Taking the Off Road


So many different stories in the life of a teen girl – where to begin? Read about what is happening with other girls lives here.

Taking the Off Road



1. How did you discover your passion for coaching?

I have always been a person whom others go to for advice. Often, strangers will approach me in public just to tell me something that is bothering them! Of course, my friends throughout my life have also always turned to me for my insight on situations, so there are many people who rely on me for support.

My passion for coaching revealed itself to me, however, after a winding academic journey that took me all the way through graduate school. I tried out a *lot* of majors in college before deciding to become an atmospheric scientist, and I assumed that I had to leave behind all my other interests (writing, speaking, and teaching, among others) to achieve that.

While I was in graduate school, I found myself under a lot of stress, so I went to see a therapist. I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and an eating disorder. I began weekly therapy sessions with an OCD and eating disorder specialist. She soon had me join an OCD support group, in person, that she moderated. I was afraid to share these irrational fears of mine with peers, but it was a cathartic experience. I also was referred to a psychiatrist, who put me on an appropriate medication regimen, and a nutritionist, who taught me about intuitive eating. Today, I continue to attend individual therapy sessions and keep my prescriptions up-to-date. My eating disorder is under control with the intuitive eating principles I was taught. Although my mental illnesses cannot be 'cured,' I am fortunate to have the support of professionals, peers, and family members in managing my health. This caused me to re-evaluate myself and the life I was creating. Is this what I really wanted to do? Or was this what I was told to do?

Once I quit my Ph.D. program and quickly finished my M.S., I took on quite a few odd jobs as well as a traditional corporate job. The corporate work felt very wrong to me, and I left that job after 6 months. I began working as a tutor for middle and high schoolers. I quickly realized that what I loved about that job was not the teaching of the math and science, but the emotional support and guidance I provided my students. Many of them did not see their hardworking parents often, and they needed an adult they could trust to talk to about their future.

As I looked back through my life, I realized that I had always been a coach. Now I just needed to turn that unique skillset into a career.

2. Why do you think Millennials are not fulfilled with graduating from college and working for someone else? AKA The status quo..

No one is teaching us how to adapt to the new working world: one based increasingly on the exchange of knowledge rather than the exchange of tangible goods. We were encouraged by our parents and peers to continue following the same career template that the Boomers and Generation X did. As a generation, we also were raised to have varied interests in order to even apply to college and appear to be a well-rounded person, so why have we been expected to give up all those other passions and interests for a single job? There is major dissonance between what we were told to do and what we feel that we need, which leads to discontent in the workplace.


3. You've created such an awesome niche. Can you describe to readers what the Off Road Millennial & your job entails?

I created The Off-Road Millennial as a resource for other young people who felt pressured to just pick a path and stick to it while in college. It is unlikely in our current economy that most people my age and younger will maintain the same job for 40 years the way previous generations did. We need to be flexible workers, and we need to be taught how to do that.

I do not believe that the world of entrepreneurship can be oversaturated, as everyone has unique gifts to offer the space. Many people think, "Yeah, but how do I make money doing that?" or "There is nothing I could do with my crazy mix of skills!" My job, and the purpose of the site and podcast, is to show them that there are other career options out there from the ones they were exposed to growing up. But, even more importantly than exposure to the idea, I also work with people individually or through courses and programs designed to help them craft a unique business or freelance career from their own gifts. I strive to be the guide to life that I needed 3 years ago.


4. We've all heard, "If I knew then what I know now..." Most of our readers are in high school...what advice would you tell your high school self?

As I tell my high school tutoring students, I still don't know what I'm doing with my life! Do your best in school and college (if the latter is the right choice for you), but resist the pressure that comes with choosing a major. Unless you feel strongly that you want to be in a specialized field, most liberal arts majors will teach you new ways of thinking about the world and satisfy employer degree requirements. I wish I had not been so hard on myself to maintain my straight A status through high school. Everyone is figuring out life as they go (yes, even your parents), so give yourself a break and enjoy what you have today.



Mallie Rydzik, Millennial Coach, Consultant, Writer, Speaker, and Podcaster. Check out her awesome site, The Off-Road Millennial!