My Ted Talk

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Sometimes, when I'm in the shower, I like to pretend I am giving a Ted Talk. It’s one of those secret dreams of mine I haven’t shared with anyone.

Yes, one day I want to give a Ted Talk and I often practice in the shower. It goes a little something like this. 

I’m introduced and eloquently float out and take my spot center stage. I stand before an audience of hundreds waiting for me to speak. To bare my soul, share my truth and change their lives in some way.

Then maybe all the pain I've experienced in mine will finally have meaning. 

I pause and scan the audience as the nerves settle in my belly. And then I begin. Words flow gracefully from my lips as I deliberately and meticulously speak. 

Line after line, I stand before the audience with grace and ease and pure poetry escapes from my mouth and I feel alive. As if I am finally living in full alignment with my purpose.

And this is what I would say:

When I was a little girl I was desperate to be accepted and loved by everyone. 

I learned early on that if I said and did the right things, molding myself to every person in my life, I would always feel a sense of ease and acceptance. 

I would always feel, loved. 

But that really wasn't the case. 

As I grew older, trying to create that sense of peace started to be become like draping individual chains over my shoulders. Eventually the stories and facade became too heavy. I hit a wall and could no longer continue carrying that weight around. 

This was about the time I stumbled across my first personal development book. It was a few months after I turned twenty and I had just made my very first big life decision all on my own. And I was scared as hell to go down this new path. 

I had made the decision to drop out of college. 

This decision proceeded a massive nervous breakdown in the middle of a raging frat party. My friends found me sobbing uncontrollably, wrapped in a tiny ball sitting on a bed in the basement. They couldn't console me. I was unconsolable. In shock.

They took me home and called my mom. It was 2 am. The next weekend I was driving back to Seattle to tell my family I was leaving school and in that one decision, I felt one of the weights release and fall to the ground. 

This decision changed the course of my life. It sparked something deep within me that would take years to turn into a full fledge fire. 

You see, it was the first moment I realize that I am not going to be for everyone and neither would my decisions and I had to be okay with that. It sparked the courage to finally explore what  I really wanted and ask some really big questions. 

Years later I stand before you with one message and one message only. I truly hope you take it in. 

Under no circumstances, whatsoever, are you going to be for everyone either. And that is okay. 

It's easy to get caught up in what other's think of our lives and it's really easy to paint a pretty picture that we have it all figured out and that our lives are picture perfect.

We do this because we are all longing for the same thing; to be loved and accepted. 

But here is the thing, no matter how hard you try, I promise you, there will always be someone who is just itching to find your flaws. To point out your mistakes, bring you down to 'reality,' burst your bubble and keep you feeling small. 

Certain individuals will look your life and criticize and judge no matter how perfect you paint it.

So drop the act. Lighten up your load a little. 

There are always going to be people who have so many opinions about YOUR life because they are too afraid to step back and address the areas they are unhappy with in their own.  

Caring too much what family and friends, acquaintances, and strangers think is a paralyzing behavior. It will prevent you from serving your purpose and doing those things that your heart desires. 

I've realized that when I get caught up in thinking about what I should say and do with each and every person in my life I’m actually deeply neglecting my own needs, wants and desires. I'm completely out of alignment and in some place in my life I am not giving myself the love I deserve but rather, judging myself in some way. 

As cliché as it may sound, it took a year of dealing with a rare cancer diagnoses to get some real clarity into the trajectory of my life and accept this one very crucial and important thing; I will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be for everyone.

I may not even be for people in my very own family and I'm learning to be okay with this too. 

Every single day I have to fight the urge to crawl back under the covers where it is safe and warm. Where people can't see me. Where I can play as small and feel as safe as I want to. 

Why? All because I'm scared of what other's think? 

I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress and I still find myself grasping for acceptance and the idea that to be loved, I have to say and do everything in accordance with everyone else.

 I still fall short of my best self every single day.

However, I often think about those who conquered great things in their lives didn't do so by playing small or spending too much time caring about how they looked to others. If they had, they would have never done the thing that helped the person that changed the lives. Now would they?

And in the great words of Oprah, this is what I know to for sure:

You will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be for everyone.

You will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be accepted by all.

And you will absolutely, under no circumstance whatsoever, be able to make everyone happy.

And you will absolutely, under no circumstance whatsoever, be able to fit a square peg in a round hole. So stop trying.

So please, I ask this of you with so much love in my heart, just be you. Every single beautiful part of you. 

If we continue living our lives for everyone else, we will never truly know what we are capable of creating. Your purpose is in no way shape or forms the same as any other person's in this lifetime. When you step back and look at it that way, maybe you can find the strength to act in accordance with your own self, your own desires, your own needs. 

I want to leave you with just one more thing before I go.

Before you open your mouth to speak to anyone, pause for just a moment and ask yourself this, "Is what I am about to say imparting my own judgments onto them? If so, don't say it.  

When I have nothing more to say I turn off the water and dry myself off. 

Then I go back to my life and leave my dream in the shower for another day. 

Filters, perceptions and adulating -- oh my!

"Life is all about perception. Positive versus negative. Whichever you choose will affect and more then likely reflect your outcomes." -Sonya Teclai

Adulting can be really confusing sometimes. It's this sweet mix of pain and heartache and surrender, joy and growth.

Growing up I thought stepping into the adult world meant life got easier. I use to look on at all the grown ups in my life and think, "Man, I can't wait to be an adult too. Life looks way more fun when you are older."

I had high hopes, big dreams and lofty aspiration as a kid. I was going to set the world on fire with my badass adutingness (That is a word in my adult world) and I could hardly wait to get there. Being an adult is what dreams were made of, right?  

Okay, so insert scratching record player and every head turning in my direction as if I just stepped into the room wearing nothing but a velvet fedora and a bright pink sash that say, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm a mother fing gangsta!" Stranger things have happened. 

Life, as an adult, is interesting to say the least. Some view it as the most amazing part of the human experience, full of incredible opportunities, exchanges, experiences and so on. Others are practically hammering the nails in their own coffin as they slowly let the days pass them by, loathing every minute,  just waiting for it all to be over. 

The only difference? Filters, perceptions and perspective. 

Right after my divorce I was living with my brother and sister-in-law back in my home town of Issaquah, Washington and my adorably sweet and ridiculously intuitive and smart nephew would often as me out of what felt like out of nowhere, "TT, when am I going to be an adult?" It was always said as if he was missing out on some kind of awesome toy that comes once you enter adulthood. I'm serious, we'd be in the middle of watching a movie or playing with his toys and he'd just pause, look up at me and ask, "TT, when am I going to be and adult?

I always took a long, deep breath, remembering what it felt like to be a kid longing to grow up fast. I'd looked at him, smile and say, "Oh buddy, you have plenty of time to be an adult. Just be happy and have fun being a kid. You'll have plenty of time to adult"

He'd always look back at me with a questioning stare as if I was hiding some big, crazy something from him like, the Easter Bunny was in fact, really a Turtle. Sometimes you can't win with kids. Sometimes kids are way more intuitive then we give them credit for. 

I often wondered how I could persuade him into slowing down a bit and just enjoy being a kid. How, if he was't careful, before he knew it he'd be thirty-six years old, looking back on his life wondering how it went by so fast. I want to tell him that there are some really beautiful things about the naivety of being a kid and you can never go back to that time in your life and so try and drag it out as long as possible.

Sometimes, when he'd ask me, "TT, when AM I going to be an adult?" these words would momentarily flash before me: 

Bud, adulting is scary business. Really friggin' scary. You see, there are all these expectations and responsibilities and one wrong move and you can completely screw everything up. Or at least it feels that way most of the time.  

And the choices. All the friggin' choices. God, are there A LOT of decisions to make. Like, seriously man. I mean, I work way better with multiple choice questions so why can't life work that way too? Just give me a few choices, I'll work my process of elimination and viola, I'll know exactly what to do and life will feel very easy. Instead, life feels like you are constantly writing a twenty-five page abstract essay on a time limit of about five minutes. Cause that's basically how fast life goes by when you reach adulthood bud. 

You think picking out a new toy is overwhelming sweet boy? Well, just wait until you have to pick out a whole friggin' life in a world that is constantly changing full of other adults who are trying to make similar choices. It can feel dark and scary and like there are storms brewing from every directions. 

Then there are experiences that happen that are just out of your control. Heartbreak, betrayal, lies, death, illness, losing jobs, falling in love, falling out of love, realizing the person you are with just can't love you back. Mommy and daddy aren't around twenty-four seven to put a bandaid on your broken heart or hold you when you are scared of the lions under the bed. And sometimes you lie in bed at night and just cry because it all just feels like too much and all you want to do is go back to a time when your biggest worry was how the hell you are going to hide the fact that you spilt milk on the couch from your mom and dad and you come up with the brilliant idea that you'll just simply let the dog lick it up and you are proud of yourself. 

Life works it's way so deep into your cells that you start to feel yourself become jaded and rough. You are constantly in a tug-a-war, an internal battle of staying soft and open verses becoming hard and crusty with every major life experience. 

Then there are these things called responsibilities. If you aren't careful they wills start to weigh you down like a one hundred pound weight that you are required to carry around every day, all day. All a result of some choice you made in the past. Another wrong turn you took when you were merely just trying to make, what you thought, was the best decision at the time. 

Oh, and whoa, I almost forgot, people are mean. And scary. I mean, not all of them, but there are a lot of them that are because most of them are just as scared and tired as you are and they are merely taking their frustrations and fears out on you. Their shoulders are just as heavy from the weight of their own stories. 

And don't get me started on failed dreams. All those things you wanted to do, all those places you wanted to go, the wild, crazy adventures you thought you'd experience on a regular basis, a lot of them probably won't come true and you'll be left feeling disappointed, depressed and wondering if this is really what life is supposed to be about. So, buddy, there is plenty of time to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Just stay a kid as long as you friggin' can, okay? 

I'd come to after a minute, shaking off the remnants of my own fears and instead, I'd smile, take a deep breath and say, "Buddy, you have plenty of time to be an adult. Just try and enjoy being a kid as long as you can, okay?" And he'd give me a confused look as if I just told him the Easter Bunny was, in fact, a Turtle. 

And then others times, quieter, peaceful, more self-reflective and grow-inspired times, I'd look at him and think: 

Buddy, if you can, try to stay young as long as possible but pay attention now because you will learn a lot about yourself, who you are, what you want to do, your gifts to the world. If you start to listen closely now, you'll learn that the voice inside of you is actually the truth. Its like an internal compass, helping you navigate your way through life. Its the way, the truth, and the light. Unfortunately, a lot of us stop listening to it as we get older and let other things guide us.

Adulting is amazing bud. It comes with freedoms you don't have as a kid like being able to make decisions for yourself. There are choices that you GET to make as an adult that mommy and daddy make for you as a kid. You GET to choose what you want to do and who you want to be. Isn't that exciting?   

And this bud, this is very important to remember so listen closely sweet boy; life does not happen TO you but FOR you. It's easy bud, to become a victim of life's circumstances. Believe me, your TT has perfected that. We can become jaded and fearful, afraid to get hurt again, to put yourself out there once more, to be seen, especially for an introverts like us. But just keep going. Keep breaking down walls or better yet, fight hard to never put them up to begin with. No matter how afraid you are just remember that life isn't about staying trapped in a protective bubble. Life is about stepping out of your comfort zone and finding the courage to keep going, despite the disappointments, the set back, the fears, the heartache, the pain and the betrayal.

All of it is for your growth as you move through life as an adult. I'll be honest, it doesn't always feel good. Some of it is heavy stuff and almost all of it is the result of a filter or perception we've taken on, sometimes a long time ago. But you want to know one of the coolest things about being an adult? You GET to change that if you want. You have all the freedom in the world to rewrite whatever story you'e been telling yourself. 

So bud, the hard moments are really the defining moments. They don't always make sense. You may end up going through the same experience many times, that too is intended for your growth. You see, until we learn what we need to learn, until we decide to change, life does that to you. It keeps bringing you the same people (just different faces) the same experience, and the same situation, until you decide to rewrite your story, to go down a different path, and to find the courage to react differently. 

Life can be extremely mesmerizing too bud. It can suck you in like when you stand barefoot on the beach, starring down as your feet sinking into the coolness of the sand. Or like when you stand at the shoreline as the waves lap over your feet and you stare out into the endless ocean horizon and feel so full of possibility. Or maybe like when you feel captivated by the crackling embers of the amber and yellow light from a campfire. Adulting has so many moments like that too. 

Buddy, being an adult is awesome. But so is the simplicity of being a kid. Your only job right now is to have fun and be open to new things. To explore and learn, to make mistakes and learn from them. Try not to carry those mistakes with you because if you aren't careful, they will start to feel really heavy and weigh you down later on in life. Learn from them, then brush them off and let them go. Don't let them become part of your story, don't let the cloud your filters and shape your perceptions. 

There will be seasons of pain and sadness. It will come and go, ebb and flow without any warning. If you can, accept that and ride the wave of feelings that come with it knowing that, as grandma always tells me, "This too will eventually pass and you will feel joy and happiness once again. Just give it time."  

And yes, there will be seasons of joy bud and man does this feel good. It kind of feels like every day for you now, as a kid. You wake up so excited for what the day will bring. You jump out of bed, take a big stretch and wonder what amazing thing you will experience today. You know that feeling bud, when we put on our rain boots and go on a walk and jump in puddle after puddle and we laugh and laugh until our bellies ache and are cheeks hurt from that incredible feeling we feel? Those days feel a lot like that. 

Life is a mix of those seasons little man, but always remember this; without the storms and the rain, there wouldn't be any puddles to jump in. 

Then I'd give him a smile and say, "See bud, there is a lot of great things about being an adult, but if you can, enjoy the experience of being a kid." And he'd still look back at me with his confused and questioning stare as if I told him the Easter Bunny was in fact, a Turtle.   

So which one is the truth? Which filter do you walk around with? The first? The second? A mix of both? I don't know. That isn't for me to decide for you. But I hope you think long and hard about the way you view life, the world around you and realize that perception is everything. And it's okay if sometimes you see the world as both because we all have good days and bad days, joyful seasons and sad ones. We would never fully appreciate the happiness that comes from the good times if we hadn't experience the bad ones. 

And it is ridiculously important to remember this one very things;  our filters create our present reality but what we see isn't always the truth. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath, step back and try to look at each situation, each experience, each person from a different perspective, a different angle, a different lens. We have to remember that life isn't happening TO us but FOR our greatest growth as human beings. 

Our filters and perceptions may not actually be the truth and the reality is, we should all smile at the fact that the Easter Bunny very well may in fact, be a Turtle to someone.