Friday, November 28, 2014

Life Embraced

Recently, I have come across a number of young women seeking life advice. These women are from various cities across the world. Most of them range between 21 and 30. Ironically, most of their questions are very similar, if not exactly the same. I believe that it’s because despite who you are or where you’re from, everyone goes through the same struggles around the same time. It’s the moment in life when you finally face adulthood. I like to call it “Life Embraced.”

I’m a dream chaser - My mother claims that I was born underneath a wandering star. I grew up in one of the smallest towns in the south you could possibly ever imagine. I was thirteen before I ever spent a week away from my mother, and even then I only went to stay with my grandparents forty-five minutes away. I thought that my mother was going to lose her mind. We have always been incredibly close, so it was difficult for her to let me spread my wings.

Still, she has always been incredibly supportive. She began stressing very early on that I was required to go to college. It wasn’t optional. I could choose where I went. I could choose what I wanted to do, but I had to go. My mother never pushed her opinions on me. When a lot of parents said things like “I’ll only pay for this if… (Insert ridiculous restriction here)” my mother said “Find something that makes you happy. And work your ass off. You’re going to college to learn, not to party. But partying will be a fun perk.”

My stepfather on the other hand, was the one who wanted to apply restrictions. He wanted me to stay in Tennessee and start out at the local junior college, then maybe go to a University an hour or two away. He expected me to study nursing like my mother had. When I chose a fancy-schmancy liberal arts college and chose Film as my major, he tried to convince my mother to force me to stay home. She wouldn’t. Near or far, my mother would always be my biggest fan. Support was built in to my childhood.

When I began applying to Universities, I refused to apply within state. Financially it was going to be much more difficult for me to afford, but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Tennessee. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in the south. I applied to over fifty colleges. Most were four or more hours away. I had narrowed it down to Harding University in Arkansas (a religious affiliated school) and Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri (the second oldest women’s college in the nation.) I chose Stephens. What I didn’t realize was that decision was going to shape the rest of my life. A women’s college education is very liberal. It comes with very few restrictions, and has it’s own built in support group made up of other like minded women that become something similar to a make-shift family.

The point is, even if I didn’t know it at the time –I was setting myself up for success. I picked a great school with unlimited opportunity. The other women I met while in college motivated and inspired me to reach higher, and do more. Maybe you’re already in school somewhere. Maybe you’ve graduated already, but you still have to set yourself up to succeed. Make a plan. Plans for me are like goals, only if I redirect my efforts and change my plans, it doesn’t feel like a failure. Goals/plans change over time. We grow. We change as people. Obviously what we want to accomplish will change as well. 
            You just need to start with a plan, and continue to push to achieve whatever that plan is. And surround yourself by people who are trying to do the same thing. Those are the people you will climb up your ladder with you. They will encourage you. You will feed off of their motivation. Find a place to be the best version of yourself and stop at nothing.

Cut out the bullshit – Before I went away to college, people from High School had very low expectations for me. When everyone else’s scholarships were announced at graduation, they skipped over mine. I was the lesbian. The hillbilly. None of my siblings went to college before me, so I would likely follow suit? Right? NO. There will always be haters. There will always be someone telling you that you can’t do something. Do it anyway. And when you’re done, don’t look back. Life is too short for “I told you so’s.” You’re not doing what you’re doing to prove others wrong. You’re doing it to prove yourself right. So love yourself enough to succeed.

Love hurts – You’re going to fall in love. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’re probably going to break the hearts of others. You will have moments where you feel like your entire world is falling apart, and you will have moments when you think that you will never love again. That isn’t true. Not every person you fall in love with is the one that you’re meant to be with forever. Some things in life are meant to be temporary.

Sometimes we are supposed to love for a moment, whether we are learning a lesson from that person, helping them along with something they’re going through, or figuring out what it is that we don’t want and can’t deal with. Heartbreaks suck. It can make you feel like you’re worthless, and make you believe that you are flawed. This is not the case. You are perfect just the way you are, but there’s a chance the two of you weren’t perfect together and that’s why it didn’t work out.

It’s ok to let go. It’s ok to move on. And it is okay to try again with someone else. And in the instance that you are the one who has been broken up with and you are struggling to get over it, keep in mind that everything is temporary. There is a reason it didn’t work out – whether it be the wrong person, poor timing, or maybe even because there’s someone else out there who is a better fit for both of you.

Embrace life… Let it happen. Love yourself enough to make this life the best you could ever have. Settle for nothing less than everything life has to offer…

All questions can be directed to

Remember me, I’m Tennessee. 

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