Don’t Give Your Power Away

confidenceI have always been a “wear your heart on your sleeves” type of gal. I am still deciding if that’s a good or bad thing. This trait has been a strength at times and my achilles heel at others. Most recently, it has served as the latter.

So here’s the scoop: I recently spotted my ex-boyfriend at the mall. Not just an ex, but the ex, the one that broke my heart and left the pieces scattered on the ocean floor for me to reassemble. The ex that was my first love. The ex that, at one point, I never thought I’d be able to get over. To keep the story short, I did one day, with much time and effort, heal from the wounds of that relationship. I have moved on. So what’s the big deal?

I am a very honest person, i.e. the description “a girl who wears her heart on sleeves” in the opener. So when I saw not only the ex that I haven’t spoken to in three years, but his little sister, his little brother, his best friend, and to top it all off, his new girlfriend, all at the mall where I work a part time job, I inwardly and outwardly was FREAKING out. My heart not only dropped to the ground, but before my brain could even comprehend, my entire body dipped down to hide behind a fixture of clothing. A few expletives were definitely said.

I take wearing your heart on your sleeves to a whole new level. My first instinct was to go into defense mode. Yea, I am over this guy, but so what?! Do I really want to run into him, his family, friends and girlfriend at my job, a job that I am not all that proud of? The answer to that is a sure fired no. Then, I started thinking and questioning myself: Why am I acting this way? Why am I allowing someone and something from my past to affect me? How can I cower and cringe at the sight of one person? How can I allow another human being to have that much power over me?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

No one has power over you unless you give it to them.

It probably took me a good thirty minutes to recover and get my act together. Yea, I was shaking in my boots, but I gave myself a little kick in the rear, reminded myself that no person, past or present, defines me and I decided that only I determine who and what has power over me. I’m pretty sure my ex and his group of friends and family didn’t even notice me, but maybe one day we will cross paths again. The next time, I would only hope that my response would be better.

Here’s what a lot of bumps and bruises in my twenties have taught me: Nobody has power over you, unless you give it to them. So guess, what? Don’t give it away. I can laugh about my recent mall debacle and about how ridiculous I acted. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to breathe and remind myself not to let other people affect me so much. I have just as much the right to breathe and walk this Earth as the next person. Never should I let another human being make me want to go into hiding.

I know the twenties can be rough, but I hope you can take some encouragement from the fiasco that I call my everyday life and be reminded to not cringe, cower or hide for anyone. Don’t allow people to have power over you. You are not just a twenty something at the bottom of the totem pole. You are a twenty something with endless possibility. Keep your head held high.

-Stephkt

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Life After College: For the Class of 2015

I wrote this post a year ago after talking to a friend who had recently graduated college. Hopefully, the class of 2015 can benefit from these words, as well. Welcome to adulthood. It’s not nearly as bad as it seems.

I am not sure who coined the phrase, “College is the best time of your life,” but I have never been one to agree with it.

I sat down today for tea (very grown up, right?) with a friend, and we got to talking about post grad life. We soon found that we had experienced many of the same things, setbacks, disappointments, growing pains and a surprising amount of happiness on the other side of growing up.

Now don’t get me wrong…..I loved college. Everything from the people you meet, the places you travel and all the experiences that only a college setting can provide are priceless. Some of my most stressful college times, like bad roommate situations, crazy parties or astronomically priced texts books have now become some of my funniest memories to look back on.

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(Photo via hercampus.com)

The four years I spent in college, were pivotal for me. The 18-year-old girl who walked on campus was not the same person as the 21-year-old young woman that packed her bags and moved away from little Stillwater, Oklahoma. I made some of my best friends in college. I stayed up for hours studying for finals, never sure how I was going to pull off a passing grade but somehow always did. I had my first love. I landed an internship at a major magazine in New York. I won a pageant in college. I started a magazine. I met people from all over the country in college. I traveled to some of the smallest towns and some of the largest cities. I took lots of sporadic and fun road trips. I tried foods that I would have never thought to try (and even liked some). I joined a sorority and actually liked it. I started a chapter of a nonprofit organization and was able to volunteer at countless other organizations.

I can look back on that time with a smile. College was SOME of the best years of my life, but it was not THE best time of my life. Although, I truly loved my college years, I cannot and will not settle on the notion that those four years will be the best of my life. I graduated when I was 21 years old. Most people complete undergrad between the ages of 21 and 23. If the best years of my life are over after not even a quarter of a century of life, well then man…….that’s depressing.

Here’s how I look at it: Each chapter of life should get progressively better because you grow. Every season we are in will have its ups and downs. Post grad life is full of them, from moving away from home, bills, jobs woes, adjusting to a new city and meeting new people. Sometimes it can get overwhelming. Sometimes all those newly found adult responsibilities can be hard to balance, but lets not forget that college had its share of problems too. Think overpriced books, finals stress and weight gain just to name a few. With the downsides of post grad life, don’t forget the good: independence, travel, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones, career advancement and did I mention freedom and independence already?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Never get so stuck in one season of life that you cannot enjoy the present one.”

I never want to get stuck in one season that it stops me from enjoying today. For now, I am a young adult living in her post grad years. I am in my early twenties still trying to figure things out. I have bills to pay, a job to go to in the morning and dinner to get on the table. Yes, it can be stressful, but I wouldn’t change it. I am sure that when I am in my thirties and have kids crying, laundry to finish and diapers to change, I’ll look back on my twenties and miss them, but I also hope that I will be content with all the blessings that season provides.

Today, my friend and I will were able to rehash our college years and all the highs and lows. I am so happy that she is working in a career that energizes her and brings her to life. I am even happier that she has grown since college and has become this radiant, young woman. That is my wish for myself and every twenty something. That life after the college years only gets better.

I hope things aren’t easy for you. I hope you are challenged, pressed and pushed to grow. I hope that when opportunities for new things come knocking on your door that you take them. I hope that you are constantly learning, changing and growing into a better version of yourself.

So for all you college students who are cringing at the idea of graduating and leaving the college bubble, take it from this post grad. Life is what you make it. Life after college will be as good as you make it. Don’t spend years of your life trying to relive the college life. When it’s over, accept it and gracefully close that door.

To all you current, post grads, maybe some of you are job hunting or others are getting settled in new jobs and cities, remember to enjoy this time. Heck yea, it’s hard! But enjoy this season for what it is: one with ups and downs. A season that brings laughter, tears and a chance to grow at every turn.

-Stephkt

No Five Year Plan

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“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

A typical question for a twenty something. A simple, terse question that leaves the average twenty something grappling for the perfect, flawless response that will appease the ears of the listener.

I was recently asked this question. My response: “I am not sure.”

Gasp! You said that to someone? You don’t have a five year plan? You couldn’t give them some sort of idea? Why didn’t you make something up?

Five years ago, when I was 19, I could’ve never imagined what my life would be like today. Five years ago, I would have answered that question differently. I would have given some eloquent response about how I see myself living in New York after college graduation, and by 24 working my way up the ladder at some big name magazine. Well folks, the plan I had for my life five years ago, did not quite come to pass, and I’m okay. I am more than okay. I am better for it.

When a friend of mine recently asked me about my five year plan, I so eloquently and bravely, in all my 24 years of wisdom, told him the truth: I am not sure. At 24 years of age, I understand life does not work according to plan. Yes, I have dreams, goals and ideas in my head. I have passions that I am actively pursuing and would like to continue to pursue. However, I feel like creating some sort of masterful plan, 2.5 kids, married with a white picket fence by age 25, is a bit silly and honestly just downright stressful.

Five years ago, I was a sophomore in college. I was 19, working hard at a magazine on campus, interning at a local newspaper. I had big city dreams, dreams of New York. I wanted to be at a top women’s magazine straight out of college. Coming from a university in a small Oklahoma town didn’t discourage me at all. It just fueled my drive.

Nowhere, in my five year plan back then did I write down: fall in love for the first time, experience heartbreak, travel cross country, join a women’s ministry, live in New York for a summer, travel to Ireland, run a 10k and train for a 15k, move to Minneapolis, work for the top travel magazine in the world. That’s what my life has looked like the last five years, full of unexpected turns, curveballs, knock outs, and lots of second chances.

Those things weren’t in my five year plan, but I sure wouldn’t change them. So now at 24, I threw out the “list making” mindset because I know that life doesn’t work that way. In five years, I will be almost 30. I’d like to say I’ll be doing some screenwriting, while also working for a women’s magazine, maybe married or maybe just in a serious relationship. But who knows! That’s life! And I’m okay with not knowing and not pretending like I do.

The biggest lesson I have learned so far in my twenties is this: Life doesn’t go according to my plan. It’s cool to have dreams. Those are from God, but it gets messy when we try to dictate and pinpoint every detail of our lives. I’ve come to accept the not knowing, and I am learning to trust God more with the next step.

– Stephkt