The snake was at least 1000 years old. Over the course of its long life, it had grown rather large, gargantuan really. There wasn’t anything outwardly menacing about it...it was the type of animal that engaged in defense rather than offense. Slithering down the gnarly hill, making its way toward the river at the bottom, it struggled to navigate the trail, the gigantic snake dwarfing the path with its impressive bulk. As the path grew steeper, it became even more constricted, precluding the snake from advancing. The sharp edges of the rough terrain scraped away at the reptile’s scales as it tried in vain to move forward. The snake’s task appeared insurmountable. At the peak of despair, the snake suddenly became airborne, spreading wings it never knew it had. Freeing itself from the limitations of the narrow path, the snake transformed into a dragon, lowering itself onto the water below with a sprightly grace, fire flowing from its nostrils.
Such was the vision my father had in a dream, shortly after my mother became pregnant with me. Joyous and excited, my father saw this vision as an omen of the warrior his child would surely grow into one day. My father never missed an opportunity to regale everyone with this story, an enchanted crowd eagerly congratulating him in earnest for the up and coming hero he’d undoubtedly bred.
The first time I was deemed a disappointment was on the day I was born. I was a healthy baby, and there was nothing remarkable about the way I came into this world. My crime was that I was born a girl, so I couldn’t possibly become the warrior my father had envisioned. The common theme of my early life was that if only I’d been a boy, I would truly be of value. My natural inclination to walk on the edge and push against limitations was a quality so sought after in a boy, and yet so frowned upon in a girl. The possibility that I could grow up to be a hero as a girl was out of the question, mainly because nobody ever bothered to ask the question.
My childhood was spent under the barren wings of my narcissistic, abusive parents, in a dysfunctional home that was all about image and perception. On the outside, we appeared to be the perfect family, but our reality was so different. The love I received was conditional upon my getting good grades, obeying the rules, and being popular among the other children. I learned early on that there was a reward for following this expected path, and there was a punishment for spreading my wings and flying wherever my spirit took me.
I moved to the United States from Korea as a teenager. Eager to please, I did all the right things--I went to college, met a Korean guy and got married. I landed a great job that came with a six-figure salary, and I played by the rules. I should have been happy, but I was miserable--miserable because my husband couldn’t tolerate a wife with vivid dreams of her own that did not start and end with cooking and cleaning. I wanted to fly, but my husband kept clipping my wings. Meanwhile, the corporate environment that padded my bank account became toxic as I was openly told I would never succeed unless I toned down my fiery personality and conformed.
I thought I’d grown accustomed to living in a gilded cage with my wings clipped. But the dragon within me had never been slayed, despite the best efforts of my parents, husband, and various employers. I walked away from my stifling marriage, along with the seemingly perfect job with no plans and nothing lined up, just the relentless flame burning within me.
In Korean folklore, there are snakes that live for thousands of years, only to become dragons once they’ve truly earned their wings. Shaking off the mediocrity of an ordinary reptile that lives underground, slithering its way around, they transform into invincible creatures, the stuff of legends. In the West, on the other hand, the most invincible creatures are the warriors who slay dragons to save helpless princesses.
I knew that the role of the helpless princess was not for me. I wanted to be a warrior, but not the slaying kind. I was born to become that dragon, unclip my wings, and fly my own way, even if it fell outside of the rules society created to keep me in line. My path wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t straightforward. It mostly consisted of attempts to follow a constricted trail that continually left me feeling trapped. My breakthrough came when I took a leap of faith, spread my wings, liberated the fire within me, and followed my passion. I found my purpose, met and married the true love of my life and permanently shed the shackles that had kept me trapped for so long.
My winding journey has led me to create a tribe, a sisterhood of sorts, where I’ve found my soul mission in helping women ignite the dragon within. Much to my father’s chagrin, I did become the warrior he foresaw, just not in the way he anticipated. I come from a culture that says that women can’t be warriors, but I’ve already disproved that stereotype. I’m here to unleash the fiery dragon within you, if you’re willing to unclip your wings. Are you ready to soar?
Meet Seo Kelleher, an intuitive coach for life and business, committed to empowering women. "I am passionate about helping women find the courage to transform their lives by embracing their vulnerability and taking the responsibility."