Monday, April 18, 2016

It's okay to be a late bloomer.

(The following post was submitted and declined on another website, so I'm publishing it here instead. Weeee, creative control!)


There are so many things I'd love to shout from the rooftops for all teens and young adults to hear, but if there's one thing that especially hits home for me, it's this:

It's okay to be a late bloomer.

You are going to encounter many moments of feeling hopelessly behind in life. You are going to compare yourself to other people in your age group and feel tempted to treat life as a contest or a finish line you have to pass in order to achieve happiness and success. You are going to feel anxious, depressed, ashamed, and find more questions than answers about the path that lies ahead of you. And believe it or not, that's okay. That's normal.

I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that everything is going to be okay. I wish I could tell her that it's actually pretty weird to be engaged, married, a parent, or a homeowner before the age of 25. (Hell, maybe even a little after that age.) I wish I could tell her that growing up sucks and she still has plenty more years to be acceptably young and confused.

I wish I could tell her that she will reach little milestones in life in her own time and in ways that are unforgettable. Her first kiss won't be with a boy who hasn't sprouted leg hair yet or the asshole she was infatuated with in high school for some reason. It will be loving, memorable, adorable, a little awkward, and worth every second of the wait. She will experience first love and loss with a best friend who will always care about her, not some guy who tossed her cheesy pick-up lines and tried to get into her pants before getting into her heart. She won't get her driver's license when all the high school beauty queens with rich dads get theirs. She will get it at the same age Carey Mulligan got hers, and one of her best friends will be there to witness the long-awaited triumph. She will spend the first few years out of high school being a badass writer with her name published all over the Internet and then get her first service industry job when her skin has thickened enough to deal with hangry people and grumpy co-workers. And she will have a positive attitude and work hard because having her own money will be more of a priority. She will grow up slowly, but be told on multiple occasions that she's wise beyond her years.

Sometimes life comes to us slowly and in smaller, unexpected doses. Time is a thief, and we spend too much of it worrying about things that don't matter. It doesn't matter who gets married or pops out a baby first. It doesn't matter who finishes college or lands a dream job that actually pays the bills first. It doesn't matter who falls in love or has sex first. These things happen when they happen. Some people peak early, and some people peak late. It's just life, and no one makes it out alive anyway.

While moving forward will always be important, you don't have to rush. Set simple and achievable goals that will lead to the bigger and more life-changing goals. Ask questions. Forge professional and creative relationships. Learn as much as you possibly can. Stay in touch with yourself, and know that it's okay to change paths, even when the one you're on is all you've ever known. Wake up every morning and consciously decide to put one foot in front of the other.

It's okay to be a late bloomer – as long as you choose to bloom at all.

<3 Madison 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why you should never burn bridges and build walls

This topic has been heavy on my heart lately, and I can only hope that I say something that reaches you before it's potentially too late.

Don't burn your bridges.

Don't cut people off, push people away, or believe that you don't need old friends, lovers, family members or employers anymore. I'm so notorious for this. I see it as an exercise in leaving the past in the past and moving forward in the only way I know how. And in the moment, I believe I'm doing what's best for me. But I've missed so many opportunities and connections. I've abandoned so many homes I fear I'll never be able to return to.

A few examples:

1. I had a terrible falling out with a very good friend soon after high school. We wreaked havoc upon each other and became living, breathing definitions of bridge burners. That was 6 years ago. I have no hard feelings whatsoever, but we're strangers now. Her current life couldn't be more different from the life she had when we were in high school. She's married. She has a good career and a nice apartment. She's pregnant. Things will never, ever be the same between us, even if we do reconnect.

2. I pretty much poisoned some of my closest friends against the first person who broke my heart. I told them everything, including things that were probably none of their business. I wanted to make sure they knew how much pain I was in. I wanted to make sure they didn't let me go back to him. I wanted to make sure I didn't go back to him. I concluded that he would never be a part of the lives of the people around me anyway, so why the hell not? Well, since healing tremendously and rekindling the wonderful friendship we had prior to our brief romance, that person has become one of my best friends in the entire world - someone I love and respect deeply. Although we may never be romantically involved again, I actually love the idea of him someday being acquainted with some of my friends or feeling like a small part of my family. Too bad everyone thinks he's a jerk.

3. After losing the first freelance job that paid pretty well and really put my ass to work every day of the week, the client I worked for tried to help me find another job within the company. I turned down every offer (with good reason), but still expected her to stay in touch until something clicked. She didn't. I tried reaching out to her during a horribly dry spell of unemployment a couple of years ago, and I didn't hear back. She could've helped keep the ball rolling for me if I had simply stayed in touch and given her something to work with. And she's not the only client I've lost touch with over the years either.

The lesson: You never know what will become of a person's role in your life and heart. You might be angry at someone now, but find yourself wanting to call them in the midst of a difficult or stressful situation later. You may think you'll never work with someone again and later realize that they may be your ticket to a major work opportunity. You may think a friendship or relationship is over and then discover that maybe it never really was.

Whatever the case, you can't see the future. You NEVER know how involved certain people will be in your life later on down the road. So keep them within reach. There are clear and obvious exceptions to this rule, as is the case with every rule, but more often than not, your feelings towards people are fleeting. Anger passes. Pain heals. Indifference evolves.

Build bridges. Don't burn them.

<3 Madison