By: Alexis Jones, IATG Co-Founder
The best teachers are the ones who realize that they need their own advice as much as anyone listening. After sixteen talks, eleven cities in twenty-six days, I’m just now processing that last month of my life. It’s as though the blur of me is just now catching up to my body, and I’ve been mentally mulling over all the girls I had the honor of meeting. From the lovely women of Wisconsin, to sorority girls at Ohio State, the IATG chapter at Chapman University, to the bi-lingual girls in South Texas and, the one that stands out the most, an intimate beach talk with college girls on the beaches of Santa Cruz. I think the last talk stood out the most because I shared with those girls what I myself need the most.
As I stood on that beautiful beach, sharing the highs and lows of my life story, sprinkled with life advice I’d gathered along the way, I saw sweet smiles melting into vulnerability. Several of the girls came up to me after and they candidly shared their secret and unbeknownst to each other, they were all keeping the same one. “I feel like everyone thinks I have it together all the time, but I really, really, don’t.” My own expression changed as truth poured out of my lips: “The reality is that you have to allow yourself to fall apart sometimes and trust that you and those around you are strong enough to put you back together." I don’t know why, but it’s as though we need permission to stop pretending we are perfect, or at least drop the Wonder Woman façade.
Every girl I hugged and told it was okay to fall apart would begin to cry; big ol’ tears streamed down her face in affirmation that she knew she was simply too tired to carry the burden any longer. After a month on the road, speaking to hundreds of girls, I realized that everything I preach on, all the advice I dole out, and any insight I share tends to be exactly what I’m struggling with in that moment. So it wasn’t too ironic that as soon as I had a moment to really breath and be still that my own tears started welling up, creating mini-slip and slide tracks down my cheeks. Because the reality is that none of us have it altogether, none of us can live up to the expectations and pressures set by friends, family, society, and ourselves. Often we feel lost at different times in our lives, confused by decisions we think we need to make or paralyzed by “figuring” our lives out. Whether it’s a relationship, a college internship, career transition, or move to a new city, we feel like there’s a “right” choice out there and are so terrified of making the “wrong” one that we put ourselves in our very own purgatory. We lean on those around us like magic, fairy godmothers, or fortune tellers to point us in the right direction. We forget that if we just listen to our hearts and trust ourselves, that we instinctively know what’s best for us, and we needn’t look much farther than just inside ourselves for any answers we’re searching for!
The good news (and once again I’m talking to myself as much as any of you girls out there) is that we’re all going to be okay because I truly believe that despite our devastating fear that we’re going to mess up our lives, make all the wrong choices that leave us jobless, loveless, and homeless (we can be such drama queens!) that we are exactly, precisely where we should be! So take a deep breath and if need be, completely fall apart; after all when we break and rebuild, we always rebuild stronger. xo
Featured image by whensmokegetsinyoureyes.blogspot.com