I turn 24 in 6 days. Mid-twenties. I hope this age will look good on me, that by the time I reach a quarter century old, I’m proud of the woman I’ve grown to be.
Growing up (for me at least) is hard. I think that I make it look like I have my shit together more than I actually do. And I mean, when I think about it, I pretty much do have my shit together, but that’s never how it feels. How it feels is that I’m one paycheck, anxiety attack, bender away from dropping the ball and making a mess of everything. I doubt myself a lot and let myself feel increasingly petrified that I have no idea what I’m doing and it’s only a matter of time before everything catches up to me.
So, what does growing up mean? Am I “there” yet? Is it defined by an earlier bed time, more managed bank account, Big Girl apartment? Because if so, then not so much. With all our freedoms and choices, how much does growing up have to do with a lifestyle versus a mentality; choices versus an outlook?
Growing up for me has meant realizing that priorities come in all different shapes and sizes, you may not understand other people’s but they are the most important thing to set for yourself if you want a gratifying life. Growing up has meant learning to sit with the uncomfortable, the uncertain and try desperately to tackle my anxiety instead of just being stunted by it. It has meant no one is there to stop me from closing the bar on a Tuesday, but no one will also be there in the morning to help get my ass out of bed and to work. Growing up has meant coming to terms with my pace in life and (working on) putting an end to the constant comparison to other people’s lives. Growing up has meant self acceptance while also picking out the not so pretty parts of my character, the ones I don’t want to be defined by and making a true effort to change them. Growing up has meant crying. A lot. Growing up has meant learning from the past and making peace with it.
Growing up has meant that some days I forget all of these things and throw myself a Pity Palooza.
Growing up means some days I will feel it and some days I will have to fake it, but I need to show up anyway.
Growing up means living for the small things while never forgetting to marvel at the bigger picture. The Discovery Channel helps me with this one a lot.
Growing up means making a shit load of plans. And managing to be adaptable when the Universe laughs at those plans.
Overall, I have witnessed that growing up means trying your best, putting in a lot of effort that may or may not go unnoticed and taking a lot of risks that may or may not work out in your favor. Growing up means you shouldn’t keep score, but you should pay attention.
Growing up means you can pick your own friends, budget and food but should keep in mind those choices can help make or break your health. You reap the rewards or consequences of what you put in to your life.
Growing up means you don’t have to have it all figured out, no one has it ALL figured out. Sometimes you are going to be scared and lonely and feel misunderstood. You are going to have answerless questions and make mistakes and feel like you are so overwhelmed you can’t breathe, but that’s when you show up anyways, listen to your gut, let people in, tell someone you fucking love them, ask for a damn hug, eat your favorite food and realize the older you get, the more time feels increasingly fleeting and you more than anyone have control over your happiness.
“Life Advice I’m Probably Not Worthy of Giving” was the original title of this post until I said, you know, fuck that. I retract that statement. Everyone who has ever lived has learned some important ass, noteworthy shit. This is mine.
Write down brilliant, funny, inspirational quotes. Frame them, make a bulletin board collage of them, write them on a mirror, post them somewhere, ANYWHERE, where you will see them everyday and be reminded of how downright beautiful things always have the potential to be.
Read more than you write and way fucking more than you watch TV.
People (especially in CT) are fucking rude. Smile at them anyways.
Crossing To-Do lists off in (pink!) highlighter makes actually doing the items a little more fun. Allow yourself the freedom to make any annoying task a little more fun.
Email people you admire, even if you’ve never talked to them before. Tell them exactly why they are wonderful.
Music is a heal-all. Creedence on Pandora can turn even the worst days around.
Friends drift. Make peace with that and when your paths do cross again, meet them with warmth instead of bitterness.
Wear only lipstick and underwear while you clean.
Return your library books, fill out your FASFA, make the appointment. Basically, just DO all the little avoidances you have shoved in the back of your mind. After you are done kicking yourself for putting off doing the SIMPLEST THING ON THE PLANET, you will feel like a million bucks.
Give your parents the benefit of the doubt. That being said, recognize your right to be your own person with your own opinions and what is right for them is not always best for you.
Share the wealth. Don’t hoard pretty, fun things you find out about. Tell people about the sale, the new found band, the make-up trick.
Leave people happy they were with you.
Don’t ever stop learning, examining and questioning yourself. Accept that judgments and biases are a part of who we are as humans but don’t be afraid to ask why you feel certain ways about certain things. We all have the tendency at one point or another to judge a book by its cover- take the time to re-evaluate.
Give people more chances then they sometimes deserve. This may burn you from time to time, but it is also a path to learning forgiveness and compassion.
When you need that second (or ninth) chance and people give it to you, appreciate it.
If you need to go out and do something downright silly in order to learn the lesson, by all means, but then? Actually learn the fucking lesson.
Push yourself. Find things that make you feel drunk with ambition and don’t let them out of your sight.
Greetings can be awkward. Be the one to go in for the hug.
Learn things. Ask for help. Help others.
Hold the door. For fucks sake, have some manners and say please and thank you, even to the salty bitch at Dunkin Donuts.
Don’t define yourself or anyone else by who they were in high school (or any one period of their life for that matter).
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want- at a restaurant, at your job, in bed, IN LIFE- people are not mind readers.
Show appreciation for your freedom, your home, your five dollar chai lattes, your education, something Every. Single. Day.
Stop focusing on the areas of your body you despise and concentrate on your love for your perky boobs or unique smile or curly hair.
Eat delicious food every day.
When it truly matters, get on your soapbox and don’t be afraid to speak your brain.
Listen when people tell you things. Actually, truly hear them.
Drink so much water you pee like a pregnant lady, take your vitamins and use big girl face cream.
Take your own advice.
Be kind to people in pain.
Send thank you cards and say meaningful things in them.
Don’t keep score in relationships.
Kiss hello, goodbye and as much as you damn well please in between.
Last year, the manufacturing company I work for switched ERP systems and I was chosen (whoopdidoo) as a member of the “Core Team” responsible for learning the system, making decisions, following through with the test pilots that served as trials for those decisions and then training the rest of the employees when our work was done. I remember the first two days of that training it took everything in me not to pull my hair out. Children could have bathed for weeks in the tears I felt like crying. Eventually though, I dove in and started playing until something clicked. Fast forward 11 months, now that I am training the woman who will replace me, I realize I somehow became the go-to girl for when questions needing answers or when people need to learn the ropes of the system. It’s a little baffling to think just how many tasks I do in a normal day without so much as batting an eyelash. What I originally deemed impossible has become second nature.
They say (who is they? I dunno, researchers? Google that shit) that different people have different learning styles, that some people learn best by reading, some by viewing. Well kids, I’m a do-er. I learn and retain best when I read or am taught to do something but then also have the chance to actually do it. In order to grasp something, I need to wade in and test the waters myself or I will inevitably sink before I learn to swim. This little nugget of information I know about myself has got me thinking about all of the things I’ve written off as personally unattainable without actually trying to do them. I immediately let myself believe I’m not naturally talented enough or creative enough or whatever enough without even making the slightest effort at challenging those ideas about my capabilities. Why?
Simply put, I’m intimidated. I’m not a very naturally confident person, but that’s pretty common, no? How many times do we admire someone who we think handles everything with a radiance, a glowing self-assurance, and then later find out they were shitfaced panicked inside? The difference between those people and people like me is that they don’t let things that scare them stop them from living the kind of life they want. I guess the feeling I’m wrestling with right now is confusion as to why I am holding steadfast to the comfortable when almost every single time I’ve pushed myself, the result has exceeded my expectations. Every risk has been met with a reward. Regardless of whether I’d do it all again, I’ve always walked away with an experience gained, lesson learned, perspective altered. It has always been worth it.
I was (still am) afraid of heights, so I went skydiving and was smacked in the face with an adrenaline high that could only be described as heavenly. I was (still am) in love with a man who I was sure would crush me, but I forced myself to tell him how I felt and now I wake up next to him every morning. I was (still sort of am) terrified for a huge number of reasons to start and continue this blog, but I wanted to write and now, almost a year later I love my little corner of the internet, even if it is significantly smaller than most others.
Last week, I vlogged. If you didn’t catch it, go take a look and listen to be blab for eight whole minutes. It was a big step out of my comfort zone for me. I detest public speaking and it isn’t uncommon for me to get social anxiety speaking in a group, even when it’s people I adore. I haven’t the first clue about making a video blog and honestly, hadn’t even watched enough to know what the average one consisted of. But despite all the internal protests, I just fucking did it. I don’t know if it was the three drinks or the strong desire to be part of a community I’m falling in love with, but I made the vlog and I posted the vlog and now? Now, I want to do it again. Still scared, still nervous, still don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I emailed Ashley and Nico and I want to be a part of VEDA this year. I’m diving in and trusting in the uncertainty and sitting with my fear because I won’t know what there is in store for me unless I try and anything less than action is unacceptable.
So, hate to break it to you, but come August you’re going to be seeing a lot more of my mug around here.
Isn’t it just SO pretty!? Big thanks to the brilliance that is Shatterboxx!
A few months ago, I wrote a love story for a series on my friend Katie’s blog. I just intended to leave it over there for internet eternity, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted to put it up here, too. After all, it is my love story, dammit.
Garnet and Michael: A Backwards Love Story
Florist girl meets front end manager boy. They spend the next few months coyly chatting over cigarettes, perched near the outdoor Christmas wreath displays, while she desperately hopes her flirting isn’t too obvious. Both of them knows this road will lead no where, that no matter how caught up they get in each other, they are just too different and it will never work. Girl winds up praying boy will be the one to end it because she already knows that love is starting to creep in and she will never have the guts to walk away. Eventually the boy does.
Life goes on, years fly by, new relationships blossom and die; they grow up. And 3 a.m. one morning, after a risky combination of Sam Adams, curiosity and Facebook searching, suddenly there he is again.
Man meets woman. They start from scratch, stay up until all hours of the night re-exploring every inch of each others bodies, minds and eventually hearts. They save each other from themselves. Woman carefully helps take down walls that man has built taller year after year. Man lets woman in, helps make her feel alive, reminds her she can be anything in the world. She tells him that at this very moment, the only thing in the world she wants to be is his.
And her only wish is that she could go back to five years ago and console that girl. Tell her that one day this will all make sense and all the overused lines in the book about everything happening for a reason someday ring true. Tell her that fate or luck or the Universe will bring you two crashing back together at a time when you are both ready. Tell her that one day the boy who is causing your tears will be the man who wipes them away. Tell her that you two will still be as opposite as they come, but it will be the differences will make things interesting and keep things real. Tell her that you two will have nicknames and traditions and he will make you laugh until you can’t breathe. Tell her that they will be good morning kisses, back rubs, homemade dinners and surprises.
Tell her that for some odd fucked up reason they will have to do this backwards, but breaking up at the beginning will be Worth. It.
Lately, I’m scaring myself. Lately, the corners of me that saw only the good in people, my optimistic lens is fading fast. My positivity, the inner tidbits that used to make people roll their eyes at what they called naïve now feel foreign to me, as if I can identify with my criticizers quicker than I can identify with myself. A thousand tiny little hurts that I’ve for some reason decided are worthy of space in my heart are starting to take their toll. As much as I love my internship, working with this population is harder than I imagined. People I trusted keep letting me down. I’m impossibly hard on myself. I want to believe in love and commitment, in kindness and humanity, but it’s hard. I’m afraid, lonely, tired and I miss my best friend. I’m jealous, insecure and vulnerable. And I’m admitting all of these things out loud on the internet.
A lot of the people in my real life don’t understand blogging (well let’s say they don’t understand PERSONAL blogging) and a few have even called it quite narcissistic. They don’t understand why I feel the need to post my inner feelings for strangers to read. But for me, blogging isn’t just about me sharing my thoughts, it’s about reading the thoughts from others that make me feel a lot less alone. I’m in a sad place today- shit, I cried before I had my morning coffee. And all these thoughts keep running through my head- “Happiness is a choice!” “Snap out of it!” “Think about Japan right now, you selfish bitch” “I think it’s time to go back to therapy”. And these thoughts and this sadness could have (normally WOULD have) easily taken over my day had it not been for blogging. Had it not been for turning on my computer and finding inspiration from the likes of amazing, strong, awe-worthy women. Words that make it easier to smile and motivate me to genuinely be better.
I have all sorts of pretty pictures of drunken times in Chicago I could post here today. I could gush about macaroni and cheese pizza, my new obsession with Goose Island 312 or how wonderful it was to spend time with MC’s brother and his fiancé. And all of those things truly are gush-worthy, but they aren’t who I am today. So I’ll save that for tomorrow and today just focus on taking each hour at a time, finally bucking up and emailing Molly already, and being thankful for little things, like you know, THE INTERNET.
This weekend was one of those good for the soul kinds of weekends where you erase the word work from your vocabulary, replace gym with gluttony and you get to see your favorite faces that all too often are weekend trips away.
Friday night MC had to work so I took it as a perfect opportunity to watch “girl crap” and knit. I saw Love and Other Drugs (Spoiler: You see Anne Hathaway’s tits. A lot. ) and remembered all the many reasons I love Jake Gyllenhaal. Also, I drank lots of Pinot Grigio and knitted. Show me the bad.
Saturday morning I had brunch with my all of my classmates (I’m in the weekend program so there is like 12 of us) and one of my professors. We discussed policy issues over quiche, croissants and a potato dish called Rosti that I’m mad I’ve lived my entire life thus far without experiencing. It felt a whole lot less like school and more like brunch with friends. Plus, it served as a big fat reminder that graduation is only a hop, skip and a gigantic presentation away.
After lunch, I met my sisters at Bayberry for knitting. I think it’s safe to say this weekend I fell in love with knitting. I finished my first piece! It’s a sad excuse for a dish towel, but I MADE IT dammit. I think it’s really going to help with my anxiety, but I am learning that I’m going to have to schedule time to do it. To actually make an effort to devote time, otherwise it will just get swept away in turn for obligations. Next up, baby blankets for my friends due in April and May. Saturday night I had dinner at my best friend’s house complete with a surprise visit from Teryn. Bliss.
Sunday I went to a baby shower for a beautiful friend of mine, saw friends I never get to see and learned I don’t like red velvet cake. Also, I don’t want babies for like ten years. By the time it was over, it was pouring out and all I wanted was to eat more food and lay around in comfy pants, so I went home, ordered pizza and laughed my ass off on the couch for 3 hours watching Tosh.0. Good times.
Even though it was a monsoon outside, MC and I had plans to brew beer, so that’s what we did. Anyone ever brew before? MC is pretty avid about it, but this was only my second time. He handles all the sanitation and that stuff and gives me the job of stirring. Yes, stirring. To me, so far, I feel like brewing beer is a lot like making soup. Last night, I ground up ginger, boiled bags of grain, added malt, boiled that, added hops and STIRRED. AND STIRRED. Sound like making soup to you?! Anyways, by the end of the night, I ended up with ginger in my eye (ow) and a severely burned finger. However, in about 6-8 weeks I’ll be sipping homebrewed Vagabond Gingered Ale and the scar on my index finger will be Worth. It.
I can’t wait for Chicago this weekend to be all touristy and stuff my face and drink my weight in green beer, but honestly, weekends like this are my favorite. All I really need in life is some home cooked food, wine and friends.
How was your weekend? What are your favorite ways to spend your days off?
This is my final blog post.
I knew I wouldn’t blog forever, I just didn’t know I would only blog for four months. I don’t view it as quitting, but rather I feel I gave something I wanted to do a stab, grew some and did the whole learning thing and at least for now, I am hanging up the towel. I have reconnected with people I haven’t talked to in years, first time connected with some fabulous minds and even guided myself and others a few times.
I don’t feel motivated to blog hop or comment or enter contests. Rather, I feel motivated to reach out to people that are near, tangible to me…the people I often forget to jot down a hello note on pretty stationery to…the people I forget to call or purposely neglect to for fear of awkwardness. I’m not finishing my 30 Days of Truth. Why? I don’t make a habit of doing things my heart isn’t in to. I am a firm believer in intention and purpose, deliberately choosing my actions. I refuse to force something, to do something just to be able to say I did it. And upon re-reading some of the prompts, I realized I would be writing just to write. There would be no spark beneath my words, no true passion or desire. So, I’m not finishing it.
I have learned invaluable things in the past few months, both from blogging and living, and I have found that the blogging community and the writing process has shed light on things I was uncertain of and reaffirmed things I always knew.
I believe people, deep down, mean well. I believe people are inherently good and that right and wrong can live simultaneously within a person, expressing themselves in the form of choices and mistakes. There are many gray areas and things get cloudy, but above everything, I believe in the human spirit in its full capacity, full resiliency.
I believe sometimes we influence people, HELP people, without even noticing or realizing it. Sometimes our strength provides courage for others, our mistakes provide steering guides for people facing dilemma.
I believe that the little things are undoubtedly the biggest things. It’s the small acts of kindness or intolerance that fill or break my heart. I believe that love can grow or be depleted by the sum of the little things.
I believe that if you love someone, they are gunna hurt you from time to time. Be kind, act gracefully and do your best to float on, because (probably) sooner than later it will be you doing the hurting.
I believe it’s ok to really not like yourself sometimes, just as long as you’re willing to commit to changing and growing.
I believe that just because someone treats you well does not excuse their behavior and actions towards others.
I believe that just because it aint broke and you don’t need to fix it doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to work your ass off to keep it in good condition.
I believe I don’t have to write down things about myself to make them true, but if I need to, the send button on an email to a friend will be just as helpful as the publish one on this blog. And if at times my thoughts seem too scary to admit out loud, the soft sound of a pen scribbling on paper will do just fine.
I believe you are not alone. No seriously, you aren’t. I have found that regardless of the cattiness girls often throw at each other, the true level of camaraderie is overwhelming in a fantastic way. Feelings of doubt, inadequacy, anxiety and too many body image issues to list link us to one another. There are so many other women, most women in fact, who are in midst the same struggles as I am. We are more similar than different, FACT. Whether it’s the person you kiss hello when you walk through the front door, the best friend you cry over glasses of cabernet sauvignon with or a blogger across the country you exchange emails with, there are people ready and WILLING to support you, remind you of how incredible you are and what you are capable of. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I believe you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable and exposed, because at the heart of it those are just forms of honesty.
I believe judgments are human, they are natural. If you say you don’t judge others, you are full of shit and I am judging you. It is almost instinctual to make snap judgments about people, especially if you don’t know them. However, it is what you do with those opinions that makes you a judgmental person or not. You can use them to grow, learn more about yourself and the values of others, gain a better understanding of how and why, or you can let them become fuel for ignorance.
I believe in universal human rights and that there are things, many of them in fact, that every single person is WORTHY of, simply just because they exist.
I believe in fairness and most of all LOVE.