Category Archives: Life

Face Your Fears

That saying about how you leave a piece of you everywhere you go? It’s true.

In December of 2012, I graduated college as an overwhelmed, under-confident, confused and terrified girl. I knew who I wanted to be but not how to change into that person. I knew what I wanted to do, but not how to achieve it. I knew I wanted to feel alive, but I didn’t know how.

I hopped on a flight–actually I hopped on 19 flights–and every time I left a place, I left a small piece of that insecure and shy and unsure girl. Every time I hopped on a plane, I was different–I gained vision or confidence or fearlessness or a feeling of comfort with who I am. I gained a sense of sureness in me and my judgment and my sense of humor and my decision making. Throughout eight countries, as I fought through talking with strangers and liaising with government officials and learning new languages and teaching, I found my sense of self.

Right now, I don’t feel a pressing need to escape–it’s a new feeling for me, wanting to stay (mostly) put. Whereas I can recall–and have the journal entries to prove–that I was desperate to change and be shaken before, now I’m not. That alone tells me that I’ve made progress.

Do I still have things to work on? I cannot say yes quickly enough! But this isn’t a celebration of my perfection–this is a celebration of my progress.

Now, less than 2 years later (21 months, actually) I wouldn’t recognize that other girl. I am well on my way to being who I want to be, and for the first time ever, I am happy with myself. I achieved what I set out to do. I have never felt more alive. This is my definition of success.

So my advice to anyone who is looking to grow: Do exactly what it is that you’re terrified of. For me, it was leaving my safety net and having to make decisions by myself. Throw yourself into those situations that you think will leave you paralyzed with fear.

Tbilis--the Griffin that guards the Burberry store.
Tbilis–the Griffin that guards the Burberry store.

I promise that you will surprise yourself. …I certainly did.

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be brave.

I am a walking cliche, me with my liberal arts degree and massive mountain of student debt. Me, the privileged white girl who is teaching English in a developing country. Me, who truly and completely wants to change the world. People don’t like that I have no idea what I am going to do next, and when asked to describe my perfect job, I cannot.

Society wants me to get a 9-5 job in finance or work on the Hill, but I don’t know what I am going to do with my life.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to follow the money or follow the cause. I have sincerely thought about couch-surfing as a profession. I am 23! Kudos to the rest of you, getting engaged or BUYING A HOUSE, or starting a family, but I am kinda freaking out!! And society is telling me not too, but why not? Why can I not be confused and hesitant?

Dear me, and every other 22, 32, or 42 year old,

It is okay if right now you are not where you want to be. I am giving you permission to express discontent with where you are while not knowing where you want to end. Stay up all night thinking of options, and realize the next day half of those options are inconceivable. Dream. Flip a coin. Choose the money. Or heck, choose the cause. Quit the job you hate without having another form of employment lined up. Your high school, college, or career resume does not define you. You have more thoughts than can fit on a piece of paper in Times New Roman size 12 font, so take the time to think those thoughts, and find a job that you WANT. Want it for the salary, want it for the perks, or the city it’s in, or the cause it is associated with. But whatever you do, make sure you want it. Don’t take a job because you’re scared of being unemployed. ‘Unemployed’ is not a disease; it is not a stigma; it is not bad. Unemployed means you have standards. If we are told constantly to not settle in a relationship, than for the love of every.single.deity, don’t settle for a job you are not in love with.

Take the time to decide. Have a quarter-life crisis, or a mid-life crisis, or an “I am 33 and my life is sucking the life out of me” crisis, and then change. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to count the blessings–carve out a life where the blessings are screaming at you to be noticed. Help the orphans, design the website, perfect the recipe, help yourself. And do it before it is too late.

My List of Twelve.

At the beginning of 2013, I sat down and made a list of 15 things to do better. Not really resolutions, but goals to make me a better person, and looking back over them, I was overwhelmed with how many things I was able to accomplish! It was awesome to me that just by writing them down, I was able to keep these in the back of my mind to constantly improve. Some of the goals were “Travel!” and “Be fearless”, “Practice the Golden Rule” and “Love others (where they are)”. I loved how I had to really examine myself and my flaws to determine what I wanted to fix. For example, I was having issues with loving others, or holding out on that love, until I felt like they were better or had changed or were ‘worthy’ of it. And deciding who is worthy of love is not my place, so that was huge on my list!

I’m excited to do the same this year, and to keep me more accountable, let me share!

Twelve things to be better in 2014:

  1. Practice faith daily.
  2. Find joy in the little things.
  3. Seek out sunrises.
  4. Let my FAITH override my fear.
  5. Be gracious.
  6. Be intentional (in my time and my relationships).
  7. Be thankful.
  8. Be sweet.
  9. TRAVEL.
  10. Love.
  11. Seek knowledge and understanding.
  12. Laugh. Every. Day.

I’m excited to use 2014 to move to new places and spaces (literally!) but also emotionally and mentally!

24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response

Fantastically thought out and well written. Definitely something to come back to if you need to be inspired!

justaylored

I recently read this article titled, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”. Normally, I don’t read these as they are usually written in an in-your-face-I-can-do-what-I-want tone. For whatever reason, I read this article, perhaps because I am 24 and not married and I was curious as to why 23 was the magic number. Unfortunately, the article is pretty much the same, lame advice for twenty-somethings, written by twenty-somethings whose sum total of advice is “17. Eat a Jar of Nutella is one sitting.” I didn’t think much about it until I saw at least 3 people repost it on Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but if the highlight of my life (outside of marriage???) before I’m 23 is to eat a jar of Nutella or “22. Be selfish” then I think marriage to anyone sounds pretty good.

My goal for life as a single…

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A homebody with wanderlust tendencies.

I honestly thought, that when I came back to the States, I would be happy staying here for a bit. I had had my fill of hotel rooms, and taxi cabs, and foreign foods and dealing with 12 hour time differences when I wanted to talk to people from home. 

And then….and then I came home, got a job, settled into a routine, and immediately started scheming on how to leave again. I hopped on a plane two weeks after I came home to visit a friend in Houston. I have plans in the works to visit Germany in March (and back-up plans to travel to Italy if Germany falls through). I’ve applied for some jobs internationally. I’ve even looked at simply teaching abroad, instead of sticking with my degree field. My only requirement is I want to stay put while I travel. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. I want to move to another city, and rent an apartment, and go to an office, and sometimes fly to different cities or countries. I need a home base. That is my issue. I need a home base, but I only want to be home 25% of the time. Call me ungrateful, call me unstable, call me crazy, but it’s true. 

I’ll continue to hunt for the perfect career that satiates my travel bug, and I’ll continue to wonder why I was blessed with a love of travel and yet saddled with a need for home base. And through it all, I’ll continue to find and fall in love with new places and spaces. 

Pachyderms! Or, Baby Dumbos

Photo Cred: Stuart Craighill JOY.
Photo Cred: Stuart Craighill
JOY.

I have wanted to ride/feed/be near/experience elephants up close for….ever. I’m basically in love with them, second to giraffes. And since I have already experiences giraffes up close and verrry personal, there was an elephant shaped hole in my heart.
So given that I was leaving Malaysia much sooner that expected, much of the team and I went on a little road trip to an elephant orphanage. Best decision of my life.
Things I learned:
The cartoons are accurate in their depiction of elephant trunks. They are in fact like vaccuums.
Baby elephants are brats. And made all the more adorable because of it.
Don’t feed elephants if you’re squeamish, and do bring hand-sanitizer.

It was an awesome day with awesome people, and now that’s one more thing checked off my list!

ELEEEEPHANTS!
ELEEEEPHANTS!
Miss Jenny feeding  the beasts.
Miss Jenny feeding the beasts.
Words cannot describe my excitement over this moment.
Words cannot describe my excitement over this moment.
Seriously. Culmination of a dream.
Seriously. Culmination of a dream.
I think his face says it all.
I think his face says it all.
Possibly my favorite photo of the trip.
Possibly my favorite photo of the trip.