Dr. Sonja Stribling said she was left emotionally and financially bankrupt after her divorce from her husband in 2014.
After 18 years of marriage, the pair parted ways, making her a single mother of three and terrified of what was to come. The timing couldn’t have been more pivotal, because she was also retiring from the military simultaneously after 21 years of service.
“I was incredibly depressed and so lost,” Stribling shared with Essence. But she said her military training wouldn’t allow her to rest in that space, so she decided to pivot.
“I made a shift when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next so I went to school, got a PhD in clinical counseling, thinking that was going to help me do more,” she shared.
Soon after becoming a clinical counselor, she began to heal from the painful divorce and realized she wanted to help other women do the same.
“I made a decision to venture into divorce coaching, which was incredibly fulfilling but I started seeing that my clients needed a boost in their professional lives as well, but lacked the confidence to take their career to the next level while reeling from their personal challenges.”
Much like her clients, surprisingly Stribling had to admit to herself that she doubted her ability to reach financial success without a marital partner by her side.
“I started thinking about what it would take to reach millionaire status—that was a dream of mine—but how would I do that without a man by my side? Do I have to go get married again? Do I have to do this to have that level of income?”
She said she quickly learned she didn’t.
“It was a hard lesson and it wasn’t the easy left, I took the hard right. But it was so well worth it.”
While navigating her painful divorce and concurrent career transition, she shared her journey on social media and quickly amassed a large following that learned from her musings. After a few years, Stribling began to book speaking engagements and hosting opportunities, including a TV stint on Bravo TV.
In 2017, she launched her business coaching brand, Born To Be Powerful Academy, which focuses on helping women of color launch and scale their own speaking and coaching companies.
In less than six years, she’s amassed more than 260 clients and has helped them earn millions. Although she is fully entrenched in supporting their growth journey, she said they have helped her just as much.
“My business has helped me realize that I can create my own table, and figure figure out who I am without being in a relationship,” she shared, also stating that her healing eventually led to her connecting with her now fiance’. Since I took the time to find my professional purpose, I became a much better person. He gets the best of me and so does my business. Now, I’m really focused in doing what I can to help other women win.