The Power of 10

This year is a milestone year in many ways for me and the number ten appears to bee a significant one. Why is that, you might ask? It all boils down to two things—ten years ago I graduated high school and ten years ago I began working at my current employer, Kohl’s. In retrospect I have to admit that the girl I was ten years ago and the woman I am today appear to be polar opposites.

When I was eighteen I was cocky, somewhat obnoxious, and desperate for friends no matter how toxic those friendships could be. Ten years later approaching the end of my twenties I must admit that I am actually more socially awkward and starting to like myself as a person more. The person I am today has been shaped by the events of the past ten years and I feel like 2008 was an entire lifetime ago in terms of personal growth and maturity.

I wish that I could tell that eighteen-year-old that sometimes not fitting in is okay and that you don’t have to try so hard to make friends. I look at that girl in pictures and see someone who was trying too hard to be cool when in reality it was all an act. I see myself today and know that I am more self-assured and comfortable with the core group of people that I surround myself with.

I know much more about life and adulting then I did ten years ago. I pay a lot of my own bills, have my own dental and vision insurance, know how to save and budget my money, and have even paid off one of my student loans. Success for me comes in increments due to the fact that I have a nonverbal learning disability and a chromosomal abnormality.

This nonverbal learning disability affects every aspect of my life including my visual-spatial skills, my ability to navigate spaces, my coping mechanisms, and my ability to develop a social life. The only friends I have are my family members and my co-workers. I have no friends my own age and the only friends close to my age are online and live far away from me.

Despite all of this I must admit that I am very fortunate in the life that I have. I have a supportive and loving family who provides support and encouragement and can take me to all of the places I need to or want to go to. I literally work five minutes away from my house in a store where I am loved and respected by co-workers, managers, and supervisors. I have been the recipient of accolades from customers and my employer including winning associate of the month twice in my ten-year tenure at my store. Did I ever anticipate this ten years ago when I first started working there? No, I must admit that I did not. I had unrealistic aspirations that I was going to go away to college after two years of community college. I now realize that this would have been a mistake because I am in no way, shape, or form prepared for independent living.

When I look at my high school classmates on social media, I see engagements, weddings, children, expensive vacations, and their own homes. Do I want that kind of life? I do not because I like the feeling of being able to live my life on my own terms. I am still a person in a cycle of growth and learning and living a life where I am not judged or ridiculed for any flaws that I may have. I am no longer that young girl starving for attention; instead, I am a woman who knows that attention is earned by the successes in one’s personal and professional lives. I may not work in a job where I am utilizing the skills I learned in college but I am working towards a goal of finding that right job. Right now, I am in a good place where I do not have nasty supervisors and managers and know that I can always address any issues that I have at work with them and have them resolved in a manner where I am not degraded or reprimanded by anyone.

The power of ten is that it is an impactful number. It represents overcoming challenges both personally and professionally and continually learning the skills that I need to succeed in all aspects of my life. It means that I have accumulated a wealth of experiences and wisdom that I can transfer to my next employer whenever that may be. I look at the stressful work lives of my family and am slowly realizing that I have a job that overall is not overly stressful; instead, it is a routine job where I know what to do and how to proactively resolve any issues that I may encounter. It is a job where I am valued and constantly reminded of that by co-workers and upper management. Life is a series of changes and challenges but for now my life is one that is fulfilling, educational, enriching, and so many other positive descriptors. A decade is a long time and I hope that the next decade brings even greater rewards and accomplishments in my life and the lives of my family members.image1v2


Anxiety Perils

Anxiety has always been my plight

Fears for the future

Fears for the present

When will things change?

Work fills my heart

With dangerous anxiety

Will things get better?

Chest tight

Breathing hurts

The curse of anxiety

Maybe it’s all my fault

Maybe it’s not

I don’t know what to think

Anxiety is full of peril

Can lead you down dark paths

Still it clings to me

I wonder when it will stop

I just need a sign

That things will improve

And let this anxiety

Drift away

Let this anxiety be part of the past

And not define my present

Anxiety can be dangerous

And so is mine

So let us hope

That anxiety will not steal me away


College is a time of transition

A time to change

College can be stressful

Don’t let it overwhelm you

What makes you stronger

Are the challenges to overcome

The struggles you encounter

Will only make you a better person in the end


It can be a scary thing

On your own for the first time

Remember who your friends are

And your family, too

They will stay by your side

Through thick and through thin

They will always be there for you

You will shine in college

Brighter than the rest

You will thrive in college

Your life will never be the same again

Yes, college is a new journey

But the end result

Is working to fulfill your greatest dreams

And there is truly nothing better than that

Erasing the Retail Worker Stigma

I have begun to realize from seven years of working retail that the stereotype of being undereducated is simply just a stereotype. Many of my coworkers at the major department store I work at, Kohls, are either college students or are college graduates. With the economy the way it is right now, it has become more difficult to obtain full-time jobs that we have the credentials for. That is certainly the case with me—I have had a hard time finding a full-time job that I am qualified for so working retail is my source of income at this point in my life.
Is there a stigma around working retail? Yes, I definitely believe there is. Customers may treat you like you are uneducated and unskilled when in reality we are very bright and skilled individuals that deserve to be treated as such. I want to erase this stigma and have customers embrace us as individuals just like them, people just trying to make a living.
The people I work with have become a second family for me and Kohls has become a home away from home for me. I’ve watched my store evolve over the years and adapt to the times and I can honestly state that I have some pride in being a Kohls associate. Do I complain about what goes on? Yes, I must admit that I do outside of the store but it does not replace the good feelings that are usually associated with my workplace.
What I would like for us to realize is that everyone has to make a living somehow. Sometimes we have to work retail until the right opportunity comes to us. It may surprise you though that good opportunities can come in the retail environment as well. If you work hard enough and show that you are someone who can be a valued employee, then you may be rewarded with higher positions and higher pay rates. You can be promoted from within and I have seen coworkers go up the ladder to full-time positions within the store.
I know that the memories I have made at Kohls will remain with me forever and the people I’ve met there will be friends for life. I take pride in the work that I do at Kohls and making my department look great for customers. There may be things I want to change in my store but what I never want to change is the feeling that we work in a caring environment where we feel secure and comfortable.
I want to reiterate that there is no shame in working in retail. There are some great opportunities for advancement in this industry and you may find that you never want to leave this job behind. Right now I couldn’t imagine my life without Kohls and I do believe that if I were to be considered for a full-time position there I would definitely pursue it.
The next time that you walk into a store I want you to think about the gifts that retail workers bring to the table. Engage with us and learn more about what makes us unique individuals. You may even develop friendly relationships with the employees you meet during your shopping experience. I definitely have my regular customers who appreciate the work that I do and continue to come back and shop in my department. Don’t think of us as lesser people for the work that we do and treat us the way that you would want to be treated yourself.

A Wish for a Simpler World

I was born in 1990 and had an idyllic childhood where I played outside, went on family adventures, and enjoyed a life often without the use of technology. It was a simpler time where I didn’t spend most of my time using technology and didn’t feel like I was always connected to some device. The next generation will spend most of their time feeling like they’re connected to something with the abundance of new devices out there today.
This isn’t all about technology though. We are also faced with the onslaught of new tragedies that seem to occur on a regular basis now. From this week’s shooting in the Chicago area to the shooting in Texas of a sheriff’s deputy, it seems like the world has continued to evolve into a much more complicated world. What has contributed to such drastic changes in the world? Why is the world such a scary place now?
I think what’s made the world scarier is the fact that we simply can’t manage to get wrong with one another. Some people just can’t use basic courtesy with one another which is something I see frequently at my retail job in a major department store. Countries seem to have vendettas against each other and it seems like wishing for world peace is a fruitless endeavor. Nothing short of a miracle can make the world into a better place for today’s children to grow up in.
I know this sounds very cynical but it’s just that I feel such uncertainty about the state of the world today. I wish the world could be the same simple place it was when I was growing up. We can’t even travel anywhere without doing careful research on the places to avoid when visiting a particular destination. In airports you can’t go anywhere without going through security and having your bags thoroughly checked. It’s been that way in the United States since September 11th and I think it’s going to continue to be this way in the long run.
I have a two year old second cousin and I worry about the world she’s being exposed to. It seems tragedy can spark in the most unlikely of places and that life is just so different than it used to be. My one wish is that one day we can come to some sort of peace with each other. We were always taught in school to treat others with the same respect that they treat us and I just don’t see that as often as I’d like to.
Is a simpler world possible? I think that it could be if we learn to be present with one another and not stay glued to our devices; we would be better off. We could figure out solutions to today’s problems by being engaged and motivated to enact change. We are a generation that can make the world a better place for everyone to live in no matter what their race, class, sexual orientation, or physical condition is. We will be a generation that changes the world and makes things so much better than they are right now.
Already I’ve seen some young game-changers who have done some great things like advocating for a world without gun violence and pushing for gender equality which is still not completely a reality today. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done so that future generations will not be left to survive in a world full of chaos and complex conflicts. Is there a possibility that we can be the generation that makes the necessary changes the world needs? I believe we can be because many of us are well-educated and knowledgeable about the affairs of the world.
Just give my generation the right opportunities and we’ll prove to you that we can be the peacemakers and innovators that are essential right now. We have ideas and thoughts that may surprise you. We are not just people glued to devices that seem to only be interested in celebrity and what’s going on in the world of social media. We are people who genuinely care about the world and want today’s children to grow up in the same simple world that we did.
There have been some interesting initiatives to push youth into becoming more socially engaged and I think that anything that can increase awareness of what needs to be done on a community level is truly a great thing. We can then transcend our community awareness into a greater sense of global awareness. Perhaps we may even consider travelling to areas plagued by conflict and try to change things for the people who live in such regions.
What I think needs to be done first is some introspection and reflection on what matters most to us. We need to find our passions in life and figure out what we want to do with the talents that we have been blessed with. For example I am a writer who can write pieces that can strike people with the words that I use and others are artists, philosophers, and scientists. We can make the world into a place that we all want to live in and we need that sense of empowerment to shape our world into an ideal place to grow up in.
My urgent plea is for us to wake up and realize that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. I never thought that I’d be in the place I am today as I have disabilities that have hindered me in some respects. I have managed to do some great things though and I think that everyone is capable of achieving greatness. We just need to think about what we want to accomplish and soon enough our ideas will come into fruition. Don’t just sit on your good ideas—go out there and turn your ideas into reality. You and many other people will be better off for it.