What would it sound like if someone hit record on a conversation between you and a close friend over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine or matcha or a margarita, depending on your preference)? So much of the Goal Digger Podcast is about coming to the table with a guest to walk through tangible teachings on a pre-determined topic, making sure we hit every point on the list for a training in their area of expertise. My conversation with Candice Kumai is… not like that. And I’m so grateful we went off format for this one.
I was recently in California and had the opportunity to actually sit side by side with my friend Candice, a classically trained chef, former line cook, former TV host, former-model-turned journalist, and now a podcaster herself and best-selling author of seven books. I could just sense that the “interview” we had scheduled for the afternoon would feel different. Listening back, it felt like someone had hit record on a heart to heart between two pals at transitional phases of their lives, and captured all the candid feelings and giggles and tears that come from a good, honest, vulnerable chat.
Sitting in her beautiful Los Angeles home over a cup of a specialty matcha, we poured into each other on the topics of success, why women can be so hard on themselves, the struggle to see yourself through the eyes of people who love you, and so much more. Slide up a chair and join us at the table.
Waiting to arrive
Candice is one of the most talented people I personally have ever met or experienced. She is this multi-passionate soul and her love runs so deep for so many things, yet despite her many successes and achievements, she is so incredibly hard on herself. When we sat down to chat, I got curious about what it would take for her to believe in herself and to see herself the way the rest of the world sees her. Candice told me, “When you have immigrant parents, they do not tell you that you’re doing a great job unless it’s once a decade. So, you know, that’s okay. But I think that is where, when we ask, ‘why haven’t you realized that you’ve arrived?’ You’ve been at the door. The door’s been open. You’ve walked through the door 10 times. When will the time come?”
Candice has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is, creating windows for herself when no doors would open. But as she checked off each goal she set for herself, she discovered that the fulfillment she thought she would feel just wasn’t there, and that adding even more goals to her list wasn’t going to make it happen. Candice reflects, “I’ve come to find that even though I’ve gotten a lot of what I wanted, like we talked about, it just wasn’t enough. And so where can I let go of that always constant filling of my cup?”
What do you want success to feel like?
Seeing ourselves the way the world sees us can feel like an impossible feat, but I think part of the disconnect comes from putting too much focus on what success will look like and not enough on how it will feel when we have it. Like Candice and many of you out there, I’ve had so many moments in my life where I thought they would feel different, only to arrive and realize, “oh, this is not what I thought,” or, “this is not what I want,” or, “this is not what I should have been after.” Sometimes it takes reaching our goals to realize that the achievements we thought would bring us that elusive feeling of “enough” are just distractions, and that what we’re actually looking for –love, safety, fulfillment, belonging, inner peace– doesn’t come from external sources.
About this subject, Candice recalls telling herself, “Even if you did go out and buy that dream house, you would be sitting there in your bikini writing your next book and you wouldn’t even be happy inside.” This need to always be reaching for more is ingrained in so many of us, but our conversation was a wonderful reminder that achievement alone is not enough, and that figuring out how to come home to ourselves is the only way to find that peace within.
A look ahead at the next decade
Most women will probably disagree with me on this one, but I’m a firm believer that aging is beautiful. With every passing year, we gain this sense of hindsight and perspective through our experiences that allows us to grow and evolve, so with Candice preparing to step into another decade of life, I wanted to know what thoughts and emotions are coming up for her as she looks ahead. She told me, “The one thing that I wish the most above all I’ve always said, I would like to gain more merit. I don’t care about followers, I don’t care about money. Merit and respect would be the great things to take with me to the grave. And I would love to find that place of peace where I say, ‘I think I have made it. And I think I see what everybody has seen for so long.’”
Candice goes on, “Maybe the belief system and the expectations and the numbers game, the metrics, like all the beliefs that we’re supposed to sit in front of a Shark Tank and present and say, ‘am I good enough?’ Like maybe that’s all just something to learn to let go of in 40 to 50, because what’s the point? I’d be on a treadmill for the rest of my life.”
In a day and age where “more” can always be achieved, you’re never going to reach that imaginary final destination; at some point, you just have to decide to get off the treadmill.
MORE FROM CANDICE KUMAI
It’s always a treat to be able to sit down with my friend Candice Kumai and get vulnerable about life together, press play on this episode to hear our full conversation. Connect with Candice on Instagram @Candicekumai and visit her website candicekumai.com to find delicious recipes and inspiration. You can also check out her two books, Kintsugi Wellness and Clean Green Eats, and listen to her podcast, Wabi Sabi.