I Am Both – Embracing My Unique

Me 2018

Embracing My Unique

I have been both the quiet girl with too much to say and no voice to say it and the girl too loud, who every person stares at even though she is only speaking her mind. I have been the girl smiling shyly and also the girl jumping for joy around the room because her happiness can’t be held in any longer. I just want you to know that I see you. Whichever girl who are, I see you. And I still struggle with deciding which I want to be; because society likes to put us in boxes. You’re either shy or outgoing. You can’t be both. You’re either sad or happy. You can’t be both.

So let me tell you this. Both girl’s are perfect the way they are. And on my best days, I AM BOTH. And while society judges that as wrong, labels it as abnormal and tucks it away out of sight, I say we should wear it proud. Because I am the quiet girl who chooses to hold back, and the next second or minute or day or year, maybe I will be the girl who you can’t get to shut up even if you wanted to. And that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It merely means I can’t choose between the two. And I wouldn’t want to.

I am both. And they both have their perks. For the first fifteen years of my life, I was under the impression that I had to choose. So, I chose to be quiet all of the time. I sat in the background and I listened. And I learned a lot. I learned about people and situations, I learned how to empathize on such a deep level, I learned how to feel everything because I was doing it every second of every day. When you aren’t speaking, you aren’t exhaling your emotions, you feel every single one of them individually. This has been something I’ve kept with me, and I love it about myself. Being quiet and withdrawn, I also learned how to make real friends. People came to me who needed me, who wanted to be heard and knew I would listen – this is a complete feeling of wholeness you can’t understand until you’ve felt it. I loved being the quiet girl. But society didn’t. People would always ask me “why are you so quiet”? They would turn to the people I was with, as if I was incapable of talking at all and ask “Does she ever say anything?” – And then I found my people. I found the people who accepted my quiet, who loved sitting with me and talking about life and love and being – that or not talking at all.

I also love being the loud girl. After graduating from High School and moving away from my hometown, I have had to find a different voice within myself. This one is louder, but she’s thoughtful and still speaks with intent most of the time. But sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes things come out of my mouth that I don’t mean to say, and I love that about me now. I love that I can say anything without fear of looking stupid because I no longer care. I love that I can laugh as loudly as I want now and know that most of the time, people are going to be laughing with me, not at me. It feels amazing to be outwardly happy, loudly happy, and watch what that does to the people in the room. Spreading the emotions I have kept inward for so long is lovely, and seeing people feel them with me is even better. Being able to express to anyone when I am mad or sad or happy, telling people what I want when I want it has opened so many doors for me, and is something the quiet girl in me would have taken much longer to do.

I am both. I invite you to be both. Boxing yourself into one way of living, one way of being, closes so many doors that could be open for you if you just allow them to be. Invite them in. Open your arms. You might find that you love the side of yourself you’ve been shutting out just as much as you love the one you’ve been.

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2018 was a roller coaster…

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2018 is almost over, and for me, this is bittersweet. A lot happened this year. I survived my boyfriends first deployment, that months before had seemed impossible. I quit my job of almost five years and moved four hours away from my family and friends. I moved in with my boyfriend of three years – something we had been talking about for a long time. I learned how to truly love with all of my heart by learning how to be an Aunty to a niece deserving of every world, when I can only give her mine. I got my first apartment and a new job, where I met some really amazing people. I got my first pet – a needy and annoying little orange kitten that I love dearly. I went from part time to full time to part time again at one job, and then picked up a second job doing something I really love, which I’m now making my full time job in just a few short weeks. I got to stand up beside my best friend as she married the love of her life.  2018 was hard, but it was also beautiful. So with 2019 right around the corner, I thought I would take a minute in this busy life to reflect. I’ve never been one for new years resolutions, so instead I am going to look back on the year behind us and think about what I’ve learned. Because the truth is, I have no idea what 2019 holds – but I do know what 2018 held. I encourage you to take a moment to do the same.

1.) I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. This one might seem kind of egotistical and a little bit of a cheat, but it’s true. 2018 tested me. It put me in places I never saw myself being. But I made it even when I didn’t see any way that I could.

2.) I am never truly alone. Again, might seem like a cheat, but this is a big one for me. I have always known I had an amazing support system, but this year it really showed itself. From when my finances were low to when my spirits were, my parents and sisters and friends were there to help in any way they could, when I didn’t expect a thing from them. They dug me out of holes this year that I put myself in and did it without a second thought – reaffirming one thing I already knew – I am surrounded by incredible people.

3.) I am capable of doing so much on my own. Ever since I was little I had always wanted to move away from our small town, the number one reason being that I wanted to prove to myself that I could. And yes, while this year I did have to accept some help here and there, I got two jobs on my own in a state where no one knew me. I have made connections all on my own that will last me hopefully a long time. These things are huge for me.

4.) It is okay to be selfish. I have always cared about others happiness over my own, and this year it nearly drove me to a mental break down. I was getting so stressed trying to please everyone that I was getting sick almost every night, I was barely eating, and I was more depressed than I had been since High School. And then I put myself at the front of the line and all of that faded away. It’s okay to look out for yourself sometimes. In fact, it’s crucial.

5.) I am valuable. This one I will keep short and sweet even if it is perhaps the most important. This year I learned my worth and next year, I intend not to let people take me for granted anymore. I’m not one big on new years resolutions but this is one I think I can keep – 2019 will be the year I say enough is enough to a few people.

6.) My parents will always be my number one’s. No matter who else comes and goes, no matter who else is important to me, they have had my back since day one and continue to do so every single step of the way. I won’t forget that.

7.) While I’m still working on this one, it is a lesson I began to learn this year – it’s okay to accept help from others. It’s always been very hard for me to do this – I’m a very independent person. But if you’re kicking and screaming and working your ass off to get where you want to be and someone offers you a step stool, it’s okay to step up on it.

8.) Last one. I learned not to feel guilty for making my own choices. This one is a work in progress, but one I feel confident about. My choices might not always make others happy, but I can’t feel bad about that.

This year was huge. I learned so much more. From how to love a cat to how to care for a grown human being to how to pay my electricity bill – but these are at the top of my list. So I encourage you to do the same thing. Look back on this year with a warm heart. Look ahead to the new year with an eager one. And remember, just because the calendar changes doesn’t mean you have to – but you can if you want.

Merry Christmas From a New Adult

Christmas this year was not the same. I worked both Christmas Eve and Christmas, the same old giddy feeling I got as a child was missing – but that’s okay. The spark seemed to be gone, and at first, I felt empty – like maybe the Christmas spirit is something you only get to enjoy as a kid, and now, as a new adult, I won’t ever feel it again.

And then Christmas weekend came. My parents drove the four hours down to see me for only two days because they knew it would make me happy. When I drove through the Dunkin Donut’s drive through for coffee Christmas Eve morning, the lady infront of me paid for my coffee. At work, a resident gave me a hug so big I thought I would melt, and told me he loved me simply for giving him a second milkshake when he asked for it.

Maybe I’m not sitting around a Christmas tree with my family at 5 AM, which I miss, but the spark isn’t gone. Christmas for me has never been about presents. I like giving – seeing the excitement on a friend’s face as they open a gift you gave them, getting hugs and kisses, and the warmth family brings. But receiving has never been what it’s about for me. I’m also not super religious – so Christmas for me has always been about the spirit – about everyone caring and giving and being. The spark is still here.

It lives in the Facetime chat with my family this evening where my niece blows me kisses and my grandparents laugh at the funny filters the phone puts on their faces. It lives in the Christmas lights on cars driving down the Highway, and in the stranger who wished me a Merry Christmas this morning in her Santa hat as I walked to my car. It lives in Secret Santa at work where co workers smile knowing someone thought of them.

Christmas is a feeling, and if you open yourself up to it, it’s not a feeling that can just go away. So don’t lose faith. You’re growing up. Things are changing. But that spark you felt as a child, waiting for Santa and being so giddy you couldn’t sleep – that feeling isn’t gone. It’s still there inside of you. It’s just waiting to be coaxed out.

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Happy

Who do you want to be? Adults ask kids this question about ten times a day – growing up and becoming someone is the end goal – kids are expected to know the answer yesterday. But at some point, we stop asking. We take the generic answer of teacher or doctor as good enough, and we stop asking. There’s nothing wrong with these professions. Anybody would be proud to say their child aspired to be these things, but when did we decide to stop asking the questions when we got the right answer? When did we decide to ignore the look in their eyes, and decide their limits have been met before we even really know what those are?

So who do you want to be? The first thing that comes to mind for most is a career. Usually one that makes a difference, something that sparks change. Even if that’s not what we really want to do – we’re sure that’s what everyone wants to hear.

At twenty one years of age, after three years of college and no clue ‘who I want to be’, I started asking myself this question again, picturing middle school me with her whole life a mystery and everywhere in the world to go. I started asking myself again, but this time the answers were different.

I want to be the girl other girls look to for help. I want to be the girl at the bar who you stumble over to when you’ve had one too many to drink and you need someone safe to wait with after you call a cab. I want to be the girl that gives other girl’s confidence to be themselves. I want to be the girl who appears brave even when she isn’t, who seems to know what she’s doing even when she’s lost, and above all else, who loves so strongly, when you hold her, nothing else matters.

I want to be the girl who doesn’t have to limit herself to being one thing – career or otherwise. I want to be the girl who can be everything she ever dreamed of being, all while being the only thing that really matters – happy.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

If I had to Pick a Favorite, It would be Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people in my life. Some people I put there myself. Some people just found their way into my life and never left. Others are just passing through. But each and every one is important to me. Whether they taught me a lesson or were just there for me when I needed someone, each and every one of them played a part in who I am today, and I won’t ever take that for granted.

I tried recently to pick which person was the most important. Your parent’s always tell you not to pick favorites, but I thought it might be a fun experiment for me, and I might learn something along the way. First that came to mind was my mom and then my dad. Pretty equal and both very important to me, I couldn’t choose between the two of them, so it couldn’t be them. And then my sisters, but I ran into the same problem. And then of course was my best friend and boyfriend, but again, I couldn’t choose between the two. And just when I was beginning to think the whole thing was foolish, I realized I had been forgetting the one person who had never left my side, the one person that had stuck with me through it all, who had seen every tear, every smile, had felt every shake and every shudder, and had never left me – myself.

You have to be the most important person in your own life. You have to come first. Some people call this self love. I just call it living.

If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time trying to make other people happy. You probably thank other people for giving you hugs and holding the door open, for going out of their way to put a smile on your face, and while that’s perfectly fine, when was the last time you thanked yourself for waking up in the morning? When was the last time you told yourself how great you are doing? Can you even remember the last time you looked in a mirror and said ‘I love you’?

Recently I put myself at the top of my list. I stopped thinking about what would make the random stranger on the street happy every second of every day, and I started thinking about what would make me happy. There was a time that I wouldn’t stop for a coffee if it meant I would be three minutes late meeting my friend for shopping – now I stop for the coffee.

Life is too short to put every one else above you on the list. Slow down. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Put you first. Be your own favorite person – but don’t tell your mom that you picked a favorite. Laugh more. Stop doubting yourself. You’ve been here through it all – every bump and bruise, and you’ll get through the rest too. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. And you deserve to be your own number one.

When You’re at the Bottom, Look Around

Last week my car broke down and the whole contents of my savings account later I felt at the bottom of a really big mountain with no way back to the top. I had spent months climbing and climbing, only to fall back down with scraped knees and bruised elbows in one big push. In that moment, standing in a foreign driveway, watching my beat up but trusty old car being towed away, I felt incredibly lost for the first time in months.

You see, it’s so easy to feel on top of the world when everything is going your way. But when the unplanned happens, the things that you can’t pencil into your calendar, it’s not so easy to know what the next step is.

When my boyfriend and I were waiting in his car for the tow truck to arrive, after I had called him at almost nine o’clock at night and he had arrived in his PJ’s without a question, his sister offered to bring me food because I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. When I called my parents, in tears and falling apart over a composition of parts and machinery, they helped in every single way they could from hundreds of miles away. When I crawled into bed that night, my car was waiting at a garage to be examined, I knew a bill was about to be placed in my hands that I couldn’t manage, but I had a ride to work the next three days, I had parents who would do anything to make sure I could make ends meet, and I had a boyfriend who would drop anything with just one call saying that I needed him.

You see, it’s easy when you’re on top of the world to feel put together. It’s not so easy when you’ve been knocked down, to feel like you’re going to be okay.

There is no arguing that I am incredibly blessed. With little money, and a car that for a while barely ran, I still have a car. I still have enough money to buy food. I still have friends and family that would do anything for me. When I look at that, it’s hard not to feel on top of the mountain again. It’s easy to feel like you’ve been pushed down. But maybe it was just time for you to look at your life again, and realize that while you’re striving for what you want, maybe what you have isn’t really all that bad.

Find Your Fight

You have a reason to live. I don’t know what it is, and since we are having this conversation, I am willing to bet you don’t know either. But I promise you, there is one. I know you feel like there is no point. Your life has been so dark for so long, and fighting has gotten beyond tiring. Your soul is tired, your body is tired, and giving up is so much easier. Believe me, I get it. But you have fought so hard for so long, giving up would just mean throwing all of that away…wouldn’t it?

So please, listen to me. Sit down, and give me just five minutes of your time.

I need you to find your fight. I know you are tired. I know you have been fighting for what seems like forever. But I need you to find the one reason to never stop fighting. I promise you, you have one. I know you have lost sight of it. But it is there – you just have to find it again.

For me, my fight started off as my parents. When my battle with depression and suicidal thoughts began, I had to search for my fight. And what I found was my parents. They didn’t deserve to lose a daughter. They had given up so much of themselves, so much time, energy and love went into making me – they didn’t deserve to lose all of that. It didn’t matter how much pain I was in – I had no right to put them through it too. I had to fight for them.

My second battle came a couple years later, and this time, though my love for my parents had in no way lessened, my fight wasn’t there anymore. I searched there first, thinking this time it would be easy, because I knew where my fight was hiding. However, depression is never that easy. This time, it took many therapy sessions and medications (that didn’t work for me) to find my fight. And this time my fight was with my sisters. Turns out, they had been keeping it safe for me the whole time. My sisters and I have always been a package deal. You get one, you get all three. We have always had each other’s backs, we have always done everything we can together – you can’t break us up. I had no right to put an end to that without asking them first. And the Lord knows if I had asked, they would have tackled me to the ground and not let me up until I had promised to keep fighting. So I chose to stay. For them. No matter how hard it was, no matter how much it hurt, my little sister didn’t deserve to lose a big sister and my big sister didn’t deserve to lose a little sister.

Now, years later, I thankfully haven’t had another battle yet. But I have already found my fight. My fight lies in the tiny hands of my nearly one year old niece, beautiful blue eyes and tiny body, but amazing soul. My fight lies in the little girl who blows kisses and tickles you, the little girl who gives hugs when she can see you are sad but doesn’t know why. I would do anything for this little girl, anything at all, and that includes finding whatever tiny bit of fight is left inside of me and making it last forever, because fighting for her will always be worth it.

Find your fight. And when you do, use it. Don’t stop fighting. It will be hard. I’m not going to lie and say it will be easy. Even when you have a reason to fight, the fighting doesn’t just magically end. But it will give you a push. And it will be worth it.

-CM

Get Through It

I read an article one time about Ashley Graham, and her use of self affirmations. I loved the idea of it, of waking up and telling yourself the same thing every day until you believe it, and even on the days you don’t want to believe it, but no self affirmation I tried ever felt right. They always felt forced, like I was trying to give myself problems I didn’t really have.

However, over the past couple of weeks, my life has been going through quite a few changes. Work and personal life and all, my life has been up in the air and I have had no idea day to day what was in store for me. I am a planner, so this has been driving me crazy. One day at work, I was walking the halls after a long shift and one sentence kept running through my mind, and ever since, every morning I wake up to these words, and crazily enough, the day gets just a tiny bit easier.

Anything you go through, you can get through.

I encourage you to find a self affirmation that works for you. Something to tell yourself that will help you get through things you don’t feel you can get through. For me, I found my self affirmation after realizing that no matter how scared I have always been for certain situations, I have gotten through 100 percent of every single thing I have tried to this point in my life. And so have you. You are going to be okay. You are going to make it. But you don’t need me to tell you that. Find a way to tell yourself.

Falling In Love Early

I found my soulmate long before I even knew what romance was. Funny isn’t it? You’re just playing in the backyard with a person who laughs at the same things as you, comforting a person who cries when you cry, and all of a sudden you can’t imagine your life without them. I met my soulmate before I could even walk or talk. That’s the thing about a true soulmate. They often aren’t even romantic at all. They’ve seen you through it all. They were the one person who stayed when everyone else left. They believed in you when you didn’t even believe in yourself. They are much more than a best friend. Sure, we can simplify it and call it that, but this bond deserves a title much larger than that. You can’t really know it until you feel it, this connection that crosses boundaries. It’s almost as if you become mind readers. You know what they are going to say before they say it. You know they are in trouble before they call you. You know to message them before your phone even goes off. You can be thousands of miles apart, and you still know the exact moment that they need you. It’s almost supernatural, and that’s why it deserves a much bigger title. Sure, you’ll meet many people you love after them. You’ll fall in love and get married. You’ll have other friends. But your soulmate will always be your soulmate. No one can replace them.

-CM

Advice from the also lost

Tips from a semi-happy twenty one year old on how to live a happier life (read on if you think taking advice from an only semi-functioning semi-adult is a good idea):

1.) Start off your day with a cup of coffee. Or tea, if that’s your thing. Prepare it the way you like, with just the right amount of sweetener and milk, even if your boyfriend judges you as you tip the whole bottle of french vanilla creamer into your mug. While you drink it, watch your favorite program or read your favorite book.

2.) Wake up earlier. Don’t give me that look. I know we all love the extra five minutes the snooze button gives us, but start off by not hitting the button. And then set your alarm for ten minutes earlier, and then half an hour. I try to be up by seven every morning. I go into work at noon most days, and it’s amazing how much more you can achieve if you give yourself just a couple extra hours. What are you really getting from laying in bed tossing and turning anyway?

3.) Keep in touch with your friends and family. Only the ones you want to talk to, I don’t mean you need to daily face time Great Aunt Macy from your dad’s side. But reach out. Call your mom every day if you can, text your sisters, snap chat your best friend. It’s easy to feel lonely and isolated if you are indeed isolating yourself. People want to talk to you. Sometimes they just forget to start the conversation.

4.) Be the bigger person. I don’t mean eat tons of cake, but hey, do that too. There is nothing wrong with a few extra curves. But also, let things go. When something someone says bothers you, if it won’t matter tomorrow, just brush it off. Maybe they are having a bad day, and they unfortunately chose to take it out on you. There’s no need for you to now have a bad day too. Just be the bigger person and let it go.

5.) Wear what makes you comfortable. If six inch heels and a skin tight dress are what makes you happy, wear it. But if sweat pants and a sweater do the trick, wear that instead. There’s no point in impressing people you aren’t going to ever see again, or really even people you see every day. Dress to impress yourself, because at the end of the day, that’s the only opinion that matters.

6.) Purchase some white Christmas lights and put them around your main living space. Just trust me on this one. At night when you switch them on, you will feel so much comfier. You can thank me later.

7.) Smile at children. They don’t know yet that the world sucks. And the smile you get in return will make it suck just a little less for a few minutes.

8.) Do your best and trust that it has to be enough, then move on. Don’t stress the small stuff. It won’t matter in a year anyway.

9.) Eat whatever the heck you want. Simple.

10.) Do whatever the heck you want. Simple. If it doesn’t harm anyone else or yourself, then it shouldn’t matter. Just do it.

Those are my top ten. What are yours? Maybe from a slightly less lost individual, if those even exist.

 

-CM