A Thank You Letter To myself

A Thank You Letter To myself

Dear Shelly,

Thank you so much for everything. I don’t show my appreciation for you enough, and I want to change that. This letter is a step towards acknowledging everything you’ve done, and everything I’m grateful for.

Thank you for always keeping creativity, writing, connection, and storytelling as a key focus and passion. Thank you for using your creative outlets as a way to not only connect with others, but connect with yourself on a deeper level as well.

Thank you for pushing past fears and stepping out of your comfort zone even when it felt impossible. So many amazing experiences have come from pushing yourself to do the thing you knew you wanted, even if it felt scary.

Thank you for having a caring, kind, giving heart and for always helping others and making an effort to understand how they feel and what they need. You sometimes see this trait as a negative, but it is one of your greatest strengths. It has allowed you to be a great caregiver for children, has allowed you to form strong, lasting friendships, and has allowed you to connect with new people on social media. So many people value your opinions and advice. You have helped so many people feel heard and feel less alone, and you will only continue to do so.

Thank you for remaining positive and optimistic even when everything felt like it was crumbling around you. Thank you for getting me through the dark times, always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and being able to daydream about a brighter future. Your ability to get back up after falling down has been such a lifesaver.

Thank you for being my best friend. My support system. The one person I know I’ll always have by my side, and will always be able to count on. I know I haven’t always shown it, and I can sometimes be incredibly critical and hard on you, but I always love you and see you for exactly who you are.

I love you. Thank you for everything.

– Shelly

Finding my voice

Finding my voice

When I was in middle school, I internalized a message I felt I was receiving from peers: you’re too much. Too loud, too hyper, too goofy, too talkative, too whatever. I started to feel like people didn’t like me. Like maybe there was something wrong with my personality. Even though I had great friends and family who I knew loved me, I started letting the opinions of a few dictate how I felt about myself.

After eighth grade, I switched from my small private school to a large public school. I remember thinking it was my chance to start over, to have a clean slate. I only knew one person at my new school, so I thought I could “reinvent” myself and become the type of person people liked.

I went into 9th grade craving validation. I became shy, quiet, scared to say much or show much of my personality, in case people didn’t like what they saw. I just wanted to “fit in.” When I look back at that time, I feel sad because I realize I had this wall up, too scared to truly let people get to know me for fear they wouldn’t like me.

When I got to college, I started to come out of my shell a bit as the years went by. I was still scared to share my opinions or show too much of myself. I was a “yes person”, always agreeing to what others said or believed. I was still stuck on the idea of being liked, and those old criticisms from my middle school classmates still rattled around in my head.

Starting this blog my junior year during study abroad was my first real step in being vulnerable and truly being myself. My first post shared a personal story I had never shared before, and it was the first glimmer of the personal nature my blog has now. When I graduated from college, I wrote a post about my post-grad struggles, and received a lot of positive feedback from other people who were feeling the same way. That was my first taste of how sharing your story can positively impact others! I liked that feeling. Maybe sharing my opinions, and taking up space, wasn’t so bad! Maybe those middle schoolers had been wrong.

Over the past few years I’ve seen myself open up even more, and slowly start to talk about topics I never thought I would talk about. I hardly recognize that scared, self-conscious young girl who thought she had to be quiet to be liked. I’ve finally realized that “being liked” is completely out of your control. All you can do is be kind and be yourself, and the people that are meant to be in your life and be supportive will find you! I’ve also realized that not only was I depriving others of getting to know me during the time when I had a wall up, but I was also depriving myself. It is so therapeutic to be vulnerable, to connect with people through storytelling and writing and sharing my truth. It can help others, but I think it actually helps me the most.

This path to self-discovery and finding my voice has been slow and painful at times, and I don’t think the journey ever really ends. I can’t sit here and say I feel 100% confident or 100% comfortable sharing my opinions in every situation, and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t think anyone ever reaches that 100%. What I do know is that I feel more myself today than I have for the past 27 years. I feel happy when I get to share my story through this blog, my podcast, and my Instagram, and my new TikTok account.

If you are someone who is still afraid of opening up, letting others in, or speaking your truth, it’s okay! It takes a lot of time and practice and patience. You’ll get there when you’re ready, just like I did.

Reflecting on 2019, and Sharing my 2020 Intention

Reflecting on 2019, and Sharing my 2020 Intention

I have a really great feeling about 2020. Last year was a year full of changes and uncertainty and pushing past fear and being brave. This year I want to use everything I’ve learned to really come into my own. I have so many creative ideas and new projects I’m excited to start working on this year, and I really feel like 2020 will be my year to shine!

My intention for 2019 was courage, and I definitely feel like I carried this word with me throughout the year. 2019 started out with a couple months of unemployment, where I dove into figuring out what I wanted my next job to be, and having the courage to think outside the box. When I landed on working as an assistant preschool teacher, this was one of the more spontaneous and unexpected decisions I’ve made in my life. Making this career change took a lot of courage, and forced me to move past fear and shame around changing careers, taking a large pay cut, and trying not to worry about other people’s opinions.

2019 also forced me to be courageous with my personal life, jumping back into dating after a long time of consciously choosing to be single. I got into a relationship again for the first time since 2017, and had to push past a lot of insecurity and doubt and worry around opening up to someone again. Allowing myself to be vulnerable with a new partner was not easy for me, and although that relationship ended right at the close of 2019, I’m happy it happened and proud of myself for not letting fear stop me from putting myself out there. That relationship taught me a lot about myself and personal growth I still need to do, as well as what I’m looking for and not looking for in a partner, and what I’d like to find in the future. It also taught me that pushing past the fear of being hurt is worth it, even when the relationship ultimately does not work out.

Looking at the year ahead of me, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about many areas in my life. The word I’ve chosen for my intention for this year is Confidence. I want this year to be my year of being confident in everything I pursue and everything I do in my life. I have so many things I want to accomplish this year, and the main thing stopping me is a lack of confidence and a fear of failure. I’ve been working really hard at improving my self-esteem and self-love, and I think remembering to act with confidence in every aspect of my life, will really help me to be happier.

Confidence has never come naturally to me, but I do have a history of pushing myself to work on being more confident. When I was younger this started with my passion for acting, when I started getting the lead in my school plays in middle school, later diving into the world of musical theater and choir in high school. I was terrified every time I stepped on stage, but taking my bow at the end of the shows gave me a certain confidence I hadn’t had before. This year I want to carry that idea with me into some personal creative projects I’m working on (I hate to be that person who says they have exciting projects coming that they can’t share yet, but…stay tuned).

I’m looking forward to continuing 2020 with confidence, and I have a feeling this is going to be a great year for me! What is your intention or resolution for this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Learning to love my body

Learning to love my body

I remember the first time someone told me I had “curves.” I was in eighth grade hanging out with my three best friends after an afternoon of shopping. We were all trying on the clothes we’d bought, and while showing off my new jeans my friend said “Shelly, you’ve got curves!” I remember immediately assuming it was a bad thing. “Is that…good?” I asked hesitantly. “Yes! I wish I had curves! I have no hips and no butt, my body basically looks like a boy’s still! You’re so lucky!” I was genuinely baffled by this. I thought my friend’s body was perfect. I wished I looked like her. To me, she was perfect. But evidently, to her, I was perfect.

In high school I started to accept, and even like, my curves. But I started to worry I wasn’t “proportionate” enough. I had big hips and a big butt and a tiny waist like J Lo and Kim Kardashian, but they had big boobs and mine were small. I remember reading magazines giving advice on “dressing for your body type” and I didn’t feel I fit into any of the categories they provided. The “petite” girls were shorter and skinnier than me. The “athletic” girls were taller and more toned. Even “curvy”, a word I had grown to accept for myself, didn’t quite fit. Those girls were bigger than me. Was there something wrong with my body? I just wanted to fit into a “body type”, to feel like I belonged, to feel like my body was accepted by society. The problem with that was a magazine could never tell me I’m beautiful. Society is never going to give me the validation I craved. And even if it could, it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t see it for myself.

When I got to college I started seeking validation from a different source: guys. I started dating and getting more attention from boys and I figured, “If all these guys are interested in me and wanting to date me, my body must look pretty good!” But then when I would experience any sort of rejection, I’d wonder if things would be different if my boobs were bigger or my legs longer or my hips narrower. Just like seeking validation from magazines, seeking validation from others wasn’t really working for me either.

Over the past couple of years I’ve gained a little bit of weight. When I see pictures of myself from college, I find myself thinking “Wow I was so skinny back then! I look so much older and bigger now. Why didn’t I appreciate what I had back then?!” I’ve spent so much time wishing I could look the same as I did when I was in college, even though I’m approaching 27 and I’m a completely different person than I was back then. I’m not the same on the inside, so why should I expect to look the same on the outside? It wasn’t until recently that I started to finally have a new perspective on my body. I started trying to appreciate it and love it for exactly what it is in this moment.

I don’t need my friends to tell me I should love my curves. I don’t need a magazine to tell me what kind of clothes I should wear. I don’t need some guy to tell me I have a hot body. None of that matters if I don’t love my body. If I don’t see it for what it is, which is more than an aesthetic object. My body is my own. My body allows me to pick up and hold and run and play with children all day. My body allows me to do yoga and go on walks and hikes and dance at weddings until my feet are sore. My body is beautiful for so much more than what it looks like. It may have taken me this long to realize it, and it may still be a struggle every day, but I am finally learning to love my body.

Book Review: Why Not Me?

Book Review: Why Not Me?

MindyReviewHeader

I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last book review! I definitely want to write more this year, I’ve just been really busy lately, and I haven’t had a regular reading schedule for myself. But I finally got around to reading this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts.

Mindy Kaling has been one of my celebrity idols for a while now. From writing and acting in my favorite show of all time, The Office, to creating her own show, The Mindy Project, I have been following Mindy’s career for a long time and have been impressed with everything she’s accomplished. She also happens to be hilarious, and very inspiration when she wants to be. Not to mention she is an amazing writer. Mindy, if you’re reading this, I’m basically in love with you. No big deal.

I read Mindy’s first book and loved it, so I knew I would like this one if it was anything like the first. And it was, in all the best ways, while still bringing fresh topics and jokes to the table. It’s also full of great quotes, both inspirational and comical, so I thought I would try writing this review a bit differently. I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book, along with a bit of context. Hopefully this will give you enough of a sneak peek to make you want to read the book yourself.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t got it, flaunt it. ‘Cause what are we doing here if we’re not flaunting it?” 

This quote is from the chapter Unlikely Leading Lady, where Mindy tackles the topic of body image. She talks candidly about her relationship with her body, and the way the media tends to focus on her appearance since, as she puts it “women who are my size are so rarely seen on TV and film.” She also talks about how, although she has had her fair share of body image issues, in general her brain is filled with more important thoughts than what she weighs or whether or not she should eat dessert.

Mindy'sBrain

“As calm as I might be, still, about once a month, I wake up at 4 a.m. and lie in the dark worrying about the same handful of things.” 

This was from a short chapter at the end of the book, aptly titled 4 a.m. Worries. I liked this quote (and this chapter) because Mindy shared some of the real worries that keep her up at night. It made me feel better to know even someone as successful as Mindy still has fears in life. Some of the fears she listed included: what if I have nothing to say? What if I have too much to say and not enough time? 

“Confidence is like respect. You have to earn it.”

In the final chapter of the book, Mindy explains the connection between hard work and confidence. She states confidence must be earned, just like respect. And it must be earned after a lot of hard work. She fights against the idea shown in many movies and TV shows, that working too much is a bad thing. “I have never, ever, met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them.” 

I loved this quote because I think it is so inherently true, no matter where you live or who you interact with in life. As Mindy mentions, “That’s why the show Intervention is a hit, and everyone loves ‘worrying about’ Amanda Bynes.” People don’t like seeing others succeed, because it reminds them of everything they haven’t been able to do yet. Mindy goes on to say it perfectly: “When you’re winning it makes them feel like they’re losing, or worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me. There were so many other hilarious and inspirational parts of the book, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what they were! Comment below which quote was your favorite, and if you have already read this book or plan to in the future.

Life Lessons From Improv

Life Lessons From Improv

Hi everyone! As some of you may remember from my My Plan for a Happy 2016 blog, one of my resolutions was to take an improv comedy class. Well, that class ended last week, so I thought I would give you all an update and talk about what I learned! Even if you have no interest in improv, or have never done it yourself, you will still enjoy this blog because it is focusing more on the life lessons I took away and less on the details of the improv class and what we did.

The class was six weeks long, and met once a week. Each week’s class had an overarching theme or “big idea”, so I will talk through a couple of my favorite lessons from the class and how I think they can be applied to everyday life.

Be present

In improv, being present essentially entails paying attention to what is happening around you, and not zoning out or thinking about other things while you’re in the class. This can be surprisingly difficult, especially for someone like me who tends to overthink everything and try to plan out what I will say or do next.

Unfortunately or fortunately, the whole point of improv is that you can’t plan anything out, and you just have to go with the flow. This has been a challenge but has helped me grow over the past few weeks. Learning to just be in the moment and react to what happens around me is a great lesson that I have tried to carry over to both my work life and my social life. I often find myself zoning out while talking to my friends or getting stuck looking to the future too much instead of just focusing on the here and now, and I think improv is helping me overcome that and be more aware of the present. My question for you is: How can you be more present?

Be committed

One of the biggest challenges of improv is going “all in” so to speak, or not being afraid to make a fool out of yourself. There’s a certain level of commitment that you have to make both to yourself and to other in your class, that you will try your best and not hold back at all. It is not nearly as fun if you spend the whole time worrying about if you’re doing it right or if people will think you’re silly.

This is something that I struggle with every single day. At work, I sometimes feel hesitant to speak my mind or offer my own ideas because I’m worried about what everyone will think. Luckily I do think this improv class has helped me to realize that everything is better when you make the effort to go all out. Whether that is trying to offer up a few of your own ideas at a meeting, or not backing out of plans to hang out with friends. I am always striving to get to a point in my life where I can honestly say that I am fully committing to all of my choices and that I am going through life with confidence. My question for you is: How can you be more committed?

 

All in all I am very glad I joined the improv class. I got a few compliments after the class was over; people told me that they thought I had really grown and broken out of my shell throughout the six weeks, so that was great to hear! I have met some awesome people in the class, and I even decided to sign up for Level 2! So expect another improv-related blog in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried improv. I’d also love to hear your answers to my questions about how you will personally try to integrate these lessons into your life.

And one more thing: I got the exciting opportunity to be featured on a blog that I greatly admire, and I will be sharing the post with you all tomorrow morning, so keep a look-out for that! 🙂

Happy Fall!

Hello everyone! Fall is already here, which seems crazy. I can’t believe it’s October! Does anyone else feel like summer sped by? Lately I’ve been looking for some kind of fall-inspired blog to write. I entertained the idea of trying “Blogtober” (posting a blog every day for the month of October), but I decided for now I should just focus on posting once a week. Who knows, maybe I can work up to doing Blogmas in December! Anyway, I stumbled upon gojenbefit’s blog and decided it was the perfect fall-inspired article for me. Go read her’s if you haven’t already!

Now that we are all back here after taking a look at Jen’s blog, I will dive into my three words for fall. The words I chose are all words that I want to embody for the rest of 2015. I think that having these words in mind will help drive me forward to reach my goals and be happier this fall season.

Confidence

I chose this as my first word because it is something that I am constantly working towards. I think you can all probably relate when I say I don’t think I will ever be able to achieve 100% confidence. We all have our own self doubts and fears. However, I do want to focus on believing in myself more this fall because I think that it will allow me to achieve a lot of the things I have been wanting, such as finding a job.

Bravery

Like ‘confidence’, this word is something that I have been working to improve for as long as I can remember. I tend to be someone who doesn’t like taking risks. I like to play it safe and do things that I am comfortable with. But this fall I want to work on getting outside my comfort zone a bit, whether that means trying a new restaurant or making an effort to meet new people.

Positivity

I consider myself to be a very positive person in general, but it is still something that I am always working on. It’s very easy to get discouraged when things don’t go the way you want them to, but staying optimistic and looking at the bright side of the situation is always the best route to take. And positivity can put a smile on not just your face, but the people around you as well! 🙂

I challenge all of you to choose three words that will guide you through this fall season. I would love to hear what your words are, so let me know in the comments if you decide to write a blog about it! Or just write your three words in the comments so we can all compare!

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