Loving Life

Standard

This morning before joining my team on the beach for our playoff game (we lost *sniff*), I went on a walk down the pier and just simply looked at the ocean.  It was a cloudy day, and the stratocumulous and stratus streaks in the sky created a beautifully dappled water view that was complimented by the occasional peak of golden sun dancing across the lazy waves.

Headphones in, I simply sat and admired the view for a long moment before walking back down the pier with slow steps and a small, just-for-me smile.  It was such a simple, small, insignificant-in-the-scheme-of-things moment, yet it was perfect.

Lately, I’ve been having quite a bit of those moments.  I’ve felt a lot happier and more carefree for the past week or so than I have felt for a long time.  While I am not at the point of complete Hakuna Matata, upon reflection, there are several things that I feel have contributed to this carefree newfound happiness.

Settling in.  I have now been at my new work site for 12 weeks.  At the beginning, it was a super rough start because of teaching three different grade levels, not knowing anyone, and putting my foot in my mouth seemingly every time I tried to make a move at the school.  Now, however, I have a pretty good handle on what I’m teaching, I have made several friends, and I’ve become more accustomed to the odd politics that swirl around the staff.  In short, I’m not longer wearing sunglasses in a dark alleyway.

Entering a new situation, whether it be a move, a job, a relationship, or what have you, is always stressful in the beginning.  If you are an A type personality like me, it can be excruciatingly painful to flounder around in the shallows when you are used to swiftly beelining in the deep end.  However, I am a firm believer in putting myself in uncomfortable situations for the purpose of growth.  There is no way to improve your game past a certain point if the playing field and the players never changes.  Therefore, discomfort is a necessity.

Acceptance.  I have been in a constant struggle with my body for years.  Not that I am overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but like any female who lives in a state with 365 days of beach season, I have a very specific image of what I want to look like when I slip on my itsy bitsy bikini, and 99.9% of the time, I fall short of this picture.  There have been several times when I have reached a point where I am aaaaalmost there, but inevitably something will happen that causes a huge wave of stress in my life, which causes the tremulous hope of achieving said specific look to come crashing down.

Obviously, this sucks.  However, lately I have been giving myself more of break.  In comparison to a fitness model, I am not 1/10th as impressive or in shape.  However, compared to anybody else, I am doing pretty well.  Obviously, I don’t want to set the bar super low just to make myself feel better, but for the past couple of weeks I have stopped beating myself up for every little slip up.  Usually, if eat more than I should or have a drink when I should just pass it up, I mentally pummel myself about it and feel like a giant failure.  Now, I simply acknowledge that that probably wasn’t the best choice, and then simply… let it go.  Oddly enough, I think it has helped me start to get closer to my ideal shape.

When we beat ourselves up for every little failure, we can hardly even enjoy the victories we do have because we are focusing on how far we still have to go rather than how far we’ve come.  I am in no way saying that we should settle into a life of contentment with average and pat ourselves on the back for every mundane “accomplishment”.  However, there is sometimes something to be said for making the journey towards your goal the focus rather than the shining, ever-so-far-away end target.

Release from self-imposed obligation.  I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish, but if I am honest with myself, some of them are goals that I FEEL I should strive for and not my actual personal ambitions.  This leads to me put certain things on my to do list because I feel obligated to do them, not out of actual enjoyment or because of some true deeper desire to fully hit that target.  Usually, I end up not doing these things and then I get down on myself for not hustling hard enough, or not putting in enough effort, or for doing other things with my time rather than shoving my nose to the grindstone.

Lately, though, I’ve let myself fully enjoy the things that I like doing and not really care when I don’t get everything in that I planned out.  I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve let myself off the hook with a lot of things, I am gravitating more towards actually doing them.  In other words, when it’s not a big scary duty, it’s actually something I want to do.  Who woulda thought?

Overall, if you are striving to become better every day, allowing yourself to indulge in what truly makes you happy, keeping your mind and body healthy, and taking the time to wash yourself in the small, beautiful moments that pop up in your life, there is no way that you can’t be truly happy.  Our life is so, so short, yet we tend to live like we have endless amounts of time to squander on beating ourselves down and wallowing in misery.

I say, take steps towards your ideal but leave the shackles of useless obligations and constant regret behind.  Life is a journey, and in order to smell the roses you are going to have to deal with the thorns.  You could try to eliminate all spikes before diving in, but that is both impossible and impractical.  Deal with the pricks but put your main focus on indulging in the deep, rich, floral scent and feeling the smooth velvet against your skin.  In the end, everyone’s last petal will fall, and only you will know if you spent the time basking in your moments of being a prince or wallowing in the few beast-like junctures you may have come across.

From now on, I chose to focus on royalty.

 

 

Living with Intention

Standard

Yesterday as I was driving into work, I realized about half way to my school that I had been driving in silence.  Normally, I have the radio blasting, pumping me up for a long day of dealing with the deep woes and immediate highs that tend to follow adolescent boys and girls.

The fact that I wasn’t listening to the radio didn’t bother me-I don’t mind driving in silence, and in fact it sometimes gives some much needed time for reflection.  What bothered me was that I had not CHOSEN to drive to work in silence.  I had simply continued the silence from when I turned off the radio yesterday to answer a phone call.

In other words, I was just going with the flow.

Now, I am aware that this is hardly a mid-life crisis moment. OH MY GOD, I didn’t choose my station today, now my life is in shambles! *cue dramatic music*  However, I feel like it highlights a bigger problem: we rarely live with intention.

What I mean by living with intention is actively making choices about your daily direction.  What do you want to do and why?  Are you sitting on the couch watching TV because you WANT to sit on the couch and watch TV?  Or are you simply falling into that decision because you sat down and your spouse/roommate/kids had the TV on and it took less effort to just settle in rather than take a moment to stop and analyze what you really wanted/needed to do?

I am not disparaging the occasional night of leisure.  I ended my night yesterday with several episodes of a show that my roommate and I watch together.  The difference is I actively chose this mode of relaxation: I turned the TV on.  I chose the show.  I made sure my work was completed before indulging.  All of those factors made it an experience that I fully engaged in, rather than one that I just let happen to me.

Living with intention and taking control of all of our decisions is actually really tiring, which is why most people simply don’t do it.  Everyone is faced with so many choices throughout the day that we simply have to go with the flow for some things simply to keep our sanity.

The one thing we should not allow to be dictated by everyone else’s current, though, is how we spend our time.  Are you actively arranging your days in order to maximize how YOU want to live?  Or are you acquiescing to the whims of the others in your life and finding your minutes being dedicated to things that you had no part in planning?

Every minute of time that is not dictated by some necessity (i.e. your job, errands, etc) should be spent on something that furthers you.  If you have not mindfully chosen a life path, it is going to be very difficult to cultivate your time wisely.  Not having a definite destination in mind leaves you very susceptible to the currents created by others.

One way to make this easier is to eliminate decisions in other areas of your life.  For example, I eat the same thing for every meal Monday-Friday.  There is exactly zero time spent wondering on what I’m going to eat for dinner, because it’s already made and in my bag.  Additionally, there is no energy spent arguing with myself about whether or not to exercise that day; if it is a weekday, I head straight to the gym after work.  It isn’t even a question.

Those choices weren’t made ‘just because’.  Part of the path that I have chosen includes being physically fit and mentally healthy.  These pre-decided actions move me along that path without the mental struggle of hyping myself up for them each and every day.

If the majority of your steps are decided in advance, you can focus your energy on making advanced strides towards your bigger goals every day.

Living with intention is the only way to actively attain your innermost purpose.  It is paradoxically the most exhausting yet most energizing way to live.  Case in point: if you are a runner, you are used to spending bursts of time with intensity which ultimately leaves you exhausted for a second burst of time.  However, running towards a finish line is infinitely more rewarding than running around the block an unspecified number of times.  Reaching that benchmark ultimately fuels the will to run again.

Our energy is our most precious resource, and if you don’t intentionally use it, it diminishes.  This is why ‘conserving energy’ by sitting on the couch all day does not culminate in an explosion of productivity at the end of the 12 hour binge-watching session.  Instead, you feel like you got hit by a truck.  Conversely, if you spend your time racking up accomplishments, whether they are simple life duties or the foundation of bigger dreams, you end your day feeling invigorated.

Our life happens, and there is no rewind button.  Each day comes and then it is gone. Forever.

In the end, we will either be lamenting everything that happened to us, or exalting in what we made happen.  And at that point, our path will have already been taken, and our choices will have already been made (or not).

Choose with care.  Invest your time wisely.  And most of all, live like you mean it.

Enjoy the Ride

Standard

I love reading successful people’s stories.  You can learn so much by observation, and books are a delightful peek into the mysterious realm of how other people live.  Case in point, yesterday I was finishing up the book #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, and one quote in particular jumped out at me:

“If you start out with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way.”

I love this.  Mostly because I am so very bad at it.  If you know me in person, you know that once I want to accomplish something, I a) don’t stop until it’s done and b) want it done RIGHTNOW.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even fully recognize this ‘head down, full speed ahead’ tendency in myself until I was talking to my mom about something that I wanted to happen and it just wasn’t happening in the timeframe that I wanted it to.  She made the comment “yep, you always did want things to happen exactly how you want it to happen.”

Eye-opening.  Thought-provoking.  Slightly troublesome.  But overall a necessary realization for my self-improvement.

Being goal oriented and bull-headed is not necessarily an all negative thing.  If something needs to get done, and it’s not all smooth sailing, you want a little bit of stubborn ‘oh HELL no’ in you.  Knowing that you will do whatever it takes to accomplish a task is a valuable asset, and those are the type of people you want by your side when the going gets tough.

However, this trait has a tendency to seep into other areas of life where it is not so helpful.  For me, this is relationships.  When I know what I want out of a relationship, be it romantic, a friendship, or a work partnership, I fully expect these possibilities to be realized with little to no delay.

And this, friends, is where the negative side of this FULLSTEAMAHEAD personality rears its ugly head.  It’s all well and good to know what you want out of YOUR life and YOUR goals, but when there are other people involved, they need to be taken into consideration too.

People are tricky.  Push them too much, and they withdraw.  Give them too much space, and they leave you behind.  Finding the correct balance between the two extremes is always hard, and what makes it harder is that you might find the right ratio for one person, and then another person comes along who is completely different.

Knowing your personal expectations and why you have those expectations is a good way to start off any sort of relationship or journey towards a goal.  If you are putting in the honest, sincere effort to make sure you are making headway towards what you want, and that effort is being reciprocated or shown to be getting results, relax on the timeline.  It will get there if it’s meant to get there.

Many times we succumb to society’s ideals of what a journey should look like or when we should reach a certain destination.  Females especially are susceptible to this pitfall.  If you are making progress towards a goal, a life desire, or even simply just having fun, you are doing it right.

The concept of the journey along the way being the ‘fun stuff’ is such a valuable mindset to have.  Life IS experience.  If you are experiencing things, you are living!  There are so many different paths to chose, and choosing the path should be equally as exciting as reaching the end of the path.

However, you should not be experiencing the same things over and over.  One of my friends on Facebook posted a live video today talking about how we need to add drama (the good kind) to our lives so that we can have a bomb story at the end of our life adventure.  This is such an awesome point–who likes to hear about people who are boring?  Not me.

The journey towards your destination IS the drama, IS the fun stuff, IS your life.  How many times have you heard someone’s story and thought wow, that is really awesome.  I want to do something like that.

Guess what?

You can.  Absolutely, totally, 100%.

Everyone needs aspirations.  Everyone needs something to strive for.  Everyone needs to take the necessary steps to improve themselves.  And in the end, all people should be able to point to something concrete and say “I did that.”

But…the fun part is HOW you did it.

The fact that you are here, in 2017, in the exact body and location that you were given is mind-boggling if you really think about it.  Take advantage of it–make your life just as crazy, if not more so, than the chances of you being you.  Because when it comes down to brass tacks, there’s really no other option.

And so, without further ado…

LET’S RIDE.

 

My Eye of the Storm

Standard

Right now, it feels like my life is one giant chaotic hurricane.  I am in the process of looking for another ‘just-in-case’ job.  I am trying to find a temporary place to live.  I have massive amounts of grading to do.  I myself have to write several letters of recommendation for teachers in my department that are possible laid off as well.  I am in charge of a million different things at my school, all of which seemed to have events this month.  GAH!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to write my usual two posts a week.  Sitting down now, I was just about to start in on my work when I took a pause, and reminded myself:

It will get done.

It doesn’t matter if I take an hour or two to write this post.  I know myself, and I will handle my responsibilities like I always do.  However, if I don’t take time to do things for myself during periods of high demand, that’s when the possibility of failure becomes real.

Humans are tricky beings.  Sometimes, the very thing that seems to create the most productivity (grind grind grind!) is the very act that leads to our downfall.

We are not meant to push ourselves to the absolute limit each and every day.  We can do it for a period of time, but eventually, progress crashes to a halt.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way with working out.  I thought that if I worked out three times a day and ate next to nothing, I would drop weight like a player drops an old fling.  Lies.  The scale would not budge, and it actuall shot up whenever I didn’t stick to my iron regimen.  Now that I’m eating a normal amount of food and working out once a day, I am actually seeing results.

That’s not to say that there can’t be periods of time where you need to hit the gas over a longer span of time.  However, if we make that our go to MO, it will catch up to us eventually.

When our life becomes highly chaotic, that is when we most need to take the time to center ourselves and take the steps necessary to clear the cobwebs from our head.

But, these also have to be purposeful moments.  A lot of the time we push ourselves so hard that our recovery is sitting on the couch watching TV or going out and binge-drinking.  This is not actual recovery time, because it does nothing to re-energize you.  Every time I waste an entire night watching TV, I feel annoyed with myself for not getting SOMETHING done.

The goal of taking time off should be to advance something that you and only you will benefit from (which will lead into peripheral benefits for others).  This is proven time and time again by mothers who ‘selfishly’ take an hour for themselves to work out, and instantly see the positive impact this purposeful time makes in their day to day lives.

Many people might say that taking time off to be productive defeats the purpose of taking time off.  However, the end goal of time off should be an increase in enjoyment and re-solidification of your purpose.

Think back to the times when you were the most happy.  For me, those times include being with the people I love and care about, reading a great book, or working out.  All of those things, besides giving me contentment, move me towards a personal goal.

There is also a flip side to this coin.  If you are a person who doesn’t push themselves at all, in any capacity, or for any purpose, you are failing yourself.  If your whole life is simply floating in a giant inner-tube being pulled every which way by the current, this is a waste.

Every person is given the chance to make their life purposeful.  The awesome and intimidating reality of this is that you get to choose your purpose.  And the scarier part is, it might not be the same as the people next to you.

Humans are not solitary creatures by nature, and it is very easy to look to someone stronger than you and emulate their life and projected purpose.  It gives us a feeling of safety when we see other people doing the same thing.

However, the beautiful thing about life is that there are no two people who are on the same journey.  If you have truly solidified where you want to go, and actively work towards that goal on a day to day basis, there is an inner sense of contentment that no one can take away from you.

Passionately be at the helm of your own ship.  The entire world is lounging before us, and no matter where you intend to end up, it’s always more rewarding if you earnestly battled the storms and Kraken’s to get there.  You are not a message in a bottle waiting to be drifted to a foreign land.  An epic journey awaits you if you simply pull out your sword and bravely unfurl the sails.

 

 

 

Validation

Standard

Today I had a very humbling realization:  I don’t always do the right thing.

Now, as much as I know, logically, that I can’t possible do the right thing every single time, there is a part of me that feels that I usually bat 1000 when it comes to human interactions.  I pride myself on my ability to integrate myself with others, and today I was slapped in the face with the reality that sometimes, I’m not only not good at person to person relations, there is the occasional interaction that I completely, utterly fuck up.

To elaborate, there are 18 teachers in my school, including me, who received possible non-reemploy notices for next year.  One of those teachers is 4 months pregnant, and she was devastated at the news.

Today after our staff meeting I gave her a hug and attempted to cheer her up by saying “look at it from the lens of possibility!  You’ll be ok!” to which she replied “shut up Hannah…just shut up”.

Now, my immediate inner reaction was to rear up on my high horse and and condemn her for such rude hostility.  How dare she not be inspired by my waves of positivity!  How could she not see that I was a vibrant fountain of constructive forward thought!  Fine, she could just wallow in her negativity.

When I mentioned this story to someone else (with the expectation, of course, that he would immediately agree that I was such a beacon of light and my coworker needed to recognize), he simply said “people don’t want to hear all that.”

This made me pause.

Why WOULDN’T someone who is feeling down and out want to hear about how things are going to get better and that they will come out on top?  Isn’t that better than agreeing with them that the world is crashing down around them?  Don’t people want to have someone point out all the good things when they are focusing on the bad?

And then I realized: people don’t want to hear anything until they know that their current feelings are validated.  Feeling validated is a basic need of every single human being, and any advice given before validation occurs will simply be seen as patronization.

This, of course, was a bitter pill to swallow.  Here I had been riding along on my high horse, thinking that I was magnanimously sprinkling goodwill flowers for everyone to enjoy, when really I was coming off as the smug little goody-two-shoes, pat-patting everyone on the head with a small “there there”.

Being the type of person who legitimately wants to help people, this realization kills me.  Being the type of person who will not accept less than perfection from myself, it also prompted thoughts about how I can truly, honestly legitimize someone’s feelings.  How can I change my approach so that I am ACTUALLY someone people can count on versus only being that person in my head?

In my view, it all comes down to one simple thing: listening.  When I was busy spouting my words of supposed wisdom, I was failing to actually listen to what my co-worker was going through.  This woman, a cornerstone of our school, is facing the possibility of bringing a baby girl into the world on only her husband’s income with no health insurance.  If you live in the boondocks, that’s no problem.  Here in California?  HA.

The bottom line is, her feelings are extremely real and valid, and no amount of positive fluff will change that.  There is an extreme difference between being legitimately there for someone versus using someone else’s issues to showcase your own thoughts and feelings.

Listening to someone, really listening, is usually the only thing that truly helps in any sort of rough situation.  Feelings are ever-changing and maddeningly, unaffected by logic.  Yet paradoxically, sometimes the only thing that can help change someone’s emotions is the simple acknowledgment that their state of mind is real and that it is okay.

When I think back on all of the times I’ve been upset and stayed upset for any length of time, it was simply due to the fact that I felt like my feelings were not heard.  When I have confirmation that my current reaction is acknowledged, usually, magically, my negativity dissipates.

Facing realizations about how you have screwed up sucks.  I always want to be the best version of myself, and when it’s pointed out to me that my approach to a situation was terrible, my prancing gelding suddenly turns into a rock that I am frantically trying to crawl under.

But if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I don’t give up.  And so, I turn my head onward with the torch of new realizations lighting my way.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time I come across someone in a state of internal agony, but I will try my damndest to make sure that it will be the last time I try to fill the space between us with my own useless words.

Shit happens.  Life can be a real freakin’ bitch sometimes, and people react to things in different ways.  And you know what?  If I think the way I react to things is ok, I have no right to judge how others react.  The only thing I can do is listen, squeeze their hand, hand them tissues, and then shut up and listen some more.

Creating Steam

Standard

This weekend was a three day weekend for me and an amazing one at that.  I felt incredibly happy the majority of the time, yet looking back, I’m dissatisfied with how some of my time was spent.

On Friday night, I chilled out with my roommate and watched ‘our show’.  This isn’t a problem, but the fact that I didn’t do ANYTHING else is.

On Monday, my extra day off, I cleaned in the morning, but napped in the afternoon and fell asleep really early that night.  I was going to do some life errands, but I put them off until today.  Uncool.

While this may seem like a typical weekend for most people,  I know that I don’t want to be most people.  I want to accomplish a lot in life.  Like, a LOT a lot.  Like, an insane amount.  And that requires that my extra time be utilized to its maximum capacity.

Most weekends, I find it incredibly easy to work on the things that I am building in my life.  It feels exciting and fun.  But this past weekend, I lost my momentum.  I wasn’t feeling inspired on Friday and Monday, and I simply didn’t care that much.

So what does this reveal?  Does this imply that I shouldn’t be working as hard as I have been?  Does this suggest I should lower my expectations of myself because they are clearly a bit unrealistic?  Does this foreshadow the impending doom of my lofty ideals?

Hell no.

Upon reflection, I realized that I am never going to be gung-ho, balls out, 2 year old who just got a sucker excited about reaching my goals 100% of the time.  That’s just not possible.  I’m going to get tired.  I’m going to get discouraged.  I’m going to get lazy.  This is normal.

But, I don’t want to be normal.  The difference between ordinary and extraordinary lies in pushing through those moments where you feel like you’ve hit a wall.  Ordinary stops and shrugs its shoulders.  Extraordinary picks up a sledgehammer and starts swinging.  Ordinary makes excuses.  Extraordinary refuses to give in to stumbling blocks.  Ordinary settles.  Extraordinary achieves.

Creating the incredible requires that you just. keep. going.  Everything is so easy when you have that inner desire.  Sometimes, though, you can lose your steam.  Its disheartening when you can observe this happening in yourself.    If you feel like your fire is dimming, take steps to fan your own flames.

In order to create steam you need fire and water, much like creating progress takes motivation and effort.  You’re going to have to add fuel in order to keep the flames alive.  Most of the time, the wood is conveniently plopped in the stockpile close at hand.  Sometimes, it’s still going to be in tree form and require an ax and some muscle.   Other times, you’re going to have more than enough wood, but adding more water becomes necessary so the pot doesn’t boil dry.  It could be as simple as turning on a tap, or as consuming as grabbing a pail, hiking a couple miles, and filling that sucker up.

Regardless of what you need to do in order to keep the momentum, it is going to take mental determination.  Being willing to put in the extra effort creates the difference between achieving awesomeness and settling for humdrum and mainstream.

Sometimes, putting in the effort is easy because the flames of motivation are hot.  Other times, it’s simply a matter of principle that keeps you going.

When it comes to promises made to other people, are you a man or woman of your word?  If you are, how much more important is a promise to yourself?  Know what you want to achieve, and make yourself a promise that you will get there.

And then?

Keep your promise.

Your Authentic Self

Standard

I have a student who moved here at the beginning of the year and is quite different from all of my other students that I teach.  Mary* works extremely hard at school, takes dance classes every night, is involved in the drama class, belongs to the speech and debate club, AND wants to start a Junior National Honor Society Chapter at our school.

When I talk to her about the future, she tells me she is planning on auditioning for our Fine Arts College during her sophomore year of school (since she moved here too late to audition this year).  She also laughs off the notion that she needs to relax a bit, saying that doing all of these things now will give her more options in the future.

To top it off, this girl is also the most polite and sweet child I have ever had the privilege of teaching.  Her fellow students snicker when she talks and gives answers in class, mostly because she is a glaring anomaly in a sea of kids who have zero ambition and no future plan.

I am ashamed to admit, I find her irritating at times.  She asks for her scores at inopportune times, will come back again and again if I am busy at the moment, and takes up my time in between classes because she enjoys talking to me about whatever is going on in her life.

Why am I telling you this?

She is always no holds barred, unapologetically, in-your-face, 100% her authentic self.

 I cannot help but admire her.  She knows what she wants.  She takes the steps to accomplish it.  And I will bet you my life savings that she is going to BE somebody someday.  If she is this determined and strong in 8th grade, at a school where the culture is anything but goal-oriented, who knows to what heights she will soar when she gets around people who will embrace her true self rather than be intimidated by it.

I am almost 28 years old, and while I have always been someone who accomplishes what I set out to accomplish, it has taken me this long to be ok with my own authenticity.  Growing up, I was always a person who secretly worried about what other people thought of me.  Do they like me?  Why not?  Why aren’t they talking to me?  OMG why ARE they talking to me? Should I wear this outfit?  Talk about this topic?  Maybe I need to be more serious/goofy/like them. And on and on.

Thank GOD I have gotten over myself.

A couple weekends ago, I hung out with a group of girls, one of whom rubbed me the the wrong way COMPLETELY.  When I talked to my roommate about it later, she said “Yeah, it was so obvious you were annoyed, and I could tell she thought you were annoying too.”

A couple years ago, a comment like that would have crushed me.  She thought I was annoying?  OMG-Now I need to change everything about myself.  I’m obviously a terrible person.

Today, I don’t give two flying f*cks about whether she thought I was irritating or not, because I know who I am, and dammit, I like who I am.

Revealing your true self is one of the scariest yet empowering things you can choose to do.  People gravitate towards authenticity, no matter what form it comes in.  If someone is genuinely a sweetheart, those around her will notice and appreciate her thoughtfulness.  If someone is genuinely an asshole, peers will grumblingly admire his honesty.

If you are true to yourself, those who surround you will be able to sense the credibility in your actions.  You attract the vibes you put out in the universe: fake begets fake, real begets real.

Success will come much faster and more abundantly to those who achieve it through being legitimate.  Real desire, reliable work, and a convincing vision will win over slimy networking and brown-nosing any day.  Those who are at the top have zero reason NOT to showcase their ultimate selves, and they got to where they are by shedding their masks and using their verity to their advantage.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have cart blanche to be a terrible person and hold out the “authentic self” card like an all-encompassing shield of justification.  If you are that person who is authentically an asshole, stay true to the genuine core of who you are, but take the steps to soften the edges.  It is 100% possible to be true to yourself AND work on self-improvement at the same time.

Finding and displaying your pure self takes a lot of courage in the beginning.  It’s hard to shed the need for other’s approval.  But when you understand who YOU are, you can use that knowledge to propel you forward in life.  Trying to make progress without accepting yourself is like walking on a treadmill: you may get a workout in, but you’re not actually traveling anywhere worthwhile.

Overall, you will be surprised by how many people actually LIKE you for you.  In a world of filters, contour, and butt surgery, finding individuals who proudly display their personality  like Mary* is a rarity.  Take a chance.  Let others around you see your hidden glow.  You just might find the tools you’ve been needing to take the next step towards your optimal life have been hidden behind your walls this whole time.