Where has this summer gone?!?! Time felt like it was standing still until about two weeks ago when I realized the start of grad school was rapidly approaching. The last two weeks have included a staycation, several family/friend/social events, a mountain bike race, and studying for classes. I doubt that this blog post will have much flow because I feel that my thoughts have been scattered for weeks now. I’ve felt the need to blog out all of these thoughts but haven’t committed to typing them until right now. I have no prediction as to where this post might go. Here we go!
For over a year now, my life has been “on hold” for grad school to start. The application and acceptance process was tedious and lengthy. In the interim of deciding I wanted to go to grad school and actually starting grad school has been a whirlwind. The whirlwind has included many successes, many failures, and many opportunities for personal growth. I think it might be valuable to “vocalize” these experiences for my own personal self-reflection and your own… “enjoyment”.
First, I launched health coaching services as a means to utilize my undergrad degree and ACE certification. I created a logo, a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page, and business cards to establish myself and to try publicize what I had to offer. I spent hours developing material for the Facebook page in order to showcase what I had to offer. I created giveaways to engage the community. I did all of this with the hope that I could make people live healthy, successful, satisfying lives. Despite my good intentions, I was given unenthusiastic reactions. Yet, I persisted because I was passionate about trying to help others. My services didn’t expand the way I had envisioned and that’s ok. I still got to coach a handful of people that did trust my beliefs and values. I saw them achieve goals they didn’t think they could achieve. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t persevered, I would have come up short on one of my meaningful aspirations.
Second, in attempt to prepare my bank account for tuition, I worked retail for several months. It was miserable. I felt degraded and purposeless. I sacrificed time with my family on holidays, time with Josh on weekends, and time with my clients. I knew deep within my heart that this job was temporary. I knew that soon I would be pursuing a meaningful career aspiration. I tried to stay positive for as long as I could but with each passing day, I became more and more frustrated and impatient. So, I resigned. I was told by Josh, my family, and my dearest friends that I would soon be moving on to something bigger and better. Don’t ever feel stuck. Sacrifices are temporary. Some sacrifices can be minimized when you have a strong support system; for that, I am eternally grateful.
It’s so cliche, but when one door closes, another door opens. I closed the door on retail and walked through a door labeled “wine”. This brings me to experience #3. A winery 2.4 miles from my house needed help at festivals and in their tasting room. I am fortunate enough to have a mutual connection with the owners which kind of gave me an “in”. I knew little to nothing about wine which scared the heck out of me. I asked questions, I took notes, and I spoke to customers with the knowledge I had accumulated. Working at a winery can actually be quite satisfying. Wine makes people happy. I like making people happy. I pour wine; therefore, making people happy! Winery work isn’t stressful to me and after working there over the summer, I really took a liking to it! Trying something outside of my knowledge realm was stressful at first but I realize I had nothing to be worried about. It has given me the courage to try other new things. I walked through a “new” door because I was brave enough to try something new.
Fourth: I unprioritized running. I know what you’re all thinking: “you did what?!”. Read it again if you need to. I ran the Green Monster 50k which is still one of my top proudest running moments. I trained for a trail series in the mid-Atlantic region but found myself unmotivated and rather uninterested. I probably averaged 20 mile weeks this summer. I still enjoy running. I still LOOOOVE going out for long runs on the trails. BUT… I’ve stepped away from the regimented aspect of running. I usually just run whatever distance I want, whenever I want to. I use my watch once per week. I don’t have any races on my calendar which is saddening but freeing at the same time. I still want to run an ultra but I know that time for training will be too limited. Instead, I’m going through this “freeing” period of running in my running career. I don’t have anything to train for but I still like to run at least 5 days per week. I usually forget to record my miles in my training log and then I scramble to remember how far I ran two weeks ago on a Tuesday when I attempt to catch up. Life goes on. Miles will still pass by. I will still lace up my shoes and head out for a run.
I’ve caught myself comparing my life to the highlight reel on Instagram one too many times. Social media can be empowering, insightful, and inspiring. But it can also be hindering, degrading, and challenging to my self-worth. On days that I would refresh my feed dozens of times, I would feel as if I wasn’t living life right. Days and days would pass on and with every refresh of Instagram, I would feel more and more pitiful. Why wasn’t I posting killer workouts every day? Why wasn’t I out exploring trails, peakbagging, or running past picturesque scenery every morning? How did I get “stuck” living a life of repetitive boredom, unexciting views, and the monotony of waiting for something better? Then, I would vow to stay off of social media for a few days. Enough was enough. I couldn’t keep comparing my life to the lives of others. I couldn’t keep wishing for a better life because nothing about my current life is bad. Don’t let social media devalue your worth. Be grateful for what you have. We all rise with the same sun. We all sleep under the same moon. Everything in between is a life of good – individualized good – for every single one of us.
I approached new challenges with determination. I started cycling for fitness a few years ago and raced mountain bike races for the first time last summer. It was something new and challenging for me and even though I wasn’t particularly good at it, I still went out there and did my best. This year I’ve definitely road biked more than I’ve mountain biked. This is a good thing but I often miss the challenge of the trails. The road for me is a different challenge though. I’ve always wanted to go with the fast group on our weekly group rides but never saw myself as capable of keeping up. I was fast, but not that fast; plus I would be the only woman in that group and that intimidated me. The first time I tried riding with the fast group, I failed. I got dropped about half-way through the ride, but, I was ok with that. I tried my best and I became even more determined to do better the next week. The second time I went out with the fast group I got dropped with just 1 mile to go. This was improvement. Last week I stuck with them for the entire 20 miles, averaging my fastest ever 20 mile ride. I never saw myself as “the girl who could keep up with the men”. I still get crushed when we reach a Strava sprint zone, but that’s ok! My only goal was to be able to ride with the fast group and I’ve been able to accomplish that. I enjoy the challenge and I’m glad I didn’t give up on my goal after being dropped that first time. If hard work doesn’t get you where you want to be, determination will.
I’ve also dedicated the majority of my summer to preparing for grad school. I remind myself every day that I’m living my dream. Some of the material and assignments have already challenged me and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the thought of how much I’ll be challenged once classes start. I know that it’s going to be hard, but I also know that it will all be worth it. I’m feel like the luckiest girl in the world because of the people who continuously support my dream – Josh, my parents, my closest friends. Every day I will be challenged in a new way. I will face failures, I will celebrate successes. I will experience personal and professional growth. By mid-fall of 2020, I might even look back at this blog post and think about how naive I was, how unknowledgeable I was, and how undeveloped I was. Only time will tell.
So here’s to all the things that taught me what I want (and don’t want) in life. On the morning of September 5th, I will officially start my grad school career. The next few days will comprise of pouring wine at work, spending time with Josh, studying for my competency exam, and getting ahead on class readings.
My experiences in the interim have taught me that things worth having in life don’t often come easy. We all face setbacks. We all face hardships. We all make sacrifices. We all forge ahead with determination. We all live our own lives – our best lives – in hope of happiness and fulfillment. We can surround ourselves with supportive, caring, and uplifting humans that guide us through the darkness. Through it all, we become who we are and who we strive to be. Always be grateful and reflective. Pursue your biggest aspirations with determination and never let go of your dreams.