Like A Fish

Photo By: A.J. Sanchez

I never had a hard time in high school with my academics.
I didn’t try and always made As & Bs. (Unless it was math – then I had to try really hard)
I felt smart…. sort of.  I went to a really competitive high school and everyone in the top 10% (which was 7 people) fought neck and neck for those spots and revolved their lives around their sport and school.
I was more interested in dancing and dreaming but that was okay, cause like I said, I made it by pretty well.

Until I took the SAT… and the ACT …. and made average to below average scores.
I thought I did well on them and was crushed to get those numbers back.
Does this mean I’m actually stupid?

I applied to 20 schools and got into all of them except one who I was waitlisted for and then never heard back from.

I got into my top choice, Southwestern Universtiy, which was (and I think still is) considered an “Ivy League” of the south with a fat 4-year scholarship.

I  also got placed into the “special help” program at like my 7th choice school, UTSA, because they thought I wasn’t going to do well/wasn’t smart enough to be in the regular undergrad program.

Uh what?

Anyway, I have always been confused about my intelligence. I never knew if I was “smart” or not. My first year at SU I felt dumb as a rock. I was seated among a lot of 10% of the class students who knew how to study and could spend hours upon hours read flash cards and writing papers and reading boring-ass confusing articles for class.

Whereas I learned how to cut the workload by skimming articles and relying on my creativity and writing skills to save my ass. And 99.9% of the time, it worked. (Unless it was biology which I made a D is because no matter how hard I studied, my answer was never “specific enough”) And ended up how I picked my major. Communication is the art of bullshitting and you have to write A LOT.

Okay long story short, I’ve realized over the years how much I do NOT care about grades. And I was okay with that. I separated myself from the competitive students that were constantly making me feel stupid and worked on developing my talents and being a part of the real world. I did okay for a while.

Capstone. is. killing. me.
We had a visitor come into our capstone class on the day I presented my project to the class (we are at a halfway point and have done quite a bit of research and writing so we used this opportunity to get feedback and suggestions from our peers)

She talked to us about this post grad exam you could take to show off your problem-solving skills. “It’s like the SAT or ACT but for jobs instead. It looks really good on your resume”.  I was interested at first but the more she talked about it the more I realized I would not do well on that type of test because tests like that don’t measure empathy, or intuition, or compassion or FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN TRUTHS THAT I BASE ALL OF MY DECISIONS OFF OF.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried to compose myself. I gave my presentation and felt totally lost and stupid compared to the other presentations that day because all I could think about was “you’re not smart enough.”

After class I walked to my car and cried.

It was terrifying to think that the world I’ve been trying to escape to – the world that I thought would be accepting of my different way of thinking, is actually favoring this dried out way of measuring skills.

I have been in a position before where I’ve had to read over resumes and select people for leadership positions and sometimes people who look great on paper MAKE TERRIBLE LEADERS or TEAM MEMBERS or EMPLOYEES. People who look great on paper can have really negative attitudes or be rude or racist or sexist, or just plain assholes that don’t give a shit about whether the rest of the company suffers for a mistake they’ve made. A resume will not show you how much that person CARES about your business or her JOB.

I just felt frustrated and thought of that quote by Albert Einstien that says “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll go the rest of its life believe it’s stupid.” This whole do-it-for-the-resume / look-at-my-test-scores thing is not me. It’s not human at all.

I feel like a fish constantly here. That’s why I hate it. I know I’m not stupid, but I don’t have water around to prove them otherwise.

The Millionaire, The Rebel Rouser and…..Me?

Photo By: @Trustmyeye

My mom sent an article to the family group text this morning.
Apparently, Sam, my step brother, has all 5 traits needed to be a Millionaire…. nice!

I was like woo go Sam – buy me stuff.
Then I thought, wait why couldn’t I be the millionaire?
Which followed up with, well I guess because Sam’s the Millionaire.

Then this weird empty, lost-puppy-dog feeling wash over me.
I wanted a label too.
Without a label where do I fit? What do you call me? Where do I belong?
Labels… *Insert anxiety*

Then my mom texted the group:
“Every Millionaire has that one rebel rouser in the family.”

“I thought that was Kat?” I replied.
Katherine is my step sister and the one who threw parties when the parents were gone and smoked a lot of weed and dropped out of school. She’s in a really good place now, back in school with a steady boyfriend, but it took her a long time to get there.

Then I thought, well maybe that wasn’t truly rebelling because it’s an expected.

It’s a stereotype.
It’s not the nice stereotype but it is A STEREOTYPE.
It’s just the “rebellious teenager” stereotype, or “just a phase” identity.
It’s a feigned rebellion because once they realize your identity, you’re predictable.

It’s predicted that you’ll throw parties and smoke weed and get a tattoo or maybe a few piercings and hate your parents. That’s not really breaking any molds or defying any boundaries…(Sorry to the angsty teens reading this)

To be a true rebel is to be unexpected – to fight the mold in a way that doesn’t put yourself into another mold.

To be a true rebel, you must be true to yourself. 

You’ve gotta be you ’cause there’s no mold for that.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just do. You live, you breathe, you love.
You might say the whole “be yourself” thing is super cliche…saying it is, but doing it’s not.
Becuase another person’s “be yourself” will look different than your “be yourself”…if that makes any sense…

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and what “being me” looks like….

So maybe I am a rebel, but I’d never call myself one. I’d just say I’m Annabelle.

Here’s the conversation for giggles:

Skeletons In My Closet

Photo By: @AlfieFriday
“When health is absent, 
Wisdom cannot reveal itself,

Art cannot manifest,

Strength cannot fight,

Wealth becomeS useless,

And intelligence cannot be applied.” – Herophilus

In my Instagram post, I said that “beyond physical health, there is also spiritual, emotional, mental, environmental, and social health.”

I want to go deeper into that…

Spiritual health is not just whether you believe in God or not, it’s about how you focus your energy. It’s about your pillars of truth and the things you believe in that keep you grounded. This is the center from which most of your decisions come from.

Emotional health is not just being happy, it’s about learning how to live with the things you feel and channeling those emotions out in the world in constructive ways. 

Mental health is your mindset which is influenced by chemicals in your brain and also has a very strong connection to your emotional health.

Environmental health is your physical environmental which is composed of a lot of things you can & can’t control. The things you can control are things like cleaning your room or organizing your desk. Things you can’t directly control include the amount of pollution in your city when a wildfire burns near your home, federal rulings on health care. 
I also want to add time management in here too. Learning how to influence your environment and the power you have to change it by how you spend your time is important too.

Social health is about the people you keep around you. It’s about all the different kinds of relationships you have and whether or not those relationships are lifting you up or dragging you down. Also, it calls to question how you treat others, which is directly related to mental and emotional health.

In reality, all of these things are very connected to each other but in modern medicine, we don’t talk about these connections as much.

Story Time
On my Instagram post, I mentioned how I’ve been saying no to a lot of things. 
It’s because I’m trying to gain strength, in my mind, body, soul, environment, and friendships to prepare for life after graduation. To slowly transition in order to give me the best shot in conquering my goals and dreams.

And I wanted to share how empowering that has been, especially after today -which is the first time I’ve really noticed it. 

Today, I chatted with a friend of mine who is also an ex-lover. It has been a few months since we’ve spoken to each other and after catching up, the conversation turned to where it used to always go. Sex. 

But today was different. 

I didn’t want to. Like I really didn’t want to even though I knew how fun it would have been and how good it might have felt. I know my heart is somewhere else and I wanted to respect that. I didn’t want to muddy the feelings I have or make it more complicated. I also didn’t want to share myself with someone I didn’t have feelings for anymore.

But I was afraid to say no.

And that’s kind of weird for me considering I am usually pretty good at doing what I want and speaking my mind. It weird for me to feel like I couldn’t tell the truth.

So I sat back with that feeling and asked why. 
That’s when I realized that I was afraid of saying no because I was afraid of not being valued. I was afraid of him getting mad at me and not wanting to be my friend anymore if I didn’t give him what he wanted. 

Well Shit.

That’s not a good reason.
I come first! 

It’s not selfish – I don’t want to have any kind of relationship with someone who makes me feel like I can’t tell the truth about the way I feel or speak my mind without him getting angry.

So I siked myself up. I told myself I was strong. I reminded myself of the commitment that I made about clearing out my life this season, which means saying goodbye to old habits and bad energy and clearing the way for the good stuff. And lastly, I reminded myself that I’d be perfectly fine (probably even better) if I didn’t have sex with him.

So I replied honestly. Instead of making excuses I told him I didn’t want to because my heart was somewhere else, but I did want to hang out as friends.

He flipped shit. 
Told me I teased him & toyed with him.
I told him I didn’t mean to – that I was trying to make a decision and that I was afraid to say no.

That part didn’t register with him.

After an angry phone call, he blocked me & 
I didn’t care.

I felt empowered.
I didn’t even cry.
I was proud of myself.
I took control of my body and my feelings and did what was best FOR ME.
And there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course, I felt bad that he felt so bad about the whole thing, and I felt bad that I bruised his ego. But if he really meant what he said he loved me as a person and friend then I would have expected him to respect my decision in a respectful way. He has no rights to my body – no one does. So to act the way he did was wrong.

Anyway, it was just another step I took to take care of myself in this new season.
I have also stepped back from my job, which has left me more time to strengthen my friendships and also prepare mentally and emotionally for what may lie ahead. I’m making an effort to strengthen my spiritual health by reading books, praying regularly, and listening to podcasts. I’m working out regularly, getting rid of a lot of my clothes, furniture, and possessions. 

And I’m doing it all because I want to be the strongest I can possibly be for the next phase of my life – and it’s working! I’m feeling better about myself and more rooted every day and I can’t wait for my next journey to begin.

The Point

I wanted to write this to remind you, the beautiful, strong, fierce, woman or man reading this, that you CAN say no and that it is okay.
You don’t have to convince yourself that you want it.
You don’t have to do it.
You CAN walk away.

Whether it be a draining job, an unhealthy relationship or a toxic environment, a bad habit, or whatever it is holding you back.

I’m taking care of myself now. And I love myself a lot. And it took me a reeeeeeaaaaally long time to get to this point, but it’s so worth it.

If you can’t think of anything that is holding you back I suggest you do some self-reflection because the things might be more invisible to you. 

Once you can see it doesn’t have to control your life anymore.

It’s like leaving a sock on the floor and then walking by it so many times that you forget it’s there – it becomes a part of your everyday life. It’s not until you decide to clear your floor that you realize you were stepping over it every day.

We have to listen to the way we feel in different situations and hold tight to what those feelings are telling us. Ask questions, dig deeper.

Imagine where you want to be or the kind of woman or man you’d like become and make the decision you think that person would make. Manifest what you want and say no to the things you don’t need or don’t improve your life/make you happy.

You deserve the best and you deserve to be healthy, but most of all you deserve your own love. 

All the Right Things for All The Wrong Reasons

Photo By: +Matthew Martindale

Yesterday I was totally consumed by stress. I literally couldn’t talk to or be around people because I was painfully aware that the terrible energy I had was contagious and that made me feel worse. So may things were suffocating me. Money has been really tight, I felt like my ideas were pretty useless, and overwhelmed by things from work that I didn’t understand. I had skipped class again and felt guilty, my goals seemed really unattainable despite all my effort and my future very uncertain.

I felt like I was “not quite failing”.
Not a total failure yet but definitely on the way.
Doing well, but not good enough.
I was doubting myself.

I prayed a lot. I snapped at my mom over the phone. I isolated myself, then asked for help. I drove to teach and smiled when Madonna came on the Radio. I went to sleep and then woke up.

Today was a new day. I woke up at 8 am to get to a 10am photo shoot an hour away. I scheduled it a week or two ago.
I came out of it with a new necklace and an offer for a few paid gigs with them in November to shoot their new line . Roughly $200. Each.

Then I had a phone meeting with the founder of Free To Run in the aisles of the produce & pasta sections of the grocery store. I recently became an ambassador for them! (Check it out Here: ) We were discussing ideas and next steps to take for my involvement. Ideas were bubbling out of me like a freshly opened bottle of champagne and couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a pen and paper in my basket.
“Yes, we have a small budget to work with if you want to produce some professional content.” Brett told me. OMG I CAN HIRE PEOPLE?!
Then something hit me. Right there next to the tomatoes.

I’m good at this.

I’m becoming what I wanted to be and for the first time I could clearly envision my job in the next 5-20 years.  “Opportunity Producer” was definitely it. Being someone who connects people, builds projects and provides opportunity…. 🙂

Sometimes I feel like a dog following a scent trail. This conversation was what I needed to define myself a little bit better. I found another clue pointing to the next dreams/scent to chase.

I was loading my groceries in my car when Brett and I wrapped up our conversation. “Well,” he said “I’m glad after months of waiting, I finally emailed you. I’m happy to have you on board.” “Honestly, If you had emailed me any sooner, I don’t know if we would be talking right now. You caught me in the perfect moment. I finally have kind of figured out what I’m doing!” I responded.

Later on, I went to the local coffee shop and ran into Scott. Scott is the area director for Young Life and I knew him from when I went through leadership training. We sat there and caught up and we talked about how God fit into everything and how pursuing things is pointless unlesss you have a deeper purpose. That’s what we came down to. Even the richest, most “successful” people can be miserable. The things that give us life and fulfilment are the dreams we chase and the people we love along the way.

This is how I see it. you have to work hard, really hard, but you don’t have to work alone. You work hard while being rooted in faith love and wisdom, and build the foundation that allows other opportunities to come into your life. You build the door together with God, so he can walk through it and visit you later.

I realized today that everything that happened, was on His time. He had a plan the whole time for me and it was my obedience in following my heart that we could get there.

God made your heart, following it is never wrong.

My day ended with an email from someone that works for The Megaphone (Southwestern University’s News Paper) asking to interview me, and a video chat with two of the coolest young ladies on the planet reminding me that they love me.

Recognition. Plans. Trust. Love.
All Powerful and amazing.
My God Loves in abundance.

I hope this post turnd out to be as insightful as I hoped. Today was truly special because I realized I have a purpose, my hard work will pay off without a doubt and I feel like I’m not alone. I will not give up. I will be exactly who I want to be  – exactly who God intended me to be. And it will be great.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ” Galatians 6:9

Just For Now

If you were to ask me what my mind is like today, I would say “Thumbtacks”.

I feel like Thumbtacks are flying at me. Not in a purposefully hurtful way…. they are just kind of throwing themselves at me. It’s just happening. 
It means I have a lot (too many) projects – tiny projects right now. Small projects and things to do that can either help me set up things for my future or just become a pain in the ass. 
And at the beginning, it’s very hard to tell which one is which. 
I feel like a lot of things are like that. 
Today I got to hang out with my friend Zach. We went to the 360 bridge in Austin and did a little photoshoot for his brand Live A Great Story (@LIVEAGREATSTORY). Afterwards, we got breakfast tacos and chatted about the pressing matters of life and purpose.

And the thumbtacks started flying. 

I’ve met so many beautiful souls, connected with countless creative people and I want to help them, be their friends, scratch their backs…. and they want to do the same thing for me. The trouble is that most of us are still stumbling around with thumbtacks trying not to get hurt.

He understood. He said he was in the same boat. “You don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re doing it.” SOML….

Later I got to chat with my girl Lauren. We’ve been encouraging each other for almost a year now and met through her company Every Ella (@everyella). She swears she can see my growth – I think she’s crazy, but also a lot like me so maybe I’m crazy too. We talked about our thumbtacks- The things in our lives that we are passionate about and excited to accomplish, but we also just don’t quite have the capacity to do yet. Whether that’s a money issue, or a time issue, or a priority issue, whatever it may be, it’s just a little bit out of reach right now.
I laid out all of my thumbtacks in front of her and asked for her opinion. Then she said “Annabelle, if you could mentor yourself right now, what would you say? What would you tell you?”
I laughed, very hard. Too hard. That was a damn good question. I gave her an answer I didn’t like, but it was the truth. “I’d probably tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing, keep being me and don’t give up. It will work out…..eventually.”

Not the answer I wanted because I can’t SEE what ‘it will work out’ looks like! I have no idea what that means. 

I guess I just have to keep trying to decorate my future with my thumbtacks and just hope it all works out.