On playground politics, regretful hairballs, and being your own story’s superhero

I wish I could say it’s the first time I’ve been here.

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Or the second.

Or the third.

The truth is I’ve probably been in similar positions dozens of times my entire life and I conveniently forget how difficult a previous experience was to make room for feeling sorry for myself in a current situation.

I remind myself of the facts again.

I have talents. I am intelligent. I am articulate and well-spoken. I am manically passionate, recklessly impulsive, fiercely loyal, occasionally quick to anger but equally fast to forgive.

I also know I am flawed and imperfect but unceasingly resilient in regards to improving those shortcomings. I believe recognizing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses keeps you humble. I also believe it gives you something to work toward.

My name is Meg and I honestly believe that tomorrow will be better than today.

However, right now, on this super fun Saturday morning, I feel sorry for myself and despite my pathetic scratching feeble attempts to escape, I have concluded sitting down cross-legged in this wallowing dirt hole of NOTHING IS GOING RIGHT is in fact, my destiny.

… For now.

When things go wrong (as they often do), I think it is human nature to first blame the situation. When similar situations happen again, I think it is also natural to find that fault in yourself. Different place, different time, different people, same story, same Meg.

The logic is there. It makes perfect sense. But yet, it’s a slowly growing hairball in the back of your throat and the more you dwell on it, the more you hack and cough on its presence. It’s counter-productive, and ultimately, it’s choking you.

Because it’s only when you let it go and get it out, that you can breathe again.

…Or at least that is what I assume, as I am not a cat and have never hacked up a giant hair ball, and let us all take a moment to thank God for that.

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Did you guys ever watch the TV show, Recess? It was a Saturday morning cartoon about a ragtag friend group and amid all the slap-stick humor that is Saturday morning cartoon television, offered up some (in my opinion) pretty profound advice to the youth of the late 90’s.

A particular episode entitled, “Nobody doesn’t like TJ” has always stuck with me. TJ Detweiler (main character, cool kid with backwards hat) spends an entire episode attempting to convince the one kid at school who doesn’t like him, that they should be friends.

And TJ really chucks his “A-Game” at this bro. He truly throws out his best bag of friend-related tricks. It’s impressive work. As a 10-year-old, you’re kind of watching going woah, I wish TJ was MY friend!

At the end of this particular episode, TJ, in so many words, asks this kid, “Yo, so are you Team Teej or what, homie?” And this guy responds “Yeah, I had a good time. But I still don’t like you.” AND THEN?? HE. WALKS. AWAY. Like… what!!! Damn kiddo, that is some straight-up cold cereal.

At the tender age of 10, I got this adult thematic lesson loud and clear. Not everyone is going to like you Meg. Not everyone is going to want to be your friend. Not everyone is going to have your back or have your best interests in mind. You can put on a smile, compliment, include and welcome them and those same people will continue to do and say thoughtless, manipulative and unkind things just for the sake of pissing you off and getting ahead.

Yet, you have to rise above it. You have to adopt your superhero good-before-evil mantra, imagine you can fly, appear to be invincible, focus on your passion, find your people, turn your ball-cap backward, and shake it off.

At 10 years old, I got that. At 25, the playground of life is a bit more intricate. I like you and I don’t like you are no longer as one-dimensional as Saturday morning cartoons suggested. FYI to all nursery rhymes–no one’s really throwing sticks and stones anymore because it’s not the Middle Ages. These days, we’re all throwing words and yeah, our limbs are just fine, thank you, but our hearts and our minds have seen healthier times.

And despite the lessons I continue to learn as an adult that I thought I understood as a child, I still find myself wanting to be TJ Detweiler. I still desperately want the approval, admiration and acceptance of everyone I surround myself with even though I know in my scarred, bruised and beaten heart, what a fool’s errand that really is. And time and time and time again, I find myself exhausted and defeated, sitting at the bottom of a wallowing hole that I personally put myself in, wondering wait, how did I get back here?

These words are my rescue ladder out. My reminder to myself that the facts above remain true. That I need to continue to work toward being the best version of myself regardless if others like or want to associate with that person. To work toward solutions and not being a part of a problem. To being a superhero in my own story and being ok with being the villain in someone else’s. To always being the main character and not just some anonymous victim stranded in a manhole waiting for someone to rescue me.

Remember why you’re here. To laugh. To smile. To learn. To grow. To adapt. To change. Not to wallow. Not to choke. Not to dwell on lost friendships, ruined relationships, missed opportunities, stupid mistakes and all the kids on the playground that just don’t, for whatever reason, like you and just never will.

“You can’t have a better tomorrow, if you keep thinking about yesterday.”

To today–

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One time on Miracle Mile…

When I first moved to LA, post-quitting my nanny job and before I started at Conde, I babysat for an assortment of families all around the LA area.

One of these families, based in West Hollywood/Miracle Mile area had two children that I took to the Auto Museum one day. I drove their car and parked on Wilshire around 2:30 PM. We had a pretty good time drawing pictures and drinking milkshakes, until it occurred to me that I never checked the parking perimeters. For some reason I knew at 4PM something changed. It was 4:20. In a full panic, I dragged both kids down the street to their parents car that was literally moments away from being put onto the bed of a tow truck.

I was so distraught, I immediately started sobbing. Here I was without a job, living in a city that I knew nothing about, begging a tow truck driver to please, please, PLEASE do not load this car also full knowing that regardless, I was going to get a whopping ticket, which probably wouldn’t even been covered by the all-day sitting job that was just supposed to give me enough money to buy groceries to just LIVE.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I got the tow truck guy to leave the car, instead gifting me with a 200 dollar ticket. Thanks bro. It was pretty devastating, not to mention the kids had seen the whole thing, which meant I knew I better tell the parents ASAP because you knew if they heard about it from the kids first, I was going to look like a straight mental case.

So I confessed the whole situation as soon as I got back to their place and told them, they could just consider today free and I would just pay the ticket instead. I saw the pity in their eyes, and immediately felt extremely pathetic and sad for myself. Idiot. You should have checked that sign! Why didn’t you check the damn parking sign?

I was about to leave when the Dad handed me an envelope.

“I remember when I first moved here”, he said. “I lived on the floor for 3 weeks and spent more than a couple nights in my car. Here’s the ticket cost and a little extra. Don’t give up on the reason you’re here… You’ll figure this out.”

Whenever I’m discouraged, I remember that moment. The extreme gratitude I felt. The look on his face. Feeling hopeless and being hopeful. I remember how far I’ve come from the girl who was begging some tow truck driver to please have mercy on me just this once in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard. The kindness of that father despite my carelessness.

The memory of what it’s like to be a hungry 22-year-old living on a dream.

His words echo in my head:

“Don’t give up on the reason you’re here. You’ll figure this out.”

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