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A bridge over troubled water

I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It may have been in my Dad’s hunter green Tahoe listening to a “Golden Oldies” radio station. It may have been in the living room of my grandparents house listening to an album on their record player. (That I now proudly own, *humble brag*)

It’s a song I just… know. That many, many people know. From the mega famous to the ordinary. It spans generations, continents and cultures.

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all

The London Gay Men’s Chorus sang it in solidarity with the community of Orlando at a vigil held this week in London.

For obvious reasons, this video moved me significantly. I watched it several times. Thinking about Orlando. Feeling heavy hearted for lives affected, and my own. How my life right now seems like a deep, long stretch of troubled water.

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

I have struggled to put into words what I have been feeling for months on end. I’ve written several unpublished drafts on this blog. Searching for the right way to explain myself. It’s a lot of confusion and hopelessness. Feeling unworthy of opportunity and acceptance. I have felt angry with myself for failing to achieve certain things professionally — and for failing to be someone I am proud of.

I feel lost. All the time. I never seem to know if I’m making the right or wrong decision. I keep looking for “answers” in people, ideas and things… Expecting to have a moment, an “a-ha!” A “now I understand the workings of the universe” epiphany. But after a talk with my mom that went something like this: SOMEBODY SEDATE ME. She told me I wouldn’t understand any of this until I was on the other side.

I’ve heard that being in your 20s is a rollercoaster. I’ve heard it’s for exploration and self-discovery. I’ve heard it’s for dating and traveling. I’ve heard it’s the time to f*ck up before it really matters.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street

But I hadn’t heard how painful it would be.

Then Orlando happened. And instantly, I am hit with a sweeping wave of guilt. Guilt for failing to appreciate the life I’ve been given. Failing to remember my “troubles” pale in comparison to others. Like the 49 mothers and fathers who will never hear from their child again.

When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

Last weekend my brakes went out in my car and I hit a wall. Like an actual wall. At a grocery store. And that’s just the first *real* wall this year, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I’ve hit many “walls.” Walls in my personal life, my professional life. Walls that I keep hitting over and over again. I feel like a windup toy, stuck in a maze. I keep making the same mistakes.

I grew up about an hour outside of Orlando. It’s a city where people vacation. It’s the home of the “happiest place on earth.” It’s a family town in many ways, with pockets of charming neighborhoods and lakeside porches. The highways are flanked with lush green grass and palm trees.

It is no place for the largest shooting in U.S. history.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

I’ve seen pretty gruesome things during my short time working in news. I’ve seen the worst of humanity, not personally, but close enough to rattle my organs and make me question what my purpose is in this life. Questioning the very industry I work in at times — wondering, what is the point?

As journalists, we are committed to you. We are committed to explaining what is happening in the world. And during catastrophic events like Orlando and Paris, we work long hours. That sometime require talking to a deceased person’s family. Keeping accurate counts of death tolls. Verifying pictures of the dead.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

We are not doctors or nurses or first responders or police or trauma surgeons. But we see things in exquisite and alarming detail.

In some ways, we are the bridge over troubled waters.

There are times when I resent my job. There are times when I curse those 3 red letters. There are times when I’m *so pissed* I have to to go to work. But there are times when I talk to people who have done extraordinary things, and I’m reminded of the wonderful humans in the world. I come across stories everyday of people demonstrating remarkable kindnesses, and those are only the ones that get reported.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by

When I read a tiny thing about a tiny person, in a tiny town, that made a tiny difference, it’s like a lighthouse in my brain. Almost instantly, I’m like, “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!” Those stories are the bridge over my troubled waters.

Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine

It’s so easy to think that the world is against you and that the only people here are bad. That people live to see you fall… But I would argue, and I believe in the rawest part of my heart, that they don’t.

Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Life is brutal sometimes. It’s one lesson after another. It’s a struggle. It’s a climb. It’s one that constantly changes when you need it to be still. And it’s one that’s still when you need it to change.

One of the most comforting things to me have been seeing my fellow colleagues, even if silently, work next to me. We are all doing the same thing. We are all tired. We are all, I assure you — heartbroken.

And sometimes during this life, all we can do, is be a bridge.

For each other.

I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

We weep, but never fear

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I visited Paris and London for the first time last week. Have you noticed? Sorry, God, I literally could not be more obnoxious about it. But in my defense, it was my first time out of the country (aside from a trip to Cancun during college that can be summed up in a single word: Tequila.)

So yeah, I was totally excited.

That was until terrorists assaulted the city of Paris on a Friday, a week to the day prior to our departure, killing 130 and injuring more.

I was paralyzed with sadness. And so much fear. My excitement was gone.

“Should we even go?” I thought.

While sorting through some of the pictures at work from memorials around Paris, this picture touched me:

Paris mourns after terror attacks kill dozens. A sign reads "We weep but we never fear."

Credit: Larry Langer/CNN iReport

Throughout the grieving process, all the mourning and the pain – it seemed Parisians were adamant – they refused to give in. They refused to let a bunch of wayward thugs ruin them.

And it inspired me. To be unafraid. To go abroad and have the time of my life. And embrace every moment without fear or distraction.

I’m proud to tell you we did. And we never felt scared. Mostly because the people in London and Paris were kind and compassionate people. Friendly, funny – brilliant.

One of our cab drivers in Paris said the city is “knitted together” — in streets and in people.  Paris was bustling, even in the cold and the rain. People under cafe awnings sharing food, laughing, walking together. It was as if nothing ever happened.

That week taught me so many different things and exposed me to another set of worlds. But the biggest thing it gave to me – was the assurance that it is so useless to be afraid.

Fear is the single most debilitating emotion of all. It stands in the way of better opportunities, it turns your life into something smaller than it should be.

My sister Jordan is seemingly fearless. She never settles. She knows what’s out there, and she knows she’s going to get it.

I’m a little more timid, as the older sister, I’m a little more cautious. Fiercely determined and ambitious career-wise, but sort of afraid to go outside the boundaries of what I’ve always known.

What a wasted life that would be, to have ambition with no adventure.

This year has been really painful in a lot of ways – mostly because of my own doing, simply being scared to do something about it. Scared to change my life.

But I’m done with that.

“I realized there was nothing to do but go, so I did” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild

How #ONA15 helped me face my networking fears

Do you like meeting people?

I’m going to be really, really honest here — I don’t. I hate it. (Keep reading.)

Earlier this year, I bought myself a pass to go to a conference in Los Angeles — the Online News Association’s annual gathering for digital journalists and badasses to come together to share industry knowledge — and talk to each other. 

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What the hell was I thinking? I can’t even drag myself to a professional event in Atlanta, let alone fly across the country to do it.

I’m an introvert. Before you dismiss that claim because you’ve heard my extreme laugh, hear me out.

I am easily overwhelmed by crowds and I generally err on the side of, uh, complete avoidance when it comes to socializing with people I don’t know.

In the days before the conference, I didn’t have much to say about it. “I’m mostly stressed,” was my answer when questioned. I spent most of the night before my flight thinking, “What have I done?”

How was I going to deal with this? How would I survive this mortal combat known as  — “networking?” I gave serious thought to completely ditching it for the sake of “saving money” — and my scared and fragile psyche. But it was a trip to California, for God’s sake. I wear a compass around my neck with a map of Los Angeles pasted to the back of it most days. (It’s cuter than it sounds.)

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There was only one option — a one way ticket to getting the hell out of my comfort zone. So I committed. I packed my favorite blazer, an enormous stack of business cards —  and an attitude synonymous with “Long Black Road.” They used to tell me boy you ain’t goin’ nowhere…

On Wednesday, after a painfully early flight (of sideways sleeping and freaking out) — ONA hosted a Google event in Venice Beach. There was going to be a presentation, preceded by the scariest words in the English language — “light refreshments and mingling.” Oh. God.

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Now, normally, the mention of a mixer would have sent me running for the hills. With my head on fire.

And I didn’t have to go to it. I was tired. So exceedingly tired. I could have just showed up for the presentation and crawled into my plush hotel bed. But I forced myself to go.

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And at first, yeah, I felt really freaking awkward. As expected, I didn’t know a soul, and I just kind of wandered around the room like a lost little kid. Like maybe this cement wall will strike up a conversation with me? I prayed.

But I remembered a simple piece of advice I’d read earlier in the week while prepping for the conference — act like a host, make other people feel welcome, instead of focusing on how weird you feel. So I found someone who wasn’t talk to anyone, and we had things and people in common.

(Funny thing about media conferences, you’re bound to have something in common — you know, like, everything?)

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Once that conversation ended, I picked up another, and another after that. And that’s really all it took. One conversation with one stranger to propel me to have more conversations with more strangers.

I learned a ton of stuff at ONA — including how to negotiate a salary, how to write more engaging content, how to effectively use Snapchat, what the HECK Yik Yak is…

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But the biggest thing I learned was how to face a really tangible fear in my life, a fear that has interfered with my success and growth as a person and a professional — a fear that manifested into a lie about myself that I started believing: That nobody cares or wants to know me.

But they do — and they did, and I want to know more of you in return.

So thanks to all of the people who made me feel welcome, and thanks to the Online News Association for forcing people like myself to face of some of their silliest hangups. It was worth every penny and every anxious thought.

I read and finished Into the Wild during my flights on this trip for the first time. I both admired and pitied Chris McCandless for his bravery, his brashness — and his fear and distaste for intimacy. But we have to assume near the end of the book, as his health deteriorated beyond repair, he began to crave human relationships. Days before his death, he wrote in the margins of a copy of Doctor Zhivago — “HAPPINESS ON REAL WHEN SHARED.”

Indeed.

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Fashionably right on time

Embarrassing confession: I like the new Justin Bieber song. It’s like really catchy, right? Like OMG I might have set it on “repeat” on my iPhone.

I heard it first on iTunes, and then I watched him sob through it at the VMA’s. Poor Biebs. He’s obviously going through some rough stuff. Maybe he feels bad for being a punk, maybe he regrets his side bangs — maybe he’s still pining over Selena.

Either way, Justin Bieber is 21 years old, and he’s worth millions.

I’m 25, and I’m worth, er, not that.

Obviously, this is an outrageous comparison. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we thought it was “outrageous” to compare ourselves to ‘normal’ people, like our friends?

Ah, but we don’t. In fact, we obsess over what other people are doing. That’s what Facebook is for – just post after post, a stream of reminders of stuff we don’t have. A kick ass job, a solid group of friends, airbrushed wedding photos, a baby. The Facebook “timeline” is just an alarm that buzzes, “Hey! You are really, really behind (527 People Like This)”

At some point or another, I think we’ve all established a timelines for ourselves. You know, “I want to be X by 27, Y by 32, and Z by 38.” I know I have. And to a certain point, this can help us meet our goals. But all too-often, the timeline (internal and Facebook) becomes the enemy. It makes us feel really crappy.

It can be a hard pill to swallow, to realize you aren’t where you planned to be at age-whatever-you-are.  There are things I thought I’d be doing at this point that I haven’t even thought about trying to do. And there are things I’ve been trying like hell to get that just aren’t happening.

But that’s because the time is not right. The real timeline had other plans.

But the idea that we have “deadlines” based on a million unknowns is crap. We are programmed to think we should be at certain points by certain ages, based on how we were raised, who we are friends with, and what the world deems as successful. 

What about your values? Your highest ambitions? Your deepest desires? Those things, your purpose for living, don’t deserve deadlines. They deserve to take all the time in the world.

As my mom would say, “There are two ways to skin a cat.” Which means, there’s more than one way to get somewhere and accomplish something. Sometimes that requires taking an alternate route – and it could take a little longer. But you’ll get there, if you want it bad enough. In the meantime, pack up your road map, your check lists, your Pinterest boards — everything that fills you with anxiety, and get the heck out of there.

You are running on your own time, the time meant and created for you.

That’s why you have goals, so you have something to work toward. And if you have any goals at all, you’re already halfway there. Just because you haven’t met them yet doesn’t mean you won’t. In fact, they’re probably just around the corner.

You’re not behind. You are not stuck. You are not fashionably late — you’re fashionably right on time.

#DearMe: Be the heroine

Have you heard of this #DearMe thing?

According to YouTube: “In celebration of International Women’s Day, take part in YouTube’s global #DearMe initiative to inspire and empower young girls everywhere.”

Obviously, I loved this. I wish I could look my younger self in the face and tell her a few things. Like, don’t drink Vodka, ever. Am I right?

So I wanted to take part in this #DearMe thing. It sends you to a website to create a GIF with a pre-made quote or an option to make your own. I wanted to make my own.

So I sat there and stared at it for a long time. I’m usually good with this kinda stuff. I can whip out a solid piece of advice pretty easily most of the time. But I completely drew a blank. Everything I would tell my younger self, I haven’t even learned yet. Simple lessons, like, “everything will work out for the best.” Or, “you’re capable and you’ll figure out a way.”

Probably because recently, I came up against some good old fashioned failure.
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I didn’t get something I really, really wanted, and I tried like hell to get it.

And if I’m gonna be honest here, this doesn’t happen to me a whole lot. I have a really strong vision for my life and I’m generally extremely committed and driven to get there.

So when reality didn’t line up with “the vision” it was a brutal, brutal letdown. The stuff of nightmares, breakups — nasty disappointment in myself.

I haven’t been a good sport about it all.

And no amount of goodwill or encouragement has helped me. (You’re like, OMG you are so annoying. I KNOW.)

I’ve got all these people (friends, coworkers, parents) barking at me to get the heck over it and feel proud of myself.

As much as I want to listen to that, most of me just wants to say, “ehhh get out of my face.”

Rejection is one of the hardest human experiences to endure. Rejection from a person, a place or a thing. It just sucks. You become a victim to your extreme vulnerability.

Here I am! I can give you THIS, and THIS and I can be THAT, and do THAT, and contribute THESE things, and succeed at THAT and change THIS and BY THE WAY – I’m hardworking and funny AND! I’ll do anything for you. Even move my life across the country! WITH BELLS ON.

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Eh… no thanks.

BUT I WOULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING FOR YOU.

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How do you recover from that? Beats the hell out of me, honestly. I really don’t know. I guess like most things, you have to sweat it out. Work through it somehow and set your sights on something else.

I feel so behind, though. There are high school students out there writing apps, and songs and books. And here I am writing about failure on some blog I made a year ago. Who the heck am I?

I feel I’m in no position right now to tell my younger self anything at all. I wish she could tell ME a few things.

So I’m going to try to imagine myself a little bit older and a little bit wiser. What would she say? She would probably say something along the lines of, “suck it up, drama queen, you’re gonna make it. Have some faith, be courageous, and listen to yourself.”

Ugh.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. And I’m not even sure I’m ready to swallow it. But I know I’m gonna have to eventually. It’s unbelievably easy to feel sorry for yourself when stuff like this happens. But that’s not me, that’s not my personality. It’s not who I was raised to be, someone who becomes a victim to a situation instead of rising above it.

So, #DearMe – Past me, current me, future me:

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25

I turned 25 last week. Which is, by all accounts, not a big deal. But this particular year of my life involved a LOT of change. I’ve learned a few things, and I’ve grown up a bit. In fact, yesterday, I went to Target to buy hair conditioner and a mop. And I left with ONLY hair conditioner and a mop. I didn’t buy any clothes, shoes or wine. And that, is an accomplishment.

Life isn’t that serious.
I’m sort of a drama queen. Not in the sense of necessarily causing it, just in my reaction and overall delivery. I’ve got an arsenal of facial expressions and hand gestures to fire off in any given argument. And I have a tendency to go straight to “doomsday” mode when things go wrong. In middle school, I brought home a progress report littered with B’s and C’s. My parents went ballistic. I wasn’t allowed to bring home anything less than an A. They scheduled meetings with my teachers, suspended my dance classes and gave me about 25 lectures, a piece. I knew that day, that the world was over. I still haven’t mastered the art of “settling down.” But I AM beginning to recognize when I overreact, which is I think at least a step.

Not ready? It’s okay.
Not ready to get married yet? It’s okay. Not ready to make that big career move? It’s okay. Not ready to move out of your parents’ house? Eh, it’s still okay. Move at your own speed, because if you try to keep up with everyone else, you’ll exhaust yourself, and you’ll be miserable. Do what feels right. You have nothing to apologize for.

Your truest self arrives in the form of a gut feeling.
We’ve all got an inner voice. It pings us when someone seems fake, it encourages us to dream big and it generally steers us toward the greater good. We do one of two things with “the voice,” we follow it, or we ignore it. Too often, I think we ignore it because we doubt its legitimacy, or we convince ourselves that it’s impossible. Dreams and convictions don’t just surface out of nowhere. Could it be possible the voice leads you to your purpose in the world? I think so.

Be fiercely loyal to your loved ones. 
I keep my family and closest friends really close. I’ve only got a handful, and the older I get, the more I want to be totally loyal to them. The people that have clung to me at this point in my life are probably going to stay there. Be good to the people who care about you most. Listen to their boring stories and be available to them no matter how busy you are. They’re the ones who are will carry you when you can’t carry yourself.

Making decisions out of fear is a terrible idea.
How many times have you made a decision because you were scared of the alternative?
I don’t want to break up with him because I’ll never find anyone else.
I have to stick with this job because I won’t find a better one.
I can’t move far away because I’m scared of getting home sick.
These fears, for the most part, are irrational. But they’re unbelievably believable. Especially that first one. If you’re unhappy in any given situation, it requires change. And if the change scares you, it’s a good thing. You’ll be much better for it in the end, even if the light at the end of the tunnel is but a twinkle.

Believe in something higher than yourself.
Knowing there is a higher plan in place makes me have a lot of hope. At age 25, your entire life is one big unknown. Chances are, you haven’t found your dream job, or your soulmate. But chances also are, if you believe, you will.  If you’re finding yourself in a total rut — this is temporary. If you believe in the steadfast power of the universe to align with your deepest hopes and dreams, it will. You’ll find a way. You always will.

Be fiercely loyal to yourself.
Loyalty comes from a deep place of respect and often love. I think a key part of living successfully involves loving yourself. When your core beliefs and values reflect what you’re doing, and you’re succeeding — you start to like who you’re becoming. There’s nothing in the world more gratifying than exuding confidence because you know exactly who you are, and liking it. You become unapologetically genuine when you love yourself, and there’s nothing more likeable than authenticity. One of my absolute favorite compliments in the world, is when people tell me, “You’re so real.” That’s when I feel I’m my best self. So be loyal to the person welling up inside of you. If you love yourself, the world will love you back.

And that’s just fabulous.

I’m not watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

I won’t be watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In fact, I’ve never watched it.

It’s not because I think it’s degrading or inappropriate. I’m all for the glitz and glamour of a super female production. I love sparkles, beauty and fashion. Totally.

But I’d rather not subject myself to staring at rock solid abs and perfect boobs for two hours (or however long the thing is.)
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I’ve heard the “but, it motivates me!” argument. Which I guess I sorta understand. But what does it motivate you to do? Get in better shape to feel awesome in a bathing suit — That’s one thing. Aiming for a thigh gap? Or pretruding hip and collar bones? Buy better makeup to feel prettier?

I know what you’re thinking, that I’m mad and jealous I don’t look like that.

Well, yeah, I AM mad about it. Totally jealous. But I’ve accepted the fact that I wasn’t born with perfect cleavage, sitting on top of a pair of mile-long legs.

I’m not a super insecure person, I have my moments absolutely, but for the most part, I’m generally okay with how I look. But that doesn’t mean I don’t squirm with envy at times.

I think what could be damaging about watching stuff like this is our already extreme need to aim for perfection. There is an enormous amount of pressure to feel beautiful, all the time, even when we wake up. And we go through a lot of drama to look good.

Exhibit A: I woke up like THIS (see left.)

Being a girl is no effing joke. #ImActuallyALion

A post shared by Jamie K. White (@jamiekwhite) on

There’s no denying it. I color my hair and wax my eyebrows. I straighten my hair, JUST to curl it! I feel the pressure too. And it’s ridiculous enough. So nah, I’m not gonna tune in. I’m good.

What I will watch though, is this kid named Ava.

Have you seen this girl? She’s a Vine sensation, and also the funniest person ever. I unashamedly check every single day to see if her mom posted a new video of her. She’s a true champion of individuality.

She’s 4-years-old and she wears leggings with kittens on them. She does impressions, tells it like it is, and is nothing but herself.

Remember when we were like that? When were totally unafraid to be ourselves? When we were 4-years-old and thought we were beautiful? I used to parade around town wearing princess costumes and my mom’s 80’s blue eye shadow all over my face. I thought I looked great.

And then middle school arrived and I spent the majority of those years sporting orange hair and wearing two padded bras. I felt pretty gross about myself most of the time. The pressure was officially on.

Even though that awkward phase is thankfully over, there’s still always something about myself I’d be down with changing, or at the very least, tweaking.

I’m sure many of you have heard me complain about my nose. It takes up 50% of my face. Not really, but it feels that way sometimes. But I’m not going to change it, it makes me who I am. So does my lack of any SORT of chest.

If you live and die by the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, fine. But I’d rather try to make an effort to enjoy my imperfections than inevitably compare myself to seemingly perfect women.

Because really, “comparison is the theif of joy.” — Teddy Roosevelt

Happy Holidays.
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20 things every 20-something *doesn’t* need to know

We 20-somethings, we love a good list.

Especially, the list of “pointers” about how to live a better 20-something life. “20 Things Every 20-Something Should Know,” “23 Reasons No One Likes You When You’re 23,” “I’m Feeling 22, Boo effing Hoo.”

Ok, I made that last one up. But some edition of this type of story publishes every week. 20 pieces of advice for the clueless 20-year-old. (Yawn.)

They all ultimately say the same thing: It’s okay to be a mess, hangovers suck bad, don’t get married young and get out there and travel.

Good advice or not, we’re all pretty obsessed with ourselves when we’re 20-something. Aren’t we? Myself included.

Seems like we get SO obsessed with trying to figure ourselves out that we forget about well, living. Because learning comes with living — Not by reading some Thought Catalogue article.

It’s hard as a young adult to have peace about life in the midst of navigating a premature career when you’re still trying to figure out how not to overdraft your bank account. Also, what is “mopping?” So I guess reading about how much of a wreck we all are during our twenties is comforting.

But you don’t need to read lists about 20 things that may or may not affect you to make yourself feel better about your life. You’re absolutely not alone.

“You mean, I’m not the only person in the world that eats cake and $4 wine for dinner!?” No, you most certainly are not.

I went to New York a few weeks ago to visit a good friend. I had some lose plans here and there, but I ran into several people I’d lost touch with. It made me think about life’s ability to twist and turn unexpectedly.

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And life has done that a lot lately.

We can plan our lives hoping to rid ourselves of every anxiety we feel about the future. But at some point, fate evades the planner and reveals a better plan.

Because let’s face it, even in my short 24 years of life, “the worst thing in the world” ended up leading me to something better. Every. Single. Time.

Life will continue to do that, I’m sure of it.

Maybe we shouldn’t waste our time trying to figure out how we tick, why we feel so deeply or why we physically can’t down 5 shots of whiskey every Friday night anymore.

It will be okay — there’s a plan of sorts behind all of your moronic, 20-something decisions. And even more importantly, the awesome things you’re just beginning to tap into will blossom and you’ll find your footing. And one day, you’ll be telling people why being 20-something doesn’t actually suck. It’s kind of wonderful in its own, twisted way.

At least, that’s what I believe.

Throw the ’20 things you need to know’ out the window — you only need one. Be yourself. And what will be will absolutely be.

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In the meantime

This past weekend, my church started a series called “in the meantime” – With the tagline: “what to do when there’s nothing you can do.” The message was incredibly insightful – And it forced me to reckon with myself.

Full disclosure: I’m going through a break up. On top of that, my career has become a bit foggy. And I’m talking about the fog that lays on the highway like a thick blanket in the morning. The kind that’s almost sufficating. I’m unsure of my place here in Atlanta, and of this phase of my life in general. I feel like I’ve lost “my purpose.”  As a result, I’ve pushed back on a lot of the change that’s catapulting into my life. Because it’s been straight up excruciating.

On Wednesday night I came down with a case of the sniffles – Your basic mild cold, which in a sense is much like a paper cut – Nothing major but annoying as HELL. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t sleep, so I shoved some tissues up my nose and took a little bit too much Nyquill (which is way too easy to do.) I woke up in a daze the next day and went to work with what felt like a spacesuit around my head. But when I finally snapped out of, I was calm, clear and alert.

Similar to the clarity and stillness of the moments I’ve found after accepting some difficult realities about my life. Some things are over, and others are just beginning.

And the relief I’ve gained by accepting it, has been mind-blowing. It’s pretty magical to sit back, let the pieces fall where they will and let go of what I thought I wanted, to make room for what will be – And I have a strong conviction whatever is coming is amazing.

Call it Jesus, call it maturity – whatever. It’s unnerving, in a good way.

The 5-year-old in my head keeps nagging, “But what am I supposed to do right NOW?”

Wait.

*Insert side eye.* I’m just supposed to sit here and wait?

My conviction says, yeah, just sit there and wait. Better days are ahead, I’m where I am for a reason – A reason I haven’t discovered yet.

It’s easy to fight back against what we know will cause us pain. But there’s a certain grace about accepting life and relationships for what they are. It doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to feel sad, even depressed. But surrendering to that sadness and getting beat by emotions, is a mistake.

If we can accept the darkness as a season rather than a lifetime, our eyes will adjust – And we’ll spot a window.

The level of inner torcher Robin Williams experienced before he died – we won’t ever know. But his death, however morbid it may be, gave me some perspective, and some hope. The whole world, across generations, pay-grades and cultures mourned the loss of such a light. Did he not know how much he meant to us? Maybe he couldn’t find a window, because clearly, there was hope. Even in his death, we remember the way he made us laugh – The way he changed our lives, the way he gave his audience something to hold onto past the movie screen.

Robin Williams - "Insomnia"

Pushing back on the change that organically happens in your life delays the healing process, and the first part of healing yourself is to accept your circumstances, however crappy they may be.

I’m not where I want to be right now, but I know I’ll find it eventually – So in the meantime…

I’m thankful for the pauses, even when growth seems like it’s standing still.

After all, “to live, is an awfully big adventure.”

When life gives you lemons… Order a pizza

In this case, it was enough pizzas to feed a whole plane full of passengers.

I’ve been “going through it” for the past few weeks — Dealing with one personal problem after another.

I had temporarily lost faith in my abilities, my relationships — and my future. It seemed everything I was working for was crumbling.

But this story came just in time.

Most of what we cover in news is sad, depressing — doom & gloom.

But sometimes, a slice of goodness like this comes along, and it restores your faith that people are good, that the world is good, and that there is always a silver lining. And if there is no silver lining… at least there is pizza.

That’s what a Frontier Airline’s pilot decided while his plane was grounded for almost two hours in the middle-of-no-where, Wyoming, because of bad weather in Denver. He didn’t throw up his hands, storm out of the plane and quit. He ordered the whole plane Domino’s. (Pause for happy tears.)

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Last week, my car broke down — and if you know me, you know I am no stranger to car problems. I’ve been known to pull up to the spot with a car blowing more smoke than a Cuban cigar.

So when my car stopped — Just shut completely off — in the middle of the road, I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry, or cuss. “Just needs a little oil,” I thought.

Well needing “just a little” oil turned into 900 bucks in repairs. Thank God the adult version of Jamie had a “savings” account.

This happened on a Monday — And the days after were increasingly worse.

A hurricane was brewing in the Atlantic — And in my professional & personal life.

Much like this plane bound for Denver, I was circling over Nebraska trying to avoid a storm — And I finally ran out of fuel. And there I was  — grounded, desperate and empty. Will I ever get where I’m supposed to go?

On Thursday I collapsed into a puddle of tears and self-loathing and spent my evening hanging out with the triple A guy while he changed my dead battery.

What could I do? Order a pizza.

That was the only option. Life had whooped me so hard that week, the only thing left to do was order a pizza.

Just like my mother ordered a pizza after she spent hours cleaning our her husband’s refrigerater. “Could have grown a potato plant in the bottom of that thing,” she said.

Cheese and bread makes us feel better about the hopelessness, stranded flights — and the seemingly bleak future. It helps us get from one struggle to the next.

I got my mojo back yesterday while I was working on this story. The ugly parts of the world have a way of interceding your thoughts and clouding your judgement — And sometimes it takes one person, like this pilot, responding to a bad situation in the best way they know how, to inspire you to do the same.

So instead of wallowing around in my misery — I’m gonna order the whole plane some pizza.