Tag: inspiration

You are the Perfect You: The Importance of Being Awesome

I want to talk about self-esteem (the first time I tried to type that it said “elf-esteem,” a topic in which I am not well-versed).

My friends and I have a lot of conversations about self-esteem and self-image. Everybody should have these conversations with their friends, I think. You never learn more about yourself than when you’re discussing matters of the heart with people you know love and accept you.

And self-esteem is, always, a matter of the heart.

Self-esteem and self-confidence are two of the most important factors to living a good life. Why? Why do they usurp a good career, a loving partner, a supportive family? They don’t — they are the stepping stones that lead to all of those good things. A good and loving life has to start by loving yourself.

Popular media can make this rough. Don’t get me wrong: it’s just as hard for me to be bombarded with photos of Beyoncé’s perfect curves or Zoe Saldana’s outta-this-world legs or Kiera Knightley’s face in general (sigh sigh sigh). It’s hard to listen to John Legend’s heart-melting voice or watch Daniel Day Lewis method act the living daylights out of Lincoln. It’s hard to see these people, unbelievably talented and beautiful, every single day, reinstating my sense of inferiority.

But I am not Zoe Saldana and I won’t ever be. I am myself as much as she is herself. I am Hanna. I have only been thin for one year of my 19. I am empathetic, hopelessly romantic and have a little too much trust in people. I lack a certain sense of grace and I, as much as I try, can’t really sing. I can’t act, I give good hugs and I am obsessed with mascara.

People of the Earth, stop trying to be someone else. It’s fine to look up to people. It’s fine to try to live in someone’s image. But you don’t need to try to become someone else. You have to be you. Remember that saying: “Be you. Everyone else is already taken?” It’s true. Write that down and put it on your fridge and your bathroom mirror.

Work on improving yourself. If you want to be able to sing, take voice lessons. If you want to dance, look into classes. Eat more vegetables. Adopt a pet. Smile at a stranger. Work on being the best you that you can find within all your layers and idiosyncrasies, and everything will be alright.

It gets me down when people are down on themselves when they mess up. Life isn’t going to be perfect. Life isn’t about being perfect. Life is about all of us beautifully flawed people having a lot of un-beautiful moments. You, in your lifetime, are going to be a bad person at some point. You are going to be selfish or rude or crass or all of these or worse. You are going to have bad moments. You were not made to be perfect.

Hear that? You were not made to be perfect. You were made to be the best person that you could be. A loving friend, a caring mother, a supportive partner. You were made to snuggle into the bones made for you and learn how to live life. Learn what you look for in a friend, in a lover, in a teammate. Learn what you are good at doing and what you love doing (note: not the same thing). Learn exactly what to do with your hands when you’re talking and how to tell when potatoes are done cooking; both are more important that you would think.

Just because I can preach this gospel about loving yourself doesn’t mean I always do. I struggle with self-esteem issues just like everyone else. I’ve been turned down from enough leadership positions, jobs and relationships to know what rejection feels like. My clothes don’t fit like they used to and I’m out of breath after things that probably shouldn’t make me out of breath (like five flights of stairs).

But I am a good friend and a good person (and a good pet owner) and I try everyday to remind myself that no matter what doubts I might have, I am doing my part to get better and better.

This StockPhoto superhero thinks you're awesome.
This StockPhoto superhero thinks you’re awesome.

Do something today that will make you better, happier, more loving to yourself. Say a daily affirmation (personal favorite: Jessica’s Daily Affirmation). Take 50 ridiculous selfies on your laptop and then delete them all (because who actually needs that many selfies). Write a letter to yourself and hide it from yourself until you stumble upon it in a couple of months. Start training for a half marathon. Take a nap, for goodness’ sake.

Have faith in all of your weird, off-kilter, wonderful talents. Go out and be awesome. Your heart and mind and funny bone and trick hip were all made to fit into the skin that you’re in. Don’t doubt yourself.

Stuart was right. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough and, doggone it, people like you.


Cleanse, refocus, reignite.

At night, right after I finally stop compulsively checking Twitter and Instagram and right before I attempt to lucid dream, I am filled with motivation.  I see the next day clearly: an early morning run, reorganizing my desk, scheduling interviews, backing up my hard-drive, calling my grandma just because, actually remembering to journal.

And then the next morning comes and I have overslept by 20 minutes and all my plans for self-improvement fly out the window. After all, getting to class on time is a bigger priority than an clean desk.

The kicker is: I need a clean desk. I need a clean desk and a long run and a long yoga practice and an updated planner. I definitely need to take care of the piles of dirty clothes on my desk chair and floor.

I have dug myself so deep into this “sit on the couch and talk to my friends about our problems and eat a bunch of chips and ignore fringe responsibilities” way of living. Not that it isn’t great…I love my friends and cultivating lifelong relationships with them. Truthfully (and surprisingly), I also love being busy. It might take me a second or two to drag my butt off the couch – but I love running from meeting to meeting, gym to home to class. It makes me very sure that I’m living my life to its fullest.

This is a long, rambling post simply to encourage myself, and you, to get off the couch. Clean out your desk of all those old papers you aren’t ever going to actually look at again. Go to a yoga practice and dedicate it to having a positive week. Don’t be afraid of back-to-back(-to-back) meetings. Get everything on your to-do list down before 9 p.m. Hang up inspirational quotes around your room and desk. Read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Go out and live your life. Bring your family, friends and loved ones with you.

It’s not going to wait for you.

The Road to Happy

I always joke that my backup job when I grow up is to be an inspirational speaker.

Fun fact: not totally joking.

I’ll tell you a secret — in high school, I was not like this. I was not a cheery little ray of sunshine all the time. I was run-down and overwhelmed and stretched entirely too thin to worry about anyone but me. I found more solace in being alone. I didn’t like this feeling at all, and I didn’t think I was doing anything to make people remember me.

At some point between graduating high school and starting college, in those three months of hiking a lot and kinda-but-not-really looking for a job, I discovered a love for quotes. Emerson, Mary Oliver, more Emerson. Bits of prose and poetry about living life to its fullest and finding love and finding yourself.

I now write down these kind of quotes as I find them and pin them onto my desk bulletin board or put them into picture frames in my living room.


Because everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and again, right?

It’s these quotes — telling me to go hike or to be kind or to take risks — that keep me humming. Is any of this making sense? My brain and my heart feel better when there are pretty words telling me like it is.

I’m going to end this rambling post here. (But comment with your favorite quote from a author or poet. Sharing is caring!)