My Life is Mine

My Life is Mine

I watched this video for the first time a few weeks ago. Then I watched it again, a few days later. Then I tagged all my friends in it on Facebook. Now, I watch it whenever I feel like I need to remember a fundamental truth of living or am having a particularly stagnant Sunday night. So I wanted to share it with you.

Tracee Ellis Ross is an American actress, model, tv host, comedian so okay, she like, does everything. You might know her as Joan Clayton of Girlfriends or Dr. Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish. She has won five NAACP Image Awards and a Golden Globe for Best Actress- TV Show or Comedy, very casually. Fun fact: her mom is Diana Ross. She is also an Incredible Human Being and Real Life Inspiration With Whom I Would Love to Eat Sushi so that’s interesting.

In this speech, she speaks the truth I have been trying to write down for a very long time. She is saying the words that I have not yet quite mustered up the courage to utter at age 21. The truth that I have been looking for in books and movies and songs and Pinterest boards but couldn’t pin down. “My life is mine.” 

This obvious, yet earth-shattering sentence that pumps adrenaline into your veins and ties running shoes to your feet. It empowers you to spring out of the corner you may have been backed into and run, run, run for the hills. If this statement seems apparent, you are lucky. If this statement seems groundbreaking, then you are not alone.

We have been sold a single story of what our purpose and meaning in life might be. I haven’t decided mine quite yet, but I want to consider all of my options. So watch this clip, consider your breadth of possibilities and realize that living your full, wonderful, vivacious, spaghetti-eating life is definitely not selfish.

Click on this thing, okay:

Tracee Ellis Ross Is Living For Herself

 

 

photo credit: Terry Tsiolis

21

I’m twenty one years old today. That is a lot of years. That is enough years to know some things but probably know nothing at all. That is enough years to meet some people, write some stuff down and still feel like life just started. That is enough years to feel very old and very young at the exact same time. That is enough years to pull out a horizontal ID card and feel like you might own the world but also enough years to definitely be renting the world for now.

I always thought 21 would feel older. Wiser. Have my life together more-er. But it feels like moving fast and how I felt at 12 but with a sense of responsibility piled on top of my leather jacket. This is the age they tell us to stay forever. Drink it in. Eat it up. Revel in youth and potential.

I am grateful for the past 21 years. I am present in this one. I am jumping for the next 21.

 

Cheers!!!

To Be Interesting

To my future daughter/son/human,

Above all, I hope that you are interesting.

I hope this because I think that this is the best thing that a person can be. You will sometimes be selfish and loud and kind and transparent and honest and tired and inspiring and guilty. Because we all are, sometimes. You will be called a lot of things and you will call yourself different things. But I hope, most of all, that you are interesting.

Interesting people are three-dimensional and imperfect and messy. They do things because they are drawn to them and they do them well. And if they don’t do them well, they try it again or they try something better. Interesting people have things about them that you can’t guess by looking at their shoes. Interesting people have stories that are not all good but not all bad. They are chasing things and when those things no longer serve them they chase more things. They are not stagnant or passive or bored. I hope you are interesting. Because this world is your canvas and you don’t have to be good at coloring in the lines or shading the sides of mountains to make an interesting painting. Interesting people surprise themselves. At 6 or 16 or 60. Interesting people grow and change and evolve and know that that is a good thing. I hope you swim in deep sea caves and fly on clouds because the middle ground is flat. Interesting people are not always happy. They are in fact, rarely content. Because being content means safety means settling means beige. And you darling, are not beige.

Those things that you think in the dark and that worry you that you might be insane will make you sparkle but you have to find your sunlight to do so. Interesting people struggle and my dear, I hope you find no shortage of struggles because that means you are moving something bigger than you. Interesting people move the heavy boulders and not just for the hell of it. Interesting people create and transform and remove and replace. You are not meant to ignore the music in your blood. I hope you are interesting because I know you will be strong and worried and smart and half-crazy and wonderful. And I hope you don’t shut all of that down in an effort to be okay. Because simply being okay is not interesting.

O.A.

A Very Short List of Things to Be Thankful For:

A Very Short List of Things to Be Thankful For:

 

  1. marshmallows
  2. moms
  3. days off
  4. homes
  5. brothers
  6. waffles
  7. clean clothes
  8. dishwashers
  9. sleeping in
  10. books you haven’t read but people recommend
  11. sisters
  12. fridays
  13. worn sweatshirts
  14. The Office
  15. old women who call you sweetie
  16. modern medicine
  17. haircuts
  18. best friends
  19. ohio state
  20. mini shampoo and conditioner bottles
  21. brand new notebooks
  22. favorite sweaters
  23. the weird voice your best friend always does to make you laugh
  24. completed to-do lists
  25. future plans
  26. movie theater popcorn
  27. trying a new thing at your favorite restaurant and liking it even more than your old favorite
  28. smoothies
  29. holiday themed anything
  30. sunrises
  31. getting to sleep through sunrises
  32. family home videos
  33. cancelled class
  34. random happy texts
  35. getting tagged in a dog video on Facebook
  36. naps
  37. smiling at strangers but not in a scary way
  38. bad pictures of your ex
  39. home smells
  40. not being out of milk
  41. living near a Chipotle
  42. coupons for things you had to buy anyways
  43. Zara
  44. naturally good hair days
  45. when your favorite artist releases a new album on a Tuesday
  46. solid ted talks
  47. memes
  48. memes
  49. dads
  50. tests that you thought you failed but you didn’t fail
  51. Netflix recommendations
  52. turning in a giant research paper a day in advance
  53. free samples
  54. having a full tank of gas
  55. ice cream
  56. being alive at the same time as Betty White

Home Feelings

There it was. That feeling. Something in between petting a Golden Retriever and birthday candles. I call it a “home feeling.” It’s that feeling you get deep down in your stomach somewhere when something is truly and deeply right for you. Kind of like the opposite of nausea. The first time I felt it I was picking a college. Since then, it’s gotten louder and louder. I feel it in career paths, organizations, internships, human beings. Since I’ve started listening, it has never steered me wrong. Some people call it a gut feeling or intuition or following your heart or something. I don’t know what the heck it is but I hope that at some point in your life you feel it and you follow it blindly.

Trust it. That pit in your intestines? Do not automatically WebMD it and diagnose yourself with cancer like I typically do; it might your intuition telling you get out, this ain’t right, keep searching, move along ok! When in doubt, trust yourself. Our brains are analytical, made of lists and words and chaos that can get overwhelming really fast. Simplify it to a feeling. This is the stuff of magic anyways. Yes, do the math, make the pro/con chart, Venn diagram it if you have to. But ultimately, don’t ignore that push. Big decisions should feel like taking off your skinny jeans and seeing your bed at the end of a long day. Home, right, good. Be in tune with yourself and run to your home.

How to Make Your Own Sound

How to Make Your Own Sound

’Tis the season to apply for summer internships and panic because so is everyone else and how can I really impress this recruiter using only my brief handshake and why are we all carrying around leather rectangles to look professional and also I hate the person I sound like in cover letters…

Once upon a time, the other day, mid-application to yet another summer internship, I had a horrifying realization. I didn’t really want to intern there. Like ever. Yet, I was going through the motions of listing my extracurricular activities and awards to impress a person I’d never met and hope they think I’m qualified to do something, anything. Not only did I not actually want to work there, I couldn’t remember why I ever thought that I did. I know that your first job will probably not be your dream job. That sometimes you have to put in years and years of hard work at the bottom to make it to the top. But you should only do that if that is the top you want to make it to.

In college, you hear a lot of voices. Advising, warning, helping, yelling voices that for the most part, just want the best for you. But in the process, you can start to forget what your own voice sounds like. It can become impossible to differentiate all the voices telling you what you should do, from your own tired voice whispering what you want to do. It’s just  too loud out here. 

It’s important to remember that everyone else’s dreams for you might not be the same as your own dreams for you. And you might need to swim against the current or get out of the stream entirely to get to where you’re trying to go. And sometimes you might not know where you’re trying to go. There’s a long list of options they hand you at the beginning of college but those are not the limits for what life can be. So if you don’t want to be an accountant or a doctor or a dental hygienist, the good news about democracy is that you don’t have to be. There are a lot of careers that aren’t labeled by a noun or a halloween costume.

Listen to your own voice. Go somewhere quiet so you can hear it like a coffee shop or your bed or the middle of the woods. Write down what it says and do that thing, not the other things. I think I sound like Grandmother Willow or something when I say this but the answers are inside you. Fo real. So listen up, listen hard, block out the background noise. Take advice but not too seriously. Listen to their words of wisdom but listen to your heartbeat more. Make your own sound. 

The Imposter Effect

The Imposter Effect

It’s happens when you’re sitting in an important meeting with important people and you feel like a lizard who scuttled its way in here, transformed into a human being and no one blinked an eye. It’s happens when you land your dream internship that you damn well earned but you’re just busy hoping they don’t notice who they just hired. It’s a promotion, a nomination, an award, a thank you and all you can think is– who, me?

No matter how much you accomplish, you’re patiently waiting for the shroud to be ripped away, the man behind the curtain to be exposed and a crowd of executives in business suits to point and laugh. Or something like that. It’s called imposter syndrome, coined by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978. It’s the feeling that you’re faking it and barely making it. Imposter syndrome describes individuals who have an inability to internalize their accomplishments and fear being exposed as a “fraud”. You pray the façade holds up and that you can keep on playing this game.

This phenomenon is most common among high-achieving women. So congrats—if you feel like this ever, you’re probably a high achieving women. And I get it, you probably didn’t believe that at all when you read it. A high achieving woman? “I’m a worm in clothes.” –me, most of the time. But it’s real. When we succeed we feel as if we were wearing Harry’s invisibility cloak and snuck into success undetected.

This feeling is most common among people who are perfectionists, overwork, undermine their achievements, fear failure and discount praise.

From college students to internationally renowned writers, this feeling is not unfamiliar.

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.” –Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou, people.

A study by Queena Hoange also suggests that people of color may experience “imposter syndrome” as a result of wondering if they were given their position by affirmative action. This is because imposter syndrome often occurs in groups excelling in areas that were not always accessible to them traditionally. When we do well at things we are told we should not be doing well in we sit and wonder what went wrong.

You! Are! Deserving! Of! Opportunities! You! Are! Given!

Revel in that. You may not be entitled to these opportunities, but you do not deserve them any less than anyone else. When you work hard, you are able to be rewarded. Don’t belittle this. Don’t self-deprecate. Don’t play it like it’s nothing. Take it in like rare air. Breathe in success, to the deepest atoms of your lungs and let it sit there because it feels good and it’s right. Stop describing yourself and your life as “just” or “only” anything. Grab onto the good words that are given to you, raise them in the air and go chase some more. Drink some coffee and pretend you know what you’re doing, because you do.