A Big Law MUST read

I beg anyone who is in law, considering law, or knows someone in either category to read this article. And if not, read it anyways.

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“Though it’s only the beginning stages of trying to figure out why this happened, I came across a concept, maladaptive perfectionism, that combines unrealistic standards of achievement with hypercriticism of failing to meet them… Maladaptive perfectionists lack self-compassion.

I know “Big Law” didn’t directly kill my husband—because he had a deep, hereditary mental health disorder and lacked essential coping mechanisms. But these influences, coupled with a high-pressure job and a culture where it’s shameful to ask for help, shameful to be vulnerable, and shameful not to be perfect, created a perfect storm.”

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This article hits uncomfortably close to home for me. Those closest to me will immediately see why just from what I’ve quoted above. The truth is, in June of 2017, in an uncharacteristic move, I quit my Big Law job because I knew it was a life or death decision. Most times when I tell people that I quit my job, the response is “how millennial of you” or “oh, that’s brave.” In reality, there was no thought put in it aside from the sheer need to survive in this world. I wouldn’t fault anyone or anything, but I know staying in that environment meant the end of me. Maybe not in a month or even a year, but eventually.

For those of you that read this and this hits close to home, please believe me here. If your job is killing you, if you no longer feel like yourself, if you do not understand the point of what you are doing anymore aside from the fact that “it” has always been your plan, you do not have to quit, but it is OKAY if you do. No position and no prestige is worth your life. It will at first feel embarrassing, but that will fade. You will question yourself, but that will fade. Your friends and family will question you, but the importance of that in your life will fade as well. Do not let yourself and your happiness fade.

I am constantly told that “I’m going through a rough patch and this will pass.” I’m still putting things together, true, but I am so thankful that some sort of greater being took over my body and quit in June 2017. I wouldn’t trade that decision for the world. I also do know that there are PLENTY of jobs where I will thrive and, to be honest, fucking kill it, without the same life-threatening culture that Big Law can induce for SOME people.

By quitting a job, I made sure I didn’t quit in this life. Please love yourselves and trust.

https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/11/12/big-law-killed-my-husband-an-open-letter-from-a-sidley-partners-widow/?slreturn=20181103231025

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the Smile & Nod

Smile & Nod is one of my mantras. It’s amazing how it works to accomplish so many things and yet nothing at all, all at the same time. Don’t feel like listening to a story? Smile & Nod. Don’t want to give an answer? Smile & Nod. Ensuring that the person across from you will never know what you’re really thinking? Smile & Nod.

For you, dear readers, I am giving you a look into the twisted maniacal mind of mine and 10 examples of the Smile & Nod in the past 24 hours. If this example involves you, be warned, you will now know the truth behind the Smile & Nod.

  1. “So what are you up to these days?”

Smile & Nod.

Now, this may seem like a strange Smile & Nod to you, but is, perhaps my favorite. Here is the philosophy behind this Smile & Nod: if I wanted to tell you what I was up to these days, I would tell you, and chances are, the fact that you are having to ask means that neither one of us prefers to be in this conversation anyways. I have a charcoal face mask waiting at home that I can’t wait to see my white heads stuck to.

2. “You look great.”

Smile & Nod.

I’m not sure if you’re lying, but I know I would be if I returned the favor. Whataburger sounds awesome right now. Wait, no! Tacos! Ugh, my work out class is in 20 min.

3. “Let me get your number, I don’t think I have it anymore. We need to catch up!”

Smile & Nod.

We have knowingly lived in the same city for 8 months now and I think we know enough about each other through the inter webs. Save your iPhone memory. Is that how that works?

4. “So what’s your plan?”

Smile & Nod.

If I smile and nod long enough they might come to their own realization that I clearly don’t have a plan.

5. “Just free the nipple!”

Smile & Nod.

Just… why? Are your nipples inverted?

6. “Want a bagel?”

Smile & Nod.

No thoughts. Neck starts to hurt.

7. “I absolutely love your dog, I’m going to steal him!”

Smile & Nod.

You are not the first person those words but happy to make those words your last.

8. (Mid workout) “How’s everyone doing? Good, great, awesome?”

Smile & Nod.

I need to use heavier weights when we practice punching.

9. “See you at 3.”

Smile & Nod.

I guess 2:58 is when I’ll text the “sorry I’m running late!” message?

10. “Who’s a good boy!?!?”

Smile & Nod.

Why do I always think I’m the good boy when I ask my dog this question?!???

The pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.

How to go from SOLO to YOLO

(so sorry for the title…)

So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!

Solo Activities and Adventures

  • Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
  • Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
  • Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
  • Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
  • Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
  • Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
  • Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.

So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:

  • Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
  • Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
  • Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
  • Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
  • Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
  • Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
  • Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.

Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:

  • Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
  • Show up.
  • Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
  • Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
  • Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.

I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.

Draining the Reflection Pool

It’s funny, I usually have a lot to say on New Year’s Eve about the past year and hopes for what is to come. I won’t act high and mighty about the person I am today versus the person I “was before” and say this year is so different. The fact is, it is different, yes. But, I truly believe I was a good person in past years and was highly self aware. I knew what accomplishments I had made and what I struggled with. I do know that this year I’ve made a huge change and that in many others’ eyes, this change probably trumps most others I could have made in the past.

I’ve been struggling a bit during the past few days with some of the comments I’ve been receiving on my posts. All have been so truly kind and have praised me and my openness. Many stated that I’ve seen the light and am going in the right direction. With the intention solely to be to air my musings and not at all to belittle any of these kind comments, I do want to say a few things about why they’ve made me uncomfortable.

For me, at least, this big change in how I live my life was brave yes, but a “seeing the light moment”… maybe not. I truly believe that if I had been even mildly happy at a firm in Boston or even one thing had been just not quite as bad, I’d be laying in my luxury high rise apartment procrastinating bringing my dog out in the freezing weather and being stressed about whether I really needed to go out for NYE tonight. It was the fact that every single thing happened the way it did, the fact that I had no one and no thing to hold onto anymore, the fact that this slow progression into misery had suddenly accelerated over the course of six months that I knew I needed to make a change. Almost a year earlier, when studying for the bar, I distinctly remember someone Asking why I wasn’t also taking the Texas bar. I responded I would never in million years (or at least the 5 I’d have to wait out before waving in) return to houston.

So, anyways,It wasn’t necessarily seeing a light or corporate lifestyle vs happiness and I chose happiness, it was I had no other option if I was going to keep going. I’m not saying suicidal, at all, but I, for the first timE, could truly understand how someone could be. I saw that Houston had a support system that Boston did not. I do think if I could have somehow been offered a similar position in Houston that could’ve happened immediately, I probably would’ve taken it. And I probably wouldn’t have been as happy as I am now, but I wouldn’t have been drowning.

So, the thing is, for some I do think it’s happiness vs corporate/money. For me, it was misery vs. life with some speckles of joy in it. In the end, I, thus far, have been given the gift of a life bursting with joy. I think the reason I’ve been struggling with the comments is that come this new year, I’ll be applying for positions in big firms again. I’d be glad to be making money again. My hours probably won’t be great, at least for now, but the rest of my life is. Before I moved home, if one little thing had been different, I would’ve been able to stay. But one little thing wasn’t different, so I needed to leave. That required changes to every single thing in my life.

As I digress, I simply mean to say that I think the reason I have been uneasy with all comments saying that money isn’t everything etc etc, is because if I choose to go back to a more corporate work environment, I don’t want to feel like a fraud or like I chose to give up my happiness. I know I can’t have it all, but I can also start a career with a different mindset. A job where I have boundaries. I have broken the golden handcuffs. It will be different knowing that misery isn’t the only option. If I make mistakes this year, they’re my mistakes to make. In the past, I’ve made mistakes and gone down paths because it felt required, not because I chose to.

So, I think I’ve done enough reflecting that I don’t need to do anymore just because it’s New Year’s Eve. I’m going to the lakers/rockets game tonight with my boyfriend and cooking some crab cakes. We might be asleep before the ball drops and that’s a-okay.

Happy New Year’s from my family to yours!

29 Things I wish I could teach my 92-year old Grandmother

Aka my roommate

Aka my roommate

  1. The cashiers automatically print Powerball tickets as cash option, you don’t have to remind them three times, twice a week.
  2. You don’t have to use a cell phone to call another cell phone. You won’t be charged a long distance fee if you call a cell phone from a land line.
  3. It’s okay to go on a date once every fifty years. Or not. Dating kind of blows anyways.
  4. It is not polite to stare at someone’s cell phone screen and comment and/or ask about every single thing they’re doing on their phone.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help from those who love you. You’re not bothering us. We exist to help each other and we would never think less of you because you ask. It shows you trust us.
  6. You pet a dog, you don’t pat a dog. (Also, the “love taps” to my face kind of hurt)
  7. In the past when I haven’t been in a relationship with someone, it is not because I’m stubborn or there is a problem with me. It is not because I didn’t try or because I didn’t want one. It is because I am me and I owe it to myself not to settle.
  8. On that note, chivalry, as you know it, is kind of dead. (side note: just because I have a boyfriend that somehow defies this statement does not make it less true. But yes, you did “tell me so”. I found a unicorn. Shout out to that dude). Guys are not necessarily straight forward with their intentions. They won’t assume you are exclusive because they took you to drinks twice. On that note, I should not demand a full dinner-date the first time we go out. Most girls don’t get picked up for a first date or called on the phone when they are asked out. Texts, or whatever you call them, are our unfortunate new normal.
  9. I know you can move more. Walk more, you’ll feel better. I believe in you.
  10. I’m really not that fast at getting ready. I just don’t think you need an hour and a half to put on your makeup to walk to get your mail. Also, it’s okay if I forget to put lipstick on.
  11. You don’t believe it, but you’re my hero. Your kindness is overwhelming. Your words speak the truth. Your criticism is always from a place of love. Your wisdom is quirky and unparalleled. You are a maverick of your generation, but still the epitome of class. (One thing I don’t need to teach you: how to rock a pair of pants)IMG_6838
  12. Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean the movers stole it during your move 6 years ago. They probably didn’t sell a picture of your brother on the black market.
  13. Wearing hearing aids is not a sign of weakness. No one even notices. If you are able to participate in a conversation, believe me, the only thing people are paying attention to are the hilarious things coming out of your mouth.
  14. 65 degrees does not warrant turning the heat on at 75.
  15. How to use on-demand.
  16. If I ever express feelings of hurt by any of your actions, you are not a failure. You are my favorite person in the world. If I get upset, it’s not because you have a fatal flaw. It’s because we are both human. And by the way, I notice when you listen to what I say and make huge efforts to make it better.
  17. Life could have always gone differently. It won’t go as planned. Forgive yourself if you think you messed something up along the way. I assure you, we all think you did a pretty damn good job. I mean, you gave us our existence, literally.
  18. They dropped the “the” from “The Facebook” over ten years ago. Similarly, I wouldn’t reference the internet as my internet. If anything, it’s probably Bill Gates’ internet.
  19. You look good for your age. But, you’ve looked good at every age. You were, you are, and you always will be beautiful.
  20. You don’t need to remind me, I do know you have the best fashion sense around. And yes, it’s all about having the eye and make sure it’s a good fit.
  21. You don’t need 37 extra bottles of detergent. If it’s been on sale that many times, it probably will be on sale again.
  22. The Bar Exam was really hard and it was not guaranteed that I would pass it, no matter how smart you think I am. But thank you for thinking that.
  23. There’s a mute button for the tv. It has the magical powers of allowing us to hear what we’re saying when we scream a conversation at each other.
  24. I know you’ve borrowed a few stories. Never stop telling them.
  25. You are as smart as I am and you are as capable. I grew up in a different time. I was given different opportunities.
  26. Physical therapy is not the same thing as working out.
  27. At some point, it is nice to sit on the nice furniture instead of just staring at it.
  28. Whenever I called you to “check up on you” every day for the ten years I lived away from home, it wasn’t for you, it was for me. Also, thank you for reminding me what I said the night before. I accidentally had 2 cocktails instead of the one I *normally* drink.
  29. How to make a foot of room in one of your four closets for me. Eh, you know this already. Nevermind. I’ll go get another hanging rack at target.

I have solely you to thank for allowing me to believe that my voice is worth listening to. That my accomplishments mean something and that I am loved. Thank you for being the encouragement that I didn’t know I needed, for expressing how proud of me you are when I think I’m just doing what is normal and expected, and for bragging about me to a point of embarrassment. Thank you for literally taking notes when I tell you about an accomplishment, so that you get every single detail right when you get to tell the nasty woman at the beauty shop about it. Thank you for crying when I left after visits home from Boston and Philadelphia and for showing me the purest form of love. You are my best friend and my favorite topic of conversation. You have filled my heart with your love and allowed it to open up to others’. Your sense of self is unparalleled, even if it means you offend people sometimes. We all know that “they should know”.

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Who’s grandma is awesome enough to commission an “L” necklace for law school graduation. I know you are “too classy for a poster”, so thank you for letting everyone know that Lollie graduated Penn Law in 2016. And you are her grandmother.

The ultimate curse word: happiness

And it’s not even four letters!

Hey there universe, it’s me, Lollie. It’s been a while. A little over four months to be exact. I started this “blog” or what was intended to be an online journal in search of happiness on June 17, 2017, with my post about “Adulting”. In that post, which I hope you read, I described my sense of misery I had been feeling as I was quote-unquote doing all of the right things to succeed in life and how none of those things were bringing me the fulfillment that I needed. I had realized that with maturity comes a responsibility to self-love and create your own path. I took the first step by quitting my big corporate job and moving back to Houston to live with my grandmother and be closer to family and friends. So, if you’re reading this, I might just be repeating that to you, but oftentimes as time passes, perspective changes our views of what was really going on when major life decisions are made, and I am here to say to you, with pride, that I stand by the decisions I made 100% and still believe they were made with the utmost clarity. Best decision I have ever made in my life.

It was incredibly touching to see how many people reached out to me after that post. Friends, Acquaintances I hadn’t talked to in forever. Strangers. It’s unbelievable that so many of us struggle with this, yet it is hard for us to discuss it. But, pushing forward, on to this next post.

I am still living with my grandmother. I am still working a job where I am overqualified and underpaid (I may or may not be done with almost all of my daily tasks by 9:15 in the morning… it’s funny how now I have to literally come up with projects to fill my time when I used to stress about not having enough hours/minutes/seconds in the day for the work piled on me). I do feel like I face judgment from some about the fact that I’m not in a “prestigious” position right now. But here’s the thing, it has almost been six months since I quit my previous job, and, at 27, I am a new person.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not that mushy gushy looks for the fairy tale ending kind of a gal. I’m a straight shooter. I stand up for myself if I feel wronged. I love logical thinking. I like to avoid conflict, but can’t ignore it. The kind of girl who probably would secretly feel incredibly special if a grand romantic gesture was made, but also be a bit embarrassed and instead of knowing what to say, would make a bad joke. While this is all a bit of a digression, my point is this: I have always had a very hard time believing that things will just magically fall into place and with a positive attitude, anything can happen. I believe that hard work and determination can help make things happen, but a little bit of luck is needed and sometimes you can be just shit out of luck. Traditionally, when good things happen I am terrified. I wonder, alright, when’s the shitstorm coming to hit the fan?

[Edit: I kid you not, this next sentence took me six minutes of staring at the computer before I could type it.] This aside, I am incredibly happy. I want to add in “right now”, as in “I am incredibly happy right now”, but I am not letting myself do this. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, dear reader, it is for me.

You see, admitting happiness has always been an incredible struggle for me. Writing this, I’m thinking of my life in terms of “before” and “after”. The event being this huge life change (or what some cynics might call my derailment from corporate America). Before, I could not remember a time where I would call myself happy. Even in middle school, I couldn’t understand why those around me were so light hearted and I was not. In high school, I would consider myself lucky if I had a single night of fun. That night would be what I would remember and think of for weeks as I felt a general dread for life. If happiness were to be put on a graph, let’s just say if most people’s baseline was right at the x and y axis, mine was somewhere in the fourth quadrant. It also didn’t help that I’m a hyper self-aware person and would just further my own frustration by knowing that I was unhappy and seemingly not being able to do anything about it.

I had a difficult upbringing. Those close to me, and probably my own parents, would probably beg to differ. But, we’re the only ones who know the entire story, right? Without going into details, let’s just say I have had more than one therapist say that they are shocked by my demeanor that certain events and circumstances surrounding my life have happened and that I have come out “okay” on the other side. That was before. Before, I let these circumstances of my upbringing follow me into my adulthood and create this looming belief that my past dictated my future. So, when I had moments of happiness, I knew they must be fleeting, because history taught me that that was the case. Why do we do this to ourselves? I literally feared thinking I was happy because I knew that what comes up, must come down.

Now, I’m going to pause for a second. If for some god forsaken reason an actual medical or mental health professional is reading this, I do know that my description of my thoughts sounds like some classic depression or other mental issue. I agree. It does sound like it. It partially was. But having spent countless hours in therapy, I assure you, that part of my life has been under control for years. In fact, it was once that imbalance was, let’s say, “balanced”, is when I was the most frightened about my mental state. Therapists assured me that I wasn’t simply a product of mental illness. That I had issues that were clearly following me into adulthood and effecting everyday life. Obviously, true. For some people, knowing this is the hard part. For me, it was acting on it. For a while, I thought that if I continued to go to therapy (something I am a huge advocate of), things would eventually, maybe get better. Better, but not great. I didn’t realize the onus was on me. Issues aside, I have had many blessings. My issues are emotional at this point – I have grown up more than privileged fiscally and was never an “at risk” youth. My upbringing set me up to have a great life if I did it right, and at least academically and socially – “doing it right” was, of course, so much easier than so many others.  But just because my shoes were always shiny and my tummy always full, does not mean it wasn’t a struggle. I can only imagine what it is like for those who have those other hurdles on top of what I have gone through.

Okay, back to it. Here’s the thing, it’s on us. The individuals. Things happen to us. For so long, I focused on things happening to me. In the past, present, what I assumed would happen in the future. But, what about things that I could make happen? How did that not cross my mind? Well, you can see when I had this epiphany in my original post. I actively made a change and a deliberate decision to be happy. So, for the first time, I am not only admitting, but PUBLISHING that I am happy. I will detail more in the days to come how this has happened, but with the progress I have made, even though I’m scared, I know that I can say I am happy and I do not think that this means the world will come crashing down around me. I am not cursing myself by declaring happiness, I am praising myself. It is a huge achievement. I made it happen. It did not just happen to me. Because of that, I can continue to make it happen and I can handle the road bumps that come along the way.

This has been a long post, so if you have gotten to this point, I commend you. If you skipped to the end, here’s the gist: for years I have been scared to embrace happiness and consequently, could not remember a time where I was actually happy. I am now. I’m scared, but prepared. My sister-in-law just told me the best thing anyone could have said to me last night – we haven’t seen each other in about 9 months and she just looked at me and said, “You’re lighter. It’s a beautiful thing.” So, from a girl who hates clichés, let me just say, drop the negativity. Drop the presumptions. Drop your expectations and expectations you think you need to live up to. Embrace your self-love.

Be light. Be happy.

Love always,

Lollie

P.s. sorry for the rambling