This post is brought to you from beneath the covers of my cozy queen-sized bed, where I’m currently holed up with a sinus infection. I should be working (Fridays are the busiest days), but instead, I’m still in my pajamas and sipping on green tea in the hope that its magical healing properties will kick in sooner rather than later. (Disrupted routines are the worst.)
Regardless of the less than fortunate circumstances surrounding my day off, I’m grateful for the time to write. There’s so much to fill you in on, and I don’t know where to start! The beginning is as good a place as any, I suppose. Let’s start there.
In August, I talked a little about my career path (or lack thereof) in this post, sharing some of my insecurities on the subject and ending on a positive but annoyingly vague note regarding my future. Even though I had a set plan in mind, the details were still fresh and the thought of putting it out into the universe too soon was scary. Even for me. But now that the wheels are in motion, I’ve been piecing this blog post together in my head for weeks, trying to find the right angle with which to frame this story. But sometimes, in writing, it’s just easier to go at it and let the angle take care of itself. (Read: I’m going to allow myself to ramble because #selfcare.)
Last fall, I made the decision to go “back to school” to study nutrition. Quotes are included because in this case, school is a 9-month online/workshop-based certification program led by the Nutritional Therapy Association. While it’s not the same as a master’s degree (I ain’t about that full-time student life), I will graduate with a certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner—essentially a holistic health coach—that allows me to work one-on-one with clients on their health challenges and goals. Meanwhile, I’m assisting a chiropractor in town who (crossing my fingers) has expressed interest in partnering with me, come November, to provide nutritional services to her patients.
It’s all very exciting now, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take an embarrassing amount of discernment to get me to this place. My degree was in journalism, for crying out loud, and my ultimate dream was to be a magazine editor. (Give me a break, I grew up on early 21st century rom-coms with role models like Andy Anderson and Jenna Rink.)
In March of 2016, after 8 telling months of proofreading articles and composing weekly newsletters for a wedding magazine, I realized I was miserable and left the first publishing company I had assumed would be my start in a lifelong career. Despite having HSG to focus my efforts, this was around the time that my self-esteem took a nosedive. Publishing was supposed to be my calling, and when that dream crumbled, my resolve went with it.
Without a specific career path to follow, I was lost. Useless. Forced back to the drawing board of my life, and staring at a blank slate. I watched as close friends and acquaintances pursued their own goals with fervor, full of passion and ambition that I suddenly lacked. In the two years that followed, I worked several part-time jobs—photography assistant, PR account coordinator, medical office manager—to “make some money and gain inspiration,” I told myself. But in reality, I was just biding my time before the pressure to pick something substantial and long-term became too much. I knew deep down what I wanted to do (nutrition had been an obsession of mine since high school), but after my brief stint in publishing, the idea of truly committing to any one thing made me nervous. I had already gone down a wrong path, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
Since then, I’ve learned that there are no “wrong” paths; each step we take inevitably leads us closer to where we’re supposed to be. It’s okay to change your mind, to be confused, to try different things and decide you’re not cut out for some of them.* At least, that’s the advice that one very good friend gave me when I was in the middle of my quarter-life crisis and doubting everything I thought I knew.
“But here’s the thing,” he said. “You have to keep moving forward, and it starts with making a decision. Taking a leap of faith is part of the process.”
And he was right. How else are you supposed to know what is—and isn’t—right for you? Pick a direction, see what happens. If you’re lucky, it’s a direction worth sticking to. Worst-case scenario? Somewhere along the way, you change your route. That doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you human. And humans are more than their resumés.
After two years of waiting for a sign, I finally realized that I didn’t need one. My decision wasn’t all that hard to begin with.
*I’ll be the first to admit that the flexibility I had to change directions so early on in my career came from a place of privilege. I recognize that not everyone has the opportunity or resources to quit a job they don’t like, or go back to school to study something new. I’m both lucky and grateful for these opportunities, and all I can do is try my best not to waste them. It’s all any of us can do.
Photo by Letizia Bordoni.