You're not good at this, and you struggle with that, you're never going to be able to . Those things don't happen for people like us. I didn't know what felt worse, not knowing why I got beaten up, the pain from being beaten up, the humiliation of being beaten up, or being beaten up by a boy who thought he was beating up another boy. Family dynamics had taught me to swallow negative emotions. There I stood in front of my brother, struggling to take bites out of my shameful reality, doing my best to pretend everything was all right. I hated the way my mother had my hair cut. She insisted it be kept short. Dorothy Hamill hairstyles were all the rage back then. But the hairstyle did little for my floppy mop of a head. The short layers, which would have looked neatly stacked on shiny straight hair, made my head look like a ball of brown frizz. I was far from a barrette or bow kind of girl, although secretly I wished I were. I was certain the world would have mocked me anyway, even if I ever had tried to look like a real girl. When you see the new Marvel movie, don't leave at the end! Sit through the credits. You'll see a name you recognize in the second to last animation studio credit. Not bonkers at all, I wrote back. Welcome to the future. The Keys to Finding Your Local Rox's story shows the extent to which all futures are local. It also underscores how important where you live is to who you are and who you will become.

Too many people take a passive approach to the decision, allowing it to be made for them, instead of finding a city or town that suits their personality and ambitions. When thinking about the correlation between place and identity, there are certain geographical affinities to consider, for example that introverts prefer mountainous terrain while extroverts gravitate toward beaches. Let's not pigeonhole ourselves or our children. Let's not create mental boundaries and unnecessary blocks. Let's not trample on our kids' sense of adventure, suffocate their imagination, or dampen their enthusiasm. Labels are for jars, not people. There are thousands of examples of people doing extraordinary never-been-done-before things. Who are we to say what a child can or can't become? Within all of us is untapped potential, interests we're drawn to, opportunities we're not yet aware of, and skills we've honed after years and years of practice. Remember That Our Actions Speak Loudly Words are powerful when followed through with meaning and intent. The power sits in the aftermath when our words are followed by aligned action and consequences. So instead, I learned to tolerate my hair for the mess it was. I wished I were pretty. In my daydreams I was lovely, beautiful, and dainty, too. I remember wishing that I felt free enough to be the little girl who was buried deep within me. I desperately wanted to feel accepted enough to wear pretty clothes, and to tie my hair back with bows. But the fear of being laughed at by my mother, brother, or peers at school kept me toning myself down, out of fear of having who I really was being rejected by others. Rejecting myself first hurt less. I remember being called a tomboy.

I didn't know what that meant, but I did know it meant I wasn't like all the other girls I knew, or even like my stunning little sister. I climbed trees because it was something I could do alone. These are generalizations, of course. There are plenty of chatty people in the mountains and articleworms on the coast. Nevertheless, often where you live has some influence on who you are as a person. And so when I work with individuals, I always encourage them to think about the importance of place when coming up with the story of their future. One significant question to ask yourself in this process is how much you value family time. This of course assumes you have a relationship with your parents, siblings, and the like. If you do and you're close emotionally, you might be reluctant to move far away. And I respect that--as long as you've fully considered what that future relationship will look like. It's comforting to think about parents being close by, maybe to help take care of your kids, if or when they come along. But is that really going to happen? We need to believe what we're saying in order for others to believe us. Our words then need to be backed up with the action or consequence that follows next. The nonverbal way we communicate says so much more than the words that fall out of our mouths about what we will and won't tolerate: our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice; When our words and actions don't match up, it's confusing for everyone around us. We say one thing when we mean, or do, another. For our children, this causes them to feel insecure and sometimes unsafe. As parents (and as people, in general), we need to walk our walk and talk our talk because those around us are watching and taking it all in. They're learning behavior from the things they see us do.

If we stress the importance of heeding their needs but at the same time run ourselves ragged, then our actions are at odds with our words. If we encourage our children to say no when we continually, to our own detriment, say yes, then we're sending mixed messages. I rode my bike and fished, because they too were things I could do all by myself. My scraped knees and scuffed elbows were the result of my trying to make the best out of my feelings of not belonging. They were not representative of who I really was. Who I really was, was a delicate little girl, desperate not to feel like she had to pretend she didn't feel anything at all. Two Square Pegs/One Round Hole Aunt Jane was mentally retarded. My grandmother Elizabeth did her best to pretend she wasn't as retarded as she was. In fact, my grandparents allowed my aunt to marry some guy named Paul. Paul wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I knew my aunt wasn't capable of cooking and cleaning, and I was just a child. I am guessing that I was about three years old when my aunt married Paul. Or might they not be as helpful as you hope, leading to resentment, especially if, in your heart of hearts, you know that your future is somewhere far from the family nest. Think hard about close relationships in your life and how you want them to play out in the years and decades to come. On an equally practical level, you need to think about whether you want to rent or own your home. You can do either in most parts of the country, though buying a home will be much harder in pricey real estate markets, like New York, Boston, and San Francisco. Even if you can afford your home, ask yourself if it fits with your future career and lifestyle. Some jobs allow, or even require, you to move around a lot. That could be harder to manage if you have a home to care for, versus an apartment where all you have to do is lock the door on the way out. Then there's the question of passion.

I know a guy who is a massive sports nut, follows every major sport and a lot of the minor ones too, and he moved to Hartford, Connecticut, one of the biggest US cities without a major sports team. I told him not to do it. The same applies when we say no to our children but it's not a good solid no--if it's an unsure one, they can sense that. They'll naturally push back against the boundaries we set if we don't assert them assuredly, or if we're unsure as to why we're asserting something in the first place. Our actions speak loudly; When we do so clearly and consistently and mindfully, we show our children how to do the same and how to confidently create healthy boundaries. Retain and Develop Your Sense of Identity Many people feel as though they lose a sense of themselves when they become parents--not helped at all by the constant references to them as Whatstheirname's Mommy or Daddy. Having a baby changes our focus; Then when they're old enough to start school, we still need to be flexible and work around their school day and holidays and illnesses. Your feelings matter, whatever they are. A study that was commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians found that the average adult deals with 109 life administration tasks a year. I remember my grandmother taking me to a store. We went there to buy my aunt a pot roast to cook for dinner. We're going to help Aunt Jane get ready for dinner sweetheart, my grandmother explained to me. My grandmother and I walked up a long flight of stairs, up into an apartment where Aunt Jane was waiting. She was a short, frail, pasty-looking creature with auburn hair, and eyes that were a mossy green. Sometimes her eyeballs would dart back and forth from side to side. That would always startle me. Once in the apartment, my grandmother busied herself in the kitchen, while my aunt stood beside her, nervously rocking back and forth.