I was harassed by a coworker.

I was harassed by a coworker.

I had just turned eighteen when I realized I was being sexually harassed by a coworker, which believe it or not was just a few months ago.

He was old enough to be my grandfather, and up until I turned eighteen it had never seemed like anything other than a fatherly affection towards me. Shortly after I turned eighteen, I realized that he was being very forward. I was so scared to go work, I was uncomfortable, and most of all I was unhappy.

No one wants to have to look at the schedule and fear that they may be scheduled to work with someone that may cross a line.

My gut instincts saw this coming. I think that is why I had such a hard time moving past it. I knew there was something off, but I considered this man to be a friend, and when you label someone as a friend, your judgement of them is going to be obscured. So for whatever reason, I didn’t see this coming, even though looking back on it now, it seems all too clear.


I worked with this man for two years. I thought he was a friend. He had somehow gained my trust and that was how he was able to abuse it.

He had visited me a few times at work when he knew I was there and he wasn’t scheduled just to see me, or drop off candy or a holiday card. He had always done that for me, the entire time I knew him. I was always his favorite cashier and he made it his mission to spoil me even though I never asked for it. I never realized how strange it was until a little less than a year ago.

I had never noticed before that he did these things and hoped for something from me in return. He stood close by the register almost expecting me to exit and hug him, which I was not always comfortable doing so I did not, but I could tell that he expected something from me, which was probably the only reason why he did these things.

Before I left for Chicago for my eighteenth birthday, he asked me to meet him across the street at a small gift shop after work to give me my birthday gift and help him pick out something for his wife.

I was so incredibly nervous to meet him because it just didn’t seem like a good idea. I had a gut feeling about it. He’d never asked me to meet him outside of work before, but I considered him to be my friend and he wanted to get something for his wife, so I tried not to overthink it.

He gave me my gift and then a hug, one which he held on for just a little too long, making me very uncomfortable and ultimately a little scared. We were in a public place, so I tried not to be too worried, but I was nervous enough to try and think of an escape route in case I wanted to get out of there fast.

He then asked me if I wanted to give him my number before I left for Chicago because he said he just wanted to make sure I had someone to contact if something happened while I was gone. Even though he knew I’m close with my parents and had plenty of people to contact. I told him no, that didn’t feel he needed to have it, that I would be fine, and then I left.

I just thought he was concerned, in a fatherly way, even though after the encounter I began to wonder otherwise.

However the concern left my mind when he signed my birthday card, “from Your Work Dad,” a phrase I coined since I work with a lot of older men who often look out for me. However this man, in particular, looked out for me in a way I never wanted nor expected, and I began to realize it no longer seemed very fatherly.

When I returned from my trip, he asked me if I received his text messages, which seemed weird to me since I did not give him my number.

He told me that he got my number off the staff list in the back, which is only there for managers to contact people if they don’t show up or if someone calls in sick, not to just be taken and used by any employee in the store to contact people for their own agenda.

I did not receive his messages because the number on the list was not correct. I got a new number shortly after getting the job and so the list had my old number. This made me apprehensive because I told him I didn’t want him to have my number and he tried to take it anyways.

No means no. Regardless of the context. It doesn’t mean yes, or maybe yes, or do whatever you want just because you can. I told him I didn’t want him to have my number and he did what he wanted anyways. That is not, and never will be, okay.

Almost a whole month had passed before I remembered that my number on the staff list was still not correct. I didn’t really want to change it in case he tried to take it again, but I also didn’t feel it was fair to the managers for them to not have my real number now that I knew about it. So I changed it.

Almost exactly two weeks later, at midnight on Christmas eve, he texted me and said he wanted to be the first to wish me Merry Christmas.

This sent a chill down my spine. Not only had he tried to take my number once, but he continued to check to see if I had updated it to my current number. Which he then took and decided to wait up and text me at midnight on Christmas eve.

I then decided to talk to my mom about it and tell her what was happening and how I felt. The last thing someone wants to have to talk about on Christmas is that they think a coworker may be crossing the line into harassment. She’s dealt with similar situations in the past, as unfortunately it’s something most young women experience at some point in their lives, and told me to be firm and make sure he understood where we stand, which was only as friends and coworkers.

So I responded the next day and told him I wished him and his wife a Merry Christmas, hoping that by mentioning his wife he would realize I was emphasizing the fact that he’s already married and that I’m not interested and never will be interested. He clearly didn’t pick up on the memo and responded with one of his stupid pet names for me.

I was already pretty nervous for the next time we worked together, but luckily our shifts overlapped only by an hour so I thought everything would be okay.

But it wasn’t. It got so much worse.

He had never, ever treated me differently in front of our other coworkers. He never called me any of his pet names, never made any of his inappropriate jokes, or tried to coax any affection out of me when they were around. I suppose this should’ve been my first clue that he knew what he was doing to me was wrong.

However, that night, before he left, there was a coworker up front at the register talking with us. He is someone I would talk to regularly with and practice Spanish with.

The coworker had recently become aware of this guy’s fascination with me and picked up on the fact that he would get jealous when we would talk at work. I didn’t realize until later that this coworker actually egged him on and essentially provoked him to “mark his territory” on this evening. However the coworker did recognize that this guy could make me a little uncomfortable and tried to stick around whenever he was working as long as possible.

Just as soon as I thought the guy was leaving that evening, he turned and came around the register, stepped inside the small box with me, and told me that he “wasn’t done with me yet” before wrapping his arms around me and kissing me on the side of my head.

I had never before been trapped and violated like that, and I didn’t see it coming. I felt my brain shut down and my entire body clenched out of fear.

I froze. I was so scared and confused. I always felt so safe when other coworkers were around, but he had just done that right in front of someone else.

As he forced his embrace I felt my body tighten and bend away from him, but he didn’t let go and there was something, like a large mass on my chest, preventing me from telling him to stop.

I did not say a word to him after he did that to me, but he left and thought everything was just fine. My coworker’s jaw dropped and he too was unable to say anything.

How crazy it seemed to me that something so seemingly innocent made me feel so terrible and worthless. I wanted to cry and I felt my dinner rise up in my stomach. I can’t imagine what it feels like for women who have had far worse things happen to them.

After he left, my coworker looked at me and told me, “It was written all over your face. You didn’t want that.”

The coworker encouraged me to talk to someone at work about it, preferably a higher up. He offered to even go with me when I said something since he witnessed the whole thing and knew how much this man fussed over me.

Although he egged him on, and caused this to happen, I don’t think he knew that this would be the result and ultimately felt pretty guilty. However, he never did apologize to me.

I thanked him for the support and told him I would think about it, and I seriously did. When I got home, I decided to tell my mom. I had her meet me in my car as I was embarrassed to talk about it in front of my dad. I cried and cried and told her what he’d done.

I was hurt, I was devastated, and I was so so so angry. He always asked me about my love life, interfered with any relationships I had with guys my age at work, and told me he thought I needed an older guy to take care of me, but I never realized what he meant until this moment.

I decided to talk to my female manager about it and my mom went with me. She’s very easy to talk to, so I asked if we could meet her outside of work to talk in person.

I think the most confusing part to me looking back on it now was that I was worried about him losing his job. I wanted him to stop, but I didn’t want him to get fired. Part of me still wanted to think that maybe he just didn’t understand, and he thought this is how you treat your children or people you consider to be like your children. Since he never had any of his own, maybe he didn’t realize he made me feel this way.

But I also knew that if I told him I wanted him to stop, he would laugh and probably try to hug it out, which was not something I wanted to go through again.

He knew he had power over me, there’s no denying that. It was evident in the sexist jokes, and the inappropriate, degrading comments he made to me. He thought they were hilarious. They made me feel powerless.

I love my job, and I love the people I work with. We are quite literally a tight-knit family and I usually look forward to going to work, but this just ruined it for me and I knew it needed to stop. I even considered quitting my job. I didn’t want to dread working with someone or to have to frantically check the schedule each week and hope we were working on separate days. I also was the oldest cashier at my job and I never wanted any of the other younger girls to feel this way or ever have to go through this.

So I did what I needed to do.

I told my manager everything. My manger, my mother, and I sat in the room and just cried. She told me that she felt that someone like that doesn’t belong in our work family and I completely understood what she meant.

As a woman, she knew what this felt like, and has had her fair share of harassment. In the world we live in, it’s just a part of being a woman.

It hurt me to see the pain on her face from knowing that someone they hired could do that. I felt such pain talking about it, but I think it was my mother’s pain that hurt me the most. The tears streamed down her face as I told my manager every last detail of what had been taking place over the last few months. She understood what it meant.

My manager promised that she would take it up with one of the owners the next day and let me know what he decided. She thanked me for speaking up.

I saw her the next day when I went to pick up my paycheck, and she told me that our owner was beyond freaked out by the incident and that he would terminate the guy next time he came into work. Our owner felt so strongly about it that he came in on a day he was usually off just to make sure he was let go immediately after learning about what he had done.

He didn’t want him to stick around any longer in case there was a chance of him making anyone else feel the way I did and I will always be grateful for how promptly he acted.

After everything seemed to be resolved, my mom joked “If you weren’t so cute maybe this wouldn’t happen to you!” which I understood that she said this with the intention of making me laugh, but I began to wonder, why does that matter?

Why did he think he could just take advantage of me? Just because I’m cute? Is that a justified reason to harass someone? Does that justify violating someone? Why are their boys and men who think this is okay? Why the fuck would anyone think this is okay?

I feel like a common misconception about sexual harassment is that it should be easy for the person being harassed to speak up because they want justice. I know I never understood how someone could even hesitate to speak the truth about what had happened to them, but I understand it now.

While what happened to me seemed like such a simple thing in my head, it was so complex and twisted; it hurt me so much to even think about it, let alone say it out loud.

I knew I did the right thing, but I still felt horrible because you can’t help but think about how your decision to speak up affects the one who hurt you. The guy lost his job over this. Should he have done what he’d done to me or said the things he said to me? Absolutely not, but yet part of me still felt like I was to blame.

While I ultimately did the right thing, and I know that, it took me a while to work myself out of a funk.

No one tells you what to do in these situations. There’s no handbook on dealing with sexual harassment that says “If you feel like shit you’re doing it right.”

The days before and after I revealed what happened went by minute by minute. I counted down the minutes until I was to meet with my manager. I counted down the minutes until he was to show up for his shift, and was to be let go. I counted down the minutes until the next shift I would return to work. Each minute felt like a lifetime.

The only way I could see it in my head was that I was the girl who got him fired. He was so nice and pleasant with everyone we worked with. For awhile I actually felt bad for speaking up. I wondered if he didn’t mean to make me feel the way I did, but I know now that he knew. There is physically no way he could have not known.

Even weeks after it was all over and I tried to convince myself I was over it, I quickly realized I wasn’t when someone mentioned his name to me, I felt my blood pressure rise and my heart rate increase out of fear that I would see him somewhere in public, worse yet that he would want answers.

Eventually, all my coworkers found out what happened. Of course, I knew this would happen. When someone gets let go, everyone wants to know why, and they’ll find out one way or another. The truth, or some version of the truth. Almost all of them were sympathetic and felt the need to say something to me. They all had liked our coworker, but each one reassured me that what he did to me was wrong and that I did the right thing. Some of them even saw this coming saying before they even knew “He probably got fired for harassing someone.”

I had learned that he had asked for the numbers of some of my other teen coworkers and made them feel uncomfortable too. He never got the chance to cross the line with them, and because of me he never will.

Months after the fact, he still comes into the store from time to time. He checks out in the back to avoid the cashiers up front. My coworkers say he’s hoping that he’ll be offered his job back. My boss has already said that won’t be happening ever. He said that it just can’t happen, and he will never lose my respect for that decision.

I believe in forgiveness, but it’s impossible to ignore something that affects the safety of your staff when running a successful business. You just can’t ignore it and you have to act accordingly.

Now that he’s been gone for a few months. I have to admit I feel so relieved. I felt so terrible about him leaving, but I can’t help but admit I feel so much better now that he’s gone.

While I still felt like I was to blame for something, even though I couldn’t exactly figure out what for, I knew this:

I didn’t get him fired, his actions did. The only one who got him fired was himself.

The only thing he didn’t plan on was getting caught. He should have never treated me the way he did, regardless of his intentions. Friends don’t do that to friends, and coworkers especially don’t do that to coworkers.

In the world we live in, things like this are always bound to happen. This may have been the first time this happened to me, but unfortunately, it will probably not be the last. Harassment is unbelievably common even though there’s no excuse for it.

We must educate others. We must make people aware of the reality of sexual harassment, we’ve got to stop making jokes, and we have to encourage those affected to speak up. Witnesses can speak up too, if you see something say something. This has to stop.

I hope that by sharing my story, and my personal experience, it may encourage someone else out there to say something. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re overreacting, or that maybe you’re just reading too far into it. That’s how I felt, and once I put all the pieces together, I realized what was happening to me. It’s hard to admit, and it’s scary, but if you feel violated or uncomfortable, speak up. Your feelings are valid and you can’t ignore them. You deserve better. Please don’t be afraid to be heard.

Let’s Talk About Confidence . . .

Let’s Talk About Confidence . . .

A huge misconception I feel in this world is that confidence solely roots from self-image.

I am not someone who struggles with self-image. I know I’m not perfect, and it is stupid easy to get yourself stuck in a mindset where you need to compare yourself to everyone else, but I’ve learned you can’t put people on a pedestal. You have to realize that we’re all human beings and that each one of us is different and completely unique. Most importantly, once you know that, you have to look yourself straight in the face (I highly recommend a mirror) and say: “There is nothing wrong with that.”

I’ve learned there’s no reason to compare your life to theirs because we all grow, progress, and achieve whatever our individual definition of success is, at different times in our lives.

We all fear failure and rejection. It’s normal and it’s human. But it is also normal to experience both at a bare minimum of one time in our lives. And that is also okay because if we don’t fail there’s no way to learn and then grow.

For me, my fear of failure and rejection is too great. It sort of dominates my life. That’s why I have little to no confidence.

Sometimes I feel confident, but feeling confident and actually having confidence in yourself are two very different things. When I do feel confident, it’s only temporary. A spur of the moment kind of thing.

People who have confidence always, or at least most of the time, feel confident. Oh, and that applies to every aspect of their lives. Me saying “Oh yeah! I could do that!” is not something that happens very often.

In an alternate universe, without a doubt, I would be an extrovert. But I’m not, I’m an extroverted introvert. Once I’m comfortable, a whole new person comes out. She’s confident, she’s bubbly, she’s hilarious (I promise I’m not being snooty but I just make a lot of people laugh and it’s my favorite), and she’s a lot less scared of her own shadow, but if I’m being quite honest, she’s really just a lot less scared of the sound of her own voice.

I’m very comfortable at my job. Most of my coworkers don’t believe me when I tell them I’m the girl with her head down that zooms to her next class without speaking to a soul, and that doesn’t say hardly anything in any of her classes, just because that’s not who I am there. I am unrecognizable.

I like to think that my true personality is someone I like to call “Confident Katie,” which believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds, to categorize my two different sides, but stick with me here. I like to say that’s who I really am, but 9 times out of 10 this other version of me comes out instead. I don’t have a name for her because I’d like to say we aren’t properly acquainted.

All I know is that her thoughts are clouded by insecurity and whenever she feels “Confident Katie” start to emerge and do something crazy, and by crazy I mean something that would make her feel confident, she shuts that sh*t down REAL QUICK.

You can easily tell just by looking at me how little confidence I have. I don’t like to speak up because I fear I’ll say something wrong and it shows. It is also apparent in my posture. I slouch. My parents (lovingly) point it out frequently. I also carry myself in such a way, that it looks like I was recently trampled, which is in fact, a constant mood.

But when Confident Katie does emerge, MAN is she someone completely different. She walks with purpose, she holds her head a little higher, she laughs more, she is relaxed (at least in that moment), and she smiles so much that it makes you forget that this is actually the same girl who zooms to her next class and avoids eye contact with her peers at school.

Confidence is not something I have mastered. I’m not anywhere close to it. But it is someplace I want to be and I think I have an idea of how to get there. Sort of.

I aspire to have the confidence my mother has. She is proud, she has unwavering faith in her convictions, and she never apologizes for them.

My mother is not one to fear rejection or failure. She looks all her challenges square in the face and makes the best of it. She either kicks ass or gets up and moves on. That’s it.

She makes it seems like it should be so easy. “Just be confident! Have confidence in yourself!” Okay… but like what does that even mean??

I feel like there is a large weight sitting on my chest whenever I want to do something that I wouldn’t normally do. I think it’s some unknown force preventing me from exiting my comfort zone.

Would I ask a guy out on a date? Hell yeah, it’s 2019. Why wouldn’t I? Oh right, the same reason a lot of guys don’t ask girls out on dates. They don’t want to get rejected. It’s a totally normal and completely rational fear, TO AN EXTENT.

In saying that, you shouldn’t let that fear rule your life otherwise you’ll miss out on so many great opportunities. Hey there, I’m example A of that.

I’m trying to teach myself to live differently. To think differently.

One of my new favorite quotes sums it up perfectly:

“It’s risky. It’s scary. It could all fall apart. Yes. But what if it all falls together?” — The Better Man Project

So this year, I challenge you to reveal your confidence; to unleash your alternate confident persona. Do something that scares you. Not like horrifies you to a point of severe trauma, but just something spontaneous that you might overthink if you don’t do it like right now. You feel me?

If the outcome is good, you’ve learned that you are capable of more than you think. If the outcome is bad, then you’ve learned what you need to do to improve and how to move forward because that’s all life really is. A game of moving forward, regardless of what it decides to throw at you.

I know I will be doing my best to become the best, most happy, and most confident version of myself in 2019.

Let’s do this together. #LookSheCan

xoxo, Katie

The Dream

The Dream

“So, what is it that you want to do?”

This is a question I’m certain I will receive about 42 times this holiday season.

This question is a loaded question is disguised by its own simplicity.

It should be easy to say what it is that I want to do, at least according to most people’s definition anyway, which is college and a career.

However, I feel what I want to do doesn’t necessarily fit that definition.

What do I really want to do?

— I’d love to fill you in.

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I want to be a writer. I’m not 100% sure what I want to write so I want to try it all. Screenwriting, songwriting, journalism, maybe I’ll even try writing a book, and who knows what else.

I want to be a photographer. I want to test my abilities and improve my photography. I want to maybe even start a small photography business on the side, but only time will tell.

I want to be a content creator. I want to design and put my blood, sweat, and tears into projects that I’m proud of. Maybe I’ll achieve this by helping others find themselves and build brands they’re proud of, or maybe I’ll do this just by creating content of my own. I’m not sure yet, but I can’t wait to find out.

I want to be an influencer. What do I want to “influence?” I want to influence people to be better, to be good to people, ALL people, regardless of our differences. I want to influence people to be the very best they can be and to never quit striving for that. I want to influence people to dream bigger. I want to influence people to stand on their own two feet, to know they are loved, they matter, and that their voice is relevant.

All of these things I can technically achieve without a college degree, however, there are other things I aspire to do that might.

I want to learn more about photography. I’d love to take more photography classes to get a better understanding of how to use my camera. I loved photojournalism in high school so maybe I’ll take a class about it in college too.

I want to be bilingual. I want to be fluent in Spanish. I have taken it for the last four years in high school and I am nowhere near ready to quit learning.

I want to study abroad. I feel beyond privileged to travel to Spain this summer, but I would love to study there for a few weeks, maybe even a semester while in college. Or maybe I’ll even study in a different country entirely! Who knows what the future will hold.

This next one is a little cliche, but I feel it’s necessary to include because it is the whole-hearted truth:

Most importantly though, I want to be happy.

When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it makes you happy, and I know for sure that I am the only one in the entire world who knows what can make me the happiest.

So to my loved ones,

If this crazy dream is a part of it (which hi there, it is), please please respect that, especially if you want me to be happy too.

To my readers,

It took me a while, almost 16 years of traveling around the sun, to find the things that I’m the most passionate about, but once I did, I knew that I had found what was going to fulfill me, give me purpose, and grant me the happiness I’ve told myself for so long I never deserved. I never stopped searching for my passions.

And I will always and forever encourage you to do the same.

xoxo, Katie

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. — Sophia Bush

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Eighteen Lessons from Eighteen Years

Eighteen Lessons from Eighteen Years

E I G H T E E N

Today I am 18. This is my 18th year orbiting the sun on this lovely planet and I felt inspired to do this post after reading the ones by Hannah over on hannclaire.com.

18 is a birthday like no other. I’m in a city I’ve never been in before, without my family, or closest friends. I am entering adulthood completely surrounded by the unknown.

I am in the beautiful, windy city of Chicago with my fellow student journalists.

I would hope that after being on earth this long (Wow, I’m old) that I have learned a few things. I am the bus driver of the struggle bus, and so today I’m sharing a few of the many things I’ve learned from all the bumps in the road.

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An Eighteen Look

1 – If you are young and don’t like coffee now, there’s like a 98.9% by the time you get to high school and/or college you will simply because you won’t be able to function without it. Facts.

2- Be good to people, ALL people. I mean absolutely everyone. Regardless of the circumstances. Maybe they’re having a bad day, or maybe they just happen to enjoy being a crappy person, but no matter how hard it may be, be good to them. There need to be more people in this world choosing positivity instead of spreading negativity.

3 – On that note, I know it is something everyone is guilty of, including myself, but don’t talk sh*t. When you feel in the mood to rant to somebody about someone else, take a deep breath, and find something constructive to do with your time.

Be creative, read a book, paint a picture, or do I what I do: Sometimes, I open up a blank document and write about all the things I want to rant about. Once it’s done and I feel better getting it off my chest, I exit the page and don’t save it. Sometimes that is all it takes, no hurt feelings necessary.

4 – The things you say will come back to haunt you, so once again, be the better person and don’t spread the negative energy.

5 – Don’t ever underestimate the worth of your own happiness.

6 – Driving isn’t as scary as I thought it was. Now I can’t imagine myself being stranded somewhere because I couldn’t rely on myself as my own form of transportation. It seems so crazy to me that almost three months ago driving still scared me to death, but now I can’t imagine not wanting to drive. Conclusion: Just do it. You’ll be okay!!

7 – Even the closest friendships may need a little distance to grow stronger.

8 – People do change, however, it is up to them, and them alone, if it is for better or worse.

9 – Always be yourself. I know its cliche, but seriously, be confident in your own abilities, decisions, and actions.

10 – Always advocate for anyone and everyone who needs it. There is always something you can do to help.

11 – It’s okay to take time for yourself. This applies to absolutely anything and everything. If you feel selfish about it, you’re doing it right. If you feel like you’re being selfish for wanting to be alone, that shows how much you really need it. We all need a little time to reflect and grow in order to thrive, so don’t feel bad for taking care of yourself.

SELF-LOVE ISN’T SELFISH

12 – Unleash your inner Mama Bear. Don’t be afraid to stand up for the people you love. It may take some time for you to learn how to stand up for yourself, but when s

13 – Although you will do everything in your power not to admit it, your parents are right most of the time.

14 – You don’t always have to agree with others, but you do always have to show them respect because everyone has a right to their own opinion.

15 – Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. The most amazing things can happen when you do.

16 – “Live in such a way that if someone were to speak poorly of you, no one would believe it” is the greatest quote to live by.

17 – Once you find what you’re passionate about and makes you happiest, don’t stop pursuing it.

18 – Don’t ever, ever, EVER give up on your dreams. You can’t place a price tag on a dream. Dreams are more valuable than any tangible good you could

xoxo, Katie

 

If you like what I do here, please consider buying me a coffee to let me know!

— Thank you!

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This I Believe . . .

This I Believe . . .

This year, as part of my final exam for my favorite class, I had to give a speech. This was not your typical speech, it was a personal speech about my personal beliefs. For my speech, I decided to talk a little about my blog. By a little, I mean I turned a 2-4 minute speech into an almost 7-minute long ordeal about my blog, why I write and who I am.

You all who read my blog regularly know that I have a lot to say. I don’t like to speak out loud, especially not in front of large groups, but knowing I got to write it all out beforehand made me feel at least a little better about it.

I am really proud of what I wrote and decided to say in front of my class, so I thought I would share it on here with you all. **Disclaimer, yes, it really is ridiculously long.


I have always been the quiet girl. I don’t like to speak up, and sometimes I feel like I don’t even know how. I have always had a hard time expressing how I feel to people. When I try to say it out loud I struggle to portray what I mean or my emotions take over and make it impossible to express what I mean. So I choose to just sit there and mull over my thoughts in my head until the moment for me to speak is long gone. The words in my head have always been louder than the ones I speak. Those words I can put on paper to create something powerful. I feel so much safer behind a laptop typing behind a screen or handwriting my thoughts on paper. Nobody can interrupt or immediately respond because there is some unknown force that compels people to finish what is written in its entirety. That’s really the beauty of writing. The merging of words, words you specifically choose, into a creation of your own, to express however you’re feeling, whatever your message is, in ways you can’t do with the words that roll off your tongue. It was this love for writing, along with my awkwardness and desire to create, that made me think creating my own blog was a good idea.

The scary thing about words is that you never know who will read them. When you’re looking at someone and having a conversation with them, you know whether or not they are hearing what you’re saying, but you really don’t know if it will be remembered or have an impact.

I have always loved writing because I am really bad with words in person. I find it extremely difficult to tell someone how I’m feeling or explain why I feel a certain way. It doesn’t translate to how I really feel, even if I’m using the right words, I’m tripping over them which makes it harder to understand. However, if you give me a piece of paper and a pen or you sit me behind a computer, I can spell it all out for you.

Sometimes I feel like writing is my superpower. The way I feel when I am able to express how I feel on paper when I haven’t been able to explain it to someone in person. When I come home from school and my mom asks,“What’s wrong?” sometimes I can’t answer her because I have yet to figure it out. I almost have to say, “Give me an hour, some time to write it out, and I’ll get back to you.” It’s funny to me the number of people who hate writing or really don’t enjoy it because for me it’s my only lifeline.

I have always loved words and writing. It has just been in the last few years I have been able to figure out that whatever I want to do, writing has to be a part of it. Part of me feels like my adoration for writing is caused in part by my personality and part by my environment.

I am shy: I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself, eye contact is a typically a challenge, and I am always questioning my own knowledge. This is why I like to think about what I’m going to say before I follow through with it and leave my mark. When I’m writing something out, I can take as long as I want and can have a million drafts before I decide:“Yes! That’s what I want to say. That’s my message.”

The environmental factor has to be my family. My sister, Emily, she is so special. She’s unique, she’s one of a kind, and I truly can’t put into words how amazing she really is. I was able to discover all these things about her without ever having a conversation with her. Emily can’t talk. I hate to phrase it that way because I firmly believe someday she will, but for now, and for the last seventeen years, my sister has not spoken a word.

I guess you could say I learned about the power of words through her silence. The simplest words like “Water,” “Sad,” and “Help” to describe her needs and emotions could make such an impact on her everyday life, but they just aren’t there for her to use, at least for right now.

I stick up for her all the time and have written many a passive-aggressive email to teachers who don’t understand that she is a human being who needs extra help sometimes. She can’t speak, but I make sure that she is spoken for.

When we go out in public, I show that I respect her, I show how much I care for her, to let people know there is nothing wrong with her even though she’s a little different. I use my body language, how I interact with my sister in social situations, to express that. I have learned that from my sister too: Body language is also a powerful thing.

I’m not afraid to talk about her, and I am definitely not ashamed of her. If you want to ask me about her, then ask me. Curiosity shows me that you care, and I respect that. After all, the only way we are ever going to make it in this world is if we at least try to understand each other. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation.

Because of my sister, I have made it one of my top goals in life to spread the message of positivity, love, and acceptance. It is something I emphasize a lot in my everyday life, on social media, and on my blog.

My blog is called the Look She Can Blog. It sounds a little cheesy, I am well aware, but I chose this because everyone and I mean everyone, has been met with criticism and has been told that there are things they can’t do. My sister deals with this kind of criticism every day; Sometimes it is only expressed through other people’s body language, but it’s there, she sees it, and it hurts.

So I named my blog for her. Why? Because I feel like her story is an epic and relatable story. It also might be a little because she’s the coolest sister ever, and I really wanted her to be a part of this, this hobby that makes me incredibly happy, but I have to emphasize again that her story is very powerful.

I relate to her story because for a long time I let a lot of people walk all over me. I take others people’s burdens and try to take all the weight on my own shoulders, sometimes it’s too much for me to handle. I don’t reach out enough sometimes, and I don’t like to talk about my feelings. There’s a lot of people in my life who don’t know how I feel. Somedays I want to completely cut myself off from the world, and a little part of me breaks when I realize I’m feeling what I know all too well as losing hope.

But I try not to let it get to me because there is so much to be hopeful about in this world. Instead, I take a break, get myself into a positive headspace, surround myself with people I love, and write something for my blog to hopefully make somebody else’s day a lot better.

Why do I do this? Well, I finally figured out that I can’t achieve my goal of spreading positivity when I’m at home, curled up in a ball, feeling sorry for myself, eating ice cream, and watching Hallmark movies with my mom.

Besides, I have never let anyone walk all over my sister and treat her like a doormat, so why should I let people do that to me? What about the other voiceless people out there, why should I let that happen to anybody? I have to speak up somehow for the people who have been labeled as less than by their peers because unfortunately, I am too familiar with what that feels like.

I have never understood why people like to tear others down. If you hurt someone’s feelings, it’s probably because you are trying to fill some kind of hole in your heart, and you think by breaking down someone else it will somehow fill you up, but it only leaves you feeling more empty than before. Why do that when you can make someone else feel good, which then has the power to make you feel good almost by default? What is even the point of being mean?

I’m sure people have their reasons, but I am convinced I won’t ever truly understand it. Especially online. When writing something online, you have nothing but time to come up with a good, respectful response. There’s no panicking about coming up with the perfect comeback, if it’s your turn to respond, you have all the time you need to write out what needs to be said.

There are so many beautiful, positive, and inspiring words people could use, but still, there are people who choose harsh and cruel words to have a negative impact on people instead.

I think that’s why I wanted so badly to create a positive space online, where people can read something that will make them feel good, hopefully, make them smile, or maybe learn a little more about someone who isn’t exactly like them, but is still just as important. I know not everybody here likes school, but learning something new about someone and learning about acceptance is such a beautiful thing, and I feel its power is underrated.

My blog started as a place where I wrote things just for me, things that made me happy, things that I wanted to share, but didn’t have enough confidence to. I knew it was public, but I never knew how many people would see it, who would read it, and who it would affect.

Now here I am. It’s been over a year since my blog was born, and I am here, telling you all about it, my message, my story, and my life. I never thought I would have the strength to share my little online world with my family and friends, let alone a room full of people who barely know me.

Nevertheless, I am here. Proud of the words I have written and decided to say aloud in front of you all today. I hope maybe we can all understand and try to accept each other a little better now.


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Thank you for supporting me and reading my content. I appreciate every view, every like, every share, and every comment, more than you could imagine. Because of this blog, I get to share I what I believe in. I believe in having hope, I believe that happiness is something everyone can achieve if they open their heart, and I believe that by having a positive mindset and trying your best to understand and accept others as they are, is the only way this world will ever be united. I believe that someday things will change, whether I am here to see it or not, I know someday we’ll get there.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and as always . . .

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