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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Stop Telling Women To Smile

A week ago I was sitting at my favorite coffee shop, notebook in hand and a coffee on the table.  I pulled out my mirror to see if I had anything on my face, quickly fixing my concealer that was out of place from my oversized sunglasses.

“Your makeup looks fine!” a stranger next to me declared.  I looked over, laughed, and continued to set up shop at my seat.

He didn’t stop there.  “You know, most men would say women look best without makeup.  It’s Sunday!  Don’t wear makeup!”

Newsflash: I wear makeup for me, not you.

I love to dress up, wear red lipstick, and don my Karen Walker shades.  Not looking for validation, on most days I simply want to write in peace; the last thing I want is to have strangers approach me to give me unsolicited advice or flirt poorly at a coffee shop.

Nevertheless, whether or not it was meant to be a compliment, it was still suggesting I change who I am or what I do.  That never sits well with me- flirting or not.  It’s manipulative, and it’s unwelcomed.

Here’s a comprehensive list of things women don’t need to hear from a man:

  • How to wear our hair
  • What clothes to choose
  • How long our hair “should” be
  • When to wear makeup
  • That we should smile

Maybe some women need the words of the opposite sex to gain their confidence, but I am not one of them.

“The sexualization behind telling women to smile is alarming. It makes women feel that we are only meant to be happy and pretty and it’s a passive way to engage into an unwanted conversation.” –

I’ve had ex-boyfriends try and dress me up in the shortest of skirts, 6 inch heels, and cleavage revealing attire.  That’s just not my style.  I’ve even had an ex ask me if I was going to a funeral because I was wearing all black.  Didn’t you know black is slimming and chic?  Just look at Audrey Hepburn.  I doubt she cared what other people said about her little black dress.

The guy at the cafe went on to later tell me how our meeting was “serendipitous,” in which I immediately rolled my eyes.

No, you just sat next to a woman and started telling her what to do and not to do.  Also, I have no interest in a divorced 50-something who was thumbing through his “Plenty of Fish” app.

Women can have it pretty rough out there, but as long as we hold our own and stick to our laurels, we will be just fine.

Just don’t tell me to smile.

Inspired by Stop Telling Women to Smile, a street art project addressing gender-based street harassment.

Where I See Myself

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“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did. I want to make people laugh about the things in life that are painful. That’s what I want to do.” –Hannah, Girls

I am finally finishing Girls, one of my favorite TV shows.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been absorbed in my own life, without HBO (until now) or television in general.  However, it’s a good thing I am finishing the series when I am, because the synchronicities between Hannah Horvath and myself are out of control.

Not only is she an only child from Michigan like me, she moved to New York City with the dream of becoming a writer.  She got herself into ridiculous situations, met a plethora of crazy characters, and even was published in the Modern Love section of the New York Times- yet another goal of mine.

When asked where she wanted to be in three to five years by author Chuck Palmer (who stated how much he loves Traverse City, my hometown), she told him she wanted to write.

The vulnerability of writing is powerful, healing, and helpful to others- and like Hannah, I want to write to make people not feel so alone, too.

I’ve never been good at “jobs;” as a creative person, I’ve struggled in office environments.  I’ve had creative differences with people I have worked for.  I have had a vision, a dream, and a wild streak- something that employers generally don’t value or understand.

Freelance writing is something I am looking to do full-time, yet working on my book is my top priority right now.  In addition to writing two Modern Love stories, I have an outline for a fictional, yet semi-autobiographical book based on my life in New York City and beyond.

We will see where my path leads, but I know who I am, and I know what I am good at.  I know my dreams and goals, and in this chapter, I won’t let sitting at someone else’s desk get in my way.

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