PACKAGES THREE: Stripped

Baring it all like never before.



At some point in my 25 years of living, I decided to stop caring about other people more than I care about myself - no matter what that looked like. I got tired of my excuses for why I couldn’t live up to my potential, especially when they centered around someone else’s feelings and/or needs.



Recently I watched a documentary on the Queen of England and how she was able to reign for so long with poise and the favor of the British people, mostly. (I know, this is quite random but just follow me for a second.) The Queen had been groomed on how to rule since early childhood when her Father became King and knew as the eldest of two female children, Elizabeth was next in line. She and her sister were homeschooled and taught not just in reading and writing but also in the way of living as a monarch. It seems as if their lives shifted around that. She was taught by her grandmother to “never complain, never explain.” A sentiment that helped her keep her beliefs and emotions under wraps. Not even close friends were allowed inside her head on certain topics for fear they may leak a story for monetary gain. As I watched the documentary everyone praised the Queen for remaining poised even in potentially uncomfortable situations. For me, on the other hand, her facial expressions resonated on a different level.



Since childhood, I was praised for being well-mannered. I was very obedient and very respectful. I was often quiet unless called on but even then, I wouldn’t let anyone in. I was groomed to know that “if you can’t be decent, be discreet.” As I grew older I built up layers of how far someone got in, depending on my level of comfortability. I became so good at this, in fact, one of my college professors told me upon leaving a professional program of two years that I was “hard to read,” and that stuck with me. Although I’ve shared glimpses of myself with people throughout the years, I have to admit that most people who claim to know me, haven’t truly seen the full picture, and I’m partly to blame. Only partly, because being the sheltered, disciplined child that I was, a lot was off limits - even normal expressions of being disgruntled and/or dissatisfied. A lot was not left up to choice.



Growing up the “good, church girl,” a standard that was impossible to live up to 24-7(and trust me I failed), you didn’t have a lot of freedom of expression. I didn’t fit in amongst my non-churchy peers because I seemed fake, and I didn’t fit in with my friends from church as I tried to be perfect. These worlds never seemed to overlap either. Honestly, the adults in these spaces generally didn’t care how those impossible standards truly make you feel, either. If you take away the debate of right and wrong, there is no guided conversation to teach you how to think for yourself. There is no guidance on how to make a decision that you feel is true to you. The more I learned to comply without question, the more of me died. My analytical brain had questions that went unanswered, and they haunted me.

I often felt confused and conflicted. As the quirky, free-spirited, introvert that I was, the standard church girl gimmick didn’t fit in my closet. I went everywhere else trying to find myself, and that didn’t work either. Thomas Paine writes in Age of Reason,


“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”

I’ve been on a journey since being on my own to rediscover who I’d be without all the layers. I want to know what I believe and why. Some old parts of me I’d like to keep, and some I’d gladly part ways with as mentioned in PACKAGES. It takes time, though, to inventory all that and redefine who you are. That’s what the “PACKAGES” series means to me. I’ve concluded the long trip of coming into adulthood and I’m unpacking all dead weight. I’m figuring out what all makes up me at my core.



A lot of people say “getting started is the hard part” when it comes to any new journey, and I disagree. Starting is hard, but trying to endure during the process is THE hardest part in my opinion. Growth realistically happens in spurts. The graph of life is not a steep upward slope but more so a winding pattern of highs, lows, starting over, backtracking, moving forward, and many other maneuvers to get to where you need to go. In the beginning, there’s excitement. There’s the rush of emotions that come with finally getting your feet wet and exploring something new. There’s a reward there, even if that reward is only the “feel good” of newness. Eventually, all that dies down and you face what’s real. Eventually, you run into problems and have to troubleshoot. Eventually, the season changes. Occasionally, you see a story of someone becoming an “overnight success” but what isn’t shown is the amount of preparation beforehand and the amount of “no’s” they faced to be ready for when an opportunity comes.



I’ve been into gardening. This year was my first time putting in full effort and investing in the craft. All the years before I was unmotivated. I learned firsthand from my brother at Taynylei Plant-ery (find him and his community work on Facebook here). What resulted was a fun, productive summer with me experiencing growing a tomato, an eggplant, many herbs, and even starting a Butterfly Garden. Much of my choice of plants was an experiment. Some plants thrived in the Louisiana heat, some not so much. Seasons affect everything. I’m noticing now that things that once flourished - for example my Basil - are now switching gears to make flowers and reproduce. Some things that once struggled are now getting growth spurts since the sun isn’t as intense. Nature knows that fall is approaching and it’s time to adjust to the times. Naturally, some things die away while some things are welcoming the newness.




This past year was so intense mentally, physically, and spiritually for me. I survived working my first job in the medical field on nightshift, while having to know how to work multiple departments. I got married. I started blogging, and many small but impactful changes happened in between. It felt like life was flipped upside down.


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Your mid-twenties are such a coming-of-age season. It’s said that the brain isn’t fully formed until about age 25, and there’s so much about life that you’re learning during this time. The things I once placed value in, like what people thought about me or my achievements, they now don’t mean as much. They aren’t priorities anymore. I feel like I have been stripped of everything I once knew in hopes of embracing a lot of new. It makes sense now, but during that time, the pruning process did not feel good.



The season of my life is changing. I had my fun as a busy bee in college. I survived “survival mode” and did what I could to get by. Now, things are slowing down. I have a family. There’s a different weight of responsibility, and I have to be intentional with everything I do. My first year or so of blogging was an experiment. I started. I got my feet wet. I came, I saw, and I conquered. Oh but now, I’m transitioning into a new season of growth and harvest. I’m trusting God to lead me. I’ll willingly let some projects pass me by this go around and not overextend myself. I also look forward to being ready for whatever new things come. For now, I’ll press through and endure. Although I was stripped, I have everything I need.



In a nutshell, this year I’m not looking forward to being anything. Just Jas. I’m looking forward to being Jas. 🦋

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