32 years: 5 continents, 4 jobs, 3 loves, 2 kids, 1 story.
Every day is an episode of this curiously adventure-filled journey called life.
The thing I like best about RomComs is that they are predictable escapes to easy-going, happy ending places, for about 127 minutes. Well, that’s what you’re going to get here, in a few. I promise you happy endings. It’s all I will allow. And if you choose happiness for yourself, you will be uplifted as well. If you’re having trouble getting there, scroll all the way down right now.
I’m only 32 and my life has been a grand adventure. I’ve lived in Singapore, Paris, New York City and more. I’ve landed amazing jobs, married the best man for me, we’ve traveled the world, started a family and I get to play with them every day — to learn who they are and to learn the best lessons in life.
“The more you see, the less you know.” This little lyric from U2’s ‘The City of Blinding Lights’ is equivalent to the picture that’s worth a thousand words; except these are words and they are worth a thousand ideas. It’s a guiding tune for life.
Life seems to work out best when I release control and let it happen. I see the world with open eyes and an open heart. I trust that my life will teach me what is good for me, even when I find myself resisting the lesson. Now, I consciously let go again and allow what will be, be.
I have a tendency to dictate to the world but I’ve learned to collaborate with the cosmos. When I release what I think should happen, when I let my good intentions flow — something even better usually comes back to surprise me.
It was love at first sight — for him. I wasn’t looking for love, so in my memory, he was the handsome French guy who brought the boom box to my friend’s birthday party. Luckily for me, he is French and persistent and was loving the ‘me’ I’d learned to be. I’d also needed the coaxing of my good friend Natalie (the birthday girl from the party who was also his colleague) who was also very insistent that I let him try.
“He’ll be good for you,” she’d said.
I was afraid. I had been desperate for someone to love me, soul-searching, trying this thing and that… that guy over there and the other one too. I was recovering from a deep-dive place of pain for my own ‘great depression’. I’d returned home but was still carrying all the baggage because I didn’t know how to unpack.
I’d just moved to Asia and I was living my dream job, working as a creative in a top-notch advertising agency for global clients on International campaigns that I got to present myself — under the guidance of the most amazing mentors with the best wings to fly under.
I threw myself into my career, I released the expectations for love in my life. I was busy. I hadn’t known I’d find a position when I’d arrived. I came for a two-week vacation, with the very clear intention of landing a great job. (I packed for a year complete with 1000 razors and q-tips because somehow I didn’t think I’d be able to buy them there?) I still had a return ticket but I really didn’t want to go home.
I loved my new job, my career was taking flight. I decided this would be my new life, and so it was. I was not even so naively confident that I’d make it — I’d been such a straight-arrow, having decided I’d be a creative director at an ad agency by the time I was 12 and taking all the necessary steps to get myself there, I felt like I knew what I was doing. I was on top of the world.
So I decided to focus on re-storying my love.
Turning point #3.
I don’t remember when it dawned on me, but I took a long, lonely look at myself and realized, of course, I wouldn’t attract the person who would be attracted to the true me, if I kept disrespecting myself by wallowing, chasing a version of myself or someone else. I needed to be my true self. Gulp.
I had to be brave. I had to quit searching outside of myself and seek within, to fall in love with myself and be the ‘me’ who peacefully resonates with the ‘me’ I want to be, now.
I had work to do. I needed to figure out who I was. And I needed to let myself be the ‘me’ who is so rock-solidly, authentically ‘me’ that it feels uncomfortable and scary to be, because it means I’m outside of my shell and vulnerable to being walked over.
Another thought dawned on me and it was unsettlingly obvious: whoever dislikes the true me just isn’t the right person for me. Hallelujah? It was a rare moment of clarity that opened everything up to me. The top of my world just expanded. I realized I am creating my world, my future world, and I will always be on top of it. It is mine to stand on and to expand. If I take every step with authenticity to myself and clear intentions for who I want to be, my world will be a step bigger, better, more interesting and full of love every minute of every day.
Okay, I didn’t realize all of that until much later, but in that moment, I did realize that I wanted whoever I eventually attracted to know me, all of me, and not only be able to handle all of me but would choose to choose all of me and to encourage me to be me, so I stuck to it and said, ‘this is me — and I love me’. This was my first step from the ‘true me’.
Then, I met Mehdi.
Right away? Seriously?! We’re married with two kids now and it’s all good, but in the moment, it felt way too soon. I’d just learned to love me and I was loving it. I panicked and resisted his love. I finally felt centered, balancing a life that worked for me. I felt stronger than ever, smarter, bolder and freer! I did things that I wanted to do for me — because they made me happy. The world was my oyster now that I’d come out of my shell. I couldn’t just let him come in and love me already. I was just starting to have fun by myself.
But of course, this is when the best things happen — when we least expect or want them to happen. And of course, he turned out to be the pearl that changed my world again.
This is a story to inspire women (and men, but mainly women) to be bold, to go, do, and live with intent — creating the best version of yourself that you can today and every day. Thank you for sharing this time and space with me today.
I’m willing to go with the flow and will write about what you want to hear about next in Episode 2. Please, kindly let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to give you what you want next. Gratefully yours, Jennie.
For those of you who chose to scroll down, know this:
In keeping with the trust of the RomCom, I promised the happy ending. I understand if you’re feeling jaded, angry or that I simply can’t relate because I didn’t share my darkness.
Let me kindly ask you to ask yourself why you want to fuel or reawaken your own fears? Wouldn’t it be nice if you chose happiness too?
If you still need for me to break down to be able to commiserate, I can promise you, I’ve been there — somewhere. It’s not exactly the same place as you, but it’s deep, dark and ugly too. I know the songs — and I know they’re no good for me. With every rotation, I spiral down right with them. I choose to not re-play that record. You can too.
Decide. 5,4,3,2,1. Discipline. Go. And now we’re moving on, because I release it. And I release you. We are changing our tune.
If you’re thinking of diving back in, you can. You always can. I stayed too long and kept diving in when I thought I’d decided, but I hadn’t. I tucked myself in and let it all in and it almost destroyed me. But it didn’t. You don’t really want to be there, you certainly don’t need it. It’ll always be there. It’s scary to come out, I know. But you have to, for your future self, for your happiness and for your health.
But know, THIS is THE LIFE. You can live it or you can waste it.
You can choose to live at the top of your world in your present, with everything abounding. You can even arrange visits to your dark and wounded past when you’re in a better place to understand. It’s different than sweeping your worries under a rug. You know where they are. You’re just choosing happiness and getting stronger and learning to love, maybe again, maybe for the first time. It’s actually quite fun, as scary as it seems.
Is wallowing in your sorrows and fears a choice that makes you the happiest? It does feel safer to surrender and feel awful, than it does to live a healthy, happy, balanced life. When I decided to value my health, I really decided — like stomped my foot decided and said it out loud. I began to bravely change my choices, asking myself each time, what would it be like to feel happy? What would it take? The choices began to choose themselves. One day, to symbolize this change, I bought myself a rose and tenderly put it in a vase in my kitchen. I smiled. Ha. I smiled!
The choice is always yours. You always get to choose. Every moment is an opportunity. I remember when my friend told me to smile until my mind and my body believed my face. I wanted to punch her. I’m glad I didn’t — it worked. Making that decision is the hardest thing to do, for real. Deciding not to decide is still a decision, but it’s not one that’ll change anything for you.
The kind of decision that will change your life is so unwaiveringly fierce that it’s like you’re piercing your lifeline through all space and time. You’re taking control. You’re creating a point from which now everything pivots. The more forcefully you place your decision and the more you let life show you the way, the easier it is to be the pin and hold your ground and take sure steps forward.
Deeply decide and have the discipline to change the course of your life. You can say, “I am here now, and I choose ____”. And watch how life offers you choices to rearrange your perception of life and who you are within it — guiding you in your new direction. You are your own compass, but North is always North.
Now, enjoy the ride. Baby steps.
Step #1: Smile.
Step #2: Breathe.
Step #3: Think about smiling and breathing.
Step#4: Repeat until something in you changes.
Originally published at medium.com