Worry and Anxiety: You’re Not Alone

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I am a perpetual worrier. My anxiety about the mere possibility of bad things happening can be completely overwhelming to the point where I can lose sleep. Oftentimes, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone before bed because I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.

The thoughts are usually ridiculous. They typically trail into the what-ifs of losing people I love or those horrible awkward flashbacks we all have of some embarrassing moments from junior high or high school. The latter I can live with. It’s the first that haunts me.

I don’t know where these thoughts come from, but I’m sure there are others out there who suffer from the same worries.

The thing is, we waste so much time worrying that we ruin peaceful and joyful moments. While I’m laying in bed worrying, I’m missing the sounds of my puppy fast asleep making her little “woof” noises during the midst of a dream. I’m missing the fact that my husband lovingly has his arm around me.

We all have things we don’t want to lose, but if we worry too much about losing them, we’re missing the present.

I don’t have an answer for how to eradicate your anxieties completely. I find the best thing for me is to find something more pressing to think about or to pray. Prayer is really the only way I think we can completely overcome such intruding thoughts.

And it’s important to know that everyone has fears. Everyone worries. You’re not alone, and it’s OK to talk about it. Sometimes we need to.

So pray, be honest about what you’re feeling, and know that you’re not alone.

 

Don’t Put People on Pedestals

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I’ve had a tendency my entire life to put people—usually celebrities—on pedestals. Most notably, I did this with Taylor Swift as a teenager—and, to be honest, I still do. I still find myself making excuses or defending actions I probably wouldn’t agree with if it weren’t her doing it.

I tend to do this with people whom I see are standing out from the crowd and, in my opinion, are serving as positive role models. The problem is that I then hold these celebrities to standards they can’t possibly live up to, and then I’m disappointed when they let me down.

I found myself going down the same familiar path this weekend. My husband and I saw Twenty One Pilots perform last week, and we’ve been listening to them non-stop ever since. I’ve always liked their music, but outside of having their songs on my Spotify playlists and what friends who liked the band had shared, I didn’t know much about the band itself.

As I researched more about Twenty One Pilots, I found myself falling into my familiar traps. God forbid I found something I didn’t agree with or something I was uncertain about in their lyrics or in a quote from an interview with the band members.

I put these poor celebrities on pedestals that they cannot always stay on. I hold them to standards that they can’t possibly meet. They’re just people, and people make mistakes. People have different backstories and different ways of thinking.

I cannot expect an artist only to release songs that I relate to or that have messages I agree with. I cannot expect Taylor Swift never to change as a person and continue writing fairytale country songs. I cannot expect that Twenty One Pilots’ religious references in their works won’t include doubts or misgivings—shouldn’t we, instead, applaud them for being honest about something most Christians feel at one time or another?

I do this with the people in my life, too. My entire life, I’ve held myself to strict standards, and when other people fail to meet my standards, I can be judgmental. That’s not fair. That’s not right.

For one thing, I can’t even meet my own standards, so how can others? Human beings are flawed, and the more quickly we learn to love and embrace others even when they let us down, the less disappointment we have to live with in our lives.

I finally had to accept that Taylor Swift and I, while perhaps at one time similar, are living very different lives. I have to accept that sometimes my friends and I will not see eye to eye. I have to accept that things are not always—in fact, most likely are not—going to go the way I think they should.

And that’s actually quite great. Because I certainly do not have enough answers to be able to dictate how my life or the people in it should behave.

Don’t put people—celebrities or not—on pedestals. No one is perfect. No one will always meet your expectations.

Just love people.

Prioritizing the Important Things in Life

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As a perpetual people pleaser, I sometimes fall victim to prioritizing what other people need from me rather than the things I need to prioritize.

For example, Friday morning, it snowed here in Omaha—like really, really snowed. As a Southern Californian native, I’ve never in my life driven while it was snowing. I drove on snow when we first moved to Omaha at the tail end of winter last year, but never did I drive during a snowfall.

At first, the snow seemed harmless, magical even, as I began my morning commute into the office. As I continued on, though, I heard the local radio station reporting multiple crashes and repeatedly urging people to drive carefully.

The snow began to fall harder, and before I knew it, the roads were no longer clear, and the car in front of me was swerving back and forth. Soon after, I found my own car behaving the same. At one point, I couldn’t even stop in time for a red light. I made the decision to stop trying to brake and, instead, to quickly slide through it.

By the time I got to work, I was 10 minutes late and shaking. I was terrified of what just happened. I apologized to my coworker and my boss for being late and sat down at my desk. I wondered how my husband had done on his way to work. I texted him and didn’t hear anything back. I began to worry.

He finally called me, and for several seconds, I hesitated to answer. I was worried it would look bad to be late to work and then answer a personal call. Luckily, my common sense kicked in, and I took the call. He had made it safe but had spun out at one point and had multiple close calls.

Could you imagine if he had called me after he spun out? What if he had been stuck off the freeway and needed help, and I hadn’t answered because it would “look bad”?

My people-pleasing trait had gone too far this time. Yes, it’s important to be professional at work, but mine and my husband’s safety is far more important.

Work is a huge priority in my life, but if I were to write a list of my ideal priorities, it would look like this:

1. God
2. Nicholas and loved ones
3. Work

But I think, in reality, I can let it look like this:

1. Other people’s opinion/happiness with me
2. God
3. Nicholas and loved ones

Don’t let your list look like my second one. It breaks my heart that I hesitated to take my husband’s call when we had both experienced dangerous commutes to work, and he or our dog (whom he drops off at dog daycare on his commute) could have been in harm.

Make sure your priority list doesn’t get away from you. Life’s too short for that.

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.

You Can Start Fresh on Any Given Day

Today is the start of a new month, and soon we will be transitioning into a new season of when the sun rises and sets, as well, when we leave Daylight Saving Time behind this Sunday.

The start of each month signals the beginning of new possibilities: starting over in various aspects of life, starting a diet, resetting goals and plans to help you achieve them, and a number of other ways to hit the “play” button to get you back on track to where you want to be. While there aren’t necessarily monthly resolutions like people make at the onset of each new year, the first day of the month is often a solid starting point for a new objective.

Making changes in your life doesn’t have to come at the beginning of a new month or year, though—each new day you’re given is a new opportunity for growth and improvement.

You can change your life and your habits at any moment in time. It doesn’t have to be on January 1. It doesn’t have to be on the first day of the month. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be on a Monday to start the week off right. You can go after what you want and pursue your dreams now—there’s no reason to wait.

For me, I know that I’ve sometimes put things off so that I could start them later, when the timing was “better.” Even just the other day, I was thinking about how I needed to actually take my laundry out of the basket and put it away (my clean clothes have been sitting in it since Saturday). But it was late, and I was exhausted and thinking about how I needed to start getting more sleep. I said to myself, “I’ll start being more diligent about taking care of my tidiness and getting more sleep in November.”

But why was I set on waiting? Why wasn’t I committing to make that change right there in that moment?

I think that fear sometimes hold us back. We’re afraid of failing when we try to attain the goals we set out for ourselves. If I still can’t get my messes together and still can’t let my body get the sleep it requires, I’m failing myself. If I set a goal to go to the gym four times a week but only make it one or two, I’ve failed on my mission. If I set a resolution for 2019 to give up sweets (NEVER going to happen) but only make it to January 13 to have a cookie, I’ve already failed for the entire year, and so I have to wait until the next year to make that resolution again.

The truth is, though, that we’re all going to mess up. We all need mulligans every once in a while. And we don’t have to wait until the start of the next year or month or day or even the next hour to make the changes that we need to make in our lives now.

Don’t be afraid to set goals, and don’t be afraid to go after them in full force in this very moment. You don’t know how long you get on this earth, so seize every opportunity that you can.

And be bold enough to believe that you’re capable of achieving what you set out to do, knowing that failure doesn’t mean that you’ve failed forever.

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.

 

Sometimes You Have to Do Things on Your Own

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I’ve been very fortunate to always have people in my life whom I can count on in moments of panic or desperation. Usually these type of moments arrive when an emergency light turns on in my car, as was the case last week.

The events of the week were a big wake-up call for me. First came the car emergency light, and a day later I woke up so sick that doing anything other than lying down resulted in feeling faint and getting sick to my stomach.

In both cases, for the first time in a while, I was on my own. When the car emergency light came on, I was on my morning drive to work. When I called my husband for help, he didn’t answer because he, too, was driving.

I tried calling my dad (a low move on my part because he lives in a time zone two hours behind mine), but he had his phone off because it was, you know, not even 6 a.m. his time.

I had to figure it out for myself—and I did. When my husband and dad both returned my calls later, it felt good to tell them that I had taken care of the situation (with some help from kind people at a tire shop).

The very next morning, I faced the same challenge. My husband had left the evening before on a business trip, so it was just the dog and me. I woke up feeling unbelievably dizzy—so dizzy that I could hardly sit up in bed. I had to call in to work because I couldn’t imagine driving with the world spinning as it was.

As the day went on, it became clear that I needed to get to the doctor’s office. The problem was that I couldn’t drive, and all of the people whom I would normally call were out of town or states and states away.

I’m not going to lie: I broke down in tears and threw myself a pity party for quite a bit. But then I finally got my act together, called an Uber, and got myself down to the doctor’s office.

While it was a horrible two days of feeling rather alone, it was a lesson I needed. It was a reminder that I can successfully do things on my own—even when I think I can’t.

Sometimes we just need that reminder that, even when there’s no one around us, there’s an inner strength that can be called upon.

We need other people in our lives. We need love. We need care. But we also need to be able to rely on ourselves. We need to know that we’ll be OK even if there’s no help to be found.

Don’t let times like this bring you down—let them, instead, remind you of how strong you are.

 

10 Little Things to Do When You’re Sad

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We all have those days. We’ve messed up at school or work. We’re fighting with friends. We just feel low. In those moments, we need to take time to appreciate the small things. These little pieces of joy are not going to heal our hurts or fix our problems, but they can give us comfort and remind us that life isn’t so bad. Here are some of my favorite go-tos.


1. A bubble bath and a good book

If I start to feel “blah” or finally have free time after a stressful week, nothing beats a warm bubble bath and reading a good book. I, unfortunately, never seem to have bubble bath soap in the house, so I usually make do with body wash—it’s not quite the same, but it does the trick.

2. A favorite childhood movie

I’ve talked about this before in a similar post, but nothing quite comforts you as well as a favorite childhood film. It wraps around you like a hug from an old friend. Pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate, wrap yourself up in a fuzzy blanket, and let your problems fade away as the Disney theme starts to play.

3. Going for a walk

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. At the end of the workday, I’m always surprised at how good it feels to walk outside and feel the wind on my face. It also does wonders to clear your mind. If you need a new perspective or feel like you’re hitting a wall with a problem, go take a walk. See what you come up with when you come back. Sometimes your brain just needs a break or some inspiration.

4. Painting your nails

When I was a freshman in high school, this was my go-to “feel better” activity. I’d binge-watch Gilmore Girls episodes and change my nail color about once a week. My nail polish collection was never so bright and cheery as it was that year.

5. Prettying yourself up

Maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I start to get grumpy if I don’t feel good about my appearance—even if I’m just hanging out at home. For me, doing my makeup and hair is something I need to do to feel productive, and it’s an instant way to improve my mood. Plus, it’s nice to feel pampered, even if you have nowhere to be.

6. Working out

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t.” – Elle Woods

Enough said.

7. Practicing a favorite hobby

Playing guitar gives me a real peace. I don’t get to play often anymore, but it always makes me feel more relaxed. If you have a hobby you enjoy, take time to practice it—especially on days when you’re looking for something to cheer you up.

8. Talking to your mom

My mom is my go-to person to call on bad days. She always listens and offers wisdom on whatever problem I’m facing.

You don’t necessarily have to call your mom—it can be any family member or friend whom you’re close to. Sometimes we just need to vent or ask for advice. Talk to that person in your life. If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that, consider if there are any groups in your community that you could join. Everyone needs support. You can also reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram if you need ideas.

9. Writing letters to friends

The best way to forget your problems is to think about others. Think about what and whom you have to be thankful for in your life. Write some thank-you notes to them. These could to be a teacher, friends, family, or whomever you’d like. It’ll put the good and the bad of your life into perspective.

10. Having a good cry

There are those bad days when there is nothing left to do but cry. Let it out. Cry as much as you need. Everything always feels a little bit better after you’ve acknowledged your pain.

There Is Beauty in Each Season of Life


Sunday was the first day of fall, signaling the transition from hot summer days and nights to crisp autumn air (well, in some parts of the country), pumpkin everything, leaves changing colors and falling, and the return of infinity scarves and adorable boots.

The changing seasons often bring the excitement of newness and the hope for potential opportunities on the horizon. In the same way that we go through the various seasons throughout the year, we’re constantly going through changing seasons in our own lives, as well. No, those changes might not always be as obvious as those of the seasonal transitions, but they are often just as meaningful and just as impactful.

Some of the seasons we face are like summer—bright and full of life, energy, and perhaps even a little adventure around every corner. Maybe school or your job is going really well, you’re content with where you are in your relationship status (whether that be in one or as single as they come), and you’re confident in who you are and where you’re going in life.

Then there are those darker days of winter that can create a deep chill and sorrow in your life. Perhaps your heart is broken, everything seems to be falling apart, you’re sad more days than you’re not, and you feel like you’ll never be able to crawl out of the hole you seemed to have found yourself in.

But remember this: Seasons change.

You won’t be in that dark place forever. It doesn’t seem like it now, but there is hope—real, true, lasting, promising hope. Just as winter turns into spring, and the cheerful pastels and flowers start to appear, the tough times that you’re facing can turn into much better days. Your tears will dry, and your smile and laughter will return. Your sorrow will fade, and joy will take its place. Your pain will vanquish, and your strength and renewed hope will prevail.

As much as we don’t understand why or how or any of those unanswered questions, personal winters have to happen in our lives sometimes. When those days of hurt and a season of trial seems to linger, just look to the actual seasons—the ones that God so perfectly planned out. Think about it: God planned seasons so that the entire year and earth could both function as they do, and plants and all life on earth could be exactly where they need to be when they need to be there.

Just as He has the perfect plan for you to be where you need to be and do the things that you need to do.

Like the seasons and all of their various components, your life will be filled with transitions—some of them difficult, some of them gladly welcomed. Regardless, know that you can make it through whatever season that comes your way.

Because, just like the seasons we all know, each season in your life has value and purpose and can lead to beautiful things ahead.

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