient, and will figure it out, no matter what comes her way.

She lives in a world of possibility and abundance, rather than fear or lack.

financial independence fomo person jumping off cliff with wings
Sometimes we have to leap and finish growing our wings on the way down

I also decided to invest in myself, for once, and believe that I can make it back. I wasn’t ready for this $18k program, but I will start with smaller programs, to really jump into coaching and believe in it as a business, not just a fledgling hobby.

I will stop handicapping myself with these thoughts that aren’t serving me, and get out of my own way.

I will proudly tell people I am a coach, and offer to help them, rather than believing I need more training, more practice, more confidence, etc, first before I am deserving of helping others and receiving compensation for it.

As I am now, I am already equipped to help certain people. Coaching is an incredibly beautiful world of co-creation, never-ending growth and personal development of both the client and the coach themselves too. I love taking these journeys together with others, sharing our souls.

Thank you so much, FR. He didn’t mean to coach me, I’m sure, but the brief bit that I experienced has already changed my life.

So while I still battle with my Perfectionism, FOMO, Completionism, and all the other unsavory parts of myself, I won’t let them hold me back anymore from taking steps towards my dreams. Massive Imperfect Action is way better than no action at all.

fomo decision making paths

If you’re struggling with decision making, a tip that really helped me:

Don’t ask, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” Instead, ask “What do I want to do NEXT? What feels like the most aligned path RIGHT NOW?”

We will evolve and those next steps will change. Let’s decide based on where we’re at, because we’ll never have all the information or certainty.

If you’re still stuck, just start doing something, and you’ll figure out how you feel about it along the way. Because clarity comes from action, not thought.

If this resonated with you, I’d love to connect. Please contact me here


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Who am I?
Hi! I'm Dr. Toni, a carTOONIst. I empower, educate and advocate for women and minorities through my art and coaching, while traveling nomadically. I help others also follow our hearts and live true to themselves, no matter what others say!
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