“Die, Vampires.”

Has anyone ever been tormented in their head by the things others have said about you?

Actually, you know what, that is a ridiculous question.

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TORMENTED BY THE THINGS OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEM. 

We all have had this experience, even if it was back in the third grade, when Johnny called you a stupid-face and told you to eat dirt. Johnny was an a- hole. I really hope you didn’t eat dirt… I would have been the kid that ate the dirt in silence, not told an adult, and then cried about it at home. But I digress….

Anyway, this really got me thinking about the narrative we have in our heads when our tormentors, bullies, relatives, coaches, etc., tell us things that are completely detrimental to our well-being. We may not be able to control what people say or do to us, but we have 100% responsibility for the way we react to it, and how it controls our behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, I have been a pushover most of my life. I’m still grappling with the terrible things that have been said to me. But recently, I got an idea. I read in a book that if you can imagine yourself achieving a goal as vividly as possible, you’re WAY more likely to achieve it in your life. So I thought, maybe that could work the other way around as well. Maybe I could replace my responses to the jerks with something else, something I wish I had said, and that can make me stronger now.

So lately, I’ve decided to change my narrative. Entirely through the use of imagination (yay Theater Degree!) I’m working on replacing my memory with something the a stronger, older, wiser me would say the the A-holes.

 

The following is a list of things things that have been said to me in my past, how I responded then, and the new narrative I am now using so I can move the eff on with my life.

Hater: “You’re too fat for the standards of this performance group.”  

Old Me: “Yeah I know, but it’s fine I’ll just be in the back where I can sing. I’m good at singing anyway, I’m not here because I’m good-looking.

New Me: “Hey! F*CK you! I made it just as well as anyone else. Also, I’m a beautiful, talented goddess, and my body is not your business.”

 

Hater: “I’m cutting you from this dance. You look like a horse.” 

Old Me: Continues to rehearse in silence until the tears pour out of my face uncontrollably.

New Me:  “You know, it takes a really specific kind of person to look a twelve-year-old in the eyes and compare them to a barn animal. Although, horses are majestic! So I guess that means I’m majestic! Would you like to do something else in this scene? Or can I call my mom and go home?”

 

Hater: “Do you think you could lose ten pounds before opening night? None of these costumes fit you.”

Old Me: (Awkward laughter) ” I’m sorry. I could try? ”

New Me: “I hear crash diets are really unhealthy, especially for fifth graders. So, should I put your name down for being held responsible for my early onset anorexic tendencies? I’ll just give you my therapist’s address and you can write her a check directly.”

 

Hater: “Your body is fine, it could just be… you know… firmer. More toned.” 

Old Me: Oh yeah, I agree. That’s why I’ve been trying to lift weights and eat more lean protein. Firmer definitely is better.

New Me: Continuing to eat cake. We’re breaking up.

 

 

Hater: Good luck trying to find someone who loves you as much as I do. You’re a lot to handle and I doubt anyone else will understand how to deal with you. 

Old me: Cries.

New Me: Those two sentences make absolutely NO sense! And my worth is not defined by whether or not a boyfriend can “handle” me. I can handle myself, thank you very much! Giggity!

 

 

Hater: Ugh, you’re so irresponsible and dreamy. Why can’t you pay attention and be smart?  

Old me: I don’t know. I guess my mind wanders too much. I’m sorry.

New Me: I’m a creative person and I’m very smart about a lot of things. My intelligence is defined differently than yours, and maybe you would realize that if you actually attempted to listen to me once in a while.

 

 

Hater: Your involvement in the Theater Arts is making you vulnerable to Satan. You’re doing the work of the Devil and you don’t even know it. That’s why you’re not happy, and you never will be until you change your ways. 

Old Me: Frantically searches the Bible for answers, prays to God to take away my passions and to change my heart to love more “Godly” things.  

New Me: You’re insane. If you don’t have respect for my passions, then you don’t respect me. We’re breaking up.

 

 

 

You guys, don’t get me wrong. The experiences in our past that sucked make us who we are. They are a part of ourselves that give us the fuel to live out our passions and connect to others. But if the a-holes in your past are holding you back from anything in your present, try to change the narrative and see what happens.

 

xoxox

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

taco-memes-full-of-tacos.jpeg

 

 

In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

whatdoyouwant.gifnotthatsimple.png

 

Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

iliketacos.jpg

 

It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

How to Find Love: Step 1. Leave Toxic Relationships

Our hearts know when we are in a relationship that is unhealthy. But sometimes, we absolutely hate to admit it. We would rather drag out being uncomfortable with a person (and with ourselves) by sweeping things under the rug, or just pretending that the breakdown in communication doesn’t exist.

Maybe you have a ton of memories with this person. Maybe you’re connected financially. Maybe there is pressure from your family to stay attached to this person.

Maybe you’re just terrified of what it means if you cut ties.

 

All of this is normal. All of us have been through this experience of “trying to make things work” with that parent, that boyfriend, that spouse, that best friend, that boss, that sibling that is just KILLING us to be around for one reason or another. We make up excuses for that person, try to be understanding of their unacceptable behavior, and put ourselves second to a person that does nothing but cause us grief and suffering.

We put up blinders to their bad behavior and force ourselves to see the good in that person, even if that costs us our own sanity.

 

Why?

There truly is no point in staying intertwined with a person who only makes you hurt and angry. If you have done (and this is important) everything in your power to communicate your feelings with this person, and the message is not being received, then you just have to grow a pair and say good-bye.

Now let me touch on something for a moment—

Communicate How You Feel  

This is massively overlooked (particularly for those “Sweep-things-under-the-rug-to-avoid-conflict” types) when dealing with a toxic relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is growing in stench and thickness because the hurt individual isn’t communicating with their person to try and fix the problem. Sure, they’ll vent about that person to all of their friends and family, but they don’t go directly to the source, which only makes matters worse, and is terribly unfair to all parties involved. That being said, do not read the rest of this post until you have tried to communicate first, because it will do nothing for you. SAY SOMETHING.

Being quiet is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself and your person if you are hurt. 

 

Now that that’s out of the way…

If you have tried to communicate and your message is not being received, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying connected to someone who is tearing you apart. (Unless there are children involved, then it gets complicated. But I am definitely no expert on this matter. I’l leave my opinions on this for another time in the future).

 

Now, stop being a martyr. GET OUT of the relationship.

Are you putting goals on hold because of this person’s opinions of you?

Are you compromising your health because of the senseless emotional stress this person is causing?

Are they dulling you? Making you worry about who you are? Making you question yourself and who you want to be?

Are they controlling you? Manipulating you? Lying to you?

Then, leave.

 

The best thing I ever could have done was get out of the relationships that were shrinking me. I had people in my life that made me feel small, that made me second-guess everything I believed in. I would be passionate and excited about a project, and get shrugged at or told it was a waste of time. I would feel sad about something, and was snubbed at for being to sensitive. I would ask for the person’s time, and they wouldn’t make room for me. I would compromise my own thoughts, feelings, and personality all to make this individual what I thought was “happy” when really it was just a big huge lie. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is,

When you lie to yourself, you can’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you sure as hell can’t love anyone else. 

 

I was making myself believe that I needed these individuals in my life. I believed that my worth would decrease if I was without them. I felt guilty for even questioning my happiness in the first place.

But in the months that I started to make room in my life to love myself, the toxic relationships started falling away like dominoes.

Not only that, but after some time, I learned (and am still learning) how to deal with the relationships that do take extra emotional energy. I can love these individuals, but not let them so far into my heart that it tears me apart. It takes patience and perseverance, but it is possible.

Part of loving yourself, is protecting your heart. And there is absolutely NO SHAME in needing to protect your heart. Anyone who truly loves you for who you are will understand and respect that fact. But you have to set the boundaries from the beginning. At some point, you stop and other people start. It is entirely up to you who you let over the wall of your heart. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE GATE KEY IF THEY DONT RESPECT THE WALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

I made room in my life to love myself, and let me tell you, I have fallen into the greatest love of my life that I had no idea was fathomable outside of books and movies. Not only does this person love me for who I am, but he makes me feel more like myself than I ever thought was possible. And I never would have found him, if I didn’t learn how to eliminate the things in my life that were dulling who I am.

 

Everyone deserves to feel this kind of all-encompassing love. What an amazing world we would live in if everyone learned how to love themselves first.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon’s Voice Needs to Be Heard

Panic attacks run in my family.

Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.

I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.

 

Yeah. They suck.

 

But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—

What did I do today?

Was I productive or did I neglect something important?

Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?

Did I get enough sleep?

Did I focus on the good things in my life?

Did I achieve (or set) any goals?

How is my relationship with myself right now?

Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?

 

I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.

These things are all just anxiety fuel.  Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.

 

So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.

Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.

So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:

  1. Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
  2. Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
  3. Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.

 

I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.

 

What is your Dragon trying to tell you?

.

 

Take Responsibility and Say “No.”

What is it about certain personality types (myself included) that feel this desperation to say “Yes” to everyone that needs them, to always try to coddle other peoples’ unhappiness, and sacrifice their own health for the sake of someone else’s Sad Dragon?

Why is it so difficult for the People-Pleasing types to actually ADMIT that they have needs and desires in their hearts? Why does the thought of saying “No, I’d rather not deal with your problem. I need to take this day to _________.” Fill in the blank. Rather, why is it so easy to listen to a voice that says “Yes, it’s more important for you to take care of someone else’s problem than to deal with your own,” when said person is perfectly capable of taking responsibility?

It’s not my responsibility to take care of other peoples’ happiness. It is NO ONE’s responsibility to do that. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAD DRAGONS.

And, for some, a massive part of that personal responsibility is knowing when to say “No” or “Enough is Enough.”

Let’s put it this way…

Imagine a scenario in which Person A is totally giving in to their Sad Dragon. Lets say Person A’s Dragon makes them feel fat, lonely, cranky, and tired. It’s not trying to get them to do anything desperate, just making them generally feel like poop. Person A then calls on Person B for a vent session, or a self-sabotage session in which Person A encourages Person B to drink, eat ice cream, stay up late, make less than ideal choices. Person B has been battling their own Sad Dragon because they just went through a break-up and they’re swamped with work. Person B has been feeling better, but is still on the fragile side. Person B would rather stay home and take a nap, but Person A guilt trips them into coming because Person B bailed last time. Person B really wants to say “No,” but chooses to listen to the guilt. Two hours later, A and B are now sitting on the couch with wine, scrolling through the Facebook pages of their ex-lovers and talking crap about everyone online. They get drunk. They fall asleep on the couch. Person A feels better and wants to have brunch. Person B is exhausted and has work to do, but feels guilty for staying up late and drinking. Person A and B go to brunch in their sweatpants, and spend too much money on crummy omelets  and toast.

Now there are TWO people with ravenous Sad Dragons, because they let them feed each other. They listened to the Dragon’s voice— anger, frustration, guilt, victimization, sadness, worthlessness— and the cycle just continues. 

Now, who is to blame in this scenario? The immediate reaction is to say it’s Person A’s fault, but Person B is the one who gave in. Both of them chose to give in to the Sad Dragon’s voices, and so they’re both at fault, and now it’s going to be more difficult for both of them to deal with their current problem.

To be fair, I frequently think that doing something stupid (like drinking wine and trolling Instagram pictures, or whatever it may be) will make me feel better, or make it easier to bounce back into a happier, productive state the next day. But it ALWAYS just makes it harder. Once the Dragon is just sitting it’s giant butt on my heart and eating an extra large bag of kettle chips, it takes extra effort to push it off and tell it to use it’s fire-breathing for some productivity fuel instead. That being said, it really doesn’t help when someone else’s Dragon is high-fiving my own. It’s hard enough as it is.

We’re here for each other.

Take responsibility.

Learn when to say “No.”

And know the difference between the Sad Dragon’s voice and your own.

Here’s a Post with a Whole Lot of CAPS

Hi.

So here’s something about me. I have a degree in Theater. I’m a performer before anything. I sing, I try to tell jokes, and I do musicals. Now, get ready for some news that I’m sure no one knows……

THIS IS NOT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.

I mean, it can be… but you have to have the right look, the right talent, the right agent, the right connections, and be in the right place/ right time CONSTANTLY. I’m going to be real with you for a second… I DONT HAVE THAT KIND OF STAMINA OR SUPPORT TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. I’m sensitive, and frankly I like a lot of other things. I could never focus on my writing, my running habit, or my friends/ family if I was living the Broadway actor life 24/7. I’d love it if an audition really worked out and I got a great job out of it. But I’m not going to break my back and heart day in and day out praying that something will work out when there are ten thousand other girls just like me doing the same damn thing. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, audition when it’s right, take amazing classes, go to shows, meet new people, and hopefully continue to make American dollars in places that I love.

So, in the meantime, I just need a job (or jobs) that make me happy and pay my bills. I’m about halfway there with that one. (Happiness? Check. Pays the bills? Almost check.)  So, I have to have what I like to call “A Patchwork of Jobs” in order to kinda sorta survive. There was a time in my life when I had six jobs at once. (200 dollars here, 350 dollars there…) I was able to make it work for a year, but I couldn’t do it after that. It was exhausting and I couldn’t enjoy my life because I was too tired.

So…. something that happens frequently is the fluctuation of jobs. In my position, i HAVE to take opportunities for employment. I HAVE to say yes to the things that will give me the most in return– the most money, the best time slot, the most benefits (financial or otherwise). And sometimes I have to turn things down and/or switch things up. A lot of employers in this industry understand this. (Thank you to my amazing bosses who have stuck with me and my schedule for a while now. You know who you are) But some of them… HOLY CRAP they will have NOTHING TO DO with those schedule changes.

Today I was yelled at (via email) and was called unprofessional for regretfully stating that I would not be able to fulfill my duties in a previously accepted position. I was apologetic and honest. I potentially have something else in the works that will pay me way more, plus, I don’t want to suddenly find myself with six jobs again. Having that many plates spinning is TERRIBLE and makes me USELESS as an employee because I’m TIRED and SICK constantly. Mind you, I hand’t even signed any paperwork yet with this potential employer. I have had ONE MEETING with this person, in which they hired me WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT MY RESUME. I have NOT started this job yet and did not want to have to suddenly quit after already starting my duties. So I thought I did the responsible thing by apologizing, and stating that I won’t be able to do this job.

The beginning of the reply from this employer was an all-caps “ARE YOU KIDDING ME???” followed by a description of my lack of tact.

Wow.

Now, obviously I dodged a bullet here in not working with this person… but the voices in my head are still creeping up.

You’re so unreliable.”

“Stop making promises you can’t keep.” 

“You’re incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional.” 

“This is why you can’t make it in this business. You’re too flighty.” 

“Just get used to being broke and messing up people’s lives. This is who you are.” 

SHUT UP SAD DRAGON! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

I am desperately trying to realize that this is a reflection on someone else. As an employer, this person should understand. There is nothing this person can do to change the situation, so what good does it do anyone to yell at me via email? Obviously this person simply wants to make me feel like s*** before she carries on with her day. That’s the only result possible from this. Even if they are disappointed and pissed off (and they’re totally allowed to be!) isn’t the right thing to do to just say “Thank you” and move on?  That’s what I’m trying to tell myself, but it’s still difficult. Very difficult.

Just wanted to share because fighting the Dragon is a never ending process. You can’t kill it. You just have to keep training it.