Loose Lips

Dear Universe,

I’m privy to information that can’t be retold. Please don’t expect me to share.

A secret is a secret and a good person will keep their word.

If the truth ever becomes known, I bear no responsibility.

Yours truly,

Independently Loving

Evasive Action

Wait. Stop.

Here you are, you beautiful, bright eyed babes. I applaud you for dreaming big and wanting the world to be your oyster. And, I’m not lying when I say that the world is everyone’s oyster. Most of you will go on to be successful in your careers. You’ll fall in love and create a beautiful family in a wonderful house. Your lives will be rich with all of the important intangible things.

But, let’s be real for a moment. Not everyone is that grain of sand that will produce a smooth, creamy pearl. In fact, many of us aren’t. Ouch. That’s intense…

With that said, I urge you to be the best pearl making grain of sand possible. Try your hardest. You’ll have days that knock you off your feet. There will be moments that make you feel like you’ve conquered Everest. Sadness is inevitable. Happiness is common. Joy is something we all deserve. Laughter is essential.

Let me tell you a story.

When I was young, I was overcome with a depression seemed to have no exit route. My entire high school career could have been much different had I gotten the help I needed. I would have succeeded in my classes, instead of barely scraping by. I would have gotten into more than one college I had applied to. And, I probably would have been far better equipped to handle going off to college.

I was a confused teenager. My only focus was wondering why I was angry and sad, and wanting to be the opposite. This isn’t new. It certainly isn’t unique. Millions of people in the US have experienced similar emotions. Listen to this, approximately 12.5% of adolescents in the US are clinically depressed. That number doesn’t sound big, but that’s one in eight adolescents.* These people have gone weeks, months, even years feeling lost, confused, sad, and hopeless. My situation wasn’t unusual, but like plenty of people experiencing depression, I remained silent out of fear that I would be judged or wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Twenty years and plenty of mistakes and wrong choices later, I have finally figured out what I want to do with my life. Also, I know what I need and deserve. Like every human existing, I deserve to be nurtured, not only by myself, but by my community. Remember, a nurtured person is a caring person.

I am going to be that 38 year old taking undergraduate classes with people like you. I’m proud that I plan on finishing my Bachelor’s degree (some point before I turn 40). My journey has been rocky. It hasn’t been pleasant and it definitely hasn’t been remarkable. The last decade of my life has been an interesting experience, and one that I’d love to take back and redo. But, I am where I am now and I don’t regret anything. As long as I am alive, I strive to keep learning about myself, my community, and the world that I live in. I’m aware of the fact that I won’t be the next Gloria Steinem or Eve Ensler or Hillary Clinton. I’m one of billions on this planet. I might not be a trailblazer or innovator or leader of the free world. But, I can make an impact in my community. More so, feeling good at the end of the day means that I am being the best person I can be.

Some of you might find yourself in the same boat as me. For those of you who are feeling blue, lost, or confused, please know you are not alone. The world is yours. Live in it. Experience it. Know that the hurt can be temporary if you allow yourself to find the help you deserve. Remember that therapy is an amazing tool. Also, finding a group of your peers allows you to build a safety net. Call your friend(s). Tell someone you’re hurting. A true friend will listen and help.

Plenty of you have a plan set out for your lives. I commend you for that.

When I was 18, I had a plan. I wanted to be a stage actress, churning out quirky roles in Off-Broadway indie pieces. That hasn’t happened… Yet. I also wanted to be a writer. I still do, and I am a writer. At 34, my plans have changed. I want to help people. I want to make one person genuinely smile every single day. I plan on giving back to whichever community I am, and that includes all of humanity.

Some of you with plans will stick to those plans, and that is a beautiful thing to do. You are the future of medicine, arts, law, athleticism, and all around world domination. I’m proud of you and wish you great success. And, some of you with other plans, please don’t get discouraged if life throws curveballs your way. Bumps in the road are inevitable. We cannot avoid them, nor should we ignore them the moment the appear. Also, plans change. It is incredibly natural to not have things set in stone. The world we live in and our lives would be very boring if plans didn’t change or get upended.

Take this time in your life and enjoy being young. This is an awful cliche, but you really do have the rest of your lives to live. Relish every moment. Laugh. Love the ones you’re with. Hug someone. Say “thank you” five times a day, even if it’s to yourself for waking up that morning. Wait a minute and think before doing something dangerous. Go slow, unless, of course, you are competing in a sporting event that places a lot of importance on speed. Don’t make a hasty decision, especially if your gut is telling you not to. Listen to your gut; we have instincts for a reason.

We all can be successful in our own right. Remember, money isn’t the only factor in success. A lonely, unhappy billionaire is less successful than a joyful sanitation worker who has a huge circle of loved ones.

Do what you want in your life, as you only have one. Let your actions create positive reactions. Be kind. Smile. Go forth and be the best pearl producing grain of sand you can be.

*Depression Statistics – DBSAlliance

Alma Mater

Am I Not Valid? Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, twice in a couple months, I have been told that there are parts of me that are not valid or real. I have been trying to process being told this and coping with understanding why someone would say such a thing to another person, especially when both things are absolutely valid and part of my journey.

I was told by someone integral in my life that my job is not real and that I have wasted the past decade of my life in a job that is not valid.

Let me clarify that I do, in fact, work retail. In the last 12 years, I have made many attempts to climb the corporate ladder and work really hard to prove that I am worth promoting. I switched fields in retail a couple times, but landed back at the place I started and have spent the 10 of the last 12 years at the same place. My path at this company has not really evolved, and I do feel very much overlooked. Yes, retail usually isn’t a life changer, nor is it really a suitable career path. However, a job is a job, especially an honest one. I’m not out on the streets selling drugs, nor am I selling my body.

I honestly believe that my job is valid. The fact that I am working and paying taxes means I am a contributing member of society. While my role within the store is not ideal, it is still a job. And, it’s mine. I know that I’m going to be done with retail very soon. I’m a few months away from completing an Associates degree in Paralegal Studies, which will open up some doors. It will allow me the chance to do something more worthwhile. I will feel far more accomplished with the work I can be able to do with this degree.

But, I come back to the job I have now. It’s a job. It’s real. Someone has to do it. That person is me. I am very aware that I am replaceable and an 18 year old can do my job for far less money. The quality of service the 18 year old will provide might not be on the same level as mine, but legally, an 18 year old is allowed to do the same job as me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we all choose to treat each other. This planet is covered with humans. For the most part, we are a good species of animals. Sure, there are a few humans that are less than favorable; that’s a given.

The words we choose to say to each other and the way we choose to say them are so important in life.

Instead of telling someone that something about them isn’t valid and that they have wasted their life, tell them, “I think you can do better than this, and I hope you find the right motivation to change your environment.” That’s direct without discrediting a person.

Instead of telling someone “you’re feelings are uncalled for and invalid, because you don’t know anything about relationships,” tell them “you are allowed to feel the way you do, however I don’t understand your emotions, and I think we are coming from two different places.” That honors the person’s natural instinct to emote, but clarifies the disagreement or misunderstanding in a respectful way.

I’m no psychologist. I’ve only taken a few undergraduate psychology and sociology classes. But, I’ve read books and I’ve experienced other human beings and I’ve had plenty of relationships, big and small. A few months shy of entering my 35th years, I own the fact that there is a lot about life that I still have to learn. I own the fact that I could have done something big with my life years ago. But, we all have our own journeys. We all approach life differently. For some of us, life seems just a little more difficult.

In a few months, I will be done with my Paralegal AA. In the meantime, I am looking for work. I applied for 12 different positions at a gym franchise. I’m popping in, at least, 8 more tomorrow. Sure, some might say that it is no better than a retail job. But, it is an environment I would rather be in. It is still an honest job. And, the fact I get to work out for free is a bonus. There would be no excuse to work out if I worked at a gym. [Here’s a secret: I kind of want to become a certified personal trainer and become a running coach for women. I used to be a competitive runner for 8 years, and would love to give back through running.]

This is wishful thinking, I know. If I do get a job at a gym, I will be happy to work full time there while I finish my degree. That will allow me to save enough money to start making it on my own. All the while, I will continue my search for administrative legal work, and fine tune selling myself well. Trust me, working at a gym will motivate me to exercise regularly. The more I exercise, the happier I will feel, and the more motivated I will be to become a certified personal trainer. If I do become a personal trainer, I can build my own clientele and schedule. I can work that around administrative legal work.

See, I have a plan. I just wish people would be a little more kind and patient with me. Being told that parts of me aren’t valid hurt, especially when I have spent so long believing my worth always was in the hands of others.

Remember, everyone, only we can determine our own worth. It’s no one else’s choice to tell us how valuable we are. We are all fantastic creatures, who deserve all the happiness in the world. We need to start gifting happiness and love to others to remind each other so.