Remind yourself what you deserve

You deserve better
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When we are feeling rejected by someone or something, it’s easy to get down on ourselves and come up with all the reasons why it happened to us. It’s easy to try to rationalize someone else’s actions or decisions or find ways to defend them, even if they hurt us. It’s also common for us to settle for something less than great because we just want to feel accepted or appreciated, no matter the costs.

But we deserve better. You deserve better. I deserve better.

Think about it: a friend isn’t exactly being a good friend – they never call you back, they always have an excuse, maybe they failed to recognize some major moments in your life lately. You say, “Well, but they’re busy,” or “But they usually are a good friend.” Or perhaps you went on a few dates with someone, and started to get interested, and then they lie about something, or lead you on to think it’s something more. “Well, but they’re a nice guy/girl,” or “I should have known better.” Maybe a family member has continued to let you down over the years, but because they’re family, you let it slide.

We shouldn’t let it slide, anymore. What happened to honesty being the best policy? What happened to our friends being that – good friends? What about family who is supposed to be there for you instead of against you?

It’s in my blood to want closure when things don’t work out with people in my life, whether it’s friends, boyfriends, family members, or even coworkers. I want to get it all on the table, I want apologies said where necessary, I want to hug or shake hands and be able to move on. I hate just letting things go without clearing the air, but because of that, I also tend to give people a lot of second and third, maybe fourth and fifth chances. There are some people in my life I’ve given way too many passes, and it’s bitten me in the butt in return.

But then my lovely friend K reminds me that I deserve better. She says I’m too hard on myself. She tells me that when something doesn’t work with a guy, it’s because he’s not the guy for me, and that it’s not about me. She urges me to not deal with people who don’t want to put in the effort, who don’t appreciate me in the way I deserve to be appreciated. And it’s not because I’m more special than anyone else, or deserve more than anyone else, but it’s because I deserve the same things, really, that you deserve: respect, and honesty, and integrity, and love, and time. Because I’m a woman who lives and loves just like everyone else, with dreams, and goals, and good days and bad days, and because I should get something in return from my relationships, like we all want and need.

Remind yourself what you deserve. Remind others what you deserve and ask for it. It’s like I said before, if you want something, you have to go after it, and this is just as important as anything else. And don’t forget to give others what they deserve, too.

Do you doubt yourself before you’ve even started?

I knew I wanted to write about this, but I didn’t know the title until one of the new trainers on The Biggest Loser said it to a contestant tonight. Aha! I said.

But realizing that the answer to that question is often yes for me is not quite as fun. If you’re already feeling bluesy about your body before you get to work, the answer is YES, you doubt yourself before you’ve even started. If you worry about messing up a project before you’ve even written out the plan, the answer is YES, you doubt yourself before you’ve started. If you hear news of a friend or cousin getting engaged and think, it will never be my turn, then YES, you doubt yourself before you’ve started.

Of course the “you” in this story is me. But maybe it is you, too. I want to wake up each day and feel motivated and inspired and happy with who I am, but a few days a week, I’m feeling the exact opposite. I’m annoyed with everything and everyone, I don’t trust that I’ll succeed, I don’t believe that I’m valued and needed as a coworker, a friend, a daughter. And I want to go to bed feeling motivated, inspired, and happy with who I am, too. I want to know and believe that I’m loved by many people, that I’ve got plenty of opportunity ahead, that life is full of so many surprises and challenges, just waiting for me.

If I don’t doubt myself before I’ve even started the day, life would be so much easier. Don’t you agree?

On The Biggest Loser, these contestants are trying to lose dozens, maybe hundreds of pounds. Some of them have been affected by tragedy or trauma. Some of them have lived a life of doubt, shooting themselves in the foot before they even allow themselves to have a dream, much less go after it. I watch these people, and I the trainers asking them why they doubt themselves, why they fear becoming someone accomplished and great and loved and healthy. I shake my head, I say, come on – get with the program! Get rid of all the crap floating around in your head and be a believer – be someone who believes in yourself.

I suppose that even though I’m not on a reality show trying to lose weight, I could do that, too. Could you?


(*Looks like The Biggest Loser is making an impact on the bodies and minds of more than just the contestants on the show, according to this NPR piece)

What is uniquely you?

We all have things we like or love such as food and movies (crawfish, Tom Hanks films), hobbies (tennis, quilting), activities we’re good at (writing, cooking), or random quirks (ambidextrous). And some of us excel at certain things — maybe we always have, or maybe we’ve newly grown into it.

If you’re like me, you’re competitive, you want to be good at something, maybe a lot of things, and you like being recognized for your skills. Since I was a little girl, I’ve considered myself a good writer, but didn’t feel really recognized for it among my peers until college. I also grew up in a family that loved to cook, and I pride myself on making a darn good gumbo and being able to throw together recipes on the fly that are healthy and delicious. I took up running races about a year ago, and as someone who hated running as part of practicing for basketball, soccer, and tennis, I am proud of how much I’ve fallen in love with it and the level I’ve taken it to.

But sometimes I hit a funk, and I feel like nothing is uniquely mine. Thousands of people run races, obviously, but more and more, I meet people in my circles that do it too, and are faster than me. I’m meeting other people who cook a lot and have fabulous photos of their creations, too. I have friends who are also writers and doing something about it. I may be the one of the most zealous Sinatra fans out there, but again, I’m not unique in my love for him. Or corgis.

Bottom line, I get sad thinking that I don’t have anything that is mine — that I can say, I do this or love this and no one else does, and therefore this makes me special.

And then I realize, I don’t need one thing to be just mine. Or even two things. And part of the fun of relationships with people is that you can share these things in common — and can learn from each other and revel in it together. And what’s even better is that the sum of all those things that you may share with others is what makes up you — and of course, how could I forget, that YOU are uniquely you. Everything about you as a person is YOURS. There is no other Jenna Sauber (even if someone else may have the same name). Why?

Because no one else has my memories.

No one else has my feelings.

No one else has my exact dreams and goals and desires.

No one else shares my relationship with my parents.

No one else is all of me wrapped into one —  the Sinatra and sports-loving, corgi-adoring Cajun who loves writing, reading and red velvet cake (see Twitter bio). Hit in the face with a hockey puck, adopted by my dad at 16, 11/11 birthday, born on the bayou — those are all me, too.

How are you uniquely you?

Small steps for a grand plan

First day of school: definitely a small step in a grand plan!

Today I had one of those come-to-insert-higher-power-of-choice moments. It started as a slight scolding from someone who is looking out for me in more than one way (which I deserved), twisted and turned into “I’ve been where you are” stories, and ended on a positive, action-oriented note.

“Help me help you” isn’t just a memorable line from Jerry Maguire — it’s something we have each heard at least once in our lives, maybe more often when we feel like we’re at a crossing in the woods, in the road, or whatever your path is in life. And in order to to help someone help you, you have to listen, and you have to be willing to take small steps to get to your grand plan – your “grander version of you.”

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My next leap is all about me

This post was originally posted on Simply Leap, as part of the “My Next Leap” blog series.


What's Next?

For much of my life, I’ve tried to live up to what I think other people want from me. I’ve tried to please them, make them love me more, like me more, want me more, and need me more.

And I mean everyone — my biological father, teachers, friends, boyfriends, crushes, my dad, my boss … the list goes on.

Much of my four years in DC have been focused on what was next for me as it related to my now ex-boyfriend. We were in love, we were best friends, and we were going to get married. It was as set as it could be, without a ring.

But when push came to shove on next steps, what we wanted for ourselves didn’t quite line up the way that it should for a couple planning to spend their lives together — and I took a big leap into a seemingly dark and deep unknown and ended the relationship.

Nearly eight months later, I’ve thought a lot about who I am and what is next for me. And the most magical and refreshing part of it is that I don’t have to know right now, and that’s okay.

For years I have planned out every step of my life, and coordinated how each person fits into it. But now, as much as I still love using them, I realize that lists and calendars and deadlines don’t make a life, and they don’t create happiness.

And now, I realize that one of the best things about living your life for you – and living it for the NOW — is accepting that not everything will fit together the way you imagine it, and certainly not every person.

That relationship with my ex is only one of the turning points in the last year that has led me to focusing on a happier me.

Some friendships have gone by the wayside, and others have strengthened. Changes at work have forced me to consider what’s important in a job, and my empty-nesting parents’ new beginning across the country have pushed me to dial into my goals and dreams more than ever.

My next leap could be to move, or to stay. It could be to fall in love again this year, or maybe a few years from now. It could be to return to school, start a new job, or start my own business.

My next leap is unknown, uncertain, unplanned, and undetermined.

But I do know that my next leap will be exactly right for me.