I spent the better part of my 20s worrying about what to do with my life, wondering when I’d find my true calling, and would I even recognize it if it happened? I would talk the ear off of anyone who would listen to me go on about how I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”
You know how some people are so paralyzed by fear that they don’t do anything? I’m the opposite. So I also spent my time frantically trying to do a million different things…while working full time. I was desperate to find my calling, but I was also rational and needed financial stability. When I went to grad school, I took on side gigs in the hopes that if I tried enough things, eventually I’d stumble upon what I was meant to do. Not a terrible approach, I suppose, but my exhaustion only exacerbated my worry.
I kept thinking I’d have a major “a-ha” moment when I realized what I was supposed to do with my life. But of course it rarely works that way. In my case, it started off with quiet whispers, which I ignored for a while. I’d hear people say things like, “what you spend your free time doing is probably what you should be doing for a living.” And I would think about those five minutes between emails at work I spent catching up on healthy living blogs, or how I planned my day around my workout. For years I’ve subscribed to fitness magazines, researched workouts and taken new fitness classes. I tried to push those thoughts away, thinking to myself that I wasn’t in perfect shape (according to me), so how could I possibly be taken seriously in the fitness industry? What would everyone else think of me?
But I started to realize that the self doubt was really just my fear of change keeping me from breaking out of my comfort zone. I had a great personal story that would help future clients relate to me, and me to them — I had lost, and kept off, 40 pounds. As for caring about what others think of me, well, that was something I just needed to get over.
Little by little, I started wrapping my head around the possibility that fitness might be the “what’s next?” opportunity I’d been waiting for. I started studying for the personal training exam and got licensed to teach Zumba classes. Once I started training clients and grew my confidence teaching classes, my fears started to disappear. I truly looked forward to planning my clients’ workouts and to helping them reach their goals. What started off as a whisper gradually became a full-fledged roar, and for the first time in my adult life, figuring out what I wanted to do with my life didn’t feel so much like work.
Sure, I’m still chronically over-scheduled – if there’s anything good about my type-A ways, it’s that I am certainly not afraid to work hard, long hours. But now passion, rather than fear, keeps me going. I’m also more focused on the present, content with my path and with my decision. For someone who worried about the future and “what’s next” for so damn long, it feels pretty amazing to be excited about where I am right now.