Be who you want to be

Be who you want to be

10 years ago, I was working as a full-time critical care nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit — working 12-hour night shifts on my feet dealing with extremely sick patients and heart-wrenching life-or-death situations…


“I was overworked, overweight, and overwhelmed.”

One night, during a rare quiet shift, a resident physician turned to me and asked, “Tonya, who do you want to be?” I was at a loss for words. Like so many women, I’d spent most of my life being what I was told I should be and doing what was expected of me.

I knew what I wanted to be — a good mother
and a good nurse — but who? I didn’t have a clue.

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The next morning, on my drive home, I kept pondering the woman I wanted to be. I didn’t own a passport. I’d never been on a plane in my adult life. I grew up in a trailer in rural North Carolina. But none of that mattered because I wanted to be worldly.
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Deep down, I knew that all the excuses — I’m broke, not good enough, not ready — had to stop if I was to become a worldly woman. A few years later, I took a bold step forward, bought a ticket, and took my very first flight to Paris.

The City of Lights changed me.


I embraced my life for what it was.

I wanted to be joyful, so one of the first things I did when I got home from Paris was change my perspective around my job and my beliefs.

  • I used to always think, I don’t have enough time, I have to work harder, or I don’t have enough money.
  • Instead of delaying my life until the day I had a new job, different dress size, or a certain amount of money in the bank, I began to practice a new mindset.
  • Beliefs such as “I’m right here where I need to be,” “Feelings, not goals, are what I aim for,” and “I have all the money I need right now” were the catalyst for more joy and calm in my life.

My life looks and feels completely different from that girl’s who landed in Paris a decade ago.

My story started with one simple question:
Who do you want to be?

As I began to live out the answers, the quality of my life began to change.
More importantly, I began to change as a woman.

4GGL thanks Tonya Leigh for her story!

Tonya Leigh is the founder of French Kiss Life, a destination for women who want to inject more elegance, style and joie de vivre into their daily lives. Through a vibrant online community and immersive experiences, Tonya helps women embrace life like a Parisian by slowing down to enjoy everyday…


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