fear(less)

Fear is something I have struggled with off and on my whole life.

I’m not sure why it started, but even from a young age I was afraid of a bunch of things.

We weren’t allowed to watch horror movies growing up but I could barely even watch the “normal” Super Hero movies until about eighth grade (lol no joke, I’d have my eyes covered through half of it). I struggled sleeping alone and I was scared of roller coasters. My fear of people rejecting me and me not being good enough were the worst fears; I mean the list goes on and on.

I think many of us can admit that fear has frozen us in our tracks from doing things that we know we should have done. I almost didn’t go to Saint Lucia last year because I was afraid, and I think I have said multiple times, that missions trip saved my life and made me so unbelievably thankful for everything. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like now if I didn’t go on that trip. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. But that doesn’t mean that old familiar fear doesn’t sometimes come knocking.

So how do we learn not to let fear run our lives? And how can we tell the difference between fear, genuine concern and when to use common sense or take a risk?

As I’ve been writing this, I am starting to think of things associated with fear and how it can be recognized in our everyday lives. Where does fear start? Many times I find anxiety is a form of fear and it starts in our own heads. If you have anxiety being around large groups of people, isn’t that usually fear that you are not going to say or do the right thing or that they won’t accept you? Those anxious thoughts in our heads…where do they come from and why do we listen?

Anxiety is just fear wearing a mask. And we let it paralyze us without even realizing it.

Recently I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks as I was driving home. I saw a shooting star so I started to make a wish, like most of us would, then I thought… why am I making a wish? Like do I really think this will come true? And then I thought, what is stopping me from pursing that wish myself and making it a reality? And the answer to that question was obvious to me in that moment.

Fear of failure.

But WHY do we think this way? What is there to lose? As I drove I realized something….if I am following after my Creator and doing what He has called me to do, am I ever really failing or am I just “failing” at what the world’s standards are?

I think sometimes I tend to forget that God doesn’t have the same values that we do here on Earth. At the end of our lives, He doesn’t say, “Nope, I see you only made $20,000 a year and didn’t drive a Jeep so I’m sorry you can’t stay here in Heaven.” If He judged our worth the way society judges our worth, I think a lot of us would be in trouble. But instead He looks at our intentions and our hearts. He loves us despite our mistakes and

He never leaves us. So just remember this thought next time you want to go out of your comfort zone to do something good or if God puts dreams in your heart, He sees your motives and if you’re following after Him, trusting He is a big and faithful God that allows what’s best for you, He will provide.

So here’s one last thought. How can we tell the difference between fear and legitimate concerns? I think most of the time it comes down to research, common sense and prayer.

Like obviously if you don’t think it’s a good idea to jump of a high cliff, that isn’t being fearful, that’s being smart. But get your facts straight before you rule out anything. If you jump off that high cliff with a bungee cord or onto something soft below, why not jump? We have a habit as humans to sometimes use our own experiences to make decisions without looking at the big picture.

Being “afraid” seems like it’s just part of our human nature but God does not want us to live like this. If you truly accept Jesus into your heart and allow His peace to overwhelm you then will find your “worst fears” and being afraid will vanish. Even if your situation feels scary know that God is bigger and His promises can get you through those times. If you’re not sure what all that means, please reach out to me so I can explain a little more!

It’s super important not to give in to fear, but instead realize we have God on our side, who made this whole planet and already won the battle over fear, sickness and sin through His son Jesus! He loves you and has His millions of angels surrounding you with safety every second!

So I challenge you to face a fear…. go in the ocean, apply for that job, talk to that person, try out for that team, sign up for that missions trip, go after your dreams and don’t numb yourself with things like drinking and drugs to make yourself feel better in the moment. Instead of letting fear control you, start seeing life for the adventure that it is, because God has put some awesome gifts and beautiful things inside you that you shouldn’t be afraid to share with the world!

Don’t be afraid to contact me and tell me what fears you faced this week, and/or if I can pray for you, because remember fear is a liar and has nothing on you! Love y’all! Xoxo

Advertisements

being honest

Why is it so hard to tell the truth sometimes?

This is something we all have struggled with in our lives and I think will continue to struggle with. We use the word “honesty” a lot but do we truly know the meaning of it? We use it a lot of different ways and it seems to mean different things. We yell down the hall at a sibling saying we hate them  for stealing our clothes, but do we honestly hate them?  Or we tell our moms half of the truth for our plans that night thinking we are technically being honest.  Or we over exaggerate about almost every story we tell? Or we only share a few basic facts about something we screwed up on so when the truth is eventually revealed we can defensively say “oh but you didn’t specifically ask me THAT question!”

Honesty is defined as: free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere

SINCERE.

If that part of the definition doesn’t make us feel a little guilty about the times when we twisted the truth for our own benefit, then I don’t know what will! We sometimes think being honest just means being blunt, rude, and not having a filter like being “brutally” honest. But according to this definition, honesty means telling someone something in a sincere way, without twisting it, being manipulating or making it out to be something that is not 100% true.

Let me tell you this, I wish I had been honest more because, man, things in my life would have turned out so different. I wasn’t honest with myself or people I could trust and it cost me. Even today, so many of my issues are self-inflicted and if I just could tell someone I NEED HELP when I am struggling, things could go a lot smoother. I wouldn’t have suffered and caused so much pain if I could have been honest all along and my life would look different.  I can say that for the most part, I am happy where I am at right now, but I do have some regrets and things I would have done different if I had the chance to go back. I’ve just decided not to let regrets hold me back from enjoying my life now and pursuing my dreams.

I’ve realized that honesty is a lot more than just telling the truth all the time. It’s also about owning up to mistakes and choices that should have probably gone a different way and realizing what got us to that point. When we make mistakes we, as humans, feel like we have to cover it up and hide it. It’s our human nature. But there is so much freedom in telling someone the whole truth, even if there are negative consequences. It’s just such a relief not to hide.

Even though I already said that I do still have some regrets,  overall I am at peace with my past and the things that have happened to me. Being totally honest about stuff I really messed up on isn’t always easy, but I have comfort in knowing God has healed me from those painful things. And the way that led me to that healing was by being HONEST with myself and trusted people like my mama or a mentor or my sisters, or even my dad. And yes, those details are somewhat embarrassing and even awkward to tell someone, but the freedom you feel after telling someone you trust is like no other.

You know how when you cut yourself and go to your mom and ask for a Band-aid, instead of just giving you a Band-aid she says “let me clean it out first” and you know you wanna sprint the other way cause you know how much it’s gonna BURN when she cleans it out.

Welp, that is pretty much an example of being honest in those messy situations. You are going to want to sprint in the opposite direction, it’s gonna burn and hurt in the moment, but the consequences of being honest and vulnerable with someone you can trust are so rewarding and healing.

Another huge part of honesty is trusting. In order to tell someone the truth we subconsciously don’t even realize this, but we have to trust them that they will receive it. So when I screw up and go to sit down with my mom to talk about the problem, I have to trust that number one, she won’t tell anyone unless she asks me first and number two, that she will receive what I am saying and help me make a change or get through a situation (or out of one too!!). I pray that I not only have people I trust with the truth in my life, but that I can also be trustworthy for someone else.

And just an observation here but does anyone else  despise how common outright lying, distrust and “tweaking” the truth (there really is no such thing as a little white lie !) are so common in today’s relationships? Even when someone asks what’s wrong and the response is “I’m just tired” or “I’m just busy” but it really is just that person avoiding a conversation, that’s not being honest (and how many times have we all done that??)! I am telling you right now if someone’s behavior is doing nothing but hurting you to get what they want by lying and using you over and over again, PLEASE GET OUT of that relationship.  And know the difference between someone who loves you and lies in an attempt to protect you (although that’s still that’s not remotely ok and needs to be dealt with) and someone who lies because they don’t want to get “caught”. Listen, if you’re a dude (or a girl) reading this and you lie to your gf/ bf or family or friends on a regular basis, please consider writing down everything you know you lied about, talk to the person you have been lying to and tell them what you have been doing and that you are going to be more honest from here on out. It’s going to be really hard and it’s a risk but imagine if everyone did this and wiped the slates clean? I’m telling y’all there is freedom in admitting where you screwed up, asking forgiveness and then letting go of the past.  I would never suggest doing these things if I didn’t do it myself.

I hope if you read this and get anything from this post that you understand this: telling someone you are struggling and being honest (and sincere!) in relationships, friendships and family will literally change your life. If anything knowing we are going to be more honest makes us think through our choices better since we will be accountable for telling the truth. When I am tempted to lie, I literally ask myself how would (fill in the name) feel if they found out I lied to them about this? It will also make life so much easier because if your honest all the time, you don’t have to remember who you told this or who you told that, because you will be consistent in everything you say. And I know some people aren’t gonna receive the truth very well, but give them time to process especially if it’s a tough situation and the truth hurts. I know I have had to give some time and space (and prayer!) to the people I have lied to and it’s totally understandable. And please don’t expect anything less then to receive honesty back, don’t settle for relationships and friendships that you can’t trust. Telling the truth really  should be a normal expectation.

Love y’all and I am already working on another blog to get out over the weekend. Feel free to comment anytime with topics you’d like to hear about. xoxo and enjoy some time off for Easter break. <33

Self-confidence

I think we can all relate to struggling at some point with trying to figure out who we really are and what we really believe. That’s part of growing up and I don’t think we will ever stop learning things about ourselves. So how do we view ourselves now? Do we like ourselves or not? Did you know that self-confidence really just means that we can trust in our God-given gifts without thinking we are rock stars?

And the reason for this blog post isn’t just to say…

“You need self-confidence to be happy so love yourself more, pamper yourself with bubble baths and tell someone you love them, blah blah, blah…”

All that stuff is great, who doesn’t love a relaxing bubble bath or telling someone your true feelings? But I hate to break it to ya…you can’t stay in the bathtub forever and sometimes the feelings you share aren’t mutual. So now what do we do to really take care of ourselves, to maintain our self-confidence, when reality hits hard?

Let’s start with this…

Know the difference between CONFIDENCE, PRIDE/COCKINESS and INSECURITY.

When you have self-confidence, you are so sure of who you are and who you are meant to be that you can humbly put others’ needs and success before your own. So in other words, it’s knowing your worth so well that you want others to find theirs, too!

Cockiness is putting your own needs and success before others…and usually in an obnoxious way! Believe it or not, cockiness can actually be a sign of not having much self-confidence. If someone is hurt or very insecure, many times they try to cover that hurt up with being so into themselves and telling everyone how much better they are then everyone else. Or maybe someone is acting cocky because they have been told for a long time how amazing they are at doing something and it just goes to their head (hey, and maybe we can relate to that at some point in our lives?).

When you are insecure, you just can’t be recognized for anything you do well. You get uncomfortable when people complement you. You may also be the person who apologizes for breathing. If that’s you, most likely you aren’t just shy, you have been hurt and this is your way of protecting yourself from getting hurt again. It’s time for you to break out of that and enjoy being you.

Here’s some things to consider and figure out if you are self-confident, cocky or insecure:

1. Are you able to recognize your strengths and gifts, and with that are you also able to share your weaknesses in order to receive help?
If you answered yes to these questions, then YAY. That’s good to be aware of your strengths and work on your weaknesses buuuuut if you answered no, let’s talk. Listen, it’s hard to live in this current society and have a high opinion of yourself. It’s weird how we will post selfies and then tell everyone how ugly we are. I know that I have felt uncomfortable when someone has pointed out something I’m good at (and depending on who and where, felt REALLY uncomfortable when they pointed out something I’m not so good at haha).

Sometimes when I’m really struggling with feeling insecure and worthless, I look in the mirror (lock your door if you want cause this is kinda awkward the first couple times and it would be even more awkward if your like 10 year old brother walked in) straight in my eyes and say, “You’re special and talented and God created you for a reason.” I usually say it 13 times cause that’s my favorite number but do it however many times you need to say it until you believe it.

Secondly, being able to realize your weaknesses and get help isn’t a bad thing at all. I think our generation thinks it’s so weak asking for help and so many of us have trust issues that we would never admit we are struggling. Nobody wants a lecture but sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

Hear me on this, if you’re struggling with something, please tell someone close to you. If my friends or family are hurt, I want to know, I want to help. I want to know if you think about harming yourself, I want to know if you feel like you need to go back to that guy who only snaps you at midnight for what he can get from you that night. I want to know if you feel confused, worthless or upset and I’m sure I’m not the only person who cares. You would be BLOWN AWAY about how many friends and family care about you and want to help you if you give them the chance to.

2. Do you get easily offended when someone corrects you or points out a weakness?
If you answered no, then good job! But if you answered yes, why does being corrected bother you? When we get offended, we are allowing ourselves to let anger and sadness take over our thoughts and that will kill our self-confidence. It’s totally okay to be disappointed when a negative comment is made, but think about the source and if it could be true or not instead of “I can’t believe she said that!” and telling the first 14 people you see how rude she is. Sometimes we don’t even realize how other people see us! In any case, don’t let someone’s comments or opinion affect your emotions. People can only build you up or tear your down if you let them and we should never rely on opinions (good or bad) for our self-confidence.

3. Do you get angry or jealous if someone gets a compliment or is recognized in a positive way?
If you answered no, then dude, you’re good once again! Thanks for reading my blog even though it seems like you don’t need it lol! But if you answered yes, this is a serious character flaw. I do think just about everyone goes through feeling like this at some point. Deep down we all want others to see the good things in us so when we are ignored while someone else gets the attention, we can be crazy jealous and react in a bad way. If this happens to you on a regular basis, talk to someone about how you feel so you can figure out what triggers you when this happens and fix it. Some of you may say, “I can’t be happy for him, he did that one thing that one time and he doesn’t deserve to be complimented… blah blah blah.” Whatever someone has done to you that hurt, you need to forgive and move on for your own sake. If you are truly self-confident in who you have been created to be, you won’t be threatened by other people having success, no matter who they are.

4. Do you find yourself posting things for the likes, retweets and comments rather than the actual content or just for your own enjoyment?
If you answered no, you’re probably lying soooo but this one is tough. I think because it is “social” media we all post for the attention or why else would we post things in the first place? But getting frustrated when your selfie hasn’t reached 100 likes in 15 minutes may be an issue. I would suggest a social media fast until you get your head on straight and not be obsessed with how well your posts do. It’s really important not to get your confidence from social media because that’s so up and down! It’s no better thinking that the girl with 500 likes on a pic is better than a girl who got 70 likes on hers…but we are all guilty of this kind of thinking and then we wonder why we are so cocky or insecure. Trust me, I can assure you that when you stop refreshing your phone every minute to see whether “Johnny” liked that selfie you just posted, you will thank yourself.

5. Okay thanks for sticking with me, here’s the last question…do you believe God makes mistakes?
If you answered yes, I would love to sit down and chat to see why you think that and hear you out. But if you answered no, then why aren’t you loving yourself and others and seeing all of us as God’s creation? If we could all have confidence that we are created in God’s image and if we could love ourselves and others the way God does, this world would be so different. I wish I could see people through God’s eyes because His love is completely unconditional!

I do hope you take some time to really evaluate how you feel about yourself and I hope this was helpful. I know even as I wrote it, I started realizing some things that I could change. When life hits hard and things don’t go as planned, we need to remember we still have a purpose. And if you didn’t get anything out of what I wrote up to this point, please just get this: You are so valued and I hope you start to look at your life as important while you also see the value in other people, too. Believe in yourself, realize your gifts and admit your weaknesses. Okay that’s all for now. Love y’all! xoxo

girl drama

Girls can be brutal to one another.

We like to hide behind fake smiles. But we all have done it. It’s easy to scroll through Insta and pass judgement on what someone is wearing, what they are doing or who someone is with (or not with anymore). Maybe because it makes us feel a little better about ourselves or maybe we don’t realize we even do it. Or maybe we have our own agenda like trying to make sure that cute guy we like understands what a horrible person THAT girl is.

Why does it seem like we don’t have any courage? Guys and girls should stop being afraid of confrontation. Phasing people out of your life with no explanation or back-stabbing and manipulating them is ten times worse than brutal honesty. I hate not knowing what I did to just make someone not care anymore. When we try not to hurt someone by lying and they find out, we do way more damage then just explaining the problem. How many great friendships or boy/girlfriends have we lost and we aren’t even really sure what happened?

I’ve had relationships ruined with people I do know because (mostly) girls who don’t know anything about me trash talked about me…people who “pick a side” and make up their minds about my motives based on their own assumptions. If you ever wonder why I’ve said and done things that hurt myself or others, then ask ME please. Don’t assume and turn people I care about against me, especially if you don’t even know anything about me. Or better yet, try to understand or get to know me instead of judging. I’ll try to do the same to you. We really need to be supportive instead of acting like everything we do is a competition. We also need to be honest and not twist things around to make the story a little more dramatic. And let’s stop the name calling and slut shaming.

It is also very sad to think of all the friendships lost because of a boy who couldn’t have friends that were girls if he was dating someone. And girls who got jealous and over protective so they attack any girl that even looks at their boyfriend. Some girls make everything a competition and it shouldn’t be like that. We should be working together, not tearing each other apart.

It’s much easier said then done, but what if for one day we decide we aren’t going to say anything judgmental about anyone? What if when we see THAT person pop up on our phone screen that we don’t let ourselves give in to a rude comment? What if we take time to reach out to the people God put in our lives just to let them know we care? What would our mindset be if we just encourage others instead of focusing on our hurts and feeling like a victim all the time? Because we are NOT victims. God will use every horrible thing that’s happened to us and what we have done and make something good come from it. If we really believe that we would live our lives so different and be a lot more forgiving.

So I encourage you to text that girl you have not seen in months or apologize to that friend who you may have hurt with mean words out of frustration. Let’s not judge girls for the things we heard about them and instead get to know them first. I’m telling myself all this stuff too because sometimes my own insecurity has me comparing myself to other girls. And always remember who has your back at the end of the day because I want my friends to know that I won’t let any competition over a guy’s attention or misunderstanding come between us.  Nobody is perfect so let’s try not to expect more from other people than we expect from ourselves and we should try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. If you don’t feel accepted and valuable by the people you are hanging out with, then you are friends with the wrong people!

cocky or confident?

It’s been a little while since my last post. I have a bunch of ideas in my head but then when I try to write I feel like I keep saying the same things! I don’t always want to talk about negative experiences and having to grow from them becasue my life consists of so much more than that, but I do want to talk about the struggles I’ve experienced growing up trying to figure out what the difference is between being confident and cocky. I’m not sure I have figured that out yet but I think I have learned a few things that I want to share.

Although these both are internal feelings that we all experience I noticed that you can usually tell the difference by the way you treat other people. Being cocky isn’t just what we see the “mean girls” do in the Disney channel movies. Cockiness is putting yourself before everyone else and thinking you are better. It can come off as being rude, judgemental, obnoxious “show offs” and blowing people off. I have done all those things but didn’t think I was being cocky until I was on the other side being around someone else acting like that and it made me feel pretty worthless. It’s pretty horrible when you try to talk to someone whose responses just make you feel like you have been dismissed and you mean nothing to them.

But having confidence is being so secure in who you are that it makes you want to help others feel good about themselves too. When you are confident it doesn’t matter who is watching or expecting you to behave a certain way, you do the RIGHT thing and you value others. I also think that confident people realize they aren’t perfect and admit their mistakes, but cocky people act as if they are perfect and think that admitting they did something wrong makes them weak.

There was a time when I first became Miss Hummelstown that I legitimately was afraid to tell people because I didn’t want to sound cocky. I was paranoid everytime my mom took a picture because even though I knew that reason I wanted to be Miss Hummelstown didn’t have to do with wearing a crown I felt so judged! How terrible is that?? I know that sometimes in the past I had misjudged people for being confident and I was afraid people would do the same thing to me. Until I got comfortable in that position and confident knowing I was where God wanted me to be. I definitely didn’t feel like I was better than anyone else and I can honestly say the best part about doing it was seeing the smiles on little kids faces when I would color with them at the Christmas event or pass out Easter eggs (okay okay and riding in the mayor’s convertible was also one of my favorites…but I don’t think that makes me cocky, right?).

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that being confident is so much better on both sides than being cocky. And listen it’s okay to let people see the great things happening in your life! We should all be happy for one another instead of making it a competition or judging. Sometimes we just have to check ourselves. If you hurt someone’s feelings trying to come off as being better/prettier/smarter/more important than them or dismissing them, try to make it right. Think about how you want others to treat you and then try to do that yourself. I have literally stopped myself mid text message or conversation and thought, wow, I’m coming across like a jerk right now so I need to back off. That can be hard when we are feeling defensive or attacked but that’s where we have to have confidence and be comfortable with who we are and understand we don’t have to prove anything. Sometimes the best answer is not to tell everyone how right and awesome you are, but to tell someone else how valuable they are. It’s a learning process like everything else I have blogged about. Practice makes perfect, right?

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.