Job: Studio Manager, DEFINE body & mind
Location: Austin, Texas
Meg is one of my best friends from home. Her story is inspiring because she has already figured out a few key takeaways from her time out of college, and she is the first to admit that she is just trying to figure it all out. The important thing to note here, I think, is that she is not rushing to figure out the next five years. She is living in the moment, something I think we can all learn from, myself included.
Give us a little background and tell us how you ended up in Austin.
So I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, and I moved to Austin when I started school at The University of Texas Austin. I was an Art History major and I didn’t really know exactly what I could do with that, but I knew other people were having internships that turned into jobs for them. I honestly didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to be in a nine-to-five office job, but that is kind of what everyone seemed to be doing.
The summer before my senior year, I started working part-time at a fitness studio, DEFINE body & mind, to get some extra money. I wasn’t in the fitness community at all before this, and I had never even taken a fitness class. I grew up riding horses and never even really went to the gym (editor's note: I can vouch for this because I knew her in high school), so I tried it going in completely blind and it was tough at first. It was a pretty tight community and again, I had never taken a work out class in my life, so pushing into that group was hard. Slowly but surely, I started getting involved in the community more and once my sorority president role was over in December, I began taking on more of a role at the studio. I got promoted to the head of the front desk staff while I was still a student, which was cool to have more responsibility outside of school.
How did you end up in your current role?
When graduation rolled around, I didn’t know what I wanted to do post-grad, so I worked at a ranch in Montana the summer I graduated, knowing that it would be the last time I’d get to work there before the real world. Growing up, I spent many summers vacationing at the ranch with my family and then, later on, working there as well, so it is a special place for me. I was there for four months, and it was great. My boss from the fitness studio wanted me to continue working when I came back to Austin after the ranch in October, but I still looked for other positions. I even told her and she was supportive of it. I applied to a small local start-up, a fitness apparel company called Outdoor Voices, that has gotten pretty big over the last year. They ended up hiring internally and since I put my eggs all in one basket with that, I was kind of back at square one. My boss was super supportive and increasingly gave me more responsibility at the studio. Though I worked on some small art projects, since I love art, and I even had a part-time marketing and social media gig for a while, I ended up working full-time at the studio, which is what I am doing today.
You have quite the list of responsibilities for just two years out of school. What are all of the current positions you hold?
When I returned from a trip to Europe in April, my boss at the studio asked me to be a full-time manager. Looking back on all of this, it was a lot of me trusting myself that I would work extremely hard and prove my worth. I wanted to manage the studio as a full-time job, but I had never really said that out loud, so I worked my ass off those first few years, beginning with my job in college. I knew that when my boss told me she was pregnant there would be an opportunity there. I probably work 40 to 50 hours a week at the studio, in addition to instructing 5 classes a week, so I have about two to three big projects right now. My schedule is different every week, and I’m moving around a lot. For example, today I taught a class at 7:15 am, then I had some time to walk my dog, Huck. Then I will work remotely for five hours and I’ll go back to the studio to teach at 5:30 pm, then close the studio at the end of the day. I still get my weekends, which is nice, and I love traveling so I am able to be flexible with my schedules and my boss knows that about me. I am happy with it right now, and I actually don’t feel the need to think about the future too far in advance. People ask me if I think I’ll go back to school or if I see myself doing this still in five years and I just don’t know why I have to answer that question right now. When I feel like I get to a stopping point, then that is when I’ll start asking myself those questions.
What are some of the hardest lessons you have learned so far in your career?
You really can’t compare yourself to others. It has been a hard thing for me because my friends are making a lot more money than I am and they are typically in more prestigious-sounding jobs. So you really have to be confident with what you are doing and know that you are on this path for a reason. The thing is, as long as you’re happy, working hard and feeling fulfilled, then no matter what, you will be okay in the end. You don’t have to know your five or ten-year plan, because even if you do, then you still actually don’t know it, because our plans rarely go as planned. I’ve learned that I need to be confident and happy with what I am doing and not worry about what other people around me are doing.
The hard part is when someone asks me what I am doing because I know they won’t really understand or be impressed by it. I just have to get over that. I don’t have to be doing something crazy impressive right out of college. It doesn’t matter what people think; it matters what I think. I know a lot of my friends who work for really impressive companies get the gratification of people knowing it’s impressive when they are asked what they do, but I think I am probably happier in the life I live now versus what some of them might be going through in their career.
Do you think you know yourself?
I don’t think anyone ever truly knows themselves. I think the greatest thing about life’s journey is that we are constantly on the journey to find more out about ourselves. So I wouldn’t say I fully know myself and I don’t think I ever will, but I think I know myself enough at this point that I am doing the things that are right for me. Someone said this to me the other day, and it really resonated: the only constant in life is change. And it’s so true. We are always going through a change in our personal or work lives, so the most important thing we can do is to just be comfortable with ourselves. The person you were a year ago may not be the person you are this year. I think we are always in a fluid state and the important thing to realize is when you have changed and to make a change if you need it in your life, even if it was something you used to enjoy but you no longer do.
How have you adjusted to being so far from home?
Being away from home was a good choice for me. I knew going into college that I wanted to be a plane ride away. Not because I don’t love my family, but I have always just been more of an independent kid and I knew I’d be okay going far from home. My parents taught me that we live these lives on our own and I just wanted to find myself. Looking back, I wouldn’t have been able to fully open up and find myself, especially if I had gone to school with my twin Jo. Growing up with a twin is so great, but we held each other back in different ways, so it is sort of a good thing that we went off in two different directions. We are still each other’s greatest support systems and we talk multiple times a day, but home is not really Maryland for me. Home is people for me and I think my sister really encompasses that. We just have such a close relationship that I think she will define what home is for the rest of my life. I don’t have any investment in Maryland, so when I think of home, I think of my family. It is definitely hard being so far from home sometimes, but it is more moments when I miss that familial closeness that I have with old friends and family, so I am not necessarily missing the place that I called home for several years. I wouldn’t say that I have ever felt like I need to move back home. Just knowing that my family would be here in a heartbeat is good enough for me because I know they would. I really do enjoy living my own life down here. If I were too close to family, I do not think I would have led my own path as I have done.
Do you ever have time for yourself with your busy schedule? Do you know when to “turn off” the work button?
I think that has been a big thing I have been dealing with recently. I’ve had a very busy few weeks and I tend to overcommit myself to things and I push myself. Sometimes I don’t know when to dial it back. Building the time for me is something I need to find in my schedule that I haven’t really done yet. Even though my days are not nine to five and I love that, sometimes it is hard because I am working all day and it’s not like I can come back at five and have time for myself. Working out was always a part of my mindfulness, so now that I am teaching, I try to give my all for the people in the room. I have to find that mindfulness elsewhere because I can’t really find that specific mindfulness now that I am not in my own personal workout classes. So the journey I am on right now is finding ways to do that and finding a good balance for all of it. Structuring these goals is something I need to work on.
How do you take care of yourself?
Most of the time, I eat really healthily. I try to eat a lot of plant-based meals and I realized how much I like to cook over the last year. When I am teaching a lot, this is important for me so I can have enough energy for my classes. But it’s not like I won’t eat dessert ever! I have also had to change my sleeping habits, so I know I have to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Sleep and diet are the two biggest things for me. I definitely need to stretch more after teaching all of these classes, so I’m thinking about getting into yoga, which might help me put mindfulness back into my schedule.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
– You really can’t compare yourself to others
– As long as you’re happy, working hard and feeling fulfilled, then no matter what, you will be okay in the end
– You don’t have to know your five or ten-year plan, because even if you do, then you still actually don’t know it, because our plans rarely go as planned
– I don’t think anyone ever truly knows themselves
– The only constant in life is change
– We are always going through a change in our personal or work lives, so the most important thing we can do is to just be comfortable with ourselves
Check it out: DEFINE body & mind, The University of Texas Austin, Outdoor Voices