Rachel Oestrich

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

I love teaching; I’ve spent my entire graduate student career as an instructor for undergraduate students, and I’ve also spent the last few years doing my best to understand the way my body works, either in the gym or in the kitchen. Every day, I realized how lucky I was to be doing the things I love, to help my students find their power through writing, to help friends and family and strangers (thanks, social media!) live their best lives. And yet, there were tensions among staff and faculty that began to affect me emotionally and mentally, and I realized: living the 9-to-5 and answering to someone else isn’t compatible with the freedom I desired to be the best educator I could be. And that’s when I began to look into other options, like health coaching and personal training. My passions became my lifeblood, and I want to teach others to find their own passions to make a meaningful lifestyle.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?

Cassey Ho is the creator of Blogilates and the fitness style Pop Pilates. I began watching her YouTube videos right at the start of my graduate career, when I needed a good at-home workout. Watching her videos, I learned confidence: in my body, in my lifestyle, in my goals. She encourages women to be their best selves, to shun the idea of comparison and to celebrate our own beauty. I admire her willingness to share her story and be vulnerable about her own past with body dysmorphia and eating disorders, and how she uses it as her fuel to motivate others to live healthy and balanced. Her personality is welcoming, and her work is the definition of #bossbabe.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

It’s easy to believe we haven’t succeeded. There’s always a “yet” or a “but,” some excuse that says that, even in light of an accomplishment, we haven’t really made it where we’re supposed to be, that we aren’t already valuable and that we need to keep working in order to be worth the space in which we exist. In celebrating who we already are, we’re celebrating every challenge we’ve conquered along the way. We’ve weathered storms. We are up and we are swinging, every single day, and that’s an accomplishment. From promotions and bonuses to just making it to work and weathering the storms that come with it, we need to remember that we are here, and we are fighting for our own futures, and we won’t stop.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

It was just the other day. I know, I wish I could say it was this morning, or an hour ago; recognizing my own confidence and value has always been a struggle. But the other day, I sat down and I said, “You know what? You are worthy.” I wrote it down, in big, bold letters on a piece of notebook paper. And I stared at it and thought, “Yes. This is true.” It lit a fire in me; it gave me the confidence to push forward in a business I desperately want to succeed in. For the first time, I was able to be my own source of encouragement, rather than relying on someone else to give me that push, and for that I am grateful.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

Women are taught to be competitive. We’re raised in a culture that compares women and tells them they should be “better,” whatever that means. I was a straight-A student growing up, yet celebrating my grade on a test was punished with resentment. So I grew quiet. I remember growing up, being quite slender, and my peers, and even my family, remarking on my body as if it was there purely for them; my own insecurities were never validated, and if I mentioned being prideful of some feature or another, it was marked as vanity. These experiences taught me that it was my body that was valuable, not my mind or my accomplishments or, heaven forbid, my failures and perceived shortcomings. We are taught to be celebrated only if someone else deems us as valuable; only if someone else sees something worthwhile. That is why we grow shy: we’re expected to wait for someone else to tell us we’re meaningful.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

It’s taken years, but I’ve taught myself to kick the habit of apologizing for or discrediting compliments by remembering: I worked for whatever it is I’m being recognized for. Mentally, physically, emotionally: I worked for it. I struggled. I remember the tears and the stress, and I remember that I am still standing. I remember what my professor told me, that I don’t have to apologize for taking up space. I deserve that space. I overcame so much to be here, and if someone else recognizes that, then so will I.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE
TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

At least once a day, I am: told to smile, by a man; whistled at from a passing car, or honked at; I see media coverage of a woman being blamed for being out alone/at night/what was she wearing? Every day, we are told that we are only our bodies, and that even then, we are not careful enough, we are too confident, we are too naïve, too independent, that we need to understand there are dangers in this world. We can be anything, and I truly believe that and I believe society tells us this; the problem is that when a woman falls, suddenly it is her fault. This is how society reinforces that we are not enough: we can be anything, but we will fail, they say, and when we fail we only have ourselves to blame. And this is the problem, instead of supporting one another, we tear each other down. That’s the female culture. To empower ourselves, we need to change the dialogue, we need to help each other and stand by each other. Reclaim control by demanding justice and respect. That’s how we take that power back, and that’s what I aim to do in every area in my life.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

THE TRIBE movement is all about confidence. It’s about fearlessness in our ambition in a world that teaches us ambition, as a woman, is wrong. We need to encourage each other to stand up, support each other, and make our own rules instead of accepting the rules set out for us by the generations before. The Tribe movement encourages that, and reminds every woman that she matters.

Occupation: Healthy Living Consultant

Website: www.racheloestreich.arbonne.com

Instagram: rae_oestreich