To Thank My Beautiful Mother

I am amazed at the difference a few months can make. I feel like 2010 has been and continues to be the fastest year of my life so far and one of the most pertinent to my personal growth.

I just woke up from a nap and I feel really grateful for the opportunity to catch up on sleep. This week has absolutely kicked my butt and handed it to me. Some of the activities that I lent my energy to this week were chosen (such as going out after work to catch up with friends, getting some time in at the driving range, spending time with my roommate) while others were necessary (such as filling in for one of my co-workers during my third week on the job with little instruction, introducing new changes to the way we process purchase orders, meeting with salesmen to locate and predict shipment times for parts, communicating with vendors), but in total, they were exhausting (albeit fun/exciting)!

Exhaustion now holds a very different connotation than exhaustion then. During my internship experiences (then), I was constantly exhausted. I resented work for holding me back from excitement and for stealing all of my energy; I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could log so many hours in one place and not loathe it as I did. Luckily, I made a huge effort in my last internship to be positive despite feeling stifled. I didn’t want people to know because I didn’t want to bring them down. I wanted everyone to think that I was happy and could hang in during the toughest weeks. It wasn’t easy. But it was all I had.

Now, I still feel held back (concert, travel, or outdoor opportunities have come my way since accepting this job of which I would love to have been a part), but it’s no longer stifling. I think the change in interpretation has to do with several things and has definitely been influenced by my attitude adjustment, but I think that it’s glaringly obvious that accounting did not match up with my personality or desires in any of the key ways a career must. I learned a lot during my internships with public accounting and I carry some of the structure and ways of analyzing situations with me into my new position, but in total – it just didn’t fit.

I think that was a huge drain on me during college. I wanted so badly to discover my calling (and hadn’t yet read “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung). I couldn’t see past school or the roles that were held in high esteem for Grand Valley graduates with accounting degrees. I thought I was trapped and it felt hopeless. My senior year (with one left to go), I can still vividly picture it, I broke down in my little two-person condo with my boyfriend at the time bawling at the thought of being stuck in accounting for the rest of my life. He tried to assure me that it would be okay or that I could change my major if I felt stuck, as he had done himself, but I couldn’t see it. I knew I needed to graduate and I thought that graduating with accounting meant that I was going to be a public accountant. I never could’ve predicted being a production coordinator. Life has a funny way of opening your eyes and allowing you to grow in ways you hadn’t imagined.

So I went in to work today to create the necessary documents to send out some parts. I delivered them to Fedex. When I got home, I napped. I’m not angry that I couldn’t go to the Blueberry Festival with my friends (disappointed, yes – but it doesn’t set the tone of my day). I’m not mad that I wasted hours of my weekend at work and sleeping because they weren’t wasted. I’m glad the parts got out the door and I’m so grateful for caught up sleep. And I’m in no way feeling resentful.


I think that it can be difficult for people who have just met me to accept me where I am. I am an idealist when it comes to personal growth and I’m always striving to live in a more positive direction these days. But that wasn’t always the case. I spent too much time being complacent, being afraid, being angry or rude, sad and even depressed. I focused on negatives or neutrals. There’s a disconnect that exists between the two and someone who meets me now doesn’t understand that; they don’t understand how it can be very difficult to match my idealist words with my very humanly flawed actions.

And so it has been the occasion recently in the past year that people meet me and jump right on board with my quest for personal growth. I think they think they discovered a light in me that perhaps they want to share or watch develop or think is more developed than it is. It’s happened more than once now that a person has come into my life, jumped in with my progress, and ended up expecting more of me than I could give, pushing me further than I want to be pushed, and completely misjudged my situation. The thing about personal growth, it’s entirely personal. It cannot be guided with a hand from behind or led with a hand in front. It can’t even be faced arm-in-arm.

Don’t take my things and make them yours. It’s like any relationship, if you spend too much time with the other person you begin to lose sight of yourself. The saddest thing is that I thought I had learned the warnings signs, but I hadn’t. When I saw my words being picked and chosen to form this ideal image of me, I wasn’t firm enough in voicing the most important things:

  • I need to take things at my own pace.
  • I am in the midst of a growing period.
  • That growing period began in the most painful period of life that I have experienced.
  • That growing period continues; I am not there yet.
  • The pain has subsided, it has not been erased and it is still very real.

I hope that had I voiced these things with clarity in communication, I wouldn’t be in the same position as I am with these people. Their judgements and ease of communicating disappointment are mind-blowing to me. You don’t know what it’s like to be me. If I have learned anything about people, it is that we experience the same things differently. You voice your opinions and you don’t know their damaging nature or irrelevance or ignorance. You’ve no right to speak so freely about things you know little of.

Sometimes, I am convinced that my mom is the only person who understands what I have experienced and accomplished in the past year. I know this because when I try to tell her, she doesn’t respond with a similar story of her own, but she cries because she understands that she cannot understand. And I think that is the most comfort anyone can give me. Accept that you do not know and celebrate my joys with me but do not judge what you cannot know.

For that, I would like to thank my beautiful mother.

Naps Make Me Sleepy.

I never take naps, except today it seemed like a good idea. I got up at 4:30am to volunteer at the Detroit Zoo for the Scleroderma Foundation (scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that effects the growth of skin cells). The Foundation hosted a walk/run to raise money for finding a cure and I was invited to set up and sign in participants by the Live to Give Foundation (L2G) (check out this non-profit if you haven’t yet – started by two U of M graduates who are currently 24/25 years old and doing amazing things!). I’m driving to Grand Rapids later in the evening so a nap seemed appropriate. But now that I’ve napped, I’m feeling more sluggish than before. What is that?

I’m days away from moving back to Grand Rapids and I think that God has been doing a lot of heavy lifting lately. What I mean to say is that I think God wants to be able to watch me use the skills and abilities He has given me to seek out opportunities, to let me take the initiative and be proactive. Lately, however, He’s been the proactive one and I’ve been the recipient of His hard work. I’ve done some amazing things in the past 10 months but I wonder if the majority of it hasn’t resulted from someone else’s action, urging, or initiative. On the plus side, I believe that God sees when we’re struggling to keep our head above water so He sends us people to help us swim. Even so, I feel incredibly blessed by His action through others.

What I have had to do on my own, however, is remember who I am. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but it has taken me quite a while to get back to a positive starting point. Some things, in particular, that I’ve recalled?

  • I’m strong. I’m not some faint flower who can’t do anything on my own and needs the constant support of those around me. In fact, I want to be strong enough that I can hold myself up and share the yolk of my friends and family. I think I unknowingly put a lot of pressure on the people around me by always needing them to hold me up. Like a wet noodle. And we all know…There’s only one thing a wet noodle is good for and that’s spaghetti! What does that mean? Hell if I know.
  • I’m funny. Really funny. I actually think I’m hilarious, which I think is funny in itself. But the truth is when I forget that I’m funny, I wait around for someone else to make me laugh and I stop looking for humor in my own life. Life is much more fun when it’s humorous.
  • I’m smart. It’s easy to overlook my own intelligence when I’m surrounded by people who are “at my level.” Think about it. Above average feels average when everyone around me is above average too, right? But here is what I’ve realized: Someone else’s intelligence does not negate my own.
  • I’m competent and I’m capable. During my internship, I went from furrowing my brow over a Michigan state tax return to completing multiple state returns and filing changes in accounting. I’m able.
  • I can beat my fears. Go back to being strong. My fears don’t own me. And they can’t paralyze me unless I let them. I’ve also come to realize that most of my fears have less to do with the actual challenge at hand and a lot more to do with the fear of being embarrassed (except when it comes to bugs and collar bones *shudder*). Being embarrassed really is a silly fear. Mind over matter. “I’ll be embarrassed if I try this and flop.” No. “If I try this and flop, I’ll be proud of myself for trying and it’ll give me something to laugh about in the future.” It’s easier said than done, but it can be done.
  • I’m adaptable. Put me in a situation (within bounds of reason) and I’ll figure it out. New surroundings or challenges don’t have to derail me. I’ll adjust. I can be okay with changing my plans, whether or not I’d like to.
  • I’m fun! I’d hang out with me. Would you hang out with you? (Hint: The answer should be yes.)
  • I’m a positive person. This is the second to most important thing I’ve remembered about myself. I think (Okay, okay. So I know. But who really wants to acknowledge that?!) that I’ve been a negative Nancy for too long. Arms folded. Bad attitude. Debby Downer. WHAT?!? That’s SO. NOT. ME. I mean, sure, it was me. But it’s not me! At my core, I’m a positive Polly. And I don’t know how I came to take on this negative persona. I think maybe it started as some attempt at being a hard ass and just spiraled downward. Haha, because I’m soo incredibly tough, right? Please.
  • #1 on the list? I have a lot to offer and I am worthy. I can recall multiple situations where I met people and suddenly forgot that. I stood like a wallflower as people passed around exciting stories because I thought I didn’t have anything to add. Seriously? I may only be in my 20’s but I have a lot to offer and I am worthy.
  • I feel like it sounds pompous to list it out like this, but go through the list and tell me if you feel the same about yourself. You should.