When people first meet me, it's common for them not to like me. I've kind of grown to accept this as a recurring theme in my life. To this day, the love of my life still laughs because he recalled to a mutual friend, "You know I hated that girl, the first time we met." I don't know if it's something I do or say or simply people rejecting the unfamiliar as they do best. I've been bullied enough in my lifetime to know I am a bit different, but through time, I've also learned to accept myself for it, more than that embrace it.
John Wooden said it best, "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching."
On any given day you'll find me giving food or the change in my pocket to homeless people. You'll find me walking blocks to deliver smoothies or pizza in heels. During my lunch breaks I often visit shelters.
In between doing my 9 to 5 job, I'm constantly answering messages from strangers as they vent about their own lives and together we try and understand what it is they are going through. My main thing, is to never make them feel alone. To date I have over 400 messages and emails of people who reached out to me and a fan page of nearly 6,000 people.
I've always believed, what you put into people and relationships reflect what you will get out of it.
When I'm not answering fan mail, I am editing friends resumes and preparing them for interviews, for positions we've found together.
Every day, I spent a few minutes out of my day, congratulating someone on something in their life or catch up wishing them a happy birthday, giving them a call. Yes an actual phone call.
After work, I'm generally at 2 to 3 charity or networking events per week, in the midst of planning and organizing my own, to host.
On the weekends I am mentoring a 12-year-old who has been bullied through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
During the holidays I'm volunteering at either Holiday Express, Covenant House or The Children's Center of Monmouth and Ocean County.
Throughout college, I volunteered with the Special Olympics, the local Animal Shelters. I went abroad to teach children how to read and was a part of a program called Best Buddies. On Sundays I would visit, the local nursing home (where I continue) to visit a resident who is a Holocaust survivor.
On campus I give speeches for suicide awareness and continue to advocate against bullying.
Throughout the year I will run about 4 to 5 half marathons for charity.
I am 23 years old. This is who I am on a common day. This is what I like to do.
One of the most difficult things about being this type of person aren't the unkind words or strangers across a screen, but rather the rejection of people who know me.
When someone says, "drop the innocent act." It hurts a little. When someone tells me I'm fake, it hurts a little. When someone doesn't like me it does hurt.
I lead a life looking towards what I can do to help others. I consider myself very lucky to do so. But not everyone sees it like that. People sometimes without ever understanding it, consider me a threat.
Mitch Albom said it best, "People are only mean when they are threatened."
People in my life have been very unkind to me. But I pride myself on letting the cycle end there.
My response to unkindness is to be kinder. My response to someone else's negativity is to not let it affect my own positive outlook.
That moment you try to retaliate against whatever has hurt you, if it's words or actions, you are allowing the other person to win.
Of the things I'm most confident about in my life, aren't looks or my active social life.
Of the things I am most confident about in life is how I treat people, the words I choose and if I can do something at any point to make their lives easier or better.
Being the way I am, doesn't make me naive to what people are really like. I know a lot of people are selfish. I know a lot of people put themselves before others. I see people in their worst forms and I choose to step away from it. I fail to understand being selfish and I think that's a blessing.
Because despite seeing people at their worst, I know the potential of people at their best.
I am a firm believer in success not being defined by your bank account. Your worth, not being defined by some status, but defining success and self worth by the relationships you establish in your life and are able to maintain.
I live with the motto, life is only as good as the people whose lives we can make better.