Our Differences Bring Us Together

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For years I compared myself to other people and their achievements.

I remember being surrounded by my boyfriend and his friends while living in San Francisco, feeling “less than” because they all had MBAs and advanced degrees.  I was envious of their grad school bonds, longing to have something more for myself in California.

So, I started studying for the LSAT.

Did I really want to become an attorney?  Not really.  However, I thought I needed a fancy title or a degree to prove I was smart.  That I was strong.  That I was worthy.

I ended up taking the test, not even wanting to go to law school.  I knew in my heart I was meant to do something creative, but I lacked the confidence to put myself out there.

I left San Francisco in 2009, only to return again eight months later.  This time around, however, I didn’t strap myself down to a relationship- but I did start a blog.

A lot of people didn’t understand my city shenanigans or the purpose for my writing.  Nevertheless, it gave me the confidence I needed to start to put myself out there.  I connected with Yelp reviewers, entrepreneurs, and startups.  I went to fun restaurants and worked all sorts of events, from Shecky’s Girl’s Night Out, WonderCon, and the Cannabis Festival.  I started to learn I didn’t need a degree or title to do what I love. 

I could simply be me.

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It’s hard to believe this all started ten years ago.

I’ve kept in touch with the friends I’ve made in California, whether they’re still in the city or have done something different with their own lives.

I’ll forever be grateful to the people who believed in me and saw my power before I saw it on my own.

We can compare ourselves to other people all day long, but the key is knowing who you are as a person and what to you want.  Our differences are what make the world go round, whether you’re saving lives, raising a family, or running a company.

The beauty in our differences is what can connect us, help us learn, and grow as human beings.  I may not have chosen to help people seek justice in the legal system, but I do know my own experiences help other people gain the confidence to pursue what’s in their own heart.

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Lessons I Would Teach My Younger Self

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As I write this evening, I wonder, “What did I need at 14, 15, or 16 years old? What didn’t people tell me that I would have told my younger self?”

Back then, I didn’t know I wouldn’t marry the guy I met at the Cherry Festival or that it didn’t matter that I chose to sit in the library at lunch instead of with kids I didn’t want to have surface conversations with.

I didn’t know I could go to school for art or writing and actually make a living doing it.  I had no idea the internet would create opportunities to connect, learn, and share, and I certainly didn’t expect myself to document my journey living in seven different states this past decade online.

I didn’t know I would become an alcoholic who would ruin a lot of opportunities, only to realize those opportunities weren’t meant for me anyway.  I had to mess up a lot of things to return to the person I always was- the writer who liked sitting in the library.

So, as I write, I just simplified my process.  A lot.  This book has been daunting, like a project I will never complete, yet now it makes perfect sense.

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As I write with purpose, the words seem to flow and I can feel my energetic vibration raise as I type.  I can envision girls who had similar dreams as me feeling hopeful.  I have no doubt the power of others benefiting from my mistakes, closing the book with more confidence than when they opened it.

I may have taken a lot of wrong turns and detours, yet each twist lead me to exactly where I needed to be- and that is to continue to write.

Intuitively, I knew at an early age I wasn’t meant to conform or play by someone else’s rules.  It didn’t feel natural to “fit in;” yet living in places like San Francisco and New York made me feel “normal” for the first time in my life.

I think about the girl who fearlessly flew out to Tuscon to visit her boyfriend at 17, who graduated high school a semester early, and who skipped out on her senior year events to follow her own dreams- not anyone else’s.  The guy from the Cherry Festival would eventually meet his future wife the following year, and I would make an entirely new group of friends at a college where I knew no one.  I wouldn’t end up with a college sweetheart and I wouldn’t go through with a wedding I almost had, but I learned more about myself living in seven different cities than I ever could by playing it safe.

I had a blank journal with endless pages to fill- so I did.

Since going on my own journey, I haven’t looked back.  Although it feels as if I’ve come full circle, I’ve returned with a newfound love and appreciation for myself- and what the next chapter of my story has around the corner.

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2020: Entering The Decade of Self Esteem

Abraham Maslow considered self esteem as one of the higher needs in his hierarchy; but to me, it’s one of the most important.

While basic needs (such as physiological and safety) are at the bottom, love and belonging come before self esteem. Why? Self esteem is crucial to fulfillment.

If you don’t love yourself, accepting love from another person is next to impossible.

Even your basic bottom needs are often unmet when you have low self esteem- so why is it so far up the hierarchy?

This is especially true for those who have suffered from trauma or addiction. I almost titled this post “Rethinking Maslow’s Hierarchy,” but I realized my message is bigger than that. As I reflect on the past decade, the choices I have made, and the lessons I have learned, I realized I would take matters into my own hands. I would make a choice to make this next decade about maintaining self love, both for myself and helping others to improve their own self esteem.

Before you think that job or possession will make you happy, consider how low self esteem is standing in your way of achieving everything you want. Without it, it’s hard to succeed in the workplace, in love, and in life.

The other day I stumbled on a great piece by TheFix.com by Susan Peabody, sharing 12 ways to build self esteem and acceptance. For those who are in recovery, it’s very possible that our self esteem took a hit along the way. We viewed ourselves through the eyes of others and by our mistakes, our pain, and our addiction.

 “When the melancholic dejectedly desires to be rid of life, of himself, is this not because he will not learn earnestly and rigorously to love himself? When a man surrenders himself to despair because the world or some person has left him faithlessly betrayed, what then is his fault except that he does not love himself the right way.” -Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love.

Society has sent us negative messages about ourselves, from how we need to look to the milestones we need to achieve to reach ultimate happiness. My experience has shown that even the house, the job, and the bank account will never satisfy us if we are not satisfied with who we are as a human being.

I’ve had countless friends and have known endless people who are discontent due to outside forces. Whether they’ve lost a loved one or are simply unhappy with their life, being able to recover from the pain and find joy in everyday life is the first step to improving ones self esteem.

As 2019 ends, reflect on how you currently feel about yourself. Think about what you want to change- because it truly does start from within.

Now is the time to let go to make room to spread your wings and grow.