Whether you realize it or not, people are who they are mostly because of what they’ve experienced.  We are molded into the person we are supposed to be based on the trials and tribulations that play out in our lives.  Everything teaches you something, and as much as you can get over a situation, or move past it – it all leaves an everlasting impression on you.  So what do you do when you come face to face with one of the main reasons you are how you are now?  What do you do when you look in the eyes of someone who absolutely broke you so many years ago?  Surprisingly I found out.

There’s someone in my family that I idolized and put on a pedestal.  She could do no wrong in my eyes.  I wanted everyone to know that I was related to her, that she influenced my decisions.  That someone decided to walk away from the family when I was just thirteen.  She broke me into pieces and they stayed in a pile for quite some time.

Ten years later, I found out just hours before a meeting that I would have to see her.  Aside from texting your mom and sister in sheer panic, what do you do?

I had always thought about what I would say and how I would feel if I ever ran into her.  Would I be happy? Would I be angry?  Would I be sad? Would I feel nothing? Everything?  Would I bring up how she wronged me?  Would I revert back to wanting to be just like her? It doesn’t matter how many times you go over things.  It doesn’t matter how many things you think of saying.  Nothing can ever truly prepare you for a meeting like that.

Ten years later and I have to sit across a table from her, seeing a reflection of whom I once wanted to mirror.  Ten years later she’s staring at someone who she doesn’t even know, who she never reached out to get to know.

There are people who say that maybe I was placed in this situation to gain back that relationship.  And to be honest, at first, I kind of thought that too.  But, it’s not easy to get over a past situation with as much depth as this one holds for me.

How did I feel?  The word awkward comes to mind.  Overwhelmed is up there on the list too.  Generalizations regarding the situation were mentioned, none of which I wanted to expand on at that moment.  She said things to me that I always wanted to hear, “I looked you up,” “I still care about you,” “I miss you.”  It’s funny, I used to think those words would glue together my broken pieces; and now as they were being said they were falling short.  Had the meeting not been planned by forces outside our control, would she have reached out?  It’s safe to assume that she wouldn’t, because then she would have done so years ago.

She left at a vital time in my life.  I was thirteen in the midst of being bullied and cyberbullied, dealing with anxiety, limited friends, and typical teenage fights with my family.  While yes all those things had an effect on me, it’s safe to say her leaving was the final blow.  When someone you look up to voluntarily walks out of your life, despite promises of always being there, you begin to question whether anyone will ever stay.  Your self worth subconsciously takes a beating.  After all, if someone that close to you thinks you’re easy enough to walk away from – you must be.  After she left, without even realizing, I became colder, more jaded, tougher, and the chip on my shoulder grew.  She broke me.

Once that first meeting ended, knowing that I’ll now probably be seeing a lot of her, I really couldn’t pinpoint how I was feeling.  My younger voice was still echoing in my head, hoping she would still think of me in the same light she used to, that she would still like me.  Then despite those feelings, I wanted to tell her how out of line she was for some of the things she said and did in the past.  Part of me wanted to cry at the complexity of what should be a simple encounter, part of me wanted to curse because it didn’t have to go this way, and part of me wanted to crawl into a hole.  But I knew, ultimately this is where I make the decision that I subconsciously put off for years – to fix it or to move on.

There comes a point when you no longer have any desire to have a relationship with someone, even if they’re family, simply because it’s been too long and too much has changed.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.  She has a family of her own now, and I have a life of my own.  I used to think one day it could all be fixed and those two lives could be meshed together but sadly, I know that no longer can happen.

She missed my last day of junior high, my first day of high school, my first dance recital at my new studio, my knee surgery that halted my dance career, my high school graduation, my grandfather passing away, my first day of college, my college graduation… the list goes on and on.  These aren’t just little daily happenings, they were life altering milestones.  And the thing is, I’m far from the person I used to be when she knew me.  I’m no longer that little naive thirteen year old girl who people can shatter.  I’m a woman with a mind of my own, a “do no harm but take no shit” attitude, a determination that can’t be deterred, a peace of mind no one can touch, and a soul that no one can break.

Ten years later, I realized this encounter was not to fix a relationship, but rather for me to gain closure.

I see now, I am just fine.





Like A Girl

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The other day a good friend of mine sent me a text message.  It was a picture of a post on Instagram.  It was a female, holding a sign that said “You can have ambition, but not too much.”  Followed by a caption claiming that women should feel lucky that we can even go to school, and even get paid for working, because it’s more than we should expect anyway.  She finished the caption stating, “Warning: women can have ambition, but not too much.”

…I’m sorry, what?

Needless to say I was absolutely outraged by this.  How is it that a young female in 2014 can still feel like she isn’t up to par with a male?  What type of environment has she been seeing to think that women still aren’t equal?

After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I was saddened by the fact that this female probably didn’t grow up the way that I did.  Growing up, the most important men in my life; my Dad and Grandpas set such a great model for me.  They showed me through example of how they treat my Mom and Grandmothers, how I should expect to be treated from men throughout life – with respect, and as an equal.  There was never any talk about me not being able to do something because of my gender.  They always encouraged that with hard work nothing was beyond my grasp.  For that, I am forever grateful.  And for having such strong women in my life, my Mom especially, who have shown me that women can do everything a man can, and then some. It takes things like that Instagram post for me to remember how insanely blessed I am to have my Dad in my life; and to have had my Grandpas in my life, though one has only been through memories and stories; as well as such influential women like my Mom. Because of how I grew up, the idea of a woman having too much ambition and settling for less than exceptional, is just absolutely ludicrous to me.

But regardless of how a person has grown up, it is 2014, the idea that all people are equal should be well etched in our minds by now.  And as a woman, it is a responsibility to make sure that every human adheres to that.  So this female’s Instagram post… so not okay.  And as a woman, I feel it’s my job to make sure other people see the problem.  She is sending out a signal that it is okay for people to categorize her as just a girl.  And when you allow people to categorize you, you limit yourself, your opportunities, and devalue your self worth.

If every female walked around with the mindset of, “Well we can go to school, right?  We can get paid for a job, right?” before you know it the mindset could become, “Well it was just a hit… He just pushed me once… He didn’t listen when I said no… It’s okay, right? Because I’m just a girl, right?”

Am I being dramatic here?  Some readers may think I am, however I do not think so.  Every thought any person has creates a domino effect.  If enough people are having the same thought, that thought becomes fact.

Recently, the Always brand created a commercial, “Like A Girl.”  It is one of the most powerful commercials/campaigns I’ve seen.  It’s a casting call and the director asks each person to do what comes to mind when they hear certain tasks.  The tasks include, running like a girl, fighting like a girl, throwing like a girl, etc., the responses are mind-blowing.  The older girls and boys will run with flapping arms, fight by slapping the air, and put no effort into a throw.  The younger girls, will run like they’re running for a cause, fight like their life depended on it, and throw like they’re in the World Series.  What does this prove?  That the older a child gets, and the more situations they encounter, the less power they feel a woman has, or has the right to show.  Instead of witnessing a power struggle, we should be witnessing an empowerment movement.  To achieve such a movement, every voice, every thought, every person counts.  So what seemed like a meaningless little post on Instagram, actually becomes a reason for a step backward in a movement.

There is no such thing as too much ambition, and no woman should ever allow her sparkle to dull because of a man, or a male dominant environment.  Ladies, take control, take command, and live your life in a way that makes the phrase, “like a girl,” mean something truly powerful.

Please check out the video, “Always #LikeAGirl” below:

For more ways to create a balance and empower women of the world check out Take The Lead Women, on Facebook, twitter, and their website: