It was almost ten years ago I saw the movie "13 Going On 30." I drove my little sister and a bunch of her then middle school aged friends to the theater and decided to join them. I was the "adult" of the group. It's hard to believe how much time has passed. For my 30th birthday, I had told my husband I wanted that movie on DVD. He reminded me I already had it.... and also that he would never watch it with me.
I won't go through the whole story line of the film, but I think there are some good messages in this chick flick. Appreciate who you are and what you have in life. Don't try to be something you're not. Celebrate the person you are and keep a positive image of yourself, because it only gets tougher when you're older. As adults, with women especially, it can be vicious.
I was a lot like the "young" Jennifer Garner in the movie - the 13-year-old. I hated myself. I didn't think I was smart. I didn't think I was pretty. I thought I was a terrible soccer player and a worthless musician. I focused too much on what Girls on the Run coaches call "Negative Self Talk." Basically, putting myself down at every opportunity I had. I actually believed these things I was telling myself. The few close friends I had were generally guys, which girls thought was weird. I didn't want to be me. I wanted to be anyone but myself.
When I was 13, there was no Girls on the Run program. In fact, GOTR has only grown in Buffalo over the past few years. I jumped at the opportunity to be a coach at my old middle school in 2011, assuming it was just a running program. I learned it was so much more than just running. In fact, running was actually secondary. GOTR is a curriculum-based program that covers a wide variety of topics including having a positive attitude, community service, bullying, eating disorders, peer pressure, stress, gossiping and so much more. It was the kind of program I needed when I was young.
If you continually put yourself down from elementary school through college, you'll have problems. Life doesn't magically change when you get out in the real world. You can't go back in time and change things. Things aren't magically better when you're 30! What you can do is start accepting and appreciating the life you were given. It's really not all that bad... even while battling dystonia.
So obviously there's a point in my writing all this. Only over the past few years have I been able to open up a little bit. A woman I work with was baffled when I'd visit contractor facilities, walking with my head down, barely making eye contact with anyone, and being too afraid to speak. I was afraid of sounding stupid. At 24 years old, inside, I was still that timid little middle schooler who disliked the person she was, despite all the good things I had in my life. At 25, I started dating my now husband, and he and his family certainly helped me to be able to open up.
That notwithstanding, I still face the same kinds of problems I did as a middle school student. Unfortunately, I'm dealing with supposedly adult women. I interact with women who think I should spend a certain amount of money on my clothes, hair, and make up. Women who can't comprehend that I'd rather wear fashionable children's clothing than spend an arm and a leg on designer petite outfits with matching shoes to go along with them. I deal with "grown ups" who don't fully understand what I go through with my health and how materialistic things have become much less important to my overall happiness.
I'm not really okay in life, but in a strange way, that's okay. I am living, breathing proof that people can live a life of simplicity and still be happy, even while battling an incurable neurological disorder. So, if you're reading this and are unhappy with your jewelry, your clothes, your car, or the brand new gadget that's already outdated, you're missing out on something in life. Wake up and take a look around you! The world can be a cruel and unfair place, but you have the power to make not only yourself happy, but the world a happier place. The decision is yours. You only live once... make the most of the time you have on Earth and do something good with your life. Make it your mission. Don't wait until your life slips away -- choose to be happy now!