No Apologies

apologies

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I have been trying to adjust to the big changes in my life the last couple of weeks and for me, as is for many, change is never easy. I walked away from a company a few weeks ago that I had worked with for seven years. Where I wasn’t happy with my place in life, leaving your comfort zone is difficult. It can mess up your whole routine and even hit you where it hurts the most, your confidence.

Moving on in my career, I am learning, was a better choice than I had expected. Something happened the day I woke up and put on real clothes and walked into a new office. Yes, I wanted to sit on my couch and work in my PJs on the same projects I had been accustomed to for years, but forcing myself into a new world if you will, I felt an uptick in my self-confidence.

There are so many thoughts and ideas and concerns floating around this career change, I started to notice things that aided my confidence and the things that dragged it down. After my first couple weeks of work I saw how my confidence, and maybe even my credibility, dunked a bit every time I said I was sorry.

Sorry.

Sorry when there was no need to be. My compulsive apologizing made me feel nervous about switching jobs even when only moments before I had been feeling great about it. I apologized for not knowing where a conference room was, for opening the wrong folder in the shared drive, or even when I opened a door to exit as someone pushed on it to enter. I realized quickly that I don’t just do this at work. I do this a lot. I apologize when a play goes wrong at volleyball, even though I did my best to save it. I apologize when I’m circling in the arena at the barn and another horse is riding on the rail, even though it is well within my right to use the space.

Apologies are a good way to build relationships and express concern for someone else’s well-being, but they can also undermine my personal and professional demeanor. Continuing to apologize for harmless, low-profile, minor errors actually erodes self-confidence.  I am trying to build myself up here, not cringe every time I make an innocent mistake.

I have been tyring to take note and be more mindful of how I dole out apologies. I am trying to save them for when they are most needed to help someone or help me move on to a solution. To do this, I am starting small, because lets be honest, this will be a tough habit to break. From now on, if I bump into someone or step out in front of them, I simply say “exuse me” and move on. This is great advice from a great article I read. If I make this small change I’m hoping to save my “sorrys” for when they are really necessary and maybe I’ll find myself saying it less and less. Then hopfully, I will see my confidence go up and up.

Taking a step forward today

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I took a huge step this month. I quit my job.

I don’t know if it’s the media, society, or just something innate that tells us when we turn 30, or are in our thirties, we’re supposed to have everything figured out. Anything from your dating/marriage situation to your financial or career situation. For some reason there is this social expectation of being in your thirties that says you are now an adult, and being an adult should deter you from taking risks.

Clearly I don’t have everything figured out. What most people were doing shortly after college, meeting future husbands and blossoming into post-grad careers, are things that didn’t come to me until years and years later. Always the later bloomer I suppose. But one thing I am learning is not to let fear be a driving force in my life.

I graduated college and took a few jobs here and there trying to start a career. When I was 25 I finally got my chance to start in a well paying position with a good company. For nearly seven years I bounced around within the company trying to find my place. A sort of “advance myself” type growth pattern to give me as much of a perspective on the business as I could gain. For nearly 7 years I loved and hated different parts of the positions I took at the company. I held three different positions, received a couple bad reviews, got a few really great reviews. And suddenly I realized I was putting time and effort into a career that wasn’t giving back.

In my 7 years with this company I never saw a single promotion. I was always confused on my career path as defined by my management and when trying to forge my own path, I was shot down and dismissed. Those bad reviews I got, I was never told why I got them or how to improve. The review system seemed so arbitrary. But I had been there 7 years. Could I leave? I made a decent salary, I earned 19 days of vacation every year. I had a work from home option. Could I really leave this company and do as well?

I didn’t matter. For lack of a better phrase I was at a dead end. It was time to trust my intuition on new opportunities.

Great accomplishments start with the decision to try. I was feeling frustrated and beat down 40 hours a week but was to afraid to change anything. I’m 32 years old, I have almost 7 years invested in the company, it made sense to stay. It also made sense to leave. What would I have thought of myself 20 years from now if I didn’t try something new?

Life is just to short to wait. As I said my goodbyes to co-workers, more than half told me they wish they could do the same but felt it was to late for them. But that’s not true, every day is  another chance to change your life. And fear doesn’t exist anywhere other than in your head. Be brave and go after your goals. I have a desire to work in a leadership role. To coach and mentor people. It was never going to happen for me where I was and it was weird to realize. But one day I kind of ‘woke up’ and just knew that a change was necessary and the time is now.

Im nervous and excited to start a new journey in my career. And I am going to miss the good people I met along the way. But I am also ready to make my goals my priority and take a step forward. It’s going to be hard work, I have a lot to learn, but personal growth in all walks of life is a slow and steady process.

Go out and get what you want today. Make an impact. Let me know how you do.

 

the world is not a wish granting factory… 24 book challenge

hello april

I am ready to welcome April into my life and ready for spring to be in the air. It’s been a long and annoying winter and any hint of warmth in the air helps me breathe a little easier, feel a little more relaxed.

Saying farewell to March, a brief update on my 24 Book Challenge is in order. Last month I recapped my most recent reads. In order to get 24 books in this year I have to be sure I am hitting my 2 books per month minimum.

Not being much of a reader I surprised myself at how easy it was to fall into a book. To be so engulfed by the characters and design that I was knocking books out in a matter of days. Having read mostly trilogies up to this point I wanted to know what was going to happen next at the end of each book. My TV watching has significantly decreased, I feel I should apologize to my DVR.

Wrapping up my 3rd month of this challenge, I shocked even myself. I didn’t read two books in the month of March…

I read four.

After killing Divergent in the first few days of the month, I immediately ordered the next 2 books in the series. Thank you Amazon Prime for making it infinitely easy to order anything I want and have it appear on my door step in two days. When Insurgent and Allegiant arrived I started on Insurgent right away. Reading the second book, Insurgent, got me so excited for the movie I bought advanced movie tickets to the first Divergent movie.

In mid March Cleveland was struck with a nasty snow storm. No surprise there. The big surprise was that because of this snow storm my Wednesday night volleyball game was canceled, a rarity honestly, generally games are held regardless. This gave me the time I needed to jump immediately into the 3rd book, Allegiant. Similarly to the Hunger Games, the third book held it’s own up until the last quarter of the book when I started to feel it could have been wrapped up chapters ago. That must be the curse of a trilogy, authors do so much to pack the first two books with excitement, by the third book they are grasping whatever they can to ensure the books are comparable in length. Either way, the Divergent series is a must read. If I got them done in under a month, you can too.

Another single-click purchase on Amazon and two new books arrived. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.

The Fault In Our Stars

I picked The Fault in our Stars to read first. I was turning page after page and would find myself sitting in my chair for hours reading. I could not put this book down. Sometimes I struggle with books that are written from the perspective of a high schooler but with the vocabulary of a college professor, but I didn’t care with this book. I loved the writing and the story, everything about the description. Even though the novel falls closer to the young adult genre it is written in such a way that I felt it was older.

There were parts in the book I adored, parts that made me laugh out loud, and not a single paragraph I could do without. It’s a love story and a comedy and everyone should read it.

I am killing it with my resolutions this year. I’m ahead of schedule with my reading and making impact all over the place. How are you doing so far this year? Ready for spring?

 

If you get sad and eat all the donuts…

http://weheartit.com/entry/105770126/search?context_type=search&context_user=OddsStormy&page=4&query=barefoot

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I am 32 years old and planning my wedding. I assumed getting married was something I would have done before turning 30 but that’s ok, my fiancé was worth the wait. I am also realizing that there are a lot of things about getting married that when I was in my 20′s, I imagined would be so different. A biggie: buying a wedding dress.

When my sister got married I went with her to one of her bridal appointments to try on dresses. I remember her trying on a strapless lace dress that I thought was simply divine. I of course daydreamed about the dress I would one day wear for my big day and how beautiful and exciting it would all be. I was 26 years old at the time.

It’s funny how things change. Now that I am actually planning a wedding, purchasing a dress was not a high priority for me. I have a cousin who got engaged and bought her dress only a few months later despite the fact that her wedding date was two years away. I just didn’t have that romantic excitement when it came to picking a dress, I was more worried about what my bridesmaids would wear and thus, put it off for a couple months.

As the weeks went on I started to get a sense of my own nervousness. I knew I needed to start looking if I wanted to ensure I would get the dress I wanted and have all my alterations done by my wedding date. I was nervous about looking. I didn’t really know what I wanted and I was worried about how the dresses would fit me. I am certainly not the size I see myself on my wedding day. I’m not off by a lot but I kept thinking, does it make sense to buy a dress now and tailor it down? Or to wait and hope that I will be the size I want when I shop? I became a little panicked over the feeling.

I was shaky and, to be honest, a little sweaty when my mom and I went into the bridal boutique. I didn’t know what to say to the consultant when she quizzed me on my wants and dreams. I didn’t know how to answer the question, What size are you? 

Well, there is the size I am now, the size I want to be, and the size that I might possibly end up in my worst nightmare. What if I don’t lose any weight before my wedding? What if I gain weight? I could feel my blood pressure rising as I slipped into my first gown.

I don’t want to be a dieting bride. I want to lose a few pounds before my wedding day but I don’t want to feel plagued by my workout schedule and cut off from cake. My dress is supposed to make me feel beautiful, I shouldn’t feel like I need to live up to my own wedding gown. My consultant must really know her stuff because as she rang up my dress, a dress I can only assume was designed by the universe just for me, she said…

“I ordered you a size smaller than the dress you had on so you can save on some alterations. If you get happy, and lose 10 pounds, we can exchange your size for free. And if you get sad, and eat all of the donuts, don’t worry about it, everything will be fine.” 

Everything will be fine. I am going to eat donuts, and not eat donuts. I am going to run and I am going to lay on the couch. And I am going to wear a beautiful dress on my wedding day.

I’ll step away from my book and just let you know where I’ve been,

It has been exactly a month since my last post. So I thought I’d tip toe back into the light slowly and let my eyes adjust a little since I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. Maybe not so much under rock as maybe in a bubble? Either way I’ve burrowed into my own little world of busy and I’m ready to stretch my legs and get moving again.

February was a stressful month. I have been living up to my word of the year and have been making impact in many parts of my life. For one, I have been shifting all over in my professional life and really trying to blossom there. It’s never easy, I don’t think for anyone, but it feels good to make things happen even when the stress is high. I have also been wedding planning. Once I got over the shock of where my dollars were falling, I waved away the fog and got to work. I’ve got a ceremony space and a reception site. I have been on the move.

I think my biggest change is really committing to setting time aside for myself and doing the things that relax me. At the beginning of year I said I wanted to read 24 books this year. That is 2 books a month. And to my surprise, I have been keeping up. So what have I been reading? Just thought I’d take a second to share….

books

At the kick off of January, I dived right into my white elephant gift and started on the Hunger Games series. In January I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I knocked both books out super quick. If you have seen the movies and think going back and reading the books would be a waste, don’t. Don’t think that. I loved the books and totally made connections between the silver screen and white pages. It is a young adult series, but I still found myself as riveted as I was by the film. Huge fan.

In February, I took a brief break from the Hunger Games and read Lean In by Cheryl Sandburg. Reading this sort of informational memoir on women in the work place and stepping up to leadership roles really impacted my view of my career. I found myself leaning forward in my chair as I read, sometimes even nodding my head as I agreed with her insight. There are a few chapters in the middle I kind of breezed over about maternity leave and having kids and a career. As a kid-free career woman with no desire to have kids, I felt these chapters didn’t pertain to me as much. So I did more a skim n’ scan here. But overall, it was a powerful read and I highly recommend it.

From there I jumped back into the Hunger Games on vacation. I laid by the pool and finished the third book of the series in a few short days. The 3rd book, Mockingjay, was my least favorite. Still pumped for the film, but I struggled through the last quarter of the book.

This was a great segue into March where I picked up Divergent. I said I wanted to read the book before the movie came out and I certainly cut it close to the wire. The movie premiers on March 21st and I had the book wrapped up in a couple of days. Talk about a page turner. I am not sure what the fascination is with dystopian writing, but I was enthralled. I don’t care if it is a young adult genre, I could not put the book down. I got the next two books in the trilogy in the mail yesterday and I hope to have them read by the end of March, putting me ahead of schedule.

I’m on track to reaching my goal of 24 books this year so I will try not to be so absent. If you have an book suggestions, send them my way! I have an entire year of books to fill!

A quick response, personal feelings, something I just had to say,

Stepping away from my normally scheduled blogging – not that I have a real schedule or anything – I wanted to whip something together real quick like. I apologize for erratic thoughts and half sentences ahead of time because I anticipate there will be many. I try and plan out my posts, writing them over time, but I just have something to say today is all.

In the days following the Biggest Loser finale there is a ton of media coverage on the winner. Everyone has an opinion and social media sites have been blistering with commentary, good and bad. I didn’t watch the finale in real time. I DVR’d it, but I knew something was going on when I couldn’t watch a single news channel because they were covering it and a friend texted me following the show, “OMG, did you see the Biggest Loser finale?”

I didn’t really get into this season. I watched every episode, late, on the DVR, and never got really into any contestant like I have in the past. I felt the season was a little blah. Episodes were cut short, some of the bells and whistles that make the show entertaining had been cut, and Bob being super into crossfit as a primary workout just didn’t appeal to me. But I watched because I always have. I caught the finale the morning after it aired. I knew exactly what the buzz was about as soon as I saw it. And now I know why everyone’s jaws were on the floor.

At the risk of spoilers – and if you haven’t seen the show and want every second of it to be a surprise, please, just skip this post – I will try not to reveal too much, though it will probably be obvious.

There is a lot of talk about the winner. And the extremes we saw on the finale this season. There were a number of extremes, here we watch people who are considered obese chip away at every pound and find themselves at a number that is considered healthy or average. Some would still be considered overweight and some considered underweight. I feel that all three of the final contestants pushed the limits of weight loss to win the big prize, but one winner obviously took this to a new level. A record breaking level.

I don’t want to put them down. The winner showed nothing but excitement and gratitude for the experience. Truly gaining her life back and becoming the person she always knew she was. I’ve been there. I’ve been fat and unhappy, I’ve hated my body. Getting down to my goal weight was a big deal to me in more ways than what is obvious to most. And that is why I just cannot agree with what this person did to win.

My concern, and the concern of most people is how the image of health is portrayed in our culture. And I certainly don’t agree with all the negativity that this person, who worked incredibly hard to reach a goal that she felt was right, is facing. But here is the thing, stick with me for one more second….

Many people are saying that everyone is different, live and let live, and I get that. But the biggest issue I had with the winner’s clear weight issues is that I, 32 years old, being an active person for 4 years now, and in a better place than I was 4 years ago, ping-ponged between shock and “I want to be her” feelings. And I know better! I know what I was seeing was not a person at their healthiest, that’s the irrationality of it all. Does that make sense? Do you see the issue?

That’s the disease. That’s the fight of accepting your body and being ok with it. That is the battle with your weight and personal perception. It is – I am – proof that what TV and the media throws at us in our ever radical portrayal of what is healthy in our culture does affect those who view it. And that is why I struggle to get onboard with last nights reveal. Though I never suffered from an ED in a traditional sense, I do feel I am in a bit of recovery. Trying to accept my body as it is, I feel seeing that, though I clearly know better, I felt I had a little relapse. I felt, “Wow that is just a scary extreme… I wonder if I could get to a weight like that.”

As someone who has dieted in order to get a body I felt proud of, as someone who fights constantly to lose and maintain, as someone one who constantly fights food issues and other mental hurdles when it comes to “health,” I cannot look at the winner of The Biggest Loser Season 15 and say, “Good for you, I know how hard you worked.” Even though I’m sure some people thought I might. I don’t judge the winner either. Every journey is different, but in the spirit of full disclosure I did take to the interwebs to get the scoop. I need to stay strong on my stance that being waffe thin, right or wrong, is not something I can let myself compare myself to.

I take the silence from NBC and the trainers on the show as a sign that we’re going to see a change in the rules. We might see more monitoring of the at home portions, maybe BMI minimums, I don’t know. But I appreciate that, I guess time will tell.  

In finding myself, I found you…

my ring

To my love,

Among thousands of people in this city, it’s hard to believe that it is possible at all to cross paths with the one for you. Searching in all the wrong places it can be easy to doubt that two people, meant to spend their lives together, will ever meet.

Sometimes you need a little help to meet the right person. And it doesn’t matter where that help comes from, from work, a friend, or the internet, all that matters is that you’re in the right mindset and your heart is in the right place, to really let someone in. Through all of our searching we got to sit down next to each other, in a bar in the same neighborhood that we both live in, and meet face-to-face. I can tell you right now it was worth every butterfly.

And I think I knew that then too. That my gut feeling was right on target, but sometimes people spend unneeded time in denial. I assumed that though it felt right, it likely wasn’t, because that has been my past experience. I knew I liked you, loved you, but was sure that like every other relationship, short or long, this to would end. Subconsciously sabotaging in my mind every good laugh, deep conversation, night out, and ultimately making the experience less fun for you I’m sure.

But you stuck it out. You stuck me out. You knew I needed to love me before I loved you and you hung on to that. You took a deep breath with every neurotic tendency I threw at you and reminded me that I was ok. I had to be ok with being me and you would be there waiting. Sometimes I still can’t believe it, you’re here. I guess I really am lucky because I made it. With your help I made it. I realized that no matter how anything before you had turned out, this was different. And I should love myself as much as you love me.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint the moment that everything fell into place. You told me that there had been a positive change; you could see it. You could feel how I had grown happier with myself and in turn with us, and it was exactly what you had been dreaming for.  I won’t lie though; you have always been everything I’ve ever needed, I was just too afraid to say it. So if I haven’t said it today, baby, you’re my everything.

Love you madly.

The first of 12 months where I get to make an impact…

My word for 2014 is Impact. My word revealed itself to me several times before the ball dropped on New Years Eve so it was a naturally good fit when I hopped on the “word of the year” bandwagon. Make an impact at home, work, in my relationship, neighborhood, and on the things I believe in.

If you have a passion and firmly believe in something, it doesn’t just do wonders for a cause it does wonders for your soul. I would sometimes hide the things that really moved me because most people would probably find them annoying or even preachy, which is something I certainly don’t want. But if I sit in the dark illuminated by the glow of my computer screen, diving deep into article after article of something so important to me, what kind of impact would I be making if I didn’t share it? I want to see a shift. I want to see a tipping point.

It would be safe to say that I am pretty enthralled in the Blackfish movement. If we are friends on facebook you know this. You probably have also hid my newsfeed. I read an article about the film and due to my heightened sensitivity to animals as sentient beings I immediately watched the film. Like fate, CNN was airing an encore presentation that night. I threw myself into the fervor of cetaceans in captivity and the ramifications of marine amusement parks like Seaworld. If you haven’t seen the film yet, please do. Because it’s content is relevant and happening right now.

I have been slowly chipping at the walls of people not interested in, not only the Blackfish movement but the Non-human rights movement as well, and encouraging them to read and discuss with me. But it was two weeks ago when the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji Japan gave me the opportunity to make an impact. Fisherman and dolphin killers drove in to the killing cove 5 large dolphin pods capturing over 250 bottlenose dolphins. Same as depicted in the 2009 Oscar winning documentary, The Cove, these dolphins went through a horrifying captivity selection process before others were slaughtered for their meat.

What could I do from my home in Cleveland? I did the only thing I could do, tweet and share. I tweeted endlessly for days. I emailed and messaged anyone I could. I tweeted and emailed the US Ambassador to Japan. I tweeted CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC. I even tweeted WKYC and WEWS asking them to please report on the dolphin slaughter in Taiji. Awareness is the key to change.  For days this is all I did. Filling up people’s inboxes and newsfeeds with information and shares. And would you know it, Impact.

CNN and HLN picked up the story. So did CBS Evening news and Anderson Cooper. The Today Show reported and the US Ambassador to Japan tweeted her concern. Celebrity involvement doubled and suddenly, my friends started to share news links to my wall.

Was it my involvement alone that got Anderson Cooper to speak about the subject live on his show? No. But I think adding my voice to a growing population of people assisted in this tipping point. Bringing awareness to the people who can make change has created an effect. We might actually see, very soon, the release of two captive orcas that have been living in small concrete pools (one in Miami the other in Spain) for decades. The momentum is creating change. I feel like I had a small part in that.

January was a good month for change. I believe 2014 is the year for non-human rights. And my year of Impact has started off on the right foot. Dontcha think?

taiji

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For more information on Blackfish, the drive hunt in Taiji, and #NonHumanRights, please check out these links:

Voice of the Orcas: http://voiceoftheorcas.blogspot.com

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: http://www.seashepherd.org

OrcaLab: http://orcalab.org/orcalabblog/

The Nonhuman Rights Project: http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org

Information on Lolita’s release: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/federal-agencys-new-action-may-mean-release-for-orca-at-seaquarium/

To leave a public comment in regards to the proposed petition for Lolita’s release, please click here! http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0056-1841

I’m not hungry, I just want a pretzel

Pretzels

It seems that there are a few basic healthy eating mantras out there, you know, the usuals. Things like, “moderation!” and “eat to live, not live to eat,” or “Don’t eat if you’re not hungry.” But what if you just really want a pretzel?

In my recent health epiphanies, one thing I have realized is that I have spent an exorbitant amount of time thinking about my weight over the last four years. To my surprise, and against most statistics, I made a new years resolution on day one of 2010 to lose the weight and not hate my body anymore. I lost around 50 pounds by that November and I ended a lot of my body loathing and replaced it with the thrill of running.

But from there I began a completely different cycle of unhealthy habits which included mentally berating myself for poor food choices and not dieting. For years I felt my life revolved around my weight and the guilty feelings that I carried around with those thoughts. Doing nothing more than work, eat, run, sleep, and think about my weight. Ride my horse, think about my weight. Go out for drinks and think about my weight. Hey mom, how are you? Gosh my pants are tight.

With all this diet back and forth because I feel it’s what I am supposed to be doing – or eating – I regularly fluctuate in weight range. And the mental anguish – yes, I am going to call it anguish because it is something that would routinely upset me to think about – made it even harder to eat right than the actual difficulties of a diet itself.

So, what would it be like to not diet? To just eat?

I feel my guilt monitor rising just saying those words. Would it be possible, after eating a reasonable dinner before going to a Cleveland Cavs games, to have a pretzel just because I wanted one?

I don’t want to diet anymore. And I can’t really say “I just want to be healthy” either because I find that to be a very vague desire. What if I just treated my daily food intake as a day to day decision? Could I possibly live happily while making appropriate choices – I’m not even going to say “good” choices – as the situation and my desires call for? For me that would mean being happy with how I look right now as part of the journey to an ultimate goal. That would mean loving myself even though my skinny jeans still don’t fit. Scary thought.

Not dieting does not mean giving up working out. But why does working out have to be a means to an end? I want to lose weight therefore I must workout. Can’t working out be as fluid of a decision as choosing a salad for my side instead of french fries? Dieting should not be a punishment just like going to the gym for 30 minutes shouldn’t either.

The best thing I could do for myself is to drop out of the rat race. Draw the motivation to eat a more healthful menu and go for a spin on the treadmill from the fact that I am OK with my body, not because I’m not OK with it. Rather than going to spin class because I weigh 160 and I want to weigh 150, but going to spin class because even at 160 my body deserves to be treated right.

Stop struggling and let go of the guilt. There are elements of me and my body that I cannot change, so instead of struggling and fighting against them, just breathe and accept them. For me the struggle and resistance has only pushed me father away from where I want to be and leaves me looking into the mirror feeling dislike, not love. Can I make this change? I will make this change. I’m done with not liking my body, so now the challenge shifts. And once I’ve learned to be OK with myself exactly as I am, I believe reaching goals will get easier. Making profound changes in things that aren’t physical, like self-esteem and acceptance, committing to your bodily and mental health together. Without these things, what is weight loss anyway?

I want to eat well but I also want to eat pretzels. Eat and still love. No guilt.

You could say “it’s just a number” and use those numbers for good,

Miami

When you think about being defined by a number, what comes to mind? For me I think of that Special-K commercial where a bunch of women go into a clothing store only to find the garments they are searching for have no sizes attached. Because your self-worth is not defined by a number on a scale. Or in miles that your run, or dollars in your bank account.

But these obvious numbers are not the only ones that can drag you down. The number on the scale isn’t the only number that can be daunting. There are numbers everywhere that you need to let go of and send off into the universe, love who you are, what will be will be…

Friends on facebook. What a stupid number. When I jumped on the facebook train – what seems like a million years ago – only certain universities had the ability to join. For years, only college students with a college email address could sign up. Honestly, those were the days. Seeing my 13 year old cousin on facebook is enough to make me want to deactivate but I am as much an addict as the next guy. However, the number of friends no longer matters to me because, honestly, how much do you really know all 587 people on your friends list?

Likes, however… What is up with the number of likes on any social media outlet, instagram especially for me, carrying so much weight? Blog views, comments, followers on bloglovin’, on a bad day, a low number can make me question my purpose and ability. I sometimes question myself, Why write if no one reads?

But I have been wondering, what would it be like to love myself without needing any love that existed outside of what I am? Without conditions?

And what I am seeing when I scroll through instagram, filled with pictures of parties, city streets, and cats? How about photos of food with health related hastags and “duck-face” selfies? These things beg my next question.

What does it really mean to love someone else as they are? Am I really loving someone as they are or a pretend version of who I hope them to be? That person the picture.

The appearance of Statigram “year in review” videos really got me thinking about this. As I viewed dozens of 13 second videos with just about the cutest jingle ever, I saw people’s lives qualified by a number of ‘likes.’ In 5 snapshots, this was supposed to be someone’s year? 67 likes. 70 likes, 89 likes, 102 likes, 111 likes. I just had to create my own right? What was my year like according to Statigram?

6 likes, 9 likes, 11 likes, 11 likes, 11 likes. I seemed to top out around 11.

I decided not to post my “year in review” for everyone to see. At first, out of embarrassment. What, send out my 11 likes to get even less of a return? But then I realized, I’m not going to post it because it really doesn’t matter. Some of my favorite photos, the happiest parts of my year, didn’t even make the list according to Statigram.

I went back and looked at my favorite Instagrams and facebook posts. Anything that was a picture of my boyfriend and I made me really happy. Posts about a really good ride on Grady made me smile. My recent posts spreading my passion for the Non-human Rights movement. That’s me right there. Those are the things that make me who I am and I love them. You know who else loved them?

Justin

My Mom

My best friend

My sister

A cousin

A sorority sister

The most perfect likes.

The number of views or likes or retweets really have no bearing on who I am as a person or how great my life is or isn’t. And every time I hit the “like” button in hopes of gaining followers or to procure some likes for myself does not show anyone around me how much I love them. I am merely hiding behind my own lack of self-love.

The truth is, we are all doing what we can with what we have. Don’t love yourself with a condition. Don’t post photos on the condition that someone else will love them! And as long as we are living in a world where digital communication through sites like facebook and instagram is a widely accepted and even in some cases a perfect way of seeing what the people you love are up to, six likes is all I need to know I’m good.