WWLD?: Positivity is changing my life

Linds and me

I’ve been trying this new “something positive can come from every situation” thing lately. I’ve tried to tune into my inner Lindsay Vanderveer, my cheery sister who’s actually my cousin. She’s basically the most positive and upbeat person I know and she can spot my bullshit a mile away. It’s pretty great to know she exists.

Lindsay and I are opposites. I’ve always been the odd one in jeans and a feminist tee and she’s always had the perfect dress to match her self-tanned body and voluminous hair. When I geeked about buying black Supra high tops, she’s gushing over a new pair of cute heels a thousand inches too high for me. I can’t walk in anything higher than a kitten heel; I’d probably die if I did. She’d say, “No you wouldn’t! It just takes practice… and you could probably change into flats later on in the evening!!” Cheeky smile and pointer finger wag. (Disclaimer: Everything Lindsay says in my mind ends with two exclamation marks.) See, I told you, bright side of everything.

She’s the girly girl, I’m the I-don’t-give-a-shit, am-I-clothed? Yes? Then-good-to-go type. She spends tens of minutes getting ready in the morning, while I shower, dry my hair, draw eye liner on and… sit and watch her get ready. At one point I was really intimidated by it. I never valued perfection quite like she does. She did get me hooked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians though, which is something I don’t regret. That family is hilarious and I mean, dat ass! #whitegirlsaysdatass

Lindsay drinks wine, I drink vodka and splash it with a little Sprite. Lindsay hates driving in traffic and is terrible at it, and I am the roadrager, honking in rural Iowa. She has a long-term-probably-going-to-marry boyfriend who adores her and her positivity; I’ve been single since college… the first college, like circa 2010. “You will meet someone perfect for you!!” she’d say, then belt out the song, “Dooon’t stop belieeeving!!”

We are both teachers. But she chose little kids who you can’t kick out of class and I chose teenagers because you can kick them out of class. We are both good teachers, although our patience levels differ. The whole being related thing and being teachers aspect are where we start our similarities.

As kids we were basically twins. Standing with our backs to our parents, they joked they couldn’t tell us apart if we were wearing the same outfit. We’ve got the “Dryden eyes” and loved our Grandpa Dryden the same – completely and adorably. We call each other sisters, along with our youngest cousin Elizabeth, who is made up of equal parts Lindsay and me. It’s crazy how that turned out, super independent like me while super cheery and lovey-dovey like Linds. #shewillbethefirsttogetmarriedtoo

Lindsay’s positivity used to be annoying, but then I realized she might not be so crazy. She might hold the key to happiness in her attitude. Even though life cannot be bright, sunny, and filled with mystic unicorns all the time, a lot of the time it can be, so I’ve changed my mindset. I’ve turned the page on the living-in-reality-all-the-time Jenn and improved my approach on life’s situations from a positive outlook. I even catch myself, embarrassingly saying, “WWLD?” And if it’s throw the phone across the room until it shatters into pieces, (and it wouldn’t be), I would throw the phone across the room until it shatters into pieces. But most of the time, the pepped up voice says, “Relax, all it will take is a calm conversation and a little perspective into this person’s life. Maybe you can even be a good influence on them and help them out!!”

Positivity has changed me. I wasn’t a Debby Downer, or a Grumple Stiltskin, but a lot of being a realist is being real, and many situations are stupid and petty and just negative. But really, they’re not. It’s all in perspective. I’m trying to gain some into what really matters in life and all the stuff that honestly doesn’t. It’s totally exhausting. Here are a few (cue Gru’s voice from Despicable Me) “lightbulb!” moments that matter.

Getting to know someone you care about matters.
Making sure you talk to that needy student matters.
Going above and beyond for someone who wouldn’t for you matters… most of the time.
Smiling when you’d like to be crying/yelling matters.
Taking three more deep soothing breaths in rush hour traffic matters. Then laying on your horn when the idiot still is not moving AT A GREEN LIGHT!
Opening up to feel vulnerable sometimes matters.
Doing things that aren’t enjoyable for you but are for others matters.
Being accessible to others matters.

Without being opposite from Lindsay, I wouldn’t have learned so much from her. She’s honestly been my closest friend lately and has been cheering me on constantly. I trust her opinion because it has the best for me at heart. I know she’ll never leave because we’re family, and family means never leaving anyone behind (#LiloandStitch). And finally and most repeatedly, she’s positive. And positive people are what the world needs; they’re what I need.

So thank you, Linds. #lovepat

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