As promised I am back with my weekly thoughts. I started reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle two days ago and I can’t put it down. Every free second I have I have been gobbling it up. But I promised myself that I would write and the power of now makes me want to get these thoughts out immediately. In recent news and media, especially in America, there has been an overwhelming amount of stereotyping and blatant racism, sexism, and discrimination. Both in the political campaign for President of the United States and everyday affairs with riots, protests, and a whirlwind of media attention directed toward the police force and their treatment of criminals, particularly African American people. Now, more than ever, I am disgusted by the fact that people strongly protest against these injustices toward the group they identify with while simultaneously insulting or stereotyping another group of people in the process. This happens across the boards in our world. It is not socially acceptable to call someone fat, overweight or too heavy but it is socially acceptable to call someone too skinny, skin and bones, tell someone they need to eat or criticize them for their obsession with bodybuilding or being fit. It’s not acceptable to call someone uneducated, ignorant, or stupid but it is acceptable to call someone a nerd or a weirdo for being intelligent or highly interested in a certain subject matter. Why do we deem some discrimination okay? Why is it socially acceptable to judge certain people but looked at as politically incorrect, cruel, and evil spirited to judge others?
When I look back at my life, I realize that I have a tendency to associate with groups that are often stereotyped. First and foremost we are all stereotyped by gender, that is inevitable. In my lifetime I have received stereotypes for being “too smart” or “a nerd” as a child. Once I grew into my looks, got rid of my braces, glasses and unibrow and barely grew into my lanky body I was then stereotyped for being “pretty” and “skinny”. When deciding on a university, I landed on my dream definition of the college experience but was then stereotyped for going to a “party school” where I studied to become a teacher which is a career that is highly misunderstood and publicly chastised. To make matters worse I joined a sorority and entered into one of the most stereotyped organizations I can think of. After that I decided to veer from the beaten path of American culture and move abroad after graduate school. I became stereotyped as a “backpacker” or someone who needed to “find themselves.” Life lead me into an opportunity to turn my passion for health and fitness into a career in a network marketing company and I began my journey as a young entrepreneur building a following and business predominately through social media. Yet again, network marketing companies are a group that are highly misunderstood and blatantly stereotyped. Now let me rephrase that paragraph, and show you not how others decided to categorize me but how I, in fact, see it myself.
In my lifetime I started as a shy child who was perplexed by reading and uncomfortable with the fact that I knew a lot more and a lot bigger words than my peers. I didn’t like to raise my hand but I knew the answer. I didn’t want to be smart, I wanted to be normal…like everyone else. Once I started gaining confidence and allowing my personality to come out and physically matured from my horribly awkward tween years, I appreciated the fact that people liked me. I was saddened that it seemed like they only liked me now because I looked different. I connected to friends who made me forget all of that and loved me for me. Tragedy struck my life at a young age and I grew lifetimes when I was fifteen. I learned to use my writing to channel my thoughts, my pain and be proud that I was given a talent that not everyone has. I liked being smart. I wanted to be smarter but I also wanted to be free. I coped with my pain with temporary happiness in partying and a busy social life. I felt as if I was meant for something more. I wanted to go somewhere new and far away for university. I wanted to get to know myself and become who I was meant to be. The first college I visited(West Virginia University) I absolutely fell head over heels in love with. It had everything I wanted. I listened to my gut; applied, got in and decided to go there within a matter of months. I went there not knowing a single soul and I felt alone but I felt like I was where I was meant to be. I decided to check out sorority recruitment since I didn’t know anyone and I loved being a part of a team. I went to recruitment and I realized not every sorority was right for me. But I found one(Delta Gamma) that was. It transformed my college experience into something more meaningful than I could’ve ever imagined. I attended a school infamous for it parties, which I highly enjoyed and participated in. But I also was ignited by the passion of the whole community of the university, the friendly environment that surrounded me and the incredible educators who I got the honor of learning with. Getting your Masters in Secondary Education in a highly social and athletic driven environment was no easy feat, but it taught me how to manage my time, listen to my own moral compass, prioritize and most importantly balance work and play.
I studied furiously and my mind came alive in my English classes. I wrote and read and thrived in the aura of student life. I learned inside the classroom as a teacher and a student and realized how essential teaching was for my personal well being. I felt like I was meant to be a teacher but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about how BROKEN our education system is. I couldn’t simply conform to what America made the teaching profession into. So I decided to listen to another gut instinct and move abroad. I got a full time teaching job in Thailand and booked a one way ticket. While living in Thailand I had the opportunity to backpack and see parts of the world that expanded my mind in a way that is irreparable. My eyes were opened to the world of traveling, backpacking, and a life full of adventure. I also felt like I had WINGS because I loved teaching these children so much. I went to work and felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. While living in Thailand I went through heartbreak in my personal life and my world was turned upside down. I learned a whole new set of lessons in grief, love, and picking up the pieces on your own. This pain led me to a heightened state of awareness and duty to myself and my own inner voice. This, coupled with the mind blowing experience of immersing myself in a completely different culture, allowed me to fall in love with myself and discover passions both new and old.
The transition back to America was so difficult but I luckily had a new career opportunity to keep me occupied and a long term substitute teaching job in the public school system to scare me away. I walked into this opportunity with my eyes set on earning a discount on the programs and products and helping people along the way. What I realized was I found a company, a style of living and working and a team of people who aligned with some of my most deeply seated convictions. I have always wanted to live a life full of passion and purpose. I have always wanted to march to the beat of my own drum and encourage others to do the same. I have always wanted to use my story to shape the lives of others. I always have dreamed bigger than anyone I have ever met but I never knew how I was going to make those dreams come true. I realized what I walked into was an opportunity to channel my big dreams, my big heart, and my authentic passion for people into an actual successful career. Not ten years from now, not three degrees from now. But right now. I realized that the vision I had for my life was always one centered in principles of living, on a state of mind and how I could contribute to the world. I never pictured what I would or how I would do it but simply that I would do. I realized right away that this was simply another stepping stone in my life full of groups that people don’t understand. But based on my journey into myself and living in the present moment, I knew that I don’t and never will fall victim to stereotypes that other people assign to me. I know who I am. I know what I stand for. I know what I am capable of. If anyone chooses to put me into a box based on what they assume about me, that is entirely their loss and their decision. I believe in the good in people and I believe in the good in me. I have never and will never defend my choices or preach about the haters. I simply live and let live and prove the stereotype wrong. I can acknowledge they exist because each and every one of them was said to me on multiple occasions by multiple people in varying degrees of rudeness.
Eckhart Tolle asks, “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is?” I accept the world we live in will always put people in a box and small minded people will mimic this behavior. But I decided long ago that I would follow my heart, my passion and lead with good intentions and morals. Sure I’ve made a million mistakes along the way, but I have never regretted for one day who I am, what I stand for, and what I represent. I am so happy that my words give me a way to share this mindset with the world, my friends, family and strangers passing through my blog or digital universe. I’m asking you to live above the stereotype. Accept that it will happen. But prove them wrong. Tolle brilliantly stated, “Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life- and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” Don’t waste your time with worrying, follow your gut and don’t regret a thing. Look at anyone you encounter as a friend first, if they prove themselves to be an enemy, still prove them wrong with the way you live. So… stereotype me, I dare you.