California Gave Me Anxiety and Depression

As I’m sitting in the airport awaiting to board my flight to embark on a European adventure, I stumble upon an Instagram post highlighting a quote from Lao Tzu – “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” I quickly share it to my story and write “I’m working on it…” It was coincidental because I then realize the tightness in my chest and the slight urge to cry. Why am I anxious right now? Yeah, I’m excited to be traveling to Europe, but I’m not feeling pumped; I am feeling down. My anxiety is consuming me because I’m focused on how much I’m going to miss my boyfriend James, my friends, and my life in San Diego for the next 10 days. In other words, I’m thinking about the negatives of my future and not the positives of my present. I let this sink in for a little and begin thinking about my experience with anxiety and depression.

In July 2018, after living in New York for the first 22 and a half years of my life, I decided to pack all of my belongings into my 1998 Toyota Rav 4, grab my sister, and drive 4 days to move to San Diego. Throughout my life I never struggled with anxiety or depression. I was always the positive, upbeat, and down for anything at any time type of person. You couldn’t stop me from going out or doing something during my free time. I was always confident in what I was doing and never really doubted myself. Even while settling into my new California life, I felt like I was on top of the world. However, I began to feel a 180° shift in how I felt in my soul.

Now, before I continue, I feel like I have to explain why I decided to pick up my life and move to the opposite side of the country. Throughout college, I planned on moving to Brooklyn and getting a 9-to-5 job in New York City. It was essentially down the block and something I knew; however, after visiting Colorado before my senior year, I started dabbling with the idea of leaving New York to experience something new. From there, I began realizing that the “New York State of Mind,” or attitude, didn’t really coincide with who I felt I was as a person. I began noticing the coldness of the people around me. Cashiers wouldn’t even look up to say, “Hi.” Drivers honked for no fucking reason. Everyone around me was so focused on themselves and couldn’t care less about how they treated each other. I didn’t want to live surrounded by this attitude anymore, therefore, I decided to give San Diego a shot. It was a risk that definitely paid off and I was quickly more than happy I moved to there to say the least.

I graduated from college shortly before moving, so I had to begin building my career the second I parked my car at my new home. I have a Marketing degree and had previously began building a personal freelance Social Media Marketing and Management company to sustain my life. Building this type of career is slow and somewhat lonely; I spent 6 hours per day working on my laptop at home by myself. At this point, I really only had a handful of friends, so I decided to try to get a job coaching gymnastics. I had 8.5 years of experience prior to moving and knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a job in that field. I was right and quickly hired to coach at SD United Training Center. I was so grateful how close I got to my coworkers and, before I knew it, obtained a solid group of friends. One of whom is a guy named James, who instantly changed my world and perspective on life.

I told myself when I moved I wasn’t going to get start dating anyone until I had more of a solid life for myself. But, as you all probably know, when you meet someone and feel a special connection with, you can’t really help it. We spent all of our free time together from basically the second we hung out outside of work. He quickly became my best friend and someone I could confide in. Everyone I knew previously was over 3,000 miles away, which only influenced me to get attached pretty quickly. Once our relationship transitioned from best friends to something a little more, I began to open up more about how I felt, not just who I am.

One night at the end of September, I was at work-related function with James and my new group of friends. As the night progressed, I began feeling this urge to leave. It was a foreign feeling to me and I wasn’t really sure what I was feeling. I usually enjoy being around groups of people, but this was one of the first times I felt the need to be alone (well, to be alone with James). I stuck it out, but on the car ride back to James’s place, I opened up about how I was feeling a tightness in my chest and tense throughout. The conversation played out a bit more as we analyzed what was going on and I vividly remember saying, “It feels like I have to cry but I don’t.” I basically jinxed myself and that’s when I entered a half-year stage of intense anxiety and depression.

For months, I broke down at least once a week. The littlest of things would trigger my anxiety and I would be flooded with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and discontent with myself. My confidence flew out the window and I constantly put myself down. I’m broken. Something’s wrong with me. I hate this feeling. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Thoughts raced through my head and the more I tried to control it, the more often and intense my episodes became. This put me in a constant state of analysis of my emotions and trying to make sure I didn’t start crying spontaneously.

This put me in a constant battle with myself. I didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed – I was mentally and emotionally exhausted all the time. I became more introverted than extroverted. There’s nothing more draining than not feeling yourself, especially for months at a time.

Recently, I’ve come to the realization that my guarded approach to everything has prevented me from establishing deeper relationships with others. With friends, I have always felt like being the listener, not the talker. I was the go-to for anyone who needed practical advice. Opening up was never something I ever felt necessary. People look up to me for my positivity, and that’s what drove me in the past. I now can no longer live life that way. I want to develop intense connections with others; something I can’t do unless I let my guard down.

These feelings I believe began because my guard got stronger as my emotions for James grew. The closer I got to loving James, the further away I got from loving myself. As a result, I was so worried about him cheating on me or taking advantage of the trust I instilled with him that I closed myself off from everyone over the past months. Taking a step back from my relationship with James and looking at the big picture, I’ve concluded that I push people away when the relationship/friendship gets too close. I’m always on guard that someone is going to take advantage of my trust, therefore I haven’t really trusted anyone, not even myself. It is easier to take the high road than to take the risk and actually love someone (romantically or not). I have been preventing myself from loving with my whole heart my entire life and I didn’t even realize it.  As a result, it wasn’t until I figured this out that I started to feel like myself again, if not even better.

I didn’t write this to throw myself a pity party. I don’t have any intentions of gaining attention from talking about this, nor do I want that. The only attention I want from this post is that even the happiest people in this world are facing a battle you probably know nothing about. I know for myself, if I asked anyone if they thought I had struggled with anxiety or depression, they’d probably laugh in my face (besides James because he’s been helping me through it for half a year now). I also wrote this because I never really understood anxiety and depression until I struggled with it myself. It’s not something you can “turn off” and “calm down” from when you’re having trouble dealing with it. I believe everyone has anxiety, but there is definitely a tremendous amount of people who mask it and pretend like it’s not a problem when it actually is. I tried to cover it up and tell myself I was okay. Like I said, the more I tried to control it, the more anxious I became. With that being said, if you feel like you’re struggling to control your anxiety, stop. The second I stopped and faced it was when I was able to grow and deal with it.

I still have a long way to go, but I’ve already come so far. My anxiety attacks and crying episodes used to last an hour or 2, and then I would need about 24 hours to bounce back and feel “normal.” Now, when they come, they last maybe 15 minutes and I can bounce back and tackle the rest of my day after taking some time to relax once it’s over.

Lao Tzu once said that peace lies within the moment. I would have anxiety attacks as a result of worrying about potential, nonexistent problems in my future. This led to my depression as I tried to reflect on what has happened to me in the past to cause these intense emotions. Today, I’m able to be honest with myself, speak my mind freely, and be more in the moment, which ultimately has allowed me to be the best version of myself I’ve ever been. If you’re dealing with anything, take a moment to appreciate what you have right NOW and focus on that. It’s ridiculously hard, but with practice comes perfection. Never give up on yourself and learn to trust yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight. Be patient. Love yourself. Stay as positive as you can.

The Most Life-Altering Text Message I Have Ever Received.

Sometime in the summer of 2011

“Hey, this may be a weird question and I don’t mean to offend you, but are you bi or gay? I’m kinda getting that vibe” This was probably followed by some emoji to relieve some of the tension.

“Hahaha no I’m not.” I didn’t think so.

People made “gay” jokes towards me while growing up, but I never took offense to it because I genuinely didn’t believe I was gay. I also went to a Catholic elementary school, so I guess the jokes were really only jokes in my head. Flash forward to the summer I was going into 10th grade – the first time I began seriously questioning my sexuality.

Were people right all along and I never really noticed?

I had girlfriends in middle school. I know that doesn’t really count, but it still says something. At this point, I’ve realized that attraction and sexual orientation are two seperate things.

October 31, 2011

I celebrated Halloween night the way any 10th grader would. I went to a local elementary school with some of my friends then walked around the town and did 10th-grade stuff.

“Hey, Tom. Where are you? Want to meet at the middle school playground?”

“Hey! I’m walking back to my friend’s house now. Once we get there, I can probably sneak away.”

This was the first night I had ever made out with a guy.

Making out with boys is the same as making out with girls. I don’t think after this night I knew I was gay, but it furthered my understanding of the difference between attraction and sexual orientation. It didn’t feel wrong. I didn’t feel uncomfortable. For me, this night verified that I’m attracted to both boys and girls, but I was still figuring out the whole sexual orientation thing.

November 2, 2011

“Tom, want to come over and watch some TV?”

“Sure! I’ll be over soon.”

I don’t remember what we watched, but I remember we made out again.

I wasn’t very sexually active at this point in my life, so I had a boundary that I wasn’t going to go any further than making out until things were exclusive. Remember… I was in 10th grade. But after this night, I began to catch “the feels” for this guy and it was way different than with any girl I’ve been with beforehand. I never felt the need to be sexually active with a girl, but now, I was starting to feel like I wanted to be. It was weird af for me. I finally began understanding what sexual orientation is.

I had been told being gay was wrong while growing up. Well, maybe not that it was wrong, but I always got the hint from teachers, family members, and my parents. I grew up in the age where “You’re so gay!” was yelled at someone who wasn’t doing what was desired. And I can’t forget to mention how my mom would mutter snarky comments under her breath if we ever saw someone who was “feminine” walking around in the stores she dragged me into. C’mon mom, we’re in Khol’s. What do you expect?

I never really thought about it because I guess I was never encouraged to. I wasn’t ever in a situation where I felt like I could explore the thought of myself being gay. Not that I was suppressed by any means, I just was never put in a situation where I felt like I was gay. So, why even think about it?

December 4, 2011

“Hey, Mom. I have something to tell you…”

Not going to lie, I chugged a whole 4 Loko in 5 minutes after doing this. It was 10th grade.

The next year was the hardest of my life so far. My dad then found out, then my brother. “Don’t you dare tell your sister.” Constant tension in the hallways of my house. Texting fights so no one could hear. I never felt suppressed until this time of my life by the person who mattered most.

Strangely, things started looking up when I brought my first “boyfriend” home to meet my parents. Maybe my family was seeing that I’m still who I was before coming out and it’s not a big deal. Everything was all out on the table and my dad started making jokes about it. I’m the type of person who likes to laugh at myself, and these jokes weren’t offensive. It became normal. It got better.

It’s better than ever before.

We’ve never been living in a better time in terms of the views on LGBTQ+. Yes, the big guy in the White House isn’t necessarily the ideal candidate for this community. Yes, there are so many tremendous problems in our world due to ignorance for other communities of people. Yes, we could be in an even better time. This may be just my opinion, but being part of the LGBTQ+ has never been so, okay.

We still have a long way to go until America is really “great again.” People need to stop killing other people; people need to start respecting each other. We’re all alive for a reason. It’s time to encourage each other to fulfil our passions and let each other do it in their own unique way.


What was your coming out story like? Are you part of a suppressed community in modern society? I want to hear what you guys go through because the more we know, the more we can feel empathy for each other. Please share your stories in the comments below.


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A Personal Letter To Danceworks as My Time As President Comes To An End

“Congratulations, Tom, you are now officially the President of Danceworks Productions.”

Around a year ago today, I was inducted as President of the most incredible club I’ve every known about. For those of you who don’t know what this club does, let me briefly explain. Danceworks Productions is the largest organization at Hofstra University with over 150 member. It is also a completely student run organization. We audition choreographers and select 11-13 dance pieces which will be in our production. A few days later, we hold dancer auditions where these choreographers show their dances and select their casts after a four-hour process. As the semester continues, each dance has an hour and a half rehearsal once a week leading up to the show.  As all of this work is being done, we participate in multiple social events to build a bond amongst the club and the Hofstra community, as well as a handful of philanthropy events where we raise money for various charities. We, as a club, do this every semester (so twice per academic year). There is no other club on Hofstra University’s campus that does all of this – it’s truly remarkable.

From Fall 2015-Spring 2017 I served as the Publicity and Promotions chair. I promoted the auditions and shows through various mediums, as well as designed all of the apparel for those two years. Following this role, I had the privilege and honor to be President of this incredible club. At the point in time I am writing this, I only have around 24 hours left as President of Hofstra University Danceworks Productions President. As I reminisce about my time at Hofstra, Danceworks has been the heart and soul of why I’ve loved my time at Hofstra University.

I’d like to take the time to write a letter to Danceworks – more specifically the members of this club who I’ve grown from because of their footprints left on my heart. If you were in Danceworks anywhere between 2015 to Spring 2018, this one is for you:

Dear Danceworks,

I’ve dedicated three years of my life to you. I’ve sacraficed a huge part of my free time, missing family events, and breaks within the academic schedule to fulfil my responsibilities to you. I’ve been on call 24 hours/7 days a week for years to jump on any situation I may have to mediate or rectify. Yes, most of the time I’ve had to do things at the most inconvenient times when I wanted to do almost anything else, but in the end, I loved every minute of it.

When I started at Hofstra University, I was a commuter. I absolutely hated it and my first semester I wanted to transfer. I looked into it and started talking to friends who attended other schools around the nation. I knew it was best to finish out the year so I sat on the option of leaving to pursue a different experience away from home. When my second semester started, I decided to audition for Danceworks Productions. At that point, I hadn’t really danced since I was 10 years old; I danced like the Tin Man does when Dorothy first meets him at that first audition. I didn’t get into the show that semester, but I wanted to take advantage of the other 66% you participate in. I hung out with you alone at the first social event and from there, everthing fell into place.

Within a month I was offered a room in an off campus house occupied by your members. I couldn’t believe it and I jumped on the opportunity. I continued to participate in anything I could and I even helped with selling tickets at the shows. I knew this club was something I wanted to be part of regardless of what I was doing. This mentality led me to run for Danceworks Productions executive board as Publicity and Promotions Chair. Long story short, I was elected and then re-elected the following year.

As I mentioned before, I hadn’t danced in a while. I wanted to grow as a dancer, as well as a leader of this club. I practiced and focused a majority of my time at Hofstra to getting better and eventually be casted into the shows. After another semester of not being casted, I had the privledge of being selected into the Spring 2016 and have been since. Once I was casted, I focused my attention on diversifying my abilities away from only doing hip-hop dances to eventually also dancing in contemporary and jazz pieces as well.

A few weeks before the elections for my senior year, I decided to push myself even further and run for President. What? I met you as a below average dancer and now I’m going for President of a dance club? This was no where near what I thought my time in Danceworks would lead to. I wanted to create a higher meaning of this club for myself so this was the perfect opportunity. I worked hard on my speech as I did everything involving you up to that point which resulted in my election as Danceworks Productions President.

My time at Hofstra has taught me five things about myself which I would have never learned if I didn’t audition for this club back in 2015. They are:

DANCE

Like I’ve discussed, I didn’t have a thorough background or training in dance. I took the time to listen to my peers in the club and, from that, I gained a better understanding on how to dance and how to look at dance from a technical standpoint. Your members are among the most talented dancers at Hofstra and this made it easy for me to see how to dance properly through observation and immitation. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to connect my mind and body, which I’ve applied to all aspects of my life.

PERSISTENCE

Many members don’t get casted into your shows, especially their first semester or two auditioning. This is inevitable and dance is competitive, therefore I had to learn how to take the rejection and grow from it. Many people have problems doing this but when you do, there are many more pros than cons. I learned how to take a “failure” and make it a positive. I didn’t get into the show my first two semesters, one of which I was on the executive board for. I could have dropped the club and sought a different avenue to get involved, but, let’s be honest, doing just that shows immaturity and lack of character. I used this rejection to become an even better dancer than I would have if I stopped trying to get into the Danceworks show. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me that failure is an opportunity to be better than if I was successful in the first place.

COMMUNICATION

Being on e-board means we are responsible for the operation of a club of over 150 of your members. Inevitably, I have had to communicate with almost each and every person in the club every year for three years. As President, this duty only increased and I had to mediate hundreds of conflicts and situations. This was extremely uncomfortable at times, especially because I’m friends with most of these people. But my time on e-board has taught me to have those difficult conversations and deal with circumstances I didn’t feel comfortable doing. As I dealt with these particular conflicts, I grew to understand I am capable of having these tricky interactions and have an effective outcome. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to handle conflicts in a mature and effective manner, especially when it involves friends.

 PRIDE

Imagine auditioning for something you worked really hard on for a year and you got shut down twice already. You’d feel pretty defeated. Now imagine you go into the following audition and get casted into, not only one, but two pieces! I didn’t know it then, but the rejection only allowed me to experience exuberance I would have never felt if I wasn’t shut down beforehand. Taking a step away from focusing on the dancing aspect of the club: the kid who had trouble getting into the shows a few times was elected President his senior year. I know back in 2015, no one ever expected that to happen. As I’m creeping on 24 hours left as President, I am the most proud of myself I’ve ever been. I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of myself until this past year as I’ve constantly reflected on my journey in the club. I believe I’m the only male President of Danceworks in history of the club and I think I’m one of a few, if the only, President of a dance club that didn’t have significant training throughout my life. I’m usually humble but I’m unique in this aspect and that’s an honor to say. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me to be proud of myself.

CONFIDENCE

Confidence. I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my middle school and high school careers. I have even taken leadership in elementary school when the teacher was obligated to handle a more crucial situation. I know I am a type A personality, but I’ve never been completely confident. Through all I’ve accomplished and grown as a dancer, friend and leader, I’ve been more aware of my confidence as a person. These past few years have put me in the best and worst positions of my life, but I’m still breathing and after careful reflection, I realized that my confidence has sky-rocketed. I’m taking this confidence and I’m in the process of creating my own business. Without this club, I would have never learned crucial life lessons of rejection, failure, success and discomfort. Thank you, Danceworks, for giving me the confidence to set up my life for success and prosperity.

These are only a few things I’ve learned from participating in Danceworks Productions and working my way to eventually become President. You have given me so many opportunities to grow into the man I am today and I’m beyond grateful for the things I’ve learned through meeting such incredible and talented people along the way. The members of this club have pushed me beyond what I thought I could achieve. This is something I will cherish forever and utilize as I take on the real-world post-graduation. I’ve watched this club become better and better each year and as I leave this organization in the hands of Morgan, I know you’re only going to get better. I cannot wait to see the club grow along with the members of this club. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, Danceworks, and continue to do so for as many people as possible.

With much love,

Tom Fraher

To the members of Danceworks who are graduating, coming back next semester or thinking of joining, you don’t know what you have until it’s (almost) gone. Be mindful of what Danceworks is giving you along the way and reflect on what you’ve taken away from this club. The more meaning you give the club, the further you will grow.

 

Danceworks Productions is More Than Just a Club

Starting college is like jumping off of a cliff into dark waters; you see the water but the water is a mystery. Is the water going to be fresh or salty? Is it going to be warm or cold? Is it deep or shallow? For me, I jumped in with my arms out and mind wide open. I hit the water and made a fantastic group of friends. From there, it’s been nothing but a deep, warm, fresh water lake. I’ve learned a lot about myself. However, I couldn’t have done this without becoming involved in Hofstra’s largest club on campus, Danceworks Productions.

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Me posing for a dance recital around the age of 7.

Fortunately, I had a mom who wanted me to do (almost) everything. She made me, my brother, and my sister do dance for at least one year. My brother dropped it after the first year, but I continued to learn how to dance. I dance for around five years (ages 4-9). It’s not that I lost interest in it, I actually was annoyed by another dancer in my hip-hop class and decided to stop. Although that was it for dance lessons for me, I never stopped dancing whenever I was listening to music.

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Dancing at my high school’s Battle of the Classes in 2013.

My first semester of college was the shortest amount of time I ever learned so much about myself. I was thinking about changing my major and figuring out how I’m going to leave my mark at Hofstra. My lab partner was a dance minor and got me to go to the fall 2014 Danceworks show. I had an amazing time in the audience; in fact, I went to both shows. Watching the professionalism of the students and the energy I felt throughout planted the idea that I wanted to be up there someday.

Just before the auditions for the following semester’s show, my lab partner texted me to remind me. We met up and both went to the auditions. This audition was much different than a normal audition; everyone created a welcoming environment and it was an amazing time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into a piece that semester.  However, Danceworks does more than just dance – it is also a social and philanthropic club. I went to hang out with the club members at their off-campus house by myself for a social event. Every member welcomed me with open arms. This was the start to how the rest of my college experience was going to pan out.

 

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Hanging out for one of the first times with Danceworks Productions!

I commuted my freshman year and I hated it. I loved everything about Hofstra, except for the fact that I had to drive 20-40 minutes one way each day. This prompted me to apply to be a residence assistant. I got through both rounds of interviews and was awaiting the email regarding the decision made. On February 24, 2015, I woke up for class with a Facebook message from one of the Danceworks members. The message read, “Hey Tom I was wondering if ud be interested in living in the DW house next year?” I explained how I would love to but have to figure out the finances and logistics of living there. She told me to just let her know as soon as I figure it out.

Danceworks has club meeting every Monday at 6:00 PM in the Student Center (room 142 to be exact). I had class until 5:55 PM, and on my way to the meeting, I had received an email informing me that I did not get the RA position. YES! I know – not a typical reaction to not getting something you interviewed and worked hard to get. The RA job would have given me free room and board, which I would have saved a boat-load of money. However, deep down, I really wanted to be living off campus. I entered room 142 and gave the girl who offered me the room in the house the thumbs up; she knew exactly why.

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The night I was inducted into Hofstra University Danceworks Productions’s executive board in 2015.

I continued going out with the club. I began to get to know many members and became an active member of the club. As the semester dwindled to an end, elections for executive board positions came around. At this point, I had decided on changing my major to marketing, so I figured I would run of the Publicity and Promotion chair. Luckily, I got elected which enabled me to become even more involved in the club. I served as the P&P chair for two years (my sophomore and junior years). My involvement in Danceworks has been nothing but positive and I am grateful for the experiences each member contributes to my college experience.  Because of that, I ran for and am now the President of Danceworks Productions at Hofstra University.

I couldn’t tell you where I would be right now if my lab partner was not a member of Danceworks and urged me to come to the shows back in 2014. I would not have the family of friends I do now, have had the opportunity to grow as a dance, and have the honor to part of such an amazing club.

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Me featured in Kevin William’s Danceworks Productions piece in April 2016.

 

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How Beachbody Has Changed My Life Already

“So, Thomas, you remember Ms. Kennedy, right?  Well she lost all this weight and looks amazing and I’m going to be a coach like her.”  “Does she get paid for it?”  “Yeah!  Her friend just quit her full-time job because she started making more doing it than teaching.”  “How do I do that?  Ask her to sign me up too.”

This is a conversation I had with my sister right after she picked me up from the airport one day at the end of March and on April 4, 2017 I became a Beachbody coach.  To be blunt, I did it for the money and social media experience.

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I’m a Marketing major at Hofstra University and I have fell in love with studying this.  I loved the creativity it entailed, as well as the analytics necessary to be successful.  At the time I became a Beachbody coach, I was taking a Digital Marketing class (which includes a heavy amount of social media).  I have never enjoyed a class more; I realized this is the section of Marketing that I want a career in.  When my sister planted the Beachbody seed, I couldn’t wait to apply what I’m learning in class and monetize that knowledge.

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I quickly set up a Facebook Business and Instagram Business page.  I worked hard to brand my pages with logos and cover photos using Canva – I spent my first month as a coach (all of April) creating an image for my coaching pages.  I thought that if my pages looked attractive, people would buy from me and I’d be able to sit back and just watch my bank account grow.  I didn’t take the training from my upline coach too seriously; I was so overwhelmed by the training pages and notifications from them that I just ignored it and went in with the mindset that “I can just sell this and do my own thing.”

I was completely wrong.

All of the members in the Beachbody training page that Christine Kennedy added me into were women.  This is not a problem whatsoever – it was actually amazing to see how motivated these women were (and still are) to help themselves and pass that onto others.  However, I felt that I couldn’t utilize the training I was getting because the target market for those coaches was completely different than mine, and that’s when I took it upon myself to figure it out on my own.

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Towards the end of May, I decided to buy Shakeology.  By this point, I figured out that I need to use the product to sell it.  I gained my first customer (my cousin) the day after I ordered Shakeology for myself.  Wow!  That worked faster than I thought it would.  I started drinking Shakeology everyday on June 1, 2017.  From there, I was able to get my mom and dad onboard as well.  This was awesome!  Now, the commission I received from my customers was paying for my Shakeology order.  Perfect!

WRONG.

Unfortunately, my customer gain plateaued and I’ve been pretty much stuck in the mud since.  For all of June, July, and August, I posted consistently on Instagram and shared those posts on Facebook.  I spent countless hours messaging people on Instagram to convince them to buy Shakeology to get the results I’ve already seen.  When I stopped seeing success as a coach but was still doing all of this work, I realized that I should start again from scratch and take it from there.

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You may be wondering how Beachbody has changed my life besides the stress it put me through.  I basically wasted my whole summer trying to build a brand and gain an income through Beachbody.  Well, technically it wasn’t a waste because I took the time to learn how Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms work, and gained a following on both platforms.  I also started using Shakeology which steered my diet and fitness motivation in the right direction.  I discuss this more in my post Shake(ology) It Off.  What was I doing wrong?  I wasn’t listening to other successful coaches.

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What did I do?  I started listening to male Beachbody coaches on YouTube on my commute to and from work (I love listening to Caleb Thomas talk about how to be a Beachbody coach).  Because I felt like I could relate to these guys more, it put my thought process about my business on a different track and I have never been more motivated about something than ever before.  I was focused on the income and just getting, not focused on helping others and giving.  Because I’ve seen what Shakeology and the community that Beachbody provides, I have been able to focus on my health and fitness and I would love the opportunity to be your coach and do the exact same for you.

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If you’d like to join my challenge group (a Facebook support group of my team members), Get Off Your A$$, feel free to email me at tiptomshape.tbb@gmail.com.  Simply provide your name, age, fitness and/or health goal(s), a link to your Facebook page, and a fun fact about yourself so I can get to know YOU better!


 

For more information on Shakeology, click here.

Also, check out my Instagram and Facebook pages!

 

South Africa (Day 1)

Typically, 5:45 am is not my favorite time to wake up.  I’m just completing three hours of sleep when my iPhone alarm goes off and I force my eyes open.  I stretch for a second and turn to see my packed suitcase just a few feet from the door.  This only means one thing… it’s travel day.

As I’m driving to my parent’s house, my boyfriend, Brandon, and I are pretty quiet.  First of all, it is 6:15 am.  Secondly, I don’t even know what to say.  There are so many thoughts going through my head.  What is Cape Town like?  How close am I going to get to a lion?  Ugh, a 14 hour flight followed by another two hour flight.  My mind rambles as much as it can for having only three hours of rest.

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“Have the bestest time ever!” my mom yells in my ear as I’m getting set to board the bus to depart for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.  I hug and kiss her goodbye and tell her, “I love you.”  I do the same to Brandon and step on the bus to begin my adventure.

The hustle of JFK Airport starts to fuel my excitement.  Everyone is scattering to find where they have to check-in.  Everyone is rummaging through their bags for their boarding passes and passports.  Everyone is going somewhere different in this gigantic world.

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I double check that my ACIS Educational Tours luggage tag is fastened to my suitcase before putting it on the scale to be weighed.  Yes!  It’s not overweight!  I scurry over to Wendy Way, my travel guru and tour leader, after I’ve completely checked-in.  She tells me that the flight is delayed two hours.  Oh well, South Africa isn’t going anywhere.

The whole group successfully makes it through security and to the gate.  We have some time, so we disperse to find a snack before we embark on 17 hour expedition to Cape Town, South Africa.  As time creeps closer to boarding time, I feel the grip of excitement around my heart getting tighter and tighter.  It isn’t until the flight attendant says, “thank you, enjoy your flight,” after I hand her my boarding pass that I feel the relief in my chest – I’m on my way to South Africa!

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With two flights down, one connection complete, and 17 hours since we took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, we have finally made it to Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa.

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A huge weight is lifted from my shoulder as I see my suitcase turn the corner of the carousel.  I use all of the energy I have remaining after the long travel to pick it up and wheel it away from the crowd.  I open it, grab a change of clothes along with my contacts, and run to the bathroom.  After the change, I feel refreshed and recharged.  I’m ready to start exploring Cape Town, South Africa.

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Our first stop, Table Top Aerial cableway to the top of Table Top Mountain (one of the new seven wonders of the world).  Our whole group crowds into one car (34 people plus other adventurers trying to get to the top of Table Top Mountain).  The five minute journey embarks.  To my surprise, about 30 seconds into the trip, the floor begins to rotate!  As we climb up the 1,089 meter mountain, the car makes a 360 degree rotation.  My breathe is sucked out of me as we reach the top and I can see various mountains and waters surrounding the beautiful town of Cape Town.

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I wish I could put the feeling of exploring Table Top Mountain into words better.  After breathing recycled air in the airplane for so many hours, my lungs open widely when I inhale as I looked out into the Atlantic Ocean.  My chest became lighter and I felt so small.

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After the ride to the bottom of the mountain and a short bus ride, we were finally at Meloncino.  YES!  A meal that wasn’t airplane food… finally.  My friend and I (we’re both 21 years old) shared a bottle of Pinotage with our incredible dinner.  I had Yellow Tail fish over rice.  Amazing.

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As dinner came to a close, I found my mind beginning to fog.  At this point, it had been many hours of restless flying and exploring.  I was beat.  We all piled back onto the bus and fought to stay awake until we arrived at the Sunsquare Cape Town Hotel.  We got our keys after a slight speed bump in rooming assignments and off to bed I went.  Until tomorrow, Cape Town, South Africa.

 


 

To see the highlight video of the day, click here!

Follow my Instagram page!

 

 

A Day In My Life

I’m trudging up Mt. Fuji making sure I don’t slip. As I transfer my weight from one foot to the other and I ascend closer to the top, my heart beats faster. I can’t tell if it’s the exercise or the air pressure dropping with each step. A gust of wind surprises me and takes my worries with it. I turn around and I’m instantly the only person in the world. I see nothing but the tops of clouds casting shade over the Tokyo outskirts. I feel invincible.

A blaring noise forces my eyelids open and I swing my right arm around myself to turn off my alarm. I no longer feel invincible, especially because I have 45 minutes until my finance midterm. I check my emails to see if any professor has canceled class for the day. Unfortunately none of them have but it was worth the shot. The comforter grabs me like it is telling me not to leave. My comforter doesn’t understand that I can’t spend my whole life in bed. Silly comforter. I manage to get up to prepare myself for the day ahead of me.

“What is the price of a bond if there is 10% interest compounded semi annually for the next bazillion years?” I didn’t even think bazillion was a real number; I thought it was used for hyperbolic situations only. I somehow make it through my finance midterm feeling better than I thought I would. I lightly jog to Au Bon Pain to grab a quick snack before my next class begins. I take a seat and notice my heart banging on the inside of my ribs. I take out my iPad and get my notes ready for LEGL 020.

“I’m going to end there because, frankly, I’m tired of talking. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.” I love when my professor lets us out ten minutes early because it gives me some time to refill my water bottle and get another snack. I scarf down a chicken caesar wrap and I’m off to work.

“Coach Tom! You’re late!” “Veronica, I tell you every week that I am always going to be a little late to practice because it starts at 6 and my class doesn’t get out until 6. I wish I could teleport here.” I’ve coached gymnastics for almost seven and a half years now. Gymnastics has always fascinated me because of how much practice you need on one skill to perfect it. Every trick has specific requirements and judges can be brutal if they are not executed to the fullest. I’m also intrigued by how the sport is more mental than physical. Tumbling is relatively easy if you can clear your mind and just do. The biggest struggle I see with my gymnasts, as well as myself when I’m learning a new trick, is consciously knowing that your body is going to be thrown around in ways it isn’t meant to and you, yourself, has to be the one to actually just do it. Safety is huge and my first priority because, in reality, gymnastics is very dangerous. However, once you get past the fear, the possibilities are endless. It is an awarding feeling to see a young girl or boy’s reaction when they land a trick for the first time by themselves. I look at my girls as my younger sisters and want each one of them to succeed in everything they do.

“I’ll see you guys on Saturday!” I exclaim as I run out of the gym with my shoes on but untied. I jam to Kanye as I drive on the Northern State Parkway towards Hofstra University. It’s not always Kanye, but recently he’s been putting me in the mood for the upcoming two-hour rehearsal. My freshman year, I decided to start dancing again after my ten year hiatus from it. I now have the opportunity to dance every week for about 11 hours. When I’m dancing, I feel like I’m on top of Mt. Fuji again; my mind is clear of everything except for the choreography and music. Do you know what it’s like to win a scratch-off lottery ticket? I don’t mean winning back the $2 spent on it, but winning at least $100 from it. That’s the same feeling I get when my peers and I perform a piece perfectly. And doing it in front of an audience is like winning $1 million+ on a scratch-off, but the fact that I get to do it with the people that mean the most to me is priceless.

After rehearsal I usually get more food and then head home. I turn on Netflix or chill with some roommates to catch up on the craziness of each of our days. Going home to a house full of positivity and support prepares me for a brand new day packed with school, hard work, and laughter.

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I can’t say my life is perfect but the people in it are and I can’t complain about that.