Since I write under the name “Jubilant Jessi,” you can guess I’m usually a pretty happy-go-lucky person. It’s my mission in life to find the good, no, the GREAT in everything around me. I’m that girl who smiles at strangers. I am easily amused and easily charmed at life. Existence shouldn’t be a war you’re locked in. Living should be a joyful romp through the flowers, even if you trip on a rock from time to time.
It’s taken me a lot of years to develop this attitude. I’m not a perfect example of humanity. No one is and they shouldn’t be. It’s taken me a lot of time, effort and stern talks with myself to get to the point where I can be proud of who I am and my philosophy on life. I’ve always been an oddball and it’s often been hard to reconcile who I want to be with how I want to be. There’s a bit of background that you need to understand about me if you want to understand why I feel life should be jubilant.
I was an absolutely content child growing up in a small Idaho town where the population didn’t exceed four digits. I ran through the grass barefoot. I played in apple trees and went to dance camps. I loved to attend school, did well, played tea party and mud pies with my friends, went to church, and felt absolutely that I was loved and cherished. I didn’t have any hardships to deal with like so many other children. I was naïve in the best possible way.
That changed the year I turned 11. No one likes divorce. As my parents broke the news, my idyllic life shattered. I’ve never been the same. It’s taken decades of self-torment and anger to realize that divorce was the best option my parents had. I could have handled it better. I could have looked outside my anger that my friends no longer called or played. I could have used school as a solace instead of a weapon where I was receiving the first D’s and F’s of my life. I could have accepted help and attended counseling instead of locking myself in the car screaming. I could have done a lot of things. My only excuse is that I was young and suddenly the world didn’t seem to be easy anymore. I was pissed that my life was forever changed. I fought it. I hurt myself. I hurt my parents. I didn’t care.
Fast forward a few years to an angry, depressed teenager. One who had started getting good grades again, was involved in several school activities, but fought with her mother over every single thing. I still felt no control and would use every means necessary to find it. I thought I was so jaded. So old. Looking back, I realize I was driving a wedge between the world and me. It is cliché, really, how I blamed everything that was black inside me on the rest of the world. I’m not going to detail every fight and stupid decision, but needless to say, I didn’t graduate on time, though I did graduate with my class. I didn’t have the friends you brought home to meet Mom and Dad. Though there were a few jewels here and there, I often found myself outside looking in or getting taken advantage of because hey, weren’t people ultimately good?
College was more of the same. I was accepted to a private school with a high price tag, the kind that gets you places. I never went to class. The only papers I wrote were for money. I went to concerts and parties, had a boyfriend who was older than me, and hung out with frat guys. I could never sleep at night and was so anxious all the time that I physically shook. Depressed was too clinical a word for what I felt. I went one semester and by the end of it I knew with a cold, terrifying realization that another semester meant I was not going to make it. I still carry scars on my body from that time because I was so desolate and confused that I tried to cut the pain out of my body.
I left school, couldn’t move in at home because I’d pissed off everyone there, so I moved in with the guy who would become my first husband and my own divorce. I’m not going to trash talk the guy. That’s not fair when he can’t give his own version, but I can tell you that I felt like I had no support and no understanding and no hope when I found myself pregnant and later raising a baby who would turn out to be the saving grace of my life.
It took a few more years. It took that baby who grew into a little girl who is now about to start third grade and is the smartest, prettiest girl I know. Parents are allowed to believe that about their children. I found my next and last husband who never fails to amaze me with the faith and pride he has in me. It took a miscarriage and a new baby girl, who is currently attempting to draw on the T.V. screen as I type this. It took mending of relationships, especially with my mother. It took returning to college and the raw courage to believe I could get through it without paralyzing anxiety. It took believing in my brain and my heart. It took proving that I could set a goal and achieve it over and over. I wasn’t and am not a failure. I am, as Barney Stinson would say, legend-wait-for-it…dary.
In about a year, I’ll have graduated with honors and have not one, but two, degrees. I’ll be a teacher and a historian and on all accounts, I’m excellent at what I do. Besides two B’s and one C received while I was either pregnant or attending school during the time I had my baby, I’ll have had straight A’s. I have hobbies (if you follow my blog, you’ll know I’m a yarn addict) and valuable, cherished friends. I have a husband who has been through his own hell and lived to tell the tale. He understands me and believes in me. He yells at me to believe in myself when I start to think things aren’t so grand. I have two beautiful children who keep me balanced when I start to feel sad every once in a while. I have goals and a bucket list. I am going to do great things with life. Sure, I still consider myself to have depression and no small amount of anxiety, but I’ve learned that living life with a happy attitude can often overcome that particular blackness. I’m not afraid to ask for help if it gets out of control. Sure, I’m tattooed with dreadlocks, still a little awkward and stand out in a group of regular people. I’m still weird, and my mother would be the first to tell you so, but I’m content in my skin and in my eccentric nature. I’m different, and that makes me awesome.
I don’t know that any of this motivates you. I hope if you’re troubled that perhaps my own story of woe gives you a measure of hope. My best advice is that you have to realize that you’re never going to be perfect. Celebrate your flaws. They are what make you separate and special. Use them and go beyond special into amazing. Realize that you’re often your own worst enemy or your best advocate. I’ve been both, and I can tell you the second is better. Impress yourself because you are your own worst audience. When you can do that, you’ll realize that life should be celebrated in a serious way because we can all overcome darkness if we find the key in ourselves. I’m still working on it, but I’ve learned enough to be thankful I have this beautiful life. That’s why I’m Jubilant Jessi. I’m going to dance through life with party cannons, even if I’m on the sad side some days, because I know that it can be so much worse. I can only hope that you have or will find your own version of beautiful, whatever it may be.