I Am So Sorry

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I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry this cruel world lied to you. I am sorry you have been kept in the dark, force fed fairy tales and romance since the day you started dreaming. I am sorry you were convinced your dreams were too big – they handed you heartbreak and fear and told you that was life – live with it. I am sorry you believed them.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to reach you sooner. You fought their words for so long, pushing back with a sharpened tongue and soft heart – I can see your battle scars. But eventually they wore you down. The lies snaked into your ears and began to take root in your mind and grow – you began to shrink to fit the world’s picture of yourself. You wanted castles and an empire built on blood and sweat and they told you a girl like you would never make it on your own. Each time you took a step forward, they pushed you two steps back, until you decided you had had enough.

So here we are. You’re giving up. Who could blame you really? You were told you could do anything, you could be anything, but when your anything became too big, you were shut down. You were stomped on and spit at – you were told to sit down, shut up, go back to the kitchen. You were told little girls don’t achieve big things. I wouldn’t blame you if you threw in the towel right here and now. I would hold your hand as you walked about, and yes, you would have a beautiful life. I am sure of that. And you would be happy for a while. Until that little girl inched her way back to you, crawling on hands and knees and looked up into your eyes and asked – ‘why did you give up on me’?

Hear me out.

I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry you think giving up is your only option. I am sorry quitter has become synonymous with successful. 

I am sorry I did not find you sooner – I am sorry you now believe it’s too late – it’s not. The cliche truth is, it’s never too late. Not now, not tomorrow, not until your heart stops beating is it too late to start over and start reaching again. It’s really not that complicated. So they told you that you weren’t enough – now’s your chance to show them that you are. They told you little girls with big dreams don’t make it that far – now is your chance to show that them little girls grow up to be woman with fire in their stomachs and ideas larger than sky scrapers and not even the strongest army can hold back a woman with motive.

I am so, so sorry for everyone who ever doubted you – because now is your time to prove every single one of them wrong. I can only imagine how they are going to feel when you reach for your dream one last time and end up going farther than the top – I can only imagine how sad they will be, how angry, that they didn’t back you. They will all say ‘I always knew she could do it.’

Smile. Shake their hands. Turn around. Look back and say –

I am so, so sorry. But the only one who knew I could do it was myself, and even that was iffy.

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Remembering Yourself: A Guide

Opening up Facebook this morning – this generations version of the morning paper – the first post I scrawled across: How To Be A Good Woman. Curious as to what tips this random stranger might have for me and what ‘being a good woman’ actually looks like, I opened the article and felt my jaw drop more and more the farther down I scrolled. Tip One was basically a lesson plan on how to impress the man in your life. Tip Two was all about putting your children first. And the article continued, painting a picture of what society evidently views as a good woman: Beautiful, intelligent, put together, focused, putting others first, ect.

I felt like I was watching one of those movies where the popular girls transform the class nerd into a beautiful princess by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. As I always wondered when watching these movies, I began to wonder now: What was wrong with her before? Society has us convinced that to be a good woman we have to look and act the right way. We have to say the right things and wear the right clothes. Our hair has to be perfectly styled. We have to be amazing mom’s every second and great friends at every chance we get. We have to be perfect. Every minute of every day.

I say to hell with that theory.

Being a good woman starts with remembering yourself. It starts with wearing the clothes that make you comfortable and doing the things that make you happy. Being a good woman has nothing to do with how you treat others, and everything to do with how you treat yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying to treat everyone around you like scum and think you can get away with it. I’m saying that the one person we all spend the most time with is ourselves; shouldn’t we be our biggest priority?

Remember yourself when you go the grocery store. Buy the box of donuts you’ve been eyeing for days. Remember yourself at night after you’ve tucked the kids in. Take a hot bath or read a good book or do both. Remember yourself when that guy asks you to come over. Think about if you really want to or if you’re just trying to impress him. Remember yourself when your best friend asks you out for coffee before you say yes. Do you really want to meet her, or would you rather take the few spare minutes you have in your day for a little me time?

A good woman isn’t perfect. She is flawed. She is struggling. But she is trying. A good woman makes steps every day to be the best version of herself. And some days she takes two steps backwards instead of one step forward. But that’s okay. A good woman gets up and tries again tomorrow anyway.

Here’s to all the great woman out there – forget society and remember yourself. You are perfect just the way you are (cliche for a reason).

 

Be That Girl

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Be that girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl you always stare a little longer at. The one you always listen to a little harder, because every word sounds like poetry. The girl who walks with a confidence so loud, the rest of the world goes quiet to breath her in. You know her – we all do. The girl who holds her head high and smiles at strangers. The one who stops to ask you what’s wrong when she sees you crying on the park bench and everyone else just passed by.

Be her. Be the girl who stops for squirrels crossing the road and swerves slightly when her head lights catch a toad in their gleam. Be the girl who stands up when she sees injustice and sits down when someone already has it handled. The girl who walks into the room and wonders not who noticed her, but who she can make feel noticed.

You think it’s hard, I know. You see her walk in and you ask yourself ‘how does one person manage to be so put together all of the time?’ And your answer is, she isn’t. She’s broken a little on the inside too, I promise. We all are. The best of us have cracks and dents we aren’t sure how to fix. The girl you so desperately want to be still sits behind closed doors and sometimes even open ones, and wonders why she isn’t enough. She still has days on which nothing seems to be going right, but she still gets up. She still smiles and walks out the door with her best foot forward, and when she sees you on that park bench, she still asks you if you’re okay.

Be that girl. The world needs more of that girl. The world needs more kindness, more compassion, more desire to lend a helping hand. So be her. Set aside your doubts and your questions and just be her.

So often we spend so much of our lives watching other people and wondering how they managed to be so amazing, but we do nothing to achieve the same level of ‘amazingness’ – I know I am guilty of doing just that. And the beauty is that we often fail to realize – we don’t have to change ourselves completely to be that girl. If you want to, by all means, reinvent yourself every day until the girl you see in the mirror is the girl you love, and then change her again just because this is your life and you can. But if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious today, start by smiling at the first stranger you meet. I promise you’ll see that girl smiling back at you.

Finding My Moment With Betty And Joe

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Recently I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone in regards to how I use my free time. Falling into a routine of wake up, eat breakfast, binge watch Netflix, take a shower, dress, and go to work for eight hours is comfortable but not productive or entertaining. Being the introverted little nugget that I am, baby steps are needed here – but the task will get done.

I go through phases when it comes to my physical activity. I used to go to the gym basically every day, and while I saw results in my appearance, I didn’t love going. This isn’t to bash gym goers or say there is anything wrong with it – more power to you. It just wasn’t exactly for me. So instead, I now keep to a routine of at home workouts that give me the same results. However, I was lacking the cardio I so crave. In High School, I ran Cross Country and after graduating, kept at it with the gym on the treadmill or bike. Now, missing the peace moving gave me, I was on the hunt for something different.

I found this boardwalk in the town I recently started working in (picture above) that is quiet and conveniently only five minutes from my job. So now, instead of watching one more episode of New Girl that I have already watched at least five times, I get up and leave an hour early, coffee in one hand and water in the other. Some days I opt to keep my head phones in as I walk or jog down the boardwalk, listening to music and avoiding as much eye contact as possible. On other days, I keep my head up and ears clear and I smile and wave to each person I pass.

If you’ve kept with me to this point, today was a head phone kind of day. My soul was tired, but I knew an extra long walk was just what I needed. So I charged my phone to full battery, and left two hours early instead of one. I bundled up in hat, coat, and scarf, pushed my head phones into my ears, and began my walk.

Immediately, I begin to feel lighter. And today, the people feel different. Even with my head phones in, people are still smiling, waving, even saying hi as they pass me. And I’m reminded why stepping out of my comfort zone and adding new routines to my day is good for me.

When I pass a bench labeled “Betty and Joe’s Lucky spot”, I feel inclined to sit down and take a break, even though my legs aren’t tired and I don’t need to rest. Maybe my mind does. Maybe my soul does. So I allow it to. And sitting here with my view of the ocean, the waves gently lapping the rocks, smiling faces passing me in the chilly breeze, I do indeed feel lucky. This week has been hard, I’ve found it harder to smile and breathing hasn’t come as easily, but right now in this moment, I feel pretty damn lucky.

I encourage you to move. Get up and move. Dance, walk, run, leap, for heaven’s sake go into your yard or parking lot and just scream as you run in circles with your arms spread. People might look at you funny wondering what’s gotten into you, but I promise you, even if just for a moment, you will feel better. And sometimes a moment is all we need to convince us to keep going.

Break your routine. Add something fun. It doesn’t have to be big or exciting or even out of the box. Just find your moment. You deserve it.

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.

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.