WIB: Paula J. Leslie

Managing Partner, Mankel Mechanical and Two Brothers Plumbing

My oldest aspiring-writer granddaughter agreed to write this, but fifth grade happened. You get me instead. She and I have a lot of oddball conversations. During one such conversation she relayed how anxious she was about starting fifth grade. I explained good anxiety is part of our body’s natural alert system, and then bought a book dealing specifically with anxiety in preteen and teenage girls. After reading this book, speaking with Lex, and recalling my own experiences, I was dismayed by the amount of pressure girls deal with daily. Weight. Beauty.

Grades. Acceptance. Fashion. Boys. Mean girls. Chores. Parents. Siblings. Future. All while trying to figure out who we are individually in this chaotic world. Adults preach uniqueness but then admonish a free spirit. I dealt with all those anxieties and I survived. I grew up to be this anxious adult who meets her fears and chases her dreams (some of them I haven’t caught yet). There are days when I crawl into a ball and hide under my blanket at the end of a day. There are days when I reach for the brown paper bag to calm my hyperventilating. Almost every day I practice some form of relaxation – yoga, journaling, praying, watching the sunset. I still struggle with not being enough, but I also am in accordance with that face and body I see in the mirror. I defeat the demons because I have three young girls and one baby boy who idolize me to a degree, and challenge me to be the best free spirit I can summon. We are all someone’s idol. Live worthy.