Growing up I was known by the locals as ‘the girl who plays football’. All my friends were boys and I did all the things a lad would stereotypically do. I refused to own a Barbie doll and instead I climbed trees, spent my weekends up the skatepark, played Super Mario on my Game Boy and had football parties on my birthday. I was the ultimate 90’s kid who didn’t have a care in the world. I guess the signs were there back then that I was never going to conform to societies gender stereotypes.
I didn’t like secondary school and struggled with my identity. I had gone from the ‘girl who plays football’ to the girl who ‘looks like a boy’. PE lessons were the only time I ever really felt like I could express myself, probably because I was naturally sporty and my competitive side could shine. I started to care about what people thought of me because at that age I hadn’t quite developed the art of not giving a shit! Let’s be honest, school can be tough and kids can be horrible, especially if you stand out from the crowd.
Then I hit my teenage years and started playing women’s football. I was surrounded by people who accepted me for who I was and it was only then that I realised that I was gay. By the age of 18 I had come out to my parents and started to feel comfortable in my own skin.
At 21 I became a Prison Officer. Overnight I had to step up into the role of a negotiator, leader, counsellor, educator and role model. Every day I went into work not knowing what I was going to be faced with and in my 6 and a half years in the role I’d dealt with more trauma and adversity than some people experience in a lifetime. I was respected for the job that I did and the life skills I developed were next to none, however, I still felt like something was missing. I just didn’t know what.
It took a few years of ups and downs for me to realise that the reason I felt so unfulfilled was because I sacrificed my happiness to put others first. It was only then that I knew I had to learn to love myself before I could love anyone else. So that’s what I did. I started doing things for me and got myself to a point where I knew I would never ever settle for anything less than what I deserved. I chose me, and as soon as I started putting myself first, everything started to change for the better.
2015 was a game changing year for me. Although I felt the strongest and most independent I had ever been, I felt like life was passing me by. I was dictated to by an unsociable shift pattern, I had less opportunity to have the social life I desired because of it and I was simply uninspired. My friends were getting engaged, married, having families and buying houses and none of that was even on my radar. I’d look round at my work colleagues who had been in the same job for years on end and I thought to myself ‘I don’t want to be sat here in 20 years time talking about the good old days.’ I knew that I was the only one who could change this feeling, so I followed my heart. I made the scariest decision I’d ever make. I was about to leave everything I knew; my friends, my family and my safety net as I took a career break to go travelling. Some people thought I was crazy, others were envious of my courage to walk away from what didn’t serve me, many people didn’t understand why I’d want to leave the life I had and then there was the most important opinion of all and the only one that I really ever listened to, my Nans. I’ll never forget the day I told her about my plans. She always had a passion for life and simply told me ‘do it while you can love’. So, with that in mind I booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. All I had to my name was the backpack on my back and not always knowing what my next move was going to be excited me and I was pushed that little bit further out of my comfort zone every single day.
Don’t get me wrong, there were tough times along the way. Midway through my travels, Nan lost her battle with dementia. All of a sudden, I’d gone from living a life that many only dream of to my world being absolutely shattered. I lost my best friend. I’ll be forever grateful that I was able be at home and by her side as she took her last breath, and in that moment of adversity, I took strength in knowing that she would have wanted me to keep putting myself first and continue to kick the arse out of this precious life we’ve been given.
So, 15 countries, 3 USA summer camps, 1 Canadian fall camp, 6 blogs, 2 arm sleeves, volunteer work, a sky dive, a bungy jump, numerous road trips, some questionable life decisions (I like to call them learning curves!) and endless memories later I returned home a reformed woman. Empowered, strong, independent, relentless and with a new sense of self-worth, I could achieve anything I put my mind to. Taking the decision to break free from my comfort zone ultimately changed my life, it made me realise that I was in complete control of my happiness and that only I could write my own story.
Of course, there will always be bumps in the road, but I had grown to learn that it’s how you overcome those challenges that shapes the chapters of your book. 2020 – a year most will remember for COVID-19. For me however, it was the most influential year of my life to date. I had learnt over the years to be my biggest cheerleader and I would back myself in every race but on this occasion, life hit me square in the face and I was unexpectedly diagnosed with anxiety and depression. There continues to be this stigma around mental health but the reality is, anyone can be affected by it at any time, no matter who you are or how great you feel like your life is going. It’s something we need to talk about and not be ashamed of and I was not about to be beaten. I found myself in a position where I had no option but to use every ounce of inner strength and resilience I had developed over the years to turn what many could see as a negative situation into a positive one. If there is anything I have learnt about myself it’s that I know my worth, I do not give up and I will never ever settle for anything less than what I deserve.
This is where I found The Travel Coach Network. An online community which literally changed my life. With the support of the incredible life coaches around me, I threw myself into a journey of personal development and growth and am proud to say that I am now an Internationally Accredited Coach and Certified Travel Coach. I now get to spend my days using my life experiences to help people become the best versions of themselves through the power of coaching and mentoring.
As a result of this I am now in a healthy, loving and balanced relationship. I have an incredible group of loyal and passionate friends, a supportive family and an unstoppable mindset that allows me to achieve anything that I want. I wake up every morning and I feel empowered because I am Lizzie Laws. I’m unique and I am proud of my journey. I know my worth and I am living every day on my terms.
Nothing beats the feeling of freedom.
If you are from the LGBTQ+ community and have been inspired by my story, I want to speak with you! Click the link below to book yourself a complimentary clarity call with me and together we can embark you on your journey to creating an adventure filled life you are proud of.