To be honest, I’ve heard that question quite a few times in my 28 years of life. Not because I’m full of myself (although I am pretty dope 😜) or that I think I’m special, I just am not a “one size fits all” type of person.
Growing up I’ve always been a social butterfly. I’ve never known a stranger and I never fell into a specific category or clique. One thing that I’ve always valued is the variety that life gives us. There’s so many experiences and amazing people to surround yourself with so secluding yourself to one type of person or just one category that you prefer, I personally feel makes you miss out on the beauty in life. Ultimately, it narrows your path and your mind.
“Open minded people do not impose their beliefs on others. They just accept all life’s perspectives and realities, doing their own thing in peace without judging anyone.”– Author Unknown
My parents divorced when I was 7 and this is where I began feeling like I “didn’t fit in”. Most of the families I knew back then didn’t have a split home, they couldn’t relate to my life or how my parents worked more than they were around most of the time. I hated feeling alone and misunderstood, I had to find some type of outlet. Three words, extra curricular activities. Mine were such a broad range. Competition cheerleading, softball, motocross, step team.. I was involved in a lot. Most of which were team-centered. Which opened my eyes to the unique experiences there are to be had and how amazing it is to be apart of something that is about more than just you.
The town I grew up in was small, like, SMALL small. Ever been to Delaware? Yes, Del-uh-where?! That teeny little state on the east coast. That’s where I grew up. If you’ve ever driven down Rt 113, chances are, you’ve passed through my hometown. Also known as, “slower lower.” (IYKYK) Everyone’s momma knew your momma, daddy, sisters, cousins, uncles.. it was one of those towns that if some shit happened, your mom knew before you got home. For the most part I stayed out of trouble. Kept to myself and the people that I was close to, until high school. That’s when I went through my rebellious stage. Skipping school, parties, sneaking out, getting high, driving like a bat out of hell everywhere I went (I had a ‘00 trans am back then)… you name it, my stupid ass was doing it. Why? Being in a split home, especially with turmoil between your parents and your new step-parents was absolute hell some days. I wanted so badly to get their attention and make them see how they were hurting me, so I acted out.
My sophomore year I flunked two classes and had to go to summer school. Y’all, my mom gave me an ear full every damn day she had to take me until I “passed.” All the typical, “this can set you back, you need to start picking better friends..” you know how it goes. Eventually, I got my head right and finished out those classes and got back on track with my studies, I wanted to be a nurse so bad – just like my mom. I ended up meeting someone that summer who turned into my high school sweetheart and I stopped rebelling so much. In a way, this lioness was “tamed.” Ah, young love.. how it whisks you away. What I began to realize is that even though I was happy, all the partying, getting high and “young, wild & free” days were going to lead me absolutely no where in life. It hit me like a brick wall.
“You are being presented with two choices, evolve or repeat.”– Unknown
I was in my first semester of college, working three jobs and hating life. The exhaustion, late nights cramming, mile long waiting lists for clinicals, all while trying to make enough money to have some type of social life in between – I was over it. There was this overwhelming feeling of wanting more, there had to be something more out there and I knew staying in my hometown was leading me straight to no where. My friend circle wasn’t a great influence, they wanted partying and drugs to be the center of their world and my boyfriend seemed perfectly content with working his life away like our parents did. I knew that life wasn’t for me, I wanted to feel alive, I wanted adventure. Well, guess who decided to merge her passion for being a first responder into her love of being apart of something bigger than herself? 🙋🏼♀️
In March of 2012, I was whisked away to basic training and later to technical school to become a Security Forces member. For those of y’all who aren’t familiar, basically the Military Police for the Air Force. My first duty station was in Tampa Florida, MacDill AFB. I spent a little over 3 years there and what a wild time. In those three years, I turned 21, got divorced from my high school sweetheart, deployed for the first time, came back and fell in love, got married again – only to end up divorced, AGAIN.. To say I left my hometown and accomplished my goal of having an “adventurous” life, I’m pretty sure all that counts for some type of adventure 🥴 Not sure that it was very healthy though.
What I learned the most about myself during that time period, even to this very day; I’m an extremely resilient person. I don’t let my struggles keep me down, not for very long at least. My determination to accomplish whatever I set my mind to has always powered me through. I know who I am and what I’m capable of. My self-confidence drives every single accomplishment I’ve ever made in my life.
“This above all; to thine own self be true.”– William Shakespeare
Through my younger years, navigating my failed marriages even flashing forward to when I lost my mother, I always knew I needed to reconnect with myself again to get through it. So I sought out therapy any time I was feeling down on myself, lost or alone. Therapy, although extremely stigmatized in society and in the military can really help you realign with your true self. Being with a professional who can help you identify what you’re thinking, feeling and even connect it to your past is unbelievably invigorating. The more you are connected to who you truly are, the more secure and confident you are in yourself. Do you know how empowering it is to wake up everyday and know exactly who it is staring back at you in the mirror? Y’all, it is truly unmatched.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with just life in general or maybe connecting to themselves and others, I’d like to share a few of my favorite resources that could help. These really helped me during some of my darkest days and even to this day I still use them.
- Brene Brown – Atlas of the Heart (Amazon)
- Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability (Amazon)
- Brene Brown – Braving the Wilderness (Amazon)
- In Focus: Meditation (Amazon)
- Intelligent Change: Gratitude Journal (Amazon)
These are just a few tools I have used over the years and things that I have found beneficial in getting through life ups and downs. Without a doubt there are a multitude of other resources out there and if these don’t resonate with you, I highly encourage you to explore what you feel is right for yourself. You will grow into who you are meant to be in due time but one thing is for certain, let no one and nothing get in the way of what you know in your heart is right for you. Remember, to always be true to yourself and give grace to the person you see in the mirror, EVERY DAY. They are learning and evolving with every experience, they are not perfect. Mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned but what is beautiful is that it all leads you to where you are meant to be. Growth only stops if you let it. Open your mind and your heart, trust me, the possibilities are endless when you do.
As always, thank you so much for reading and joining me here. If you enjoyed this post, don’t be afraid to give it a “like”, share how it impacted you down below or even share it with a friend or family member.