It's been nearly eight weeks since the Our Maker Life event in Chicago, IL where I was one of the keynote speakers. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life, and if you talk to anyone else who attended, they can confirm the magic that happens there.
It's been a big goal of mine to get my speech up on the blog as soon as I had it in my hands. However, I have found myself watching it and seeing all of the times I messed up, all of the times I remember thinking in my head, "Come on Jessica, SUCK IT UP!", all of the times I just really didn't come off the way I had hoped. I lose track of where I'm at in my speech, I stumble over my words, I nearly fall over a couple times.. Guys, but I had a second perspective about my "mistakes" and am honestly proud that I was able to be my true self in front of everyone in the audience. I am human, I'm not perfect and never, ever will be. I never will claim to be even remotely similar to perfect because I know better and I would never want anyone to perceive my life to be something it isn't. It's just so important to me to be real, honest, and relatable.
So, feel free to watch all of my imperfections while I share my heart and hope to inspire something to stir inside of you by sharing my life and experiences. I've always wanted to share my story, and at least I have been able to start the discussion. One day I'll tell the full story, but until then, I hope to shine His light and use my life as a resource to prove that anything is possible in Him.
Don't have time to watch the full video? Scroll down below to read the text and see the presentation slides that missed the event!
So, just to introduce myself a little bit.. I’m Jessica and I really like to make stuff. But more than that, I live in Oregon with my incredibly talented husband who has been a tattoo artist for the last 12 years. We have two amazing babies and I just love my little family so much.
I’ve loved crafts for as long as I can remember. I used to paint ceramic houses with my Nana when I was little. She and my aunt would paint shingle by shingle on those tiny little houses while I’d slather the paint just to cover the white. As the years progressed, I learned the benefits of being patient with your painting and how it can make a big difference to take your time. I remember one Christmas she had gotten me those little sand art crafts where you can layer the different colors of sand in fun-shaped bottles. We sat at her table and made a huge mess, I’m sure, but all I remember is doing them with her. My nana means so much to me and I am so grateful to her for introducing me into being creative.
When the team at Our Maker Life first approached me to speak at this event, I have to be honest.. the sweats came in and I got a huge lump in my chest. It’s one thing to talk to my phone and post to social media, but it’s a completely different thing to actually speak in front of real actual humans that can see how awkward I am and how quickly I lose my train of thought.
Ever since I accepted the offer to speak here, I knew I obviously had to write a speech and became so overwhelmed. I changed my topic probably 17 times, doubted myself, thought about backing out.. because, guys.. putting yourself out there is SCARY. Like, I’m sweating right now and my heart is beating a million times a second, but guys.. I’m doing it. And this is what I want to talk about.
What does that word mean to you? For me, I generally think of spiders, walking down the alley at night alone, or even missing my flight. That’s fear, right? For all of my life I’ve endured so many different kinds of fears. Some big, some small. But the one fear that surpasses any of them, is my fear of not being enough.
My life, all 28 years of it, has been so incredibly filled with fear. My parents divorced when I was 8 and my mom moved me and my sister to another state away from all of our family. The man she chose to move to Oregon for two decades ago was a local police officer and ended up abusing me for a year and a half behind closed doors starting at the age of 13. My mom didn’t speak to me for two months after I told about the abuse and chose not to spend Christmas with me two weeks later because she was upset that I took away her boyfriend. I became friends with the wrong crowd and made a lot of poor decisions which, in turn, created not very fun consequences.
At 18, I told my mom about moving in with my then boyfriend and she told me that if I moved out, I wasn’t allowed back and had to pay for all of my bills. So, a few months after my 18th birthday, I moved out, got my own phone plan, paid for my own bills and attempted to figure out how to be an adult without having been shown how to do any of that. For instance, my first car was a green 2 door Chevy Cavalier my mom bought off of my cousin and no one told me I had to change the oil. I know this is SO obvious, but at the time I didn’t even know cars TOOK oil. One time I was driving on the highway and got in the center lane so I could turn left. After a break in cars, I pressed the gas to cross the highway and, what do you know, my car seizes up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY WITH CARS COMING RIGHT AT ME. I remember leaning back and forth and screaming just TRYING to get my car out of the lanes of traffic so I wouldn’t freaking DIE. Because God is good and had a plan for me, I managed to scoot my car into this little triangle section of the road where no cars drove. I called everyone I knew to see if they could come and help me and NO ONE answered their phones. Here I was, stranded just feet off of the highway in a car that would not do anything and no one knew where I was nor that I needed help.
After I lost my car, I soon lost my job due to a lack of car and then also had no place to live due to one chaotic night where my friend made a really bad choice that I disagreed with and I moved out the next day. With no car, no job, no place to call home, I found myself couch surfing for two weeks at various friends’ homes. Once I realized that city had nothing left for me, I packed up a few bags and moved up to Washington to live with my nana where I found a job but ended up making more poor choices. The only reason this season ended was because Aaron, now my husband, had moved up to Seattle to try something new but quickly discovered that he needed to be back in Oregon near his clientele. One night when we were hanging out, he told me he needed to move back. I sat there and cried and told him that I didn’t want him to leave. I had finally met someone who cared for me in a way that I ached for. I had found a friend that was there to support me, be there for me. Aaron was the first man in a loooooooong time that made me feel important. After a few minutes, he asked me to move back with him. I remember saying, “Don’t say that if you don’t mean it because I’ll do it.” So, two months later I joined him back in Oregon. I can’t describe to you just how much his decision to invite me back home truly saved my life - in SO many ways.
I know some of these experiences seem a bit excessive and crazy and not the norm, but this was MY normal - and these aren’t even a fraction of everything I experienced. From going through the court system for six years because of my pedophile stepdad pleading not guilty and having him walk away free, to driving a state away to see my nana in the middle of the night because my ex boyfriend was threatening me and my friend and had even put his hands around my neck.. to falling in love with my tattoo artist, to becoming a new wife, a new mom, to running a business, to even having to make decisions to let people in my life go - at least for now. Guys, fear could be my middle name. If I got a dime for every time I found myself in a situation that I didn’t know how to get out of, I’d be the richest pink-haired gal on the planet.
However, when I was able to take a step back and actually look at my life, look at the life I expected to live, etc, I saw LIES. I saw FEAR. Feeling so unwanted in my childhood, growing up in a small town where nearly everyone in high school gets in trouble, even a few died because of poor choices.. Because of these things, amidst many others, I just didn’t have a lot of high expectations for myself. I never envisioned anything GREAT with my life.
But in the quiet of my mind, alone in my room, I knew I was meant for MORE.
And you know what? YOU are meant for more.
At the end of the day, we are all humans just trying to figure out what to do next. Some people are really great at making their life look completely and utterly figured out which really impacts our inner self dialogue when we sit and compare ourselves to them. We can’t do that. We all have stories, we all have pain. We all are capable of allowing the thorns in our lives to affect our perspectives. I will be the first to admit that there have been COUNTLESS times where I have prayed and wished so badly to be somebody else. Growing up, middle school, high school, as an adult.. There is always somebody better than you.
But according to who?
We can’t look at people and assume we know them at face value. You don’t know HOW many looks my husband and I get from time to time because of our tattoos and piercings. Add the two kids tagging along - OH NO! SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE. You have NO idea what pains those other people are carrying. Guys, quit thinking people are better than you. Quit thinking that you aren’t enough. Quit thinking that you don’t deserve everything in the world! You absolutely deserve all of the amazing gifts and miracles that are WAITING for you to open your arms to them.
I have wasted SO MUCH freaking time on wallowing in the fact that I’m not every other woman on the face of this planet. Why do I think I’m not good enough? Why is being me bad? Why do I have this belief that Jessica is less than somebody else? There’s this silly little saying that says “Nobody can be a better you, than you.” And no matter how silly we want to say it is, it’s true. Plain and simple.
When I just let go of trying to be this person who everyone will like, I end up hiding my quirkiness and the little things that make me “me”. Just a heads up, I’m embarrassing. I’m THAT person all the time. I’ve learned to wash my foot extra well because it ends up in my mouth way too often. BUT, that’s me. And some people like it, and some people don’t. I hate how young I am. I do. I hate it. You don’t know how many people I’ve met that once they know my age, they make a face showing as if they aren’t interested in talking to me anymore because there is no way I have anything important to say. Or people will see my generally exaggerated happiness and see it as naivety and assume I am just a big bubble of nothing. But the people that can spend the extra time with me, the ones that give me a safe space to share my heart, it is then that they can see that I, too, have a story to tell.
For a long time I felt like no one could truly know what it was like to be grateful unless they had experienced trauma. Like real, awful, dark trauma. I felt like no one could truly understand what it was like to truly appreciate life, as a whole. I mean, if you lived a childhood where you were showered with love, basic necessities, MORE than basic necessities, everything just kind of worked out in your favor, it would be hard to truly grasp how hard life can be and how special it is to have experienced those good things.
But then later it hit me. You DON’T have to experience the darkest moments of life to see the brightest. Each human has an option to think big, or think small. Thinking small keeps your eyes in front of you and it makes it easy to see all of the ways life sucks and how everyone is out to get you and how nothing good ever happens for you. You get stuck in this pessimistic mindset expecting everything to go wrong, all your hard work will never reap any rewards..
Or, your small thinking comes from an innocent heart. A heart that feels like everything is always meant to happen to someone else because they’re smarter, they’re faster, they’re stronger, they’re prettier, they’re everything you’re not. You are happy for them, you’re proud of them, but you don’t relate yourself to ever being that person.
On the other side of the coin, people who choose to think big understand the possibility of falling. They know there are risks in their big dreams and endeavors. They know that not everyone is going to understand what they want to do, why they want to do it and may even possibly go out of their way to try and prevent them from accomplishing those goals. But these people are able to lift their chin just slightly and see the beauty above the crowd. It’s scary to think big. You have to have courage, intention and be self disciplined. It’s a lot to put onto your own plate with everything else that’s already there, but the big thinking people have the upper hand. They may risk falling further than small thinkers, but they certainly have the opportunity to fly higher than even they imagined they could fly.
We cannot let fear sit in the driver seat and dictate who we THINK we are and what we THINK we can achieve. There is so much beauty, growth, empowerment and just plain self love when we can step back and realize that all of the doubts and worries we give ourselves are not our truths. These things we tell ourselves come from a place of uncertainty and insecurity. What would happen if you chose to just take one step forward toward your dream goal? Just one step. You allowed yourself to let go of these things that have always held you back and you let yourself become vulnerable, even for a moment.
Maybe it’s finally opening up that Etsy shop. Maybe it’s you taking a break, or even letting go, of people you care about but all they do is create pain in your life. Or maybe you have traumas that deserve some healing. Or maybe you have built up opinions of how others feel about you so you put up a wall and become the person you assume people think you are but you know that you have so much more to offer but are afraid of finding out if that’s true or not. (Spoiler alert - you are even more amazing than you think you ever could be).
Whatever it might be, I challenge you to just take that first step. Don’t worry about step 2, don’t worry about what would happen if you did step out and nothing happens afterward, don’t do that. Don’t worry about that. Just take your first step and see what happens. Take that step towards becoming who you are meant to be.
For me, taking my first steps led to new first steps which led to even newer first steps which led to me standing here today telling you that you can do it, too. Those first few steps, in any direction, are scary. But what’s even scarier is if you never do take that first step. Yes, you may be able to stay in your comfort zone a little longer. Yes, you may not have to risk a sum of money. Yes, you may prevent anything bad from ever happening.. But friends, what if you took your first step and it allowed you to FLY?
What if you let yourself feel uncomfortable for awhile? Sure, plenty of things could go wrong. Absolutely. But you know what? If you are stepping forward towards a dream that you feel passionate about, I can guarantee that you won’t regret it. Do you want to know why?
Because you took a step towards something for yourself. You made yourself a priority and it feels GOOD to recognize the things you want in life and to make efforts to make them a reality. More than likely after you take that first step, you’ll be motivated and encouraged to take a second, and then a third. Before you know it, you’ll be standing on a stage telling everyone that you never believed in yourself either, but after taking that first step, hard work, believing in the things you want to do, and staying true to who you are, who you were made to be, all of the failures won’t even matter because you will already feel a thousand more times successful because took a chance on yourself.
I am beyond proud of everything that I have had the privilege of doing over the last 6 years. More important than my follower count, my accomplishments, really anything that’s visible to others, is the fact that I have learned to love myself. I’ve learned what it feels like to not want to be somebody else, to be happy being the awkward girl that consistently ends up making a fool of herself, to be content being the mom that always forgets everything and has to count on fellow moms to remind me that there is early release this Wednesday. I have felt so much anxiety in not being this perfect human that I always think other people are. I’ve had full blown panic attacks about things I said on my Instagram stories and feeling like it made me look so naive and stupid.. But, why do I do that to myself? Why do I limit myself for no reason at all? I’ve lived my ENTIRE life feeling as if I wasn’t important, I was a mistake, that I came and made people’s lives more difficult. I am constantly apologizing to everyone for doing literally nothing and am continually reminded that I don’t need to be sorry. Putting myself out there on a stage to be SEEN and opening up the opportunity for ridicule and judgement and not being who people may think I am was scary. It IS scary.
But by allowing myself let go of the fear, even momentarily, it has lead to new perspectives, a new opinion of myself, a new value for myself and a new sustainable strength that allows me to have the tools needed to continue following my dreams and pursuing my passions. I am not here to do what others tell me I should do. I’m not here to follow the rules George made up 45 years ago. I’m not here to let others take advantage of me or tell me what I’m incapable of doing, according to their opinion. Nah, I’m here to be a light. To be a voice for those who haven’t found theirs yet. I’m here to encourage others in this world to believe in themselves, to learn that every negative thing that was told to them is a lie. I’m here to bring others to light, to use my life, my pain, my failures, my bad choices as a resource to prove that you aren’t what others say you are. You are who you choose to be.
I choose to be loved. To be enough. To be worthy enough to take up space in this world. I choose to be fully, 100%, unapologetically ME - even with the awkward quirkiness that lends to more flushed cheeks than I care to have. To stand here today and be able to share with you my own personal experience of turning my dark life into a beautiful and successful one is something I’ve always dreamed of. In high school I remember telling my counselor and other friends that I knew one day I’d tell my story. I’ve always known there would be more. But it was up to me to make it happen.
I know I can’t make everyone happy and I know not everyone will like me. Being a natural people pleaser, I’ve really battled these ideas for all of my life. But one big thing I’ve learned, is that this is impossible. Focusing all of your attention on the people that don’t appreciate you for who you are only limits the time you are able to focus on the things that truly matter, like following after those dreams that are simply waiting to become your reality.
What does this word mean to you now? Has your definition changed yet? Because for me, fear means there’s more work to be done and I am not done becoming who I am meant to become. Friends, go out there, take your first step and be THANKFUL of feeling a fear that can lead to new beginnings and changed perspectives. I believe in you, we all believe in you. Now it’s time to believe in yourself. You got this.
Video credit: Benjamin Foote CP
Venue: Low Res Studio / Chicago, IL
Host: Our Maker Life
Outfit: (top) Handmade by Jessica Carey - The Jessica Top crochet pattern (pattern available for purchase on Etsy, Ravelry, Love Crochet and soon, THNLife website) / (skirt) Vince Camuto
Slides: Created by Honey & the Hive