It’s the end of my first year at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. It’s been a whirlwind. How did this year go by so fast? I want to reflect on this past year, but to do that I need to reflect on my first 3 years, post-college.
Some of my friends in grad school have commented on how much I constantly challenge assumptions and question what it is that I want to get out of grad school (and life). So, I want to open you up to some insight on how my brain works. I constantly reassess what it is that I’m doing. Because of this, I never let myself go too far down a path once I realize it’s not leading me where I want to go. (That doesn’t mean I’m a quitter. Far from it. I think you can sometimes reframe the current task-at-hand to fit your goals. Shift the world, don’t shift your gaze. Hehe.)
After graduating college in May 2010, I moved to NYC. I knew that I wanted to go to grad school, but I thought taking 3 years between undergrad and grad school to gain work experience in my field would help affirm my interests in agriculture and nutrition… and fully prepare me for my studies. I’m very glad I took that time. I learned a lot about myself in those 3 years. Some monumental things I did in NYC:
- I learned how to escape without running away… through the discovery of many awesome green spaces and parks in the concrete jungle… and my Sunday night walks.
- I learned how to survive in NYC on an AmeriCorps stipend and SNAP benefits (food stamps).
- I became a personal trainer.
- I became more outgoing and confident.
- I learned to deadlift… and changed my butt forever. Haha.
- I learned how to cook chicken, beef, duck, ostrich, and other tasty, sustainably raised, local meats. Also artichokes, beets, fennel, kale, Brussels sprouts, and so many other vegetables.
- I met so many awesome people that had a huge impact on my outlook on work, school, and life.
- I know I did tons of other things, but I’m not going to list my entire resume in this blog post (but can I put that thing about my deadlifts on my resume? I’m pretty proud of it…)
I think the ultimate question I want to ask myself about those 3 years of my life is: Did I accomplish what I wanted to in NYC? Subsequently… Did I learn what I wanted? Did I meet and spend time with people that I wanted to be with? Did I experience the things that I wanted to do? The answer to all those questions is yes.
- I wanted to figure out what fields of work are most interesting to me. The answer: urban agriculture, exercise, and nutrition!
- I wanted to know what work environment best suits my personality… which is a mix between office work and hands-on creation of ideas or teaching, adequate time for lunch and physical activity, a good supervisor who understands the value of discussion and collaboration… among others.
- I wanted to gain important life skills and take advantage of all the opportunities the big city has to offer: confidence, time-management, work-life balance, exercise science & program design, dance & choreography, composting in the city, and so much more.
- I wanted to achieve peace with food, meat included.
- I wanted to spend time with my friends from college and make new friends that I could laugh with, commiserate with, eat with, drink with, cook with, dance with, exercise with…
- I wanted to make a difference in the world. Contribute something positive and unique.
Reflecting on all the positive experiences and skills that I gained in NYC, those 3 years were crucial to my personal and professional development. I do need to place a caveat on this… NYC was not the love of my life. I was pretty miserable for my first 1-2 years there. It’s an overwhelming city, and it’s very easy for your values and dreams to get swallowed up in the crowd of 8 million people. I had to constantly remind myself who I was, where I came from, and why I was there. It would have been so easy for me to have stayed there, building my business as a personal trainer and getting lost in someone else’s dream. But I suppose that could happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. NYC is just a place where money and power are very loud, and it’s hard to find a quiet space to hear yourself think.
Just remember: it’s your life (your time, your money, your body, your brain). Don’t waste it.
So… as I tend to end my blog posts with an “assignment” or question for you, here it is: reflect on the past 3 years of your life. What monumental things did you do and learn, personally and professionally? Did you accomplish what you wanted to? Did you learn what you wanted? Did you make friends and spend time with people that you wanted to be with? Did you experience the things that you wanted to do? Feel free to post it in the comments!
Balance the Chaos.