Failure to Hear

The past week has been an extremely depressing time in the media. Our screens have been saturated with images of rioting in Baltimore. Up to this point, there have been countless articles and blogs addressing related issues, such as the misrepresentation of the situation in Baltimore, where in fact thousands have marched peacefully through the streets, in protest of the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray last month.  Even more depressing than the situation in Baltimore (and by that I mean the injustices, chaos and misrepresentation) are the reactions from friends, family and colleagues on social media.

Ironically, in times like these I’m more uncomfortable with scrolling through my timeline than turning on the television.  Many of us already know the media has an agenda, and that people of color are few and far between in terms of leadership, management and production roles for media companies. We can identify which networks are conservative and which journalists have negative bias, and although it’s not right, it’s expected. What isn’t as easily detected, are the prejudices and offensively complacent attitudes of people we have come to like, love or respect. I’m not claiming that everybody has close and intimate relationships with all of their followers, but generally speaking, if you have chosen to friend them, there’s a good chance that you know them, or at the very least, don’t hold any significant negative connotations. That being said, it becomes very disheartening to see the posts and photos that begin to appear in times like these.  It’s uncomfortable to know that somebody you’ve  allowed to be so close to you physically or emotionally, could completely misunderstand the injustices experienced by the group you identify with, or in some cases, blatantly (and ignorantly) place labels on a situation that could just as easily directly impact you or your loved one.

I am a black female.  I have a black brother. I have a black father. Someday (I hope, or used to hope) I may have a black son.  All the love in the world can’t control a person’s actions and decisions. They are (and will be) their own men. That being said, if something similar were to happen to one of them, and they were killed under “unknown” circumstances, when in that moment they were not an immediate threat to somebody’s life, you better believe I would be irate at all involved, including anybody who chose to label them based on the color of their skin or their mistakes in life. Shame on ANYBODY who is negatively labeling and justifying the death of the deceased based on their poorest choices: choices that you’ve never had to make, because you’ve never been in such a persistent, discouraging and/or impoverished position where it became a viable option.

Let me say this. I personally don’t agree with rioting. I don’t agree with rioting or looting when it’s in reaction to an instance of civil injustice, and I don’t agree with it when it’s in reaction to a won or lost football game, where interestingly I failed to see hardly any posts or opinions about the rioting that took place following Ohio’s State’s National Championship Win. Nevertheless, I understand it. My career and personal experience have allowed me to be educated on the realities of injustice in our society, a privilege, I’m realizing, that has been denied to many. We can all go back and forth with opinions and perspectives, but we can also speak with facts. Racism is real. Structural racism is real. There are systems in place that do put minorities (especially poor minorities) in positions of perpetual disadvantage. Let’s not forget that only 50 years ago it was common knowledge and law, that structures and systems were created to separate and oppress people of color. This isn’t something social activists are making up; you can read it in a book. That being said, it shouldn’t be surprising that a. there are lingering effects of that structure (to say the LEAST) and b. that today (only 50 years later) this structural racism and oppression could still be taking place explicitly or implicitly. I work for an applied research institute where we’ve recently released the third edition of our State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review, an annual report on implicit bias and the role that it plays in multiple domain areas including education, the criminal justice system, employment and housing. All three editions are filled with critical, yet understandable, information and statistics on implicit bias. Part of the report’s popularity is due to the increasing instances of police brutality on unarmed black men in our country. In fact, we’ve been approached by numerous police departments for training on the subject matter. (If interested in reading click here). Most important to mention is the fact that we ALL have bias, both positive and negative; I hope that ties into my conclusion of this blog.

Everybody in this country has the RIGHT to their own beliefs, opinions and values. The point of my writing isn’t to condemn or villianize anybody who disagrees with the happenings in Baltimore, or my opinion. The purpose is to practice what I believe is my social responsibility to speak out against injustice, as well as the ignorance, labeling and complacency that actually have a bigger effect on our countries stagnancy than explicit racism and prejudice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated in his 1964 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

My goal is not to offend, so I certainly hope I have not done so, but to provide perspective and encourage understanding, so that I can continue to have positive and respectful engagements with those around me, with the dream that hopefully my writing opens up one person’s mind, just a little bit more.

Finally, since there have been so many Dr. King quotes popping up in response to Baltimore, I wanted to conclude with one myself:

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity”.

You’re Right. You’re Wrong.

I don’t know about anybody else, but lately it seems like every criticism, side comment, judgment, eye-roll in my direction is a direct result of me trying to have some brief moment of humanity. To some people I have a reputation as being “needy”, “sensitive” or “over-emotional”, while in others I’m regarded as “distant, unaffected, unaffectionate and private” and in both circles I feel equally insecure and terrible about who I’m perceived to be.

Quick story. In a moment of fear and anxiety, I decided to call somebody in the hopes of a. expressing what was on my mind and b. getting some kind of comfort and security. In two months that moment’s choice has snowballed into something that seems so much bigger, and I find myself sitting alone and REGRETTING a moment in which I just wanted a calming and familiar presence to comfort me in a time of fear and sadness. In the midst of my regret and (and quite frankly,self-pity), I have to sit and wonder, “What is wrong with what’s happening here?”

Why am I regretting a moment of needing somebody? Why am I regretting my decision to trust somebody? Why am I feeling stupid about doing something that I only did in an attempt to better take care of myself, a decision that I made without any intention of inconveniencing or harming anybody else?

I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly and whole-heartedly convinced that every decision I make is wrong. I don’t care how many degrees, how many good jobs, nor how much praise I receive, it seems inevitable: I will also choose the wrong person, the wrong words, the wrong silence, the wrong action, and/or the wrong situation. While somebody may instantly be quick to negate these statements, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and say…I’m right. I am always wrong. I will always be wrong.

This world is full of billions of people, and whether your life involves you interacting with that many on a daily basis, or your circle is small like mine, there will still be a million different ways in which you will be different from the next person, and in which they will be different from the person next to them. Different families, different genetics, different birth order, different upbringing, different city, different schools…career paths…relationship statuses…etc…the list goes on! And while the focus is always on finding commonalities (or embracing “diversity”)…I think there is something to be said for really considering those differences, because what they all add up to is a different perspective.

That being said, as I previously stated, I am always wrong. I will always be wrong to somebody. My choices, my attitudes, my relationships will always be considered “wrong”, or “unwise” or “too much” to some, and simultaneously will be “perfect”, “understandable” and “too private” for others. As humans, we will drive ourselves crazy starving ourselves our basic needs, and trying to somehow fit ourselves and our lives into this perfect mold that fits everybody’s expectations and opinions. It’s physically impossible…and yet, as obvious as these statements may sound, I bet there is some situation in your life where you are doing this very thing: trying to fit your one life into everybody’s mold.

While I’m not sure if there is a “bottom line” today, I’m strongly going to urge myself, and anybody reading, to practice compassion, for others, but most importantly, for self. We’re all going to make mistakes, but make an effort to trust yourself first, and then use the best judgment you can in the moment. Try as hard as you can to consider others, their feelings, and their history, and in doing so, do your best to avoid harm through intention or carelessness. Pray. Ask for forgiveness, and have faith that you are exactly who you need to be in the eyes of the one who matters.

I write for myself, and for others (even if it’s just one), who may relate and feel inspired by what I have to say. I have a long road to travel myself, but I’m working to do what I can with the moment I’ve been blessed with.

Peace and Blessings,

You Against Yourself

Confessions Of Planner…

Plan

Trying to focus on accepting and meditating on this daily! As a compulsive planner, it’s so easy to just assume that doing the “right” things and following the “right” paths would lead me to this perfectly timed life I planned, and I think others have probably done the same. Breathe. Trust. Let Go. Most importantly…find the some beauty in today…it’s all we have.

Happy Tuesday!

PLAN: Exposing The Secret Four-Letter Word

I’m a planner. Those who know me know this is true. My favorite jobs involve some type of strategic communications planning or event planning, and I aspire to own an event planning business in the future. Outside of my professional word (but not really) I’ve always been obsessed with having a plan for my life; a plan which I was sure would secure me a great job, loving environment and happy future.

Though FAR from perfect, I’d generally have to say I was probably an ideal child and student. Anything I ever set my mind to academically or professionally I completed, and I followed all of the “right” stepping stones from elementary school to college graduation: I went to grade school, always made honor roll, got a job babysitting before I could legally work, got my first real job at 15, worked through high school, attended all dances and social functions, graduated on time (and with honors), was accepted into all five of the colleges to which I submitted applications, received excellent and competitive scholarships, attended college full-time, stayed despite my severe depression during freshman year, worked all through college, joined a sorority, involved myself with multiple organizations, graduated Cum Laude (in four years), accepted a professional paid (three-month) internship less than two months after graduation (for The Columbus Dispatch), relocated to Columbus, obtained a professional full-time position after my internship ended, obtained a position at Ohio State (after planning the opportunity to get a job there and continue my education), supported myself, lost 27 lbs., made the decision to apply to graduate school (MBA program),created and followed a study plan for the GRE, took the GRE, applied for graduate school and…

Here is where the pattern ends. My application to The Ohio State University’s MBA Program for Working Professionals was declined. For the first time in my life, the next stepping stone wasn’t there, and I was left standing out in middle of nowhere, staring at plenty of water, plenty of horizon, and little direction. I felt stupid, rejected, and inadequate. Plenty of people get into school everyday. Plenty of people get accepted into MBA programs every day. and I’m not one.

Even though this isn’t the most devastating blow, if I’m being candid I’ve often times felt like since so much of my personal and emotional life had gone wrong, my career and academic success was really the only thing I could always count on. I was always told that I was smart, that I would get scholarships and that I would go to school, and if there was ONE thing (and probably only one) that I never doubted, it was my ability to get into an academic program, or succeed at anything related to school or career.

So let me say this, it’s only been about three weeks since I’ve received the official rejection letter. That being said, I’m still trying to work everything out, but I couldn’t help but feel like so many people are probably experiencing similar situations. They’ve made plans for themselves, busted their asses to do everything in their power to stay on-track, and yet somehow still found themselves at the corner of failure and unanticipated disappointment.

It’s a strange feeling to not know where you’re headed, especially when you’ve always been so focused on staying on track, avoiding mistakes and having a solid plan for life. There is always that dilemma in the back of your mind: do I give up or do I keep trying?

I’m not here to answer that question. To some it may seem clear that “giving up” is totally wrong, but not in the context I’m thinking. To me, giving up is just another way of God nudging you to go in another direction. Nevertheless, if you aren’t feeling that option, then he may be telling you to stay, persevere, and try again; that “no” only means “not now”.

So to anybody out there struggling with their plans, whether it’s a missed job opportunity, rejection from school, failed relationship, failed business,  weight struggles or others, I don’t have the perfect solutions but I can encourage the following things:

  1. Take a Break | Let yourself breathe and feel whatever emotions you are feeling. Try not to suppress them and catapult yourself right back into the frustration. The timing for your destiny will always be on-track, so it’s okay to take a moment for your mental health.
  2. Re-Consider Your Goals and Values | What are your true values? If you had 30 days to live, what would you spend your time doing? Consider whether this particular goal truly fits into what you want in life, and take time to update your goals if necessary.
  3. Do Something Spontaneous | As an avid planner I can get so wrapped up in preparing for the future, but being too-focused on the future (or past) is what gets us wrapped up in fear, anxiety and stress. Try doing something fun. Finding something to laugh at. Find a reason to get excited today.
  4. Talk to a Loved One | If you are truly feeling discouraged or beat down by what you perceive to be a failure, talk to somebody you can really confide in. Though we may object during “pity-party” moments, we all have at least ONE person that we can trust with our feelings. Call that person, fill them in and get their feedback. It can make a world of difference.
  5. Have Faith & Pray | If you are religious or spiritual, the most important thing is to tap into that side and pray for the direction that you seek. If not, try meditation, counseling or life-coaching. Find somebody that can help you work through what you want in your life. There are also plenty of websites that offer audio guided imagery and meditation ( like http://www.fragrantheart.com/cms/free-audio-meditations ). Regardless, remember to always have faith and believe in yourself, your dreams and your future.

 

When I write, I just write. I don’t claim to know it all, but as always I hope that my words have helped or encouraged at least one person today.

Peace and Blessings,

Ashley

Twenty-Something Questions Every Twenty-Something Woman Should Ask Herself Today | Part 3

 

…continued from last week’s post! Read previous two posts to catch up!

11. What goals do I have?
Easy one! When feeling stuck in the now, revisit your goals for the next 1,3 and 5 years. Even better, create some short-term goals that you want to accomplish before the end of the season or year. Focusing on what you can achieve for yourself will not only keep your mind looking toward the positive, but will increase your happiness and self-love.

12. What role does fear play in my life? 

As I mentioned before, I’ve spent a great deal of my life paralyzed by fear and anxiety! I recently made a decision to not let fear keep me from living a purposeful life, BUT that was only because I had to ask myself what role fear was playing and how it was hurting me rather than helping. At our age, fear can attack us in a variety of places:
Fear of being unsuccessful
Fear of never having money
Fear of being alone/always single
Fear of aging/death
Fear of losing family
Fear of not having children
…the list goes on and on! For anybody reading this who doesn’t let fear stop them, I applaud and admire you! My goal has been to live a bold life like some of the women I admire. However, if you are feeling stuck and you aren’t sure why, consider asking yourself what you may be afraid of? How is that affecting your happiness?

13. How does health factor into my priorities? 
The biggest way to show yourself love is to take care of yourself! We are young, and mostly healthy, but maintaining health should be a huge priority! Healthy eating and exercise should be means towards having a healthy lifestyle, rather than “the perfect body!” Plus, keeping a healthy body aids in a healthy mind and spirit!

14. Am I really ready to be married? a Mother?
For some reason (and I have an idea why) so many of the women around me (including myself) expected to be married and a mother by age 25. I’m not sure why that has been the magic number but it’s safe to say that for many of us life said: No. While this can be frustrating in itself, it’s even scarier when you start to see others around you begin their journeys on these paths, and suddenly here we are: “old maids” by 24. Dead serious. Because I have been known  to have this thought, I really had to sit down and think “am I really ready to be somebody’s wife and mother?” and as much as it plagued me to be honest the answer is not yet.

Let me preface by saying that being a wife/mother is a blessing and I commend all of you that you have done it and will do it in the future. Nevertheless, I like naps. I like to come home after dealing with annoying people all day and sit in silence. When I walk in the door my first priority is “remove.pants.now.” and I’m good with that. Sometimes I don’t eat dinner. Sometimes I do eat dinner and it’s Starbucks. Pregnancy and child-birth haunt my dreams. I love investing in getting my nails and eyebrows done each month, and I like knowing that if there is some extra money this month it’s totally up to me what I decide to do with it! All that said, I (personally) realized that I’m not yet ready to be a mother because I’m still very much okay with the perks of not having responsibility to anybody. I think I’ll make a great spouse and mommy someday, but for now I’m not all that mad for it to be “just me”.

For me, the answer “no” worked out perfectly, but for some it may be authentically yes. Either way, if the thought is preventing you from being happy at this current moment, it’s worth looking into.

15. What am I most excited about?
“What a wonderful thought it is indeed to know that some of our greatest days have yet to happen”. What are you excited about? In the short and long-term future?!

16. Have I learned how to deal with my sadness/dark days? 
I’ve learned that an important part of accepting life and being happy, is to understand that you won’t feel happy all the time. Trust me, I’ve contemplated how chipper and positive this blog may make me seem, but those that know me know that I’m not the overly upbeat  type! We are all going to have heartbreak and days that suck, especially if you are twenty-something, dating, figuring out your career and/or navigating a new place. This is a great time to practice learning how to accept and deal with your sadness, bad moments and bad days. Is it crying? Writing? Music? Naps? Brownie batter? I can’t see into the future, but it seems like it will pay-off down the line to really understand your healthy coping methods.

17. Have I learned how to forgive? 
I’ll be honest; I have not completely mastered this. I had a quick taste of true forgiveness last summer, when I finally realized how important forgiveness was in order for me to move on and be free from a certain situation. Nevertheless, I think intuitively we know how important it is to let go of the past and present pains, and forgive for God, and yourself. To be continued…

18. Am I okay with failure? 
Hell no. BUT I am stretching myself to understand that the only way to success is through failure and fear of failure is only keeping me trapped in the same life & situations.

19. What can’t I live without? 
Similar to determining what you get lost in, when thinking of how you want to construct your life it’s important to determine what is non-negotiable in your future life…a.k.a. the one thing that is absolutely unacceptable to settle on.

20. Do I care what others think?
Yes. And I know I shouldn’t. But I do. And I’m working on it. Moving on.

21. Am I okay? 
If you’re like me, literally a million thoughts run through your head in one minute. Literally. OR you have made your life so boring that you have too much time to sit around and worry about things that aren’t worth worrying about! Ultimately, if you can sit and ask yourself “am I okay?” and the answer is “yes” then trust you are and learn to be still in your present. It won’t be easy, you may need keep running back to this question, but it’s important. If the answer is “no”, then it’s probably time to open up to somebody you trust for help and/or make some changes.

22. What are my simple joys?
Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day. What are your simple pleasures? Mine are close parking spots, Starbucks, my big comfy chair, sunny days and books!

23. Do I know how to love?
On its surface yes. And when I love somebody (romantic and unromantic) I love very hard, yet I do think that there are other attributes of love that I need to focus on learning: acceptance, forgiveness, perseverance through struggle, vulnerability..etc.

24. What makes me beautiful?
Inside and out…it’s important to be able to recognize what makes you the beautiful woman(person) you are! I love hearing answers to this question: what makes you beautiful?

25. What are my greatest blessings? For what am I grateful?
I’ve read a lot that gratitude is truly one of the biggest factors of happiness. This is recognizing where you have been blessed in your life, and where you are grateful for the things you have. It’s so easy to focus on what we are missing from life and the voids that we are experiencing, but when focusing on the moment, it helps me to really think of where I’m truly blessed. What is on your list?

 

Thank you for keeping up with this list from post #1! Even if all of the questions weren’t applicable, I hope that at least a few really allowed you to sit back and consider what a beautiful life you are living, and even offered some hope for the future!

Until next time,

Ashley

Twenty-Something Questions Every Twenty-Something Woman Should Ask Herself Today! |Part 2

…continued from last week’s post! Read previous blog to catch up!

 

6. How do I show myself love?

I once saw a quote that said, “Decide this moment that you will no longer beg anybody else for the love and respect you should be showing yourself”. [Almost] enough said. Do you love yourself? If so, how do you show yourself that love, and if not, how do you intend to? An easy way to think of the answer would be to think, what actions would let me know that somebody is madly in love with me…and how can I emulate them for myself?

7. What makes me happy?

As overstated at is seems, perhaps the answer when feeling unhappy is to truly contemplate the things you KNOW do you make you happy. Are they absent from your situation or are you just overlooking them? In the past few months I have realized that I need to focus on finding happiness in the small situations, but also identifying where it is that I’m missing what makes me happy, and how to work toward obtaining whatever that may be.

8. What do I lose myself in?
This is a question I have come across time and time again in articles related to finding your passion or finding your right career. As a side-note, I recently read an article that suggested you refer back to what you loved to do in second grade, as that is the career path you should be in. Again, I digress! If you are twenty-something stuck in an unhappy job or career (or just don’t know where you should start), one way to determine your next step is to consider what activity you lose yourself in or what activity makes you lose track of time? For me, as many of you are finding out, the answer is writing. But what about for you? Will this answer 100% always tell you what you need to be doing for the rest of your life? No, but at the very least it will give you insight into what you are passionate about, and a potential hobby or activity to remain invested in for fulfillment.

9. How do I have fun?

For me the more appropriate question is: do you have fun? And the answer was No. Actually the answer (in all seriousness) was: “what is fun?” I never really thought of what qualified as fun, and literally had a friend send me the definition; nevertheless, if you have to ask, the answer is no! Enjoying life has no age, but what better time to make fun a priority than when you have YOU as your main focus, and you aren’t tied down to any person, place or thing!

10. What do I love about my life as is? 

I’ve been seeing more and more articles about mindfulness and living in the present. Though this question doesn’t come close to expanding on those concepts, it’s important to take the time to accept and love life as is, so that you never have to get to that point where you realize “I missed out on that phase, that age, that decade thinking happiness lied in the future”. Life will never be perfect, and if we allow ourselves we will perpetually focus on the past OR future, but like they say, one of the biggest problems impeding happiness is that we remember the past as better than it was, regard the present as worse than it is, and the future as better than it will be. Focus on now 🙂

…. Ihope this week’s post touched somebody. Next five coming soon!

 

Ashley

Twenty-Something Questions Every Twenty-Something Woman Should Ask Herself! (Part 1)

I traveled to DC last month to visit my sorority sisters and as a way to distract myself from the airport wait, I picked up Oprah’s latest magazine. Let me quickly preface by saying that I used to dismiss Oprah’s magazine on the stand simply because I felt like I was too young to relate to the content –wrong. The articles are very inspirational and relevant to women of all ages, and so I’ve made sure to pick up a copy each month since December! I digress. Anyway, for many (young) people picking up and traveling for the weekend is no big deal, part of the freedom, but for me this particular trip represented something bigger in my life.

I’ve recently discovered how unhappy I have been with my current life, and how I’ve blamed it all on the lack of a husband and family of my own. Going a step further, I realized how I have relied on others to be my source of comfort, peace, and happiness, and how truly wrong that is for my life. I realized I had to take a moment to remind myself that first and foremost God needs to be my source of peace and happiness, and after him: me. That being said, as much as I’ve hated and been terrified by flying, I booked a flight and headed to D.C. with hopes of embarking on a new phase of my life, one where I’m guided by Him and headed towards true happiness and self-discovery.

Ironically, the cover of April’s “O” Magazine, features Oprah propped against a giant question mark, and the feature article is “20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself Today!”. Having gotten home and had a chance to review the article, I decided that I wanted to write my own version, tailored specifically for the twenty-something woman. I can only speak for those who are not married, but so often it seems like we spend this particular decade focused on the life we thought we would have at this moment, and not on the one that we actually do! In the past year or so I’ve really learned to slow down and take this time to focus on myself, and I want to encourage other women who feel how I do, to do the same thing. So, based on some of my greatest frustrations as a “twenty-something” here is my list of twenty something questions twenty-somethings should ask themselves today!

What kind of woman am I? What kind of woman have I been?

If there has been one thing I have learned about being “alone” in your twenties, it’s that it is a great time for self-discovery! Nobody enters marriage or motherhood as a perfect individual, but you’re better off entering those kinds of self-less relationships once you understand who you are. That makes sense, right? So I’ve been trying to take the time to understand what kind of woman I am and who I have been in the past. Take a moment to do the same. This type of reflection sets the base for you to be able to identify what part of yourself you love, and what you haven’t loved that you can change, today!

What kind of woman do I want to be?

Oprah mentioned this at the end of April’s issue. At the core of everything that you will do is the question “what kind of woman do I want to be?” This will drive all of your next steps, or at least keep you familiar so that you are aware of when you are straying from the woman you feel is authentically you. Though it goes without saying, this is more than your career and your goals. It goes beyond what you want to do and looks deeper into who do you want to be? Creative? Loving? Forgiving? Peaceful? Ambitious? The list can go on, but it’s up to you (and me) to determine what it contains!

Who/what is my greatest source of strength/peace?

As I mentioned before, when thinking about who I rely on for happiness, peace and strength, I personally realized that it was in “man” i.e. my family, friends, boyfriend..etc. One of the biggest epiphanies was truly recognizing how flawed that idea is, and moving towards conditioning myself to understand God is the source for all of my strength and peace, and that this relationship should be number one.
Regardless of what your faith may be, I believe that every woman needs somebody or something to believe in, bigger than herself. We tend to believe we can handle it all ourselves but that isn’t true. Contemplate this question and whether you need to make a change in where you invest all of yourself.

Do I accept myself?

Being brutally honest, I am still struggling with this concept. I personally have the desire to be “perfect” , despite how much my logical self knows that this is impossible. Nevertheless, this phase of life is the best time to do so, because if you are like me, you have nobody else around that can really influence that on the day-to-day basis. The person I spend the most time with is myself; therefore, it makes perfect sense that through change of thought and ACTION, I can move toward accepting myself as I am. Also, it’s no secret that lack of acceptance leads to insecurity, which is terribly damaging in relationships.

How do I show myself love?
I once saw a quote that said “Decide this moment that you will no longer beg anybody else for the love and respect you should be showing yourself”. [Almost] enough said. Do you love yourself? If so, how do you show yourself that love, and if not, how do you intend to? An easy way to think of the answer would be to think, what actions would let me know that somebody is madly in love with me…and how can I emulate them for myself?

To avoid overload, I’ve broken this post up into five parts! I’ll be taking some more time to think about the answers to these questions, and I hope that somebody out there does the same. Stay tuned for the next 5!

 

24: The motivation behind this blog

 

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I swore not to leave 23 behind. As long as I can remember this was the ideal “adult” age for me, perfect in both its youth and maturity, and I suspected that once I reached that earth age in my life, I would feel the same. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, the idea of being the “perfectly mature yet spontaneously young” adult didn’t happen, and I desperately clung to it, not wanting it to be a part of the past. What would it mean for the most anticipated year of my life to be in the past? I couldn’t face that truth, so my every hope was to avoid 24.

I know those older than me are probably looking at me crazy, but it’s my truth. After hearing it numerous times, it finally clicked in one insignificant instance “There is only one alternative to aging”: a fact that I tried to ignore in my many attempts to self-loath and give into fear. But once this thought truly became a part of me, I realized that I could embrace this age and this number, and every age that follows (that I’m blessed with). For once in my life I could learn to live in the present, and not focus so much on what happened or what’s going to happen. No, 24 is not and never will be 23, but it’s definitely not dead, and there is a lot of beauty and growth to appreciate, as there is with any age.

My point is that for many people reading this it may not be age 24 or even an age at all, but there is some wall in life that we are avoiding climbing. We feel that we are missing out on an even younger age (even if we’re already young), more opportunity, better looks, better education, life…etc. I think it’s important to strive for those next levels, but do your best to recognize and celebrate where you are now, and look forward to the period of growth to get you to that next level. Since 23 was anti-climatic and nothing like I’d thought, I felt like I missed my opportunity for that type of excitement and fulfillment, but I was wrong and so are you! Who cares if you missed one hurdle, tripped and fell even, as long as you get up to conquer the next.

That said, and for multiple other reasons, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to 24: the age, the number, and all of the wonder that it represents. I hope that you see this as authentic, helpful and motivational for whatever you may be going through, as I’m hoping it does the same for me.

Enjoy!