Gear up friends, this post is a doozy! In the spirit of intentionally taking more time to reflect in 2017, it seemed fitting to share it with all of you. Understandably, you won’t be interested in reading every detail of this post (this is mostly for me to remember as the years pass), but my hope is that at least a part of this post resonates with you, and that you learn from me as much as I learn from all of you. Happy 2018! XO
“Our lives begin to truly thrive when we accept every invitation to grow.” This quote, by Mark Groves, perfectly sums up the beautifully flawed year that was 2017. It took me almost all of my 20’s to embrace these words, and to not see challenging periods as anything other than setbacks. Going into 2018, my mentality has drastically shifted, and I’m so grateful to have reached a place where I can share this change with all of you.
2017 was an incredible year – on a personal note, I grew more in this last year than I have in all of my 20’s. Everyone told me that when you turn 30, you enter the golden decade – the one in which you find and know your true self. For the first time, I feel a strong sense of clarity and confidence in what I want and need out of my life, career, and relationships. And most importantly, I feel very content with exactly where I am in my life. I no longer force what can’t and shouldn’t be forced, and I’ve embraced that often times, the hardest decisions are also the best decisions. On a professional note, I achieved a handful of significant and eagerly anticipated milestones in 2017 that left me feeling both proud and exhausted 🙂
2017 was also a teaching year- there were many tears, long journal entries, and feelings of inadequacy and frustration – but I’m a stronger, more confident, and happier #ladyboss because of what I overcame this year. One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is the importance of taking time for myself. To slow down and allow myself time and space to feel and reflect. And to give myself permission to not be okay. For years, I would avoid processing my feelings because 1) we are taught that it’s not okay to not be okay and 2) because it hurts to work through sadness and discomfort. But part of learning to work through internal and external conflict is taking the time to reflect. And you know what else reflection gifts us? Clarity. Because when we really, truly stop to think about what we want out of life, we feel calmer and more in control knowing that we’re not going to settle for less than what we value and need.
In the spirit of this post, I want to start by outlining the most challenging aspects of 2017. With each experience came growth. There were certainly times when I asked myself, why me?!? And it wasn’t until I was slapped in the face with some brutal honesty (thanks to Mark Mason’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck) that I realized how selfish I was acting. We are all wired for struggle (yes we are, Brené Brown!) To think that there exists a “special” few who are immune to facing and overcoming challenges is a fallacy. We all face challenges. Viewing struggle as unique to me is selfish. My problems are not unique, but how I handle them is unique to me. Once I stepped out of the “woe is me” bubble, I started to embrace my personal struggles as part of simply being human. We are all handed poop sandwiches in life. What we choose to do with that sandwich is up to us.
What was challenging about 2017?
A three-month period of unemployment
Oh man, this one was hard. My work, and ability to give back to others, is the center of my life right now. As soon as I graduated, passed the RD exam, and was ready to start applying to jobs, I struggled to thrive in the middle of the unknown. Would I stay in Seattle? Would I have to settle for a job I liked, but didn’t love? How long could I sustain myself financially before I had to pivot my current direction? During this time, I also put a lot of pressure on myself to use every free minute of my day towards either applying for jobs, or working on something for Nutrition Elevated. It wasn’t a healthy mental space to navigate, and I feel so grateful to be over that major hump. There was even a period of time when I started to question my decision to go back to school – and since many of you know how passionate I am about my career and work, I hope you can understand just how low I felt.
Healing from a car accident
Less than 24 hours after passing the RD exam, my (less than one-month paid off car) was totaled by a distracted driver. I won’t disclose details other than to say that the injuries that I sustained required over three months of frequent therapy appointments and a hiatus from exercise. Many of you know that activity, especially wilderness adventures, are key to helping me relieve stress. During an especially stressful time in my life (aka in the middle of my 3-month hiatus from the working world), I felt frustrated, overwhelmed, and frankly, a little depressed. I eventually got a new car, and have very recently slowly introduced exercise back into my life.
The rollercoaster of dating
Thinking back to 20-year-old Lauren, I predicted that I would be married by 24 or 25, and have my first child at 28 [heh heh]. If there’s one lesson that I’ve learned in my 20’s, it is that numbers do not matter. Learning to let go of societal and personal expectations of where I “should” be at a given age has alleviated a lot of frustration and anxiety. For the early part of my 20’s, I was a serial monogamist who stayed in relationships that went way past their due dates. After my ex-boyfriend and I broke up over two years ago, many of my friends advised that I take some time to myself – and I did just that (intentionally and not.) Throughout 2017, I continued to date. I was lucky to meet a lot of new faces this year and was never short of an exciting or hilarious update when I caught up with friends. But when I dug a little deeper into self-reflection, I noticed a trend: I was running from the ones who were interested, and chasing after the ones who weren’t [face plant]. And for some time, I couldn’t understand how or why I was getting myself into the same situation repeatedly. And then it came to me – quite literally – as I walked out of a bad date. I started down the path of wondering what I had done to make him disinterested. And then the world shook me by the shoulders and it clicked: I wasn’t interested in him. And for much of my 20’s, I prioritized wanting to be wanted over truly thinking through what I want (cue angels singing). And maybe that’s a product of growing up in an era where women are still taught that their value is dependent on being wanted. I’m still experiencing growing pains, but the little voice inside my head, or the gut feeling that something just isn’t right, is no longer ignored. And instead of trying to overanalyze if someone is or isn’t interested in continuing to date me, I now ask myself, “Lauren, what do YOU want and deserve?” #gamechanger
The darkness of winter
I very distinctly remember intensely struggling through January – March of 2017. It’s the first period in my life when I suspected that I was depressed. It was cold, rainy, and dark every single day. My energy levels plateaued and the activities that normally brought me joy seemed meaningless. It was a very rough place to navigate through mentally, and I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to mitigate that from happening again in 2018. As we enter into the same period one year later, I’ve invested in a happy lamp, now have a car that can venture into the mountains, and am working to plan some fun weekends away to keep myself distracted and happy.
Comparison is the thief of joy
When I hit my lowest of lows in 2017, I fell into the comparison trap. Social media definitely fueled the fire, so I made an intentional effort to stop scrolling through my dang phone. Since then, I’ve unfollowed any social media account that makes me feel negatively about myself in any way. And the best part of that decision is that I don’t miss those Instagram accounts. If it doesn’t serve you, leave it.
What went well in 2017?
One of my goals of 2018 is to take more time to celebrate the “wins” instead of sweeping them under the rug. Here’s a list of some professional and personal highlights in 2017.
Graduating with my masters degree
By far, my greatest accomplishment of 2017 was completing my graduate program. I was not shy about how much hard work went into this milestone. You can read more about it here and here. And if you’re brand new to Nutrition Elevated, here are some helpful resources about my career change to get you started.
Passing the RD Exam
Passing the RD exam made this entire journey official. Whoo hoo! Tips and strategies for passing the exam are here.
Starting Nutrition Elevated
The launch of this little business of mine was definitely a highlight of 2017. It has grown in ways that I wasn’t expecting, and stalled in ways that I wasn’t anticipating. I’ve learned just how much work goes into owning your own business, but also just how rewarding it can be. I’m still working on my vision for NE in 2018, but I feel less pressure this year to MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN AT ONCE. Doing your own thing is definitely a journey, and the unexpected is what makes it so much fun!
Landing my dream job
You can read all about landing my dream job here!
Becoming a published author
After a year of editing and collaboration, my thesis was accepted for publication! What does this mean? I’m a freaking published author in a peer-reviewed journal. And not only that, the paper that I worked on as a research assistant was also published a few weeks ago. So I am technically a published author on multiple papers 🙂
Learning the news of these two publications in late 2017 was especially meaningful because “become a published author” was on my “30 before 30” bucket list that I created when I was 27 years old. And it happened just weeks before my big 3-0.
Starting a Podcast
For those of you new to Nutrition Elevated, I co-host the podcast, “The Three Aminos: Real Nutrition for Real People” with two fellow RD’s. We started it in September, and it’s definitely been a fun, challenging, and rewarding passion project. I’ve loved sharing our knowledge on a very accessible platform, and it’s been a great excuse to research current nutrition trends! Our first episode of 2018 releases tomorrow, so please go check it out!
The thought of turning 30 was terrifying in the latter half of my 20’s, but I’m totally diggin’ this unicorn of a decade. I entered my 30’s stronger than ever, thanks to the hardest losses, disappointments, rejections, unexpected turns, and darkest times of my 20’s. I am so grateful for each and every challenging experience because they shaped the person I am today. Learning to trust that the future will unfold as it should, and living more in the present and less in anticipation of what could come, is the greatest lesson my 20’s gifted me.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re a champ! I’ll leave you with my 2018 quote. Read it, repeat it, and share your much-needed light with the world. Thank you for reading!
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
— Christian D. Larson