Sometimes Unfortunate Events Make Way for Better Ones

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This isn’t always true, but sometimes after time has passed, you’ll look back on something not so great that happened and see that it made way for something better to occur.

This can usually be seen with job losses, breakups, and even smaller day-to-day things, such as canceled plans.

That job loss is horrible at the time, but it may be the push you need to look for something better. A breakup may crush you, but it may be the only way you would have left a bad situation. Canceled plans may disappoint you, but they may make you available for something better or for a night in that you desperately need.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a little short on cash, and I really wanted to go to homecoming—it was our last one, afterall. Tickets got more and more expensive the closer it got to the dance, so during the early bird sale, I asked my friends if we were going to go, and everyone decided against it. I made it clear that I was not willing to pay full price later.

Well, the week before the dance, one of our friends ended up being nominated for homecoming court. Suddenly, just like that, everyone was going. Of course, that made complete sense; they had a new reason to attend the dance to support our friend.

I, however, felt hurt and betrayed. I probably could have asked my parents if I could still go, and knowing them, they would have gladly given me the extra cash for the more expensive ticket. But I was—and still am—stubborn. It was the point of the thing.

I was also going through a pretty rough semester. The guy I had liked the year previous—who had also been one of my best friends—was not really speaking to me. I felt ousted from the people who mattered most, and I was terrified of what the end of the year meant: graduation and college. I cried pretty much every day on the way home from school that year.

Not going to homecoming with my friends really hurt on top of everything else I was going through, but had everything gone my way, and had we all bought our tickets when they were cheap, I may not be married to my husband right now. Yep, that’s right! Had I gone to that dance, my husband and I may never have started dating.

You see, when everyone decided to go to the dance at the last minute, I decided to grab a few friends who I knew weren’t into school dances, and I invited them to go to a drive-in movie that homecoming night.

Even in California, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck at night in October requires jackets, hats, and blankets. It was cold!

And on that chilly night, my husband offered to share a blanket with me so that our friend who didn’t bring a blanket could take one of ours.

Had I gone to the dance, had everything worked out, my husband and I would have never shared that blanket, and I would never have started wondering if he liked me, which snowballed into us finally admitting feelings for one another a few months later.

It feels like the end of the world when our friends hurt our feelings or when we begin to feel left out and alone. You may not necessarily meet your future husband due to a friend hurting you, but take heart in knowing that things will get better. I’m a strong believer that things usually turn out how they should.

So when you’re in a particularly hard time, take a deep breath, and know that you might look back at things very differently once you’ve had time away from the situation.

And make the best of those unfortunate times. If you can’t go to homecoming, go see a movie. If you lost your job, enjoy the time off. If you’re facing a breakup, go do all of the things your ex didn’t like to do with you.

Sometimes things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

Group Projects Don’t End After High School

My Post (58)I hate to tell you this, but group projects sadly do not end after high school—or even after college. You will stumble across those similar feelings of frustration and disappointment in your work life and your social life long after you’ve said goodbye to backpacks and textbooks.

I don’t know about you, but I often walked away from group projects feeling like there was at least one person who didn’t contribute and still got away with taking credit. There were also frustrations from no one agreeing or ever coming to a proper decision.

While group projects—or really anything that involves communicating and making decisions with others—can be frustrating, unfair, and, ultimately, a huge headache, they actually provide chances for you to better yourself.

If someone in your group project isn’t pulling his or her weight, talk to him or her about it. There will be times in your adult life when confrontation will be necessary. Kindly explain exactly what you need from that person. If the group member still fails to meet the expectations of the group, feel free to talk to your teacher, but I recommend still picking up the slack so that you aren’t stuck with a bad presentation or project.

People are going to let you down throughout your lifetime, but you still have the power to push through and to even possibly help those who let you down. Even in a terrible situation in which a slacking group member takes credit for all of the amazing things you did, you still win because, by doing extra work, you learned more, and you prepared yourself for future situations.

You win because you don’t have to worry about your teacher realizing you lied. You win because you actually put in an effort and worked hard.

Those who skate by on the hard work of others usually face rude awakenings at some point or another in their lives. Don’t worry about them. Don’t worry about what’s fair.

Instead, do the best that you can. The best way not to be disappointed in a group project—and in life, in general—is to accept that the only thing you have control over in life are your decisions.

You can’t control others, but you can control your own actions. So make sure that your actions are reflective of the person you want to be.

 

Just Like We Shouldn’t Slut-Shame, We Shouldn’t Virgin-Shame


Listen, I wasn’t in the “cool” circles when I was in high school, and everyone’s experiences are different, but when I was in high school less than 10 years ago, slut-shaming didn’t seem to be a thing anymore.


Sure, even in my AP circles, there were rumors about if a couple had “taken it to the next level,” but I don’t think anyone was shamed for that—just gossiped about as a couple in a wistful or grossed-out tone. Again, everyone has different experiences, so if you were slut-shamed in high school (or ever), I’m truly sorry, and I don’t mean to belittle that.

When I was in school, though, and what I definitely see happening in society as a whole now, is a new trend that shames virgins. It seems like, as a society, we tend to shame whichever group is the minority. For a while, it was girls who slept around, and then as that became more common, now it’s virgins who are shamed.  

And, if anything, it’s not just girls that experience this, but it might even affect guys even more so. There seems to be some bizarre macho-man pressure on them that they have to be sexually active by a certain age, which is so sad because everyone is different. Not to mention different religions have much more conservative beliefs about such things.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who came off as more “worldly,” shall we say. I have no clue if she was actually sexually active, but boy did she like to make jokes and comments that insinuated that she knew about such things.

She must have picked up on my innocence because she liked to try to get me to admit that I knew what she was talking about. One time I joked as if I did get her reference (that actually went way over my head), and I regretted it horribly afterward. I just wanted her to leave me alone!

When I started dating a guy in our class, she made multiple comments that made me unbelievably uncomfortable. She also tended to have a tone that pitied my boyfriend because we were not physically wherever she thought we should be. She was shocked that we hadn’t kissed, and when our class was accidentally exposed to a naked Juliet’s chest during a viewing of Romeo and Juliet, she made jokes that it was something my boyfriend hadn’t seen in real life yet.

It was really hurtful, and as you can imagine, the comments did not help the relationship I was in. While the guy and I ended up breaking up for lots of reasons, at the time, I blamed her quite a bit.

I don’t know why she felt the need to be so invested in our relationship. Maybe she thought she was helping, but it was nosy, inappropriate, and just downright judgmental. I might not have agreed with her relationship choices, but I would never have criticized her or belittled her in front of anyone, let alone her boyfriend and an ENTIRE classroom full of people!

Regardless of the choices you make or how you feel about them, do not put people down for making decisions that are different than yours.

Virgins shouldn’t think they’re better than those who choose to be sexually active (after all, especially if you’re abstaining for religious reasons, we all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up). Sexually active folks shouldn’t look down on virgins or pressure them to change their views.

Be loving. Be kind. Stop shaming people for making different choices than you. Let’s stop finding a minority to attack and show love, grace, and kindness instead of being critical.








 

You Don’t Know What Others Are Going Through: Be Kind

Sad girl in hammock. You Don't Know What Others Are Going Through
*Sigh.* So, I really wanted to like the new Netflix movie
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. It looked so endearing and starred Barb from Stranger Things and the loveable guy from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. By all accounts, it should have been amazing, but about halfway through the film, I had to turn it off due to my rising anxiety levels, second-hand embarrassment, and pure horror that one of the scenes included a character being misled about whom he was kissing with his eyes shut. (Consent, guys. Consent.)

One of my initial issues with the movie was that the stereotypical mean popular girl was over-the-top cruel to her classmates—she was the type of cruel that had me thinking, “Did these screenwriters ever attend high school or just watch movies about it?”

Thankfully, the screenwriters did explain the character’s behavior with a fleshed-out background featuring a hectic home life and pressures from her mother to be perfect.

It’s an important lesson that, though it seems to be pounded in our heads incessantly in film and books, I tend to easily forget: You never know what others are going through.

I can be a am a judgmental person. I’m trying to be better, but more often than naught, I let my thoughts get away from me, so these next few paragraphs are as much for me as they are for anyone reading this.

Once again, you never know what someone else is going through. That person who cut you off on the freeway might be rushing home in the midst of a family emergency. That person at work who put you down in front of your boss might be dealing with job insecurity. Your friend who made a snide comment about your outfit might be feeling left out.

We should, of course, stand up for ourselves, but instead of responding in anger or defensiveness, take a moment to think about what the offender may have going on his or her life.

Sometimes things we take offense to may not even be intended to be taken as an insult.

I’ll never forget, one time in junior high, my friend pulled up her hooded jacket in a really cute way, and I said something like, “Aw! You look just like a little mouse peeking out of a hole!”

She got really upset, and our friends who witnessed it all asked me why I would say that.

While I looked like the biggest jerk in the world, I had only made that statement because my father had said it to me a few days earlier, and I had thought it was really sweet. When he said it, it had come off extremely endearing. Obviously, it had not come off that way when I repeated it.

And there’s the kicker: Not only should we be mindful of what offenders may be going through, but we should also be mindful of what anyone we are around may be going through. Something we say without thinking could be harmless to us but could scar the person we’re speaking to for life.

We’re all bound to make mistakes in this department, but be mindful, be caring, be understanding, and, above all, be quick to forgive.

God knows I’ve certainly cut off my fair share of people on the freeway, hurt people’s feelings, and just been a downright unpleasant human being.

The least I can do is extend the same grace that I hope others are giving me.

Having It All: Career, Love, and Family

Having it all: career, love, and family. Girl in field.Women are under extraordinary pressure today to “have it all.” To have the dream job, to raise not only well-behaved but also gifted children, to keep the house in order, and to keep up their appearances.

Some women believe “having it all” is possible; some do not. In reality, the definition of “having it all” needs to change.

We are not cookie-cutter personalities. All women do not have the same dream. Some are ambitious and want to rise to the top in their careers. Others dream of being homemakers—which is never something other women should criticize. Others want something in the middle.

Yet, today—and this happens to young men, too—young women seem to be funneled into the same path: College. Career. Marriage. Family. If you stray from this path, there is a societal pressure and mindset that you have failed.

The thing is, society’s standard does not equate to a happy life. In fact, meeting that standard is practically impossible even if you have a personality type that would thrive in that lifestyle!

There are only so many hours in a day, and the reality is that you cannot “have it all” in the way society has defined it.

I’ll never forget the quiet realization that fell over my global communications class during a Q&A with some successful guest journalists several years ago. These were the type of journalists who are out there living the dream. They traveled to far off places, spoke with amazing people, and really experienced life on a global scale.

We were all off in daydreams picturing romanticized views of their lifestyles when someone asked how it affected their relationships back home.

A girl sitting behind me scoffed loudly at the question. She was the career type. She thought the question was immature and inappropriate.

The girl who asked the question was smart, though. She was clearly not completely career-focused. She wanted to know if this type of journalism was something she could actually do and be happy with.

As it turns out, everyone’s romanticized view of the job was quickly shattered; one journalist shared she was single and had never married, and two others shared they had both been divorced—though they had found love with one another.

Our teacher, also a traveling journalist, confirmed the same: she had trouble making relationships work as well because of her job.  

For these journalists, their careers took priority. They no doubt have amazing lives, amazing stories, and success, but because of how much they have to travel, they have had to sacrifice relationships and marriages.

The students were rather quiet as they considered if that’s something they could do.

There is no right or wrong answer for what you choose to pursue in your life, but you have to be honest with yourself. What does your “having it all” look like? What will you have to sacrifice to get there?

Your “all” does not need to look like someone else’s. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, do it. If you don’t want kids, that’s OK, too. If you want a meaningful career and a family, you’ll find a way to balance it.

We can’t be everything. So just be who you want to be.

Just Friends: Don’t Lead People On

My Post (23)I write the following words with conviction, as it’s something I’ve done. It’s something most of us have done.

You’re young; you worry about feeling loved and attractive. Will anybody ever like me? you think. And then someone does—only it’s not whom you wanted.

You let him down easy, or maybe you avoid letting him know how you feel at all, while still remaining friends, texting, and hanging out.

You may not even realize you’re doing it, but you might be leading him on. You might have unconsciously created a safety net—a guy you can hang on to in case you eventually decide you like him back.

Don’t get me wrong, guys do this, too. This is not a cruelty exclusive to girls, but it’s important that we recognize that we have the power to hurt guys as much as they have the power to hurt us. Sometimes in the midst of emotions and heartaches, it’s easy to get so lost in your own feelings that you forget about others’.

When I was young, I made that mistake. I knew that a guy friend had feelings for me—or at least had at one time—and, yes, I had told him I liked someone else, but I still did not put up enough boundaries. Under the premise of being “close friends,” I essentially allowed us to create a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship emotionally. We texted constantly. We hung out all of the time. All while he watched me pine for other guys.

Obviously, he could have created distance if he needed to, but I still think I had a responsibility there.

Later, when I actually did start dating someone, I essentially had to “break up” with him, as that boyfriend did not appreciate the constant texting between myself and the friend. You know why? Because he recognized what I didn’t at the time. It was COMPLETELY unhealthy and inappropriate.

And you know what else? It made what once was a meaningful friendship feel weird and distant. Listen, somewhere there is most definitely a middle ground where guys and girls CAN be just friends. I’m not one to necessarily preach on what that looks like, but I can tell you that you’ll know when you may need to set up some boundaries to spare either his or your feelings.

Don’t get so lost in your own feelings that you forget to look out for someone else’s. While it’s important to guard your own heart and protect it from heartbreak, it’s just as important that you recognize when you can harm someone else’s heart.

Preserve your friendships. Preserve others’ hearts.

It’s what you yourself would want.

Friendships and Growing Up

Friendship. Two girls at the beach.When I was in high school, I had a really fantastic group of friends. I felt so safe and comfortable with them, and the knowledge that we would all go our separate ways for college was really hard for me to come to terms with. Everyone told me we would lose touch.

People grow apart, that’s true, but I don’t think it’s something that has to occur. Friendships (like relationships) require a lot of work and effort. If you acknowledge and understand that every single one of your friends will change—and if you decide to love all of them no matter what—those friendships can adapt without growing apart.

You will naturally change as time goes on, too. You will meet new people, and you’ll find different friends who better fit with the stage of life you’re in. But, there is something so special about having people in your life who you’ve grown up with and who knew you during vital milestones in your life.

My friends from high school have all gone different directions in their lives. Some are working full time, some are in graduate school, some are still figuring out what they want to do in their lives. Some are single, some are dating, some are married. Our lives are all at different stages. Because of that, things are very different, but I think we’re all pretty good at understanding that we can change and still care about one another.

We might not think the same things are funny anymore. We might not have the same views. We might not like the same movies anymore or enjoy our old favorite hang out spots. But still, we can come together and reminisce and share about our new lives.

Many more changes will come as the years go by, but no matter how much my dear friends change (and how much I change), I will choose to love them. Love, like friendship, is very much a choice.

As your friends change, choose to embrace them and enjoy getting to know who they are now. It may at first hurt if the changes seem to be going a different direction than your own life or the lives you guys dreamed of during younger days, but it’s so much better to understand and support their new goals—unless it’s something that can harm them (but more on that at a later time).

Friendship, like any relationship, is a two-way street. Even if you love your friend through change and growth, if your friend doesn’t make time for you, then, unfortunately, it may be time for you to move on. Still, keep in touch when possible, but utilize your time on others who have the same love and respect for you!

And remember, friendships need constant love to thrive! Are there any old friends you can reach out to today? You’ll be glad you did.

Let’s Chase Our Dreams Together

Somewhere along the way and for some reason none of us may ever know, girls started competing against each other in areas that warrant no competition. Look at the movie Mean Girls for the perfect example: Regina George and the Plastics strive to be better than everyone else and want people to know this by becoming exclusive in everything they do, and they often sabotage situations so that other girls’ emotions are hurt.

Why is it that so many women—both young and old—feel the need to make others feel inferior? Aren’t we really all on the same team?

Take a moment to think about your daily life and the conversations you have. How often do you find yourself thinking or saying things that aren’t so nice about another girl or woman? What is it that makes you think those things and sometimes even share those thoughts with your friends?

Hopefully you’ve heard of the Time’s Up movement with the trending #MeToo from this year. Multitudes of women have come forward in the entertainment industry and are banning together to stand up for what is right—to stand up for each other. Friends, rather than tearing each other apart, we need to be building each other up. Women are truly powerful individuals and capable of such incredible feats, and you are no exception to that, regardless of your age or status.

And, together, we are even more powerful and capable.

Try to remember a time in your life when another girl purposely did something to make you feel lesser. (If that’s never happened to you, you’re one of the lucky ones.) Wasn’t it hurtful? Didn’t you wish that it wasn’t happening to you? The next time you are about to do something or say something that pits you against another young woman, think back to that moment when you were suddenly an unexpected rival of someone, and ask your heart if it’s really what you want to do.

Competition is meant for places like the basketball court and the soccer field, not for living life among your peers.

Ladies, let’s unite. Let’s stop putting each other down—whether it’s behind each other’s backs or to each other’s faces—and let’s start building each other up. Let’s choose love over hate. Let’s stop competing over every single thing, whether it’s boys or fashion or popularity or grades or ranks or possessions or status or whatever, and let’s cheer one another on as we run toward our passions. Let’s support each other’s dreams instead of trying to one-up them. Let’s be friends and not enemies.

After all, to hop on board the train to Cheesetown and take big lessons from High School Musical, we’re all in this together.

Comparison Leads to Destruction

Comparison Destroys Joy. Two very different looking friends pose for a photo together.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by former President Theodore Roosevelt. I know, for me, the first time I read it (on a Pinterest board, no doubt), the quote’s weight and truth immediately struck me.

There is no easier way to kill your joy than by comparing yourself to another. This is a sure-fire way to welcome anxiety and feelings of inadequacy into your life—yet we all do it.

Even in the midst of writing this, I fell into the comparison trap. I stumbled down a dangerous path, comparing myself to others on Instagram and to “untouched” models while online shopping.

Luckily, because this was on my mind, I caught myself and switched gears. Here’s the thing to remember when you fall into the comparison trap: the grass is always greener. Whoever you find yourself “stacking up” against, please remember that, yes, they may have some qualities that you lack, but the same can be said in reverse.

Perhaps you’re jealous of someone’s ability to be outgoing. I was never that girl who was able to make friends with ease or talk to any guy she wanted. I envied those who had that ability during my school years. But that outgoing girl has her own set of insecurities and things she wishes she could change about herself. You have your own talent, skill, or personality trait that she does not.

Your comparison trap could be body image or lifestyle related—God knows there are quite enough “lifestyle” Instagram accounts out there to envy. Social media has opened up a whole new set of anxieties for our generation. Deep down, we all know and recognize that social media profiles are just highlight reels of our friends’ and family’s lives.

Maybe you think someone else’s highlights are better than yours. Maybe you’re envious of someone who travels a lot or seems to always be on an adventure. Maybe you’re envious of someone who has had more career success. Maybe you’re envious of someone’s relationship. We all have those feelings—those sensitive areas where we wish we could improve.

Regardless of your particular desire, when you experience these feelings of comparison, take a moment to think of three things that you have in your life that the “comparable” person may not.

You’re not doing this so that you can feel superior to that person but, instead, as a reminder that nobody’s life is perfect. Nobody is a perfect collection of personality traits, looks, talents, or success. You may envy them, but I guarantee you they envy someone, too. It might even be you.

Friends, if there is something you’re envious of that is attainable, then I encourage you to make a plan to reach that goal. If it’s something that’s not attainable, I ask you to search your heart for what you should be working toward instead. Don’t let jealousy distract you from your own talents and awaiting successes.

Keep your joy; say sayonara to comparing yourself to others. You’re incomparable, after all.

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