Drivers Ed: Accepting Mediocrity

When I was 15 I missed the exact number of questions allowable on the written exam for my driver’s permit. When I was 18, I failed my driving test twice, and on the charmed third attempt I was given my license. This year, upon getting my license in California (which, requires a written exam), you guessed it, I failed with flying colors. Now of course, I did pass the exam and received my license the next day– but looking back at these failed attempts resulting in success (if you’d even call it that), I’ve learned a very valuable life lesson.

There are a few things in life, however important they might be, at which you’re just going to either fail miserably or at most, just scrape by enough to survive. Now this is certainly a concept which I’ve fought against since I can remember. With society telling me that anyone can succeed if they try hard enough, and Pinterest quotes reminding me of all of the successful celebrities who have experienced numerous failures only to persevere and achieve greatness, and my own mother ceaselessly reminding me of just how awesome I am; it has been a bit difficult to wrap my mind around the concept of accepting being less than mediocre at anything, let alone something that attributes to me being a successful adult. But, as I dry the tears that come every time I pay my auto insurance, I remember the wise words offered from my sister as we headed to an alternate restaurant after I accidentally turned in on the itty-bitty Fiat in the parking lot (no worries, there was no damage to the car, just my ego).

Morgan, you’re just not a good driver, and that’s okay.”

Now of course, between her giggles and my crying, all I heard at the time was how horrible a driver I was. Not that this was anything new, my driving record alone was enough to alert me to that; but in that moment, having it put so plainly was devastating. All adults could drive well, why am I so horrible? What other things was I going to fail attempting? Does this mean I’m not the responsible, successful adult that my mind tells me I am?

After I had another minor incident in which I ripped the rear bumper off of a Ford Escape (I promise it wasn’t all my fault), I remembered the words of my sister. She wasn’t saying I’m an awful driver, she was just saying I’m not good at it, and reminding me that it’s okay to not be. As I’ve continued my journey on the winding road through adulthood, I’ve realized that it’s no big deal. I’m a cautious driver, because I know I’m not the best at it. I don’t have road rage, because I’m definitely the one making up my own rules of the road. I suck it up and pay a small piece of my soul each month for car insurance, because making left turns and driving in reverse are necessary evils. There are things in life, be they driving or keeping plants alive or even changing my niece without getting poo on my fingers that I just won’t get yet, or even ever, but so longs as I do an acceptable job at them it’s okay. Right?

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A Life Without Morals: It Happens.

“WOAH! Man, you just ran through a big pile of dog shit!”

“It happens.”

“What, shit?”

“Sometimes.”

When you’re a kid and bad things happen, you cry and throw tantrums and eventually ‘get over it,’ never reflecting on the future effects of the situation. When you’re an adult, it’s different. Sure you can cry and throw tantrums, but in order to get over things you actually have to figure something out. You either have to ask the question, “How is this bad thing or situation going to affect my future?” or “How do I reverse the consequences or better the outcome?” But usually the first question we ask ourselves “Why did this bad thing happen?” To which we then answer ourselves with the cliche, yet many times true response, “Everything happens for a reason.”

This is a wholly acceptable answer for the moment, often used as a source of solace in a sordid situation; however, that answer sometimes leads us on the daunting quest to figure out exactly what that reason was, propelling us into further anxiety.

A few months ago I filled three whole pages in my journal about one of my most embarrassing moments as an adult and perhaps in my entire life.

**Spoiler Alert**

I peed in the elevator at my apartment complex.

No, I was not drunk (I almost wish I were, since then it would be a bit more understandable); but I had made the poor decision to take the 7 minute walk to my car, followed by a 22 minute drive home, and a 2 minute wait for the elevator to my apartment on a bladder full of ginger ale and a 1.5 liter bottle of water. As the elevator doors finally closed and I felt myself being lifted to my floor I didn’t even have the chance to do my potty dance before my bladder gave way. Not a little dribble, the flood gates opened.  Mortified, and now bawling my eyes out and still peeing, I ran to my apartment to hurry and change clothes so I could mop up the elevator, and now the hallway! As I’m on hands and knees wiping up the last drops with my Clorox wipes, I feel myself being lifted to another floor! Shoot! I scramble all of my cleaning supplies just as my upstairs neighbor entered the elevator. Clever, young lady that I am played it off with a “Ugh, damn dog!” only to find out later on that my apartment doesn’t even allow dogs, curses!

At the time, I was so humiliated, I couldn’t believe something so juvenile had happened to me. All I wanted to know was, why?! What was I doing wrong in my life. I’m supposed to be an adult. Adults don’t have these troubles. After taking a three page journey through my journal, which hurled me into what I’d self-diagnosed as my quarter-life crisis, I realized there was nothing wrong. I’d soaked through a pair of nylons and tracked pee through the hallway simply because I got distracted leaving work and tried to make it home without using the restroom. I didn’t have some subconscious emotional distress; I wasn’t exhausted or experiencing some major mental anxiety; I had to go. It happens.

Truth: Everything that happens has both a cause and a reaction or consequence. But, somewhere between Grimm fairy tales and physics class we’ve developed this undying need to find the moral in every story, or solve problems that aren’t necessarily problems. Sometimes, when it causes more anxiety than solace to figure out the ‘why’ it is wholly acceptable and probably best to just accept the fact that sometimes sh!t happens, for no good reason other than it just does. And in these cases, we can either wallow in our self-induced angst trying to understand the mysterious ways of the universe, or clean up the mess and work on the real problems in our lives.

The Real World: Overlypriced 1 Bedroom Apartment

This is the true story (true story) of one young woman, who chose to live in an apartment, work hard and have her life changed; find out what happens when life stops being ‘fun’ and starts getting REAL. The Real World: My apartment. 

I’d normally be sitting on my porch sipping a glass of cheap wine, previously purchased from the drugstore down the street, as I write– but being the responsible young adult that I am, I’ve put myself (however involuntarily) on a strict budget; thus, I am sitting at the dining room table nursing a nice glass of ice water (no lemon or mint) researching fairy tales and wondering if it isn’t too late to move to Neverland and return to the days of my carefree childhood.

A few weeks back, a good friend of mine asked how things were going out in the “real world,” and just before I could rattle off my usual “Great, everything’s so good, I love my job and San Diego is amazing, etc.” I had a quick soul-searching moment followed by the realization that I was full of poppy cock! Imagine, if you will, a photo montage of a bright-eyed, enthusiastic young-adult just getting her feet wet in life’s ocean, then imagine her face when she realizes it’s time to pay student loans and car insurance and all of her best friends are getting married and having children and she’s spending date night hang drying her pantyhose and drinking ice water. Oh, and check out her face when she opens up her near-empty fridge to decide between a peanut butter sandwich or ramen noodles for dinner, and her face when she decides to have both, because who needs to fit into the little black dress that she bought for previously mentioned best friend’s wedding which we’re now learning she cannot attend due to work, with “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore playing in the background.

Not wanting to taint a light-hearted conversation with the harsh realities of my young-adult life, I offered my usual ‘life’s all sunshine and daisies, I’m living the dream’ answer, to which she responded, “Oh how fun that must be.” Que track one on the soundtrack to my life. 

Later on in my journal the conversation got real.  I, as I’m sure many other young adults have, have had many a moment when I’ve just wanted to curl up on my couch and sulk (replay photo montage) until someone else comes to fix my problems, but then I hear Hayley and the boys chanting in the back of my mind,

Don’t go cryin’ to your mama, ’cause you’re on your own in the real world.”

To which I roll my eyes and tell myself “fine!” and set to work out my next steps in life, which usually include writing in my journal and calling one of the besties for some bad advice I probably won’t take and trying to figure out what would mommy do?, followed by, what would Jordan and Lauren do?

Truly, this song has been my anthem since I first heard it on the radio on my way to work. And, while filled with sarcasm reminding me just how different the “real world” has been from my expectations, each time I hear it, I find it ever more empowering. “Ain’t it good to be on your own, Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one,” meant to imply that in this world, you may end up facing life all on your own and there very well may not be anyone to whom you can turn when you need it most, actually reminds me just how well I really am doing so far in this whole growing up thing. As I’m feeling my way through the world and molding myself into the productive member of society I’m supposed to be, I’m realizing that I can handle most of these things, on my own and it’s actually okay if I’m all I’ve got, because I am actually capable of making it in this world.

So yes, Hayley Williams, it is good to be on my own and fun I can count on no one.

 

 

Scuffed Heels

Once upon a time (for lack of a better introduction) I, along with my crew were heading through the security line, buzzing about the usual dislike of hoisting a weeks worth of luggage onto the conveyor belt, when a discussion began over the uniform pieces we were wearing. I was explaining my reasoning for choosing the pants on such a warm day in Sacramento rather than the skirt, being that the heels of my favorite shoes were so scuffed that I could only wear them with pants to cover them. Of course this seemed completely logical to me, excepting the fact that my legs were nearly ablaze wrapped in the navy blue polyester blend; however, it must have seemed completely idiotic to my coworker, who gave me ‘the look’ and replied,

I’m sure people can find far better places to look at on you than the back of your heels.”

In that moment, I knew she was simply responding to my ludicrous insecurity about shoes; yet, she had a point there that reigns true in a multitude of situations. Often times I (as I am sure plenty of others are) am plagued with feelings of insecurity and low confidence based on trivial matters. Many a time have I found myself staring in the mirror wishing for a miracle good hair day; so many times have I dreaded speaking on the PA at work, because I had not yet read through the new announcements and feared a stutter; far too often have I caught myself wishing friends would cancel plans because of a zit. All minor issues, of course, that no one would even notice (and if they did, would certainly have the decency not to point out)–yet they could somehow be enough to throw you into a whirlwind of insecurity and uncertainty.

I find it helpful to remember the quote of my wise coworker and realize that even though I do have these unsavory little nuisances with which to deal, I have more important and certainly more relevant things to offer. While it is a must to acknowledge our imperfections and self-improvement is a necessity in growth, we must also remember to focus on and emphasize the great things about ourselves.

Of course I did eventually get my heels fixed. Not that anyone has noticed.

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For the Love of the LuLus: Choose your Mates Wisely

On a lovely layover in Spokane, WA I found myself sitting hip to hip at a bar with my best girl Chan (from across the land), enjoying our monthly wine and whine session. Joining our conversation (something about the mob and bodies under Spokane Falls) from across the bar, sipping a beer and adjusting his oxygen, was a wise dear gentleman who graced us with such a valuable life lesson,

The world is full of LuLus, and in this world of LuLus just be and let be and remember to choose your mates wisely.”

While Chan and I finished our drinks and merrily carried on our conversations with the bartender and the newcomers throughout the evening, that little gem fluttered through my mind the rest of the night. Something in his words resonated with me.

Throughout my journey through young adulthood I have encountered a number of unique and intriguing people; I’ve also had the displeasure of making the acquaintance of some less desirable characters. Yet, while I have recently begun the efforts to remove the weeds from my garden of happiness– I find that I am growing ever interested in figuring out what exactly it is that is causing these minor characters to wreak havoc in my garden.

But ever since hearing the words of my wise friend across the bar, I have realized that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter the cause, nor does it matter what it is that has caused me such a displeasure. No one’s life choices or character flaws are mine to judge.  I have a choice of how this life must go, and I will forever encounter the LuLus (the crazies, or undesirables), I must continue to live and let live, yet take caution in cultivating the relationships and networks that I believe I need.

It is such a wonder the effect the advice of a stranger can have on the relationships developed within your closest confidants.

Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been

Growing up I experienced many a sleepless night for varying reasons, during which I introduced myself to an array of wonderful music videos and artists featured on VH1’s overnight block, Insomniac Music Theater. One group that I found myself scouring the internet for more music was Relient K. One of the songs that I’ve since remembered quite vividly was “Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been.”

Lately, as I’ve been slowly pulling my feet from the pit of tar that is my self-diagnosed ‘quarter-life’ crisis, the lyrics have illuminated themselves on the back of my mind like the monitors on karaoke night; and my mind can’t help but to scream the lyrics. I know we all have those moments where we look in the proverbial mirror and are embarrassed or humiliated or even sometimes disgusted with something from the past, be it our entire former selves, or just one lame experience; however, sometimes the disgust and shame can be so overwhelming that we forget that these are only distant memories and moments from the past that we’ve made a conscious effort to overcome.

Throughout this journey through my young adult life, I’ve met so many new people and have reintroduced myself to the people my closest friends and family have become through growth and change; and I am ever inspired to try new things and ways to live, to think, and experience life as a whole. When people ask me how I am doing and I can genuinely smile and tell them I’m just wonderful and truly mean it, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. Then comes the moment when my mind replays as scene or a conversation from the past, one that I am not fond of, one where if I’d have said something different or done something else, my whole world would’ve changed and I have that thought, you know the one that begins, “Ugh, I wish I’d have…”

I often find myself feeling guilty or apologetic for the person I was, or looking for ways to fix or undo things that have long since by others been forgotten, for the sole reason that I won’t allow myself to let them go.

But as I am taking the time to learn and grow and get to know myself, I am realizing that there was nothing so horribly wrong with me back then, I just have a different idea of who I am and should and want to be now–which is actually a wonderful thing that some would refer to as growth or maturity. I don’t know what I’d call it, but for now, old Mo is alright with me.

Swatting Flies

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One of my favorite places to be, no matter where I am in the world, is outside on the porch enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass or the damp air after a quick rain (not that it rains in southern California). So imagine my discomfort and disappointment when my favorite pastime of relaxing on the back porch sipping ice water with lemon and mint was rudely interrupted by these fearless. germ carrying, heaven only knows what eating, flies! There were a million of them– okay, not a million, more like seven; but they swarmed my place of solace and solitude. They landed on my newly potted plants, they buzzed ceaselessly around my head, I could barely hear my neighbor practicing “Shortenin’ Bread” on his new banjo! I tried my best to ignore them. It was a lovely day, 78 degrees and sunny. I just wanted to kick back on the porch listening to the sounds of summer in my neighborhood while I pinned ideas for my nieces first birthday and sip some ice-cold water with lemon and mint. I wasn’t in the mood to swat at these little guys. So I sat back and tried to relax while shooing them away every now and again.

That worked for all of a few moments until one bold little fella decided to stake his claim of the porch and show his utter disregard for my generosity in letting them sit in the shade on my porch and landed right on the rim of my glass, just where I would place my lips to take a sip. That was it! I took my now tainted glass of water into the house, grabbed my keys and went to Target to search for a fly swatter. It was on.

When I returned to my porch armed with my new weapon ready to take back the area that was rightly mine, I was surprised to find even more flies had come to join the party. They thought they’d won. They thought they’d gotten rid of me. I took action; it was a massacre (moment of silence for the flies), but my cat-like reflexes served me well, and I got rid of all but a few of the trespassers which now know the wrath of my fly swatter.

As I sat on my porch later that evening with a fresh glass of ice water with lemon and mint (and a slice of cucumber to celebrate), I realized that my war with the flies was a lesson. In life there are moments when I am bothered by or made uncomfortable by seemingly small things, and in lieu of kicking up dust or inciting conflict I try to ignore them or just deal with it; however, some things, however small they may seem must be dealt with before they become bigger issues, before they push you off of your porch. And while you may miss some of the flies you swat, at the very least, you’ve let the flies know that they aren’t welcome and you are willing and prepared to take action if the problems persist or escalate. And that’s a defense in and of itself.

For the Moments I Feel Faint: Just say no.

One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from a discussion on sexual harassment during training for my beloved new career. Fortunately enough, the application of this noteworthy life lesson didn’t come in response to being harassed in the workplace–however, I have gotten goosed by accident on the plane a time or two, but that’s neither here nor there. But the words that truly stuck with me as a constant reminder to put on my ‘big girl panties’ and face my problems head on, were, “a few moments of discomfort could spare you a lifetime of grief.” Essentially, nip things in the bud before they become significantly worse for you and others.

Now of course, during this training session, those words were suggesting that you explain to people your physical boundaries or areas of discomfort as soon as others come close to crossing them, before you and your counterpart are put in a potentially damaging situations. This makes perfect sense; if you feel uncomfortable with that hand on your shoulder or your coworker’s adult humor, say so before it becomes a habit. While you may feel like bringing up your personal boundaries makes for an uncomfortable or maybe even offensive conversation, better that for just a few awkward and tense moments, than potentially dreading your entire work experience, or flying off the handle once the situations start to escalate.

Complete genius or common sense?  Either way, it is great practice in nearly every situation. However, I, for one, avoid conflict and confrontation like the plague; thus, I find the few moments of discomfort (in my mind, of course) last forever. Now as I’ve gotten older and am experiencing moments in life that could fare far better with simple (never easy, but indeed simple) conversations, I am finding it imperative that I ‘man up’ and have these uncomfortable conversations. I, as so many other young adults these days, have found the joy that is Pinterest. I came across a pin one day that would, along with this valuable lesson, which I am continually learning, would change my entire way of thinking.

Learn to say no without explaining yourself.”

Well by golly, if it were just that simple! What will the others say? What if they think I’m mean, stingy, heartless, uncaring, inconsiderate, lazy, etc.? In a simple answer, courtesy of my friend (during a heartfelt conversation concerning choosing the best time to re-hang my crooked wall art so as not to disturb my neighbor): “So! Get your life straight, he’ll be fine.” And really and truly, most of the time that is the case. I am constantly reminding myself that while I should always consider the effects my decisions have on other people, my feelings, and experiences and well-being matter as well. And that’s as good a reason as any for the decisions I make, right?

As someone who sees being a ‘good’ friend as a matter of great importance and a truly redeeming character trait, I sometimes find myself and my generosity being taken advantage of. It’s far too easy to just say yes and figure things out afterwards. But that often results in stress and high tension within relationships, especially if you’re the only one providing the ‘yes.’ Often times, one too many a ‘yes’ has caused me to have to step back and reevaluate some of my most cherished relationships (which, while completely necessary at some points, can really be emotionally taxing–but that’s a whole ‘nother life lesson). I am, now reminded of that ever famous break-up line, “it’s not you, it’s me.” And situations like these, that is quite often the case. They all aren’t greedy, energy-sucking, leeches trying to get over on me; they know I am caring and reliable and interested in helping and I always say yes, so why not ask me? It’s a vicious cycle into which I’ve thrown myself. Now it’s a matter of pulling myself out of it.

I am working hard on putting these lessons into practice and to convince myself, that as much as I care and would like to help everyone I can, if their requests aren’t conducive to the life I am attempting to live, it is perfectly acceptable to just say no.

Dear Darla: the fallen art of communication

As I’ve begun making my way through this young adult life, I’ve begun to realize the ever-growing importance of honest communication. You know what they say: “If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t write it down.” But what of the things which we do want to share concretely. The old saying goes: “actions speak louder than words;” however, with the concept of perception being 9 tenths of reality, our intentions are quite often misconstrued. In this complicated world that is quickly being influenced by technology, it is imperative that we remember to take the time to sincerely communicate with others.

In almost every advice column, blog post, and tip list written about interviewing, I’ve read the same tip: follow-up the interview with a thank you note or email. This little gesture shows not only your continued interest in your pursuit, but also, that you were attentive and actually gained something from your interaction with your interviewer.

On nearly every occasion from birthdays to holidays to moments of need, we find that a heartfelt greeting card comes in handy. I am learning now that words are my greatest power. On the job and in my relationships I am continuously finding that openly and sincerely communicating with others has been my greatest help; however, often times I am finding myself struck with minor anxiety (which of course leads to severe procrastination) when it comes to openly communicating. I have made it my personal goal to explore the different means of effective communication and expression. Some of the things I have found to be greatly effective when it comes to communicating personally are thank you notes and actually writing letters to my loved ones in addition to greeting cards.

The art of letter writing has seemingly gone by the wayside, but the act (which is quite important in conveying effort and sincerity) of taking the time to follow through and filter your thoughts and put them in writing is truly one of the greatest forms of self expression. As I delve deeper into this adult world I can truly appreciate the effort it takes to maintain relationships and networks and am certain that this exploration into the art of communication will serve me well.

 

Girls in white dresses.

A few years ago, while helping my oldest sister shop for her wedding dress, I unknowingly and indirectly received some of the greatest advice I will ever take. Naturally, it came from my mother. After trying on just a few beautiful white dresses, my beautiful sister began to realized the difficulty in choosing which of the gowns would best suit her for one of the most important days of her life. This was a major life decision. Which of course meant, she would need the opinions of her caring and fashionable mother and sister. However, before one could begin to even consider picking apart and critiquing how each dress fit and flattered, my ever practical and wise mother interjected:

Jordan, you’re going to be the only one wearing a white dress. So pick whichever one you love.”

As simple a statement as it was at the time, I feel it reigns ever true in far deeper meaning than her attempt to calm and support my sister.

As I’ve begun the journey through adulthood, I have learned that though we must be conscious of the effects our behaviors, beliefs, and decisions have on others, we must also be aware of the decisions that are solely about our individual selves. There are and forever will be moments which will direct our course in life and we must acknowledge and embrace them and make our decisions based on what is best for us in the long-term. It is worth remembering that those we love and admire will see and praise the beauty of your ‘white dress’ for only a moment; however, your decisions, your beliefs, your ‘white dress’ will remain a part of the most important days of your life.

As a young, curious, and imaginative young woman in this world of opportunities, my mind is ever overflowing with ideas of the next big adventure or the next new experience. Every passing day has the potential to be the best or most important or influential day of my life. Which poses a matter of choosing which ‘white dress’ will be the most flattering for me. I guess it’s a decision only I can make.