I’m OK today. Tired, but alright. I went on Facebook today and a friend of a friend came up on my news feed. Her profile picture was a professional glamour shot of her in a bikini for a fitness magazine. Apparently she’s a model, certified personal trainer, former two-sport collegiate athlete, former pro beach volleyball player, NASA astronaut, Nobel prize winner… this list obviously stops right before the NASA astronaut part in reality. But in all seriousness, this girl (who’s close to my age) has done a lot of neat things in her life (some of which I’ve only dreamed of… pro volleyball player… but 5’7” is way too short for that unfortunately) plus her current work as a certified trainer (she has what seems to be a billion certificates ranging from nutrition to strength and conditioning to pre/post natal exercise) and a fitness/glamour model seems like a pretty cushy way to make a living.
As I read her “about me” paragraph and scanned her pictures I couldn’t help but get jealous of her. She’s doing what I’d love to be doing (the training, not the modeling, although I’m sure modeling is much more fun than my job) while I’m sitting in a cube doing data entry. Classic jealously and in a way, rightfully so. Then I got to thinking. She’s been training for almost ten years already, meaning that she got certified and started training heavy herself in her mid to late teens, which has eventually led to this stellar and fun career.
I started to think about what I was doing at that time. I was 16 (for argument’s sake), looking at colleges even though I had no desire to go to college but was pressured to go by my family (especially my mom as she was and still is a high school guidance counselor), playing volleyball for my high school and a club team (both of which made me extremely happy), taking a rigorous workload at a college prep high school, and sleeping on the weekends because I was exhausted (exhaustion has been a common theme in my life since high school). I had no idea as to what I wanted to do in life; I contemplated physical therapy, marine biology, financial analyst… the list went on, I just can’t remember that far back anymore. The point was that I had no clear direction back then and wound up picking a random university when I was 17 and still confused – I attended random university at the tender age of 18, transferred to another school, got depressed because I didn’t fit in, failed my classes, returned to random university, struggled to finish my accounting degree (semi-random, *I somewhat appreciate accounting, degree pick based on practicality, knowing that I’d need a job that made good money with all of the debt I would have incurred upon graduation), interned 30 hours a week at a hedge fund on top of that, graduated, and starting working at a hedge fund in Manhattan at the age of 21. I still had no idea if this is what I wanted to do with my life, but I didn’t mind it, plus it paid the bills and paid them well. I’m now 26, still working in investments (just in NJ now at a different firm) and I now know that I don’t like my job. I’m still not sure what it is that I want to do.
Reading all of that might sound negative but helping me think back to where I was when this girl was starting on her career path makes me feel better and not jealous anymore. Strange but true. I realize that I was young, pulled in many directions with many mouths in my ears. I just went along with what other people wanted for me. The path I went down wasn’t terrible (nothing life-threatening,etc.), it just wasn’t ideal for me in retrospect and that’s OK. I need to accept it because I cannot change it. It also has taught me a lesson – to slowdown and think. I haven’t slowed down yet, which is probably why I’m still questioning what I’d like to do with my life, but at least I have the time (staying at my current job until my boss’ maternity leave is over) to think. I have a few ideas in my head already, but more time and care need to be put into the thought process.
Now if only I can just slow down…