Stranger 22, Day 22 – Meet Carling, the “Ecstatic Wellness Enthusiast”

Stranger 22, Day 22 - Meet Carling

I’m talking to my buddy at Starbucks while also wondering who was going to be the “Stranger of the Day”. As I’m looking around, I notice someone across the room, but this meant I had to interrupt her… studying or work. I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but I knew there weren’t that many people there. But only seconds later, did this chick wave at me. I was a little shocked — “I’ve been found!” — and wondering what I did… turns out, I kinda met her last weekend. She was here with a friend talking about blogging — one of the key words my ears listen for. So we met briefly, but I didn’t know her. (If you couldn’t already tell because I didn’t recognize her very well when she waved the first time.)

Anyways, so I met her, but only briefly. And this is where my Rules for Engagement come in (which I should document sometime soon) — I really didn’t know her. I didn’t know how old she was, who she was, what her passions and dreams were… she was Stranger. So I approached her, and this is the start of getting to know today’s Stranger…

Meet Carling, 24

Who are you?

“I am a student and I was born in Canada — St. Catherines in Ontario — and parents moved to Charlotte, NC. I have now lived in Atlanta for 3 years. I’m going to Georgia State. I’m studying psychology, and I’m working on an online health-coaching certificate — that’s I’m half-way through.”

Carling is smiling pretty big as we start this. I’ve had some pretty happy and excited Strangers in the past, but Carling’s probably the most excited. This, in turn, makes me more excited.

“I’m one of seven kids. Number 3 (from the top)…” I was wondering if people ever say start from the bottom. We laugh as we both say, “now we’re here”. She’s kinda nerdy like me.

I love psychology, so my next question was pretty simple — Why psychology?

“I just love people and knowing how they work and myself… how I can improve myself. I feel psychology plays a lot in that.”

What are your hopes and dreams for Psychology? Or even beyond?

“I originally wanted to be an academic adviser for freshman. I was an exercise science major, and I wanted to do PT. But it was only because when I was 18, you have to decide what you want to do. I ran track in high school, so I wanted to be a physical therapist. Half-way through, I shadowed at a PT office, and I hated it. So I that’s when I wanted to be that filter for that 18-year-old who says, ‘I want to do exercise’, because no one ever asked, ‘why do you want to do that?’ No one ever asked, ‘why do you want to do that?’ No one ever stopped me and asked me, ‘are you sure? Go shadow before you make that decision.’ So I was like, ‘I want to do that!’ but you have to have a Masters to do that. So I have to do an undergrad for that anyways, so I chose psychology.”

“I finished up in May, but I’m going to take a year to figure that out. I’m not going to jump into grad school because I’m learning more about different paths. And I’m actually more interested now in the holistic health — eating and fueling your body.”

What do you think is key to being healthy? What does being healthy mean?

“Being healthy is about… feeling your body and your… soul — for the recording, I put that in quotations.” Haha, I just wanted to include exactly what she said.

“That’s eating plant-based vegetables… organic when you can, but also healthy relationships and positive thinking, and time for yourself.”

I asked her if I was healthy because I ate things that ate the vegetables, and she was okay with that. #win

What else are your passions?

“I really like learning. Sewing? I really like sewing — or creating!” She very excitedly shared how she just sewed an apron with chili peppers on it. “I’m super excited about it.”

Carling shared with me her go-to when it comes to cooking — anything Mexican. “Rice beans or anything with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.” Then, she added salads were very important to her.

… and she quickly mentioned how she really liked Shake Shack down the street. I have to reiterate how she’s laughing a lot about all this. She’s having a ton of fun with this meeting, and it really shows. She’s got a highly energetic and infectious enthusiasm about her.

What do you like about Atlanta? Or do you not?

“I do like Atlanta now. When I moved here, I was living in an old house with a couple girls. Definitely different, but the last couple years, I’ve put an emphasis on creating friendships and exploring the city, so I definitely like it better now.”

She shares some advice for new residents who know very few people here: “Download the app Meetup.” She admits, “You have to put effort in. You have to cultivate those relationships and put effort in. Be patient and it pays off.”

As I said, I did meet Carling before, but very briefly. She was talking to a friend about blogging, so I asked her about that.

“My blog is just about things I’m learning through all the healthy stuff. I would read stuff and share it with my roommates, my two best friends, but they eventually got tired of hearing me say, ‘oh, that shampoo has a lot of chemicals. Shouldn’t use it.’ So I figured I’d find an audience who wanted to learn about this stuff.” WHAT?! Friends didn’t want to always hear about the best shampoos?! Haha, she’s laughing again.

I’ve run into a lot of people who want to write, but don’t. Many lament how they believed no one would want to hear what they had to say. So curious, I asked Carling how she found her voice.

“I’ve always journaled, so I’ve always written. To find my specific voice, I used to do write DIY and self-help, but it just naturally happened where I found myself enjoying the health aspect more. So I went with what I felt was more enjoyable. Punching in recipes was not — felt like work. Whereas the information and sharing the knowledge was where I woke up — ‘oh, I really want to share this’, so I just started to listen more to myself. I found my voice by listening more to myself. You have to pay attention to where you feel alive.”

“I found myself to listening to myself.” — it seemed like a revelation.

Have you had a Life-Defining Moment?

“I was living in Atlanta, and I wasn’t in school at the time because I was still trying to figure out what I was trying to do. I bought a $2000 industrial sewing machine. I was going to sew leather bags, not knowing how to use an industrial sewing machine or how to sew leather. So I got the sewing machine — super pumped. It was my third time trying to use it, and I couldn’t get it to sew anymore. And this time, I’m still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life school-wise. And the day it wasn’t stitching. I was home alone. I couldn’t get it. I Googled. I called. I remember being there, and I just started crying because I was like, ‘oh my God, I can’t get this. I’m never going to be able to do this. This isn’t going to work.’ I just got so pissed at the machine, and that when I was like, ‘I have to go back to school.’ I really put effort into actually figuring out what I wanted to do. Thinking about it, and taking off the time limit I put on myself.”

She shared with me about the “time limit”. She shared how she was 23, and she needed to get out of school at some point. Then she needed to get married. It was, to me, “the template”. She wanted to get out of that track. She figured out what she wanted to do.

But after this moment, she got into Georgia State and shares how she’s so much happier now.

I was curious how she decided to buy $2000 toward a sewing machine out of… anything and everything else out there. She admits she was just very impulsive and how she had some “optimism bias” — a mindset how she could achieve something where others couldn’t.

Note: She sold the sewing machine for $900 six months later.

What’s a Life Lesson you want to share?

She told me she needed to think about this, but took only 2 seconds before returning back to me.

Carling shared how she “got out of a 3-year relationship a few months ago.” Her lesson: “You have to be completely… only you can fulfill yourself. Going into anything in life, relationships or encounters with people or work, you have to be 100% of yourself… you have to come from a place of ‘I am secure in who I am by myself’, and then you take that into other things.”

“It’s not an ‘another-half’ kind of thing. You are you, and you bring that into the encounter.”

Carling told me how she really relied on the network of her best friend and her boyfriend, especially, when she first moved to Atlanta instead of creating her own network. I understood this as her needing to keep and expand her own identity in a new city.

Studying psychology, what do you think is a good way for others to connect with… others? How can we better connect with others?

“A… genuinely, and it’s sometimes hard to remove the fear of, ‘what is someone going to think of me’ or ‘how do I come across’, but that just ties into what I said before about being 100% — being complete in yourself, you can come into encountering others from a confident place. Just being yourself.”

“… being open.” I ask her if she means being vulnerable. “Yes… and being open to this. Maybe I would’ve said no four months ago. Now, we’re sitting here, and I’m enjoying it.”

“… just being in the moment. Don’t really focus on ‘where is this going to go’ or ‘do I have the time for this’ or ‘I have all these things in my head that I’m thinking about’. Actively listening, and not focusing on what you’re going to say next because they just said something. Just listening and being there.”

So… Be genuine. Be open. Be in the moment.” Check!

What makes you happy? (Thanks to Jordan, Stranger 21)

Carling thinks about this… “From a physical sense, listening to a great song, walking outside on a beautiful day… that makes me happy.”

“On a meta-physical sense, being around people who you know, who know you, and who you love. And just sharing laughter with them. That’s something that makes me so happy.”

Though, I was curious because she seemed pretty happy despite knowing very little about me.

“… in a broad sense! Positive interactions with people make me happy!” Haha, good update. 🙂

She adds before moving on, “being productive makes me happy.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

She thought about this question for a while.

“What are you doing when you feel most alive?” (Something on the daily…)

After the handshake.

So this was actually my longest meeting. I think it was just a testament to Carling’s energy and our connection/ her openness. She was super excited from the get-go to share her story. I mentioned her laughing and smiling throughout, but what I didn’t share was how animated she was. Like Sandrika early on, Carling was very animated. She just has a lot of energy, and you can’t help but be happy around her.

I definitely appreciated lots of points of our talk. Specifically, I appreciated her recognition in the effort it takes to connect with others. It’s not easy to connect with others sometimes, and this is even true of the friendships we all have. Relationships (in any form) take energy and commitment.

Also, I was curious of Carling’s points on how to connect with others. I love psychology, and given her studying and her own natural ability to connect, I was curious. I don’t really have much to add or augment to Carling’s key tenets, but I would say being open BOTH ways is important. At first, when I heard Carling, I was thinking about what was important for me to be with others in being “open” about myself. But the key, I think, is being open for others to be themselves.


Great stuff, and I’m excited to learn more about her healthy blogging… even if there’s a fair bit of veggie blogs in there.

So meet Carling. No longer a Stranger.

2 replies
  1. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    Aww Carling is my sister and you captured her perfectly with your words! I can see exactly who she is and how she is replying to you. We live far away and I miss her. Thank you for this!


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