Thoughts on Renewal – One Year Later

One year ago today I packed my suitcase and left my new home in Orlando. I didn’t really have a plan, all I knew is that I needed to take some time away for myself. It was incredibly hard to leave Matt and my dog, Mickey, especially around the holiday season, but I knew it was necessary step for me to take. I needed to find myself again – I didn’t really know what that meant but I knew something needed to change. 

2015 was one of the hardest years of my life. I went back to school to become a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, took a cooking certification course,  made changes within the team behind my YouTube channel, launched my health coaching business, and my sweet dog, Lady, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and passed away the day after Christmas. It was a year full of many ups and downs. To be honest, I barely remember the beginning of 2016. I immersed myself into my coaching practice to cover up my grief for Lady. I started the Advanced Business Course at IIN, continued the cooking course I began at the end of 2015 – all while maintaining my YouTube channel. To top it off, we got Mickey in April of that year. By May I was emotionally spent. I poured my heart into my schooling, business, clients, and new puppy and left little room for myself. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was nearing an emotional breakdown. I know that sounds dramatic, and it wasn’t a “breakdown” like you see in movies or on TV – it built gradually. Day by day, month after month…and the next thing I know we’ve moved to Orlando, started our new lives here…and it all hits me at once. Why don’t I feel like myself anymore?  

I didn’t feel passionate about anything. I felt numb.

It was sooo strange for me because I’ve always been an extremely passionate and driven person. I’m very goal-oriented and always have a plan, but for the first time in my entire life I couldn’t think straight. My future seemed blurry. I didn’t know what the heck I wanted anymore. I felt so distant from myself. That’s when I knew I needed to take a time out – away from my comfort zone with Matt, away from my clients, away from sharing my life online. I prayed and asked God for guidance and I knew in my heart that I needed to take some time away for myself.

So that’s why I left.

Like I said before, I didn’t have a plan. First, I went to South Carolina to stay with my cousin and her new baby. I spent Thanksgiving with her family and spent time with mine, too. Then, a couple of weeks later, I went to Brooklyn to stay with my sister and brother-in-law. I wanted to go to NYC so that I could take classes at the YouTube Space and meet other YouTubers. Being a creator online can be a little lonely at times, so I was looking forward to meeting people who shared the same interests as me.

Being in New York pushed me well beyond my comfort zone. I learned how to navigate the subways by myself, explored cute shops in Williamsburg and around the city, and soaked in the city’s electrifying creative energy. There’s something about NYC – the people, the places…everything there feels inspiring. The city is so full of life.

I finally started to feel like myself again. Then, I went to a beauty production class held by Make Up For Ever at the YouTube Space and that’s when things really began to click.

I had spent the majority of my career working in the beauty and fashion industries but since becoming a health coach, I pushed that side of me away. I had created many judgements around that part of my past based on my newfound views of “health” – it was frivolous, materialistic, unhealthy, silly, carcinogenic – the list goes on and on. I allowed the judgmental comments I received on my YouTube channel to further fuel my changes and affect who I was. I placed my value and worth in wanting to please people online. To make them happy. To feel accepted. I changed my personal style to “fit” what I felt was how a health coach “should” dress because I was told I was too girly to be a health coach…so I stopped buying pink {my life-long favorite color}. I wore less makeup. I stopped painting my nails and wearing perfume because those things weren’t “healthy”. Everything had a label.

It was extreme. And this revelation hit me all at once while in New York. I lost who I was in the name of “health”. Trying to fit an image that wasn’t true to me. Mentally, I was anything but healthy.

I spent two years of my life obsessing over reaching an unobtainable image of health, and in turn it had left me in an incredibly uptight, anxious, judgmental, perfectionistic driven lifestyle. I had to stay in the box I had created for myself online…and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to find myself again.

So I let myself explore my old passions – I styled outfits for fun and went shopping at Space NK for some of my old favorite luxury products, the brands I used to work for back in the day.

I’ve mentioned this before here but my theme for this year was “renew”. I chose this word for several reasons, but after my time in New York I knew I needed a year of renewal. I started uploading videos on my channel again and it took me several months to stop giving weight to some of the comments I’d receive – my need to please was still lingering and it put up a very strong fight at the beginning. Especially when something I shared wasn’t “healthy” enough and people would voice their opinions. I would get afraid to upload videos for fear of what people may think, especially when it came to sharing the type of content I originally started my channel with, the type of content I’m deeply passionate about – beauty and fashion.

But I kept moving forward.

I’ve found my own version of health and created a healthy balance that works for me and my life – without labels, without extremes, without restrictions. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life and I feel more confident than ever before.

I haven’t done this alone, either. I’m not ashamed to say that I have an amazing therapist who’s helped me put a lot of things into perspective this year. I’ve deeply benefited from having someone to talk to, especially when it comes to dealing with the types of comments/messages you receive when putting yourself online for the world to judge.

I’ve grown a lot. I’ve endured a ton of hate. More than ever in my seven years on YouTube. I’ve lost thousands of followers. But I’m okay with that – it’s just numbers.

What matters most is that I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. I’m being 100% true to me and my passions. I’m no longer placing value in the need to please others and instead I’m following my heart and being true to myself. I am 100% proud of every video, blog post, and Instagram post I’ve shared within the last several months and I can’t remember that last time I could say that.

I finally feel like me again and I’m happier than ever.

Looking back at where I was this time last year fills me with extreme gratitude. I’m thankful I overcame the fear I had to leave my comfort zone to truly rediscover myself again.

It’s been a crazy hard journey to say the least – and I’m still growing, still learning new things about myself – but I’m so grateful to be on this journey.

And I’m excited to see where life takes me next.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

 

EDIT – I should also note that this has absolutely nothing to do with my time at IIN. I love the program and do not regret my decision in enrolling and starting my coaching business. I’ve met amazing people through this school and formed relationships with my wonderful clients. This post isn’t about IIN but about the downward spiral of taking comments and expectations to the extreme. My coaching practice has always promoted living a healthy, balanced lifestyle with a focus on intuitive eating.

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