Living Unapologetically

One of my favorite conversations that happened on October 11, 2016.

The most amazing thing about being a human being is having the knowledge that we have the ability and the capacity to grow and change and to be anything we want to be. Today I want to talk about self-confidence. This is something I’ve both thrived in and struggled with my entire life. I am so intrigued by people that carry themselves with such lightness and spread an enormous amount of joy to the people around them. I always wonder… how do they do what they do? How do they acquire the relationship, the job, and the life that they desire?

The answer is… with a lot of self-love and self-confidence and being totally encased with the freedom of self. Today I was having an amazing and very stimulating conversation with my dear friend, Hannah Ruibal, who both embodies and embraces the essence of her existence with such joy and love. I’ve seen her put smiles on people’s faces time after time, get a roaring laugh from a quiet somebody, and give the most attentive and incredible ear to a stranger on the street. She is fully present in her day-to-day life and aspires to just love every single living being. I’ve heard her say, “I just love people so fucking much. I am so fascinated by them and all I want to do is give back the love that has been given to me my entire life” many times before and each time I’ve always been struck with the question, “How do you get to this place?”

I recorded this conversation and turned on my storyteller’s ear to get to the root of her happiness and how she sees life…

Me: “What takes the place of the questioning that we may have about ourselves for you?”

Hannah: “We are all human. We all, every race, every gender, every culture have the same fears. We are all scared of rejection, we are all scared of being made fun of; we are all scared of the same things. We all get mad at the same things, we all get jealous, we all feel, but also we all love. We’re humans capable of love, and feeling good and making somebody laugh and feel good. Yeah this person may be making fun of you or this person may be mad at you, but you can turn that around by just being who you are. Positivity is contagious just as much as negativity is. Being happy and good, it’s like, people vibe off of that and feel good and it makes you think, that’s how I want to be in life.

Me: “How do you remember that, in every moment?”

Hannah: “I treat people the way I want to be treated. You don’t know what people go through, and not everybody has a happy life and I just always thought I felt like people looked up to me because I went to such a small school, and I just wanted to be a good person. It’s so easy to be a shit person, but it’s so easy to be a good person too when you really want to be, so why not? When somebody can look at that and think ‘Gah, she’s really nice. She is awesome and I want to do that. I want to be like that.’ Their needs to be better people out there, and I want to be in that category.

Me: “So for instance, when you’re with someone that is really closed off, reserved and quiet, how do you keep opening up to the other person?”

Hannah: “Example of my ex-girlfriend. When I first met her, she wouldn’t even look at me and I just wanted to open her up and crack that shell. In a way, that’s all I’ve known. My mom was like that. We always had Halloween parties, we would always travel and she would bring us everywhere, she was always the life of the party. It was just instilled to me from day one. I was always told, ‘love yourself. Love everybody. Treat everybody fairly and rightly. Have manners and be respectful and you’ll go far in life.’ Even as a little kid I realized that I always got more out of things when I was nice and respectful. You get a lot more out of people, just interaction, if you’re just nice and genuine.”

Me: “So with your ex-girlfriend, how did you open her up?”

Hannah: “I just wanted to crack that shell. I just knew that there was someone in there dying to be heard, or dying to be paid attention to, or dying to be loved, and I wanted to do that for her. I just felt it. I’m going to open that door. And now she’s like ‘I’m too emotional, I feel too much. You made me like that.’ And I love that. I love that she feels now and now she’ll cry over a sad commercial because she actually feels. That’s amazing. Honestly, if I had just a really good explanation for it, it’s just something I feel. I feel I just want to love everybody. I love people and I think they’re so fascinating. Where they’ve been, who they are, why they are the way they are now. Everybody has a story, and I want to know it. I wanna hear, I wanna feel it, I wanna cry and I wanna laugh about it, but I also want to enjoy them because no matter what you’ve been through in life, you can still always be better and different. You can use every excuse under the sun, but you can always be better.”

I veered off to tell her how I remember when I had my first one on one conversation with her and I felt so comfortable. She made me feel so comfortable in my skin just by the way she carried herself and allowed herself to feel. Feel and tell the stories of her past about her family and her friends and her life that made her who she is today. She slowed it down and took her time and I was so thankful for that.

Hannah: “When I was a little kid. I just felt really special. And I probably put that into my own brain, honestly, because I am very imaginative. I would daydream all of the time. And when I lived in these fantasies worlds, I felt so special. Like I was here for a purpose. God made me and I was meant to do something amazing in my life. Whether or not I made this up in my head, I felt it. I’m so lucky, I’m so blessed, and I would think ‘Why me? Why and how did I get so blessed to have all of this?’ And then growing up and being an adult and I can make people happy on my own, and that’s what I’m here for. To love. To love! To show people what love is. Just to let others know I am proud of them and let them feel love like that.”

Me: “I love that. I don’t think you’ll ever really know why you are the way you are which is so beautiful. Just from watching you I see how you just show up. You just show up and you’re there for every single person. You’re so fully present and you listen and I think in order to really do that… you have to fully and genuinely love yourself first.”

Hannah: “Thank you. That’s a really great compliment. And you know, it’s like I used to have my faults and my flaws, and I still do. I’m not a perfect person and I’ve hurt people and done wrong things, but I’ve also over the years learned and grew from experience. And I love myself, I’m confident in myself, and I want to exude that on other people so that they can feel the same way about themselves because you’re here for a reason. You were born for a purpose. It could be the smallest thing, but it’s still a purpose. People are so beautiful and I just want to know everybody and I want to hear everybody and I want to love everybody.

And also, when I think about you, I think of age. You want to grow up so fast, but why? Life is so short and life is so precious. So enjoy it. Embrace it, love it, and feel it because you’ll never get these years back. You’ll never be this age ever again. Ever again! For the rest of your life. So embrace it while it’s still here because it’s fun and amazing.”

Me: “It only gets better from here on out…”

Hannah: “Yeah because you know it isn’t always good. You have to go through all the shit to be good. You have to be hurt and you have to go through some really shitty things so you can be stable at where you are and to be able to learn and grow.

And going through life for me, when I was younger, I was always told ‘you’re so smart, you’re so beautiful, you’re awesome.’ And it stuck with me. And I’m so confident now because I’ve met some really great people who are now good friends of mine that I’ve had the privilege to know and love and they’ve told me really good things. I’ve spent hours and hours talking to people and they’ve told me things that were out of the blue. And I would think, ‘wow that took a lot of guts for you to tell me what you just told me. I must be doing something right for you, or for you to say that to me.’ I want people to always just feel good and safe around me so they can tell me things. It’s just good to know that they trust me, and feel good. Because that’s so rare to find somebody who is a genuine and trustworthy person, whose not going to go and run to everybody and tell everybody their story. There’s good people out there and I just want to be one of them.”

I had this conversation on a beautiful Friday morning in downtown Lafayette. The weather was cool and breezy, there was Cajun music playing in the park, and the whole city seemed to be peaceful and in love. This set the tone for my entire weekend. If I had to take one thing from this entire weekend I would say it has to be the courage and boldness I chose in every moment to continue loving myself more and more and again and again. I feel like one door in my life is closing and I am letting go, as if little envelopes of information are floating out of the back of my head and falling away, of old beliefs and thought patterns that never served me. The future is never certain, but I know that if I choose love, kindness, and respect for myself and every living breathing being in my path I will be overwhelmed with so much joy and limitless moments. Moments that DO serve me and my purpose. Moments that make my heart beat with the fury of burning love that is seeping out of every pore. Moments that peel back the clouded layer over my gushing brown eyes and replace it with translucent lenses. These are the moments that continue to change my life and stump me with the absence of apology. I am me, and always me, and for that, I will never be sorry.

Alexis Lemoine