A few weeks ago I met Sonja for a coffee and she told me her story! Growing up, I had so much pressure in my own life, to follow the “right” career path, I was expected to become what my family thought I should be. No one ever gave a minute to my suggestions that I’d like to be an actress and pursue a creative life. Oh no, that’s something you do in your spare time. You don’t get to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. You do what makes you fit into the boxes of what successful is. So you will see why Sonja’s story really resonated with me. Why I have asked her to share her story with you…
by Sonja McKaiser
When I grew up, creativity was seen as a hobby. Something you do on the side. Something you do to keep busy, to have fun. But never something you do for a living. Excelling at academics was praised, but creativity wasn’t really nurtured. And, along with that, came the limiting belief that I could never earn a living doing something fun, something that I love.
We grow up, we stop being children, and we forget to play. Life becomes so serious. We turn into someone we don’t recognise, even though we promised ourselves we never would. And then, when we get to a certain age (in my case it was forty), we ask ourselves, “how did I get here?”
Have you ever felt stuck? You know that feeling where you have no idea where to go but you know that you can no longer continue doing what you’re doing? Where your life looks perfect from the outside, but on the inside you feel like a fraud because you long for something more. This was me for the longest time. Shortly before my 40th birthday I made the decision to meet with an executive coach because I knew I couldn’t go into my forties feeling this way. It really was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It wasn’t always easy and there were lots of tears and anger, but together we were able to put plans into place and work on various strategies for me to become unstuck.
After school, I wanted to study fashion design. Throughout high school, I made my own clothes, and thought that fashion would be the ideal career choice. But I was advised that my career prospects would be very limited if I made that choice. So I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Western Cape, majoring in English and Linguistics. In 2001, after 6 years of running our family business, I decided to study Public Relations Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I worked as copywriter for a few years and although I really enjoyed the writing, my focus on PR led me to Events Management. The creativity stimulated me, but as time went by, my deep love for creative writing surfaced again. In 2008, I participated in an intensive creative writing course. The creative writing proved to be soul-enriching and reignited my passion for writing.
Towards the end of 2016, with the help of my coach, I made the decision to start my own business. I knew that creativity would be the main component. After some soul-searching and continuous writing, I realised that my calling is to empower others to write and find their own creative voice. The Creative Space with Sonja offers a space where participants can express themselves through creative writing, and begin a daily writing practice. My workshops explore writing as a form of healing, allowing us to debunk our own limiting beliefs. For so long we live with these beliefs we learnt as kids. They are like stuck records, playing the same message over and over again in our heads.
I took a leap of faith and followed my heart, despite being really scared. And it is scary, every single day. But I’ve learnt to write through the fear. That is what I share with the participants in my workshop. The fear will always be there. But courage is doing it, even though we are scared. Creative writing is therapeutic and such a powerful healing tool. We can write down our fears and work through them once we put them on paper. Once we write about the fears, it is so much easier to let go of them. And letting go of that which no longer serves us, ultimately gives us the freedom to live our best life.
“Creativity takes courage. ”
― Henri Matisse
About the writer
Sonja McKaiser is the owner of The Creative Space with Sonja, in Tableview, Cape Town. She facilitates workshops which uses creative writing as a form of healing, to help work through limiting beliefs using various exercises. No previous writing experience is required to attend these workshops.
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