Advice Even a Professional Public Speaker Needed: Accept Praise

Accept praise. Microphone with blurred out background.

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to be a big-time political news commentator. This was mostly in part due to my love of writing and my exposure to Dana Perino on my mom’s news shows that were always on 24/7.

Dana Perino at a speaking engagement. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Regardless of your political leanings, Dana—former White House press secretary—is a practical angel in the world of politics. When seeing her on TV, I was always so drawn to her ability to speak intelligently, debate firmly when necessary, but ultimately still come off so likable and kind, even to those she disagreed with. I saw myself in her—mostly in her naiveness at times to the rowdy humor her co-hosts took part in.

While I have switched gears in my career path—hey, you never know, maybe someday I’ll switch back—I still very much admire Perino, and I recently finished her book And the Good News Is…

Within its pages, Perino shares her favorite memories from childhood on her grandparents’ ranch to how she started her career, met her husband, and took a leap for love and shares stories of her time working in the Bush administration and her life now working on a daily news program.

While Perino shares many important insights for young women—and young men—throughout her book, there was one story in particular that stood out to me.

Perino was at a press awards dinner standing in as acting press secretary. As such, she was seated at the head table and recognized by the emcee. She said this of the encounter:

“I kind of half stood, barely looked up, and gave a little nod. I felt shy and like I didn’t really belong there, anyway—I was only the acting press secretary.”

This passage caught my attention because sometimes it feels like our emotions are completely unique. Sometimes I think there can’t be another human being alive that would react as strangely or awkwardly as I do to praise. Yet there it was, smack in the last chapter of a book by an extremely accomplished woman—a recognizable emotion I thought no one like her would ever have. She works in the spotlight for a living, after all!

Luckily for Perino, former United States Senator from Virginia John Warner gave her some advice later that evening. He reminded her that she did indeed belong at the event—she worked hard to get there—and in the future, she should allow the crowd to applaud her and thank them with a smile and wave.

“They want to be happy for you,” Perino quotes him as saying. “Let them have a moment.”

What a concept. I can’t even stand when people sing Happy Birthday to me because I feel too strange in the spotlight. I get in my head, Oh, don’t smile, I think, Don’t look too happy. Don’t let people think you’re reveling in the spotlight. Don’t let them think you like attention.

Where on earth do these thoughts come from? Of course, I should smile! My family and loved ones—or a random waitstaff at a really bad chain restaurant—are celebrating the fact that I exist! Is that not something to be happy about?

The only day I’ve ever really allowed myself to enjoy the spotlight was my wedding day. I remember walking down the aisle toward my future husband and taking a moment to look in the crowd of people I was passing. They were all smiling warmly at me. I should have been HORRIFIED. But not that time; I smiled and waved back. Even at that moment when a million other thoughts were going through my head, I still had time to think, this is weird. This is weird that I’m smiling back.

Ladies, I beg of you, do not do this to yourselves. There is a huge difference between hogging the spotlight and allowing yourself to enjoy it when you deserve it. Smile when people wish you a happy birthday. Say “thank you” when you are given praise at work; don’t offer some silly reason for why you succeeded instead.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be humble, but there’s a difference between being prideful and being proud of something you accomplished.

Let the achievements of your life be celebrated because whatever table you’ve worked your way up to, you deserve to be there.


Don’t Rush Life

When you’re a little kid and even a teenager, life seems to go by much more slowly than you would like. You wait in line
forever for that ride at the amusement park. It takes forever for your mom to get home with or finish cooking dinner. It seems like forever before Christmas gets here when the school year begins. And you wait LITERALLY FOREVER for your first boyfriend, while all of your other friends have had multiple guys take them out.

Girl, that version of forever sure goes by quickly.

It feels like the older you get, the more quickly time seems to fly by. I mean, it’s mid-May, and I’m pretty sure that it was Christmas yesterday. You graduate college, and the next thing you know, you’re buying tickets for your 10-year high school reunion. I’m not saying any of this to freak you out and make you feel like you’re about to lose all of your youth before you’ve even enjoyed it, but I do want to caution you to appreciate the moments that you have right now—because you will never get them back.

If I think about my own life, I remember how badly I wanted a boyfriend when I was in high school. And then in college. And then in my 20s. I’m in my early 30s now, and it still hasn’t happened. You know what, though? Oddly enough, I’m actually thankful that some of those relationships never actually happened. Though I really did have feelings for the guys, in more than one of those cases, I probably wanted a boyfriend more than I wanted the actual boy.

It was the same thing with my first kiss. I waited more than 27 years for that kiss to happen, and even though that was a special moment that I’ll never forget, I often wish that I could erase it because the guy who captured that kiss did nothing but lead me on and then break my heart.

The good thing about life is that each one is so unique and so different. No two people were created exactly the same, and no two people are meant to live exactly the same, either. There’s no timeline that you are required to follow. Just as all babies don’t start crawling and walking when they are a certain amount of days or months old, all young women don’t suddenly get boyfriends or kisses or a number of other things when they hit one specific age.

Let your timeline be yours, and trust that it’s right for you.

I won’t say that it’s always easy—patience isn’t exactly the most enjoyable of the virtues. I’ve probably wasted more time than I’m comfortable admitting wishing and hoping for the things I didn’t have when I could have been enjoying so much of what was right in front of me.

When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and get out in the real world. There were a lot of things I didn’t do because I was working multiple jobs or taking part in internships so that I would be ready for whatever was ahead in my career. While it’s great to take on responsibilities, I think it’s also important to be a kid while you’re still a kid. Sure, being an adult is really great, but it’s also really tough. And I didn’t even end up sticking with the same career that I worked so many unpaid jobs and internships for all of those years ago. I wish someone had taken me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said “slow down, sweet girl.”

Whether it’s with work or guys or experience or whatever, slow down, sweet girl.

Life is full of way too many incredible moments to waste them worrying about the moments that haven’t actually happened yet. Just as you shouldn’t rush an artist who is working on a masterpiece, you shouldn’t rush God as He’s working on His masterpiece (you).

Life’s Seasons: Patience in the Hard Times, Joy in the Good Times

Life's seasons. Enjoy the good times, and persevere through the bad times.

It doesn’t take many years on earth before you start to realize that life has its ups and downs. It never stays up, and it never stays down. Sometimes it feels like the downs last longer, but the highs always seem to circle back around. Sometimes it can change day by day.

The hard seasons of life, while they can be heartbreaking and anxiety-filled, are the times we truly grow and develop. They’re the times when we have the choice to become better—better at friendships, better at our jobs, better with our families, and so on.

Maybe you’ve had a falling out with a friend. Maybe you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe there’s nothing specific you can pinpoint as being wrong, but you’re living in a fog. The best thing to do in these seasons is to find little ways to cheer yourself up and to better yourself. Get outside, and enjoy the sunshine. Read a good a book. Start exercising, or mix up your current exercise routine.

If you focus on new goals during the rough times, you’ll find the season ends much more quickly as you become more content and find new motivations and joys in life. Oftentimes, we can get too bogged down in sadness or focus too much on whatever event occurred that has led us into complacency. By adding new activities to your day (like exercise or even just getting out of the house), you break your old daily pattern and set yourself up for future success.

In contrast, it seems sometimes, in the seasons of joy, we can rob ourselves of enjoying that time by worrying when it will end. You know that feeling when you’re really happy, but you start to feel nagging anxiety about what’s about to go wrong? Surely you can’t be allowed to be this happy?

It’s a hard habit to break—and one I myself struggle with—but once you’re aware you’re doing it, you can try to bury those thoughts and focus instead on the present. Why spend time worrying about when something bad will happen? Why spend the joyful times miserable, too?

We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control how we handle misfortune and times of crisis. We can control if we choose to enjoy the good times or worry when they’ll come to an end.

Enjoy the good, and persevere through the bad. You’ll be a better and happier person for it.

Living an Unfiltered Life

Think about the last picture you posted on Instagram. How much time did you spend finding the perfect filter and then editing the filter until the image appeared just as you wanted it to? How long did it take you to come up with a witty caption or fun hashtags? How much did you worry about what people would think of the image you posted? How many times did you check to see how many likes the picture got after you posted it?

And why did all of that matter?

It’s pretty simple to make an image look a lot better than the original. It’s also pretty simple to make our lives appear differently than they actually are by filtering not only our posts but what we post, how we present ourselves to others, and what we say that other people can hear or read. Simply put, much of the time, we live filtered lives.

But what would it look like to live an unfiltered life?

If you’ve never read anything by Jen Hatmaker, please change that as soon as possible. You should also follow her on Instagram. She’s seriously hilarious—and in a bold way. She doesn’t care if you think she’s too this or too that. She posted something on Instagram recently that really hit home with me. She reminded us that we need to “be more concerned about being honest than being admired” and that we don’t need “another slick, prepackaged messenger designed for Instagram quotes.” She said a lot of other things that I would love to include but don’t want to get in trouble for plagiarizing, so I’ll sum it up like this: Don’t try to mask your thoughts or who you are because you think that other people are going to judge you or think differently of you.

Let’s stop living in pretty filters all of the time and, instead, live authentically.

Let your voice be heard. Don’t constantly try to keep everything you say politically correct. Let your style match your personality. Chase your own dreams. Speak truth. Stand up for what you believe in. Fight for what’s right, even if it’s not popular. Choose love over hate. Be kind, not mean. Use words of encouragement instead of gossip. Be bold enough to be the real you—the one who doesn’t have to hide behind a constant filter.

After all, you’re more gorgeous than Valencia or Sierra or X-Pro II or any of the others could ever make you appear.

The Dangers of a Pinterest Life

Pinterest image collage.

I first discovered Pinterest sometime in my senior year of high school. I remember first signing up and having to wait for access (fantastic marketing—exclusivity definitely made me more curious) during its beta stage.

I didn’t use it much until the following year: my freshman year of college. Freshman year was not easy for me. While it was a magical time in some senses (falling in love with my now husband, newfound freedom, Taylor Swift’s Red album release, etc.), I struggled a lot that year. I was homesick, felt alienated and isolated from my peers, and was dreaming of an escape.

I spent most of that year dreaming of five years in the future. A future where I was finished with college, finished with the people I so greatly differed from, and no longer had to say goodbye to Nicholas at the end of the day (Wouldn’t it Be Nice by The Beach Boys was my mantra).

Pinterest became my escape. I had a “Future Home” board, “Future Apartment” board, the “Clothes-I-Want-to-Buy” board, and—of course—the “Someday Wedding” board.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have these boards—heck, I still use all of those boards (except the wedding one of course). The issue arose when I spent too much time dreaming, wanting, and wishing away the present, and Pinterest provided an easy outlet to take me from daydreaming to actually wasting hours and hours planning my “perfect” future life.

The danger of Pinterest arises when we start to spend time in constant want and eventually start to consider those wants needs. I want a winery wedding under a big oak tree. I want a breakfast nook in my house. I need to have that dress. I need to redecorate my room/apartment.

Pinterest can lure us into lives of dissatisfaction if we aren’t careful. Harmless pins of someday wants can quickly become all-encompassing thoughts. Constant pinning of future desires can rob you of your present and rob you of your contentedness.

Pinterest is a fantastic tool and one of my favorite social media sites (You can even follow Tower318 on Pinterest for inspirational and motivational quotes!), but anytime I start to fall back into my old habits of living in the future or suddenly needing a bunch of new things I pinned from there, then I know it’s time to take a break.

I spent too much time at 18 dreaming away that year, when instead I could have been making healthier changes to better enjoy that time. Take it from me, and don’t miss out on your now. Dreams and plans for the future are very important, but don’t get so lost in those dreams that you forget to live in the present or find yourself thinking, “I’ll finally be happy when [blank] occurs.”

Live in the now, and enjoy every day. Work toward the future daily, but don’t think you’ll only find happiness once you’re there. Take a step back from desiring that perfect life you’ve designed on Pinterest; enjoy where you are now.

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.

Choose to Be You

It’s easy to lose yourself in the world around you, especially when you’re dealing with so many outside pressures that continually tell you what type of person you’re supposed to be.

Be flirty.
But also be hard-to-get.

Be thin.
Be curvy in the right places.
Be strong.
Be vulnerable.
Be smart.
But don’t be too smart.
Be quiet.
Be loud.
Be in a relationship.
Be single, but date around.
Be captivating.
Be sexy.

You’re told to be so many things, but what’s so wrong with simply being you?

As a young woman, you’re going to face more than a few situations in which you feel like you can’t be yourself. There might be a guy you really like but who maybe hasn’t paid enough attention to you, so you try to change some things about yourself that you think might catch his eye—you wear a little more makeup, you buy some tighter clothes, you start taking an interest (or pretending to be interested, anyway) in what interests him, and you do all of the things that you think he wants you to do.

But is that you? And—more importantly—is that the girl you want to be?

Maybe it’s a movie for younger kids (though you’ll probably admit that you love it), but Mulan shows the struggle of a young woman who wishes she could simply be herself and not pretend to be someone she’s not. Cue up her ballad “Reflection,” and you’ll see. We hear you, girl.

While you’re at it, listen to Colbie Caillat’s “Try” to serve as a reminder that it’s so much better for you to be your genuine self than to make such strong efforts to change who you are. Just as she says, you certainly don’t have to change anything—not one single thing—about yourself to try to please someone else.

Even though it can be tough at times, it’s important to be able to find your identity outside of other people and the things in which you’re involved. Don’t let guys or school or work or basketball or dance or choir or art or anything that can so easily be replaced define who you are. Know your value and worth, and never let anyone or anything take that away from you.

And you might just discover that the beautifully and wonderfully made girl you see staring back at you in the mirror is the only person you want to be.

Finding Joy in Gratefulness

My Post Copy (9)We all have bad days. Sometimes, depending on where you are in life, it can even feel like we have more bad days than good days.

But, I’ve found that even on the bad days, there is always some good. There is always some glimmer of hope and gratitude to be had.

Happiness is a choice. We can choose to continue on paths that make us unhappy or decide to make changes. We can choose to be in poor moods or attempt to spread joy to others (and, by consequence, spread joy to ourselves).

Making the daily choice to be happy begins by changing our hearts. And that occurs through gratefulness.

In the midst of a bad day, bad week—or, heck—even a bad year, it can be difficult to feel grateful, but with the smallest change of routine, you can make it possible.

Before going to bed every night, take a moment to reflect on your day. Try to come up with at least three things that occurred during your day that you were grateful for. It could even just be three people you are thankful to have in your life.

Even on your worst days, I guarantee you will find at least three moments of your day that made you smile. Maybe it’s as simple as seeing a sunrise or sunset, sharing a laugh with a friend, or seeing a cute dog on the street (mine are usually dogs).

Journaling three things I was grateful for every night was a habit I had during my high school years. I am so thankful for the joy and peace it brought me. It ended my nights on a great note despite anxieties from my day or worries for the day to come. It’s a habit I’m trying to reinstate back in my life now.

You don’t need to journal or necessarily do it nightly, but I encourage you to establish your own routine to recognize the good moments—especially on the bad days.

We could all use more joy. Find yours in gratefulness.   

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Let’s get one truth out there in the open: Life can be downright challenging at times, especially as you get older. There are so many responsibilities and expectations, and many of them seem out of our grasps. Then there are those expectations that might not actually exist to anyone else, but we place them on ourselves.

There are a number of pressures we face as women, especially when it comes to our looks and our dating lives. As a teenager, you might begin to start dating or become involved in serious relationships. Or maybe you’re wrapped up in some pretty intense crushes that never seem to go your way.

Those unrequited feelings can hurt. A lot.

It’s in those moments of pain and those seasons of life that make you feel so small that it’s important to know just how much you truly matter in this world. If one person hurts you or one guy rejects you, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you—at all. What it means is that whatever it is you wanted simply wasn’t right for you at that time.

Chances are, God has something better in mind for you. Taylor Swift probably said it best: “In this life, you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team. I didn’t know it at 15.” Sometimes in order to reach those better things, we have to say goodbye or be denied the things that we deeply desire and think would make us happy. And to make it through those times, it’s important to realize that you’re worth so much more than you often give yourself credit for.

Don’t let someone’s words change the way you see yourself. Don’t let someone’s stares make you feel ashamed. Don’t let someone’s opinions reshape your own opinions of yourself. Don’t let someone’s hate tear down your fortress of love.

And don’t ever forget this truth: You are valued. You are loved. And you matter.

Welcome to Tower318. We value you and love you, and we want to spark boldness in you to walk with confidence. So let’s go show the world more boldness and love than it’s ever seen.


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