When You Have Everything You Wanted.

After desperately trying and trying and having a million doors slammed in my face I am fortunate (very fortunate) to say that I have achieved, and currently am achieving, my dreams. I’m feeling stronger and I’m feeling more confident and I’m feeling more like a leader and an adult and less like a scared little girl who can’t go after what she wants or lead people to realize their full potential. I am achieving my dreams.

Sometimes I spend time with the people I knew when I was just beginning this, and I remember a time when I was just starting and didn’t know them and I had no idea where this was going to go down the road. And what I see, rather than acquaintances, is people who helped me along the way to be what I never knew I was capable of being. Their professional development, emotional support, late nights of drinking and talking, their lending of resources and moaning and complaining about the whole process has gotten me to a place where I could be here now. Those people have helped me in big and little ways, but in ways they can’t possibly even imagine.

Lastly, there is him. Him who on our first date told me it “made him sad” to hear I was giving up on this dream. Him, who with his own leadership skills and amazing talents and abilities in this profession we both have encouraged me relentlessly and believed in me and told me to be patient and constantly reminded me of the gifts and prowess I bring. Him, who said to me once, “you are the monster” and allowed me the very next day to believe that to be true. It was him. It was him who held on for me and offered to be my stability and pulled me from the wreckage of my own shattered confident and self-esteem. He makes me believe in this. He makes me believe all of this is worth it and I can be a part of something great. I’m great because from the very first time we spoke, he told me he believed I was.

So when you land the big job and you have amazing people in your life who have helped you along the way and you have the man of your dreams, what more do you really want or need? When you have everything you’ve wanted the last few years when you started at the very bottom rung of this totem pole, that’s it – you can just breathe and enjoy this feeling. It’s the moment my clouds have finally, finally parted.

Things I Learned From Boys Who Didn’t Work Out.

The Original Heartbreaker. 

What can you learn from the person who dumps you with a high five? What can you say about him that hasn’t already been cried out, scrawled angrily and quickly into journals, or written thoughtfully and reflectively elsewhere? Or passive-aggressively spewed on social media, or passive-agressively referred to in song lyric-laden 21-year old Facebook statuses? Except for… sometimes, we think we’re in love. We think we’ve found the person. And if we wait and wait and wait for them they’ll realize it all too. They won’t. And if they were the person, you wouldn’t have to wait a day.

The Drama Geek Who Drove the Toyota

I learned from the Drama Geek Who Drove the Toyota that dating can be fun and it doesn’t have to be serious. At the time, my naive inexperienced 24-year old self felt like everyone you dated needed to become your boyfriend. And no – sometimes going for post-midnight slurpees and going on a hike and talking about tattoos is just enough.

The Crazy Cat Man

The Crazy Cat Man was totally and inexplicably hot and cold and I’ll never understand him at all. I learned from him that sometimes you don’t get closure from inexplicably hot and cold people. That sometimes people just have their own strange motives for their odd, poor lame dating etiquette. And if they’re going to leave you waiting for a bus alone in -40 weather in downtown Edmonton, they’re not worth your time.

The Blur Fan

Has there even been a more adorable person ever than the Blur Fan? While he was the cutest thing on two legs and he was so much fun, the reality of him was that he and I were on completely different pages and phases in our lives. There were times when I thought he was the right person at the wrong time. And now I realize the right person will always be the right person, and the wrong person will always be the wrong person. And time is just a number.

The Friend With Benefits

While I didn’t learn anything about the nature of men, dating or love from the FWB, I learned a bit about myself and what I was able to put up with, tolerate and deal with emotionally. Sometimes I was concerned that the FWB would suddenly turn into someone I was crazy-attached to and in love with because I get that way with dating prospects sometimes. Or I did. Until I met him and learned that there are some guys you pine over and are head-over-heels nuts about, and others that are just there for the good times. And you’re grateful for those people.

The Almost-Boyfriend

I almost chose him because of how he made me feel; of how he kissed me, and how we made fun of each other and how we shared some crucial moments and how he changed me and my beliefs and my everything. But I see him now as someone I can count on and laugh with, but someone who just isn’t ‘the one’ for me. I learned from him that some people are meant to be in your life and they can make all the difference and they can move mountains and you can learn to love them deeply, more deeply than you’ve loved almost anyone. But just not ‘that’ way.

The Activist

From the Activist, you learned that love is a two-way street. And if it’s not a two-ways street, it’s not love. I learned that just because you admire someone for all they do in the world to be a good person and contribute to and give back to making society and the world and the planet and the poorest neighbourhood in Canada ‘good’, doesn’t mean they are good to you and contribute and give back to you, and make you feel ‘good’. I went to all of his shows. I stored his things at my place. I got less than nothing in return. Go forth, Activist, and keep bettering humankind. But don’t call me anymore.

The Newly Single Guy.

I went on three dates with the Newly Single Guy. He was nice and pleasant and he meant no harm. We had drinks together and spent a couple of nights together. And then he faded away. The Newly Single Guy probably didn’t want a long-term thing, and he certainly didn’t want his non-long-term thing with me, really. But some people are placeholders for each other. In the end, I found my actual place. I hope he’s found his, too.

An Open Letter to My Villains.

Dear Villains:

I have been in this world for 28 years. Which is a little time and a lot of time all at once. Even ten years ago it was hard for me to imagine being nearly 30. And here we are.

The one thing I’ve learned about life that I’ve carried with me since I was 9, for better or for worse, is our greatest enemies are those closest to us. All of you have been among my closest confidantes and have caused me the greatest, deepest, most intense pains.

I often wonder why or how one loses people. Is it what we do, or how we react? In my case, it’s both. I’m not perfect and unlike some of you, I’m not going to get defensive and just point out all the reasons why I’m consistently right in the process of making enemies, and you are all consistently ‘wrong’. That’s not what this is about. But the fact of the matter is, I have enemies. Sometimes it’s because of who I am, and what I represent. Sometimes it’s because of the ways in which I reacted to something one of you has done. Sometimes I just shut down and can’t communicate or comprehend the ways I feel hurt by you. But there are millions of ways to lose people. And it never makes it easier.

All of you have stolen something irreparable from me: the ability to trust, to engage, to lead, to befriend, and to feel confident. They’re things that are broken in me and make me feel broken to lack. And whether it’s my fault or your faults, that is my reality. And I have my relationships with each of you to blame for that.

Nobody likes to exist in the world with the knowledge that they have “villains”. It’s an unpleasant string that hurts to tug on. It’s something that’s heavy and awkward to carry, that you need to constantly stop and rearrange. But there’s no way around that except to just carry and carry and carry.

Someday, I hope that all of you can just leave me alone, both internally and externally. I hope you can unplug, or leave my thoughts and nightmares and recollections. I can only hope for this to be true. For now, I take comfort in how empowered I am despite all of you and the ways you’ve torn strips off me.

Sincerely,

M

An Open Letter to My Heroes.

Dear Heroes:

Whether you are in my life or I simply look to you as a pillar of wisdom and inspiration despite that we’ve never met, you are all equally valuable.

I came from humble beginnings in my life; I was destined to be a strange, awkward adult with immense difficulty fitting into the world. I was someone who was always under-confident, left of centre, and a stranger to everyone around me. It’s people like me who need their heroes the most.

I questioned today: what makes a good hero? To me, a hero is someone who is fearless, true to their own vision and/or their own self, and someone who embodies qualities I wish to uncover and reveal for my own self. To me, a hero is someone who is a born leader and isn’t afraid to take charge of a situation. A hero is someone who protects the interests of others to a fault, and someone who is unwavering in their kindness and care. Heroism is difficult to define, as its qualities and traits vary from person to person. I see my heroes as people who are dependable, loyal and possess integrity. I see these traits in all of you every day, or every time I listen to a song of yours or read your words. I am instantly comforted, empowered, inspired and long to be better.

I am grateful for such amazing heroes. You make me want to be better even when I cannot be what I want to be. You helped me out of the deepest darknesses I’ve ever felt and also helped me to appreciate and be grounded and feel fortunate for what I do have, rather than constantly lamenting what I don’t have. You taught me lessons about love and careers and growing up and becoming the burgeoning person I am today. You remind me that I’m not perfect, ever, but on top of that, I should never claim to be, think of myself as such, or think I am ‘too good’ for any opportunity, any person, or any situation I find myself in. Most importantly, you have shown me love, whether you realized it or not, and you taught me how to love others in ways I didn’t think were possible, sometimes just on the strength of words alone.

So to my heroes, and others’ heroes, and those individuals who embody the characteristics of what makes a good hero, thank you. For making others’ lives better, for demonstrating the best qualities humankind can possess, and for being role models of strength, humility and good character.

Sincerely,

M

The Biggest Compliment I’ve Ever Received.

So inspired was I by this article, that I felt like writing about the biggest compliment I have ever received.

This was not an easy task. I don’t take compliments well, for better or worse, and I don’t really know that I ever deserve compliments (as a very under-confident person, that struggle is real). Having said that, there is one that sticks out to me as one that really ‘got to me':

You’re wise beyond your years

This was said to me by one of my ex-boyfriends, a person who I wouldn’t say I’m on “bad terms” with presently, but with whom I don’t speak anymore which is, I think, the best for both of us.

He said this to me in the context of me speaking about my past and where I’ve come from that’s led me to the understanding of the world that I have now. Everything I do, believe in and love is entrenched in believing in and prescribing to the wisdom of people I believe to be ‘wise’. I believe wisdom is something that is to be passed down, shared, and most importantly earned. In short, I hold ‘wisdom’ as a concept, in very high regard.

To be a person who is wise beyond my years implies that I have a sound understanding of the world, my world, and where I fit in and what I can do within the confines of what I’ve been dealt. That this person who said this to me recognized a quality in me like this that I so, so deeply admire in others, was something I will cherish forever.

I don’t really know where this ex-boyfriend is in life right now and if he is happy in life and love or not, but I hope he is. These words will stay with me forever and remind me of just how far I’ve come and how much I really do know and understand about life.

Four Things I want to Thank My Boyfriend For.

June 6 was the anniversary of my first date with my now-boyfriend and love of my life. Over the past year he’s been a supporter, cheerleader, lover, best friend, and overall inspiration and I never take what he does for me for granted. Every day, I see, hear or do something that makes me think of him and I come to this realization that I am a very, very, very lucky woman to have found love like this.

Sometimes too, thanking your partner is more than thanking them for the beautiful gift or the dinner they treated you too. A good partner will do all these things and more, but a GREAT partner will help you realize your full potential as not just a girlfriend or boyfriend, but as a human being. While I never take the little things for granted, the bigger things are so big, they seem to go unnoticed as if they just happened like clouds moving through the sky – huge and immense, but there they are. I want to take ten minutes out of my evening just before bed to thank him openly for what he’s done for me.

1. He helped me realize my career dreams.

When I finished my teaching practicum, I thought to myself, “I never want to do this again.” And then I started dating a fellow teacher – one who never had the confidence issues, rocky road, and difficult workload that I had, who sailed through his practicum seamlessly and enthusiastically. A pettier version of me in the past would have been envious and bitter at a close friend’s successes in my field. Perhaps that was why I decided to bow out of the competition – to avoid failure.

On our first date, I told him, “I never want to be a teacher.” And he replied, “that makes me very sad to hear that.” As we went on and talked shop, I realized through his eyes that I had more to offer than I thought and more successes than I thought during a very, very stressful and tumultuous time of fear, overwork and uncertainty in myself and my abilities. I changed my mind, now I’m a teacher, and I would never have felt this kind of satisfaction and comfort level with my career choice, had it not been for his encouragement and his own unwavering enthusiasm and passion for education.

2. He makes me feel truly beautiful, inside and outside.

Some argue it’s not important to feel beautiful but the sad reality is, depending on the day, and especially for someone with deep insecurity issues like me, it really is. And before I dated anyone, or when I dated an asshole who treated me poorly I felt un-pretty and un-wanted and un-loved.

Currently, I’m in a place in my life where I have gained quite a bit of weight and it’s only very ever-so-slowly coming off (but not fast enough). And yet, rather than griping about it and feeling the burden of 10 extra pounds, I instead feel like someone who is beautiful and confident and bolstered in other areas of my life. When you’re in love, you feel unstoppable; you feel as though the world has given its favours and luck and rewards and magic spells all to you and you hold all this goodness in your hands and it feels amazing and wonderful and freeing.

If I’m 10lb heavier, or I’m not wearing makeup, or I feel sick and bloaty and on my period, he always makes me feel just as beautiful and just as desirable. This hasn’t demotivated my own weightloss journey (which is ongoing and now in life, ever-present) but it certainly makes it feel like less of a load to carry during rough patches.

3. He doesn’t make me feel like damaged goods.

As someone who’s faced a lot of tragedy in my past that has contributed to a loss of a lot of confidence and self-worth and the ability to really have a voice in many scenarios, almost to the point where I’m crippled, I have always been worried about others finding out the reason(s) why and looking at me as someone who needs to be protected, sheltered or treated like half a human being. It was my biggest fear and continues to be walking into every relationship.

In this one, my fears were very unfounded. Realistically, I know most good, mature responsible adults are not ever going to look at me this way when I tell them what has happened to me, but that doesn’t help ease the difficulty in telling people about who I am and why I am that way. I told my truth to my boyfriend on one of our first dates. It’s become something that’s easy enough to talk about with him but that also stays hidden in the background, easily accessible but only if needed. And if it is needed, that’s okay too.

4. He’s adopted me into his family.

I have a wonderful, albeit really small family without a lot of the love and affection you see from TV families. My boyfriend’s family does seem like a TV family; they are the kindest, most welcoming, most fun and lovely and kindhearted people to spend time with. It’s not something to necessarily ‘thank’ him for, but overall seeing his family members makes me feel like a part of such a loving, welcoming family. I’m developing a comfort level with them and it’s been such an addition to my life. It never goes under-appreciated.

The Good Times.

When I went on trips with my three best friends, we had this tradition where we would draw each other’s names and choose the tackiest possible souvenirs for one another. Then, on our last night of the trip we would have dinner, exchange our souvenirs and vote on whose was the funniest.

Things like this remind me that although we’ve all found ourselves in this darkness, although these women and I are no longer in each other’s lives, there were memories like this. There was good there, and there was love and laughter. Even if it didn’t last longer than any of us expected. It was there and it was wonderful. And beautiful. And it warmed my heart.

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