Home My Journey Finding My Purpose, And Getting Out Of My Own Damn Way

Finding My Purpose, And Getting Out Of My Own Damn Way

by Erika Nicole Kendall

So…I guess I have to admit it. I’m having a quarter-life crisis. And since I plan on living well beyond 120 years old, it’s safe to call this quarter-life… maybe even premature. Whatever.

When I originally entered my twenties, my goals were simple. Get my doctorate in music history, take over the world, become President. Boom.

That’s not how it happened… at all.

I got pregnant before time to even enter my master’s program and, while I hadn’t even considered having children – children were the kind of thing that seemed cute… from afar – I had to immediately change the way I approached both parenthood and motherhood… and had to leave music history behind. Started a business in technology – always good – but it wasn’t my first love, music… which is always bad.

After the relationship with the father of my child had failed, it was time to move on… and I essentially gave up on both dating and marriage. I was young, I had goals and I wasn’t completely convinced that I couldn’t achieve them even with the little one. I wound up falling in love with my best friend, and my whole world changed the afternoon he showed up at my door and proposed to me.

Everything I originally thought of myself has changed. I mean, I feel like so many people think that weight loss journeys are this myopic thing that consist of “Eat less! Move more!!111ONE” but for many of us, it isn’t. I’m a completely different woman from when I first started this blog, and the things I’ve committed myself to have changed. The things (and people) I’ve found that are committing to me and positioning themselves in my life have changed. For goodness sakes, within a few weeks, I’ll be a certified personal trainer. Do you know how different this is from what I originally saw for myself?

I’ve been having this battle in the back of my mind every day for the last month… and it finally culminated into a full on tear-fest in the middle of the Apple store in Chelsea. In the middle of looking at the accessories, I saw this.

…a portable blood pressure reader.

I took it off the shelf, sat it on the table, and stared at it. At least two of the Blue Shirt Boys came up to me and asked if I were okay… and I responded with a “yeah,” but my eyes remained transfixed on this box. Why the hell does this box mean so much to me?

And, strangely enough, I started thinking about my purpose. My purpose. I accidentally stumbled into doing this blogging thing. This was my space. I chose to share it. Actually, I didn’t choose to share it – my dear friends shared it anyway, and it just started to take off on its own. People don’t agree with – or like, hello hello hello – everything I write, but lots of people don’t even come here for me anymore, anyway. So many people come here for each other. Because helping each other is something that’s been a big part of who I am ever since I was young, doing my own coat and shoe drives in my neighborhood… it’s always been who I am.

I’m lucky to be able to share this part of my process of growth and development with so many people. I’m lucky to be able to share who I am and how I’ve learned to live healthier and happier and more sane and more sustainably with so many people. I’ve been supported through my journey, and I’ve given space to help others help others. Maybe that’s my purpose? Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to be doing?

But this part… this is too easy. I’m a writer… if I could write 10-page papers the day they’re due and still get an A back in college, I can write 1500 words every morning and not think twice. That’s not my purpose… it can’t be. I knew that. That’s why that box with the heart rate monitor made me cry.

If my purpose is to help teach healthy living, and I am getting all the certifications – supported by my readership, mind you – and the education to do it right, then maybe it’s time to start taking my efforts from behind the computer. Maybe, juuuust maybe, it’s time to start taking to the streets to help people. Maybe it’s time to try to bring the resources to the places that need it most – the people who have spent so much time living one way, that they couldn’t fathom living another way.

Maybe that means hosting free fitness classes in the park, or trying to secure sponsorships to bring play equipment to schools who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Maybe that means going on foot to get better food in our schools, or host nutrition classes for parents on how to pack healthy lunches for their kids or encourage them to add healthy options to their at-home dinners. Maybe that means begging these companies to host free screenings for people to learn about their health and take more proactive approaches… or maybe that means I need to buy that monitor and do the screenings myself.

I don’t know what it means, but I know that my bawling in the middle of the Apple store made many a Blue Shirt Bandit rather uncomfy. Ed, alias “The Mister,” gave me a hug with a look on his face like he knew the moment I was having, and realized I just needed to “have” that moment. I’m sure the Apple employees believed he was breaking up with me over the Harman/Kardon speakers or something. No, just having a mild quarter-life crisis.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that posting has been rather light over here the past few weeks, and that’s because I’m spending so much time studying up for my certification exam that’s coming up. I’ve decided to take some advice from the great Prophet, Ma$e, and just breathe, stretch, shake and let it go. I’m stressing over my future (and, in a lot of ways, my present) because I feel like I know so little about it. I feel like, if I can at least know what I’m dealing with, I can at least exercise some control over myself and my efforts… but maybe that’s not what I’m supposed to be focused on.

Each moment that I sit down at this keyboard to write, I’m gifted with the opportunity to help someone, point someone in the direction of a different resource, give someone a differing perspective on something, embarrass a troll, upset the balance, challenge a stigma or stereotype or even save a life. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I’m damn proud of what I’ve done here. For a while, I was feeling like I’d outgrown it, that maybe the blog no longer served its purpose for me, but the reality is that the purpose of the blog didn’t shift – I am just growing and changing in ways that I was reluctant to embrace, and it became evident the more that I tried to write about my personal experiences.

…but writing about my personal experiences, the self-reflection, the self-compassion… those were all key components of my success! Looking at who I’ve become and being afraid to embrace that? No one benefits from that… no one learns from that.

My journey has changed. It’s not the girl on the quest to lose 150lbs. It’s not the girl in the throes of emotional eating struggles. It’s not the girl struggling to understand why it was so hard to eat [what I considered to be] healthily. It’s not even, really, the girl championing the cause of “fat acceptance… because I’ll never be a single-digit dress size” anymore. (Don’t get it twisted – I still support the idea of people choosing what size they want to be.) It’s someone building muscle, training for her first race, losing a few vanity pounds, becoming a personal trainer and a nutritionist and writing 1200 words every morning to help people get where I’ve been. It’s someone who wants to be on the cover of a major magazine showing women that yes, fit is sexy and easily attainable.

So…does that mean more daily or weekly recaps of my exercise and food routines? Maybe. Does that mean I need to go back to sharing my personal stories and emotional battles and less of these freaking infographics? Maybe. Does that mean it’s time to start hosting some pretty awesome events to get people to come out and work out…and maybe have their blood pressure taken and get some other awesome figures about their health? Maybe.

I just hope you’ll stick around with me to see it all happen. I mean…at this point, if I could get on national TV once, who’s to say I couldn’t do it again?

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Chivon September 20, 2012 - 1:06 PM

Thank you for sharing your purpose with the rest of the world. It’s an empowering feeling to discover what you want and even more amazing when that purpose allows you to be of service to others. What you have accomplished in your journey with fitness, blogging and writing inspires me in a big way and I wish you the best in reaching for your new goals. Everything you want is definitely within reach! 🙂

KeKe September 20, 2012 - 1:50 PM

Erika, thank you for sharing your story, your motivation, your insight, and for your straight with no chaser advice! I have been following your blog for 2 months now and it has become my daily soap opera, CNN, and Law & Order. This Blog is giving me what I need to continue on this journey. I am a person who produce results all day everyday and twice on Sunday’s and weight loss has been my Supreme Monster. From WW to Personal trainers, to Video and more Video’s…I have tried it, I have attempted it, and I have conquered it (and regained it). Your words are guiding me to take this journey one day at a time, to accept the days I do great and the days I don’t do as great, and to be honest with myself on what my ultimate goals are. At first it was XX number in XX days, but today it’s about different things that I want to achieve…it’s that progress dress for my Birthday, it’s about saying I DID IT and Maintain it, it’s about learning to bake from scratch, it’s about eating cleaner, but most importantly its about the new improve journey, the new goals and the new path. So thanks for my daily doses of giving it to me straight with no chaser. You’re Awesome!

oceanspray September 20, 2012 - 1:54 PM

It’s weird but, I don’t even know you but: I’m so very proud of you. Truly.

Chere September 20, 2012 - 4:47 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth.

mj September 20, 2012 - 2:45 PM

I love your blog.Whenever I read one of your posts, Im always thinking “she must be talking to me”.I love it bc your are speaking from experience and you are teaching us that there are no shortcuts to becoming healthy(inside/outside).Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences.

Janel September 20, 2012 - 3:07 PM

I absolutely love your blog. I discovered this site two years ago and began my fitness journey. You’re absolutely right, it’s no longer about the scale,but about gaining more endurance weekly, taking an extra flight of stairs, etc. Thanks so much for inspiring me.

Kami September 20, 2012 - 3:27 PM

Thanks for writing this blog. This blog has helped me learn about the difference between processed and non processed foods. It provides nutrition, cooking and other advice with regard to weight loss. This blog has helped me stay on track to lose my last 25 pounds. From 157 to my goal of 127. During the summer I have lost 6 pounds slowly reaching my goals with a variety of different things. . I hope to get a personal training lesson from you in the future.

Cristina September 20, 2012 - 5:18 PM

It is strange how life works, isn’t it? I was just thinking about this very thing earlier on today. Thinking to myself….what I envisioned/planned for myself and what the higher power has planned for me are two completely different things and then I begin to wonder, well…how far off course am i? I am about 6 months away from turning 30 and from what I have seen and heard, many appear to hit their “quarter life crisis” at or around this age so believe me when I say you are not alone. As for me, I always thought at 30, I would have been married with a couple of kids, living somewhere out in suburbia, practicing medicine and this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I’m 29, no man in sight, living in the city of brotherly love, no kids and have a degree in Graphic Design that I am not even putting to use at a job that I feel very unfulfilled. I often joke with myself on how the heck did i end up here. Shoot, I am still in the process of trying to figure things out and in desperate search to finding the correlation/connection between my passion AND my purpose. I say desperate, because the more time that goes by, the more time I feel is being wasted, when in fact I could be doing what it is I was put on this earth to do….life has a funny way of reminding us that we aren’t always the one in control of our destiny despite what we may believe or think… ..This is certainly a great conversational piece…one that I can certainly relate to,but more importantly, this article has given me further validation that I am on the right path to finding a harmonious balance between my passion and purpose….I just need to stop allowing myself to get in my own way, face my fears (fear of failure, fear to succeed, fear of old age, fear of poverty, fear of criticism and fear of the unknown) and fully embrace every opportunity that comes my way in hopes to getting closer to my purpose than where I am currently am. Great Read Erika!

TeeJay September 20, 2012 - 6:55 PM

Congratulations on finding your purpose. You are truly blessed and a gifted writer. I signed on a few months ago but wish I’d known about your blog sooner. I read your blog hoping for my Helen Keller “water” or “Aha” moment, that thing that makes me find a start and finish line in my mind and soul. Haven’t found it within yet but I’m encouraged by your writing and will continue to read. God bless your efforts in “Taking it to the streets”!

Annette September 21, 2012 - 1:02 AM

Hey Erica thank you for sharing what I also am going through. It’s so funny I expect to live beyond 125 years. So that means I guess I will have to get use to the different transformations that I will go through.

Even though I know what to do, I want to know what it will look like what are the step that I will have to go through instead of letting life unfold for me. I think I have a handle on it yet life changes and insecurities creep in since I am on a new path for me that hasn’t been paved.

Iylana Vanzant spoke about this same issue. Her advice was to focus on the end goal I hope that will help you. Whenever I get confused about direction I go back to just taking time to slow down and focus on what I want, the end goal. That freed me up from stressing about the how, what, why, where of it..just visualize it how is it going to feel my expression, what is it going to help me do, how much joy to accomplish it.

All of a sudden things seem to fall into place when I don’t stress about it and let it happen just keep my goal in place and somehow someway things will happen to help me get to that goal. I have to be disciplined about it cause it’s just too easy to second guess myself. I just need to be clear about what I want to achieve and work towards it. I’m learning that most lessons regarding the emotional eating hid feeling of not good enough, am I worthy, what if I fail by them coming up I have an opportunity to heal it at another level.

As a pastor once told me when you are anxious and in turmoil you are on the road to making a break through just breath focus and things will open up for you. Sometimes it’s not what you expect and it will look different but your are where you need to be.

Hey you are touching so many people what if that is the main theme of everyone’s life? Who knows the ripple effect of someone’s life.

LBrooke September 21, 2012 - 3:51 AM

I love this post. You’re so awesome, Erika. Most of the time, we don’t end up where we were planning to go, but I’m glad this is what you do, because YOU’VE changed my life. I haven’t lost the weight I want to yet, but I eat a helluva lot differently now; no processed foods here anymore! And I think about what I’m doing. Every time I read one of your blogs (I have your blog as my home page to remind myself of what I want everyday!), I learn something new, use it to the best of my ability, and know that I keep getting closer to who I want to be because I’m filling my head with all of your good information. Maybe it’s not where you thought you’d be, but look how many people you’ve helped. You’re an amazing person, and I’d be happy to take one of your classes in the city! Embrace becoming who you’re meant to be! <3

Jacqueline Stallworth September 21, 2012 - 10:36 AM

Awesome reflection: You are in such a good place……Today, I wore my “Healthy is the New Black” t-shirt to shool, I am a teacher, and many, many people got your message. I’ll send you a picture! Thanks, Thanks, and Thanks for being you

Rosie September 21, 2012 - 1:18 PM


Peaches September 21, 2012 - 9:02 PM

Thank you for your blog, and sharing your story. It changed my life . God Bless You!!!!!!!

Tia Simon September 22, 2012 - 2:54 PM

I am extremely grateful for all that you have posted that I have had the pleasure to read thus far. I think it is awesome what you have done. Stay the course, in due time all will be revealed. You inspired me. I have taken notes and am applying them. I am sure to stay tuned! You are just a joy to read!

Ayanna D September 23, 2012 - 11:20 AM

Wow! Truly inspiring and heart felt. Your declaration of your purpose is bold and I see it clearly. I wish you every blessing sis : ). Congrats on what you have accomplished thus far and for the many more accomplishments to come.

Erika Nicole Kendall September 24, 2012 - 1:16 PM

*huge hug*

Angelica November 19, 2012 - 7:30 PM

I’m totally and completely PROUD of you, Erika! I’m a black girl that’s been struggling with my weight for years! I was clueless about how to eat healthy & couldn’t find help or guidance from anyone. And sorry, but I don’t have a gazillion dollars to pay for a nutritionist & whatnot. To make a long story short, your blogs & posts have been so encouraging & educational! I’ve been eating healthier, working out more, & calmed down on all that emotional eating stuff. I never thought a cool Black lady could help this otherwise hopeless Black girl get on the right track! You are a BLESSING FROM GOD!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve learned so much from you & I’m still learning. I’d snatch you up as a personal trainer in a heartbeat, but I’m way out here in Sunny San Diego, CA.
Keep doing your thing, Erika! You’re already fantastic at it 🙂

frannie March 19, 2013 - 8:15 PM


Dee July 15, 2013 - 9:18 PM

Beautiful. You inspire me daily. I tell my friends about your blog.

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