I've been working in my field for twelve years this August.
I've got a lot of disappointment attached to my job. I cannot tell you how many hours I've spent thinking that my job isn't "cool" enough, or "creative" enough, or this or that. I compare my job to the jobs of others. I often times refer to others' jobs as "real" jobs as if my job isn't real. I beat myself up about the fact that I'm 33 and I work at a health food store. But that's not what this post is about.
Twelve years ago this August I got a job at a health food store in St. Louis while I was going to school for art and my life changed. I decided to go to school for art because that's all I had ever been good at in high school. When I was little I wanted to be Leonardo da Vinci and Bob Ross. Those were my role models. So sad. I spent eight long years in college taking classes like yoga and human psychology. I took classes on world religion and native american history. I started to find that I was interested in other things. I started to see that I had a pretty well rounded list of "likes." At work, I learned about herbs and food and fitness and well being. I had always been interested in how the body works; my mom is a nurse and I've been told my whole life why things happen in my body because of that. I started getting really into learning about herbal remedies and soon became the assistant team leader of the vitamin department at work. I was working full time and still going to school for art.
I became amazing at my job, and I loved it. I met the most amazing people too. I met my future best friends. I made jokes and told stories with coworkers that still make me laugh to this day. Most of my coworkers were artistically inclined--for some reason artists are drawn to working at health food stores--so we all shared the same goal: to work at the store during the day and make art during our time off. While I was in school, that goal suited me just fine and I found a happy balance.
I moved to Austin and started working for Whole Foods and rediscovered my passion for working in my field. I was sent to places like Utah for trainings on vitamin companies. I was taught about nutrition by industry experts. I learned about top of the line natural skin care lines. All because I worked at a health food store. And ya know what? Over the years, I started wondering what my life would be like if I had a different job. A job that was a "real" job. A job that mattered. I started to think about the people I had grown up with who had what I call "real" jobs. They hated their jobs. They were miserable. And here I was complaining because I worked at a health food store.
Here's what it comes down to: I love my job. I love the fact that I can go to work on any given day and help someone see something differently. I love that I've become an educator and can speak proficiently on an array of health subjects. I love that I have the power to show someone with a food allergy that there are still foods that they can enjoy! I love that I can go to work and I can utilize my artistic training and love of marketing and public relations. Most of all, I love what I have learned. I have cured myself, my family and my friends of countless ailments. I have (I am sure of it!) avoided more illnesses than I can name. I love that when something is wrong with me, I feel empowered to fix it myself instead of relying on a doctors diagnosis. I love that I truly know my body better than anyone will ever know it. I love that I get to work four days a week and use my other three days off to do whatever I please. I love that while working as a retail employee, on a retail employees salary, I have been able to travel to Europe (twice), Canada (twice) and fully explore the United States. Most of all, I love that I am a valid part of a company and am actively contributing to the health of my community.
I'm tired of feeling bad that I didn't become Leonard da Vinci or Bob Ross. I love what I do and I'm good at it. I'm tired of beating myself up because I'm not "this" or "that" or whatever. I have the power to be whatever I want to be, and I've stayed on this path for a reason....it fits me. There is so much pressure out there to be more this or more that. I have fallen prey to that pressure for a very long time. Just know that as long as you're doing something that makes you happy, you're on the right path. Yeah, it might not be the place you end up, but if it makes you happy then why not?! I cannot say what is in the future for me at this point, but I do know that I don't want to feel ashamed of where I've been. I've been to some pretty amazing places because of my job and that's a good thing.
Any fellow health food store workers out there feeling this way? I'd love to hear your story!!