What I’d say to my nineteen-year-old self (though she probably wouldn’t listen.)

by Jaime on February 1, 2012

The best part of being me is not actually being me.

In the dictionary I made up to use this point, the definition of your faithful denim blogger tells of  ”a consistently loud, both socially AND physically awkward girl-woman who consistently forgets her ‘place’ (what is this, the 1920s? I know we still don’t get equal pay, but we’re in the equal rights range. Right?), says inappropriate things just because in that moment before the word vomit ensues, she thinks, ‘You know, I’m absolutely smart enough to realize that I shouldn’t say this, but it’s so funny to me and I’m hoping people get extremely uncomfortable that the tiny girl is talking about [insert any number of countless things that people whom I actual consider intellectual equals will either laugh at or roll their eyes with acceptance that I'm really kind of an eight year old when I need to be the most mature and mild-mannered] so heck, why not?’ and who took almost 25 years to accept that there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Thanks to this blog, I’ve been able to help (at least, I call it helping) thousands of women feel better about who they are. It makes the (far fewer) negative people easier to deal with, but at the end of the day, I happen to be a super flawed person. I don’t apologize for that anymore. After years of trying to fit into the mold of what I thought I should be, being told that I need to change who I am to succeed and probably being called every possible crappy mean thing (sometimes, in multiple languages!), I realized two really, really important things:

1. If you are kind, caring and take action not only to prevent harm but to help those in it – but you have some trait or quirk (and I love that word – quirks are such a positive thing) that people tell you isn’t “normal” or “okay,” then that person hasn’t yet become willing to accept who you are. They’re flawed, and that’s what makes them special; if they come around because you constantly prove that your heart is in the right place, then congratulations! You made a difference in someone’s life. If they don’t accept you, quirks and all, remember this: those hurtful things they’re saying to you? It’s how they feel about themselves. Hopefully they’ll learn to accept who they are, no matter what kind of person that is. But you don’t need to apologize. And you don’t need to change.

2. Always bust your ass, go above and beyond (in work, friendship, relationships and personal growth), ask for help when you don’t know something and trust your gut instincts when something seems a bit off. Even the worst experiences in life are experiences, and if you learn from them then nothing is a waste. Maybe you feel that people have placed undue pressure on you to be something or someone you’re not (and if you sit down and really look at it all, you tend to find that the pressure usually isn’t coming from others. It’s coming from you). Or maybe you’re in a situation where you are constantly told to just fit in and quit making waves. Stick to your guns – always. And remember that there is literally no obstacle keeping you from leaving other than yourself (and, in my case, your own foolish, misplaced pride) – no one is going to come wave a magic wand. Fairy godmothers do not exist. But, really, Cinderella kind of sucked at being anything more than a doormat.

This is a month late for resolutions, so let’s just call these some really important life lessons. What I learned in 2011 is that sometimes being the best at what you do isn’t good enough. Sometimes you’re going to be a ridiculously awkward outcast and, when that happens, you’ll start to focus on the things you’re told you need to “fix” to “fit in” – whether it’s your parents, friends, coworkers… it doesn’t matter. You’re the only one you can control.

Me? I’m too loud when I laugh, but people can’t laugh at you if you’re happy. Only with you.

I work strange, unorthodox hours because I like to do things when I can put in the most passion and get a quality result. If 8-5 is your time to be most productive and you really, genuinely love what you do, then great! But I would rather occasionally wake up at (or stay up until) four am because I can’t help but want to finish something amazing.

I choose to wear absolutely absurd clothing because it makes me laugh to see people complimenting me. I’m aware that I’ve chosen something that is ridiculous, inappropriate for the situation/environment or just plain unattractive.

I can be uncomfortably and painfully blunt, but never intentionally cruel – looking back, I often wish that during the periods in my life where I was struggling, someone would have told me how they felt instead of trying to protect my feelings. I had already made enough of a mess of my feelings on my very own; I needed someone to tell me that my selfishness was cowardly and pointless. Maybe I would have listened, maybe not. But knowing me, I would have welcomed the slap to the face. (Well, maybe not right away. I haven’t gotten less stubborn since then.)

I share a bit more than most people for two reasons: I never want anyone to think that I (or anyone else, for that matter) am perfect, and the best way for me to accept some of the less-than-wonderful things I’ve felt or done is to talk it out… and maybe make a horrible, life-altering experience into a story that you can laugh about.

I have never judged a person for who they are, nor have I ever (and I mean this literally) been shocked or disgusted by something someone did. I’ve made mistakes and I have scars, and I still need to look at myself in the mirror everyday. I’ll leave the judgment for those who have lived a perfect life without making a mistake or being a jerk in their own mind. Since I’m a jerk every single day (both in my mind and out loud, accidentally and – well, because I’m a jerk.), I’d rather just surround myself with people who “get me” and know that the word vomit is just that – a purging of things and thoughts I neither want nor need.

(Gross.)

Oh, and sometimes I say really disgusting things to get my point across (or because I, once again, find myself too funny to selfishly stay silent…) because there’s a time and place to be polite, and there are times to backhand someone hard (metaphorically speaking, of course). I know not to curse in front of my grandparents or scream obscenities at the underpaid customer service representative. And I know some people hate hearing derogatory terms (I have a hefty list that set me off). But honestly, I love swearing when there is nothing but my personal giddiness of saying a word that I’m “not supposed to.”

(Fuck.)

I will always be a work in progress. But there’s no moving forward if you can’t let go of the past.

Let it go.

Love,
Me.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paula @lkg4sweetspot February 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

Very well said!

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