Navigating Identity Shifts

Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. On my last episode, Hannah Newhouse and I spoke about identity shifts, and especially having to adjust kind of how you view yourself and how you live your life when you make a career shift. And I've been wanting to talk about this with you guys for a little bit now. But I've been trying to figure out the right way and tone and stories and all of that, because over the last few years, and more than once, I've felt like I'm nearing the end of an era and need to look to the next thing. So I'm right in the thick of this, I'm sure many of you are or have been or will be. Because we all go through big shifts, maybe you've spent 10 to 20 years in a career and are fed up and burnt out and quit in order to pivot. Maybe you're getting divorced, maybe you're switching political affiliations, maybe you've discovered that you're not straight, maybe you've had your first kid and you're becoming a parent. And these things are really, really big shifts. And I feel like we don't talk about the magnitude of these major, yet quite normal and regular shifts, I don't feel like we talk about it enough. And what I've found is that there's a lot of complexity in the emotions that we feel when we're going through these shifts, which is a lot to handle on our own. And obviously, we have friends and family and therapists and journals that we can write in. But I wanted to take some time to not only share my experiences and get really personal in terms of what I've been going through and and what I've been feeling. But I also want to share some advice that I hope is helpful if if you're navigating a similar thing. Everything that I have done for most of my life has been to be able to go racing cars. And this means like, in middle school, I would miss friend's birthday parties because the race on the championship weekend was happening and I needed to be there and I needed to fight for my title. Or thinking about when going to high school, which high schools would allow me to miss enough school to be able to compete regularly, right, you know, having to take finals on the road with my mom proctoring even decisions like how I spent my weekends how much I hung out with friends, how I spend my after school hours was working out what I ate, maintaining a really healthy, balanced diet, you know, looking into all this stuff working out like so much of what I did. And then I continued on when I went to school, so much revolved around how I would go racing. And luckily, it was working for a really long time. Right. I graduated from Stanford, and then I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, I raced in a weekly NASCAR series and won that championship. And then I was like, okay, level up, I moved up to the k&n West series, now arca West, and and finished 4th in the championship, the second second highest on my team, which was great and kept climbing that right that ladder. But then in 2018, things started to slow down a little bit. It coincided with when my parents said that they were no longer going to contribute to my racing. So that's a very real thing that US racers deal with. And, you know, I was able to fund quite a bit of racing, I was able to fund some some of the Canadian NASCAR series. And but what that meant, because I wasn't racing full time was that I really had to lean in to some of the other aspects of my life that I was able to pursue from a professional standpoint. And I largely got these because of the hook of racing, right? I continued building my speaking career which continues to go well, which is great, but put some time into that and was doing a lot more content creation with content partnerships, like with shell with turo with now this, I mean, just really cool stuff. And saw that, you know, there was there was stuff outside of racing that I could do also, by I obviously still had the goal of making it to the cup series and becoming a professional racecar driver. And my definition of professional racecar driver. And what I looked as you know, looked at as successful was being paid to race. And so I was constantly going after that goal. And then at some point, I realized that EuroNASCAR was an opportunity. And I got connected with my team and they were really good team. And I was so excited because we announced I remember January 7 2020, we announced that I was going racing in the NASCAR Euro series. And I was so excited because I was going to be introduced to a whole new demographic of fans, I was going to be able to spend seven weekends with each had to races and so there's gonna be a lot of seat time I was going to be able to really build on the stuff I was learning. And then obviously the pandemic hit and I don't want to sound like I'm whining about this, because obviously a lot of people had it way worse in the pandemic but it really truncated the racing series. So it meant that we had four race weekends for race tracks, none of the fans were there, it didn't get to go to all the tracks didn't get all the testing time ahead of time. And so it just ended up, I had such high hopes for what that season could do for my career. And I look back and you know, it probably wouldn't have had the big effects that I had hoped it would. But I look back, I'm like, Ah, well could have been. And so I was, I had to lean on my parents a little bit, because during the pandemic, a lot of my revenue sources stopped. And so they did have to help me a little bit with that season. But for the most part, I was able to pay for a lot of it through again, speaking, content, partnerships, other things that I was doing. And so, you know, I was thinking about, okay, how do we get this going for, for 2021. And then we found out in March of 2021, that that my team was not going to be participating in the Euro series. And it was too late to have a seat on a decent, you know, on a really, really good team. And I didn't want to make myself broke, for lack of a better phrase, or have to potentially lean on my parents for more just it wasn't fair. And so I ended up not doing a ton of racing and 2021 and had a slow season, because kind of the funding that I had allocated, I was really confident if it was going to work towards a really good team that it would be worthwhile. And I just couldn't guarantee that. So in this 2021 year, I was really encouraged to look to the next chapter, right? My parents were leaning pretty heavily into it. My family in general was like, you know, time to look at the next thing. And they had seen all the work I've done, they knew how much I put into it. But that's just what they were, they were trying to have me do. And I wasn't emotionally ready to do that I was not emotionally ready, my ego was not ready, I did not want to turn my back on racing. And I still held out hope that something miraculous could happen. And I would be able to somehow break through and make it to the highest levels. So even though I wasn't ready, like rationally, I understood that it was good to look towards the next chapter. I mean, I think I was 29 years old at the time, and I, you know, I was aware of life events that may or may not eventually happen, and whether that's just trying to be more financially stable, or sort of family, or at the time I had wasn't married, and so get married. And my rational brain was telling me all right, yeah, you should just kind of focus on the next chapter, you're not going to make it. But that emotional side just really couldn't, couldn't get on board. So if I'm honest, I did decide to look to what's next. Because I my rational brain overcame my emotional one. It was a really deep and painful grieving period that I went through, when I decided all right, I was going to shift my focus. And I can only describe it as grieving. I mean, it was like, it was like a part of me was dying is basically what it felt like, and it felt like kind of a bit of an identity crisis. Because this this main pillar of who I was, and how I identified racing, wasn't really serving me anymore, wasn't there anymore. And I realized I didn't really know kind of how I would redefine myself after having my whole life of having the singular definition. And then like, extra things on the side. So that was really surprisingly difficult. And again, I mentioned ego, my ego was really invested, because I thought that I could be a really big superstar, I was committed to that I had envisioned and future-tripped my life like that, and it wasn't happening. So there was that element of it. But then there was also kind of the slight fear of what is going to provide the same satisfaction and pride and excitement and you know, kind of intoxicated feeling, because there's there's just nothing like racing. For me, there is nothing that brings the adrenaline that brings the focus that brings the hardships, and then incredible highs and incredible lows, and you get used to that kind of lifestyle. And, you know, speakings got a lot of adrenaline, but it's not quite the same intensity. And so I kind of got really nervous about what that meant. And so there was this whole collection of feelings and sadness, to kind of be turning the chapter. So I go through all of this, I didn't really publicize this, but I did actually get hired for a full time remote job, kind of at the end of 2021. And I worked with that for a few months until it kind of went under and then I stopped doing that. And so I kind of been excited because that full time job was still in the industry. So I kept my toes in racing, it seemed like a nice transition. And then I, when that fell through, I was like, Well, is this the universe telling me that I shouldn't shift my focus that I shouldn't focus on what's next? And I didn't really feel like anything had changed to make the landscape and racing more likely to be successful for me. But I just kind of took that time, I was kind of like, figured out what I wanted to do. I was continuing to speak. So I'm still paying my bills and everything, but like, what was the next career push that I wanted to do? And I say all this. And I do want to say like, it's not that I don't consider myself retired from racing by any means. But I do feel like it's time to shift my focus to other things. Obviously, I've started this podcast, I'm doing more of other stuff, I just, you bang your head against a wall enough times, and eventually you get a little burnt out. And that's kind of how I was feeling. So I was obviously open to racing, but I was appointed not going to do. And that's when I got kind of in the rabbit hole of web three and NF Ts. And much to my surprise, it ended up becoming the case that a few NF T communities wanted to be my sponsor, or I pitched them seeing if they would want to be my sponsor, and they agreed. And so all of a sudden, in March of 2022, I'm having this rebirth of my my racing career, I was, you know, I had gotten the funding to do racing in the nascar xfinity series. That's one of the three national touring series, it was the biggest step. And you know, my team was not a front running team. But I knew that I could get there, I could try to prove that I could do well and the equipment that I was driving, and I was really, really excited. And so we did the two races, they went one did not go super well, one went better, and it was fine. And what I was most excited for though was that it became quite clear that some of the leads that I had been fostering for a few years, wanted to sign on for 2023. So we spent the winter putting that all together, we were going through contracts and obligations and kind of really cool marketing activation, I had mentioned this in a previous podcast, that then in January, they pulled out kind of at contract signing, it was in the 11th hour is really sad. And it basically just kind of pulled out all the guaranteed racing I had. And having that ripped out from me, for me put the nail in the coffin that I'm I'm just burnt out i I've spent over a decade pitching and you know, putting ideas out there and getting so close. And for the most part, I'm okay with that emotional roller coaster. But it just got to the point where I wasn't I wasn't thriving in the lifestyle anymore. I wasn't thriving in the hustle that lifestyle. I didn't feel like it was fair to Ben, I didn't feel like it was fair to me, my future and our future. And I also wanted to feel like what I was doing and how I was spending my time was actually contributing to something, because for the most part, it was like everything I was doing racing related was not coming to fruition. And so speaking was going great, right, like all of that, and you know, building in the creativity of, of putting the stories together and finding clients and all that stuff like that was all really great. But speaking only happens periodically. So there's a lot of days where I just felt like I wasn't really building and I wasn't feeling fulfilled and, and proud of myself or I was proud of myself, but I wasn't satisfied. And so when I decided I was burned out, that ended up kind of inducing a second grieving period, which luckily was a little easier, it was quite a bit easier, because I'd already gone through the really big, big grieving period back in 2021. But it eventually led to a point of acceptance. And as I mentioned, I will always love racing and I'll always be open to opportunities that come my way. But I just it's time to shift my focus to building other things that potentially have a bigger chance of working out and that can fill my soul on that kind of creative and building way. So that is the long winded personal vulnerable way of coming to the point of this that I'm now in this transition where I'm having this identity shift and I've gone through all these emotions and these grieving processes and these re excitements and rebirth and then deaths again, I guess, in this identity transition, I've had to reassess how I look at my life. And I can't give you an answer what that looks like yet because I'm still redefining it. I know that I love storytelling. I know that I love building I know that I love trying to make things better. I there's a number of different ways that this can go. But the other thing that's been really surprising in this identity shift and figuring out okay, who is Julia beyond just the racecar driver, and the storyteller and all of that It is this interesting thing where entrepreneurs will appreciate this. And I think most racers will appreciate this, that when you're trying to work towards that, that goal of building like that getting that sponsorship or getting those investors building that product, whatever it might be, when you're an entrepreneur, you're kind of in this mindset of you can always do more, right? It's, there's always more you can do, you can always put your energy towards something, work on something harder. You know, that hustle that everyone talks about, there's always more that you can do. And what I'm finding is that for my entire adult life out of college, my mindset has been what else can I do? How else can I keep working? How else can I be more productive. And I've realized recently that it's kind of detracted from some of the other things that are more in the present and that are more less on a business, you know, professional productivity spectrum, but on a personal productivity spectrum, and realizing that like, you know, I don't haven't really seen a ton of friends or it's been very specific times when I go see friends and really trying to completely change some of these habits of like, always go go go, what more can I do to being more present appreciating what I have living in the now more, it's something that I've had to actually work on and break that other habit. Now I do self described as a type A minus person who's fairly compulsive and also always a go getter, always a can do attitude, I'm competitive. So I'll always keep doing things. But trying to appreciate the little things. And being present is a big thing that I'm focusing on more. And you know, I'm having to dig deep, and kind of identify what my purposes are now, and where I want to focus my energy. But I do have to say, much to my surprise, overall, I am content, I would have liked it to have gone differently, but I am content. But what I noticed recently was that I definitely do have those little pangs of sadness that will just like hit all of a sudden, and, you know, when I was watching the cup race in Chicago, and it was so exciting, because SVG came in, and he's from Australian supercars. And he came in it was leading this race, and when he was so excited, and celebrating after he won, you know, when he was like fists in the air, and you could see, he was so excited in his, in his helmet. And I watched that, and I was so excited, because I know that feeling of winning. And then I was so sad, because I realized, there's a chance I'll never really feel that again. And that was really tough. And that was like shivers through the body really big moment of sadness. But the reality is, this is part of this journey. So I talked a lot about myself and my own experience. And I do want to take a minute to just share some of the concrete things that I've done and that I leaned on to help me through this. So one, so much of what we do is a mix of emotional rational, and all of that. And so if you're finding yourself in a position where you do need to either keep staying in your lane or make this big change, definitely do a pros and cons list right? For me, that was pros, were following the dream and try to make it happen. Cons were kind of some of the sacrifices, the financial aspects, the fact that I was getting older and eventually do want a family like all of those things. So the pros and cons list, always a good go to, I think, recognizing that you're making a big shift is really important. And I have journaled so much about my emotions with this. So I highly recommend journaling but maybe it's speaking to the therapist, maybe it's talking with your partner, friends, family, whatever it might be, and just sharing how you feel and making sure you're going to someone who will will accept your feelings and you know, give you that confidence that it's okay to feel this way. I think that's really important who you seek out that support from and also I in my in my optimistic I know this episode has been a little on the sad side but in the optimistic, you know, personality traits that I have. I think also there's so much cool shit in life. And I talk with Ben all the time, I wish that I could have one life for pursuing my professional group dreams and goals and then I wish I had one life where I could just focus on family and building a family and personal relationships and I wish I could have one life to travel and be more creative and artistic and all this stuff. And the reality is that we don't have that and so I use that as my reminder that even though one door is closing there are ton of other windows that are going to open And it's a matter of trying to find the things that bring the same level of excitement that cover my basic needs. And the other thing that I realized is that because my goals have shifted as I've gotten older, and your mindset in your 20s is different than your 30s, kind of doing inventory of kind of who you are, what you're going after, and who you're doing it for is really important, because maybe our goals have changed, maybe the objectives we have our life are different, or reprioritize. And so maybe it's actually important to revisit that maybe we do really need a change right now. And lastly, you know, if you didn't really need to change right now, it's kind of forced upon you, I just encourage you to something I have to remind myself of all the time, but I encourage you not to spiral in what could have been what should have been what we could have done. It's not super helpful. So doing little things to find you joy, looking to the future, and you're being pragmatic and talking about it all super important. And I'm proud of each one of you who has gone through this good luck to everyone who's going through it in the future. I hope this this episode was was helpful in terms of kind of where I've been and you know, I see a lot of people asking when I'm going to go racing again. And the reality is that I don't know. I know that I will race again. Maybe Ben and I will buy a go kart and we'll get really competitive trackhouse motorplex Maybe that's it. I love go karting. Maybe it's sports car racing in the future. You know, I'm super open to opportunities. I just, I don't feel like I can dedicate my time to it 100% Because it was not giving back to me the same way that I would need it to. So that is our show. Thank you so much for letting me be honest with you, especially with this near and dear to my heart topic. You know if you liked this episode, please share it with a friend if someone else is going through this. Hopefully I gave some helpful advice or at the very least let you know that you're not alone. And please go ahead and rate the pod review it subscribe and I look forward to seeing you next week.