After disclosing the unfolding of circumstances that brought me to develop Chasing the Om with a confident, I was encouraged to share the journey in one of my first personal essays in the hopes that it will inspire readers as well. Here it goes….
As I touch upon in my “What This Blog’s All About” section, I started this summer at a relatively low point. I had just finished one of the most difficult periods of my life, and in the course of three-and-a-half years, I had experienced a family member’s struggle with an eating disorder and a best friend’s diagnosis, and subsequent treatment, of a serious illness. Having never truly had to be emotionally there for people as much as I needed to be during these past years, I was physically and mentally depleted. On top of that, I was beginning to worry about my future. Some of my closest friends from college were about to move to the opposite side of the country and pursue their own dreams, and I was wondering what exactly I wanted to do with my life. At 18, I had applied to a rigorous Masters of Public Health (M.P.H)/B.A. in Liberal Arts program at my university (partially to prove to myself that I was capable of this high-achieving goal) and was accepted, much to my surprise. Still, upon graduation it was time for me to take the plunge and invest in the final year of my M.P.H program, and honestly, I was worried that it was the wrong choice- couldn’t I just find a job that didn’t require me to go to grad school? And so, in my “freak-out,” that is exactly what I decided to do: I postponed my final year of graduate school and looked for opportunities to work. Considering that my friends were in California, and it had always been a dream to live somewhere warm, it seemed only natural to hop on a plane and move my job search to the city of dreams.
My time in Los Angeles was a mixture of enjoyment and anxiety. After months of interviews and a few job offers I wasn’t comfortable accepting, I secured a job as a part-time event planner, which, while fun and informative, was not what I was “meant to be doing.” I missed having conversations about social disparities and population health, talking about politics and reading through studies and knowing that my actions served a “greater good.” What I really missed, I realized, was my M.P.H program; and I needed to return to it.
With that understanding, I passed in my resignation, paid out my last month of rent, and made arrangements to move home to New England. Of course, that meant leaving a group of amazing friends, and, while that aspect wasn’t fun, I was excited to move toward my passion.
When I got home, I decided that if I was really chase my “dream,” then I needed to do it right: I wanted a transformation.
The first step was to get a job. I worked temporarily as a substitute teacher at my old high school, but it wasn’t positive for me personally. So, I actively sought out other jobs and did eventually find the perfect fit that would allow me to work and go to school simultaneously.
The second step was to feel good physically and emotionally, which began by signing up for my local Crossfit. Scared to death in my initial consultation, I started the physical journey, which included attempting movements I had never done in my life. I was so bad that it was actually comical, and yet, the coaches were still kind to me and encouraged me to keep trying, and eventually I have been getting stronger and fitter. Taking these physical risks despite my extreme fear was such a confidence boost for me. I am not sure I would have the same confidence today if I hadn’t taken that initial step. On top of this, though, I began doing more of what I loved- and that was socializing with friends. I started going out into the city more often, taking little weekend trips to the beach, and even just having The Bachelorette viewing parties with my close friends. The accumulation of these small, but fun, activities made me feel genuinely happy.
Finally, the third step was creating Chasing the Om. I knew I wanted a forum to write, as it was always something I loved to do. On top of that, my transformation had really enlightened me, and I wanted to share my newfound knowledge. See, when I was in college, I had become close with some extremely high-achieving, intelligent young women who were convinced that to be “successful” meant to also be unhappy. That sounds dramatic, but I am sure that if you really consider this popular public belief, you will realize that you also have friends who feel this way, or maybe, you even feel this way yourself. Its an understanding that you need to struggle or suffer in some way to know that you are really achieving something- as if the good times, or the pay-off, will be worth nothing unless you had struggled to get to them. Although I was definitely guilty of holding this belief, since coming home and realizing just what makes me happy, I understand that “success” and “struggle” were NOT synonymous. In fact, life does not need to be all that difficult all the time. No, I am not naïve. I understand that everyone will face challenging times- deaths of loved ones, disease and illness, financial struggles, you name it- and that there are severe injustices in the world that could make any person want to huddle up in her home and just avoid it all. However, we all have the choice and ability to enjoy our lives in spite of the inevitable hard-times. I know that I, as well as all of my friends, family (oh, and you!) have the right to live an enjoyable lifestyle and to fill our time with passions and energizing activities while also working hard when we need to. With that understanding, I decided that I needed to create proof of my revelation: I needed to show examples of happy and successful women as models for my friends and all the other women out there with similar concerns. And so began the search for Chasing the Om’s “Inspiring Ladies.”
After interviewing my first round of women, I have made some striking conclusions. First, and probably most important, there is NO ONE PATH to success, and even further, there is no one definition of what success even is. While some of the women tried different paths before transitioning into a dream job, such as Cara, who has become a full-time fitness and yoga instructor, or Danne (coming soon), who began in graphic design, and eventually found a passion for writing and yoga as well, others moved relatively quickly into their field of choice, but were forced to make tough decisions in that process, such as Jessica who chose to study physiology early on, but put her career on hold after the birth of her daughter and the sudden terminal diagnosis of her husband. Each of the women I have interviewed has a different set of passions and motivations that allows her to enjoy her career and lifestyle. Even still, each has a different idea of how to create balance and passion, some choosing, and even enjoying a more rigorous, demanding schedule, while others enjoying, and purposefully creating, more time to travel and socialize. I am honored to have spoken to each of these women, and I hope their stories will inspire you to discover your own unique path to success, with the understanding that it is your journey and path and there is no right answer, so you might as well “chase the om” and enjoy!