Self Reflection: A letter to my 7th grade self

I hated Junior High School. It sucked. Even in times where the drama of current life appears to look like  Junior High extended drama, I am so happy that I will never have to return to Junior High.

I am very appreciative that I was able to endure the Intermediate school experience long before the days  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and You Tube.  What happened in school, had to stay in school, and the past was stuck in the past.  Far before the days of cell phones and text messages, if you didn’t have my home phone number, then there was  no reaching me.  In essence, maybe I did go to Junior High School at the right time. Because,  if I went today I know for sure it would really suck.

I say all that to focus on my present day self-reflection. I reflect on my Intermediate school days because it was a period that encompassed the height of childhood confusion. Particularly 7th Grade.  Why 7th grade? As with most kids who are in Intermediate school you are stuck in between two worlds. In 7th grade I was 11 turning 12. Too old to be considered a true kid, like in elementary school, and too young to be a real teenager. I had responsibility, but not the responsibility I wanted. In my current job I have clients who are 12. At 12 life is rough. Adults don’t understand why it is so hard, and kids wonder if it will ever get easier.  At 12, developmentally you go through a stage where you want to fit in, you want to be liked,  your body is starting to change, life is starting to change, and then you realize you have no idea how to just be 12.

In exactly 3 months from today I will be 30. So as I reflect back on what I have learned from life thus far, I have some very profound advice that I would tell my 12-year-old self. Here is my opportunity in a letter to my 7th grade self:

Dear Jennifer,

Right now seventh grade seems like it is one of the toughest school years of your life. Yeah, up to this point it is. It’s different from the other school years, everyone is growing up and you find yourself struggling to keep up. It was easy when you could just play with dolls and your mom would drive you to school. But now you have to take the city bus, and hanging out watching with friends while watching music videos has become the cool thing to do. It may seem hard now however,  life gets harder after the seventh grade. But, don’t worry you will be just fine you will be prepared for it.

You know that shyness that you have, that makes it difficult for you to speak up in class or talk to new people. Though you will always secretly be shy, you will enjoy talking to new people. Along the way you will discover that you just have an introverted personality, and sometimes shyness is not so bad.  You will be able to express yourself just fine, and you will learn to love that you have an introverted personality with extroverted tendencies.

Although you hate the way you way you look right now, and think you look like a child compared to the other girls in your class, you actually look just fine. You look like a normal 12-year-old. It is not so bad that your parents keep you sheltered and they won’t spend money for you to keep up with clothes that are in fashion. Well, your parents want to protect you from the city streets, and everything else dangerous. Don’t be angry with her mom because she won’t let you take the bus to Jamaica Avenue with your friends, or ride the subway into the city. When you are able to do that you will realize that it is not that fun. Your days of wanting to wear baggy jeans, and stealing your brother’s clothes will be short lived once the style changes. Though it seems impossible now, you will eventually love to wear tight jeans (even if they do stop you from breathing).

Eventually your mother will allow you to relax your hair, you actually may want to keep your hair natural for a while. You don’t realize it now, but your hair is perfect the way it is. It is strong and healthy without chemicals, no need to rush on getting a relaxer. You will also be able to eventually do your own hair without your mother’s help, you will learn it’s not that hard to blow dry and curl.

You hate wearing glasses, and hate being refered to as “the girl with the glasses”. You don’t understand why your mother won’t let you just wear contacts. Well eventually she will let you wear contacts, and despite what she says you wont get an infection in your eyes and you wont go blind just from wearing contacts. However, soon enough you will also appreciate wearing your glasses more too. Glasses will become a fashion statement.  So no matter if you are wearing glasses or contacts it won’t matter,  you will still look like you.

I know some days you can’t stand your own body type, and wish you looked different. You wish your skin was lighter, your hair was straighter, and that you could be a few pounds thinner. Well you look the way you do for a good reason. You look just fine the way you are. You are beautiful, and in a few years you will actually believe that. You feel overdeveloped thinking your breast are too big, and you wish your hips would shrink down over night. In a few years these will be your favorite assets. You will love your body because to have curves is to  be beautiful. Your body will adjust itself, and you will love the result. One day you will feel sexy, so just be you for today.  You walk with your head down now, but you will learn to hold it high.

Currently you have an English teacher who you consider to be a major bitch. You assume that she hates you. You don’t understand why she is always so evil, and why every assignment you turn in you get a C. You constantly wonder what you have to do for this lady to get just one A!  Well let me tell you, she gives you a C because that is the grade you deserve. Your won’t understand her purpose in your life for another 8-10 years but she is teaching you to do better. You need her in your life. This teacher sees the potential in your writing that you can no way possibly see in yourself. She doesn’t let you get by easy because she knows your true ability.  The result of all those C papers you earned; well, you are able to excel at AP English during your senior year of highschool because she secretly taught you how to write with a voice. You breeze through college English with no problem and, you finally earn that A that you didn’t deserve in 7th grade.  When you publish your first novel you should probably send her a personalized thank you note, because she saw ability in you that you were years away from seeing for yourself.  Just think, if she gives you that A, she will set you up to struggle with writing  for the rest of your life.

You’re a smart girl kiddo. Even though some kids may consider you a nerd right now, in adulthood it is actually cool to be a nerd. See when the country goes into a recession, the nerds will be the people who have jobs contacting them to work, while many other people are out looking for work.  Keep studying, you have plenty of time to do everything else. One day you will be able to laugh at your own quirks, and your flaws are what make you different from everyone else. Your sarcastic and witty, keep that. A good sense of humor comes in handy when life gets rough.

Your friendships come and go. Lucky for you, you meet one of your best friends in seventh grade. You have other  friends, but you are not always sure if you should trust them.  The friends that you have now will not be your friends for the rest of your life. However, you will gain some pretty awesome friends along the way. Through high school and college you will meet friends who will change your life. Don’t be afraid to trust them, they are good people, I promise. You will gain friends who care about you more than you sometimes care about yourself. They will be there to catch you when you fall and, when you cry they know exactly how to make you smile. Though some experiences will be crazy to  say the least, it will be well worth it.

Although it seems that boys don’t like you now, and you wonder if you will ever have a boyfriend, don’t worry about that. You are 12! The boys who make fun of you now, will be the same boys who want to date you in 10 years. You have plenty of time to have boyfriends and date. You will even get to date the cute boys! You will go out on more dates than you ever really wanted to in your entire life. Then suddenly you will realize dating is not that fun. There will be plenty of  boys who like you, so you  can be picky about who you date. Never settle, you’re better than that. You will fall in love, fall out of love, and do it all over again. And even though the relationships don’t end in happily ever after, you will be Ok.  There is a reason for that. You will learn that you love being in love. You are emotional, so naturally you love hard. That can be a gift and a curse.  When you do love, you will fall in love with a man who will also be your best friend for the time that he is in your life. You will teach him how to love, he will teach you what it is really like to be in love. When that relationship dies, you will learn to grow into the woman you were meant to be. With maturity and time, you learn more about yourself,   more about life, and so much more about love, than you can ever imagine. When your close to 30, you will suddenly realize that your story is really just beginning.

Finally, Listen to your mother when she talks. Listen hard even when her conversations are long and drawn out. Her fears are only there to protect you. Don’t let her fears become your fears. During the times when you think she is not supportive of you, she is still proud of you. She realizes more than anyone that you march to the beat of your own drum.  When you grow up she will be a friend to you, you will have fun with her, and amazingly be able to laugh and talk with her. She is smart, she has lived,  she only wants to help you avoid making mistakes. You dream of being a doctor, but then you realize you hate college math classes, and those science classes do nothing more than put you to sleep. You will find a career path where you feel you are a true natural . Once you find it, you can’t see yourself doing anything else. You will eventually love your job, and realize that you are an important vessel in changing the lives of others.

You will make mistakes, actually you will make a lot of mistakes. Do not have regrets about anything you do, every mistake comes with a valuable lesson learned, and a new opportunity to grow. Live your best life, leave the past in the past, the future will take care of itself, just  focus on the present.

By the way, you may want to tell your parents to start saving for college, because you are going to go to college. My best advice: Avoid student loans!

At the age of 12 life seems boring, and it is. You can’t do much. One day it will get a whole lot better. You have an imagination that extends far beyond living in Queens for the rest of your life. You have a desire to see more, to do more, and eventually you will find a way. You will walk a path that is personalized just for you. Keep that imagination, use it wisely, it will take you to paces you currently only dream about. One day you will truly be a free spirit, you can go anywhere, anytime you want. The world is your sandbox, go play.

Love,

Jennifer (age 29 going on 30)
What advice would you give to the 7th grade version of you?

My Much Overdue Dating Fast

Quick life update:

For the first time in what seems like a very long time I am not actively dating anyone. Wow, feels weird. Well not really. I have achieved some mental clarity (took long enough). I had wanted to take a dating fast for some time now because I felt I was at a point where I was dating without purpose. What do I mean by that? Well I was just dating guys to just to go out fun. It was an activity that mainly filled up my nights and weekends. At first glance, I had a feeling that I wouldn’ t be completely interested in these men, because they did not measure up to someone who I would see myself with on a  long-term basis. At second glance,  they still did not seem that way either.

In came my dating fast. Why was it so difficult to take a dating fast? Well, because there are men everywhere. Chances are if you are single, then you will eventually come across a man to ask you out. When asked out  for dinner or a movie, I would say yes. That yes was on the hopes that I would get meaningful conversation, or a good laugh, but no it never turned out that way. Suddenly dating, just became a waste of precious time. The experience was more pain than pleasure.

Since my dating fast, my life is feeling more refreshed than ever. I feel surrounded by positive energy, and positive thoughts. I’m at a point of happy with purpose.

Accomplishment as a result of my dating fast:

  • I have lost 7-8 pounds. A quick decrease in movie popcorn, eating out at restaurants, and late night appetizers does wonders for your diet. I have also been able to stick to a regular workout routine, no interruptions, or over exhaustion.
  • I am all caught up on my work, most times I am even finished early. No minor distractions of text messages or phone calls to attend to
  • I no longer feel obligated to do things  like go out on dates, when I really don’t want to.
  • I have been able to spend more time with my friends, no thinking about ways to split hours in the day.
  • I am learning to incorporate a regular sleep pattern into my life. Who knew 8 hours of sleep could make a world of difference in the morning.
  • I have also been able to develop ideas that have been sitting in my head. I have time! This is great!
  • Finally, I have been able to think about and, admit to myself the qualities that I truly desire in a man. I have realized the type of man who I want in my life  and who I should share my time with. I no longer have to spend time, dating just to date. I can date just the men who truly have the potential to be more than just a first date.

 

 

Positive thoughts, Positive energy, Positive experiences

You are powerful beyond measure, now just believe it

Marriane Williamson states : “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

Those words are inspiring, yet so scary. To think “I AM POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.” What a frightening thought. I write this as I enter into a new stage of life. One that will require some creative risks, but also one that can lead me on a path to a better concept of my success. However, when I think of what I am able to accomplish I hesitate to move forward. I doubt my own abilities. I become too stuck to try, and fear the mistakes along the way. Then I say, what’s the point of living if you’re not going to make mistakes. Without those mistakes there is no room to grow. I told myself a long time ago that I want to live. I want to live my life, my best life. Currently I am standing in my own way.

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I find myself reciting that sentence in my head throughout each second of the day. It is a constant reminder that God has a plan that is so much greater than the plan I have for myself. I am gifted, I am talented. I fear my own talents. With fear I am not living.

To grow you must  leap, to live you must not be afraid to fly. The saying “To fail is not to try”, also comes to me. My light shines bright, my task: follow it and become that powerful being that is my purpose.

 

Positive thoughts, Positive energy, Positive experiences

 

The non-office work life…why give that up

I have been pondering my move back to the mainland. The problem: I live in Hawaii and I work from home! What an amazing deal I have set up for myself. I start to feel that any mainland job would be taking ten steps backward. An office is not my home, and cold winters cannot match the Hawaiian sun.  However, ultimately for me to move forward in my own self development, and transition to the next stage in life, I need to move back to the mainland. I have been looking for opportunities where I can still live on the mainland and work from home. Yeah, can’t find any. So not only does giving up the island mean transitioning back to mainland life, it means transitioning back to office life. A harsh reality I dread so very much.

Working from home does have it pros and cons. As great as it is, it also gets lonely sometimes. I am the only person around, I can go for hours without talking to another human being, and daytime television gets boring real quick. I enjoy watching The View, but if I watch Dr. Oz too much I begin to get afraid to eat anything, or leave my house because I may get an infection.

I live on an island of paradise, so working from home does have a lot of positives. I can go running by the beach in the morning year round without worrying about being on time for the office, I can do yoga while everyone is at work, I can go to the beach mid day and work with a front row view of the ocean. I can go to the office when I want for conversation and leave when I when I am tired of sitting in the office. Lunch breaks: as long as I want, at what ever time I choose. What is not to like about working from home! The weekend rush at Wal-Mart or the grocery store can be avoided, and when you see your co-workers you are just happy to see them to catch up. No office gossip, no office drama. A care free work environment.  How am I supposed to give that up?

As great as it is, working from home does have it downsides. It takes three times as long to finish a task that could be completed in a matter of minutes in an office environment. For fun I end up yelling at the commentators on Fox News, and watch CNN to catch up on the problems of the world. My refrigerator is always available. At home you will either gain weight by eating, or spend all day working out just because you can.  At home it is tempting to take a nap, your bed is right there! The work that I don’t finish during the day, I end up doing at night, and my work is always around. It is hard to take a break, temptations to check work email at night are a daily hassle. The lines between work life and home life become blurred.

I love my work in Hawaii, I wonder if I can get a similar deal on the mainland. In church today the Pastor spoke of your next  being better than your last. So, no matter how good this experience may seem in this moment, my next will an experience that is one beyond measure, better than I could ever imagine.

 

Positive thoughts, Positive energy, Positive experiences

29 and counting…part 3 Getting over the defeat

5 months, 3 days away from turning 30

A few weeks ago I was feeling really defeated. I just wanted to quit. I wanted to quit everything. I was done. I felt tired of trying and not getting any results. What was I trying to do? Well now that I’m over my feeling of defeat, I am re-examining exactly what it is that I want to do. I start to ask myself, What am I really looking for?

At the end of my twenties, I feel like I followed the path of life that I supposed to go on. At least the plan that my parents may have had for me. I graduated from high school, went to college, graduated from college, even graduated from grad school at NYU! I started working for employers in my field, made a career for myself, moved to the other side of the world, survived in Hawaii, and now I wonder: What’s supposed to come next!

Cover of
Cover via Amazon

What is my next move, and how do I start to make it. I feel like the person in the Robert Frost poem, The Road not taken. I am at a crossroads of two diverging roads, so obviously I should take the road less traveled by. The problem is I don’t even have a sense of which road has been less traveled.

In actuality I always have taken the road less traveled. My life is a representation of taking that chance to make the difference. However, today as I move closer to 30 it appears that life has hit me with uncertainty. Uncertainty about if  that road that few go down is really the right road. I wonder about my career. I love my job, but do I want to do this forever. Should I get a Ph.D. to excel in my career, or do I just want a Ph. D. so people can call me Doctor. I can’t let my ego make life decisions for me, in the end I will just end up in a never-ending battle with my own self.  When I have accomplished everything that was on my “to do” list, what am I really supposed to do next.  Make a new list possibly? Okay, what do I put on it.  The plan that I had at 19 once seemed that it would last  for the rest of my life. At 29 I wonder how long my next plan will last. I really don’t want this feeling again at 39.

There are days when I want to hide, I want to disappear, so I don’t have to make decisions for my own life. I tell myself “WAKE UP!” this is adulthood, accept responsibility for your own life. I wonder if I should try a new career, but what would I do? Would I even like it? I guess I won’t know until I make an attempt. I wonder if I should move to a new city, but will I be happy there?  I need to stop wondering and just do something, anything.  So here it goes, I will set out again on that road less traveled by. I’m going to enter 30 with at new plan, a new outlook, complete bigger and better accomplishments. To fight the feeling of uncertainty I will remember: My best days are ahead of me, and I just have to live for today.

 Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

29 and counting part 2

 

Presently 6 months and 28 days away from 30!              

 

Photo courtesy of Astrid London

Something happens as you get older.  Time starts to fade, and outsiders are suddenly more interested in your personal life than they really should be. Lately I have noticed that more and more people actually have expectations for where I should be in my life. Not career wise because they see that I love my job, and I am independent enough to support myself, but they have a strong interest in my love life. I don’t think I care as much about my own love life as other people do. Why do they care so much? Sometimes I wonder what is so wrong with their own life that they seem to take so much time caring about mine. Yeah, I do go against the grain. I have never been a normal chick anyway. I prefer to march to the beat of my own drum, that way I don’t have to adjust to a new beat when I hate the song anyway. I live my life my way, and it works for me.

In my pre-phase for 30, I already go into each week knowing that at least three people are going to ask me if I am married, do I have a boyfriend, or do I have kids. The follow-up question being, why not? With a comment of, “you are so pretty”.  I have been asked these questions so much that the answers no to all of them, and it just hasn’t happened,  roll off my tongue in the same manner as if someone were to ask me my first name.

As I get older societal expectations grow. Some days it can be overwhelming. In true form, I ignore them. Independence is an anomaly, and to be connected to something, or someone is a 30 something  must have.

I on the other hand look at the glass half full. News flash #1: It is not hard to get married. Believe it or not there are men who want to get married. So sure I could have been married by now.  Would I have been happy? Probably not. Marriage does not guarantee love or happiness. So where would that leave me, 7 months away from 30 and possibly on the road to my first divorce. Yeah, I’ll pass on that one. 30 and divorced does not sound like much fun.

The subject of kids. Yeah, I guess I want them one day. News flash #2, It is not hard to make a baby! So sure I could have had kids by now. My life plan just worked out a little bit differently.  I have more to learn about myself before kids enters the plan.  I love kids, but I also love returning them back to their parents after a few hours.

At 30 people may wonder more than ever when I will settle down, and adjust to what is expected of me. Not sure.  But, I know that I am just where I need to be in life and so life is good.

A daily reminder to myself,  in actuality I am happy where I am at. I went through a lot to get here, so why not enjoy the moment. Five years ago the thought of being able to watch a sunset in Waikiki was an impossible dream that would never happen. Today it is my reality. My life did not happen by accident, it comes with purpose.

A  good friend of mine always tells me not to allow someone to enter my life who is going to take away my happiness. If I allow myself to fall to the pressures of society before the time is right, the end result may be a sacrifice of my happiness. Today I choose to own my happy.

 

To be continued…

 

Photo courtesy of Astrid London