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I’m Confused.

March 16, 2011

Lately my mind has been full of worry and uncertainty about almost every aspect of my life. I don’t feel fulfilled right now and don’t know what to do about it. My confusion is starting to affect my relationships, too. If you don’t mind, I will try to process it all in this post.

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The starting point is my job. Right now I’m in a 6-year rotational program designed to make us into future leaders of the organization. We are assigned different jobs each year so that we get experience in a variety of areas. The program also pays for us to get our MBA (during years 3 and 4) and has tons of other great perks and opportunities.

My current (and first) position is in product development. It’s fun to get to help with the design process, but I’m not actually a designer. The majority of my work is administrative and I don’t have any ownership or incentive to do well. By nature I am an extreme Type-A perfectionist, so when I don’t feel driven to excel it’s not a good sign. It has me totally down about this program, this company, and my future in business in general.

I have taken the initiative to start a personal project with our social media team which has me working with the PR team and researching blogs. This part I LOVE! I have also shadowed a lot of other areas of the company that I think would be much more fun to work in, making me think that it’s just my current position that I dislike moreso than business in general. My next step as a retail store manager starts in a few months and I think I’ll really like having ownership over my own store. I’m hoping that helps me figure out whether this is something I want to stick with. I hope so, because what this program offers is pretty amazing.

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The uncertainty about my job has led me to consider other possible career paths. I know that I love my blog, I have a huge interest in nutrition and exercise, and I enjoy answering questions from readers and friends about how live a healthy lifestyle. Professional Blogger isn’t exactly an option right now (pay me more, Foodbuzz!), but finding a way to incorporate my health interests into a career would be a dream. I’ve considered whether I want to be an R.D., but I’m really not sure. I tend to veer towards the “hippie new-age” thought of nutrition as opposed to the government standards that are taught in school. I don’t think I’m ready to start taking night class pre-reqs so that I can ultimately quit my job and go back to school. I’m just not sure enough.

I’ve begun to discuss the idea of starting a healthy living program at my company that would involve nutrition seminars and fitness classes. I know that I have no credentials to do this though, and so have been seriously toying with the idea of a nutrition certification. The school I am considering is The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. While not a scientific approach, the school prepares students to be Health Coaches. The education has a holistic approach the stresses the importance of relationships, career, nutrition, and exercise being in-line in order to be our healthiest and happiest selves.

I can complete this program ine one year while still working, and it’s cost is significantly less than going back to school. My concern (and the concern of my parents) is that the certification I will leave with isn’t quite “legitimate”. That I won’t really have any credentials and that I will eventually need to go back to school so I can get some letters after my name. I recognize this may be true, and I’m okay with it. If this is what it takes to test the waters and find out if I want to make a career change, then it’s what I will do.

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Finally I start to waver on my whole interest in health and nutrition in general. I argue constantly with my parents, both M.D.s, about my beliefs. They think I’m crazy and obsessive. I think I’ve taken the time to read lots of books, experiment with how different foods make me feel, and am open to new ideas. But then I read things that say the sign of true health is being carefree and not worrying. It’s liking everything and disliking nothing. It’s not obsessing and enjoying all foods. So am I really being more unhealthy by being a vegetarian? Is the benefit I gain from a plant-based diet lost in the stressful moments that come with being “different”? Should I just go back to eating everything and not worry about it? Plenty of R.D.s with scientific education eat meat, and they should know better than I do.

Right now I teeter between pescatarian and vegetarian, and then between vegetarian and vegan. It’s almost like all of the information I have is just driving me crazy.

My dietary questions may simply be a result of stress in other areas of my life. It might just be the societal pressure and sometimes not liking being the minority. Maybe I just haven’t quite found that balance of being concerned about my health but not going overboard. I think I need to do some research into diets that incorporate meat since I primarily read ones that support my current views. If you know of a good book that could give me a different perspective please let me know. One good thing is that IIN teaches bio-individuality, the idea that each person has a unique diet that works for them.

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So that’s basically it. I’ve been emailing with a bunch of women currently enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition that  started out with similar feelings as me. They love the program. My current plan is to stay with my job and complete the IIN coursework while I’m in my next step as a store manager. That way I’ll be able to see if a new position in the company makes me feel more fulfilled while at the same time figuring out if career in Nutrition is right for me. And I don’t have any plans to stop being vegetarian at the moment…it’s just craziness floating around in my head.

Thanks for reading:)

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END NOTE: I have a guest post at JulieGoLean tonight! It’s WAY more lighthearted than this…trust me. Check it out!

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011 3:30 pm

    Hang in there, friend! Blogs are a nice place to dump our thoughts, so hopefully writing this post was therapeutic for you. On the food issue: the person who knows what works best for you is you. Not some doctor or anyone else. Do what makes you happy mentally and physically.

  2. March 16, 2011 3:37 pm

    Whew! That’s a lot going on, Clare. I’m bet you felt much better after writing it out, though. I think feeling less-than-driven and frustrated are the two most common emotions felt by recent college graduates. I, along with all of my friends who just graduated, are feeling the same way as you. Are we making the right decisions? Continue education or jump into the corporate world? Settle down or play the field a little longer? Buy or rent? Eat in or eat out ? Cardio or weights? All of these questions – even though they range in seriousness – all pile up and result in feeling like the weight of the world sitting on your/my/everyone’s chest. I think these feelings come in waves. I had many dark, sad “what the fuck am I doing with my life?!” moments a few weeks ago. But now it’s a little better. I hope the next few days get easier. But in my opinion, not that you asked for it, is that you’re right where you’re supposed to be!

  3. March 16, 2011 3:37 pm

    i will go check out your guest post.. but this post was so well written! i can feel the confusion you are under right now and its rly just about fguring out who you wnt to be and what you wnt to do and then doing it, which yyou are already starting with the INN course.. you should be open minded righ tnow about diet, career and everything until you feel comfortable and you feel that balance. then you know ou are in the right place

  4. sophonisba permalink
    March 16, 2011 3:38 pm

    Hey Clare– I don’t have any advice specifically on the issues you discussed, and I’m not sure if that’s what you were looking for anyway. Just know that having this confusion and anxiety about who you are and what you’re doing and where you’re going is, as far as I can tell, NORMAL — I don’t think I know any 20-something who hasn’t gone through or isn’t currently going through the same sort of exploration. Take some time, stay open, and don’t forget to relax when you can. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Take care! -Sophie

  5. March 16, 2011 3:45 pm

    I’m a fellow perfectionist, so I say this from decades of experience. When you let perfectionism bog you down, it can lead to exactly the type of confusion you’re going through. You want to always know that you’re on the right path, making the perfect choice, doing exactly what you need to do to get exactly where you want to be. Plus, if you do something, you want to do it 100%, so when something gets in the way or makes you doubt your choice, it causes tremendous inner turmoil because how can you be 100% when there is conflict.

    Over the years (and especially since having children), I have learned how to push back on my perfectionism in order to gain more enjoyment from life. I’ve learned to be more flexible, and to confine myself with fewer rules. I’ve learned to step off the path I’m on a little bit at a time rather than completely veer off into the woods like I did when I was younger. I’ve learned to dabble, rather than immerse, constantly making small choices and evaluating whether they make me happy rather than making huge choices that I assume will make me happy but actually just throw me into the same mess in another place.

    All of this can be said for what you’re going through right now. My advice to you (though admittedly unsolicited) would be to keep educating yourself about food, nutrition, and health. Try not to label yourself (vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan) so that you feel like a failure if you eat a certain thing one day. Instead say “I tend towards a vegetarian lifestyle” or “I try to eat vegan as much as possible.” At work, see how you can get involved in bringing a nutrition/health program in house. You don’t have to be certified to get the ball rolling, help bring in the right contractors, set up programs, do the internal marketing, etc.

    As for work, keep in mind that as you develop, you will have rotations/jobs you like and those you don’t. I’d never stay in a dead-end job I didn’t like, but if something was a stepping stone or a temporary gig, I’d just do what I needed to get by until the next one started, hoping that one would be better.

    Sorry for the longest comment ever, but reading this post, I’ve been through all of this so many times before and really learned a lot from my experiences. I know that you will learn a lot from yours, too, lessons that will help you be a better, stronger, more focused person as time goes on.

  6. Abby permalink
    March 16, 2011 3:53 pm

    Clare– I can totally relate about the parents and peers thinking you’re crazy. I have the same issues and I try to remind myself as often as possible that I have to “do me” if I’m going to be happy. You know what your body likes, tolerates, and what make you feel good. I struggle with this a lot living in the meat and potatoes midwest and it is hard to shake at times. Try to keep your head up and follow what you’re really passionate about! 🙂

  7. March 16, 2011 3:58 pm

    With our talking lately, obviously you know I’m going through some of the same thought patterns as you now. And with my med student sister, I think we experience a lot of the same conversations! I just wrote a similar post and I totally know what you’re saying when it’s affecting your relationships. I know all the uncertainty in my life has caused a lot of moodiness and confusion and I display that more in my relationships with other people than they deserve. I’m one of those people who just has a ton of interests and wants to dedicate myself to them all, but I don’t know how. I want to do something psychology/nutrition related, I always have. And I’ve always had a dream of being a big producer going to the Emmy’s. So where does that leave me? I think as the world develops where we can all sort of be doing 5 million things at once with the internet and social media, it’s hard to commit to just one path. I hope we’ll be doing IIN together and get some answers to our questions!

  8. March 16, 2011 4:32 pm

    Wow, you’ve got a lot on your mind, huh? That’s a really difficult decision to make, but it seems like the best thing would be to follow your heart. Obviously logistics and financial questions are at the top of your thoughts, but it’s also hard to not think about what other people will think. In situations like this, I would just go with your gut and what you think will make you happiest! Not sure if this helps, but just thought I’d offer my thoughts!

  9. March 16, 2011 4:35 pm

    I think its a wonderful idea to get the certificate from the Institute of integrative nutrition. It would be a great starting point before going back to a school.
    You are a wonderful writer!

  10. March 16, 2011 5:44 pm

    It seems like you have a lot to think about! If you think you can get the certificate while working, I would go for it because knowledge is always a good thing to have in my opinion. And then you would kinda of get a feel for nutrition and see if you like it or not. Take it from someone who is older, its harder to go back to school as you get older, financially, mentally, and frankly you just don’t have as much energy especially after a long day of work! But you have to go with what God is telling you to do.

  11. March 16, 2011 5:52 pm

    Hi Clare, As far as a career path towards nutrition goes, I would explore talking to people that do what you would like to do. If I’ve learned anything about my career change, it was that the most important thing about choosing a career is that you like the every day experience of the job, not just the idea of the job. (Becoming a lawyer to help people was a great idea, but I never would have liked the daily trials and tribulations of the lifestyle.)

    The same could probably go for other fields in your company. Can you have informal conversations about what the people in other departments/positions do, and what they like/dislike?

    Remember that even though it feels good to have a “plan,” there is no rush. You have the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life 🙂 I enjoyed reading this… As things unfold, I hope you’ll share your thoughts again!

  12. March 16, 2011 6:25 pm

    aww girl i was exactly where you were two years ago and i considered the iin too! i think the best advice i can give you is to stick with school and the path you’re going, you’ll eventually find your way and let health/wellness be your hobby! if you made it a living and an unsure one at that because who knows where the iin will take you because its pretty much starting you’re own business then it won’t be a fun hobby anymore. i decided to focus on my education and professional studies and yes it was difficult and still is but i know its taking me places that i need and want to go! stay positive you have a bright a beautiful future

  13. March 16, 2011 6:35 pm

    Wow, such big life decisions. Thanks for sharing, Clare. I think it’s great how much thought and research you have been putting into this decision, rather than making a rash choice. Ultimately, it is so important to stay true to yourself and your passions, and while sometimes it takes awhile to figure out exactly what those passions are and how to follow them, I think you’re on the path to doing so.

    It’s probably not any comfort, but you are not alone in your feelings of uncertainty. I am having the same types of feelings about my own job and future. I too am in a program at my work (mine’s only 3-4 years before you’re kicked out to go to grad school or somewhere else), but I just don’t know if I can even stay for the full length of time. I am so not passionate about what I am doing, and so I’m also in the process of trying to figure out what I would rather do.

    Again, thanks for sharing, and I wish you the best of luck in your path forward. I’m looking forward to seeing where you go!

  14. March 16, 2011 7:30 pm

    all I can say is my heart going out to you in relation for being uncertain! life is hard when it is all so unknown and nothing is steadfast!

  15. March 16, 2011 7:51 pm

    Girl, unleashing this all has to feel better! I think you just needed to get that all out. As far as your job goes, as much as I think it’s so important to follow your dreams, it seems like you have a great opportunity ahead of you because there are so many different places you will be. You might not like this particular position but you’ll get to try something new and what if you LOVE that? I’ve always had an interest in health and nutrition so I decided to purse my blog and that as more of a hobby. One time in my life, I hope to purse it more, but now is just not the time.

    And for the food thing: I think its so easy to become influenced a little too much from the blogworld on these issues. Don’t get more wrong, not that ANYTHING is wrong with the way others choose to eat, but we just have to remember, it may not be the right way for us. I fall victim to this all the time. Sometimes, I read vegan blogs and feel guilty for not being vegan, even though they are in no way expressing that a non-vegan diet is a BAD thing. It’s just natural to think this way on my part. In all, you really just have to realize what works best for your beliefs and your body.

    Hang in there girl! You know I’m always here if you need to unload some more. 🙂

  16. Elly permalink
    March 16, 2011 10:01 pm

    Hi Claire, my name is Elly. OK so I’ve never commented before but I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and this post totally compelled me to comment. I can relate to you a lot; I too am a recovered anorexic and have found peace with food and my body, and I enjoy experimenting with different foods to see what tends to work with my body. For example, throughout this process I’ve found that I tend to not do well with wheat, so I stick to oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc. I still eat wheat occasionally but try to stick with small amounts just because I’ve found I never feel stellar afterwards. My mom, however, still tends to be quite judgemental about the way I eat and thinks that my passion for nutrition is still actually my eating disorder (which is long-gone by the way and I am so happy now! it sucks that she doesn’t get that!) I think it is fascinating the way different foods affect Every Body differently, because every BODY IS UNIQUE!!! Some foods may be so satisfying for some people but makes others feel crappy! We are all individuals and it is a fun process to learn what our body truly craves and what makes it truly content. I think in our twisted U.S culture, this is completely overlooked. We have such contradictory messages out there, what with the fashion/modeling industry as well as the fast food industry. Our country has an obsession with unhealthy food and thinness….it is crazy. So I think that most people overlook the fact that food and and what we eat is actually a very unique and personal thing, and some people just don’t care about how it makes them feel. For those of us that do care, and want to learn about our own unique bodies so that we can be more in tune with them, I say more power to us. We need to teach others about the importance of listening to your body and really learning what it needs; it’s a lifelong process and it’s fun! Its so interesting! And to help others figure out what that looks like for them is incredible! I think that if you enjoy figuring out what works for you and really feel like you are passionate about this and want to spend your life helping others discover that for themselves, I say GO FOR IT GIRL!!! Really, listen to your gut. Be true to yourself, don’t worry about what you think other people may expect from you and don’t worry about pleasing people. Don’t worry about the route that you took to get here because it is from all the experiences you have had that got you to this point…just go with it! I think this is a really exciting time, girl! Don’t be afraid to keep reaching for things you want.

    • March 17, 2011 11:19 am

      Elly,
      Thanks fo commenting! I totally get what you are saying. So many people see me eating very healthy and experimenting with vegetarianism and veganism and assume that I still have an eating disorder. I think that most people don’t think about what they eat, which is liberating in a sense, but they also don’t know how much better they could feel if they did!
      One good point for me is that my parents see that I EAT. They know I cook and eat plenty so they can’t tell me I have an eating disorder in that respect. But I do sometimes wonder how far is too far…are we developing orthorexia or is our mindful eating a healthy lifestyle?
      I really do think healthy living has become a passion for me because I know how UNHEALTHY I have been in the past. It sort of takes that terrible experience to gain a new perspective and appreciation for feeling your best. Thank you so much for the encouragement, and please continue to comment! It was great!!

  17. March 17, 2011 12:05 am

    Hang in there girl. I don’t know if it helps, but when it comes to work, my philosophy is always to go with what makes you happy…because then you never really work a day in your life right?! And you’re getting paid to do fun stuff!

    Anyhow, I hope you start to figure things out soon. I think too that it just might be where you are right now and things will get better, but there’s no rush! Take your time and see where things take you!

    • March 17, 2011 11:19 am

      You’re absolutely right! I want to do what I love everyday, which is why I want to test the waters with IIN! I love that you are already doing that – your passion for birding and the environment is inspiring!
      Thanks Melissa!

  18. March 17, 2011 7:02 am

    Hey, I know exactly how you feel. I’m having trouble with work and I find it seeping into my home life. It’s difficult to not feel challenged, and I’m a Type A person, too. So for me, it really stinks having to sit at a comp all day long and pretty much not talk to anyone. I’ve been there since Dec. 09, and I’m starting to dread every day. I think my problem is that I don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who is struggling with that. Keep your head up. You’ll find your calling!

  19. Caitlin permalink
    March 17, 2011 8:46 am

    Clare, honestly i think you have a great problem on your hands…you love so many things!! thats wonderful!! I have actually been taking a class on classing and purpose…and the beauty is your career does not have to be everything! Trust me, i am one year out of college too and am still getting use to the “real world”. But I am learning to find some freedom in the fact that i dont have it all figured out…and I might not even in a year! I think its such a great step to take the class next year. If you love it, wonderful…and if you dont, oh well. I promise that the Lord is taking care of the details. He gave you a passion for health, business, blogging, people, and much more!! Its hard not to feel overwhelmed, but its this crazy act of trust to just walk with faith even when we have no idea where we are going! Thanks for sharing! I feel like no one really talks about how hard life after college is! its such a tough transistion, for real!

  20. Lisa permalink
    March 17, 2011 6:18 pm

    Honestly, I’ve been through a lot of these emotions that you are dealing with now. You really need to stop worrying about what other people think of you. This is how perfectionism gets to us. You need to look inside yourself and do what YOU want. Who cares what society or other people think? This is your life not the life that society wants to define you by, or even the life you parents may want for you. I find meditation helpful to really stop the confusion in my head and figure out what I need to do….The anxiety came from somewhere, you need to figure out where it came from. What triggered you to feel this anxiety? If it is your place of work. Maybe don’t do anything about it now but realize it is there and ask yourself questions like you are doing. If you passion is nutrition and not a job in retail/fashion then good for you for figuring it out. I was heading to law school before I realized this is NOT my passion and I need to be doing something else, and I am so much happier! Good luck.

  21. Amy permalink
    March 22, 2011 11:55 am

    I agree with your parents. You think way too much about food. I agree that America’s view of food is twisted and that food is really just the fuel your body needs to accomplish what you want to accomplish; there is nothing wrong with wanting to only put good things into your body. But when it gets to the point where you spend so much time planning out each meal, taking pictures, and blogging about it, it is undoubtedly obsessive no matter how you try to validate it. You can sit there and think that your readers will appreciate it, but do you really think anyone genuinely cares that you had the same thing for breakfast as you always do? Or is it actually a documentation that you need and rely on as a means to keep track of your daily intake in order to avoid overeating. Everyone knows keeping a food diary is the number one way to avoid overeating and gainging weight. Regardless of the arguments you might make (and however valid and genuine they may be to a certain extent), statements you make such as avoiding Kambucha because you prefer to “eat” your calories as opposed to “drinking” them, are red flags. Nobody has ever gained weight because of an influx of calories from crushing Kambucha all day long. Just saying. As a healthy, thin person who has never had an eating disorder and who realizes how different/better a healthy diet makes me feel, I cannot fathom being so obsessed with food as you are to the point that it interfered so much with my life. From an outside standpoint it seems that your whole day revolves around thinking about and planning meals, preparing them, working out, going to work, reflecting on this routine for hours, and then repeating. I just eat oatmeal for breakfast and then move on. And then have a homemade veggie burger for lunch and move on. And then work out and reach goals. It’s not THAT blogworthy.

    • March 22, 2011 12:01 pm

      While I certainly appreciate your comments and have given them some thought, I don’t think that I agree. I know that food blogs don’t interest everyone, but they have become incredibly popular. It’s not just the food that interests people, although I get tons of thanks for healthy meal ideas. It’s the story and personality behind it. I read foodblogs for the relationships I build with those bloggers. It’s more of a “my life through food” as opposed to a food diary.

      I also don’t use this as a food diary. I don’t count calories and definitely don’t post everything I eat. It is in no way to “keep me accountable” because I have been being a terrible accountant. It’s just for ideas and creativity!

      And I do think that I may spend too much thought on food, but it is a passion of mine. I think about what I want for dinner because I want it to delicious, creative and healthy. In the same way Chefs love cooking or Nutritionists love health, I do too. I just found a different way to incorporate my passions.

      Clare

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