I’ve always loved the idea of living your best life, of being authentically you. That sounds silly to say. I mean, who doesn’t? That’s like saying you love puppies and magic. Obviously, you do. But this idea really has guided my decision-making in my life, even before I knew it was a thing, especially my senior year of college.
I had majored in Film and Television and was all set to be an Television Writer/Producer/Awesomely powerful Hollywood-type person when I realized that while watching and analyzing TV made me giddily nerd-out, watching it get made had the opposite effect; it made me dread getting into the car each morning to head to my hard-fought-for-internships This desire to be authentically me is what pushed me to be honest with myself, to acknowledge that working with kids and taking a ridiculous and crazy risk to join Teach for America was actually much more me than working for a production company or a casting director.
Because of that, when I happened upon Stratejoy through some blogger friends, I had that little moment of “Oh! She gets it! This is what I try to do!” Because of that instant recognition, I actually applied to be a Stratejoy blogger soon after finding the site almost three years ago. It was kind of a silly effort that I stopped before even finishing the application. As I attempted to write out what would’ve been an incredibly lame first post, I realized I wasn’t having a quarter-life crisis at all. I was actually extremely happy.
I had a great teaching job at a school that loved. I had a boyfriend who let me watch Friday Night Lights at his apartment. (The ultimate score!) I was living with my best college friends and had a full social life in one of the coolest cities in the country. I have no idea what I thought I would write about. In fact, I had actually been reading the blog for a while and feeling a bit superior to the bloggers who were still figuring things out because I thought I already had. (Did I mention I was kind of the worst?) I was 23 and had my shit together! So I put the application away and kept feeling awesome.
Then last year happened, and suddenly, I didn’t have any reason to feel superior anymore. I started on a slow downward spiral, and I have Stratejoy to thank for the realization that I wasn’t OK. I had been toying with the idea of finally doing The Joy Equation for a while, but I convinced myself I was doing fine. If I wanted to change things, I could! And if I hadn’t, well, that just meant things weren’t that bad.
Cut to me, being too lazy to actually get to my yoga studio one February night, deciding to instead do some yoga stretches in my room. I get into downward facing dog, and I just start crying. On a yoga mat. In my pajamas. In the middle of my bedroom. Superiority gone. Every feeling I had repressed and shaken off and said was no big deal just came welling up. And that was it – I knew that I wasn’t fine, and that I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it until I figured out what was making me feel this way. The first one was to stop just reading Stratejoy and actually, finally, try it for myself.
There were a couple reasons I felt like that was a good first step, but the biggest was that when I thought about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be like, I found myself wanting to be more like Amy, Doni, Nicole (unsurprisingly, women who have all used Stratejoy in some way): women who are working towards being a better version of themselves, women who are not giving into the bullshit of others and who are doing what works best for them. To me, it seems they have all created lives where they do the work they love that challenges them and fulfills them. (Or they are just super awesome at pretending that is what they are doing, and in that case, I still have to give some kudos.) That is what I want for myself. To do the work I love. To be healthy. To be fulfilled and content. That is what I thought I had, and honestly did have, for a brief moment, but I know that if I really work and focus, I can be even better than 23-year-old Amanda. I mean, she was kinda judgmental.
When I got my workbook from Molly along with a note that told me that yoga crying was fine and that we’ve all been there, I felt like I was making a solid step in the right direction. I reminded myself that not only had others people been here before, but that I’ve done this whole thing before – this not being happy, feeling slightly off, not quite being myself – and I’d fixed it. I’d figured out what would make me happier and allow me to be a better version of myself, and I took that path instead of the one that would have been easy or expected.
It only took a week of reflecting on my life, with the help of those super sweet journal prompts, for me to hone in on the fact that I was in a rut – in my job, in my relationships – and that to break the cycle I’d fallen into I needed to make a big change. Again. Thankfully, I had applied to graduate school in the fall on an angry-at-my-job whim and had been accepted to NYU around the time of my yoga-crying spree.
So, I hit that accept button on NYU’s website and committed to myself that I would take this year to refocus myself on being the best version of myself, so I can feel as happy as I did at 23 and maybe be a little less judge-y of those who are still on the path with me towards being who they know they can be.