Sheena Pradhan wears many hats and she rocks all of them. Nutritionist, model, writer, Miss USA contestant…and that merely scratches the surface of her wide range of experience. Sheena Pradhan has tried her hand (and succeeded) in just about everything from health to acting to fashion, learning something new and valuable from each endeavor. Sheena’s following essay lends us advice we can all apply to our lives. Pursue whatever you’re passionate about, Sheena implores. Trust her, you can’t be disappointed if you strive towards something…maybe everything, you love.
“My Life as a Professional Multitasker”
I never thought my love of so many things would come in handy. In fact, I never saw it as a love for many things. Yes, I have always had many interests. But I always thought I would end up working as a buyer for a big fashion brand, like Nordstrom or Burberry.
When I was a senior in high school, I decided that if I couldn’t decide on a type of art and design to major in, then architecture would be a safe choice. Plus, I always wanted to flip houses. I attended architecture school for two trimesters at Drexel University. Then truly wanting and needing time off from school, I stayed in school and heeded to my parents’ advice.
I ended up choosing to major in nutrition because I loved eating healthy and exercising. I was enthralled by my nutrition class during my sophomore year of college and had been thinking about physical therapy school, so it seemed like a safe choice.
I’m not one of those people that “hated” my first career and just did it because of my parents. I was not forced to go to med school. I also didn’t go to school for nutrition so I could work in a hospital. To my parents’ chagrin, I never wanted to work in a hospital. However, when I got into the real world and was actually working in nutrition, I ended up working at health clinics and hospitals… like a perfect Indian girl.
But it wasn’t me. I needed to be in some kind of creative atmosphere.
A few years later, when I finally made the leap into working in fashion, I thought I would want to dive in headfirst and get a job as an assistant buyer for a big brand.
But something was stopping me. I’d been modeling and competing in pageants on the side for the past three years and wanted to keep modeling. I also still wanted to try acting in film and TV. However, I hadn’t been able to go on all the auditions I wanted to over the past couple of years due to my full-time nutrition job. I didn’t want to let another full-time job hinder my acting and modeling career.
As I made the decision to leave my nutrition job, I did not leave it to start a new, full-time job in the fashion industry. I left it to act and model. While beginning to put more energy into acting and modeling, I was also freelancing for a few different fashion brands working in sales, marketing, operations, and production. I was getting to see every aspect of the fashion industry from the design side.
During the first couple months of my new life, I didn’t get a lot of acting and modeling work, but my fashion work was steady. I went in and out of feeling bitter about the modeling and acting world, as I sometimes had work and sometimes did not. It was time to focus on working in fashion.
I started applying to fashion jobs and got accepted into a fashion merchandising program at FIT all in the span of a couple of weeks. The following week, I had an acting gig and a modeling gig back to back and was back to the acting-modeling high again. However, one thing changed. After those two acting/modeling gigs, I knew I couldn’t give up on acting and modeling.
A few weeks later, I signed up to participate in a contest called #FindingMiss52 for a chance to compete in the Miss USA pageant. I made the Top 25 and had three days to submit a video and sit for an assigned interview time slot. So, I hustled to get all of it done in marvelous time and colors.
I waited for my call from the Miss USA organization to inform me that I made the Top 10.
A call never came.
The next day, the news was out and it was official. I did not end up making the Top 10.
During the previous three days, the amount of energy that I exerted for the one singular goal of competing at Miss USA reinvigorated me and reminded me what it takes to make me feel alive. It was the pageant life that made me come alive. It’s the thrill of competition, hustling to be the most poised and best on stage. It’s the same concept as being any type of entertainer and I loved it.
I was starting to let go of my childhood dream of becoming a fashion buyer because that dream was starting to change.
The hard part about letting that dream go was that I still loved what goes on behind the scenes: the marketing, the writing, and the fashion. Those are all still things I love. I even still love nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What I’m realizing is that it might be possible to do all of those things at once.
I am a freelance writer. What if I had more freelance writing gigs?
I got hired as a social media manager working for equity. What if I got a position working in marketing as a freelancer for pay?
I booked a couple nutrition and styling appointments for the summer. What if I got an agent for my styling appointments? What if I renewed my Registered-Dietitian license and stayed on the databases for insurance companies?
Was it possible for me to make money through all these avenues as a freelancer?
I’m just starting to realize that freelancing and doing everything I love may be my new dream. It started to feel constraining to have a career for a single company with a singular goal of becoming a merchandising executive.
I want to be an actress, model, writer, content creator, stylist, and nutritionist. I already am all of those things, so why not use that to make a living?