#10 - Ideas Become Things: Reflection & Travel to Take Back Your Life

We're back on track with the interviews and this was a fun one because I just met my new best friend! Nicole Hudson is a fellow participant in Remote Year and her story parallels mine in so many ways. I absolutely loved hearing her story and talking about some of the hesitations, questions, and decisions that she ultimately had to make that led her to pick up and leave a seemingly great life and career in New York City to find a life that felt like hers. Some of the tangible work she did, the reflection that she found herself doing and the ultimate realizations that she made might surprise you! I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

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Ellyn: Ellyn here and you're listening to the growth tribe.

Ellyn: Hey everybody, and welcome back to the growth tribe podcast. I'm really, really excited for today's interview. Yes, we are back on the interview circuit. I have a bunch of interviews rolling in, but this one in particular I'm very, very excited about because I basically just met my new best friend. I got the opportunity today to sit down and it was actually our first conversation with a new friend, uh, through remote year. She is a remote your citizen, which is how I know her and her name is Nicole Hudson. And today we talk about her journey from having, you know, the seemingly perfect life, great life in New York City, great career, great relationship, you know, great apartment checking all the boxes in life, but ultimately realizing that she wasn't sure if she was living a life that was hers. You know, wanting more and asking herself if it's okay to want more.

Ellyn: So we talk a lot about her journey. We have so many parallels from my journey to hers, some of the things that she experienced and some of the, you know, ultimate events that happen. So we definitely bonded over that. But what I really, really want ultimately for you guys to listen for is some of the tools that she used, which are very, very simple, tangible things that so many of us can use to transform our life. And ultimately the decision she made to do something for herself and how that reflected back and gave her clarity in her life and in her career. So this is a super, very straight forward, very fun, a conversation that I was able to have with Nicole and I hope you guys enjoy it. So let's get to it.

Ellyn: All right, so today I'm here talking with Nicole who is a fellow remote. You're, you're a citizen now. Um, but know each other through remote year. This is actually our first conversation really on podcast. So, hey, that's kind of fun. Um, yeah. Tell me, tell me a little about your background, like how you, how you ended up in remote year. I know that being here played a big role in your, your growth over the last, you know, however many months. I, tell me a little about that.

Nicole: Yeah. So my background is mostly in the financial industry. I am a project management professional and I have always focused my career on process improvement and process design, a business process management. I'll throw out all your terminology that you want, but I pretty much, I take a look at a process, I figured out how it works, I tell you how to make it better and then I help you implement changes to actually make it neat work me.

Nicole: And so I went to school in Boston. I grew up outside of Chicago city girl hitting the major cities. Exactly. And after school I had been dating someone who was living in New York City. So I found myself a fancy corporate job at JP Morgan Chase, moved myself down to New York City and have lived there for the past eight years. Nice. Yeah, so I lived in New York for eight years working in corporate finance. So I started out with JP Morgan Chase and then I went over to Oppenheimer funds. Okay. Got to a point where I just wasn't really happy in my life and knew that I needed to make a change. So I started looking when I was in school, I had studied abroad in Australia and I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to work abroad. So started journaling, which is really what brought me here and decided at some point that I wanted to start traveling.

Nicole: And remote year honestly was an Instagram ad that I happened to see. So I started looking into it a little bit and my program person called me and we ended up in our first chat, which was supposed to just be to schedule a conversation. Ended up being about an hour long. So it really started the conversation that day and then we went back and forth quite a bit for a few, probably a month and a half to two months with me going back and forth on my decision. Then how can I do this? Can I do this? Is it okay to do this? Do I keep my job? Do I not keep my job? Just the ups and downs of a big decision like this. Um, and in the end I just decided I needed to pull the trigger. I needed to do something for me that would make me happy.

Nicole: And I gave up my apartment in New York. I moved all my stuff back to the Chicago land area. My parents are really happy to be my storage unit right now. My parents were happy that I decided to get a storage unit and one of their entire garage guys. Well, I've been given until the end of the year to move all of my stuff out. So we'll see how that goes. But yeah, I picked up, moved my dad helped me pack everything up and here I am. Right. Go. Was your like decision to ultimately, you know, leave your job, do this program, you know, leave the apartment behind. Was it, was it a gradual process that kind of led up to that or were, was there like a moment? I don't know. I don't know. Yeah. So it's interesting because looking at something that I've really thought about, looking back now that I've been traveling for a few months at this point of self reflection exact way and I can definitely point to moments where I was unhappy or I needed a change or something happened where it was a small push in this direction and it got to a point where, you know, I had a great job, I loved my team, I loved the work I was doing, but I was working seven days a week.

Nicole: I was working all hours of the day and I had no life outside of work really. And I, I spend time with friends, but I really, I went to work, I had grabbed dinner and drinks with friends and I went to bed and that's all I did. There was no me time, there was no self reflection. So I started to journal for the first time in my life.

Ellyn: I'm really excited that that was like an aspect of your journey that I liked. Continue.

Nicole: Yeah. I started this journal. I found my bar around the corner from my apartment because in New York City who doesn't have their bar, right.

Ellyn: So I think I had that in my college town too though.

Nicole: Yeah. So I found my bar, I brought, I bought myself a journal and I will always remember the front of my journal, the saying that it was on, it is now just my kind of motto for life is that ideas become things. And so I started journaling and I had all of these things. At first, you know, it started all about my dating life because what else do you journal about? Right,...

Ellyn: Exactly. That was like all my journals when I was sad.

Nicole: And then [inaudible] started going into deeper things. Like it's still stayed with dating, but it was like, okay, if I want to find someone who I really want to be in a relationship with, what are some of my core values? Like do I want to have children? Where do I want to live? What do I want to get out of my life? What's gonna make me happy? And from there I started to dig in to why I was unhappy and you know, it was great to move to New York. I had a great experience. I met my best friends and I launched an amazing career. I never planned to move to New York. I had other factors that sure in the back of my head I definitely, there was a reason I wanted to move there and I had a good experience, but it really wasn't where I wanted to be.

Nicole: And I had a lot of, I felt a lot of societal expectations either just from our us society as well as you know, family and friends of what you're expected to do. So I went to college, I did my bachelor's and my master's in economics. I moved to the big city. I got this big fancy corporate finance job. Like I was with my ex for 10 years. Like I was on that track of get your education move and get a good job, get married. And when we broke up, it was just this kind of kickstart to say this really wasn't me. It wasn't really what I wanted. And if I'd actually listened to myself earlier, maybe I would have made a change.

Ellyn: Yes. And I actually, I, I love that one of the questions you were talking about that you asked yourself earlier was like the, is it okay to want this? Because I feel like, like you, you listed said like, it resonates so much with me because I did the same thing. You know, I checked the life boxes, I wasn't in a relationship, but I checked the life boxes and I kind of felt like I shouldn't want more than I already have. I have so much to be grateful for here, out in front of me. Who am I to ask for and to want more. So how did you kind of navigate that question for yourself?

Nicole: Yeah, so two pieces to that, the whole grateful question is something that I still struggle with because a lot people look at something like this, almost like a vacation, especially with me and I will get into it. But I decided to take time away from my career to really focus on me personally. And in speaking with people at home and kind of how your family and your friends view the experience, they view it like this big party vacation and it's not. So it's really difficult to talk about it with people that I've known my entire life because it's such a different experience. And how can I sit here and complain about having a bad day when I'm sitting in the middle of Belgrade? Right? And just having that experience of I am grateful for everything that I have, but I want more, and how can I sit here and tell people who are following that kind of set life of what we grew up with and sit here and complain that I'm having a really bad day for this, that or whatever other reason when I'm here traveling the world.

Ellyn: So that's a huge challenge when you're doing something like this. But in terms of really questioning, you know, is it okay to do this? And I got to a point where I didn't care anymore. I went back and forth and at first I said, can I question? I have such a great career. I'm on such a good trajectory. I have a huge network. I can do so many different things. Why should I jeopardize that? And I got to the point where I said, well, I am not jeopardizing that because I'm not losing my skills by getting different experience. I love that. I actually never thought about it that way. Yeah, my skill skills still exist. I can maintain my network, I can do some freelance or some consulting as I go. So why is it a problem to step away? People take gap years between college and their careers.

Nicole: I never did that. So why can't I take a few gap months? Why can't I get a different experience and see what it is I really miss in my career so that I can focus back in on that? So that was a big piece of it. And then there were a lot of questions from my, from my family and friends about, well, what are you going to do for a job? How are you going to make money? Really questioning why I would step away from it and saying, well, it's remote. You're going to give you a job. It's not about having a job. It's about let's doing doing what's right for me. And so I stopped really listening to them. I shouldn't say I stopped listening, I stopped focusing in on what they thought I should do and started focusing on what was right for me, which was a big, a big change in my life.

Nicole: And I've always been somewhat of a people pleaser where if somebody asked me to do something or want something from me and I see a logical reason why it would be helpful for them or make them happier because for my career, some of that is somewhat in a selfish, but I'm very much a people pleaser, so why have I constantly gone through my life doing what other people are telling me to do? If I know I'm unhappy and I think this will make me happy, why shouldn't I take the step for myself? So it didn't become a question of is it okay in terms of what everyone else thinks and sees? I definitely went to my mentors and said, I was down, I doing this, what do you think? And I definitely wanted the approval, but at the end of the day I was able to get to a point where the only approval I really needed was my own, but it took a lot of work to get there. So it was, it was tough. But at the end of the day, I think it's really important to focus in on what's right for you rather than what everyone around you is seeing.

Ellyn: Yeah. Yeah. That's like I a little bit about my background because since we've, uh, I was in graduate school, I am, my entire background is in microbiology. Um, I worked in labs from the point I was like 18 until like two years ago. Um, and I did the, you know, bachelors in microbiology. I didn't take a gap year per se, but I took a couple of years to work for, I went to graduate school and I went straight into a phd program for microbiology and I got about three years into it and which started realizing a lot of the same questions you are asking yourself and a lot of the same like I have this, this and this to be grateful for, but I'm not happy in what I'm doing. And I started pulling people and I started, you know, talking to my peers. And it was, it was interesting because I hadn't quite noticed this, but the more I talk to people they had that I came into my program with all of this like passion and this enthusiasm and this zest for everything that I was going to do in graduate school.

Ellyn: And over the course of time I lost that. And I've never experienced such profound like going through the motions as I did in that instance. And I think the biggest difference between the two of us as you really, really enjoyed the work that you were doing. I really didn't like, I love, I love science and I love learning and I love that kind of stuff. The doing the research, I realized I was only doing it because it was all I knew and it wasn't something that I loved and it was, you know, ultimately navigating that disappointing some people along the way, you know, making the choice to leave, but ultimately, you know, leaving for myself and leaving because it would make me happy. And this was kind of like, I did this on a whim. I knew people that had done remote year and yeah, I'd seen the like face they bad.

Ellyn: And like I, and I ultimately applied kind of thinking that I wasn't going to get in. And then when I did, I was a wa it was a, why not? It was, I've always wondered about this. I've always about this lifestyle and what it'd be like to live it and if I would enjoy it and how will I ever be able to answer those questions if I know it was just do it. Um, and yeah, it's just been, it's been so enlightening that this has been like the biggest year I've been like a big personal growth person. Obviously it's the name of the podcast. Um, but like I've never had such a profound year of, of growth as I have...

Nicole: I agree and no matter, I think no matter what experience any of us has had on remote year, I think the personal growth aspect of it makes it worth it worth everything regardless of what you go through. You could have the best time he could have them or not and that's a great time. At the end of the day you are going to have experiences that you never would have had in your life. You're are going to meet people who help you push boundaries and you are going to learn so much about yourself. So at the end of the day, just going out and doing something different that forces you out of your comfort zone really allows you to grow as a person. And I think one of the most important questions that a friend of mine asked before I chose to go on the program was, are you running from something?

Ellyn: Oh, that's such a good question...

Nicole: And it was something that was really difficult for me to think about because when I sat there originally before I made the decision, I said, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't running from anything and I like to put it in more that I'm running towards something. I was running towards the person that I wanted to be in the person that I wanted to become, but the longer that I'm here, the longer that I'm traveling in a way from what I knew and what I grew up in. I think it's a combination of things. There are always going to be things in your life that you're running away from, but some, some of those things are going to be good. I was really good at distracting myself at home, keeping myself so busy that I never had to feel.

Ellyn: Oh, we're going to be friends. [inaudible]

Nicole: you keep yourself that this, obviously I've run a way from the ability to distract myself, but I'm running towards the person that can become in doing that. And it's tough. It's hard to sit there and feel all of your emotions, especially when you're like me and you've battled them up your entire life, but you're always there. I think there's always going to be something that you're running from and something that you're running towards and as long as it's not something that you're running from in terms of you need to tackle it before you can move on with your life, I think that's okay. But if it's that you're, you know, you need to break up with somebody and you're just going to leave so you don't have to break up with them. Not the right thing to run away from, but it's a really good way of looking at why you're making the decision you're making and really determining if it's the right decision or if you're making the decision to put something else off. For me...

Ellyn: It's like I said, a delay tactic. Is it a procrastination tool?

Nicole: Exactly. And for me it wasn't for me. I was so fed up with being unhappy and living a life that was amazing. I am not going to lie. I had a really good life so I don't want to sit here and complain about it by any means. I had a great life, but I wasn't happy in it and it wasn't mine and I was tired of living a life that didn't feel like it was mine. I felt like I was viewing my life through somebody else's eyes and I really wanted to run away from that and runaway towards what could be my life.

Ellyn: I'm so glad you used that as an example. Cause literally the last podcast episode I did, I talked about this idea of momentum and like the whole, I feel like so much of what drives every decision we make, you know, every personal or even professional goal that we're trying to achieve. Ultimately I feel like it all starts from, Oh, I want to move away from something in like if you end, the whole point of it was you have to keep moving because it's human nature to return to what we know. So ultimately if you're moving away from something that's fine. That's how everything starts. But you'd have to get to the point where you're being pulled towards something to exactly. Because that like motivating force away isn't always going to be as strong. Like the further you get away from it, the less motivated you're going to be to keep moving. Like you have to find that thing that pulls you. Exactly. Stop moving.

Nicole: It's, it's funny that you bring up momentum because the other big decision in my life that happened from my journaling right before I really made the decision to go on remote year with the decision to get my first tattoo. And it's all about that same concept. It's all about trusting in your decisions and trusting that the decisions you make and how you choose to live your life will bring you down that right path. And my tattoo, there's two of them at this point seem to be more. And they're all about that momentum of moving forward, trusting yourself, staying grounded in yourself. So it's kind of a, a mixture of a compass like view and arrows and all these different lines and shapes. But at the end of the day, it's all based on arrows because in order for an Arrow to move forward, it has to get pulled backwards. So whatever challenge you have in your life, that challenge is necessary in order for you to have that forward momentum. And you just have to trust that the path you follow from there based on your own decisions is the right path. And you need to trust in yourself to continue that forward momentum and keep going forward with it.

Ellyn: I got a tattoo after I left graduate school before I moved back home and go right around the time I got accepted to remote year that has arrows...

Nicole: we're going to have to compare...

Ellyn: And yeah, no, and I love that, that quote and that notion and yeah, and it's also like the realization that that the new path you're on is the path that you're meant to be on, but also realizing that the Arrow lands, if there's something that's not right about the situation you're in, you can pull back and move forward again. Like you can remake the path. Like it doesn't have to constantly, you don't like it. That's when I ran into, in graduate schools, I feel like I'd been on a path for so long and I felt like I, I'd gotten myself stuck that there was nowhere to go. I just had to stay on this. It's like there's bumpers on the side of my bowling lane and I just couldn't get over them. I just had to keep going.

Nicole: I feel the exact same way. That's I think why my accident, I stayed together as long as we did. We were at a point where it was like, okay, we're on this path. We know what comes next. Like we can't really, there's no exit from here on out. But that's not true. There's no matter what happens in your life, no matter what direction you're going, how long you're in your career for, you can make a change, but it's really difficult. It's really hard to convince yourself that that's okay and take that leap. And it really is a leap of faith and a lot of people don't do it. So you don't have a lot of role models to follow to say, Oh, I've seen somebody do it. They landed on their feet. It's someone I can follow, someone who can give me advice if I need it. You don't see it a lot, especially in our culture back home in the US. You just really don't see and witness that and experience it. So you're, you're really a trailblazer in doing something like this because you can't base your experiences off of anybody else's. It's truly jumping off the tracks and hoping you land in the water and the land and move on from there.

Ellyn: And these are like the stories that, uh, lately I've gotten so excited about sharing on the podcast because like exactly like you said, we don't have a lot of role models and people to look at who've done this or if they've done something like this, it's gotten kind of the cliche like eat, pray, love, exactly stamp on it. And I'm like, no, it's it. But even like that situation, I'm like, you have to appreciate her journey for what it is. This is, this is exactly like kind of we were experiences as someone who was unhappy. Maybe, you know, society was telling them that they quote unquote shouldn't have been unhappy in their situation. But that's what the question they were and this is what this person did to make those changes. And you know, we did my second episode was with a couple of my very good friends talking about travel and growth and how it can help us. And ultimately we kind of made fun of that whole cliche notion of, you know, I'm gonna find myself. But ultimately it's, that is what happens. And it's not necessarily sometimes that you're finding yourself, you're just shedding all of the baggage and the layers and the labels that weren't discovering. Exactly. Really. I love that. Yeah,

Nicole: I completely agree. And it doesn't to be a whole eat, pray loud, like so many people do this and continue their careers. I chose to take a step away so that I could refocus and I chose to do be a little bit idiotic and sort of, but it's been great. So I'm not gonna lie, I'm working on some freelance consulting business, so I'm in the same boat. I'm in the same though, but there's so many people, well who do this. I can keep their careers. And just because you check all the boxes of what society expects doesn't mean you're going to be happy with it. And we put on this show, we put on an act. So true. And if you've checked all those boxes and you've got the good career, you've got a nice apartment and you've got whatever it is that society says you should have in life to be happy. The expectation then is that you're happy. And how do you go to people and explain that you're not? Just because you're not happy, it doesn't mean that you're depressed. So it doesn't get to have to....

Ellyn: That actually came up with my family. We have a little bit of depression in my family, so you know, where I was struggling in graduate school, I almost didn't want to tell them because I didn't want it to turn into this big thing that you need to talk somebody. Are you unhappy? I actually did get a therapist this year, so yeah, apparently talking to somebody helps, but it's not this...

Nicole: I'm looking into getting a therapist right now.

Nicole: Talkspace Talkspace is amazing. Um, but yeah, it was like this big question in my family and then it became, you know, oh, she's like a mentally unstable and I'm like, no, that's not what this means.

Nicole: Exactly, it just means that I want to talk. I want somebody to listen. I want somebody to help me sort through what I'm going through. Because everything I've learned in my life is that I have all of these, I have all of these things that everyone says you need to be happy. So why am I not, again, I don't think that I'm depressed. A therapist may say otherwise, but why? Why am I sitting here with everything that I should have to make myself happy and not be happy? Clearly something is missing and it's not materialistic goods because I have that and more of that has not made me happy. So what is missing in my life to really make me happy? And I think in our culture there's, there's not a lot of conversation around our emotions and our feelings. Yes. And I don't think a lot of people are comfortable in speaking about it. So when you do try to bring it up, it may feel brushed off or somebody may not know how to respond so they won't want to listen or they'll say the world revolves around you. Well, that's not the case. You're not trying to have the world revolve around you. You're just trying to have an open conversation. And I think that's one of the most amazing things about an experience like this in this kind of a community, is that a lot of people are in that same boat and a lot of people are looking for those emotional connections.

Nicole: So when you start the conversation, people are responsive and the challenge then becomes how do you bring that home? How do you bring that to the people who matter in your life and how do you overcome your own fears of being brushed off? How do you overcome the challenges of them not knowing how to respond to you and how do you move forward in such a way that you can have those conversations in life and you can, I don't want to say improve relationships because of your relationships may not be bad, but how do you make them better ...

Ellyn: But improvement doesn't even imply that they were starting from a bad place, you know, they could be good relationship. You're just making them better.

Nicole: Exactly. And how do you do that? And how do you really overcome your fears of being labeled? That was one of my biggest fears and I started talking to people on remote year about my feelings and my emotions and why I was unhappy. And it took me a really long time to start opening up to people back home about that because I was scared as being labeled. I was scared of being told that I was wrong, that I should be happy, that I should be thankful for that for everything that I have. And it's, it's challenging. It's really difficult to bring that back and it takes a lot of bravery to be able to open up to people and be willing to see what kind of response you get because it could be overwhelmingly positive, but you could also have some negative negativity in there. That is difficult.

Ellyn: Yeah. Yeah. And I also, you know, it's, it's interesting though, I feel like from my own experiences, the negative ones hurt and the negative ones are the ones that you always remember. But like when I left graduate school, I only had one person who had overtly negative, frankly, kind of judgemental feelings about the decision and everybody else, including the mentors that I was really, really afraid of disappointing were overwhelmingly supportive. Like my mentor in Graduate School, I'll never forget this made me cry. I was like in her office trying to keep it together and she goes, you know, she's like, I understand that this was a hard decision. And she's like, and I just want to tell you, she's like, I think you're really brave for making it.

Nicole: The feedback I got from my mentors when I spoke to them, it was overwhelmingly positive and it made me feel so much better because I was so scared of that disappointment, disappointment to my mentors and my family and every single one of my mentors was onboard with it. Every single one of them. When I talked about do I try to stay with my job or do I take time off, gave me great advice and different pieces to think about. And when I did choose to leave my job partly through to do this, everyone was extremely supportive and has been in contact since, and we've talked about, you know, consulting opportunities or little pieces here and there that may pop up as they need in their careers or what I would be looking for when I'm done. I have a number them saying, let us know when you're back home, you'll know when that'll be.

Nicole: But having that overwhelmingly positive experience with them made it much easier to then go to my family and say, I've made the decision and I'm doing this and I'm leaving my job to do it. Because the biggest question I got from my family was, what are you doing about her job? And the question that now that my program has come to an end and I'm doing some more traveling before I go home, the question has been, well, do you have a job? What are you doing for a job? Or have you found a job? And it's tough. And I know that my family is asking me for good reasons. Like they want me to be comfortable. They want me to not have to worry about money so that I can do what what I want to do. It's like the protecting. Exactly. But knowing that those are going to be the questions when you're first making the decision, makes it really difficult to come out and either say it or make that decision because it feels like you're doing something wrong.

Nicole: Whether or not you are. I was really lucky I was able to save up enough money to do a four month program. Now I'd like a job, but that's partially because I'm, I'm kind of bored. I'm not bored of traveling. I'm not bored of working on myself, but I need more structure to my debt and I really miss what I used to do. I've I, I've learned that I really did enjoy my work and taking a step back from that has really opened up my eyes to say, okay, I, I may not have chosen my career path. It may have fallen in my lap and I was good at it. So I was selected for new projects, which is fabulous. But now that I've taken time away from it, sure there's pieces of it that I don't need to go back to, but the core of my job and my career is really enjoyable and something that I want to go back to doing, but I wouldn't have known that for sure had I not stepped away.

Nicole: I would have always questioned if that was really my career because I wanted it or if it was my career because I was good at it, and to know that I'm not only good at it, that I actually really do enjoy it and want to continue doing it makes it so much easier to go back and say, okay, I am ready to start working again to get into the grind and move forward with my career. But before that I just, I really couldn't say if it was my career or somebody else's. I love that. I love it.

Ellyn: I like that. I feel like that like it's like you just put the bow on top of the present because it's like that's ultimately the question that so many people have. It's like we ask ourselves these what if questions, these questions that call into question, you know the decisions we're making and you know ultimately it's do I have clarity on what I want and if I feel like if more people had the bravery to do what you did and make the decision to step away, they would know they would get that clarity. You know that time away whether you are intentionally invested in personal growth kind of in the way that you wear and you kind of went into this experience going, I am going to answer these questions about myself. Whether you go in with intention or not, I feel like you take that time away and you learn what do you miss? I feel like that kind of knowledge, like there's nothing more powerful than that in terms of kind of putting yourself on a trajectory...

Nicole: And it, and it goes beyond your career too. It goes to your life as a whole. Like I, I've been done with my program now for just over three weeks and I can already say these are the things that I got out of that community. This is what's missing from my life. These are the things that made me happy that I don't have anymore physical touch. We don't have a lot of physical touch in our culture. And when there is physical touch, it's often construed as sexual. You can have really positive physical touch in a very nonsexual way that brings comfort and confidence to your life. And when you're in a community and you're in a group and you're talking about your emotions and your feelings and getting to know each other in this way, you know when somebody is having a bad day and you just come up and put your hand on their shoulder or you give them a hug or little things that don't happen a lot. And even to the point where there's people in the US who just, and I'm sure the world in general, but from my experience

Ellyn: That's the culture we were raised and that's the one we can comment...

Nicole: Don't like hugs. Do you not like hugs it all. You go up to give them a hug and they kind of withdraw. And what physical touch kids and bring to your life I think is so positive and so necessary. And we just lacked so much of it that we don't even know it's missing. And doing a program like this where you get to know people to that comfort level because of it's, you have to have that comfort level with people. But once you get to know a group of people to that level of comfort, you can go in and feel reenergized and rejuvenated just from a single hug, from a good friend. So true. So it's things like that that, yes, taking a step away absolutely gives you insight into what you want in your career and your life. And then even taking a step away from people makes you realize what you're missing, whether it's that physical touch or who your best friends and family members are at home.

Nicole: You start to realize when you're not seeing them day to day, you can see the people who really bring a positive energy to your life. And you can see what relationships you have that are, no relationship is always going to be equal. But you can find the relationships that are closer to equal where it really is a give and take relationship. And sometimes one person is giving more and taking less and vice versa, but it evens out at the end of the day. And when you take a step away from those relationships, you also start to see which relationships are uneven. An unbalanced that maybe are not the right relationships in your life. And you start to realize, and this is again, you need to be really strong in yourself. And it took me a long time to get here. You need to realize that it's okay to not be friends with everybody.

Nicole: It's okay to not like somebody, which for me it's easier for me to not like somebody than to not have somebody like me. So it's okay for me to not do everything I can to make the person that I don't like like me. If I don't like them, why should they like me? Why should I put in the energy? But I've done it my whole life. And taking a step away from that and what you're used to in the people that you see every single day to go get thrown in with a bunch of people that you've never met in your life. It's like the real world of travel experiences. Exactly. So it really helps to shed some light on every aspect of your life, whether it be your career, your friends, your family, every piece of it. Yeah, just teaches you, I feel like it teaches you about your values and truly what your priorities exactly.

Ellyn: And you know, whether your priorities are in, uh, in, uh, what is it in alignment, in alignment with your, with your values. Exactly like that. It shines a massive spotlight on that when you're in an experience like this.

Nicole: Exactly. And you mentioned earlier about boundaries. Once you start to see those things and shine that spotlight on it, you realize where he need to start to set boundaries and you learn how to do it because again, the culture we grow up in is not a culture where we set a lot of boundaries. Sure there's the very clear like sexual boundaries of no physical touch, but in terms of somebody asks you to do something or somebody tells you to go do this and your job, you do it. Not a lot of people say no and you've got to be comfortable in saying no and driving that and you need to be confident in yourself to be comfortable with it.

Ellyn: And it's like even the, like a lot of the boundaries that I think of, it's like it's in your job. It's also in your relationships that absolutely no, it's, it's, we talked a lot about, you know, having these difficult conversations with the friends or the families or the mentors and it's ultimately that's a boundary that you're setting of. I'm going to listen to you, but I'm also going to draw a line on how much value I place on your opinion. You know, am I going to value your opinion over mine? That's a boundary you set, you know, for, for, you know, mothers. We had a number of mothers in our group, you know, not ever, neither of which are with the group at this point in the, you know, in the year and the journey, but deciding that you're going to take this experience for you instead of being home with your, your family or your husband, like some people would say that selfish, but you have set that boundary for yourself that saying, I need this for myself. Anytime a mother says, I'm going to take, you know, I'm gonna let him put my infant in the playpen and take a moment to work out for myself. That's a boundary you've set. That's a value in a priority you've established in your life. And I feel like if it takes something like this, you know, which might seem kind of extreme to some people to figure out what those things are for you and where are those boundaries need to be set. I think that's really freaking valuable.

Nicole: And those boundaries put you in such a better place mentally and sure that is there a potential for your boundaries to go overboard. At the end of the day, there are extremes. There's, yeah, there's so potential for anything to go overboard. Exactly. But you have to have batteries in your life if you are going to keep yourself sane in my own damn straight [inaudible] and that's something that I've learned over the past five months is that I drove myself into the ground. I was so burned out because they never set boundaries. It did everything that was asked of me and I went above and beyond and shirt. That's why people see me as good at my job because I deliver. But without those boundaries, I cannot maintain that level of quality. Sustainable. Exactly. Yeah. So you have to, whether it's in parenting, whether it's in your job, your relationships, whatever it may be, you have to have those boundaries if you're going to be in a good mental head space to be able to support the people around you in the way that you want to. So, so, so true.

Ellyn: Damn. We have run the gamut in this. Wow. This was amazing though. Thank you. Like, I don't, do you have anything else that you, I feel like we've tied this up and this like beautiful book ended package and I'll be like, you know that that's a great way to wrap things up. I have two two questions though before we are totally tied up. So, uh, first question, is there any resource that you use your book that you read and like, I don't know, ted talk that you watch that was really, really impactful to you along your journey?

Ellyn: So I've just started getting into some work by Brene Brown and I have watched one of her ted talks on, which was very powerful. And I'm reading, I believe it's called into the woods and it's all about belonging...

Nicole: Braving the wilderness, right?

Nicole: There you go..

Ellyn: I'm a Brene Brown Encyclopedia...

Nicole: Exactly. But it's all about belonging and that something that I've really struggled with throughout my life where yes, I've always had friends you can, like I, I wasn't unpopular by any means. I had groups of people, but I never felt like I really belonged. And it's all about learning that your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of yourself. And the first chapter or two really hit home. So it's been really tough for me to read. So I been working on it for a few months. I'm not very far into it. It's like a little bit here and there, but it's something that kickstarted some thoughts in my head and is allowing me to focus and say, okay, how do I build my own self confidence?

Nicole: How do I get comfortable with myself? How do I stop dragging myself down and putting myself down and telling myself that I failed or I could do better? How do I, how do I get to a point where I'm telling myself how awesome I am? Yeah. Yeah. Because if I can say it to myself, it is five times stronger than if somebody else says it to me. So true. So that was something that a lot of my friends have told me to look at it and told me to read it. And I was doing some research, um, for a retreat type thing where it was all focused on productivity and chasing your dreams. So I was doing research on, okay, how do we really focus on process productivity and getting to a point where you're chasing your dreams. And this whole vulnerability piece came up and it really started me down that line of how do I get comfortable belonging to myself and being vulnerable with the people around me and being comfortable with being vulnerable.

Nicole: And that then leads you down the path of, you know, what is your dream? And my definition of dream over the past five months has changed. It's no longer a material thing. My dream is not to get married, have a house, I have kids. It's not materialistic like that. My dream that I'm fighting for now is to be happy. And that's not a way that you hear a lot of people talk about dreams. It's just a different view of a dream. And it's something that in my life, your dreams are always like, what's your next career step? Or the bigger house or the the better town and it's not the dream I'm going for. And so I think it's important and it long, long answer to your question. No, I love it. I really like Bernie rolled down that path of, okay, you need to be vulnerable to get comfortable with yourself, to start to feel that sense of belonging so that you can get to it. The point where you're happy.

Ellyn: Isn't it amazing how like I, I'm obsessive Bernay Brown. I am an encyclopedia of her work, but I think it's amazing how a book or something like that or her Ted talk or even, you know, having not even finished this book, just the first couple of chapters. This is why I'm like the personal growth and it's like a PD that I am, is because that's the power of it, is it can trigger these questions in you. If you find that book, that book that you need, that book that's, that is going to force you to confront these uncomfortable things in your life. It's going to get you to start asking those questions that you would otherwise never have asked him that, and that's going to be uncomfortable as all hell, but that's going to transform you.

Nicole: I think it's extremely important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Ellyn: Damn straight. Yes, I've said that twice and like the last five minutes. But yes. So true. And I love that notion of it's about getting out of push herself from your comfort zone into your growths known and even, you know, a little past the growth zone. You know, we don't want to get like, like too crazy here, but like you gotta challenge yourself

Nicole: And you can expand your growth zone! The growth zone you had today is not the growth zone that you'll have tomorrow if you're pushing your boundaries.

Ellyn: Yup. Yup. And each time you push it, that makes you more confident in your ability and you know, and, and you're all of those characteristics within you. Um, I really hope you're still recording. Yes, yes. Yeah. I know it like lit up and I'm just like, Shit. Yeah, it's like that. That's so powerful. So powerful. All right, one last question. When people that loved listening to you and your story, is there any place that they can find you website, Instagram handle?

Nicole: Yeah. So the whole point of this journey for me was to reflect on myself and reflect on my life. My last name is Hudson. So my, everything is reflection on the Hudson. So my blogs, which go through everything from the fun stuff that I'd experienced, which I'm still a bit behind it, so saying what I've experienced to the very first block I wrote was all of the emotional aspects that I went through in making the decision to do this. The excitement of finding it, the fear of can I actually do this? The stubbornness of, well, why the hell not everyone else takes gap years, why can't I do it and what's the big deal? Why am I questioning to how, what are the logistics? I have to give up my apartment in New York, I need to move, I need to like all of these different things. It goes through every step. There's a blog post out there that goes through the personal piece of me saying goodbye. Sure. I said goodbye to my family and friends and I had my goodbye parties and everything and they were great fun. But then there's the personal side of goodbye. What am I letting go by actually leave in? What am I stepping away from so that I can figure out how to be better to myself. So my blog really goes across all the fun stuff, all the stuff. But yes, reflectiononthehudson.com is my blog and my Instagram handle is @reflectiononthehudson.

Ellyn: I'm going to go follow you you like asap.

Nicole: Yeah. I'm not so great at posting. I had been working to get better at. So yeah, these days. And then from a professional perspective you can find me on Linkedin, just Nicole Hudson PMP and for all of process improvement, project management, just you guys are interested in learning a little bit more about the finance industry in New York, whatever it may be. And I'm kind of all over the place. So right now figuring out where my professional life goes from here, but at least on the personal side, it will always be reflecting on myself.

Ellyn: Love all the information. She's got lots of knowledge to drop on all you guys, so you can definitely, definitely look her up. Well, thank you. So crazy that this was our first conversation circle, but perfect because all truth bombs, all the knowledge and all the insights that people don't think they need. But they do! yes. Beautiful. Thank you so much.

Nicole: Thank you so much for having me.

Ellyn: If today's show was interesting to you, let me know. Hop On Instagram at the growth tried podcast or leave me a review. It truly makes all the difference to hear from you guys and at the end of the day, you're my tribe. I want to be sure I'm delivering content that you're interested in hearing about. So head on over to all those places where podcasts are found, iTunes, Spotify, stitcher, and drop a review. And if you're really digging what you're hearing, subscribe. Thanks so much for listening and thank you my friend for being a part of the growth drive.

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