Closing one chapter and learning to compartmentalize

by ~jenniferlynn on May 21, 2015

in Me

A while back I had somewhat of what I would call a Crossfit-induced identity crisis.

I am the kind of person who tends to go all-in with things. I get fixated on something and then everything else around me gets blurred out and then it might go from one vice, or obsession to another.

In high school, I never dated, but my life was consumed by school activities: maintaining my straight-As, participating in National Honor Society events, co-captain of the color guard, layout editor of the school newspaper, acting in all of the school plays and musicals. I really didn’t care to be much of a social butterfly outside of school, but once I turned 16, my balancing act added a part-time job at an auto parts store. I was the smart girl, nicknamed “Mouse,” the naive one.

jen fixing headlight

I carried this label well throughout high school and even as I began college; I had plenty to keep me busy, so the thought of dating really didn’t come about until I discovered the online dating world at the age of 19, much before it was a common-place thing to do. I always loved the internet, loved being hidden behind a screen and feeding my introverted ways via chat rooms and text-based RPGs, even ending up meeting a kid from a game I played online since I was 13 (when he hopped on a Greyhound from NY one night when we were 18).

While I had one heart-breaking six-month relationship that ended just before my 19th birthday (one of those looking back, wtf moments), my next one I went in head first. I was “soooo in love..” or maybe just in love with the idea of being in a relationship. I became defined by being in the couple. We bought a house. Each got a dog. Got married, because, well, that’s who I thought I was supposed to be.

daisy ripley jen

Well, that didn’t work out.

I became single, hated the freedom and hated living alone; I landed into a new relationship; again, becoming so much about the idea and defining myself as a couple – not as an individual. When you are in a couple but you cannot appreciate being on your own, there is probably something deeper there. I had started my blog during this time, but it wasn’t really until later on that I took it seriously as something that could lead me to bigger things. But my focus was follow-the-boyfriend, work, boyfriend, boyfriend, boyfriend.

After the demise of that relationship (which is silly looking back, as the reason we broke up is completely irrelevant these days), I now defined myself as an independent single-girl. I used Crossfit to fill that void that once was filled by a man. And I became obsessed. The addiction to Crossfit led me down the path to paleo. I did Crossfit, I ate paleo, I defined myself by these two things so much so that nothing else really mattered.

I wasn’t going to date because it was too much stress and pressure to have to think about where were going out to eat, that is, if I was able to find time in my gym schedule to allow it. I started a podcast with a fellow formerly-single introvert, both of us enjoying our lives behind the screen or our lives being active far above giving anyone else the time of day.

Because if I did start to date; now would I still be independent woman? Would I still have time for Crossfit? Would everything change?

Well, months later, the answers to this were yes, yes, and nope, not so much.

For a short time, I replaced Crossfit with Olympic lifting and delved head-first into that. I wanted to relate to lifters more than with Crossfitters; I did a weightlifting meet, but now, still undecided, went back to my Crossfit ways (with a side of weightlifting).

Last week I left my job of six years, and reflecting back, I have changed so much over that period of time, but everyone I had worked with had known me through it all. I went from being the girl going through a divorce who wore makeup all of the time and no less than 3″ heels, eating macaroni and cheese, Chinese food, or nachos everyday to dropping the heels once I started training for a 5k, and swapping out some of the junk food meals for Lean Cuisines, because they were “healthier,” to a girl who went through another roller coaster ride of a relationship, ending at a place where her whole life revolved around health/fitness/Crossfit. For a period of time, I would sneak a piece of candy or sweets sometimes at monthly meetings because everyone knew I was the healthy-eater and I was judged once before when someone saw me publicly eat a piece of bread.

This week, I started a new job.

A new company with four floors of 500+ employees that I don’t know. A new company where no one knows that I Crossfit; no one knows yet that I don’t like to schedule meetings that would cross the times 10:30 or 2:00 as those are the times I eat breakfast and lunch, and will they let me store my “lunch suitcase” in the company fridge? These people don’t know where I was five years ago and have no idea what my life is like now. They don’t know that I was 20$ lighter just three years ago, and they don’t know that the reason I like to only work until 4:00pm is so that I have time to go home and spend a few minutes with my dog so that I can make it to the gym before 5:30 to get in 2:00 of training with my friends.

I have an opportunity to set a bar, a fresh start to define myself and make an impression that will set the pace for however long I will work there. While it sounds simple, and of course, everyone would say “be yourself” and all that, it’s still a lot of pressure!

I think so often we come up with labels for ourselves, or even others label us and it is our job to either embrace the labels, fight the labels, or understand that the labels can encompass different areas of your life and it’s okay to leave it like that. Maybe I’ll leave the workplace alone and not bring up my outside of work activities, and not bring up my personal life; though I think sometimes these things help you to understand people better that you deal with on a day to day basis.

So much of my life right now feels that it is defined into different boxes: I’m a Crossfitter, girlfriend, blogger, 9-5er, aspiring entrepreneur, homeowner, dog-mom, sister, daughter (no clue how people who are parents juggle this list!). I want to please everyone but want to mostly set myself up for future success; and while these areas are independent, as being just one person sometimes the lines have to blur and sacrifices have to be made to keep me in check.

Would my coworkers understand that I want to leave work to go workout?

Would my neighbors understand that my work is more important than mowing my lawn [though thank you kindly for embarrassingly mowing it for me..]?

Would my Crossfitting boyfriend understand that I opted for a network marketing conference over heading to the Crossfit Games?

Would my sisters understand that when they visit the house looks like a tornado hit because I’m too busy to clean?

Would my dog understand that I can’t pay attention to her all day because I have work and the gym?

me and ripley

I’m learning that there has to be balance because not a doubt in my mind I will get overwhelmed. 

I am learning that I need to set up systems to that I can automate things in my life so that I don’t get too caught up in one area and neglect another. I need to set my priorities and acknowledge that from time to time these priorities will change and that is OKAY, but at the same time, realizing that the most important things should remain the most important.

Your turn…
Do you compartmentalize your life?
How do you balance it all?
Do you have systems in place that help you with day-to-day tasks?

Andrea May 21, 2015 at 7:13 am

While I have never met you, (I work with Katie R) I follow your blog. I can relate to this posting in so many ways. 3 years ago, my brother passed away unexpectedly. I started crossfit and it quickly filled the void of my recent loss. My life became consumed. While I wasn’t terribly unhealthy, I did have room for improvement. I saw quick results with crossfit and started losing weight. Paleo came with this and I was obsessed. It’s all I thought about, talked about, posted on Facebook about. My life revolved around when I would be able to go to the gym, what I was going to eat for each meal, and so forth. The rest of my life, job, husband, wanting a child, took the backseat. It wasn’t until my husband and I struggled with infertility that I was able to see that my priorities were screwed up. I was concentrating so much on crossfit and paleo that I was overdoing it and harming myself. It’s embarrassing to admit really that it was likely an eating disorder, but once I stood back and re-evaluated my life, overall goals, and body image, I realized I wasn’t happy. Since then, my family has become my priority. Being healthy is up there with it but I no longer beat myself up over missing a workout (or 5) or eating half a medium pizza (OK the whole medium pizza). I have a beautiful 6 month old baby girl who has changed my priorities even more.

I wish you luck as you begin your new job and thank you for posting this.

Mary May 21, 2015 at 10:45 am

You are a lovely writer. Your honesty and willingness to question things is the reason that your blog is one of the only Crossfit-related blogs I read regularly.

~jenniferlynn May 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Thank you so much, Mary!!

Kelsey May 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I love this so so much. I know as bloggers we share more of our life than normal people, but I appreciate you opening up this part of your life. I know the struggles of balance; after almost 10 months at my first “real” job, I feel I am finally in a place of balancing CrossFit, work, my BF/family/kitten and blogging. It was a long process, but one I really had to work and live through. I have to say…pretty proud of you!
Kelsey recently posted..A Day in the Life on a Sunday.My Profile

Shaun LC May 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Nice post – best of luck with the new job. I read your earlier postings about that. It seems that while you are juggling many things at once, you are yearning for greater simplicity and the last sentence you wrote about developing some systems, or routines to deal with vectors and pulls would be really helpful. If I could ride inside your head for a week (I am thinking of the novel The Drawing of the Three: Dark Tower 2 by King) I think I would learn a lot about time management.

Twitter: fantabulouslisa
May 21, 2015 at 12:30 pm

This is such an awesome topic! I feel like lately I’ve been wanting to make 5 clones of myself. I want to take care of my mom who just hard shoulder surgery, shop and food prep, go on a float trip, do all of the housework so my BF can study for his Architecture exams, work my 9-5, get enough sleep, not miss any workouts, and keep my sanity.

Just started my new job May 1st 🙂 Congrats to both of us! lol
lisa recently posted..Big Cedar Birthday Celebration!My Profile

~jenniferlynn May 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Yes! Good luck to you, too! Seriously, how do people with kids do it??

Twitter: fantabulouslisa
May 21, 2015 at 2:03 pm

such a good question! I can’t even imagine having a dog…..
lisa recently posted..Big Cedar Birthday Celebration!My Profile

Mary Long
Twitter: inmyheadspace
May 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Congrats on the new job! Change is good. I wanted to touch on if you should keep your co-workers in the dark about your personal life. I agree that knowing more about the people you are with for eight hours a day makes for a better work environment. My life is an open book. My husband says I talk way to much about things that people really do not need to know about. This is the reason why I started blogging…. To get the random stories out of my head. He did not mean it in a bad way. But when I say that someone was judging me for one thing or another, he will ask why do I talk to people anyway? I think it’s easier for a guy to go into a new office and hide in plain sight. I would say to just let it unravel naturally. I am sure questions will come up when they see your lunch suitcase LOL This new chapter sounds like a very exciting time! Good luck with everything!
Mary Long recently posted..The voices in my head are at it againMy Profile

Lindsay @ liftinginlilly May 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm

I feel the same way about where I have worked for 6 years— people there have known me through sooo much stuff (good+bad). They’ve known me through so many phases, some that I don’t like, and they know things that I wish they didn’t know! Sometimes I wish I could start over and work somewhere new where people don’t know about me and I could just start fresh! As a teacher, working with all women, there is lots of judging and talking going on, and I’m constantly telling myself to focus on the present and not even worry about what anyone else thinks or assumes.

Is there any way you’d be able to workout before work? I feel like that schedule helps balance life a lot more. I workout and coach from 5-8am, then go teach. Sometimes, I make it back at night for an endurance workout or some skill work, but don’t kill myself over it. This winter, I spent a few hours at the box at night, too, working on an Olympic lifting program, and it just wore me out after a few months. Now, if I go at night it’s for an hour or so, and I find that having the time at home in the evening makes everything better. I can spend some quality time with my husband and dogs, go on walks with them, make dinner, and relax. I know morning workouts aren’t ideal for everyone, but I love them and that schedule helps me a lot!
Lindsay @ liftinginlilly recently posted..m•t•wMy Profile

Charlotte May 21, 2015 at 8:12 pm

I guess that’s what life if for, figuring it all out. I think people evolve so much from decade to decade. What we thought in our teens, we would never repeat in our 30’s (thank God!)
I’m in my 40’s now and I look back at some times in my life where I wonder, what was I thinking?? But that’s okay. Life is about learning.

Pilip February 14, 2016 at 2:00 am

Hey Di that’s awesome! It just dedneps on your size and activity level. For example I consider myself to be a medium and fairly active female so I consume about 12 blocks per day. You can start there or have a few more or less depending on your own habits and adjust them as you go if needed!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: