I sit here and write this half with excitement and half with hesitation.
Because I'm contemplating starting life over.
That may not sound super interesting or anything special, but lately, I've been doing heaps of soul searching.
And what it's led me to, is that ... I need something more.
And to be honest, I never had that much to begin with.
Though everything that I posted on social media made it seem so.
And this really is the inspiration for this story.
It's been months since I've sat down and written something that was on my mind.
I've been so caught up in trying to make a life for myself that I've lost touch with what I truly want to accomplish.
Well, you're right, it is.
And all of this is a big deal to me, because I've done it before. Many...many times actually. And while the 'facade' on social may say one thing, recent situations and cultural shifts have inspired me to uphold the true visions of transparency and authenticity.
And the past few days, while I was reflecting, I realized that nowhere out there is there any actual record of WHO I am! Nothing that is stored anywhere where one day I can look back from my fully gold and diamond penthouse or mansion and read and say...
'Damn, that really WAS me back in the day.' Look how far we've come.
I don't know who you are. Or what you're about. Or where you're from. Or your circumstances.
But what I do know...and what I'm hoping I'm about to share will inspire you.. is that no matter the answers to any of those questions, you truly can start from NOTHING (again and again) and become anything you want to be.
I've gotten that first part down pat. And I haven't quite mastered the last part ... BUT that's the whole purpose of beginning what I'm beginning here.
To take you on the journey with me, share, teach, enlighten, and inspire from what I learn.
No holds bar.
No BS. No glamour. No 'highlight reel'.
The raw shit.
So low and behold....
Here we go.
29 years (give or take 9 months) ago (oh god I'm old)... my parents decided that they loved each other a lot.
That or they were sick of each other so they needed a companion.
Either way I entered this world.
Obviously not many of us remember our baby years so I'm going to skip to like, toddler-ish.
At 3, those seemingly loving parents got a divorce. And I was stuck (at 3) trying to figure out how to manage being in the middle of such a situation.
Alas the courts sided with my mom, and thus started the however many years of our rocky relationship.
Now I'm not from like the boonies or anything, nor am I from NYC (though sometimes I wish I was). But my upbringing truly is humbling. It forces me to really contemplate the 'you can't help what you were born into.'
Now no, it wasn't poverty. But it wasn't luxury either. Actually I can't even really say it was comfortability.
As an originator of a small town on the outskirts of a kinda-somewhat-maybe if you push it-like sorta-big town, none of us were expected to be much.
But I had different ideas. I wanted something more. We'll get there though.
As a 5 year old we moved into our first house.
I still remember the layout of 2602 Larkwood Dr.
It's where I discovered I was an athlete.
It's where I discovered I loved being outside.
It's where I discovered my love for horses.
It's where I discovered that I truly was an outsider.
It's where I discovered that I was smarter than most other neighbor kids.
It's where I discovered I had an extra rib on my left side.
What? Okay off the subject....
But it's kinda where I discovered that I was different.
I didn't like my mom (sorry).
I was bigger than all the other girls.
I looked different, more masculine, than all the other girls.
I wasn't accepted by the popular little kids.
And most of my ideals were stifled by..."Uhm no. You can't do that. You're going to do good in school, go to college, get a good job being a doctor or something. Money isn't the only thing. Actually it isn't even important it's bad...blah blah."
Which is pretty much what I heard on the daily.
Along with....we can't afford that.
"Nikki, sorry but we're going to have to take 'birdie bathes' because our hot water was turned off."... FYI a birdie bath is where you heat up pots of water on the stove and use it.. *sparingly* for your shower.
"Nikki, you need to go to your dads to shower, our water is turned off. Oh and we can't flush the toilet."
"Nikki, I know it's cold but I'm not turning on the heat (or AC) because we can't afford the energy, just turn on the fan (add more covers)."
And to be honest...this was where my relationship with money, or lack there of, began.
Never the less, I did most of those things. I did good in school. I went to college.
Actually I went to college AND got an advanced degree, and MBA.
However the only reason I wanted to do that..was because I actually didn't know what the fuck I actually wanted to do!
And newsflash...if you didn't know... do NOT go into 6 figures worth of debt simply getting more 'education' when you ultimately didn't know what you wanted to do!
Big mistake. But..a mistake that made me who I am today.
Along the way I absolutely did have amazing experiences. I absolutely did go through challenges that made me who I am today. So no regrets.
After going into this 6 figures worth of debt (but still not really knowing what I wanted out of life), I took the only job I was offered.
And it made me off the bat, as a Master's degree holder...a whopping $32k a year. And not knowing any better, I didn't negotiate or look for more.
Look, now I can't complain. I did excel quickly. I owe a lot to that company. They put a lot of stock into me...they believed in me and they invested into me until just 3 years later I was making just shy of 6 figures.
But I was just not satisfied.
I don't think I ever admitted before where my motivation to be an entrepreneur came from.
I always used to say that while I was at that job, I was miserable. I hated it. And that's only half true.
I didn't hate it. The people were lovely. The job was complex and essential and it made me comfortable.
YES I held myself to higher esteem, YES I wanted more, YES I wanted recognition and legacy and popularity and impact.
But the real reason was...for a boy.
I met this incredible man. A man who I didn't feel confident that I was good enough to be with...who I didn't feel I LOOKED good enough to be with.
At this time I was about 60ish pounds overweight.
So, being versed in health, wellness and nutrition, I used what I knew to begin dropping this weight to be more appealing to him. No... I didn't do it the right way but this is a story for later.
What added fuel to the fire is that...I fell in love with him. And he moved away.
Yes, we still stayed in contact but I YEARNED to be near him. I needed it.
And that...ultimately...was what pushed me to become uncomfortable.
I wanted to be in a position of freedom. Both time and financial, so I could travel to him whenever I wanted...actually so we both could travel and I could free him from any job and take us both across the world..something I knew we both wanted.
And this loneliness, this lacking..it's ultimately what drew me to seek a way where I didn't have to be constrained behind employer walls for 8 hours a day...where I could be whatever, wherever, whenever. TO have 'made' something of myself so he could look at me and say...Wow. I cannot lose her.
And that's where it all started. This whole rocky roller coaster that has been full of stress. Full of pain. Full of discouragement and fear...and a roller coaster I wouldn't trade for the world.
Well since I had just lost about 65 pounds..and I was seeing all of the new self proclaimed 'fitness influencers' making G's and G's online..that's exactly what I did.
(gosh just reflecting back on this gives me the chills)
Please preface this with..I am very competitive. I am very capable. I always got stuff done. I was always able to figure things out. I am good at learning..and I (at this time) BELIEVED I could do something of significance. I expect the most.
My first endeavor..if I could say that..was AF^2 (AF squared but I don't know the keyboard shortcut for a superscript). Always Forward Adventure Fitness.
I wanted to combine travel, with health, with fitness, with outdoors.
So I did.
I did everything I thought I was supposed to.
I bought a domain...haha
I created and bought a logo...lollll
I bought business cards...hahahaaa
I even bought hats with my logo!!! LMFAO
My concept was to create a list of places I wanted to travel, races and physical feats I wanted to accomplish, and document my journey doing them.
I mean, it doesn't sound that far fetched..BUT I didn't have any money to get to these places..
So what it really looked like was me writing reviews on local outdoor spots for great nature, or local races, or local healthy restaurants, I even just went on runs and hikes and posted pictures with me in my hat throwing up a hand sign of my logo.
And now I think of it again...I love the idea. I love the concept, I still want to do this, people DO do this...however in hindsight..horrible execution.
To add to it, I began writing fitness plans that could be done using only the outdoors and material that you'd use to be outdoors..like benches, water bottles, etc.
Just you, your body, and nature. <3
Here's the thing, even though I had a business degree, I knew NOTHING about starting a business of my OWN! Newsflash..if you want to learn about entrepreneurship, they don't teach this in school Which is incredibly sad.
But I didn't know I needed validation. I didn't know I needed an actual idea of something I wanted to sell. A value proposition. Or some unique proposition that would make companies want to sponsor me.
I had none of that. And I became discouraged. And..
Actually I didn't really quit..because I'm still here.
I just failed. But I didn't recognize it as a failure at that time. I just pivoted.
My passions were still the same. My motivations were still the same.
And to follow those 'motivations', I moved where he was.
New Orleans. Ugh. But..hola.
Next venture.. expanding a Nashville start up to NOLA. Failed.
Next venture.. being a professional public speaker (overnight). Failed
Next venture.. being a corporate wellness consultant using my experience in employee benefits. Failed.
Next venture.. pivoting my 'health and wellness' experience to be a "health and weight loss coach" for professional women. Fai... wait.. Traction? No way..
This is where things started to change. I actually started to read, learn, self-educate myself and this was ultimately what began to turn things around.
But also is what the foundation of what most of more of my writings will be about, because after years of learning, I can EFFECTIVELY tell you what works..and what's total BS.
Continuing.. I honestly did get some traction with the coaching. Clients? Not too many.
Publicity? A bit! More narrow, focused, consistent, intentional, and intelligent with my approach? Definitely.
Now, I think I should mention my motivations began to change. Being in the 'self improvement world', you begin seeing the flashy lifestyles and think.. I can do this too.
I always heard my mom's voice in my head... *You can't do that* *Money isn't everything* *You'll be average, just accept it*. So I set out to prove her wrong.
And chased the money.
I lost focus.
Next venture.. a lead generation company. Yes. Full company.
Couldn't do it. I hated it. So...failed.
Back to the health coaching. This time...it felt ' a lot for a little', putting myself out there and now hating health and fitness. I felt at odds. So..failed.
Wanted to be a simple 'health and fitness' influencer... so moved to posting (admittedly beautiful) pictures of creative foods on Instagram. Nothing happened. Crickets. Failed.
By now, my doubts were on full force. My depression was beginning, and the heights I held myself to were fading.
To be honest...at this point I publicized something similar to what I'm doing here (not as detailed)..but I apologized. I called myself out on social media that I was inauthentic, showing and acting like my success was higher than it was.
I also called a 'restart'. Where I restarted my life, from scratch. Much like this.
Which is why this is so hard for me. Because I've done it before.
None the less...
Guess what...we moved again. Phoenix this time.
Both my boyfriend and I wanted a brand new start. Boyfriend? Yes. Don't worry..you'll be hearing about him a lot in the future :)
Here's where it gets even more interesting.
All this time (the entire time) I had an idea. An idea for a HUGE concept. One that I thought would potentially change the world. A 'start up' essentially...
But I'd never pursued it because remember..everything else was my 'fast track' to cash right?! HAAAA
But here for some reason I began to pursue this.
And I can honestly say it's what I've spent the longest time, and consistency, looking into. Because this idea continuously festers. Continuously remains.
Now I'm not saying I'm focused on it, but it's always on the tip of my tongue.
In Phoenix, I took this idea around to all of the local 'big wigs'.
I attended all of the 'accelerator camps', the 'startup events' the 'investor' events..all trying to find the silver bullet (aka the person who was going to help me.)
Update there...not yet.
But along with that, I started a marketing agency for health and wellness professionals.
Success? No. Not even close.
And sometimes, it baffles me...because I know things that can help people.
Yet, no financial freedom.
I've picked up flipping websites (trying), promoting marketing, even dipping into eCommerce, attempting to become a motivational influencer, start my own brand, and more.
Enter present times...I bet you're amazingly excited because...
That brings us up to today. Right now.
Right when I sat down to write this, half excited and half in hesitation.
When I nearly had a mental breakdown outside of my apartment building because again I felt misaligned, and my actions were causing more stress than good.
And my mind, my body, my spirit...all told me to...stop.
Take a step back. Reflect. Restart.
If you've made it this far with me, congrats.
And whether you can relate, or not I'm glad we were able to share this time together.
This all is going to say that I want to begin a new journey.
One where everything is left on the table and I share anything and everything to those who are looking to follow this path..or perhaps those who followed a similar path as myself.
I want you to feel inspired.
I'm on an endless journey to find what makes me happy. To find what works. To find the no BS ways to create a business..to find my dream. To KNOW what that dream is!
A journey to learn. Endlessness. And to never..ever..stop trying.
And I wanted you to feel motivated. I want you to feel driven that failures are the only way to learn.
The only way to ultimately find what you really want to do.
To know that failure isn't the end. To know that as long as you have a dream there's only one thing that matters..that you don't quit.
That you endure. That you learn strength..and resiliency.
Have these, and you can..have it all.
Until next time.