My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘growing up’

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.

Bridges of Change

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Change.

I’ve always been a little resistant, to be honest. I take confront in the known, the expected, the easy. The last few weeks however have shown me that change isn’t something to be afraid of, but embraced. With anything in life, there is that chance that you will get hurt, fail, experience some sort of loss. Before, I had always associated that risk to be greater when you went against the status quo, made waves, broke away from the norm and illicit that change.

But now? Now I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t.

If I don’t stand up for what I believe in.

If I don’t take action against the wrong-doings in this world.

If I keep my voice silenced and my actions mute.

I have never been one to be accusatory or negative or hateful. I get hives just thinking about confrontation and have avoided it like the plague for as long as I can remember.

And in a lot of ways, I still very much am that person.

But now? Now I’m not afraid anymore.

I’m not afraid to do, think, feel.

I welcome the opportunity to do anything and everything I possibly can to show my support, to fight for the good that I believe is still very much left in the world, to make all of the damn waves.

To not only see the change and welcome it with open arms, but to be a part of its strength.

The road to transformation isn’t meant to be easy.

But it also isn’t meant to be traveled alone. We need each other. Through the thick, the thin, the in-betweens. In the ups, the downs, the unpredictable joys and hardships and messes that life sometimes brings.

When we don’t create space for hard conversations to happen and instead, turn away and become silent about the things that matter most–that’s the moment we have chosen to stop learning about the world we live in, and the people we share it with.

Come and meet me on the bridge. Let’s celebrate our differences.

The Heart of the Matter

 

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I was recently asked by someone if I had ever been in love. When I was forced to admit my honest answer, no, it made me think.

Granted this conversation was after one three glasses of wine, and Moscato has a sneaky way of making me get just all of the philosophical. I once had a two-hour conversation about the deeper meaning and lessons behind the Monty Python films. Hint: it involved a lot of me talking in a terrible British accent and Spam. I wish I was joking.

I’ve been on this beautiful Earth for almost 30 years now, and I’ve had many incredible life experiences, but what this particular person made me realize was that I’ve never really experienced the feeling of “being in love.”

Sure there was Kody Kremsreiter, my first “love.” We were both five, lived across the street from one another and both had the same obsession with Saturday morning cartoons, The Berenstain Bears and chicken nuggets. In 5th grade, it was Jason Kopp. He shared his War Heads with me on the playground and always picked me first when playing kickball in gym class. Guys, if that isn’t the making of true love, I don’t know what is.

I’d like to say that my dating style improved as I got older, but that was not the case.  My middle name is awkward (actually, it’s Joe, but potato poe-tah-toe) and I never aced the whole flirting thing. I still haven’t tbh. I never really had a steady boyfriend. Sure, there were guys who I dated in high school and college and even within the last few years, guys who definitely gave me the butterflies, who I would stay up late talking to on the phone eliciting all the nervous laughs and palm sweats, guys who I thought were “the one.”

But the truth is, I’ve never had that deep down, feel-it-in-your-toes, over the moon, head-over-heels, soul-gripping and down right amazing love feeling. This isn’t to say that these guys weren’t wonderful people. They were incredible! Funny, kind, smart and big-hearted. This also is in no way a rumination seeking sympathy, and it isn’t to reflect on some kind of deprivation. My life has been anything but deprived. In fact, this is just the opposite. It’s the appreciation of how full of love my life has been.

I think what my friend was asking was if I had ever experienced that stereotypical romantic love, the kind of love that makes you reminisce over who said “I love you” first, the kind of love you hear about from grandparents who’ve sustained their relationship for over 50 years, the kind of love that makes you cross continents just to be with someone. No, I’ve never personally been in this kind of love…yet. But just because I’ve never been in love, doesn’t mean I haven’t been surrounded by it.

And when I say I’m surrounded by love, I’m not necessarily referring to seeing friends getting engaged, or sending my parents an anniversary card every year (HI MOM AND DAD!!!). I’m referring to the non-stereotypical, unromantic, and yet completely unconditional love that has helped to make my life complete. I’ve never said those three magic words, “I love you” to an SO, but I have said them to people who I do in fact love, and I think those three words hold just as much meaning whether they’re said romantically or not.

I know without a doubt that this romantic love is indescribably fantastic–I’ve seen it in my grandparents, in my parents, in the relationships that my friends and other family members have.  I’m sure that there are others who are both younger and older than me who have never truly had it, but that doesn’t make their life any less complete than those who have. Don’t assume that the absence of romantic love makes the presence of loneliness that much more apparent. I don’t feel empty because I’ve never loved someone romantically, I feel grateful because I have been lucky enough to have loved and be loved in so many other ways.

When romantic love has let me down, unromantic love has been there to pick me up. When a friend understands you better than you understand yourself, that’s love. When a parent endlessly supports your passions even when you question them, that’s love. When your sibling consoles your broken heart even if theirs is hurting too, that’s love. When your dog or cat rushes over to you, tail wagging after a long day, knowing just how to cheer you up with a sloppy lick of the face, that’s love. Y’all, my life is full of love, and while it may not be romantic, it’s whole.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly excited to feel those feels one day. I think anyone would be. Being in love is an amazing thing, it’s one of the things that drives us all.

But until that happens, I will cherish the love I do have in all the different ways it presents itself. 🙂

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