Have you ever felt something so strongly, that you could no longer deny that the feeling was there?
Maybe it was when you met the love of your life. Maybe it was when you bought that house in a new town, where you had to make new friends. Maybe it was when you realized you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. But what if that same gut feeling was telling you that it was time to leave your job, would you listen?
Its been 5 months since I decided to listen to my gut feeling, my body’s energy, and decided to leave my full-time job. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. At 25 years old I already had this feeling of it being impossible to restart my life. At 25. Most of you reading this would say my life had just started, of course I can do a re-do! But in all honesty, nowadays if you’re not well into your career by 23, people start to question what it is you’re doing with your life.
At 21, you’re supposed to know who you are, what you want your career to be, when you want to get married, etc. Because with people today if you don’t have every single aspect of your life pre-planned than you’re not prepared. You’re frowned upon because you don’t have an outstanding career lined up ahead of you. I’m here to tell you all that at 26 I’ve finally figured it out: LIVE YOUR LIFE THE WAY YOU WANT TO.
For too long I have tried to please other people. Ranging from my parents, to friends, to coaches, to bosses. I lost myself in so many ways trying to figure out how to make everyone around me happy. I was fearful of disappointing them and the expectations they had set for me. I had gone to a prestigious school, I had the grades, the personality, there was only a bright future ahead for me involving sales and business, obviously I had chosen the right major, the right path. But it wasn’t. Something was telling me that I felt like I was actually “faking it until I made it.” Everything about it seemed phony. But I just thought, I’m nervous, I just graduated and just need to find a job to start out and I’m sure I’ll figure it out from there.
In July of 2016, one month after graduation I found a full-time job with a wonderful company. I pushed all those feelings aside and threw myself into the culture and worked the hardest I ever had. I didn’t want to be good at this, I wanted to be great. Fast forward 9 months I get a promotion. I go from the marketing department and start training for the role of our outbound sales. I again wanted to be great at this position, but then something started to happen. I started to crumble.
The training was so intense and draining that I would come home and have breakdowns night after night. At the time I just thought it was because the training was so intense. Looking back, I now realize it was because I was physically and mentally forcing myself to do something everyday that I wanted no part in doing. As I’ve done in the past, I pressed on, passed my final run through before I could start getting customers. Then finally, someone saw just a glimpse of the battle I was fighting in myself. I thank god that he saw something was wrong, otherwise my story would have ended drastically different. He told my manager at the time, to which he then called me in, we had a sit down and I was given two options: move to yet another department or leave the company.
Moving to this other department seemed as though I was getting a demotion. In my prior position we accepted that this position was the lowest one could go, only “bad” marketers went there. But I had no other choice. I was not financially ready to leave, and I was so distraught that I just did not know what to do except cry. I went back the next day and accepted the other position.
Fast forward, I’m in this position for 3 months and things are going great. I made many new friends, was gaining bonuses, and doing well in the department, and I was ecstatic to have my very own desk. All of this newness kept me happy for awhile.. until the feeling came back. This time even worse.
Slowly, I started to resent the position. It was a hard position as it was customer facing in a call center setting. For anyone who has never been in such a setting, imagine calling into a 1-800 number and speaking to someone about your concern, that’s the customer facing side. On the opposite end, you could potentially be that person’s 50th call on the day, after being screamed at, cursed at, undermined, and belittled because you took this job. Because I was a woman answering these questions about the company, I was considered to be an idiot, there’s no way a woman could know more about exterior home remodeling than someone who only had the classification of male genitalia. No. Way.
That was the stigma that we dealt with everyday as women in the department. Not a big deal, I thought, I’ve been dealing with people like that my whole life, it won’t be a problem. But what people don’t tell you is that when you’re exposed to that day in and day out, it starts to chip away at you. I became quick to anger, annoyed at anyone who questioned anything I said, sometimes becoming so rude with people that many kept asking what was wrong. I wasn’t my usual self, they would say. But I felt like my self..or so I thought.
At this point, we’re almost in December of 2017, the annual Christmas party around the corner. The party is what everyone looks forward to every year, and I kept telling myself to hold out until then. Hold out and then everything will get better, you’ll get a break, calm your mind, and things will start to pick back up again. During this quarter of the year, I was hardly gaining bonuses, on a structure that if you didn’t bonus you barely get by, and I was miserable coming into work everyday. Everyday I was still trying to fight off this feeling that I couldn’t describe.
Fast forward to January 2018, I received a new opportunity from my manager. We put together a plan to have a 14 week program of fitness and nutrition for the mentors in my department. Amazing! I thought, this is what I’ve been waiting for, a chance to show how important health and fitness is especially for the type of work we do. But, it backfired. The program became the only thing I cared about at work. I was starting to get pulled off of projects, still no bonuses, and had a hard conversation with myself mentally each day I drove in to work. That conversation many of times was thinking about driving my car off the side of the road so that I would get into an accident and not have to go into work that day.
Read that again..
I wanted to physically HURT myself rather than go to my job. This went on for about a month and a half, each day fighting this feeling, telling myself that I’m fine and things will work out as long as I keep working hard. But they didn’t. I would cry upon waking up in the morning, cry in the middle of the day, and cry when I would get home. I would be out with my boyfriend on the weekends, trying to forget it all, and just start sobbing. Sobbing and all I could do to explain was that I felt sad. I was consumed by sadness day after day and had no way of dealing with it.
The worst was my birthday that year. My birthday always falls around Erin Express and St. Patrick’s Day. Typically, every year I get a group of friends to go out and bar crawl so that we hit all the specials they have for Erin Express. This particular year, I had to work on my birthday, a Saturday, from 10-3. Short, easy shift, nothing to worry about. I did my usual routine, cried when I got out of bed, cried my whole ride to work. But when I got home, rather than getting excited to go and see my friends, all I wanted to do was lay in my bed. I crawled into bed, started sobbing again, and tried not to look at my phone, everyone asking when I was going to be there. I remember texting my best friend how I was feeling, and she assured me that we’d have a great time, I just had to get there. So I did. I got up, put on an outfit, did my hair and make up and headed out. I cried again on the way there, but as I had done the last few months, I put on my best face. I remember just trying to drink away what I was feeling. That worked for the night, but everything came rushing back Monday morning.
Around that same time that year, I interviewed for yet another position in the company. Perfect! I thought. It’s totally the position that is making me feel this way, not the company. After all I adored the company. I was offered the position, accepted and couldn’t wait to start the next chapter. The position was everything I wanted, a great schedule, salary pay, and no more nights or weekends. I could get my life back, I thought, this is going to be great.
But it wasn’t everything I was hoping for.
Again, it was everything I wanted for a job, but the feeling was still slightly there. I wasn’t wishing to get into an accident on my way in, or crying everyday all day, but there was still this lingering feeling that where I was, it wasn’t where I was meant to be. My body’s energy was still saying that something isn’t right. Yet again, I’m back in this mental space trying to figure things out and nothing was working. Until August.
In August, I passed my CrossFit Level 1 exam and became a CrossFit Level 1 trainer. After getting my undergrad degree, it was the one thing that I was the proudest of. I studied hard for this exam and gave everything I had that weekend to learn everything I could, and that’s when my wheels started to turn. I started coaching once a week at my gym and loved every second of it. It was the highlight to my days and in the end, is what kept me going. I couldn’t wait to get to the gym and spend hours, shadowing, interning, and coaching. It was everything that I’ve been wanting but I was too afraid of what others would say to pursue as a full-time career. But after some hard conversations with myself, I decided to explore this feeling more.
I started to research and apply for other jobs. Specifically, ones that had to do something with fitness, wellness, or coaching. I went on a few interviews, and quickly came to the realization that it was great that I had received my L1, but if I wanted to make a career out of health and fitness, I had to get more qualifications. I began to research master’s programs for Exercise Science and Nutrition, pricing out my options and figuring what career I could have after I received my degree. After a couple weeks of research, I found one program. One program that would allow me to apply with a business undergrad and not require me to take the GREs or any other additional testing. One program. Somehow, I was able to get the application fee waived and decided the hell with it, apply, see what happens, and go from there.
Spoiler alert: I was accepted on all accounts for the program of a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition, Nutrition and Wellness. I was honestly shocked and excited beyond belief. After thinking about it for roughly two weeks, and many conversations about how finances were going to work, I decided to go for it.
I told my job two months early that I was planning on leaving. I had so much respect for them, our company, and the work that we did that I wanted them to have plenty of time to find a replacement. When I told them why I was leaving they couldn’t be more excited for me. I think deep down they also knew this wasn’t where I was meant to be. Although they loved having me, they understood.
Fast forward 5 months, I am the happiest I have ever been. I am now coaching consistently 4 days a week, I am doing well in my classes to the point where I will be graduating early, this December! My relationships are stronger than they were before, and I finally feel like myself again. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and tackle my to do list. I look forward to seeing my athletes make strides in their fitness every day, as well as progressing myself. I’ve never felt such a sense of fulfillment from a “job” and people pick up on that. My athletes often joke that I drink too much caffeine or that I’m a little too excited to be there everyday. But that’s just it. I AM excited to be there everyday. I look forward to working with all my athletes and being able to be a guide for them for their journey. What I do is the most rewarding profession and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This where I am meant to be.
If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be going back to school for my Master’s in Exercise Science, coaching CrossFit and having all of my physical ailments disappear, I would have laughed. I would have laughed and secretly hoped you were right. But we’re here. We made it. We’re here because I was courageous enough to take the leap, and I’m so glad I did.
Here’s to 26. To trusting in following your journey, the right energy, and your dreams. A good friend once told me, “The cost of not following your dreams is spending the rest of your life wishing that you had.” To which I leave you with this, don’t wait.
Make a plan, follow your dream. Or you’d only wish you had.
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