There I was – 6 months into my Nutritional Medicine course, and as I’ve come to realise I do, setting high standards for whatever I set my mind to and always trying to over-achieve, no matter the stakes.
I was working 8-10 hour days in the corporate world, and my evenings spent studying 3-4 hours a night locked in my room. I projected my stress onto my housemates, and didn’t see my boyfriend during the week at all – in fact, week nights were off limits for socialising with anyone until I’d completed my studies.
Then BAM! The unthinkable happened. I had failed my Anatomy & Physiology 2 exam. “Only just” my lecturer advised me, and then proceeded to offer me a chance to re-sit the exam. I couldn’t even bring myself to re-sit with only days notice, after I’d spent ~8 hours revising for this exam (when really what I’d needed was at least ~38 hours of revision but there were not enough hours in my week to accommodate). I felt defeated and disappointed in myself. I did not consider myself as a person who just ‘scrapes through’; I have always had high standards for all I set my mind to achieve. This news took the breath from my chest and brought tears to my eyes.
I was embarrassed to tell my friends, colleagues and family that I’d chosen to defer my course whilst I decided what I would do, how I could proceed forward. But it was clear that burning the candle at both ends would not enable me to reap benefits in my life unless I found a new method of attack. I was not one to give up, and especially when it came to fulfilling my dreams.
It took me a good 6 months of pondering and a great self-development book to realise a very important life lesson…
ALL OR NOTHING
This kind of mindset was setting me up for failure. They were my own preset standards that I held myself accountable to, and being the passionate person I am, I had been throwing myself ‘all in’. The alternative in my mind was failure, and I’ve come to realise how unhealthy this ‘all or nothing’ mindset could be for my future achievements, or risk of lack thereof. I would hold myself back on a path to something I was passionate about if I was unable to go ‘all in’; achieve a Bachelor degree, certification, career progression, status… Something tangible and measurable to others seemed like the only way to validate myself in my path to follow my passions. But what I’ve come to realise is that I do not need anyone to validate or quantify my knowledge or experience – satisfying my inner desires and dreams was the only compass I needed to follow. My inner happiness is what mattered most.
So I sat down and started mapping out my inner-most desires; my dreams for my life “when I grew up” as a current 30 year old adult with a child-like imagination.
The first thing I noticed? Putting pen to paper enabled me to be a kid again, where dreams existed and anything were possible!
I started feeling a sense of excitement that I had essentially created my ‘bucket list’ for my life – much like I do each day in my corporate role, but on a personal level I had created a to-do list that I could prioritise, make time for, schedule and complete – that I could work through and satisfyingly tick off items as I achieved them, validating my own success and achievement.
My next step? I documented smaller mini-goals which I could complete along the way, which would roll up into the larger goals. For example, my passion for health studies surrounding nutritional medicine didn’t have to cease just because I didn’t have the time to complete a Bachelor degree alongside maintaining my corporate job which I enjoy and didn’t want to forego. I endeavoured to still take on learnings in health studies which fit into my lifestyle, whether they be enrolling in short courses on plant-based nutrition, right down to making time each week to indulge myself in the latest health-related TED talks or documentaries on cancer, food vs planet sustainability, Chinese medicine, juice cleanses, antineoplastons – the list goes on, and my appetite for learning was satiated once again. These small steps were achievable, and fit within my everyday life.
My current status update: I have achievable milestones set to accomplish fulfilment in areas of my life seeking fulfilment, and I feel content and inner acceptance. Gone are the unrealistic expectations on myself, and each day is a new day of opportunities to be the best person I can be. I am prioritising my time in my life on what is necessary to my happiness, and spending it with positive influences surrounding me, which and whom encourage me to be my best authentic self.
I am eating well, doing yoga daily, switching night time tv for positive activities which contribute towards my long term happiness goals, and all-in-all am feeling a much happier and positive version or myself – perhaps my best version yet!
What does this mean for my blog? I see this as an exciting opportunity to repurpose and expand, sharing my various passions with you all in a holistic way which stay true to my authentic self. Gone are my expectations, replaced only by enjoying the moment at hand, and finding gratitude for the journey of self-exploration and development along the way.
Reference: Adventures for your Soul by Shannon Kaiser