This is Part 2 of a full series this month, taking you behind-the-scenes of building and creating a business & doing what you love: the ups, the downs, the tears & the real real. Yes, I tell this story every year, because every year there is more to share and tell and show you, especially for those of you that have dreams of your own business or something like it. Our stories are so important to tell, and are so much bigger than most people see or understand from the outside. You’ve been warned: it has nothing to do with healthy food and recipes. So if you’re here for that, we’ll be back to it next month. Haven’t caught up yet? Start here, with Part 1 right here.
On paper, 7 years ago, my life should have been everything I wanted.
I had a job that I didn’t hate, for one.
And, I guess, I had a job, period. Which was more than most people my age could say after the stock market crash in 2008.
And, it wasn’t even one of those dreaded (for me) “corporate” desk jobs. Although— as I later found out, it was definately a desk job: exchanging long and strange hours, doing menial tasks for minimum wage, in exchange for more “hands on experience” than you could get at a big company.
I felt pretty good about it, right out of college. Proud was maybe the right word.
I felt like because I had turned down those bigger corporate offers (as a sales assistant at the local TV station, and a marketing assistant at the news desk–both of which I had hustled to get internships in college thinking it’s what I wanted to do. Turns out, you can’t pick your clients, and after working on the TV marketing campaign for client: McDonalds, and hours in a boardroom discussing how to get more people to eat BigMacs, my heart felt so conflicted and I knew I just couldn’t get in it.)
So, I did whatever I could to find work in a field that interested me (nutrition and health). Long story short: I ended up at a naturopath clinic that also had yoga classes, and became the front desk girl, handing people towels and checking them into class. I was thrilled. A job! Whatever it took.
I felt like I was for sure on the right path, and for sure going to be ahead of the career game because of it. The long hours and unstable paychecks seemed fine, because I was getting to do what I loved- helping people eat and be healthier. That part, I did love.
I felt grateful for it. I learned so much.
The first few years, especially. No one expects to just start at the top. Or should- ha.
And, looking back on it now, it was the perfect spot to start.
To show me that yes, I was close. I was in the general vicinity. Just not the exact right path.
It almost made things a little bit more difficult, because there was never really a clear path for me, for what lit me up in life, and made the hours pass by.
There was no straight and narrow ladder to climb. No one I could look at and say- “yes- that’s it! That’s what I want to do with my life. That’s who I want to be like. That’s how I want to help people. This is IT!”. My friend Lacy Phillips calls it “expanders”: people who expand your reality of what could be possible for you, too. I love that phrase.
But I had none to look at.
It was uncharted territory. And I was kind of floating. And hoping something would resonate with me.
But, you know, I was fine. Everything was fine.
And I was good.
7 years ago, there I sat. Throwing myself into as many things as I could, learned as many skills as possible. Making the best of things I could with a happy little ‘tude, as I tend to do.
I was living someone else’s dream.
At a tiny old desk in a dark room. Coming in early. Leaving late. Putting in the hours of a boss, but being an admin.
Working my way through nutrition school at night, hoping for some come-to-jesus moment that would make everything more clear. Something to light the path (with neon signs, hopefully). Something to just appear, and show me the way.
I was also dating this guy.
Who was great. Everything I thought I could ever want. He was funny, charming, successful. We traveled. Had fun with friends. Went to ikea on the weekends, and talked about our future. The ring. Where we’d get married.
And, I would always hesitate. Clam up. And then, big time..shut down.
But, I mean, everything was good. You know, “technically”.
There was just something missing. Even if it wasn’t something logical I could put my finger on.
I couldn’t ever really figure out what it was, bless his heart. He was close to being my “it”, but not it. And I knew it. Not blatantly or that I ever wanted to admit, but deep down in the tiny whispering of my soul.
But that whispering always feels weird, if you’re not trained to listen to it.
I was in that funny phase 4 years out of college, when you feel so grown up and like a real adult, but also panicky and fearful. Because every decision that you make seemed to have such long term consequences now:
Picking your career.
Picking your person.
Picking how you interact with the world.
What you stand for.
Who you are.
You go from picking which pair of sweats to wear to class to REAL. BIG. THINGS.
And if you didn’t happen to be in a place where things were clearly outlined for you, like a lawyer or accountant or lawyer or dentist: do this, then you get here. Take this job, in one year, you’ll be here.
Find this person, get married.
Define your life, right now, with every decision you’re making.
I mean, no pressure though.
It can be a weird time.
Even thinking about it now, myself 7 years ago, I just want to wrap myself in a hug. And tell myself that everything will be ok.
And then I’d ask if I could give her one piece of advice:
Like, hey, honey. Um, those little pings you feel way deep down?
Don’t be scared of them. They are your friends. They are your lights. Love them. Trust them. Follow them, wherever they take you.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. A fine enough job, a fine enough boyfriend, a fine enough place to live would have been fine.
Good, even. Everything you hear about wanting.
But I just couldn’t escape that sort of deep down, feeling. That there should be a little something more.
More excitement. More love. More joy. More lightheartedness. More ease. More fun. More satisfaction. More HELL YES in my life!! And less “ok…I guess…sure?”.
More adventure. Less boredom and less stress.
But, was that too much to ask for?
It was a serious question I tortured myself with often.
Was it being ungrateful? Spoiled? Could everyone get what they wanted, or was it a privilege that only a few special few got?
And, why did I deserve that? I was just regular girl. Wanting a good life.
And then, out of nowhere, it seemed. God/the universe/the powers that be, whatever you want to call it, shook hard and fast, and came in for a crash landing.
And when that happens, you really have no other choice then to listen up, sweet child.
And pay the closest attention.
And in those moments, of course, you could choose to see things as everything going wrong. A breakdown. A rockbottom.
Or, you could see it as being led and guided somewhere very right. A detour in the right direction– or at least something to stop the momentum of where you were headed.
And, it’s never really a pretty sight when that happens.
Long term good, but short term hot freaking mess.
Ready for it?
The business I was working for, crumbled. It was clear, I had to get out. And fast.
Because of that deeper stress, my thyroid went crazy (immediate hypothyroid onset), and my three year relationship crumbled too. 2 weeks later.
Stress has a funny way of just speeding up the inevitable.
It reveals the stuff that we try to hard to ignore and stuff down and tuck away in our little boxes.
I also moved out of my apartment that month, because my best friend/roommate was getting married.
Actually, my three closest friends were. All within 3 months of each other. In that magnificent light filled phase of light and love and happiness.
They were rising.
And I was so happy for them, cheering them on, and soooo grateful for a distraction, and proof that it really did work out sometimes, without so much work. That it didn’t always have to feel so hard and like a struggle.
But, also I was crumbling.
I was shaken.
Unsure who I was meant to be, and where I was meant to be going.
And, most definitely, alone feeling.
I moved back in with my parents to my childhood room, where I’d fall asleep staring face to face with my prom pictures and old cheer uniform still in the closet. I didn’t imagine I’d be back so soon… this wasn’t part of my plan, I’d think.
Without a job or any clear idea of what I wanted to do next.
So. What next?
It took me about….hmmm 2 days.. to freak out and fully accept what was happening. And that I better do something about it.
On the third day, I filed for a business license. I took $2,000 out of my tiny savings account and opened a business account.
Girlfriend was going to do this thing.
Because you know what? There was actually no other choice. No one else was going to save me. And this life was mine to decide to what to do with.
(so old school, from the archives- this picture is from Carina and I’s first photoshoot together for www.simplyrealhealth.com May, 2012, in a borrowed kitchen of a kind stranger. I’m just realizing right this minute how strange it is that my last kitchen remodel looks almost exactly like this… or is it?)
It might have been the best thing to happen to me, all of those things. I can see this in hindsight, of course.
But even then, I knew that something else was out there.
I may not have had a lot of money saved up for it, but I did have a safe place to stay and a great family, and I did have my little hustle buns, ready to go.
And time on my hands.
Ah. So many freaking prayers.
I started to get really into meditation, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing. It seemed necessary, and not optional. I started watching random YouTube videos and devouring books, trying to learn about manifestation and turning on your light.
And getting the inner voices in my head to not be so mean and limiting.
I’d sit there on the floor in my parents house, and just pray and ask for any help and love and guidance for my floating little soul. Please send me some signs.
I had my degree, my certification, and I had my blog. And all the lessons and things of what I didn’t want to do.
So, I guess, we were off.
Simply Real Health, was in business.
Oh. My. God. Am I crazy to do this?
Stay tuned for the rest of the story, in this full series on the blog, taking you behind the scenes of starting a business doing what you love in life. Part 3 coming later this week.
Missed Part 1? Catch up here.
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photos by Carina Skrobecki