Welcome to my newest series, This Is Me! To read other posts in this series, click here. If you want to be involved, please email me for more details! Today, learn more about Jess Wagner, someone I connected with several months ago and can’t wait to talk to you about!
I can’t remember how Jess and I originally got connected, but I’m so glad that we did! She’s like a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air all wrapped up in one totally awesome, mindful, lovely person focused on self-love and self-leadership. We’ve chatted about so many different things together, and I’ve even worked with her as a coach before and had great results from it. She’s honestly just so lovely, and I’m so excited for you all to get to know her more! Visit her Facebook page, free Facebook group called Self-Leadership Club, Instagram and website, and let her know you saw her post here!
This Is Me: Jess Wagner
Share a little about yourself, your background and what you’re doing now.
Hello, my name is Jess Wagner, and I’m a self-leadership coach guiding womxn back to themselves so they can become the leaders of their own lives. I live in Kansas City, MO with my wife, Rachel, and our 3-legged senior dog, Ronnie.
My formal education is in classical music. I have degrees in music education and vocal performance, which is basically having a degree in how to be an opera singer. Although my background might seem unrelated to what I do now, I never would have gotten here without it. Getting a masters degree in music takes a lot of tenacity and resilience, and it just so happens that entrepreneurship does, too!
I went and got my master’s and decided that it was my dream to have a full-time job in arts administration, so that’s the path I started on out of grad school. After a few years of moving up and landing a full-time job at a theatre here in Kansas City, I quickly realized that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I felt lost, confused, and had no idea what to do now that I was realizing my dream wasn’t all I had cracked it up to be.
One day on my lunch break at my day job, I was listening to a podcast that I had found randomly on iTunes (The Priestess Podcast by Julie Parker, if you’re curious!) and I started looking into the host of the podcast, Julie Parker.. During my Google stalking, I found out that she is the founder of a life coaching training program, Beautiful You Coaching Academy. I had heard of life coaching, but had never considered it as a career or even to hire one for myself up until that point. But once I looked at BYCA’s website, I had a deep knowing that it was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Now I’m a Certified Coach through the academy, and I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing something important and fulfilling to myself and to the world.
Have you discovered your life purpose, and is that important to you? What motivates you in your life?
To be honest, I don’t know yet. What I do know is that where I am right now is where I need to be. I know what it feels like when I’m not in a good place, and this is the most aligned and right I’ve felt in such a long time. To me, that alignment means that I’m living in my purpose in this season of my life.
I personally think that our purpose shifts and changes as we grow and move into different phases in our lives. Maybe in a few years, my purpose will have shifted into something slightly different, but as long as I’m able to keep follow that and my intuition, I can trust that it’s all the way it’s supposed to be.
Thinking about your life now, is it what you always imagined you’d be doing? Why or why not, and what have you learned because of that?
No! Although I do wish I would have known about coaching sooner. I honestly thought I would be working in the arts in some capacity for my whole career.
My biggest learning from the switch from arts to coaching is that we can’t always know what the best path is for us. I think there’s so much value in just trying things and figuring out the hard way that they’re not right. It’s all a part of learning and growing as people.
Sometimes, I think we’re so afraid of getting it wrong that we do nothing at all. That keeps us stuck in lives that we don’t want. Even if you realize that the path you’ve taken isn’t quite right, you know more about yourself than you did before. And that’s how we grow.
**I want to acknowledge that this view is given from a place of privilege. When we look at how our country (U.S.A.) is set up, and particularly how our healthcare system works, we don’t all have the luxury of having a safety net in place to go off the beaten path and give up our health insurance and stability for a dream that may or may not work out. As amazing as it would be for all of us to have the opportunity to jump and know we’ll be okay, for some people, there’s a lot more at stake than just a bruised ego and some credit card debt. So although I think all of us can do things to start building the lives we truly want no matter what situation we’re in, that’s going to look different for every single person. Start where you are with what you have and do what you can. That’s what you can do right now, and with that, your life still has the capacity to change in beautiful ways.
What’s something you desperately want other people to know or realize that may help them in their lives?
The biggest thing I want people to remember is that they are so worthy of everything they desire. I also want people to remember that it is possible to have control over their lives, and they always have a choice. And that being the leader of your life is work and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a growth process, one that will continue through our whole lives in different ways.
When we encounter challenges in our lives, we can choose to run from them or to them. What have you learned from either of those ways of thinking in your own life?
I’ve definitely done both of those things at different points in my life. It’s hard to say that we should always run toward our challenges, because sometimes we need to run away for self-protection or survival, but in many cases, running toward our challenges helps us to tackle things before they build up and become way bigger and scarier than they were before. Either way, I think we have to listen to our gut in these situations to truly know how to handle them.
What do belonging and connection mean to you, and how do you incorporate that into your life and/or business?
Is it too much to say that belonging and connection are EVERYTHING?!
I believe that the reason we’re here on this earth is to connect with each other. To me, life feels absolutely meaningless without connection. I personally value human connection and self-connection the most, but there’s also so much goodness in connection to nature, animals, ideas/identities, spirituality, and lots of other things out there that we can be connected to.
Connection is one of my top values, and it’s something I try to think about a lot when I’m making decisions and interacting with people. Always striving to see the world from this place of connection makes me a kinder and more empathetic person, I think.
The reason I feel so strongly about connection is because it’s super noticeable to me when I DON’T have it. I have some ongoing mental health struggles, and in the midst of when I’m dealing with those, usually the first thing to go is connection. As time goes by, I tend to retreat so much that I eventually feel like I’ve lost myself. The process of coming out of that usually looks like strengthening those connections in all areas, but especially with others and the connection I have with myself.
Luckily, that doesn’t happen quite as much anymore as over time I’ve been able to deal more with some of my mental health struggles, but it does still come up, so it’s super important for me to remember who I am and the connection I need to truly feel like me.
How have self-care and self-love played a part in your journey so far?
Both of these things have been SUCH big pieces of my journey and will continue to be. I also think they’re more connected than people realize. The act of caring for ourselves is also an act of love, so for me, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the two.
The biggest realization I’ve had about both self-care and self-love is that we’ll never be finished. We will never get to a point where we can say, “Yes! I’ve achieved self-love, and now I can move on!” Like most habits, they take consistent dedication and action all the time. So, if you’re a person who likes to move from project to project (like me!), this might be a struggle to accept at first. It’s a lifelong journey. We’re not always going to be perfect, but what matters is that we’re willing to take the actions we can to consistently nurture and love ourselves.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
You are enough and so so worthy. Never forget that!
Photo courtesy of Morgan Miller Photography