My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘growing up’

Questions I’d Like to Ask Future Me

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What was your career like?

Did you ever figure out what you wanted to do, and if so, did you do it? How important did the money end up being, did you take dreams over paychecks and struggle to follow your passion? Did you create something you loved? Did you work with integrity and honesty and drive? Were you a good mentor, and did you remember to give back to the people who looked up to you? Did anyone look up to you?

Did you take risks?

Did you ever climb that mountain? Did you eat the dessert whenever you wanted to? Did you see the movies you wanted to see? Which books were your favorites? What was your favorite ritual, your alone time, your just-for-myself thing? Did you remember to put yourself first sometimes, not for the sake of being selfish, but for the sake of your own sanity?

Are there people who take care of you now?

Do you have kids? Did you ever decide whether or not you wanted to have kids, and if so, how did you know? Was it a light bulb moment or was it gradual? Did you see some little girl on the light rail one afternoon and realize the pang in your heart was real and telling you that you wanted kids after all? Did you know you were ready or were you scared the whole way? And what were their names? What are they like? Are you proud of them? You must be proud of them, I imagine, the way most parents are proud of their kids, should be proud of their kids. Do they look like you? Do they love you? Were you a good mother? Do they think you were a good mother?

And if you didn’t have kids, how’d you decide? How’d you know they weren’t for you? Was there backlash when you made that choice? Was it even your choice?

Did you travel the world?

Did you explore your city as often as you could? Did you ever move back home? Or was homesickness just a comfortable constant? Was it just a small memento, and a reminder of your roots?

How did you meet the love of your life?

Did you ever have one? Or were there many, and if there were, did one stand out? How did they act? What were they like? What did they do, how did they take their coffee, and did they prefer pancakes or bacon and eggs? What color were their eyes and did you feel safe in their arms? How and when did you know that you loved them? Who said it first?

And if it ended, how did it end? Was it violent and bitter, or two friends saying one last good bye? I hope it was the latter.

Do you regret anything?

What do you regret? And if you do, do your regrets outweigh your good memories?

I hope they don’t. I hope the good far outweighs the bad.

And most of all, were you happy?

Maybe not all the time, because that’s the impossible goal, but overall, were you happy? Are you happy now? Did the things you did and the places you saw and the people you loved… did all those things bring you joy and give you meaning and fuel your drive and determination to make the world a better place?

But I guess that last answer lies in me. Current me. Present day. Right here and now.


Because the things you do now, and the people you love, and the dreams you chase determine whether or not you feel fulfilled in this moment. The risks you take build up to larger rewards, and the things you choose not to do in the here and now determine your biggest regrets.

So chase after what you love now.

And take your risks and leap off those cliffs and book those tickets to that new city and read as much as you can and love as hard as it is humanly possible.

Make the answers you’ll give when you’re older the best they can possibly be.

Laughter Looks Good on You

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I love my laugh. It’s probably one of my favorite things about me.

(I know, in a society that values modesty above all other things, that’s not exactly something that you’re supposed to say. You’re not supposed to have favorite things about yourself; other people can have favorite things about you and give you compliments and you take them graciously, but you never admit that you agree. Well, I think that’s kind of silly, because if you love something about yourself, you should own it. But I digress.)

Someone once told me that my laugh is the kind of thing people know they’ve earned, that makes them feel good about themselves, because they feel like they were genuinely funny enough to earn such a reaction. It’s a loud laugh, obnoxious at times and certainly the direct opposite of sexy (boy, I’m really selling this thing, aren’t I?) because I’ve never been able to learn how to make it quieter and I’ve never bothered to try. I’ll giggle when I’m nervous — because I can never keep a straight face when I’m really freaked out — or I’ll text a polite ‘lol’ when I don’t know what else to say, but when I laugh, I laugh real. Ugly-snort-laugh real. I think everyone should.

Life’s too short for fake laughter when you find something really funny.

After all, why shouldn’t you react accordingly when you find something funny? I don’t mean the harmful-to-other-people, at-the-expense-of-others funny, but rather just flat-out humorous. And there are tons of scientific reasons why you should laugh – from stress relief, to combatting depression, to making yourself feel closer to the person with whom you’re laughing, to the fact that it works like a domino, and is bound to make people around you feel happier, too.

With the untold number of tragedies that keep piling up this year alone, it feels sometimes like the world is growing a little darker, a little sadder, a little more cold. It’s hard to see the positive when everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. It’s hard to find the good (which there is so very much of) when it gets overshadowed on a daily basis by an influx of bad news.

It’s in the moment when we begin to feel the heaviness that we need laughter the most.

If only to get through all that bleakness to the next bright spot, even if it feels like it might never come.

You have to believe it will, though. And you get there by laughing. Even if it feels false at first. But laugh at your own jokes (because I know there are moments when you say something that you think is really funny–can I get a holla for all the fellow dad joke and/or puns connoisseurs out there) and laugh at the jokes your friends tell, and go out late at night and laugh about the things you did and said and strangers you flirted with the next morning.

Make memories.

Laugh until you cry. Make lame jokes and witty jokes, sarcastic one-liners and corny comments that make people look at you sideways. Laugh anyway. Laugh despite their looks. Laugh in spite of them.

Laugh every day if you can.

Even if you feel sad. Even if some tragedy struck you. (Sometimes that’s when we need laughter most.) And don’t feel guilty for it, either. The people who love you would want you to be happy, and would want you to laugh. Surround yourself with people who you think are funny. Laugh honestly, and you’ll be surprised how many people will think you’re funny too, just by virtue of the fact that you’re laughing. And you’ll feel better. Even if it’s just for that night, about a joke you won’t remember five years from now, but you’ll remember how you felt and hopefully that was happy.

Laughter brings happiness.

And the world could always use more of that.

The Almosts

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There is a place in which most accomplished-but-still-self-doubting people frequently exist. It’s a creeping place, the kind that gnaws at you and refuses to let you forget that you are not there. It’s the land of the people who are successful but aren’t quite sure how, who feel like they lucked into something they actually worked very hard for — the people who hold their breath because they think one false move will make it all go away.

I call it living in almosts.

It’s the feeling that what you’re doing, what you’ve done, who you are — everything about you is almost but not quite good enough. Almost but not quite exactly what anyone else is looking for in that moment, in that instance, in that circumstance. Whatever the goal — a job, a relationship, hell, even a strong-enough credit score to land an apartment — there is some sinking, nagging feeling that you overlooked something, that you said just one tiny thing wrong, that you didn’t do everything perfectly, and so because of that one small, hairline fracture, everything else will come tumbling down.

So you overanalyze. You microanalyze. You lay awake at night, trying to find the flaw, picking yourself and your attributes over, even though you know by now that there is nothing else to glean. There is no more. What you did is what you did, and what will happen, happens. You say this like a mantra. Que sera, sera. What is out of your control will happen whether or not you worry yourself to death over it.

Still, though, there is that fear.

I have always struggled with the concept of almost, but not quite. I think I fear it more than I do abject failure, honestly, because in that small space of the “what could have been,” there is an infinite amount of questioning. If you fail outright, if you are told no, if you cannot pass go and cannot collect $200, you know that is it. It’s done. That’s all there ever could have been, and it’s that much sooner that you can lick your wounds, eat your pint (or three) of Ben & Jerry’s, turn around and find another path. You can learn from your mistakes that much faster. But when it is an almost — when you are strung along and think that maybe this (whatever this is) could really be it, The One, the moment at which you finally achieve your dream, only to find out that no, now is not your time yet — it feels almost like a waste. Like you could have tried harder. Like you should have said something differently. Like you were so very close to having everything, if it weren’t for something you did to sabotage yourself somewhere along the line.

But the fact of the matter is, almost does not shift the blame onto you. Almost means you’re actually on the right path — there just might be a little more work to do. Almost is an arrow in the right direction, if you can find it. And you always can. Sometimes it just takes a step back from the gleaning, the obsession, the manic fixation. Sometimes you just have to let things be.

Because sometimes, it simply isn’t your time yet.

I know that’s a trite aphorism, and so much of life is equal parts timing and equal parts working very, very hard, but how much of each can you rely on? Simply, then, you work very, very hard, and then when timing is ready for you, it will let you know. But that feels like you’re leaving a lot up to chance. Which, honestly, you kind of are. But that’s how the world works sometimes. Not everything is meant to be in our control.

First, though, you have to believe you’re good enough as it is. Or you have to tell yourself, even if you don’t believe it yet. Because if you don’t, who else will?

And even if you’re not — if you’re not yet, you have to tell yourself, because eventually, you will be, in some capacity for some role or someone or some dream — then that’s fine. After all, nobody’s perfect. And getting everything right on every first try is never the case.

So fail, and fail a lot.

Fail spectacularly. Fail the most anyone has ever failed before. Get so close to something and let it slip out of your grasp by millimeters, because at least that means you reached as far as you possibly could — and maybe next time, you’ll be able to stretch a little further.

Maybe next time.

That little maybe is called hope.

And hope is what helps turn the almosts into reality.

#DearMe

If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, any at all, what would it be?

That’s the premise behind this really cool YouTube initiative I just happened to stumble upon (I may or may not be procrasti-writing). This particular initiative encourages people to upload a video letter to the site, addressing their younger selves and the struggles/challenges/insecurities they faced growing up.

While it’s a couple years old, it’s worth a watch (or three). #DearMe is an empowering and inspirational campaign that asks the question, “What would you differently?” More importantly, it is a strong reminder that you, yes YOU, are enough just the way you are.

That you, yes YOU are amazing and beautiful and smart and all around kick-ass. I absolutely love this idea, and while it was originally created in coalition with National Women’s Day which takes place on May 8th every year, I don’t feel that it should be just directed at women alone, but everyone in general.

Every one of us has our own insecurities, even the people you least expect. I think it’s up to us to help this next generation who is beaten down by bullying not to just accept who they are, but to also, and more importantly, love who they are.

In observance of this awesome campaign, I was inspired to do my own #DearMe entry. Here are just some of the things I would like to tell the younger me.

  1. #DearMe, happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to others and celebrate your rocking individuality.

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  1. #DearMe, take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Try. Try again.
  1. #DearMe, you may not be able to change the world, but you can surely try.
  1. #DearMe, when you smile, smile with your whole self. When you laugh, laugh from your whole soul. When you love, love with your whole heart.
  1. #DearMe, learn that it’s okay to say, “no.”
  1. #DearMe, crimped hair would be a good thing to say a big, “HELL NO!” to. Just leaving that little nugget here as an example. And because CRIMPED HAIR!
  1. #DearMe, your value has nothing to do with a silly size or any number on a scale. Nor does it have anything to do with the clothes you wear, the makeup applied or the way you style your hair. You are beautiful; freckles, scars, sweatpants and all.
  1. #DearMe, not everyone is going to like you. And that is OKAY.
  1. #DearMe, sometimes it’s okay to treat yo’ damn self! Necessary in fact. So grab that book, take that bubble bath and go to town on that pint of Ben & Jerry’s. You’ll thank me future me later.
  1. #DearMe, don’t ever take for granted your family and friends. Call them just because. Pop over to see them. Tell them you love them as much as you can. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who love, support you [and make you ugly man laugh and smile] unconditionally, don’t ever let them go.
  1. #DearMe, just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean you can/should eat ice cream for breakfast. HAHAHAHAHA!! Just kidding. Of course that’s what it means!!!!
  1. #DearMe, you will fall in love, you will get your heart broken, you will doubt if you will ever be able to fully heal. Don’t worry. You will. You will eventually meet someone who is the peanut butter to your jelly, the chocolate chip to your cookie, the Jim to your Pam. And when you do #DearMe, enjoy every damn second. When you smile with and because of this person, smile with your whole self. When you laugh with and because of this person, laugh from your whole soul. When you love and love because of this person, love with your whole heart.
  1. #DearMe, relaxxxxxxxxxxx the fuck out. Stop trying to plan everything, to control everything and just…be. Everything will work out. You’ve just got to have a little faith and a lot of hope (and a fully-stocked emergency chocolate stash).
  1. #DearMe, be brave. Be strong. You’ve got this in the bag! *But I was dead serious about that crimped hair thing.

If you could tell your younger self anything, anything at all, what would it be?

Moments

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Our lives are made up of a series of moments.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to have thousands,

even millions of them.

There will be funny moments, sad moments,

moments you’ll want to forget.

Moments of anger, moments of passion,

moments spent deeply rooted in love.

There will be moments that alter you,

completely dwarf you,

moments that show you just how beautiful it is to exist.

You’ll even have default moments.

Moments that fall through the cracks.

Moments where you’re doing something so mundane,

you don’t even realize it is one.

Then there are the big moments.

Your goosebumps moments.

The moments that leave a blue hickey on your life’s neck.

These are the moments that crack you open and leave you wanting more.

These are the moments you’ll want to keep safe.

Hold on to.

This right here, this is a moment.

A tiny pinprick in eternity that is only yours to create.

Here’s to the magic you create.

Here’s to your moment.

Why you should laugh in the face of fear (and do the damn thing!)

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Fear is a funny thing, guys. A funny thing, but also very necessary. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen (and cavewomen because I’m pretty sure they were out there kicking some serious mammoth ass along with their male counterparts) to identify a dangerous situation. Fear heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you.

And since we no longer have mammoths IRL–our lives are a lot less difficult and fewer stakes are raised–our fears tend to be the things we manifest inside ourselves. They’re the things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never visit, the people we never admit to loving, and the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head. Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what it we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all–what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

I had a former track coach who would always tell me that you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes. (If only I had a dollar for every time he lovingly barked this sentiment as I sweated through 200 meter suicides, my snazzy new Nike Frees would pay for themselves.) And it’s true–not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is uncomfortable. Being afraid is supposed to be uncomfortable–it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways that you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

Laughing in the face of fear and doing the damned thing anyway.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us (relationships, jobs, failure, spiders and a serious Chik-fil-a craving on a Sunday afternoon), you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under your skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person. But I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life. A great life.

Not that we don’t want to–oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, a great life. This doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But I guess that’s a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least to happen, might happen anyway. Whether you tried or not.

And if you don’t try, the what if–the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario–will never happen at all.

Do the things that scare you. Get uncomfortable. Get really uncomfortable. Stand your ground. Speak up and go after the things you want, no matter how scary it is. Apply for that job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take that risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Great, even.

Change is how we learn, how we grow, how we overcome those mammoths.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling or badass than that, my friends.

Get Lost

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Fun fact about me: I am horrible at directions, y’all. Like, the absolute worst. My GPS is the end-all, be-all, and not a day goes by that I don’t end up spending eons searching for my car in the parking lot of Target, panic-sweating in the process.

My first ‘welcome to Colorado’ hiking experience–a hike that shouldn’t have been more more than 2 hours long–ended up being more like a 4 6 hour tour. Three wrong turns, two  loops around the same damn mountain and a few four-letter words thrown around and I finally did make it to the trail head. But not without a little a lot of that same panic-sweat.

Thank god for my weird habit of always having chocolate in nearly every pocket of everything I’m wearing at any given time. Except when that ‘given time’ happens to be a 90-degree day in the middle of July. The scar from having my fellow hikers be privy to the melted Snickers on my ass pocket still hasn’t quite worn off yet. 

Sorry.

Back to the point of this sweet, hot mess.

Getting lost. Not knowing the way. Trying, and falling flat on your chocolate-covered ass.

I used to think that it was bad thing.

But now? Now I think getting lost is necessary, needed, vital for each and everyone one of us to learn, to grow to experience new and incredible things. After all, some of the best moments I’ve had in my almost 30 years thus far have been a direct result of veering off course, taking the path less traveled so to speak.

It seems like we spend most of our lives trying to define ourselves. Every choice we make seems to say something about who we are and how we fit into the world. Then there’s this idea, that after you go on some life-changing trip or have some realization that you can truly “find yourself.” That you’ll just wake up one day and say, “Ohhhhhh, so this is who I am. Huh. Guess I don’t have to look anymore!”

Well kids, I’m here to say that idea is a load of bull funky.

My advice: Never, ever stop looking for yourself. Keep digging and discovering new things about who you are. Surprise yourself with things you didn’t know you were capable of. Push yourself to be better and try new things just for the hell of it. You might hate it, but you also might really, really love it.

Get lost.

Stop trying to fit yourself into some category or box just to make yourself more understandable to other people. You don’t have to explain who you are to anyone if you don’t want to. Live life on your terms.

And just because you haven’t “found yourself” yet (whatever that means) doesn’t mean you never will, or that you’re any less complete because of it. In fact, I will go as far to say as it’s almost better if you haven’t. Declining to define yourself for the convenience of others is freeing.

Keep discovering things you love and things you hate.

Figure out what you want and don’t want.

Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

You should never get comfortable in being stagnant, in the sameness, in the never-changing and familiar.

Always keep looking, and just remember that the day you find yourself is the day you stop growing as a person.

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