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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

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A Heartbroken Symphony

A heartbroken cry sounds in the night
In the city of light darkness arrives
A heartbroken human symphony begins to play
The world mourns
The world weeps
The world needs peace
Quiet descends
The conductor begins anew
A new symphony for a troubled society
A heartbreaking symphony
A sad requiem
Will life ever be the same?
We are left to wonder
What madness is this
When we cannot live without war
When we cannot live without peace
Simple lives made more difficult
Resonating to the same sad song
And once more
The heartbroken symphony plays on
In a world of chaos and confusion
I question the world that we live in
Hoping for resolution
But have little reason to believe
That anything will be the same again
And so I am immersed
In this everlasting symphony
When terror has struck
We are left scared and scarred
Emotions at play
Let the conductor play his song
And one day may we unite as one
For a moment or two
And listen to the symphony together

The Social Conundrum

I have always had a hard time making friends. I never understood how other people my age were able to make friends so easily while I struggled socially. It was so difficult to find the right people to be friends with because I had a tendency to latch onto people who weren’t the best people to be friends with. They were the type of people who could get you into trouble or into very uncomfortable situations. I think this was a sign of desperation as I would become friends with anyone who seemed nice to me.
What I have learned over time though is that friendships take time to develop and that you never know when you’ll meet those who could be the best friends you could ever want. I’ve had such friendships develop at my retail job and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
What I have learned over time though is that friendships take time to develop and that you never know when you’ll meet those who could be the best friends you could ever want. I’ve had such friendships develop at my retail job and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. My coworkers are generally awesome people who really care about each other and will be there for you through thick and thin. I’m fortunate to have forged such relationships at work because I know that others may deal with drama at work. While there is some drama at work that does personally affect me, we generally tend to get along with one another.
I wish that I could make friends outside of work though. I often wonder why I can never seem to get people to like me enough to want to hang out with me. It hurts to go onto social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram and see pictures of good times that coworkers and others have with one another. This is one of the hardest aspects of my life to confront. It can truly be considered a conundrum for me.
What has worked for me socially is to engage with others in online groups and try to connect with those who have similar interests to me. This is how I’ve met some great people who I am friends with outside of the group. I have matured more as well over the years so I am better at showing empathy with others and really try to be a good friend to those that I interact with.
I just wish sometimes that things could be different and that I could have an active social life. With all of the hurdles I’ve crossed in my life this is one that always seems to be an obstacle. I used to wonder what it would be like if I had a different life where I was popular and had a lot of friends. I know it will happen someday but for now I am glad to have my work friends and family to be a source of support and comfort.

Handling Trolls and Haters

Trolls and haters lurk in the depths of social media networks and their comments and actions can lead to a variety of emotions including anger, annoyance, frustration, and even hurt feelings. There is a distinction between these two terms that should be clarified. Trolls are often spam artists and input comments to social media posts that are often not even related to the topic at hand. Haters are those who are out to insult the work of other people and inflict their hatred in social communities and forums among other places.
The various ways that trolls and haters represent themselves online were explored in a blog post by a blogger who wrote for a blog managed by a start-up whose focus was to improve the civic process by leveraging modern technology to allow more people to become involved with better information. The author described the ways that haters represented themselves in a list:
1. They always find fault and focus on the negative
2. They express themselves harshly and dismissively
3. They often characterize what others say in broad terms presenting a straw man argument which they then cut to shreds
4. They don’t acknowledge information to the contrary, they do not give thanks when given what they want
5. They are never satisfied
Trolls were described in the post as people who “outrage and then tease the gullible into trying to save them, argue with them, prove them wrong, or whatever.” Their representations were enumerated in the following list:
1. They get personal
2. They insult and attack and provide a direct emotional response
3. They escalate to keep the fun going
4. They will never stop unless something more fun occupies their attention
There are different methods that can be implemented to reduce the influence of the haters and trolls that infect your social media channels, post reviews about your writing, or affect your personal life. A freelance writer, Andrew Hutchinson, wrote an article, “Bullies, Trolls, and Haters: Dealing with Negativity on Social Media” on LinkedIn that explored methods for resolving issues that arise with these types of individuals. These methods included:
1. Listen to all feedback
a. Analyze what has been said about you and your writing, absorb it, and take from it any useful advice.
2. Seek to improve what you can (in line with your mission):
a. Know what it is that you were trying to accomplish with your writing and be confident if you know that you achieved your goal with your writing
3. Accept that you can’t please everyone:
a. Not everyone will like what you produce and thought it may be difficult, it is important to accept it, live with what they said, and try to move on
b. If you understand the path you’re on and what you need to do to achieve your goals, you’ll be more resilient and able to accept the opinions of other individuals
He did provide good insight into being empathetic towards individuals who dislike or insult your work. He said,
“Be empathetic—everyone has issues in their life, complications that affect them in ways you can’t possibly know or understand. More often than not, negativity is not about you, keep that in mind and respond with kindness where possible. But also know that some minds can’t be changed. Sometimes you’re better to cultivate the community you have than expend effort on resolution you’re never going to achieve.”
Some propose that the best way to handle trolls and haters is to take a step back and be polite when addressing these people. You should never stoop to their level. Do not confront them but instead respond in a way that shows that you have understood their message and will resolve to address the issues they may have with you or your writing.
Haters and trolls may impact your professional life as well. I have had coworkers that have belittled me and insulted my intellectual abilities and although their words and actions did hurt I was eventually able to move on and realize that perhaps these were not the types of people I needed to have in my life. I realized that I wanted to surround myself with more positive individuals who knew how to support me and accept me for who I am.
It can be very difficult when there are negative individuals in your life but it is important to remember that not everything they say about you is true. Try to be confident and rise above the criticisms and insults they hurl your way. As was mentioned previously, see where they are coming from and the issues that they may be coping with in their personal life.
One excellent quote by Jane Roberts that succinctly summarizes what your approach to handling haters and trolls should be is the following,
“You should tell yourself frequently, ‘I will only react to constructive suggestions’. This gives you positive ammunition against your own negative thoughts and those of others.”
Negativity is an ugly fact of life that we all must cope with at some point in our lives. The key is to try to refrain from letting it impact you in such a way that it takes hold over how you live your life. Life is too fleeting to let it overshadow the great things that you know that you are capable of accomplishing. I know from personal experience how words can affect you and have learned from others that you can’t let the haters and nay-sayers affect how you perceive yourself as an individual.