I feel like the journey to becoming a health coach (and where I am now) wasn’t exactly a planned one. It really was a specific set of circumstances over the past 10+ years that sort of led me down this path. Ten years ago, or even right out out of college, I would have thought you were crazy, if you told me this is what I was doing in my life now at 34 (I can’t be the only one who feels like this, right?). I split it into parts, so this post wouldn’t end up being ridiculously long. I wanted to write this out because I seem to be in a reflective state at the moment (either due to the impeding life change that is about to happen in my life or that I just had a birthday, which is always a weird reflective time for me anyway, or maybe both).
I also felt that if there is anyone else who feels stuck in life, or hate their job situation, maybe this can help you too. Because I was stuck too, for a very long time. It hard to feel like things will work out for the better when you are knee deep in a crappy or unsettling situation in life and don’t see the light at the end. Also, reading other people’s life stories have always helped me. Or maybe you just like reading other people’s stories, which is totally cool too. 🙂
I went to college with every intention of majoring in chemistry. I literally picked the school I went to for three reasons: it had a chemistry major, the campus was pretty, and it was close enough to home to be able to drive home, but still far enough away that I was on my own. I never did a campus tour or really mulled over the decision. Those were literally my reasons (Now come to think about it, I still base a lot of decisions that way. Very to the point. I guess I just had a good vibe from the place and went with it). At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the major, I just liked the idea of being a “chemist” and thought I would probably get a good job afterwards. I didn’t exactly have a thought out plan or anything. I just liked chemistry and was sort of decent at it.
The summer before my junior year of college, I was able to get a research job in a chemistry lab for the summer at school. I loved it! I had the best summer that year. It also helped that my best friend stayed on campus too that year and we basically spent the summer hanging out, partying and doing fun things on campus (like crashing campus functions for food and alcohol, or raiding empty dorm rooms, because apparently people leave a lot of stuff behind when they move out, who knew? I remember collecting a broom and a mirror, haha). We had the best time.
In addition to getting myself into crazy campus shenanigans, I had a real summer job, in my field! This job was the first time I realized that I loved working in a lab, creating something that could potentially be useful for the future. I liked mixing chemicals and using the fancy equipment and actually seeing real life results that weren’t from a boring book. It was way different than what I was during for class. It was actually fun! From there, I realized that I wanted to do research as a career. I wanted to work in a research lab, doing fun lab experiments everyday.
During my senior year of college, like most seniors, I started to think about getting a “real” job.” At this time, I wasn’t sure how to even begin to get a research position (or really in what type of lab). I just did things that seemed to make sense to me at the time. I learned how to write a resume and went to a job fair. I didn’t want to completely overwhelm myself because my classwork was hard enough as it was to deal with. I also really wanted to enjoy my last year of college, since I knew it was ending soon.
Also, during this time I started dating someone new (who ended up marrying me 10 years later 🙂 ) He used to visit me on the weekends and we used to go to this diner for breakfast every time he came to visit (can’t exactly make him eat my (nonexistent) dorm food or go to the school cafeteria, so a diner it was). On our way to this diner, we would past a big pharma company. Every time we passed it, I would think to myself “This is the type of place I want to work.” Literally, I thought this every time. Doubt I even said it out loud. I don’t even think I knew what company it was or what exactly I would do there. I just knew that it was the type of place I wanted to be at. It just seemed so flashy to me. It had a nice campus and it was a big company and it just seemed the place to be. “Very professional” looking, I guess.
Flash forward to about a month before graduation, I got a interview (from a contract company I met at that one job fair I went to) for a temp research position in a lab. I made it through the pre-interview, then phone interview and then I was invited for the in person interview. However, when it came time to go into the in person interview, it turned out to be for the company near the diner! (The location wasn’t specific on the job description.) The same campus, I had told myself that I wanted to be at. Crazy right? I met like 3 different people at this interview and as I was given the lab walk through, I just kept saying to myself..”This is perfect, I have to work here”. The lab was super fancy and new and it seemed so cool to work there. I remember literally sending brain waves (“I want to work here..”) to the interviewer the whole time, no joke. They hired me that day. It wasn’t until I read The Secret many years later, that I knew that I totally used mindfulness to get me this dream job (and why I am so passionate about that book now). I had the research job at the location that I wanted. It was perfect! For the first few years, anyway. I was happy and I felt very lucky and worked very hard.
Then the recession happened. My company was bought by another company and literally overnight everything changed. It went from being a good “research position” to a politically charged corporate one. Sucky new managers, super competitive environment, major layoffs, relocations which gave long commutes..everything. During these next 3-4 years, I began to become very disenchanted with my job. I looked at people who were older that me, doing this work for longer, and realized they all had one thing in common: They were miserable. “Is this my future?”, I thought. I lost a lot of my motivation at work. I just couldn’t “play the game.” I didn’t care to. I just wanted to be in the lab, doing fun lab experiments. That’s what I signed up for. I never thought that this fun research job would turn into this. The fun was over. I felt like no matter how hard I worked, it was never enough. It was all metrics and numbers and fighting for “visibility” (Anyone, who has worked in corporate understands what I mean by this). Plus, they moved my location twice, each further away, so my commute got increasingly worse. Also, imagine that every single person you work with is unhappy? How is that for morale? Remember “misery loves company.” It was horrible. Life got really crappy and when you aren’t happy at work, the rest of your life suffers too (I know this now, but at the time I definitely did not pick up on this). I was tired and grumpy all the time. Which isn’t good or fair to the partner you live with. I drank more often because I was stressed everyday and needed a stress release. Not a “healthy” situation at all.
Since, I was bored and unmotivated most days now, what did I do? Peruse the internet, of course. I discovered blogs at this time, which was a good source of time passing. I loved reading about other people’s stories. I mainly read the healthy living ones (with some interior design and food ones too). Rewind back a few years: Right after college, I realized that I had gained some weight (maybe like 20 lbs-ish), especially during my senior year. Which honestly, shocked me because I never had to worry about my weight before. I also remember one day looking down at my thighs and saw stretch marks for the first time, which was a total wake up call for me too. Like “where did those come from?” Granted, I partied a lot in school and never once thought about whether I was eating healthy or not. I would routinely eat a bag of candy multiple nights a week when I was studying at the library. I doubt I even ate one vegetable most days. Pretzels, chips, sandwiches, burgers..whatever I could scrounge in the cafeteria was what I lived on. Also, since my parents never really allowed a lot of processed food or soda in the house growing up, I also binged on a lot of these things once I was on my own too. After college, I realized that the super fast metabolism I have had my whole life wasn’t permanent and I needed to start to watch what I ate. So, during this time is when I started the long journey to healthy living.
At first, I thought it was just age getting the better of me! (which is funny to me now). So of course, I wanted to lose this weight and I did what everyone else does when they try to lose weight…diets. Well, I tried, anyway. Never was good at it. I tried the traditional low fat and low calorie for a while..which sucked and did not work (and I know why now, but at the time it baffled me. I mean it worked for those people!). I started working out and going to the gym. Actually, I was pretty consistent with working out. I loved it. I was a “runner” for a minute. I did all the exercise classes on my lunch break. I liked the variety of trying new things and I really did enjoy group classes. The scale never moved, however. Actually, kept creeping up (again, I understand now that you can’t exercise away a bad diet (plus I was still stressed out all the time), but I was just doing what these “experts” were saying to lose weight).
However, this whole time I was fascinated by what I was reading online. I wanted to know everything. I tried all the trendy “health” foods and recipes (still guilty of this! But I love to cook and try to new foods, so I consider this is a good thing). I read a lot of books about eating better. I read the China Study and lots of vegan books, which prompted me to stop eating meat for a few years (which my husband calls the “dark time,” haha). I credit those books to my first nutrition knowledge and food experimenting and also learning what really happens at factory farms, which, even though I eat meat now, I am very conscious of where my meat comes from. I even drank those slim fasts everyday for a while, which (in retrospect) never satisfied me (Haha, I cringe thinking about that now). But I kept learning. I kept reading. I kept following blogs, because I loved being a part of this little community, where there were others out there who liked this stuff too, and liked to talk about it.
I started to want to leave my job, badly. In fact, I wanted to leave the pharma industry completely because it seemed to be the same crappy, political, corporate, culture everywhere, so what was the point of just going to a different company? That definitely didn’t make sense to me. Plus, not having a PhD in the pharma industry really set me back, which frustrated me. I had the experience, but because I didn’t have that degree, it didn’t mean anything. It was too competitive of an environment now. So, I didn’t know what to do. I researched becoming a nutritionist, which would mean going back to school. I researched just going back to get a PhD (I did get my Masters, but I will get to that), but I wasn’t sure in what. I felt extremely stuck and miserable for a long time. Then, something pivotal happened. I was introduced to Arbonne. Mind you, I have heard of it and was asked about it way before this and turned it down. I never even tried any of the products. But this time was different. I hated my current situation. I needed something new to put my focus on. I was super scared to try something new, but I signed up anyway. I just needed something different. I knew nothing about social marketing, but I figured I would learn (plus it was a health and beauty company, so how bad could it have been?). I still remember the day I signed up (which in retrospect was not a big deal at all), but I was so freaked out, that my husband thought something was really wrong by the look of shock on my face (so funny, thinking about that now).
My Arbonne journey is totally a roller coaster in itself, but there was one major thing that it taught me: There is a whole life outside what you are currently doing and there are people who are willing to help you figure that out. I needed that. Desperately. I did not want to become one of those miserable people who stayed in their current situation for the next 10, 20+ years because that is all they knew what to do. I saw that there was hope. I found a new group of friends who were loving life and were happy. There was this whole other world out there beyond what I was seeing every day in my current situation. Just having something different to focus on, being with people who were doing the same things and wanting to be better and more successful at life was mind blowing to me. (Remember, all I knew was misery and complaining, so this was a whole new territory for me). I also learned what personal development was and how important it was. That alone was life changing to me. “Personal development” wasn’t even in my vocabulary before. Now, it was something I was doing on a consistent basis. I started reading books that helped grow confidence, leadership skills, success, and just how to improve mindset. I started to learn how to build meaningful relationships and getting out of my comfort zone (I am totally an introvert, but have learned to overcome it in many ways because of these new teachings). I started to face my fears about talking to new people, talking in front of people, and just getting out there more. Who am I? My husband even noticed a change in me.
All of sudden, I wanted to be a better person. Not just a better “worker, ” but a better, happier, and more balanced person. I wanted to succeed in life and actually be happy doing it. All of a sudden, a light bulb switched on inside me. I don’t have to settle anymore for a boring life “just because everyone else has.” I can do whatever I want. I had hope for the first time. Still no real direction, but for the first time, I had hope.
(Continue reading in Part 2….)