Epic Anyway

Excerpt taken from my essay in Chicken Soup for the Soul, “Tough Times Won’t Last, But Tough People Will.” This piece was written in response to the prompt for the year 2020 and its challenges.

I sighed as I tried to focus on my yoga mat. Since the gyms were closed, my new normal was fitness by the pool at my apartment complex. On any other day, this would have been enjoyable. Ideal even. But in the midst of trying to find some sort of Zen, my mind kept wandering. There was just too much to think about. Disease. Chaos. Societal breakdown. Doom. Fear. The Unknown. Murder hornets. How could I survive when I could barely snag a roll of toilet paper?

I found my sweaty feet losing grip and was brought back to reality as I quickly moved to avoid falling on my mat. The whole mindfulness thing really wasn’t working.

The year 2020 was supposed to be epic for me. I had finally gotten my content-creation business on track to where I wanted it. I had found some great brands to collaborate with and arranged some really incredible international trips I had been trying to put together for years. It seemed like everything had fallen into place. All my hard work had finally come together and paid off.

And then, almost in an instant, everything fell apart. Since the beginning of the lockdowns, it seemed as if all the projects I had worked so hard for were disappearing by the day. Trips and treks were canceled or postponed as international borders were shut, businesses were closing, and people were sheltering in place.

Our way of life, our normal, had almost ceased to exist. Cities looked like ghost towns, like something in an apocalypse movie. Human contact seemed to be a relic of the past as Zoom meetings from isolation became the new disease-free way to communicate. Friends and families wanted to stay in their bubbles. People were placed into groups: “essential,” “non-essential,” “masker,” “conspiracy theorist.” We became more divided than ever, all while more events came into play. We saw natural disasters, protests, riots, cancel culture, political divides and millions of jobs lost. Meanwhile, the death toll climbed, and there seemed to be no end in sight.

And, everywhere we turned, it was in our face. Was there anything else to talk about?

There comes a point in time when obstacles force us to change. We can either be consumed by them and let them destroy us, or we can respond by getting creative, adapting and changing our path. I was riding that fine line and realized I had to make a change, and fast.

I realized that I couldn’t change the world around me. I had no control over that. But I could change myself. I could change the course of my life. I realized that wasting time by trying to salvage past projects was not in my best interest.

I took to my yoga mat again. This time, with an open mind.

It took me a while to get some clarity, but I finally had a breakthrough. I felt stronger, happier and more confident with each movement as I became more and more comfortable with my decision.

I was going to look into alternative career options. I had been a personal trainer before, and the thought of getting back into something health and wellness related intrigued me.

Of course I had questions. How was I going to do this? Was I too old? Was I smart enough and strong enough? How would this affect my content career when, and if, things got back to normal.

I had to put those fears aside. If there is anything that 2020 taught me, it’s to accept and embrace the unknown. So, with great enthusiasm, excitement and a hint of anxiety, I signed up for an EMT course to begin my journey.

From the first day in class, my sense of wonder and passion for learning and helping others were evident. I once again felt that fire to not only succeed, but to fully immerse myself in the subject. I dedicated my time to learning everything I could about the subject. When I wasn’t in class, I was watching videos, listening to podcasts and reading books at home about health and wellness. I felt like I was living out my purpose in life again. II felt that fire light up inside me.

And the passion and hard work paid off. At the end of the year, I had earned my EMT license and began to look for options in the industry. This was only the beginning, and there were so many options and directions I could take it. As the year wound down and the chaos settled my content career seemed to come back. But the experience at the EMT academy gave me a desire to help people and make a difference. After another session of soul searching on the mat, I decide I could do both. I could continue my content business while also making a positive impact working with the community. I decided that even though being a field EMT wasn’t exactly for me, I could still make a difference by being an advocate for health and wellness through my content career.

I learned so much from this experience. Life can literally change overnight, so it’s important to get creative and adapt to the new situations. Learning new skills will open your mind and doors to new opportunities, even if every one of them seemed to be closed.

So, I was wrong the whole time. The year 2020 was epic. Just in a different way than I had planned.

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