At the age of 39, I would have never believed that I would be where I am now. Sadly, I’m not completely happy with where I am now. I can say that there are some wonderful things going on in my life (and I will discuss those), but I really feel like a lost soul. I might as well be that teenager going off to college with an undeclared major, struggling to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Before I moved to Washington, I taught 9th grade English and debate for 14 years. And I loved teaching, but there were so many things about it that really burned me out. The politics were really hard to swallow. Having to take grading to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my son’s baseball games made me feel resentful of a job that I had loved for many years. If I could have just lived in my classroom with my students, I would have been fine. Sadly, that’s not all that teaching is.
At the end of June in 2013, I started selling jewelry for a direct sales company and loved it. It was something that I was surprisingly good at and really enjoyed. My friends and family got me going, and the people that they invited to their parties enjoyed my work, so they would have parties too. My first official month, July 2013, I was the top seller in my area. But we were moving to Washington state in August. While I talked a big game about taking the jewelry business to Washington, I was worried. I knew no one.
Before we moved, I was also working to become an NASM certified personal trainer. Helping others makes me feel really good, and I thought this might also be a way to still teach but change my vocation. With selling jewelry, finishing up the school year and teaching summer school, and trying to pack up the house for the 1700 mile move, the personal training test was the last on the agenda. It had to happen, but it had to happen after we moved.
In the middle of August, my son and I arrived at our new home in Bothell at 9:30 on a Thursday night. My husband had to travel several days later. I spent the next few days unpacking like a fiend and buying new things that we didn’t have or had to leave behind. It was a whirlwind of working to turn an empty, beautiful house into a new home in a city that was completely unfamiliar to us.
Before we moved, I had procured a job at a non-profit, private school that worked with kids one-on-one. They happened to be looking for a personal trainer who knew about education. Who would have thought they would find one in me?! I was hired by them and by the fitness center that housed the facility the kids used for PE classes. I thought I had hit the jackpot. Very little planning, no grading, and I would also be doing personal training when I wasn’t working at the school as a PE teacher. But I had to pass my test first. School started on September 4th, and I still hadn’t taken my CPT exam. I studied my butt off for a week before the exam, putting in more than 50 hours of studying. I planned to take my test on August 30th because there was another test I could take on the 2nd if I failed the first one. But failing wasn’t an option. Working at the school and fitness center were continent upon passing that test. My hard work paid off, and I passed the first time.
As the school year progressed, I realized that working in both places was not going to work for me. Both jobs were dependent upon enrollment of students or enrollment of people at the gym looking for personal trainers. Even though school began in September, it wasn’t until March that my schedule looked something like full-time. By then, my frustration level was really high. There were days that I would be on the island (Mercer Island) for 12 hours but only get paid for 4 hours. Traffic was too bad to travel home in between students and clients. The hours all abruptly ended again when summer came in June. Students that I thought I would have during the summer were not taking PE. I found myself again on the island for 12 hours but only getting paid for 4. There would be a client at 6 am, then a student at 10 and 11, then another client at 4:30.
It has become beyond frustrating to be 39 and feel as I did when I was in college — lost and in need of a steady income. There are days when I feel as if I don’t want to get out of bed. There are others that I love what I do. And I really do. Personal training is wonderful, and I love helping people who truly appreciate what I am helping them accomplish. But these growing pains are ROUGH. I moved from a steady business with total job security and amazing benefits to a job that pays significantly less, has no security, and no benefits. I’m trying to live my dream, but it’s been rough going. I have to laugh because I’ve even applied at a store in the mall for a part-time job just to ease the pressure off my shoulders for the need of money. I have a lot of dreams, but money is required to help me attain them.
So what have I learned from all of this? I am going to have some dark days, and that is okay. I do several things when I have those days:
1. Go to the gym and ride my ass off on the bike or take a Body Combat class and hit a bunch of defenseless air.
2. Remind myself that even though my hours suck right now, I love working at the gym. It is honestly the best job I’ve had. My co-workers are amazing. There is no drama. There is no competition. As a matter of fact, we even recommend clients to each other if we don’t have the skill set to work with that client. I do nothing but laugh when I’m there. And my clients are awesome, too.
3. Take a long, hot bath and watch a movie on Netflix. Someone’s life in a movie is always worse than mine.
4. Whine to my best friend back in Nebraska about my life. Then she makes me laugh with weird emoji and all is well.
5. I set goals to figure out how to work my way out of the situation. I’ve been applying to jobs since the middle of June. It is currently the middle of October. I’ve had a lot of rejections. I’ve even had people that (unprofessionally) didn’t even bother returning my phone calls. So I applied to a mall retail store. Just getting my foot in the door somewhere is going to be a start.
6. I remind myself that I have a wonderful marriage, a wonderful husband, a wonderful son, a supportive family, a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and two dogs that love to give me hugs and kisses every hour.
With all of these options, how can I possibly have a bad day for long. Yeah. I feel like a lost soul right now, but I’ll find myself with a little more time.