It's Not Enough to Dress Like a Lady, You Actually Have to BE a Lady

One minute I'm speaking on panels for the White House, leading non-profits, and guiding the youth. The next minute, I'm calling my dad to bail me out of a jam! 
I had to do a quick self-assessment and really tell my self to grow up! 

Since the start of 2014, I've been trying to change my style to "look" my age. I wanted people to take me more serious and stop telling me that I blend in with my students. I was growing more and more insecure about being the same exact size that I was in high school and not having a "grown woman" body like most women my age. Wherever I would go, I was always reminded of how young I look or how skinny I am. It caused me to lose my gratitude for the skin I'm in. I wanted nothing more than to change the very essence that is me. Though, the reality was/and still is: the way people perceive me has very little to do with my physical appearance, it's more about the way that I carry myself. It's never going to be enough to put down the Forever 21 and pick up the Ann Taylor. It's about my actions.  

After reflecting on a few of the dilemmas that I was faced with over the past few months, I was able to create a list of things that I need, in order to be more "ladylike".

A Major Credit Card

When I was 22, I received my first credit card. It was for $4000. I just knew I would never use it for anything but after moving into my apartment and needing new clothes for my first year as a teacher, I found myself with a measly three dollar balance on my card. Crazy right?! But honey, I paid that thing off so fast that it could make your head spin! And I never looked back. My motto was, if I can't pay for it, I don't need it! 

I lived by this for the past 5 years until recently, when I needed a rental car to go to Atlanta. If you remember my story, "Aim High", from December, the rental company didn't let me rent a car because I didn't have a Maryland license or a major credit card. You would've thought I would've learned my lesson from that experience but no.. I was still adamant about not wanting a credit card. 

Last week, however, when I was trying to rent a car to drive from New York to Massachusetts, I was faced with the same exact problem. I couldn't rent a car because I didn't have a major credit card. I went straight to my dad for help. Here I was, 28 years old, and still running to my father for help. Crazy thing is, he couldn't even help me! So I ran around for hours, trying to find someone to let me use their credit card. I even went to my bank, where the clerk informed me that my new credit card was actually on its way to my house. Ironically, my old card expired and the bank took the liberty of sending me a new one without my request. Unfortunately, the new card came a day late and I couldn't use it to rent the car to get to the Vineyard. 

Eventually, my dad remembered that he had a credit card that he could use (Did I mention he's 80? He's very forgetful.) and I was able to rent the car in his name. 

At my age, I should never have to go through something like that but I can only blame myself. 

Obviously, the lesson here is: Always have a major credit card. As young adults, we never know what we will be faced with. Especially if you travel a lot.. You should definately have a security blanket to cover yourself in the case of any unexpected storm. You never know when you will need it. Emergencies are never planned. 

A Role of Ducktape

To put over my mouth every time I try to apologize .. Seriously, I am always apologizing for being me.  

I can be the only one in a party dancing and I'll look up and say, "Oh, sorry.." Or I'll be sitting with a group of my intellectual colleagues and offer my perspective on a topic, only to counteract everything I said with, "Is it bad to think that way?", sounding like a little girl who isn't sure of herself at all. 

I am obviously still growing and becoming more and more aware of who I am, what I like, what I don't like, what I want, etc. but I have to stop stifling my own growth by putting myself down.

I'm not saying I am going to start walking around with a mouthful of arrogance, as if I am never wrong.. 
What I am saying to my self is, 
"Val, stop doubting the beautiful brilliance that is you! Be you. Be a lady of confidence. Just be you, unapologetically."

A Smile ... Not a Whine 

Life can be hard. People can really piss me off... I can't lie.. Sometimes I find myself in situations that make me want to either ball up and cry or straight up hurt someone! I have been known to have temper tantrums and lose all of my sanity, becoming overly aggressive with my words and fists, all because something is not going my way. No self control, at all. 

As cliche as this is going to sound, what I have learned is that smiling in the face of the darkest adversity is the best quick-fix ever. Getting angry only perpetuates the problem! I promise you, if you can muster up a smile when everything seems to be falling apart, you have already proven that you have more than enough strength to defeat the issue and move on. 

Be a lady, not a baby. 

A Plan

All hail the Queen of Procrastination! I never have a plan. I am as whimsical as they come when it comes to my day-to-day lifestyle, which is the main reason why I often find myself in unpleasant situations... Situations that could've been avoided if I would've been more proactively prepared. 

Being forgetful and careless at this age does not just affect me, it affects the people around me as well. It's not cool or cute to be inconsiderate, even if it's not intentional. Being a lady means being attentive to the needs of yourself and being thoughtful of how your actions will impact others.


..that's all I have for now.. this list is never going to close though.. there's a new lesson to be learned every single day... I am grateful for that. 

Love love, 


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