Regrets

regrets…

Lots and lots of them.

In past blogs I’ve mentioned that my whole life I have struggled with letting go of the past and recently I’m feeling wrecked over decisions I really regret making. It’s been hard to move past them. I have good days and then I have days I just feel broken and I can’t snap out of it.

Just being honest.

Yes, I understand we are only human and we all make mistakes. Yes, I understand things happen to us and we cause things to happen we didn’t mean to, but there are times when thinking of the past leaves me with nothing but emptiness in my heart.

So I’m struggling right now but I do have hope. I’m realizing that time doesn’t heal our hearts. God heals our hearts.

This is a tough topic to talk about when I’m personally struggling with it, but I know I’m not the only one who does so I thought it may help to tell you some of the things I have been doing to help myself get over constantly thinking about the things I did wrong and the consequences from those choices.

First you have to tell someone what you did and that you are struggling, whether it’s your mom, best friend, sister, a youth pastor, counselor or another trustworthy person in your life. And please make sure you tell someone if you are so overwhelmed with pain that you want to hurt yourself. We need other people in our lives to encourage us, hold us accountable and see things from a different perspective. Yes, that’s scary and being vulnerable. Trust me, it’s worth the weight that comes off of you when you tell someone you trust.

Next I think is helpful is to journal and write down everything you’re feeling… EVERYTHING whether it’s bad or good write it all down. Then give yourself 15-30 minutes to think about this choice you made, how you were feeling when you made it, were the consequences worth it, let yourself cry, pray and then that’s it, stand your ground that you know the situation can’t be changed no matter how much you think about it cause it’s in the past. I’ve made the mistake at times of tweeting stuff that I thought would make me feel better but it really didn’t and I just felt worse. It’s much better to journal just for you to see because nobody who just casually follows your Twitter will ever totally understand what you are going through.

Finally if this decision or regret caused hurt to others, you need to say sorry (preferably in person) even if they don’t except it, you at least owe them that. Make the decision to try to fix things if you can and if not, learn from it and don’t repeat it. I know I’ve hurt my family in the past but thank God we are moving on and I’m regaining their trust again. I’m sad to say I’ve done some pretty stupid things and have hurt some wonderful people in my life. The worst part is because it took me awhile to realize this, I’ve lost a couple really special ones. Those are the consequences I’m trying to live with and what motivates me from never taking anyone or anything for granted.

Although I have tried everything in the book to go back and time travel, I can’t. I don’t want this to be a heavy post but if there’s one thing I understand now is that God gives us opportunities and people in our lives and when we don’t treat them the way they deserve to be treated we can lose them. No stupid temporary lifestyle or convenience is worth that.

As much as it hurts me to deal with regrets, those decisions have brought me to where I am today so I can only do the best I know how to do going forward. I’ve chosen to try to learn from the past and think less about the regrets by controlling where I let my mind go. The worst thing you can do is allow yourself to be sad and lonely over the past which then makes you more likely to make more bad decisions. That’s just a bad cycle that will go on and on if you don’t realize it. That’s why I do better writing stuff down because I’m less likely to do it again when I see maybe WHY I did what I did.

Just remember that everyday we get a fresh brand new start to make better choices, learn from the past and live the lives we want to live. I’m reminding myself of that all day, every day!

 

Comfort Zone

If you know me then you know I can be an adventurous person who likes doing different things (most of the time), but I HATE the unknown. I have struggled with new things so much that sometimes it gave me major anxiety and I felt physically sick over it. I definitely preferred being in my comfort zone of knowing what to expect and when. The unknown still can scare the heck out of me but recently I have tried to do a better job of living in the moment and trying not to have anxiety about the future (or the past). Being unsure and uncomfortable isn’t enjoyable at all but I get that it’s a normal part of life.

Lately, when I find myself starting to worry I remind myself that I can just do the best I know how to as situations come up. Let’s face it, some stuff we have to experience in life just won’t feel good. It’s hard and if I try to ignore the pain or rush through the process to make myself “comfortable” what good is that in the long run? I want to know at the end of the day I gave it my best to become stronger and smarter instead of just slapping a band-aid on something to make myself temporarily feel better. Some days I don’t do such a great job with this but I realize being comfortable isn’t always what’s best for us.

I have been put to the test recently. About a month ago, I was offered an opportunity to apply for a missions trip to Saint Lucia. My first reaction was “OMG YES!”

But….

I started to worry. And I literally talked myself out of it.

I won’t know anyone. I’ll be gone two weeks. How will I raise the money? I’ll be away over my birthday. I can’t do something this big by myself.

All these thoughts flooded my mind and I decided not to do it. But the offer was still open a few days ago. I stopped in my tracks and reconsidered when my mom asked the question, “Does the thought of it give you butterflies and stir your heart every time you think about it? If it does, and then you talk yourself out of it then you know the answer!”

And I realized it did give me butterflies and stir my heart every time I thought about it but I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I knew God was calling me to do it. I didn’t want to ignore doing what was meant for me to do because of being afraid or feeling uncomfortable.

So I’m gonna go for it!

Honestly, this was all happening over the last few months while I still was struggling with regret…dwelling on the past and feeling like I never do anything right or always wishing to change the past. I actually used to lay awake in bed late at night and work myself into a panic attack over past mistakes – SOMETHING NO ONE CAN CHANGE!!!! Although I still have some rough times when it is tough to not think about memories with people I miss I’ve tried to learn from mistakes and know that things will be good again one day. And this time I’m willing to give up being comfortable in exchange for being fearless. I believe that God will close a door for our own good and open up a new one that will lead us places we never could have dreamed of if we trust Him and don’t let fear stop us.

So I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone this summer…take a road trip someplace new, ask that girl out on a date, make a new friend, if you love someone then tell him or her before it’s too late, write/paint/sing something even if you never tried before; just take a deep breath and do something that scares you! It may not always end up the way you expect it to, but you can know that at least you had the courage to try.

No more regrets.

Comfortable is forgettable. It’s just okay. Thrilling and memorable are worth the risk of leaving your comfort zone. So what are you waiting for? GO!

 

People Pleaser

Did you see her Snap story?

Did you hear who she was hanging out with Saturday?

Did you see what she was wearing?

 

Since being in high school I was always so worried what other people said about me. I feared being judged and excluded over what I would do and post or who I was friends with, so on and so on. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I really grasped the concept of doing things for myself and not caring what others said. I’m not talking about being rude or gross and saying “Too bad, that’s just me.” I’m saying that I tried to stop following the crowd when it was headed in the wrong direction and I stopped pretending to care about stuff that really wasn’t that important.

Being a “people pleaser” is a huge issue and teens don’t just struggle with this…even adults do. It’s a want and need to please others, feel accepted and go to huge lengths just to be liked by others. It usually means giving up our own identity in favor of what is popular or expected and that’s not usually a good thing as a teenager. Let’s just say a lot of what is considered acceptable by kids my age isn’t usually good for us.

Recently I have started to do things just for myself without needing the approval of anyone else, including this blog! In recent months instead of being so attached to my phone and watching what everyone else was doing, I’ve started journaling, painting, taking photos and singing just for my own self enjoyment. I stopped apologizing constantly for normal stuff like sharing my opinion and I’ve tried really hard not to let people get to me when they think it’s funny to embarrass me or someone else I know and love because we aren’t doing what everyone else is doing.

I’ve even changed up my style. I find myself shopping saying to myself, “Is this what the rest of the world expects me to wear, or do I actually like this?” because that was one of the things I struggled with even at a younger age. I always wanted to look like everyone else and be complimented except the problem was shopping for clothes at all the “cool” places was conflicting with what my mama thought was appropriate for me to wear! So let’s just say it was a constant battle of “you are not walking out of the house in that!!”

Now I understand more of why she told me that and I have embraced my own style which is a little more….ummmm…..”conservative” than in the past. I still get to wear what I like and those fights don’t happen anymore. It’s actually funny because I noticed that I get more compliments now on more appropriate clothing choices than I did when I was wearing stuff that caused big fights with my parents. Who knew?

Another major thing I have recently realized is that I used to post VSCO and Instagram pictures, tweets, Snapchat stories, and Facebook statuses just for likes or favorites; I wasn’t posting them for my own enjoyment. I would spend so much time making sure I was happy with how I looked and I would agonize after posting a photo that no matter what I never looked good or I sounded stupid. Black and white got a little gray sometimes and I know there were things I should not have posted. Now when I share anything, it’s pictures/updates of things I enjoy doing, happy memories or with people I enjoy being with. I’m NOT perfect with every post….I still have weak moments and wonder later if I should have done it but aren’t we all a work in progress? I do try to post things that make me happy and I also don’t spend hours anymore obsessing over who likes it or didn’t. If people don’t like what I post they can scroll past it or unfollow me!

And listen, we all have found ourselves either judging others or being judged and realizing that has really helped me to watch myself better. We can’t possibly know what motivates someone when they are friends or not friends with someone, they post a certain photo or tweet something, or break up with a boy or girlfriend, etc. without really knowing the person and situation. We are all still learning so I have made an effort to be more encouraging instead of judgemental.

To be honest, it has been hard for me to stop being a people pleaser but now I have made an effort to be more aware when I start to fall back into that mindset (and it helps to have family/friends hold you accountable). I pray about it, too and that really helps. Personally I want to be free to live life the way I want to in a respectful way that helps other people feel better instead of worse about themselves. It can be lonely at times not “fitting in” by doing things it seems like everyone else is doing but in the long run it’s worth it. Life is hard. It hurts sometimes and we really do need each other to be more encouraging.

I am far from perfect but I’m learning that life has a lot more to offer than shallow conversations and being petty. You should never have to pretend to be someone you aren’t or beg another person for attention…you are way too valuable for that. I am trying to practice being more genuine and vulnerable and in this process I’m learning who my real friends are, too. No more wasting time with people who don’t really want me in their lives for the right reasons.

So I encourage you to put down your cell phone, live in the moment and go have fun with friends being real and doing what you know is right for you to do. I heard a really cool quote one time that went something like this:

Are you truly happy or do you just want people to think you’re happy?

That really hit me hard because let’s face it, why are we doing some of the things we do especially if we know they aren’t good for us? Let’s stop putting on a show just so other people accept us. It’s crazy to think that just a few small choices we make in life could completely change everything and we will be happier and not so stressed out.

Being Vulnerable

Being vulnerable. Opening up. Trusting someone to know the real me…not just the good parts that I want people to see. That’s scary.

I have really struggled in my past with not having the best judgment when it comes to who to trust and who not to trust. I seemed to always get burned by the same flame twice, or in reality, more like eight times.

It’s really tough to decide when to be vulnerable or to trust someone because we never truly know another person’s motives. I had been told many times in the past I was “too trusting” because people have used that trust to manipulate me or gossip about me. After hearing this over and over then being hurt because of it, I just stopped being vulnerable with people, put on the fake smile and built walls so high around my heart that nobody was going to have the power to hurt me ever again.

And sadly I didn’t even realize I did it.

I went from trusting almost everyone I talked to and trying to see the good in everyone to refusing to be vulnerable with anyone, even people who loved me and should have earned my trust. During this time, I hurt the people I loved the most because I just couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or what I was struggling with and my anxiety went through the roof. I second-guessed every decision I made, listened to bad advice and then got defensive over my mistakes. I felt sick most of the time. Depending on who I was with was how I would feel and act. Because of how insecure I was, I cared wayyyy too much about what everyone said about me. I overthought every situation and just basically shut down.

And again, I didn’t even realize I did it.

I didn’t want to let anyone see the real me with failures, doubts and shame, so my doors were closed and locked. My closest relationships struggled because I was afraid of trusting anyone with the truth of things I did in my past that I regretted and if they did know I figured they judged me for them. I just couldn’t let myself be vulnerable with those closest to me so it was a downward spiral of me not opening up, being crazy moody, pushing the people I loved away, then feeling rejected and hating myself when they gave up on me because I didn’t think I was valuable enough to fight for.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started to figure out this destructive habit of mine. It was actually a conversation with my mom over a hurtful situation that helped me realize it. She said, “In order to  get help and be understood, you need to ask for help and communicate how you really feel. Stop pretending you don’t care or it’s going to cause more pain.”

It was then it dawned on me that I was actually the one not fighting for me so how could I expect anyone else to?

Although that sounds like such an obvious thing, it’s harder than it seems when you aren’t really aware of closing yourself off. If we act like we are just fine in the lifestyle we are living and we don’t tell anyone what’s actually going on with us, everyone will assume we are good, when in reality we are paralyzed with pain and too afraid or proud to admit it.

So the reason for writing this is to encourage you that it’s okay to be vulnerable and trust people who love you even when what you want to share is messy. It’s actually been a relief to admit painful things and it has helped me move on from my past and make better decisions. It’s also normal to struggle being vulnerable, but just make sure you invest in people you trust.  And please don’t make the mistake I did of realizing it too late and losing a good relationship over not being able to open up and being afraid if someone special really knows the good and the bad parts of you they will leave you. That fear just led to insecurity and confusion then before I knew it, my entire thought process was wreaked. Keep in mind that if someone does leave because they don’t like or want to hear about the messy parts of your life, then you are better off  because that was not love (but that’s a whole other post for another day!).

Trust is a balance like anything else in life I guess. I have tried getting better with this by taking my time getting to know someone first and praying about it. And you can observe a lot about people’s motives and loyalty by how they talk about others. And listen, you may be vulnerable a few times and not get the response you were hoping for. We all make mistakes on both sides of trust but learn from them and don’t give up.

Recently I have really gotten a better sense of who I can trust to open up to and who doesn’t invest in me enough to be allowed access to the stuff below the surface. It’s important that we are also trustworthy…it can’t just be one-sided. I still try to see the good in people, but I do it VERY carefully and with the understanding that it takes some time and effort to know who to be vulnerable with. Just don’t be afraid to do that with the right people at the right time.

That B Word…

Okay we all knew this blog post was coming soon, so I might as well get it out now… I am a teenage girl so my and my friends’ lives have always seemed to revolve around boys. Although I have grown up in an all girl family, I still found myself almost constantly around the male species. My mom tells me I was one of only two girls many times in the church nursery and at my preschool. The boys in elementary school were always less drama than the girls so I preferred to hang out with them.

As I grew up, I watched my mom and dad’s relationship very closely; my dad was my hero when it came to men. I looked up to him for everything, and at some points I would wish I was a boy, just so I could grow up to be him. The reason I am telling you this is because my dad did everything right…he threw the baseball with me, he took me fishing, he prayed for me, he cuddled with me when I was having a bad day and he respected me when I needed space, yet as I grew into my teen years, I found myself still craving that male attention. I think most girls can relate to this.

At times I look back and wonder where things went wrong…was it the time I told my first crush I liked him? Or was it the time that “player” of a boy texted me and said I was “hot”? Was it the time I had my first kiss? The time I drank and let my guard down…again I’m being real here. I’m not proud of some of the choices I made but I sure did learn from them. These are all questions that haunt me of why I made guys paying attention to me such a big deal. Why did it take me so long to realize when enough was enough?

What hurts me the most is the fact after all these idiotic choices I made, my dad thought it was his fault that I was trying so hard to get this type of attention. He wondered what he did wrong to make me crave it. But he didn’t do anything wrong…it was me and what I thought I was expected to do. Although I made those choices and I take full responsibility, today’s society has taken the word “morals” and has done a complete 360. I allowed negative influences and unhealthy stuff that seemed “normal” to dictate some of my choices. If you are on the internet you can agree with me that females are being viewed constantly for sexual enjoyment and many seem to actually enjoy doing it. Sadly, in today’s society being told “your a** is fat” is considered more of a compliment than “you look pretty today.” It’s totally normal for girls to be expected to dress and behave inappropriately to be accepted. Even by other girls!

I have this one friend who is the most gorgeous person I have ever met in my life, she is outgoing, she is crazy smart, she can sing, dance, her artwork is phenomenal and she is the total package. The only thing is she has been very picky with who she gives her time to and recently she has enlightened me on the fact she gets very lonely and that no one is interested. Now this is coming from a beautiful girl inside and out who gets attention, just not the kind she thinks she needs to be getting.

What? She’s amazing in every way possible but she’s not getting told her bootie looks good in her snap story so she thinks no guy is interested in her? And why aren’t they?

How sad is it that boys thinking you are sexy is so highly desired in today’s society that we forget all the valuable things we have to offer. Today’s norm has taught us girls that male attention along with being talked and thought about sexually is the ultimate goal. We will have power if guys find us attractive.

How messed up is this?

This is something I wish I knew about sooner and wish I had understood the trap I was falling for. I realized that however I put myself out there to the world is what I will attract. I have absolutely no desire for shallow relationships with anyone based on appearances.  And I admit I still slip up every once in awhile being overly concerned about how I look, but now that I have became aware of this behavior, it gets a bit easier to fix each time.

I have lived so much of my life trying to make sure I looked good for guys to notice me or to make my boyfriend feel proud to be with me (even though my last one was a good guy who never expected that…I just assumed he did) but one day awhile back I decided to really focus on myself and what I wanted and what made ME happy.

And I am not being over dramatic when I say this…but it has literally changed my life. I now have girls’ night outs with no guys and have the time of my life and I used to not be able to do that. I can put my phone down and live in the moment. I don’t have to try to look perfect for every picture I’m in. I’m enjoying this freedom and not trying to impress anyone. I’m not going to be giving my heart away based just on comments about what I look like…I want someone interested in the real me.  I’m in no hurry to date because the bar has been set high and there’s no need to rush anything.

So I guess the reason I am writing this right now is for girls to know that you need to start loving yourself and you never have to act or dress a certain way to get attention from guys. And just know there are respectful guys out there! If he’s a good guy, sure you want him to think you are beautiful, but more importantly he will take the time to get to know your heart. And just know that you are not alone in this struggle of wanting that kind of attention, but you deserve better than just being told you’re hot.

Expectations vs. Lies We Tell Ourselves

Expectations…

a term defined as “believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way,” or in other words, high hopes that the outcome of a certain situation will be what we want it to be.

I want to be real for a minute. In the past, I personally have really struggled with allowing myself to be in certain situations that put too much pressure on myself while having the expectation to do the right thing. If you still don’t quite follow here is an example: I have struggled with depression and very bad anxiety in my past. Now not that it was the main reason, but there were certain people and things I participated in that triggered it. My expectation was that I could be around that type of atmosphere and those people, but not end up feeling depressed and lost. That was not a very realistic expectation for me personally.

Now what determines a “realistic expectation”? It all depends on how much you personally struggle with whatever temptation you are dealing with. Everyone has different triggers. So say if hanging out with a certain girl makes you feel very insecure and upset to the point you start feeling like doing things you know aren’t good, are you going to stick around? I hope not! You can’t keep lying to yourself believing this friendship doesn’t affect you in a negative way. Or, if you like a manipulating guy who only likes you back if you want to do sexual stuff, you may want to reconsider how serious you want that relationship to be and don’t allow yourself the pressure of being put in situations time and time again where your expectations can’t be met. Stop lying to yourself it will get better on its own.

It is a very tough process of giving up things we never thought we would have to, but it is an important first step of healing and meeting our expectations (which I hope are high!). One of my struggles has been picking up on other people’s pain and having an unrealistic expectation that I can “fix” them because I know they are hurting themselves with their destructive behavior. But I have realized that I can’t control them and in the process of trying to help them, I have gotten hurt because I wasn’t aware I was giving them the power to negatively affect my own choices. Only they have the power to change, I can’t do it for them. This situation has gotten me in trouble multiple times, because instead of me influencing them, they influenced me and it put me in some tough decision-making positions. I believed things that were not true and it cost me. I’ve learned how to set up and keep boundaries to make sure I meet my own expectations of keeping out negative influences and that has meant cutting off people months ago that I know were not helping me meet my personal expectations.

Although some may call me selfish, I’ve decided my spiritual, physical and emotional health has to be my first priority. Think of it like this, how will we be able to save a drowning person if we can’t swim? It is not only hurting the other person, but you are going down with them. I hope that as I grow I can also help others who are settling for lies and not meeting their expectations. I’m in a much better place lately including having done all the things I suggested like cutting off toxic people and things that I know will trip me up. I’m not going to lie, I’ve made mistakes in my past and I’m still dealing with regret, loss and pain but I have faith in God that’s going to get better.

It can be very hard to walk away from negative situations that have felt comfortable for so long, but if you want to match your reality with your expectations you have to do hard things. I’ve learned it’s definitely worth it.