10 Things You Didn't Know About Kristen
Hey all! It’s been a bit since I have posted something personal on here. A Lot of you who have been following me know quite a bit about me. For example, I hope you know that I love Disney, because I usually scream that from the mountain tops. But today I thought I would talk about the things that not a lot of people know about me.
I am the eldest sibling.
Yep, big bossy sister over here! I have two siblings and they are 4 and 7 years younger than me, so I feel as though I helped raise my two younger siblings. I had the best of intentions, but I’m pretty sure I got bossy as I attempted to help my siblings. (My brother didn’t start to speak until he was 3 because I spoke for him! Sorry, Jeff!) Now as an adult, I love them alot and it’s been fun to watch them grow up and become adults.
I have a thyroid disorder.
It’s called Graves Disease and it almost landed me in a big pickle back in 2011. I had been living with it undiagnosed and like so many people who don’t know they have an autoimmune disorder, I assumed that things that I was experiencing were normal. I was hot all the time, couldn’t focus, I kept passing out, it was a mess. Finally I had something called a Thyroid Storm, and my understanding of that is that finally my thyroid was producing so many hormones it caused my heart to race and so my body started to fight back. I was in the hospital with a resting heart rate of 130 bpm. I had to wear a heart monitor and they gave me major medications to get it under control. All this happened during exam week in college, so it was really a mess. Were it not for some incredible and gracious professors, I could have flunked out and lost my scholarship.
So what does it look like to live with Graves Disease? Well, they killed my thyroid so now I just have to take medicine everyday to supplement the hormones it produced. It’s very manageable and I consider myself lucky. It just sucks that I’m dependent on daily medicine for the rest of my life, but really that’s about it.
I have dealt with issues with my body and self esteem since I was a teenager.
One of the ramifications of graves disease is that your body doesn’t burn fat like an average person, so I have to be very diligent about my weight and health. Since then, my relationship with food and my body have been on this up and down roller coaster. There were seasons where I was totally healthy and trim and hated my body, and there were seasons when I was a little chubbier but was trying to be happy and relax. As I approach my late 20s, I have been actively working on this problem and have come to a few realizations. First of all, people care way less about how I look than I give them credit for. I used to believe people could tell if I was carrying 5-10 extra pounds, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t. And honestly, they don’t really care how much I weigh. That was all in my head. Second, I let go of my “ideal weight” and started working on body composition. I could care less what the number says on the scale, what I’m really looking for is body fat composition. Do I have enough essential body fat so that my body can be healthy but not so much visceral fat that I’m risking being considered unhealthy? If so, then I can rest easy and know I’m okay. Thirdly, I’m realizing that just telling yourself every morning how good you look literally does change your mindset and make you start to appreciate yourself. Now, I still have days where my old thoughts come back, but I can honestly say that this is the best I have ever felt.
I am VERY competitive.
This comes from growing up in an extremely competitive family I’m sure, but if I’m doing something, I want to WIN. If we are playing games, I play them to win. If I’m at work and it’s a friendly competition, I’m trying to win. I workout in a group exercise environment because if I just take myself to the gym I’m not very motivated because there’s no one to impress. But, if I’m performing in front of a group of people, I will try to be the fastest or the best at the workout.
This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve found that my competitive side pushes me to get more done than most people, and it brings about a level of excellence and drive. These are wonderful things. But I’m also learning that it’s good if sometimes people are better than me. They have skills I don’t have and rather than resenting their skills I can learn from them. So I’m working on trying to be a little bit more chill and let other people be better than me sometimes.
In high school I went to a pre-professional dance school.
I’m not kidding. Back in my youth, I loved dancing and ballet and really wanted to give it a try to see what it was like to train with the best. My parents are so so supportive and moved mountains to make that happen for part of the week each week. It was a great experience and I learned so much from it. When it was all said and done, however, I learned how much professional dancers had to sacrifice. They didn’t have time to be in the band or go to prom or hang out with their friends because they were always in the studio. I’m actually so proud of 17 year old version of me for being able to see the sacrifice it was going to take and decide that I would rather be a normal teenager and do teenage things. It was a hard choice for me because my competitive nature (see above) makes it really hard for me to quit things. But I realized I would get more joy dancing at a “normal” studio and having time for life than to continue going to the professional one.
Leslie Knope is my spirit animal.
If you don’t watch Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope is a strong, driven, workaholic, caring person and I resonate so much with her character. If you have ever taken the Enneagram test I am a type 3, which is The Achiever. I have a strong work ethic. If I dream up something I’ll go for it. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get something done, especially if I believe that it’s going to better my life or society in someway. I’m also a wing 2 which means that I care about people so much to the point that I would lay down my life if it meant keeping them safe. Just like Leslie! She loves her tribe so much and expects so much out of herself, and usually does it all with a sense of humor.
The only drawback that Leslie and I share is that we can be so driven we forget to take care of ourselves. My word of the year in 2018 was BALANCE, and for one whole year I stepped back from projects, watched TV, went out with friends, took naps, and chilled. After this experience, I feel so much more like a whole person. So my biggest thing I have learned to watch for is to overexert myself.
I’ve been to a lot of places in my short life, but my favorite (other than Disney) is Italy.
When I went to Italy I felt my whole body relax. It was full of such beauty and culture that I’m convinced it’s one of the best places to travel to. I intend to take Dylan with me to go back sometime soon and travel the country as we drink wine.
I’m very musical.
I LOVE music. This was instilled to me as a kid because my whole family is musical. I play the piano and trumpet, and for a hot second in middle school I was in a handbell choir, too! As I said above I LOVE to dance, and I’m an okay singer but I never performed as a singer since I was a little kid. To me music is so important because it can evoke an emotion or feeling that you wouldn’t be able to express otherwise. It can connect you to a place or a time in your life, and what else can do that? I love listening to movie soundtracks and scores because I feel like it tells the story of the movie so well. What composers and artists I listen to depend on my mood and my season of life but right now I’m really into the Hamilton Soundtrack, The Greatest Showman Soundtrack, Mary Poppins Returns Soundtrack, A Star is Born Soundtrack and others like that.
I’m a feminist.
Not in like a man hating/bra burning kind of way, but in a women are just as strong and powerful as men are kind of way. I’ve worked out in a crossfit gym and watched women crush it with weights heavier than then men’s. I’ve watched friends and acquaintances overcome insurmountable odds against them and risen to the top like the queens that they are. I’ve also witnessed double standards, sexism, and other types of prejudice come up against me and other women. My beliefs are simple- respect, love and support women. That’s it. And yes of course we should respect, love and support men as well, but historically men have been privy to more respect and support than women have, so all I want is to be treated as an intellectual, emotional, and statused equal.
I like to keep it real.
As you can tell, my threshold for what I’m willing to share is pretty high. I don’t mind opening up about what I’m struggling with to friends and family because I believe so strongly that we need to be honest and make connections as we grow. There is something so powerful about someone realizing “Oh, you struggle with that too? I thought I was the only one.” When you realize that everyone has something they are struggling with you realize how much we all have in common with one another. Sharing that journey with friends has been one of the biggest joys of my life and has lead to some of the deepest connections. I feel like if me sharing even a bit of my story helps someone else, then it is worth sharing.
So there you go!! Ten more intimate details about me! Yes I still love my cat. Yes I love Disney and to go to the movies. But now I hope you feel like you really have a sense of who I am as a person, what I’ve been through, and maybe some of my things resonate with you!