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.

THEN YESTERDAY HAPPENED
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.
Hard.

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:

How to Love a Creative

 

Photo by  @AlfieFriday
New York, New York

I’ve ugly cried about 6 times over the past 3 months because I’m scared shitless about what I will do in May.
Cause I graduate
And I have no idea what I’m doing
And I’m absolutely terrified.
I’ve also been reading a handful of self-help books in an effort to keep my moral up.
I noticed that most of the books I’ve read talk about “quitting your sucky job and going after your dreams”
Okay…. Well what of about the soon –to-be college grad gushing with passion and creativity with absolutely no direction?
What about the girl who knows she can make anything happen, but can’t decide on what she wants?
Sometimes I think maybe I’m the one that will have to write the book. Maybe I will.  But I gotta feel it first.
Anyway the point of me writing about this is that I’ve cried so many times and been absolutely overwhelmed with stress and it pisses my mom off. “You have absolutely no reason to stress Annabelle, I don’t know any other kid like you.”
Well it’s stressful when the people I want to support me most, are the ones crushing my dreams before they ever get to see the light of day.
When they ask what my plan is I say “I dunno, something cool.” And then immediately try to find something else to say to impress them or to say something in a language they will accept and understand. “I’m building a company that focuses on marketing..” boooorrriing- but “sounds better” than “I’m creating a movement by bringing together like-minded people to change the world”. That gets me smirks and scoffs. 
My mom says it comes from a place of caution and fear for them. And love. Mainly love.  The people around me don’t want me to fail – and the things I want to do require great risk.
I’m at the point where I don’t want to tell anyone about any of my ideas or dreams. I don’t like people telling me I can’t, or making me feel like I’m stupid for trying.
If you love me, support me. Don’t give me advice. The best way to love a creative is to encourage them – even if you don’t understand them.
Believe me – we already know how weird we are. We already know the risks. We’ve already thought about the 400 ways it could fail or destroy our lives, or maybe even cause the death of planet earth.
Your job as our loved one is to make sure we know that you believe in us. That you give us the tools to succeed, helps us stay focused on our mission and help us stay grounded in the reason we started this journey in the first place.
Be honest but don’t try to scare us because it will end up either in a furious effort on our part to prove you wrong – or it will throw us into a downward spiral of depression, doubt, and anxiety. That’s a lot of negative energy to deal with.
Remember you are doing more than just supporting a weird project – you are helping a spirit live and grow and connect with the world. You are helping a light emerge and a flower to bloom. Don’t step on it.
“I trust you”
“I believe you”
“I believe in you”
“Keep going”
And
“You’ve got this”

Are the best ways to love (& support) a creative.

Win Win or Lose Lose

Photo by @pumpkinspicnyc

Let’s begin this post by saying today was rough and I feel like a bag-o-shit.
Funny because literally 2 days ago I was feeling unstoppable.
How the heck does that happen? idk.

I started ranting about it on my IG during my rainy walk home from the subway station, but I’ve never been good at just talking my thoughts out – I’ve always been a writer, so I decided to delete the videos and just write about it instead…

So I’m competitive.
Especially with myself.
And I don’t think that is a bad thing. It keeps you aware of the situation and striving for more.

However, when you add insecurity into the mix, it’s not so good. This can create pettiness, aggressiveness, judgment, gossip, and a whole lot of negative feelings. The biggest one for me is that it causes comparison. I start comparing myself to everyone else that is similar to me. Becuase I feel like I work very hard to stay true to me and do work that is different, so if someone looks similar to me, or does things similarly to me suddenly I feel disposable.

Suddenly I’m sitting there telling myself that I don’t matter and that what I’m doing is stupid.

Which is exactly what happened today at this photography meet-up I went to. (More on this later because I definitely have some critiques on the whole idea of meet-ups)

ANYWAY – one thing I realized when I start doing the whole “omg she’s prettier than me & so much more qualified” thing – it makes me feel like a fraud. Suddenly I feel like everyone can see right through me – like I’m some sort of cheater or liar – some lowlife scum being a poser cause I’m not good enough to do it myself.

YA GUYS ITS BAD.

And I have run into a lot of creatives and entrepreneurs that have felt the same way. My theory is that it is because we are self-made; and because we are self-made, there is no consistent way to measure qualification. There’s no standardized test or degree that qualifies you to be a creative person or live the lifestyle you want. You get to be the judge of that, and that’s a very difficult weight to hold. It freaks a lot of us out.

I think that’s why we love social media – we love the feedback we get. It’s not attention we are looking for – it’s validation, because we are so much different from the norm. It’s to make sure we are on the right track, and to watch reactions of people consuming the work that we share. It’s support to know that we are crazy for follow our hearts and our dreams.

I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t speak for all creatives, but I know for a fact that this is true at least sometimes for some of us. And then without any kind of support or validation, the cycle starts all over again and it sucks.

I know I shouldn’t have to look anywhere but maybe God for support & validation, but as a human and someone who like to share, it would be nice to know that other people see & respect me for me and my uniqueness, and to remind me that my uniqueness isn’t wrong.

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: https://freetorunfoundation.org/2016/10/03/our-new-ambassador/ ) 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