What’s Their Story

Have you ever stopped to think about where some of the most successful people started out their life? Sure, you have probably heard that Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage, but what about people you come into contact with that you don’t know well enough to know their life story? Are you looking at them and the success they’ve had in life and wishing it could be that easy for you?

I recently received a reminder that if you don’t know somebody, you don’t know where they’ve come from. Even if you think you know, they might not have told you the entire story.

The company I work for is serious about our mission and about improving the lives of others and before COVID hosted pretty consistent volunteer opportunities. I joined the company just a couple of months before COVID shutdown life as we knew it and work remotely from across the country so I didn’t get to participate in the volunteering they did. When COVID hit, I didn’t think about the lack of volunteering the company has done, at least in the traditional way you think about volunteering. As a company, we’ve worked with other large companies to give back to our target market, but that is not what I’m talking about today. 

During one of our biweekly company-wide team meetings, the team brought up an opportunity to volunteer with a local organization that the company has supported through the years. This opportunity is to donate food or personal care items to a local non-profit for those in need. Us remote employees have the option of donating locally to participate or providing money (or not participating, but that’s not the option I chose). When one of our leaders started talking about how near and dear this is to his heart, he told a story I didn’t know. Now, the story is entirely his to share and I’m not going to go into detail, but the part that stood out to me the most was something that I related to.

As a child, he was able to eat because his family received food stamps. Me too. I cannot remember a time as a child that my parents didn’t buy food on their EBT card. It was shit food, but that’s another story for another time. This admission from one of our leaders who I haven’t gotten to know very well because of being remote and COVID, slapped me in the face as a reminder not to assume anything about anybody. This leader has been super successful from what I know of him. Like REALLY successful. But I never considered where he came from. What did he overcome to reach the level of success that he has?

When you look at these successful people that have started companies and sold them for millions or billions or who are models or Instagram influencers or whatever, do you ever consider what their story might be?

I haven’t. In fact, it feels like every time I hear a story like this or like Robert Herjavec’s story, my heart drops, I feel so much empathy for them and then I get inspired. If you don’t know who Robert Herjavec is, he is the founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group and is one of the Shark’s on Shark Tank. Or there is Sarah Jessica Parker or Charlize Theron or Ursula Burns or Geisha Williams.

Remember that quote, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, don’t judge any person that you see as successful before you learn their story. They might be living pretty damn cushy right now, but they might not have started that way. Not every successful person is born into a family with what seems like unlimited funds or perfect parents or even a roof over their head. If you find yourself thinking it was or is easy for somebody, do some research and don’t assume.

That vice president in your company that you think has it all or the CEO who works a shitload of hours and demands (rudely or not) dedication or the actress or influencer or whoever you are assuming had it easy to get where they are, they probably didn’t. I have learned in the past few years that there are more and more successful people who started out with rough childhoods that most of us don’t know about. It doesn’t matter what level of success you are thinking about. It could be the teacher down the road with a beautiful house or that person that drives a spiffy new car all of the time or the doctor at the local clinic. 

As I sit here and meditate on the new fact I learned about this leader in my company, the more my empathic emotion wants to just hug him and tell him it’s okay. There are so many people who start life with little to no food, no shelter, abusive parents, being bullied, immigrating from a warzone or drug cartel area, or so much more. Let’s stop judging these books by their cover and start learning their stories. We might be surprised by the person behind the cover. 

Remember my Imperfect Warriors, you already have what it takes, believe in yourself, and crush every failure on your way to your dreams. Let’s be imperfect together.

Episode 18: What’s Their Story

Failing Imperfectly
Episode 18: What's Their Story
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Those celebrities or successful people you hear about or are in your life, where did they come from?

Sacrificing Your Mental Health

We are going to talk about one of the things that society has placed a negative stigma on, mental health. Growing up, anything to do with mental health was negative and was generally not talked about. And if it was talked about, the conversation was judgemental and demeaning. The sad part is that if our society hadn’t been so damn judgemental, so many people could possibly still be with us today. While so many people only think of mental health as depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder or something similar, that’s not all that mental health is.

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Episode 13: Sacrificing Your Mental Health

Failing Imperfectly
Episode 13: Sacrificing Your Mental Health
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Mental health encompasses everything about our life and we must protect it.

They Aren’t In My Life For A Reason

I have many people who I do not allow in my life for various reasons. I have some people that I’ve allowed back into my life, but I’m struggling giving them full access again. There are some people I have on a line of whether or not I continue to associate with them.

Many people see me as a bitch for being this controlled about my life. I’ve had family members threaten to not attend big life events because I refused to allow my father to even attend. I get told that ‘they are your family, it doesn’t matter’ when talking to some people, even when they have cut off contact to some family members. Hmm, that doesn’t make sense.

People who are not me feel that they get to judge and comment on my decision. However, I disagree. This is one thing that I have done amazingly well at, regardless of what other people say. I have protected my peace from people who I cannot have in my life for whatever reason. I have protected my emotional and mental health because of it.

I know that I am where I am today because I cut ties with certain people. I’m frequently told I will regret it when they are gone. No, no I will not. I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can control mine. By controlling my actions, I am able to live a healthier life.

For example, I cut my mother out of my life as soon as I did not need her for FAFSA forms. I didn’t talk to her at all and I didn’t see her even in passing. The first day that I went to see her in the nursing home when my uncle placed her there, was the first time I had seen her in eight or nine years. She didn’t know who I was. She thought I was her mom or her sister. She had hit a point with her early onset Alzheimer’s that she was in her final years.

I wasn’t there for her in the times she needed support. I wasn’t there to make healthy decisions for her. I wasn’t there to be the one to take care of her until medical staffing was necessary. I wasn’t there to make sure that my older sister took care of her properly, even though she didn’t. I didn’t step in to take legal custody of her, my uncle did.

I do not regret it. I do feel bad that I wasn’t there. I do feel bad that I hadn’t known that she was diagnosed and that she needed care. But I don’t regret it.

Avoiding the family members that I do isn’t about me being better than them. It’s about me protecting my emotional and mental health. It is about protecting myself so I can live a healthy, fulfilled life.

If I didn’t cut ties with these family members, I wouldn’t be the me that I am today. I wouldn’t be the strong person who is continuously working on herself. I would be living a path being held back by intense stress and shame. I would be financially supporting addicts who only blame others for their situations.

No, I’m not a bitch. No, you don’t get to judge me. No, you don’t get to hold me to a different standard when you’ve cut ties with family members too.

No, I do not regret cutting these ties. My health is more important.

Freedom

All of my life, I was looking outside of myself for freedom to be myself or freedom to be successful or even just the freedom to be loved. As a child, I witnessed that all of these came from external sources. The primary example I had was that nothing good came to me if it wasn’t granted by someone else.

I haven’t had the freedom I always wanted because I kept waiting to be granted it by someone else. I wanted someone else to tell me that it was okay to be myself or that I was successful. I wanted someone to tell me that even if every single person in my life or that I meet doesn’t love me, my love of myself is enough. I kept waiting and waiting, feeling like it never came.

It wasn’t ever going to come. The freedom I was looking for doesn’t come from other people. The freedom I was looking for couldn’t be granted to me by anybody but me.

I didn’t finally learn this until last year. I didn’t fully learn this until I quit drinking completely. I used alcohol as a crutch to be liked for so many years that I didn’t even know who I was, even if I thought I did. It wasn’t until my thoughts became clearer that I could process all of the personal development that I was learning.

I heard many speakers and life coaches say it over and over again, it all starts with you. It all starts with me. I thought I was starting with me. I thought I was leaning into who I wanted to be. I did, some. But my freedom came when I quit drinking and cleared my mind and have been able to lean into who I am without any crutch.

My freedom to be myself and love myself is growing. I am giving myself more freedom to be my loud self. I am giving myself freedom to learn how to have fun, be silly or ridiculous or whatever, and not judge myself for it out of fear that someone else is judging me. I am giving myself the freedom to truly share my shit-show of a family when people ask me if my family still in New Mexico or how many siblings I have. I am no longer hiding any of what I don’t like about my life because there is more freedom in owning it and acknowledging where I came from to get where I am today.

My freedom is truly coming from within. I am no longer looking outside of myself to be granted the freedom I so desperately wanted. I am the only one who can grant myself the freedom I crave and doing so is yet one more step-by-step process.

I grant myself freedom to be whoever I want to be and to be loved by myself first. I grant myself freedom to make choices that not everybody will love. I grant myself freedom to live a happy and healthy life by my design.

Judging Myself

All of my life I have wanted to be taken seriously. I stopped playing with toys quickly. I didn’t want to wear anything that resembled cartoon characters I liked. I stopped watching animated movies. I wanted to be mature and smart. But I never judged anybody who wore character clothing or watched animated movies. I just judged myself. After all, we are our own worst critic.

I was envious of people who wore character clothing with pride. I was envious of people who enjoyed animated movies. I was envious of people who proudly talked about, shared, or whatever their favorite characters or theme parks. I didn’t know why they could be so cool to be taken seriously and still love animated characters. I mean, I’ve always loved Mickey Mouse (yes, Mickey, not Minnie), but I kept that buried.

This past year I decided to take my envy and become the person I watched. I am a mature grown-ass woman who loves Mickey Mouse. I proudly went to Disney World with Eddie for a vacation and we don’t have kids!! I bought Minnie ears and proudly wore them each day we were there. I bought a sweater with the theme park name, a new Mickey ornament, and an apron with Mickey Mouse all over it.

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I don’t know where the hell I got it in my head that I couldn’t be mature and taken seriously if I proudly wore anything of an animated or movie character. What I do know is that it was probably because I tried to set myself apart from other children so I could be the smart kid. I can be smart and love and wear Mickey Mouse.

What do you refrain from doing or wearing because you are afraid of judgment? Is anybody actually judging you or are you judging yourself?

I was judging myself. I have judged myself for most of my life. It is a weird feeling of relief when I realized I was the only one who had a problem with my love of Mickey. I was the one who was holding myself back. I now proudly wear my Mickey Mouse whenever I cook something that might ruin my clothes. My Christmas tree is a mix of blue, silver, Swarovski, and Mickey. My Disney World sweater is warm as fuck and I wear it when I want, where I want.

You do you girl. Keep being imperfect my warriors!!