Let's Talk Attitude & Gratitude


I had a nickname when I was young: Thunder Thighs.

I was a fat, unattractive baby, and my two older sisters were beautiful babies, and everyone was confused/upset/amused by what an ugly, roly poly of a baby I was.

These are just facts, people.

My other childhood nickname (besides, Jennie-the-pooh, which was silly and endearing and I have no real qualms with): rhinoceros girl.

I was a fat baby who grunted a lot. I also screamed and cried incessantly.

This is all to say that I was born with a bad attitude. Lucky me.

And actually, yes, lucky me. Because I could have been born with Down Syndrome. There was a chance of it, and at the time, my mother's doctors encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy because of it. Which is a sad thing. She did not, and though I was fat and ugly and had a bad attitude, I was healthy and without handicap. She was terribly grateful for this.

When I was an adult, she admitted to me that when she was pregnant with me she thought that my father would have left her if she had kept me and I was born mentally disabled. Which is probably true. He's not a terribly patient or supportive person, and they never had a very good relationship.

I told her that the person I am today would have understood if she had chosen not to go through with that pregnancy because of everything she was dealing with in her life then, that I will always support women having that option open. But that, of course, I appreciated my life. It was her best and bravest gift to me.

I am grateful for what I have.

And yet, this gratitude is often forgotten, pushed aside. I remember a distinct moment in high school when a boy I had a crush on told me I complained too much. He said it teasingly, jokingly, but it was true, too, and those words hit me like a slap in the face the way words only can when they are both true and describe something you had never seen in yourself before. 

It was an uncomfortable moment for me, but I'm grateful for it.

I still complain too much sometimes, often times. It's something I've spent time working on, through practicing gratitude and journaling and avoiding gossip and negative conversations. Through acknowledging and being aware of my privilege. I've been more successful at certain points in my life than others.

And lately I've been struggling. I've always been very critical, very hard on myself. I've always expected a lot. And working in retail is not where I saw myself after getting a master's degree. I've been getting down on myself for not spending enough time applying for other jobs, for not spending enough time writing, for changing my mind about what I want to do next every five minutes. I find myself saying, when people ask what I do, this is where I work "right now," as if to say, this isn't me, this is just a temporary resting place. As if to say, I'm better than this.

Then, a couple of days ago, I listened to this podcast while on my lunch break at work and it was perfectly, exactly what I needed to hear right now. Jon says that you don't have to be ashamed of having a "day job," that working somewhere to make a living, rather than having made it in your craft or opened your own business, is not a bad thing. He says that calling it a "day job" sets yourself up to be unhappy there. Which is exactly what I've been doing.

Listening to Jess and Jon's conversation reminded me that there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow where I am. It reminded me to get the most possible out of my time there, and that I can develop my career toolkit while being there, which will ultimately help me decide and move on to the next great thing. It reminded me that attitude is everything.

Suddenly, without anything external having changed, I felt so much better about where I am in life. Yes, I want to continue moving on, moving up. But that doesn't mean that I can't and shouldn't do my absolute best, be my absolute best, right now, where I am. That doesn't mean that I can't be grateful for all that I have, rather than disappointed or bitter over the things that I don't.

The truth is, I'm lucky to have a job. I'm lucky that trying on clothes is part of it, that helping empower women through finding the right fit is part of it, that working with other amazing women is part of it, that learning about fabric and style and designing outfits is part of it. Attitude=Gratitude.

Thunder Thighs is not an empowering, body positive nickname for someone. Don't do that to your children/siblings/nieces, please. But, I'm glad I had people to love me, to tease me, to give me nicknames.

I love my body. I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything.

I don't scream and cry too much anymore. Mostly just in the car when people drive badly. The struggle is real.

Upgrading attitude is not easy. It's something I have to remind myself of every single day, in every moment of frustration, in response to every negative thought, in answer to every unwelcome emotion. 

But it's good, worthy work, and I'm equal to the challenge.

Yours Truly, Jen

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