The best substitute for experience…

…. is being sixteen. – Raymond Duncan 

I’m only 26. But I can’t remember being 16. It wasn’t THAT long ago right?

But I’m convinced that this past decade is the decade where we make leaps and bounds. We’re just starting to become an adult at 16. At 26 – we’re pretending we’re a full-grown adult who can pay bills on time (runs off to pay credit card bill and rent), go to work, and eat healthy meals (eats one more cookie). We feel like we know who we are…some of the time. We know we can drink and vote and hopefully do both (preferably not at the same time). 

I can drive now. Yes – confession time. I didn’t get my license until I was 17 and 2 months. 

Guys – at 16, I didn’t like sci-fi. (Okay, so I had LOST and Harry Potter – but those are like fringy sci-fi. And LOST hadn’t gone crazy yet. We thought there were going to be answers!). 

At 16, I was just as much the hopeless romantic that I am today (well, today I’m hopeless AND cynical and if you think that creates entertaining inner-monologues you are absolutely correct.) I had only kissed one boy.

I haven’t kissed THAT many more to be honest (yes, I know the number, and it can be counted on two hands).

At sixteen I thought I had friends that I would be friends with forever. I haven’t talked to some of them years. Of the people that were at my surprise birthday party – I’ve talked to exactly none of them. 

I was still working on growing out the last of a perm – horrible decision and had started straightening my hair daily. I had horrible short bangs. I didn’t dress well – but I thought I was hot stuff, like most 16 year olds. I barely wore makeup but in the way that 16 year olds don’t have to wear makeup because everything still looks good with no effort. 

I was a sophomore the year I turned 16. I was in band (duh) and drumline and 4-H and that was the extent of my extracurriculars . (Let me tell you about 12 hour drumline practices [that’s not 12 hours a week, thats 12 hour days]and then you’ll know why I didn’t have much more of a life.) My only job was babysitting when able (see above statement regarding drumline practices) 

I was quieter at 16; more timid and less willing to try new things. I wasn’t willing to go out on a limb – still not really, but I make the attempt. But I pretended I was worldly and knew it all. 

At 16 I was going to work in public relations. Well, I was going to working in public relations for a NASCAR driver. An INDYCAR driver if I was desperate. A track as last resort. Not-for-profit work ever crossed my mind, nor a job so far removed from that PR/Marketing realm.

I wouldn’t change a thing about 16 year old Jessica. She and her experiences helped form 26 year old me. 

If only I could remember some of them…

Inspired by: Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.

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Do It Anyway

Call it surrender but you know that that’s a joke /And the punchline is you were never actually in control /But still, surrender anyway 

Guys, let’s be honest – this song was going to win me over based on the video with the combination of Anna Kendrick + Chris Hardwick + Fraggles. But then I heard the song – 1. the tune is incredibly catchy 2. the lyrics are kinda cool and Jessica’s across time appreciate them.

Go on and do it anyway 

It’s kinda become a motto.

At times.

I used to not do much. I was afraid of failing, so I wouldn’t try anything new. I was afraid of disappointing myself, or more importantly, someone else.

I still don’t always “do it anyway”. But I have to admit – I’m becoming more adventerous in my old age. I used to not be one to climb out on a limb. If things terrified me – that was it. I wasn’t going to do it, try it, go near it. I still have my hang ups – but I’m going to think twice about saying no.

Tell me what I said I’d never do /Tell me what I said I’d never say /Read me off a list of the things I used to not like but now I think are ok 

I used to be scared of flying. I don’t ENJOY it, but I don’t mind it.

If I didn’t know what a food was I wasn’t going to try it. Now I attempt to eat it – unless there’s peppers, mushrooms or onions. I still don’t like it.

I wanted to be comfortable in the middle. Now I strive to put myself out on a limb (one not far from the ground) to attempt to make myself stand out a little – at work and in life.

I used to hate sci-fi. Then I watched Eureka and Firefly and Battlestar Galalatica.

I was terrified going on a date (especially via an online site) – he was going to be a douche; he was just in it for physical aspects (or worse, he was and then immediately changed his mind after seeing me); I wasn’t going to be attracted to him. Okay – I’m not doing this with a lot of people; just one and it’s seemed to work out okay so far.

I was scared of going out of my comfort zone – doing something I hadn’t been doing my entire life.  I wasn’t progressing anywhere in my life. Because I was afraid of failing – now I’m willing to try. Even if it turns out it wasn’t the right thing in the end.

And if you’re paralyzed by a voice in your head /It’s the standing still that should be scaring you instead 

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Someday I’m going to be famous…

…do I have talent? Well no… – “Celebrity”, Brad Paisley

Who HASN’T dreamt of being famous.

Having lots of money and fame and fortune and the ability to do anything you want.

I’m sure famous people have it easy. (Except for Gwenyth. And THAT right there is the reason I wouldn’t want to be famous. I couldn’t deal with the internet trolls.)

I’ve wanted to be everything – I wanted to be an author, an actor and every Olympic cycle I’m convinced I could have been an athlete. I totally could have been a gymnast – minus my total lack of flexibility. Or a figure skater – minus my total lack of coordination. Or an ice dancer – again, minus my total lack of coordination. My swizzles would have been AWESOME. Or a swimmer – minus my lack of height. Or a diver – minus my total lack of flexibility and my paralyzing fear of heights.

And all minus my complete and total lack of athleticism. I think that’s the true reason I never became an Olympian.

And then there’s the fact I wanted (want) to be a Broadway actor. Minus the fact that I’m paralyzed when the focus is on me. And I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

Now I’m content where I am. My job at a not-for-profit isn’t going to make me famous (most likely) and it’s certainly not going to make me rich. But it makes me happy and I *usually* enjoy going to my job. I don’t have paparazzi stalking me and I don’t have internet forums dedicated to talking about my massive thighs. We’re facinated by the lives of celebrities (and making people celebrities see: the Kardashians) but I don’t think we realize that it might have some downsides. Not that I feel sorry for them.

And while I may not have any talents that will make me famous, if I get really desperate, there’s always the next season of the Bachelor.

Inspired by the following prompt: Have you dreamt of becoming famous? What would your claim to fame be? Comedy? Acting? Writing? Race car driving? Go!

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Red faced

The Office is one of my favorite shows. Ever. But I have a problem when I watch it. It’s like watching a scary movie. I get ungodly uncomfortable and have to look away, cover my eyes, plug my ears. I literally squirm in my seat.

Oh god. This episode. I can’t…

And that’s on TELEVISION.

In real life, I can’t make eye contact with the person embarrassing him/herself. Or talk to them. Sometimes I wander off…and clearly I’m the most uncomfortable one. You would think that I was doing something stupid (well, I am). It’s insane how much embarrassing moments make me uncomfortable. It’s even worse for me when the person being embarrassed doesn’t realize it.  This pertains to real life and fiction – it’s made me walk away from conversations and turn off the TV.

And then there’s when I get embarrassed. Or perceive to be in an embarrassing situation (I’m always going to read into a situation and make it 50% more uncomfortable.)And then I dwell on it. Does anyone else do this?  I had a major foot-in-mouth, incredibly embarrassing moment on Monday that involved technology and not paying attention. I immediately apologized and may be OVERLY nice to this person now, which is just as embarrassing – but I’ve dwelled on it all week. I just start thinking about it and my face gets all red and warm and I chew on my lips and I shift in my seat. (I have a LOT of tells).

And then there’s the time I walked up to a girl thinking she was my friend. It turns out she wasn’t as she informed me (kinda rudely).

It was the first day of kindergarten.

in 1993.

I was 5 years old.

I’m now 26.

The most embarrassing point of this story? It’s the point when I get embarrassed by it 21 years later…

Inspired by: Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

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Everything Will Be Just Fine

When I get back on land/Well I’ll never get my chance/Be ready to live and it’ll be ripped right out of my hands/Maybe someday we’ll take a little ride/We’ll go up, up, up and everything will be just fine

And we’ll go up, up, up/But I’ll fly a little higher…

You may have caught this on my hiatus. And if not, take the time to digest this story. I’ll be here, tissues in hand.

Rainn Wilson (Dwight from the Office) has this thing called Soul Pancake it’s a new media company that provides various platforms to explore topics such as spirituality, creativity, religion, arts, and philosophy. And one of the things that Soul Pancake has done is create this youtube series called My Last Days. It features people who know that the end is imminent, along with their friends and family. Zach Sobiech was one of the featured stories. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, at 14. At 17, Zach knew he was going to die.

It’s hard to know what you would do in a similar situation; how you would face your mortality at an age where you should be figuring out who you’re going to prom with; where you’re going to college; what you’re going to do with your life.

I have enough of a problem with my own mortality and I have a decade on Zach. And for me, the end isn’t spelled out. I have trouble living in the moment and enjoying it.

But Zach? Zach lived and enjoyed the moment. He went to school, he had a girlfriend, he had dreams. He didn’t stop living until the end.

One of his dreams was to be a recorded musician. He did that. And not only did he do that, but he wrote an incredible song – a goodbye to his friends and family. One that was without a doubt incredibly personal and intimate. But he shared it with the world.

And every time I listen to this song, I’m reminded of Zach’s grace and dignity. I appreciate the way that he acknowledges the darker, less happy moments. After all, it IS an incredibly frightening time – but you can tell he’s at peace. And I’m reminded of the same attitudes and the grace and dignity I’ve seen in others who are faced with their mortality – like this incredible patient of my mom’s, Emily.

And I remember to keep living for the moment. Because we never know what’s next.

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