The Great Equalizer


I was 7 years old on September 11, 2001. I was being homeschooled by my mother in an impoverished rural town in Upstate New York, with a maximum population of 3,000 people. My mom sat beside me at the small rectangular white table in our yellow playroom going over worksheets when the landline rang and she simultaneously turned on the television. I remember being frustrated when she changed the channel from Scooby Doo to the news. I squinted at the television screen displaying chilling images of smoking buildings, not making much sense of them. I remember my mom talking to my dad on the phone and then my grandparents, while pacing around the house. I remember that she was  talking about my Uncle Dave who lived near the city, not knowing exactly where he was and whether he was okay. Her voice was wavering. I was ignorant to what this terrorist attack meant, but I knew that people were scared. The beauty of being a sheltered child on that day is that I was shielded from the chaos and panic as a result. When it became too much to handle my mom just turned off the t.v.

I was 25 years old on March 11, 2020. I was working at M&T Bank in a suburban slice of Americana, one of the business parks that make up Western New York’s concrete jungle. I sat in an open air cubicle across from my best friend Shannon, surrounded by roughly 500 of my colleagues, compiling data in an Excel spreadsheet. I remember talking about my fast approaching vacation to the Dominican Republic, crossing days off on my desk calendar with excitement. I was frustrated when I went on my lunch break and came across a post on social media about the coronavirus. Just 2 days before my best friend Megan and I were joking about how President Trump would have to escort us off our flight to the DR personally, because we were going on this trip no matter what. Just 1 day before I remember talking to my friend Sandy over sushi, trying to calm her down as she explained to me her concerns about suffering from an auto-immune disease and being especially susceptible as the coronavirus continued to spread. I had maintained a certain level of comfortable naivete to the disease and was not a fan of admitting what a large scale problem it really was. I had been devouring self-help books and utilized some of the advice I read, encouraging my friend to focus on what she could control, as it should lessen her anxiety, and encouraged her to trust in something greater than herself (God).

I was ignorant to what exactly this pandemic meant, but I knew people were scared. My boss told me we would be testing out working from home because of the current health risks. A few days later the emergency plan for us to work remotely “until further notice” went into effect. There are many differences when you are immersed in a crisis as a somewhat self sufficient adult,  but in stark contrast to what I recall as a child from 9/11, today everyone is offering advice and opinions and no one (not even the children) has been shielded from any of this chaos. I can’t just turn off the t.v. because coverage of this tragedy is everywhere.

We are a society saturated with status updates and we are currently drowning in the painful realities of the pandemic that we are facing. I feel this is hurting us more than it is helping us. The media’s excessive minute-by-minute documentation temporarily provides us with a false sense of control, ie. we know exactly how many cases exist and where the people have been and some of the facts about them, which gives us hope that we will know how to fix this. Initially this may be a positive, but personally I feel smothered by the overwhelming quantity of information blasted via all platforms about the virus at all hours and some of it I don’t understand. The media also starts talking about groups of people like the elderly or the immune-compromised as generalized populations and so we stop thinking of them as our grandparents and individual people like my friend Sandy. We see these news stories with click bait headlines on our individual social media platforms and we selfishly become more concerned with our individual needs and focus on what a disturbance this pandemic is to our everyday lives, rather than the impact it is having on all of us collectively. We previously took for granted the ease of access to limited resources like bread, milk and toilet paper and so now individuals are scouring high and low to stock up whenever they find it… which means many others will go without it. This is self-sabotage. We lose sight of the fact that we are all facing the same fear and inconvenience at the same time, our vision is blurred by our own selfish tendencies. The coronavirus is our common enemy, but with competition and self preservation as the main focus in the age of social media we can easily slip into a place where we blame the woman who bought the last rolls of toilet paper instead of the reason we’re panic purchasing tp in the first place. In my opinion a significant difference between the 2001 tragedy and our present crisis is the societal mindset. We have become more narcissistic and consumer driven in the past 19 years. There is certainly a scientific explanation for our exposure to this virus, but perhaps as lay people/not medical professionals we should also be focusing on what we can learn from this illness rather than just providing medical advice and frightening statistics to everyone within an earshot**

Think about the lessons that came out of 9/11. The silver lining of devastating events is that they are a unifying factor that bring us all together! And although we currently need to “come together” from a safe self-quarentined distance, we are still fully capable of providing the love and support for the communities and individuals both near and far that are suffering. Think about the retail and restaurant workers that are risking their lives, putting themselves at risk to support themselves and their families, so that you can visit 4 stores to buy your preferred ply toilet paper. Consider the vulnerable portion of the population that does not have medical coverage, because they cannot afford it, and the stress that this adds to their lives even when this specific hardship subsides. Remember that this virus is not discriminatory; regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, faith, orientation, etc. we are all susceptible. Tragedy is the great equalizer and although this is a scary time for us worldwide; if we join forces and support each other, looking out for our overall good by making sacrifices individually (like isolation and cancelling trips to the Dominican Republic :,() then we will make it to the other side of this stronger and more united. If we focus on our individual desires at the expense of the greater good then I have a feeling we will be combating the virus for a long time.

In the book “It’s Not Fair” by Melanie Dale the author spent a chapter asking God why bad things happen. She has suffered from illness and infertility and found comfort in knowing that the answer to that question is “above her pay grade” or ability to comprehend. I don’t understand why we are going through this catastrophe right now, but I do trust that God sees the big picture and has a much better understanding of how all of this going to play out than I do. Because he gave us free will and the ability to make decisions this too much be a part of His plan, he doesn’t endorse bad things but he allows them to exist for the greater good. Think about the life lessons you learned while going through difficult times in the past, this global hardship is no exception. -Allison

**PLEASE still wash your hands.

Visualize your highest self and start showing up as her.


To preface this post, I fully see the irony of my last blog post being on minimizing public exposure and then deciding to bare my soul, but humor me.

I have been going to therapy on and off for 8 years. That’s right, with today being my blog-iversary, that is the same 8 years that I have blogging on http://www.clearingpreppysname.com for, yet I don’t think therapy has ever come up before. There are probably several people in your life who utilize the support of a counselor or therapist to help them fight through the struggles they face everyday and you may not even realize it. For me, talk therapy has been extremely important when I reflect on the successes in my life; both big and small. I suffer from generalized anxiety and have been an obsessive compulsive perfectionist for my entire life… so admitting the imperfection that is needing help from someone else goes completely against my nature. But the time feels right to share, because although the prior 6 months that I wrote about in January were very challenging, the 6 weeks that have followed them have been utterly transformative.

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Once I stopped throwing myself a pity party and started taking responsibility wherever I could for the disappointing realities that I have faced, trying to view the negative circumstances as life lessons rather than a death sentence, I felt a major shift. Some of this was therapy, a lot of this was self-help books, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training program at work and motivational pinterest quotes. It feels incredible! I am not bettering myself out of spite, but rather bettering myself because I just remembered that I am responsible for my own happiness and nobody else is.  Why do so many of us walk around as if that is not true? Any power that I gave away to anyone else in the past was  a choice that I was making and sometimes it’s so much easier to play the victim so that is the deep dark hole that we, as a society, fall into. One of my favorite t-shirts that’s over a decade old has a faded quote from Eleanor Roosevelt on it, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Damn straight.

In one of my recent therapy sessions my counselor asked about a goal I have and how I would know if I was living my life as a 10 out of 10 as opposed to a 6 out of 10, etc. I had to describe how I would feel, what I would be doing, what I would be wearing and who I would be with. This isn’t the first time he asked me to visualize my best self and to describe everything about that dream, but it was the first time I understood why he was doing this and allowed myself to see the possibility of being that dream girl. With bills and stress to blame, I have spent a lot of my most recent adult years in survival mode and forgot what dreaming felt like. Once I verbalized the things I could be doing in my life to better myself, I also realized that I was making a conscious decision each day to do them or not. If I say I want to be my most authentic faith filled, caring and loving self, surrounded by like minded friends and family, then what is binge watching the Cheer documentary on Netflix* while eating Ben and Jerry’s alone doing to get me there? Why keep people in my life that aren’t moving me towards that goal? If I don’t like the way my body looks then why keep eating so much pasta?

6 out of 10 Allison is not the person that God wants me to be and so she’s not who I want to be. I have been immersing myself in audiobooks (I highly recommend Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb and Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan), following a better morning routine that includes reading my bible and making smoothies and increasing my practice time for line dancing in a conscious effort to do better. I have been smiling at people and waving first, because I feel that people are innately good and almost always respond similarly if only more people would initiate this behavior! I am seeking to understand when other people talk to me, rather than just seeking to be understood. I am listening.

The facts from 6 weeks ago are still the same: I’m still working at the bank. I’m still single. I’m still not a multi-millionaire.

But my outlook is different, because I’m dreaming again and I’m taking small steps towards my goal of being 10 out of 10 Allison. It’s so exciting!! What does your best self look like? I am visualizing my highest self and starting to show up as her.

Allison

*side note, it’s super entertaining and I totally recommend it.

 

Over online exposure


It has been a very long time since I blogged (almost a year) and I am nearly at a loss for words. This is ironic, even amusing, because a lot happened in my life during my absence.. a new job, death in my family, a break up.. but I am unsure of how to adapt those experiences for online publication. I never felt this way when I would write on my site before, but perhaps the natural censorship and desire for privacy that comes along with adulthood has finally made its way into my online presence.

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I had a difficult time returning to my blog initially because my laptop crashed in May 2019 and I waited until October 2019 to purchase a new one, due to the financial burden and, quite frankly, lack of motivation. I spend 8+ hours a day on the computer at work, it was… dare I say… REFRESHING to be unable to spend even more time behind a screen. On the other hand this felt like an incredibly long hiatus to try and explain once I did have a laptop in my possession again, especially when every other influencer I followed seemed to be posting consistently. Successful bloggers and media gurus rarely expose the strain that can come along with publicly documenting so much of your life. There can be unwelcome opinions and pain from rehashing life events in front of a less than forgiving audience, that gets to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. I hope that by divulging that I have been struggling with putting out content over the past year and deciding against exposing some of my life events online another influencer will feel less ashamed for taking time off as well.

In November I made the decision not to renew my website’s hosting services, after a costly and frustrating experience with HostMetro. This decision led to my previously designed Headway layout being incompatible with WordPress’ free hosting and ultimately left me feeling disappointed. I lost my Clearing Preppy’s Name logos and branding with their cursive pink writing and pearls, as well as my clearingpreppysname@gmail email address that was hacked, giving some cyberbot contacts and connections I spent years establishing. These were symbols of my blog’s identity for just under a decade.

When I did consider writing online again I was somewhat embarrassed and kept thinking “What are my goals for this post?”  and “What am I trying to address?” instead of just ranting about whatever would come to mind like I had previously. Writing mindlessly was a wonderful escape for me and I thankfully didn’t abandon it all together, rather I switched to good old fashioned pen and paper during my time away from my blog.. keeping journals stuffed to the brim with the rants and emotional documentation of the highs and lows of the past 6 months instead. Arguably, I should have been keeping these records for myself since the formation of my site, maybe even instead of publishing it all for the online world to see. Thankfully I don’t think there’s anything too exposing out there, minus embarrassing photos and over-exaggerated opinions on preppy fashion. With a new mindset now I wonder if I have forgotten how to write publicly without considering who will be reading it though. This might not be a bad thing. The youthful naivety that once allowed me to openly post my thoughts and opinions has been slightly tainted by life lessons, but I don’t regret them. I’m just learning more about myself and my needs. I am so glad I didn’t stop writing overall, but the writing is now just for myself, as it’s an incredibly therapeutic creative outlet for me. And I simply am not willing to share everything online anymore.