“Good for her, I could never do that.”

I got my boobs in second grade. I had also been the tallest girl in my class since kindergarten. I was used to standing out for being “bigger” in those ways. Then, as I got older, those weren’t the only parts of me that grew bigger. I’m not afraid to admit it, I was a fat kid. At the time though, I had no idea.

I was the kind of kid who took dance classes with all the other girls and laughed while I stumbled around on stage, completely unaware that I had zero rhythm whatsoever. I played soccer for six years and scored one goal. For the first two seasons I played, I would sit down and pick the grass in the middle of the field while the other kids ran around me and actually, you know, played soccer. I didn’t care. I was happy. And I was completely oblivious.

I tried my best to keep this image of myself in the back of my mind as I got older. It turns out, loving yourself and not worrying what everyone else thinks is not the norm. Especially when you’re a girl. We are instead taught to be hyper critical of our bodies at all times and never ever for one second think that it’s okay to wear a bikini if you are anything bigger than a size two.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. My friends and I decided we wanted to do the whole “spring break” thing, load up the car, and drive the 25 hours to Panama City Beach Florida for some sun, sand, and ~possibly~ an alcoholic beverage or two. At the time, I was wearing a size 12 pair of jeans and for the beach, I brought a *gasp* bikini. I know, who did I think I was wearing something that might show my not-so-flat stomach and back fat?

The first day on the beach, my friends and I were playing games and trying (failing) to bop the volleyball around to each other without letting it hit the ground. We were all laughing and totally carefree with Lime-a-ritas in our hands and miles of ocean in front of us. Then, this group of girls walked by. There were probably two or three of them. All tall, tanned, and definitely somewhere around a size two. I bent down to pick up the volleyball that we had dropped (again), and heard one of the girls say in a hushed tone to the others, “Good for her, I could never do that,” as they looked at me in my bikini and continued walking by.

This sentence has stuck with me ever since. This girl felt like she had to commend me for wearing a bikini to a beach as if it were some magnificent feat that most people can’t do. The sad part is – most girls and women feel as if they really can’t. They feel as if their bodies are not the right shape or size or a myriad of other ridiculous things that are seemingly required to wear a bikini.

I did not choose to wear that bathing suit to make a statement. I did not wear it to stand up to “the man”. I wore it because I thought it was pretty and I wanted to. Simple as that. If there is one thing hearing that sentence taught me, it’s to be proud the little girl up on stage doing her own thing and the happy little grass-picker ignoring the rest of the soccer game and the girl in her bikini on the beach. She did those things because she wanted to and didn’t give a rats you-know-what about what she was “supposed” to be doing. That girl has the right idea.

“Good for her, I could never do that.”

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word

I have learned a lot about myself over the past two years. More than I had learned in all of the twenty one-ish years prior to that combined. One of the biggest and most recent discoveries I have made is that my most used four-letter-word isn’t a four letter word at all. It is five letters and that word is “sorry”. I have spent a good majority of my life apologizing.

Sometimes because I caused someone some amount of pain or because I made a mistake. Those kinds of apologies have been and always will be warranted and necessary. Those kinds of apologies mend relationships, alleviate someone else’s pain, allow me to own and accept my mistakes.

There are the kinds of apologies that are just simply me being overly and ridiculously polite. For example, I find myself apologizing to inanimate objects when I run into them and hurt myself. I apologize to random people in the grocery store who run into me because obviously I was in their way and saying excuse me was too much work. These seemingly harmless apologies are usually just that, harmless. Pointless really, but they cause no harm.

But then there are the apologies I am famous for; the kind that belittle and demean me as a person. These are the apologies I give for being who and how I am. These are the apologies I am making a conscious effort to do away with. I am constantly apologizing for having anxiety and for the attacks it creates. I am constantly apologizing for wanting to talk about the things I am feeling with the people I love too often. I am always apologizing for texting people more than the socially acceptable amount of times in a row. I am constantly apologizing for loving too hard, too much, too strongly, for wanting to show the people I love how much I love them. I am constantly apologizing to people when they hurt me. This last one is the most important one.

So here’s the story: Someone hurts you, a friend, a family member, or a significant other. You tell them that they have hurt you expecting an apology in return. Instead, they make you feel bad that you are even telling them that you are hurt. I mean, how could you be so selfish? It’s bad enough that you are in pain but now you have to make them feel bad too? How inconsiderate of you. And so now, you apologize. Now you are distraught. You are so sorry that you have hurt them. And you know, if they don’t think they’ve hurt you, maybe they didn’t after all. Maybe it is you who is overreacting and you should probably console them now for making them go through the pain you have put them through in accusing them of hurting you. 

But wait. See what just happened? Now you are giving the apology you should be getting and they have neither acknowledged that they have hurt you nor apologized for having done so. But you feel like something happened just then right? Like something was resolved? Now here’s the part that I love. Nothing happened. You are in the same place that you started in and they have still hurt  you. Only now, they’ve hurt you and they’ve made you feel bad about it. Funny how that worked huh?

I do this. I do this every day and I am apalled at how it has become almost second nature for me to fall into that place with someone. I apologize to people because they have caused me pain and I feel bad because they feel bad about having hurt me. Well, not anymore. 

I have learned two things  from discovering the “sorry” word. One, do not ever ever ever apologize for who you are. If someone else doesn’t like who you are, if you come on too strongly, if you annoy them, if they don’t accpet you as is, then who cares? Chances are, if you really think about it, you don’t like who they are as a person either if they act that way with you. And here’s the best part: that is perfectly, 100% okay. Everyone will never like everyone. That’s just the way the world turns, darling.

The second, and to me, far more important thing, is that when someone hurts you they do not get to tell you that they didn’t. They do not get to say that you are wrong. If someone hurts you, they owe you an apology for having hurt you even if they didn’t do it intentionally or knowingly. No one gets to tell you when you are and are not hurt.

So from now on, I would like you to pay attention. I would like you to think twice before using that five letter word and to think three times before letting someone weasel their way out of using it to you. 

Think Twice Before You Use the “S” Word

Simply and Un-simply, Love.

Love is easily the most complicated part of our existence. I don’t mean complicated like calculus or solving a Rubik’s cube. Love is complicated in the way that it is one of those one in a million chances that happens every day without explanation. It is completely inexplicable why we love who we love. It doesn’t make any sense that every day we fall for the things about another person that we don’t even know exist. It is beyond confusing that love can just as easily save us as it can destroy us. Love is our home. As people, everything we do is based in some form of love. Love for a person, a job, a game, a place, a hobby, ourselves. In the end, everything we do is about this love, this thing, that we have no say in.

Now, by saying this, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. However, every day I am baffled by how much my own mind, body, and soul are controlled by this intangible, unimaginable miracle that runs our lives without permission. Every move that I make can be traced back to this chemical reaction in my brain that I have absolutely zero control over.

I have fallen in love and I have had my heart broken. But it’s not the falling in love or the heartbreak that I want to talk about. It’s that I find the experience completely incredible because no matter how much I reason with myself, no matter how much I tell myself that I have control over my brain and my emotions, the truth is that when it comes to love I don’t. None of us do. That, in and of itself, is the most mind boggling, amazing thing to me.

Our brains do this thing, this life altering, life controlling thing, and we get no say whatsoever in how we feel. I mean, this thing runs our lives and we don’t get a choice. I think that this is the most beautiful idea – that we are so completely out of control when it comes to our life’s purpose and are instead at the mercy of these processes happening inside of our own heads in hiding places we can’t even find despite our best efforts.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe that there is someone out there determining our fates and deciding whether or not we are living inside of their rules. However I do believe that we, somewhere inside of ourselves are determining our own fates; that we are simultaneously making the rules and trying to live inside of them.

There is something about that notion that is terrifyingly beautiful. That our brains are creating this thing and these rules to live by, and that thing and those rules are simply and so un-simply, love.