Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don't call me crazy, call me Jennifer.

When I was a kid, there were only a few things that I desperately longed for, with all of my being. Every night before I went to sleep, I would go to my window, look up at the stars and request small favors from the heavens above. One of them was my little sister, and shortly after that wish was granted, (and her teeth started emerging from her gums), I began begging the stars to allow me to exchange her for a cocker spaniel.

Something else that I would have given anything to acquire was the name "Jennifer". I remember being about 6 years old and meeting one of my dad's student assistants who worked in his office (named Jennifer). For some reason, the way this young girl carried herself really impressed me. I took careful mental notes on the girl's "swagger"... the way her sweatshirt was tied so fashionably around her waist, how her hair scrunchie doubled as a bracelet around her wrist, and the way she knew all the lyrics to the Ace of Base song "Don't Turn Around". She was so cool, so confident, so college, and I wanted to grow up to be just like her. So, after this informal introduction between I, a 6 year old with an over-active imagination and Jennifer, a Candace Cameron look-a-like, 

I became convinced that my birth-name, Nicole, just wouldn't do from that point forward. I was a Jennifer, and by-golly I was gonna become a Jennifer, if it was the last thing I did on this earth.

Needless to say, this didn't exactly fly with my parents, and it will do your tender hearts good to know that I am still a Nicole, and have no plans on legally changing that anytime soon.

It's funny when you reflect back on your life, and remember the plans you initially made for your future.

When I was in grade school, I was convinced that I'd be driving around a brand-spankin' new red mustang at the age of 16. Actually, as my luck would have it, I did end up driving a Ford; an old Ford Truck with a two-toned paint job and no air-conditioning. Man, I was hot stuff, cruisin' around in that sucker, as I'm sure you can just imagine.

In high school, I envisioned myself meeting a Ken-Doll-All-American type of guy as soon as I started college, falling madly and deeply in love with him after he wooed me with his Jane Austen-esque romantic tactics. I would then graduate at the top of my class in nursing, get married by 22, have kids popping out by 24, own a white-picket fenced house in the suburbs, and my biggest stressor in life would be racing to soccer practice in my mini-van with the smell of fresh happy meals consuming my senses. 

I was so sure of this fool proof plan.

Then, I discovered that drinking beer is more fun than studying, and boys are morons who think Jane Austen is a news reporter on one of the local television stations.

Things don't always turn out the way you dream when you're a kid. And that can really throw a wrench in your life-plans. Recently, a large majority of my friends began graduating from college, getting engaged and married, purchasing large ticket items, and I found myself right back at square one.

I am not where I had once envisioned that I would be at this point in my life, and about a year ago, this harsh reality check smacked me in the face and left a mark. I was depressed, distraught, and disappointed in myself.

Fortunately, I had an important epiphany, which actually happens to me more often than you'd think.

I'm not Jennifer. I am Nicole.

Large amounts of money, diamond rings, beautiful, famous acquaintances are not things that will ever bring me joy or happiness.

I've always felt that once you find comfort in being yourself, everything else will fall into place. My problem was, a small part of me still wanted to be Jennifer, because Jennifer was who society told me I needed to become.

Well here's what I have to say to society...

My life is my life; it's not anyone else's. I'm gonna go through the things that I need to go through, in order to get to where I need to be. People might not understand why I do things unconventionally, or differently from them, but that doesn't matter. They have their life to live their way and I have mine. I'm going to get through the tough times, no matter how hard I have to struggle, and I'm going to embrace the good times with every ounce of appreciation in my being.

I'm eternally grateful for the life I've been given, for the people in it, and for all of the wonderful experiences and memories I've acquired along the way. I'm equally as excited to embark upon the rest of my journey and what's yet to come.

And hey, now I actually love the name Nicole.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Awkward List

There is nothing I hate more than awkward moments in life. So, my goal, (which I hope to accomplish via this post) is to decrease the amount of unnecessary uncomfortable life situations. My plan? Create a list of things that force thoughts of projectile regurgitation into my brain and hope that the idea of me vomiting from socially awkward scenarios will gross you guys out enough, that if you're the people causing these things to happen, you'll cut that crap out.

  1. Conversations on elevators - I've literally never had a pleasant conversation with a person on an elevator, whether they were one of my best friends or a total stranger off the street. Think about it! Elevators are uncomfortable in the first place. They are normally small, not very well ventilated (which leads to unfamiliar and often times unpleasant smells), they either move too fast and make your stomach flip inside of you in 9 different directions, or move too slow and make you worry that your last thoughts in life are going to be a questioning of what in God's name the smell in the creepy elevator is from. So, in this already horrible situation, please do not try to make small talk with the person next to you. Use this time to pray for your own safe arrival to your destination, and do not add any more anxiety to the other parsons stuck inside these wire-driven death traps with you. Sure... you may think that a friendly "Hi, how ya doin?" never hurt anybody, but the next thing you know you're discussing why you think your athlete's foot has been flaring up lately and how your fiance just ran off with a midget clown from a traveling circus. No conversations on elevators. Please, just smile, nod, and be on your merry way.
  2. Sighing/Grunting in public restrooms - Seriously people! Seriously! Not only is this extremely disgusting, but it also makes for hard decisions in the minds of the rest of the people using the John. Should we giggle? Do we grimace? Do we get the hell out of there before we die? I guess I sort of understand the sighing. There have been times that I have had to hold it on road trips and my instincts tell me to let out a sigh of relief the moment I get to wiz... but never do I ever follow my gut when it tells me to do this! Never let your mouth produce any noise of any kind in a public restroom. NO EXCUSES! 
  3. Pausing/Stopping a song while someone is singing along - This is really directed towards my close group of girlfriends who think my voice is anything less than comparable to Whitney Houston's or Celine Dion's. But, I'm sure there's others out there like me. Hey man, it feels good to let loose and belt out a ballad every once in awhile! It does not feel good to be publicly humiliated when your friends hear you singing the bridge to "My Heart Will Go On" in the key of Kermit The Frog. That's just down-right cruel. Please have mercy and let the songs play.
  4. The Sneeze Fart - This is also known as a pressure fart. We've all done it. We've all heard other people do it. There's really no way to avoid it. Actually, sneezing is a part of life that has many components involved which we have absolutely no control over. You can't control when you sneeze, (I think the "Say Banana" trick is a hoax), you can't keep your eyes open when you sneeze (very dangerous to drive and have a bad cold, folks), and if your body wants to let out a sneeze fart, then you're going to let out a sneeze fart. So, all I can say to those involved is... play dumb. There's really no other solution to this socially awkward moment. Turn the cheek and have pity on people who sneeze fart, because one day that person is going to be you.
  5. Insert Foot in Mouth Moments - Personally, this normally happens to me when I've had one too many glasses of wine and I'm around people who I don't really know too well. The funny thing about these moments is that you can actually hear yourself sounding like a complete and total ass, but there's no stopping it once it's started. Family secrets are shared, creepy urges are unveiled, and both parties involved in the conversation feel more awkwardness in their pinky toes than a single person should ever have to feel in their lifetime. So, the fix to this problem is to always have a reliable DD around. A Designated Deflector, as I like to call them... is someone who is willing to deflect the attention away from you when you start sounding like an incompetent imbecile. 
Ok children, what have we learned today?! We have learned that I am very, very, very socially awkward. And if you were all my REAL friends, you would help a sister out and forgive my strange habits.

Great, so glad we got that out in the open.
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