To be a girl

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To be a girl means dealing with a lot. An array of things that our male counterparts don’t have to.

We are taught from a young age that being a girl means being feminine. But what is feminine? Skirts, dresses, flowers, makeup, etc? What makes skirts feminine and shorts not? Why not combat boots instead of heels?

We’re taught to bite our tongues when we’re little. Cursing isn’t feminine, so we shouldn’t say fuck or shit. We should keep our legs crossed while we sit. We shouldn’t be sarcastic because that’s not attractive. We need to watch how we act and carry ourselves around the opposite sex because why would they want to date us otherwise?

I know there are exceptions to every rule. Not every girl wants to date a boy. Some girls date girls. Some girls don’t want to date at all. And yet the world keeps shoving men in our face. We’re taught that without a man, we are incomplete. It’s everywhere we look: in our movies, books and television. The notion of painful romance is normalized. The “I can’t survive without you” kind of love.

But to be a girl not only means dealing with a lot. To be a girl means fighting tooth and nail to know what it’s like to stand on your own. I’m in no way the poster child for this, I’m still learning but I think it’s nice for us girls to learn together.

I’m learning what it means to be okay on my own. I’ve yet to be successful with relationships and for the longest time I thought that meant there was something wrong with me. But it’s not me. I haven’t found the right person to be in love with or to love me. So right now I am my own right person.

I recently turned a corner in standing up for myself. I refuse to bite my tongue, sit down, bat my eyelashes and look pretty when someone hurts me. From this point forward, when someone hurts me, I will be cutting, I will be firm and I will stand up for me. I am my own right person and that person is a girl that may be a little insecure, but deserves being fought for nonetheless.

So, to all the other girls out there like me, who might not be completely confident with who they are – who sometimes feel pretty – who sometimes want to flick the world off and curse like a sailor with her friends – who sometimes just wants someone to kiss her and tell her she’s beautiful – who sometimes just wants to be alone: Fight for you.

Be your own right person. Or start learning how to be that person. It may take a long time and it may seem impossible. But no one else but you can make you whole. Whether you like boys or girls or no one at all – you are the only one that can make you whole.

So don’t let the world tell you to shut your mouth, sit still and smile because you’re a girl and you should be aware of how you come off to others.

No. Someone hurts you – you look them in the eye, bare your teeth when you grin and give them hell.

Mental health

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(Photo credit: My lovely best friend Rebecca Snarr)

I took a mental health weekend. If anyone here has never taken a mental health day or couple of days, they should strongly consider it. I am a firm believer in taking time for yourself, to unwind, examine your thoughts and just breathe.

Every now and again I just need some time to rewire, to think about where I am, what I am doing and where I want to be. Some times are more difficult than others and taking stock of what is going through your head is never simple. You have to be ready to analyze and face certain aspects about yourself that you might not like.

I decided to go home for the weekend, being home back in Norfolk is one of the best places I know where I can escape the daily routine and just have fun. All of my closest friends are there, my family is there, etc. It is warm and it is welcoming and I know my loved ones that are there are always willing to lend a helping hand or shoulder to lean on.

I’ve been feeling off, for lack of a better word, these last few weeks. Not like myself. My confidence has been waning, I’m struggling to lock down a new job during a time when all I want to do is move on to the next and better thing. I tend to compare myself to a nomad, I don’t tend to stay in one place for very long. When I feel I have gotten all I can from a place I become restless and feel trapped when I cannot get out.

Here are a few things that have been running through my head:

  • I want to leave Maryland but have no feasible way of doing so at the moment.
  • I am searching for a new job but have been met with nothing but radio silence/rejection.
  • I am homesick.
  • My next potential move, should it work out, could take me far away and that is a frightening concept.
  • I have absolutely no idea what I am doing dating-wise and my confidence when it comes to boys has never been great.

I’ve been wrestling with all of this for weeks now. Maybe a month, I’m not sure. And while the mental health weekend did help – it far from solved my problems.

My mom gave me a book quite a few years ago, back when I was in college. I can’t recall the title at the moment but it was written for women in AA who need a little help keeping themselves in the moment and connecting to the present.

Anxiety keeps me spinning in the ether a lot of the time, so when I have rough moments I read it to keep me locked in today.

Last night when I was reading the entry for today, January 10th, I came across a few things that were really poignant to me. It really stuck out in relation to me taking a mental health weekend to feel better about my current situation. So I will leave a few of my favorite lines from it – in case anyone else aside from myself needs a reminder:

  • “Laughter recharges our entire being; every cell is activated. We come alive, and full vitality restores us physically and emotionally.”
  • “It’s never too late to turn our lives around, to laugh instead of complain.”
  • “We all want health and happiness in ourselves and others, and we can find it by creating it. The best prescription for whatever ails us may well be a good laugh.”

I wrote a poem last year

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My grandmother died last year. But saying “last year” makes it seem so far away when in reality, it happened just over a month ago.

We were not related by blood. She was the mother of my step-father, who has been in my life since I was about 4 years old. She was as much a part of my family as my own grandparents – but much more loving.

If you know me, you know my blood grandparents are not very kind people. They’re far from being warm and affectionate. But they are my grandparents, so I love them regardless.

But Jackie Richardson was one of the good ones. She had her issues, as we all do, and she struggled probably more than anyone deserves. Jackie was kind, soft-spoken, genuine, loving and honest. She was strong.

I was not as close to her as I would have liked to be. But I loved her all the same. And she paid attention.

The thing that struck me most about her was something that occurred after she passed. In her final wishes she requested that I write and read an original poem. I found this out two days before the funeral – I was shocked – nothing like that had ever been asked of me and I didn’t want to screw it up.

I’m not big on poetry writing, I enjoy reading it now and again but it’s never been my passion. But I was happy to do it for her.

I debated whether or not I should post the poem, because it was more personal. But I take pride in it and I was happy to be able to give her something that she wanted even after she left us. Also, maybe reading it will give someone else who has lost a loved one some comfort.

For Grandmommy:

Although I am gone
I am still here
Exalted and sublime
Wrapped in golden sunlight

Although I am gone
I am still here
Glistening and translucent
In the very tears you shed

Although I am gone
I am still here
In your smile
In your laugh
In your heart

I will remain here
In the twinkle of your eye
In the ripples if your dreams
In your memories
In your hopes
And in the safety of your love

I will remain here
In spirit
And in bliss
For your eternity and mine

Rejection

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I dealt with a rejection today. It’s only 9 a.m. and it’s definitely not the way I wanted to start the day but here I am.

The rejection was from a job I applied for, from a publication closer to home. A job I really thought I had a chance at. And even though they weren’t interested in me, I remain confident that I was qualified for the position.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? How do you remain confident in the face of rejection? How do you pick yourself out of the hole when someone looks at you, studies you, analyzes what you do and says: No thanks?

It’s hard, it really is. I’ve faced my fair share of rejections in all manners of my life from college applications (shoutout to ODU), jobs, contests, friendships and romantic relationships. Rejection is part of life. I forced myself to learn that when I became a writer!

Anyway, I was rejected today. After weeks of mulling over the millions of possibilities this job could bring me over and over again in my head (shoutout to you anxiety), it all came to a very abrupt and anticlimactic end simply by reading an email. Suddenly, those possibilities were gone and all it took was 5 seconds.

So, how do we handle rejection?

I used to crumble at the idea of rejection and in certain areas of my life I still do. But at least, when it comes to jobs, the only thing I know is to square my shoulders and keep going. I bum out for a minute, we all deserve a little block of time to mourn whatever it is we lost, and then I move on.

In a few years, when I have a better job – an amazing job – one that I love, I’ll look back and be thankful for the moment they decided to reject me. It just wasn’t in the cards. This job just wasn’t meant to be.

A lot easier said than done, I know. But, I always try to remind myself of the insane sense of pride that will swell through me when I look back, years in the future, and think to myself: Wow, you really missed out when you didn’t pick me.