“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
(Kelli on the left, her sister on the right. All these photos were from a “just for fun” photo session my husband and I did for the two of them!).
While most little kids would prattle on about grandiose dreams involving fame, firetrucks, and princess dresses, young Kelli would hide in the corner hoping to avoid the awkwardness. Even as a very young child, this question made Kelli very uncomfortable and upset. The truth was that she had absolutely no idea and she knew this was the wrong answer.
Throughout high school Kelli battled deep feelings of insecurity.
She never felt like she quite measured up to the standard of perfection that was continually held over her by her extremely traditional culture that told her the only option in life was to be a mom and nothing more. She found herself continuing to fight to stay in the mold- all the while feeling like her efforts were futile- which only perpetuated the cycle of her not feeling good enough and trying harder. She was being crushed by feelings of failure and worthlessness. At this point she was pretty much convinced she would never amount to anything.
Of course her pressure for perfection did lead her to great things…
…no matter how negative she still felt about the things she did and herself.Â She moved from working her first job at McDonald’s, through tons of other positions, all the way up to maintaining a great, high paying, corporate job. She was officially a “success” to the outside world, but inside she still didn’t feel good enough.
Since Kelli was used to high pressure and challenges, she got bored very quickly. Which is probably the explanation for the MANY jobs she had before as she tried to uncover “what she wanted to do when she grew up” (she even worked for a temp agency for awhile where she was able to experience over 50 different types of positions!). She was starting to feel very dissatisfied with the corporate game because she was beginning to feel a great desire to do something that would truly help others. She was again faced with all her insecurities beating up on her and telling her that she wasn’t good enough to do anything else. How could she? She didn’t even have a college degree, which was just one more thing to make sure she felt less important and capable than everyone around her. So she settled into her corporate job trying to believe that the money was enough, because she also still firmly believed that she wasn’t good enough to do better with her life.
And then everything changedâ€¦
Kelli was invited to attend a week long camp for foster children ages 7-11. This was a very intense camp. Many of these children have severe emotional and relational problems due to their volatile backgrounds. So spending a week with them trying to love them while they are doing their best to put up their walls so they don’t get rejected again, really challenged Kelli and resulted in her doing quite a bit of soul searching. For many of these kids, this week of camp is the most stable thing in their lives. They can move from home to home throughout the year with new foster parents, new schools, and new everything and then they get to go to camp where they see many of the same kids and adults from last year. Even having the same rules, expectations, etc. is very comforting. So the importance of this camp on these kids cannot be understated, and of course Kelli was feeling the pressure to make it perfect for them.
But this time she was feeling a lot more than the pressure to be perfectâ€¦
She fell in love with these kids and responded very well to their plight in life. It was barely 2 weeks after returning from camp that Kelli decided to quite her job, give up her apartment (essentially becoming homeless– no kidding) for the sake of dedicating ALL her time and energy to finding more ways to help foster kids.
And that was just the beginning.
Everything you’ve just read is the intro to the actual interview I did with Kelli.
See the real interview here which goes deeper into her story and why I’ve chosen to feature her here. Kelli has decided to be super honest and real about her insecurities, challenges, etc.- more so than she is comfortable with actually- all in the hopes that it will benefit those who read it. So make sure you check it out to help make her vulnerability really worth it and to allow her story to encourage you on your own path to extraordinary living (as I know it will).Â See you in part 2!
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