Growing Up




#lifestagesSee Me As I See Myself

6 comments | May 20th, 2012

Chestist typewriter 2

(story by Analeigh, an 18 yo Chestist)

A little while ago I shared a story (on Off Our Chests) about not being asked to Homecoming. It was awful.

Since then, I have grown as a person, my self-confidence is flying through the roof. Life has been good.  But prom is tomorrow.

Once again, I have not been asked. Don't get me wrong, I worship the group of friends I'm going with, but it still stings. I guess it's silly to think that suddenly, guys at my school would see me the way I see myself, as a beautiful, confident girl. They don't though, and I can't help but wonder how much I've really changed. If maybe, my change, my growth, and my self-confidence weren't worth anything at all. {end story}

Does it ever seem that you care more about how others see you than how you see yourself?  Any advice for Analeigh?

(We're sorry about prom, Analeigh, and YES, it was worth it.)

#lifestagesWhen I Was 16

8 comments | May 1st, 2012

black explosion chestist

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

When I was 16 I had an affair with a guy who was 40.  When I was 16, I thought I was mature and he was amazing.  I thought it was a relationship. 

These years later, I look back on it and think he was sick and disgusting and I was delusional.  I get angry at that younger me for being so naive.  I'm not sure why it bothers me so much now it just does.  What a pig he must have been to have sex with a 16 year-old.  What an idiot I was.  {end story}

And regrets, we've got a few.  What about you - anything you look back on from days gone by and think "what was I thinking?"  Does it hate on your happy now, or do you just chalk it up to experience and appreciate it for that?

Supposed To Be An Adult

11 comments | April 20th, 2012


(story submitted by JV, an 18 yo Chestist)

Sex and expectations can be a messy combination.  Here's her story:

I'm 6 weeks away from graduating High School. I don't know why but I don't want to go to college a virgin, and I still am.

I've had lots of boyfriends and 1 serious one, but I never felt ready to do that.  Now I do, and I don't have any one I want to do it with.  I'm torn between feeling like I should just do it and get it over with, find some random guy friend and pull him into a closet or something, and wanting it to be special on the other hand.

Most but not all of my friends have already done it.  Some were drunk, some were "in love", some just because they didn't see what the big deal was.  It was a big deal to me so I waited.  Now I'm wondering if I waited too long.  I know I'll have sex one day.  I just feel like I should now before I leave home.  It seems like you're supposed to be an adult at college and ...

#lifestagesI’m a Mean Facebook Mom

101 comments | April 17th, 2012

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(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda) We're hardly Luddites. My kids have their own computer. They have iPods. My daughter has a cell phone; my son has a Nook. We're a very tech-savvy family. And I use Facebook, as does my husband and, I assume, my kids' dad. I have nothing against Facebook. Still... my daughter is nearing her 14th birthday, and she still doesn't have Facebook. Because I haven't okayed it yet. Is this logical? Probably not. It started logically enough: She wanted Facebook, and many of her friends---middle-schoolers, all---had it. But the Facebook terms of service say you have to be 13, and although people are clearly bending the rules to create underage accounts, we weren't okay with that. "You're not starting your online presence with a lie," we told her, as she moped around, muttering about how everyone else's parents were cooler than we are. (Aside: I'm sure they are.) Sorry, kid. You have to be 13, and that's that. Her 13th birthday arrived, and now we couldn't use the Facebook TOS excuse. ...

#lifestagesDressed to Impress

32 comments | April 10th, 2012

clothese horse

(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda) I don't think I'd characterize myself as "fashionable," past or present, by any stretch of the imagination. The way I dress is... fine. I think. I enjoy clothes, and I especially enjoy shoes. But I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, or a lot of time. In my current life, I'm a jeans-and-t-shirts type, most of the time. Do I clean up pretty good? I like to think so. Do people look at me and go, "I wish I had her fashion sense!"? Probably not unless they're sniffing a lot of glue. Still, it's clothing that encapsulates so many memories for me, when I look back on my life. I've written about some of my more unfortunate clothing incidents here, even. There's lots of good memories attached to clothes, too, though... even though a lot of the clothing in question is---now, at least---similarly cringe-inducing. There was my first pair of Esprit pants, in middle school, when Esprit was very "in" and hip. The pants were wide ankle-crops and sort of a coral-colored chino, and I ...

#lifestagesFlying the Helicoptery Skies

41 comments | March 27th, 2012


(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda) We all know that post-9/11 air travel is a completely different reality than what most of us grew up experiencing. (I say "most of us" because I recently met a woman my age who'd never been on an airplane. That kind of blew my mind. I'm talking about people who had experienced commercial air travel pre-9/11 as opposed to folks who have only had the dubious pleasure of the TSA-nanny-state experience we all get to "enjoy," now.) I am one of those people who finds the new regulations... well, they're annoying, sure. It would be much nicer to just walk into the airport, locate the proper gate, and head on over, yes. But I prefer having to remove my shoes and put all my toiletries into a quart sized Ziploc bag to, say, having my plane blown up by crazy people, so the bottom line is that I'm not that bothered. In fact, I am almost always selected for either a full-body scan or a spot-check of my carry-on luggage, and---given that I am, I think, a fairly regular ...

#lifestagesTea for You, Tea for Me

31 comments | March 22nd, 2012


(story by Mir, from Both of my kids were big fans of the ubiquitous pretend tea party when they were little. We always had a tot-sized tea set (or two) floating around, and I would obediently fold myself into a child-size chair when directed, so that we could sip our air together. My daughter often donned a special outfit for the occasion---either from the dress-up clothing or her closet---while my son usually opted only for a funny hat. ("This is my tea drinking hat!") She would hold her pinky up and "act fancy;" he would dig through the play food and serve me a banana on a hot dog bun or something similarly weird, and then laugh and laugh at my reaction. I want to tell you that I treasured every moment of those tea parties. I'd love to be able to say that in the moment I knew that it would all be over in just a few short years, and I savored it fully. I could tell you that, but it wouldn't be true. Sometimes I savored ...

Love & SexScared to Leave

16 comments | March 13th, 2012

chestist sad

(story submitted anonymously, by a 22 year-old Chestist)

We couldn't help but think of that Jack Nicholson line "you can't handle the truth."  Sometimes the truth is hard to handle.  Here's hers:

My story: I think my relationship is over and I'm too scared to leave. [end story.]

12 words, and a whole big story.  Ever been in her shoes, Chestists?  Knowing or at least being pretty sure something's over...a relationship, a friendship, a job...but being too scared to leave because of what may or may not be on the other side?  What was it?  What'd you do?  Sounds like sister could use some advice, so please, share...

#lifestagesNot Everyone With Depression Is a Quiet Kid

4 comments | March 1st, 2012

black explosion chestist

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

No matter how open-minded and conscious we may be, we can all fall back to judging books by their covers and people by what we see sometimes.  But, we're reminded by this story that never know anyone's real story until they share it. She shares hers here:

When you can convince people you are shallow, no one bothers jumping in.

When the surface is shiny, no one looks beyond.

Sometimes it's the ditzy sugar-coated valley girls who are deeply unhappy. Not everyone with depression is a quiet kid who wears all black. Sometimes the best way to go unnoticed is to wear hot pink and contrary to popular belief, guys look at you less if you show some cleavage (no one's ever gonna look you in the eyes if you're givin em a free show). I hide behind popularity. I am not who I present myself to be. I'm not confident. I'm not vapid. I'm not stupid. I'm not happy. I'm not even a real blonde. I'm just a girl who's had way too much practice lying. I had to hide the bruises ...


30 comments | February 28th, 2012

do you see me

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda)

After years of being a female teenager, myself, and now having spent a couple of years parenting a female teenager, I've come to an inescapable conclusion: Surging estrogen has a negative impact on the brain. Argue with me if you must, but I think it must be true. I look at pictures of my teenage self, now, and wonder at how I could've been so myopic about my own looks. True, my hair was rather unfortunate (hey, everyone's was) most of the time, but I recall being convinced that I was plain, at best. On a good day, I believe I was plain. On a bad day, I just knew I was horribly, terribly ugly. My measurements, as a teen? 34-22-34. And I have a very clear memory of that first discovery of cellulite on my thighs, and trust me, it wasn't in my teens. When I was a teen, I was pretty. Not just that, but I had a killer figure. And I had absolutely no idea. Instead, I wore ...

#lifestagesWhat’s The Meanest Thing You’ve Ever Said?

15 comments | February 24th, 2012

mean girls

(by OOC)

I was 13.  It was a friend's Bat Mitzvah party (yea, that's how we rolled).  I was the new kid in class and wanted to be popular.  And so I walked up to a girl (MM) who'd gone to the school before I did and left when her family moved, two years earlier, who for ehaterv reasons many of my new friends didn't like very much.  I walked straight up to her and said "I don't even know you and I don't like you" and turned around triumphantly.

Hands down the meanest thing I've ever said to anyone.  To add insult to injury...3 years later at Tennis Camp (yea, we rolled like that too), I was again the new kid but this time she was there.  What did she do?  She embraced me with open arms and mind and became a friend.  She was far more evolved than I was.

What's the meanest thing you've ever said to someone?  Why'd you say it?  How'd they react?  Go on and let it out and let it go.  And remember, you can always share it anonymously here @OOC.  ...

#lifestagesRainy Days and Slowing Down

50 comments | February 21st, 2012

chestist soup

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda) Some of my fondest memories from childhood come from the month I spent at camp every summer. Five years in a row, every summer, my parents would load me and an ancient steamer trunk filled with carefully labeled clothing and bedding into the car, and we would drive "out into the wilderness" (it wasn't really all that wild, but a location on a nearby lake) so that I could spend four glorious weeks at camp. We stayed in cabins, sheets from home thrown haphazardly over lumpy cots, dirty laundry scattered everywhere. As a misfit of a kid with only an older brother and no sisters, four weeks bunking with a group of girls was simultaneously terrifying and amazing. It was a 28-day-long slumber party! We shared clothes and snacks and comic books and secrets. We whispered in the dark and canoed together during the day. It was a wonderful break from "regular" life, as well as from the kids I knew at school. Camp always seemed like a good place to be someone else, if ...

#lifestagesWhat I Should Be

7 comments | February 18th, 2012

chestist black scratch

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

There's nothing we want to do more than give this writer a hug and let her know it'll all be okay.   Here's her story, a short one full of hurt:

Sometimes I look at other girls my age and want to cry because they remind me of what I should be. I should be worrying about prom dresses not treatment centers, hiding hickeys instead of cuts, and wanting to rebel a little rather than trying to keep it together for my parents. {end story}

We have no words.   Do you have any comfort, experience or thoughts to share with this writer and each other?

#lifestagesBeing a Teenage Girl Sucks

7 comments | February 16th, 2012

party girl

(story submitted anonymously, by a teenaged Chestist)

Are you a teen, been a teen, raising a teen?  If you are, have been, or might'll get this, and her story:

Being a teenager sucks bad. Being a teenage girl sucks even more.

Okay, so I like this guy... a lot. I catch myself glancing at him every 10 minutes at least in school, which is really embarassing because I'm sure someone has noticed. I can't talk to him at all. I'm an extremely shy person, except when I'm with my friends. We have a really small school so we are in pretty much all our classes together. Almost everytime he's near me and I'm with my friends, I try to show off, which is absolutely ridiculous. I actually find myself thinking about what I can say and do to catch his attention. I end up making a huge fool of myself.

I never used to act like this around anyone before. The problem is, I can't seem to stop acting like a crazy person when I'm around him. It's realllly bad, or at least I see it that way. ...

#bodiesA Healthy Relationship With Self

13 comments | February 15th, 2012

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(story by Carre Otis, a Chestist and author of BeautyDisrupted)

When was the last time you honestly asked yourself, “How do I feel about me?” “How do I see myself?” Simple and obvious? Maybe not so much.

How we feel about ourselves and bodies affects much more than I think we realize. Our self image, confidence and feelings of self worth ricochet out through the universe — and certainly the universe of our daily lives and interactions. Our feelings impact other people, shaping their feelings about us as well as about themselves.

Do you feel happy? Confident? Beautiful? Centered in your place and mission in your workplace? At home? In relationship? With your children? With self and others?

Self-love is the battery that powers every other kind of love.

I believe many of us suffer the effects of living on an autopilot of low self esteem and negativity. We’re shut down, dismissing the very need to be in healthy dialogue with our inner selves.. The relationship with self must be nurtured first before we can expect to experience fulfilling and reciprocated relationships in other ...