When Nicola Small graduated from UNB and completed her fifth year on the women’s soccer team, she felt like she lost her identity. Starting RYP Naturals with her sister helped her re-define identity and find herself again.
This is herStory.
MEET NICOLA SMALL, CO-FOUNDER OF RYP NATURALS
Identity: “the fact of being who or what a person is”
Beginning my journey on the East Coast to play for the UNB Women’s Soccer team made me a female soccer player. I embodied this identity with pride, passion, commitment, hard work, and along with it brought good times, hard times, successes and growing up with my best friends and teammates.
Monday to Friday: go to class, go to practice, go home to cook dinner in the house you live in with your four other teammates/classmates/best friends, and repeat.
Weekends: game time. Travel, play your heart out for the team you love all weekend long, come home, Sunday Funday, and repeat.
Life was easy when your schedule was given to you. All you had to do was essentially show up, be your best self, never give up, and be there for yourself and your team. It was easy because we were female soccer players, we loved it, and it was our job.
Fifth year hit me like a bus. Suddenly it was my final game. Handing in my jersey felt like I was giving up a part of me. Just like that, my identity was gone, or so it felt. Now what? Searching for a change, myself and two other friends, moved to Halifax. I got a 9-5 job, that I loved, but it was a “filler” job for whatever was coming next. It was not the end goal.
My entire family was on the West Coast, I no longer had scheduled workouts, meals, hangouts with my best friends, or Sunday Fundays. Reality hit, and it hit hard.
Unfortunately, the feeling of losing my identity took a toll on my mental health, and although I had loving friends and family who cared for me, I was stuck. I wasn’t eating, I was unaware of the drastic weight loss, I was anxious, I lied to myself that I was happy, and I lied to others about it too.
The actual definition of anxiety is “the anticipation of a future concern”. What could I be concerned about if I didn’t know what the future held? And that was exactly it. I needed a direction, I needed to re-create my identity.
Lying in bed in Halifax, alone, on a Sunday night with the usual Sunday Scaries taking over, I called my sister. We talked, and have been talking, about both of us feeling stuck. We wanted to find a new direction, an identity. It was around this time we decided to make a change, we wanted to Reach Our Peak potential.
We created RYP Naturals, also known as Reach Your Peak. North of 49 Naturals, our family-owned manufacturing facility established 20+ years ago, helped make this dream a reality. We take the surplus fruits and vegetables from local farms, that would have otherwise been thrown to waste, and dry and dehydrate them into a powder.
At RYP Naturals, we sell all-natural, consumer-ready fruits and vegetables in the powdered form, along with pet supplements and plant-based protein powders, in the hopes of reducing the food waste across North America and improving the convenience and cost of healthy eating and living.
RYP Naturals helped and continues to help both of us fulfill our identity of living a sustainable lifestyle, eating and living with balance, loving yourself, supporting local, and working with family. We make it our mission to practice what we preach. We hope that you too can Reach Your Peak potential, whether that be reaching your daily fitness, nutrition, or lifestyle goals.
Identity (Re-Defined): “encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self”
It was throughout this journey that I came to realize the real definition of identity. The memories I made as a female soccer player have shaped me into the person I am today. I made friendships that will last a lifetime because of the sport. It was this journey that led me to working as an Occupational Therapist in Mental Health. It was this journey that led me to grow my own brand with my sister that embodies our values of health, sustainability, happiness, and family.
For those of you who have also felt lost after changing phases of life, it’s scary, but normal. You never truly lose your identity. I still identify as a female soccer player because I hold those memories, experiences, relationships, and values close to my heart.