Submitted by Advisory Board Member Lexi Aruck. . Note: Lex is a three-time alum of the DLE Retreat. She currently works at Anheuser-Busch InBev in St. Louis, MO as Commercial Innovation Portfolio and Performance Manager. On Jan. 6, 2021, Lexi makes a major career pivot, moving from the corporate world to academia to pursue a Doctor of Chiropractic degree at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY. She also became a first-time homeowner.
When I began my almost five-year career at Anheuser-Busch (AB), I made a last-minute decision to enter the workforce and not attend medical school. I was pre-med through my four undergrad years, and I even went so far as to take the MCATs and gather letters of recommendation. I was dissuaded by my already six figure student loans that would multiply, the growing political influence in the field and ultimately a gut feeling that I wasn’t ready to commit the next six years of my life to something that I wasn’t 100 percent in on.
I segued into AB via an internship that I had in college—and as you can imagine, I was crazy excited to be able to make beer for a living. I had a ton of fun, fully enjoyed all the perks and was able to extend the college lifestyle that I loved so much, but this time with money.
Fast forward four years and I had a solid career with a solid company in a solid industry: beer. Did I love my job? No. But I had worked my way up from a front-line manager in a brewery to the most exciting and fast-paced group within the company: innovations.
Now, I’m the portfolio and performance manager for all of our commercial innovations such as Bud Light Seltzer, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Busch Light Apple. My job is cool and I was and still am really proud to say that I work for one of the most well-known companies in the world. But I was still having constant anxiety, and I didn’t wake up excited to go to work every day. Why did I stay? Probably for the same reasons a lot of people do. The pay was great, I was being rewarded on a regular basis with promotions, I loved the people, and I had absolutely no idea what else I would do.
When COVID hit, I knew that I should be thankful that I never had to question my job security, my paycheck or my ability to work safely from home. I certainly was grateful for all of those things, but I was also realizing that without the social interaction and other distractions that made my job more sparkly, I was really hating the day-to-day duties that were in my job description.
I started working with my therapist to figure out what I should do with my life. That sounds lofty, but it began simply by me writing down what I enjoyed doing. I realized that I had been on autopilot for as long as I could remember, with a prescribed path that didn’t require me to figure out what I liked. It only required me to do what I needed to do to succeed within that silo. And I excelled.
Making the most of quarantine
Quarantine was a perfect time for me to begin to figure that out. Up until this point, my answers on that piece of paper probably would have been drinking, going to bars and pushing myself to the limit at the gym to compensate for those activities. My life essentially consisted of working myself until my tank was empty at something I got no fulfillment from, then numbing those feelings, and repeat. No wonder I had so much anxiety.
My list eventually turned into: moving my body, being in on or around a body of water, spending time with animals, spending time with family, learning about the human body, helping people, eating fresh food and laughing. If I have learned one thing in this period of exploration, it’s that your career and how you spend the majority of your time needs to align with your list. Having such a stark separation between the two feels like the walls are caving in and trapping you in someone else’s life. My path forward was clear, and it was screaming at me that I needed to make a change.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that while I was exploring the options of making such a huge change, I had a strong foundation underneath me. Since my senior year of college, the Dulye Leadership Experience has invested in me and my potential, equipping me with a set of skills that has left me unwavering in my ability to succeed.
Linda Dulye, my five-year mentor and founder of the DLE, was my first choice to ask for a letter of recommendation. Not only does she understand the drive and passion that I have for pursuing my dreams, she and the rest of the DLE community played a crucial role in helping me form and navigate those realizations.
Having this confidence in myself has allowed me to face this entire experience from a stance of curiosity and not fear. The worst thing that can happen is that I fail, and in that case, I know I’m perfectly capable of re-entering the corporate ladder and working my way back up.
Part of me knew that I would always go back into healthcare. No matter what stage of life I’ve been in, I’ve been consistently passionate about continuing to educate myself on what’s going on in the world of wellness and how to make better choices. As I mentioned earlier, I was and still am extremely frustrated with the current medical model in the U.S. I had explored many avenues other than M.D.—from public health careers to physician’s assistant. When my friend suggested that I see a chiropractor in early June, I finally found where I fit into the web.
Moving forward and screaming yes
I won’t bore you with all of the details, but chiropractic care embodies my values of functional medicine, and uses a combination of movement, nutrition and hands-on adjustments to allow the body to heal itself without pharmaceutical drugs or invasive procedures. Things about my body that I had struggled with for years finally made sense, and my doctor helped me connect the dots and adjust my diet and physical body to feel better than I have ever felt.
Within two months I had gathered my letters of recommendation, created my personal statement, applied to and accepted a seat in the January 2021 Doctor of Chiropractic program at New York Chiropractic College. Yes, it was extremely fast. But I never second-guessed my decision because that gut feeling came back. This time, instead of screaming no, it was screaming yes.
Let me sum this up for you: I am quitting my career where I was set up for a promotion at the end of the year, moving from St. Louis, Missouri, to Seneca Falls, New York, buying a house with my boyfriend, going back to school full-time and crossing my fingers that the pandemic doesn’t flare up again and send it all crashing down. To lay it all out, the
thing that scares me the most is the unavoidable student loans I’ll have to take out. I’ve barely made a dent in my undergrad loans. Who am I to double them, especially when that was my rationale for not attending medical school? The difference is very clear to me.
The fear that comes with paying my student loans for the next 30 years is nothing compared to the fear of spending the rest of my life not doing something that I love. I would rather pay my loans until the day I die than to spend every day wishing away precious time. If I get to do something that I really love, something that really sets my soul on fire, then the money is just a perk.
Three career myth busters
I want to share with you a few things that I had to tell myself; myth busters if you will:
Let’s take another look at how my list aligns with my life now. I’m closer to my family, living across the street from the lake, learning about how to move the human body in a way that helps other people get healthy and waking up every day excited about what comes next.