Hi there! Me again!
I have a habit of updating my website every six months and forgetting about it in between. Now that we’re all at home, here’s a little something for you to read in between watching Tiger King and going on your little walks that you keep posting about.
The truth is that I have struggled to write this for more than eight months. I dropped off social media, I took down my public Facebook page, I even made my Instagram PRIVATE and started deleting followers. (Messing with the ratio? GASP!) I went from planning social media marketing strategy and content shoots every other week to dropping a social media and online presence all together. I simply didn’t know what to say. And I’d rather say nothing at all than lie to people who care about me, on social media or otherwise and tell them that I was doing really alright. For me, there’s no value in personal online content if it is not genuine to who I am.
The last time I wrote for this site, I was struggling with my feelings of misplaced dreams and insecurity in knowing what will come next. I wrote that I was unsure of my place within the Miss America Organization, what has been the home of my dreams for three years. I wrote that I was grieving different paths, dreams and people.
For as long as I can remember, I have always chosen to challenge myself. Striving for seemingly unattainable goals has always helped me grow. For all of the amazing things that this has done for me, it also has placed my value of myself in my accomplishments-the higher the mountain, the more skilled the climber.
In hindsight, it makes so much sense why I struggled after choosing to let go of the Miss America Organization. I set this goal for myself, and I did absolutely everything in my power to achieve it. Even though I knew my work mattered to people outside of Miss Ohio, I sought confirmation from the judges that what I did mattered. That I was enough to be Miss Ohio.
After choosing not to compete again for this reason, I craved something to show people that I was doing next, and that it would be bigger and better than everything that I’ve done before. I searched for jobs, for people, and for a new “thing” to post on social media to tell the world that yes, it has been a while but that I’m doing like, REALLY OKAY.
Something that said: “Hey! Remember me? Remember when I put everything into it… and then I LOST Miss Ohio? Well I’m like TOTALLY OKAY NOW! Here’s my beautiful apartment, interesting job in a cool city, trendy friends, vintage jean jacket and a kind, handsome, and totally nonintrusive, amazing partner to match this REALLY COOL life I have. See? It’s fine that I lost! I’m like TOTALLY OKAY. :-)!!!! Also, here’s a smoothie bowl that I paid $18 for. Because I can, like, totally afford it. Even though it isn’t satisfying or delicious. I’m fine, I’m really okay. No, really.”
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t totally okay at all. In fact, I was the most not okay that I have ever been. And we all saw me in 2016, so this is really saying something.
I was so caught up in what people were going to think about my failures that I tried to make so many pieces of my puzzle fit together, when in reality they weren’t pieces of my puzzle at all. They were from someone else’s.
Over the last year, I picked up a lot of pretty pieces of a puzzle, like jobs at Abercrombie & Fitch, or dating nice guys I met in college and tried to see if adding them to my life made my picture clearer. If by somehow adding a seemingly perfect person, job, or idea to my puzzle would help me see the final picture– happiness. If you’re having déjà vu for the puzzle analogy, it’s an old favorite of mine.
Living in a beautiful apartment, wearing trendy jean jackets, and eating overpriced smoothie bowls wouldn’t make me happy. (Wouldn’t that be lovely?)
Winning Miss Ohio wouldn’t make me happy.
Dating the perfect person wouldn’t make me happy.
Getting a well-paying job wouldn’t make me happy.
Only I could do that.
And I hope one day that I get all of those things (except for the smoothie bowl. hard pass.)
I hope that one day all of these things come together for me and for other people, too. But I can’t place my value in these things. My value and what make me as a person comes from a million different pieces, each bringing me little smatterings of peace and joy.
It’s time for me to focus on the pieces of happiness that I have in my life, instead of saying “I’ll finally be happy when…” (fill in the blank). This is my challenge to myself during isolation and social distancing. To learn to be more content with where I am today. Right now.
I’m a million-piece puzzle and my borders are extending every single day. We all are. Good luck finding a corner piece.
Although it feels like I haven’t accomplished much, the last eight months have brought me so much discovery in my missteps and uncertainty. Last time, I wrote that it was time to stand still. And I wish that standing still was easy for me, but it wasn’t- it still isn’t. But soon it will be time to move forward again.
I don’t anticipate that the road ahead of me will be any easier (actually I think it will be quite the opposite) but I am full of hope for the things that my next adventure will teach me. I have a feeling it will be full of overwhelming challenges, trying to keep my head above water and… lots and lots of pushups.