Every Kiss Matters

When I was younger, I had this dream of exactly where my first kiss would happen: in a perfect little white gazebo with Christmas lights brightening it up. I wish that I could say that this came true, but it definitely did not.

Each year that went by, I let this desire grow. As a teenager, it seemed ideal. As a college student, it seemed pretty perfect that I had waited so long and that it would happen where I always wanted it to. As a young woman in my 20s, I continued to let my fairy tale grow, but I think that part of me knew that it wasn’t going to happen exactly as I’d always hoped.

Instead, that long-awaited lip-lock moment happened at a local track after an event in which some of the people I knew in the running community had participated. But, to me, on that stuffy summer evening in Texas, it felt like such an ideal moment at the time, even though it was nowhere near anything I had conjured up in my imaginative mind.

I had waited more than 27 years for that kiss (yes, I didn’t have my first kiss until that age, and no, I haven’t been kissed since that time nearly six years ago), and it was very special to me. My hopes soared at the possibility of this guy being the guy I had waited for to come along and take me by the hand to be forever his. Sadly, that wasn’t how the story ended, and it actually resulted in a heartache that I’ve (thankfully) gotten over at this point. Even though that guy hurt me, and I don’t have any feelings for him anymore or ever really think about him, that kiss is something that will always be a significant moment in my life.

Because every kiss matters.

Now, I know this might not always seem true if you play games like spin the bottle (do people still do that??) or whatever, but I believe that all kisses have (or at least should have) meaning. They’re important. They’re sacred. They’re special. A kiss is a moment you share with another person, and it can often be a piece of your heart that you’re giving away.

Kisses also sometimes lead to more than kissing, and if kisses are sacred and special, think of how much more sacred and special those stronger intimate moments are.

I’m going to be honest with you about something: Even though that first kiss of mine is a cherished memory, there are times when I honestly wish it had never happened. I know that your first kiss won’t always be with the person you end up with forever, but I guess that I was sort of hoping it would be—or at least that the guy who kissed me wouldn’t turn out to be someone who really didn’t care about me at all.

By this point in the story, you’ve probably realized that I’m also a virgin, and that’s something that I’m not ashamed to admit. For me, my virginity is now something that I protect and something that I’m definitely not going to give away to someone who is only going to walk away. I know that sex is often treated as something more casual in today’s society than it used to be in the past, but it’s still something that’s special. I believe that sex is something that’s meant to be shared between a husband and a wife, though I’m not trying to preach to or condemn anyone who feels differently.

What I do want to remind you of, though, is that you are worth more than a moment of passion, and you deserve to know that you matter and that you are enough. That truth can often get lost in kissing and sex because, as women, we tend to let our hearts do the thinking. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s something that makes it hurt a lot more when we give pieces of our hearts away without, in return, filling those missing pieces with the love and pieces of the hearts of the guys we love.

It’s never easy to go through a broken heart, especially when you’ve given yourself emotionally and physically to someone—whether that’s through a simple kiss or more. I think that’s part of why people frequently remind young women to guard their hearts because, while our hearts are one of the strongest parts of us, they can also be extremely fragile.

We all make our own choices in life, and sometimes we don’t really have time to think about them much (or we choose not to) when we’re in moments in which our desires take over completely. Just remember that you are valuable, and what you have to give runs much deeper than anything physical.

Every kiss and every intimate moment matter because you matter.

Falling for Someone You Shouldn’t

Couple share a moment. Falling for someone you shouldn't.It’s cliche, but we’ve all had some version of this ominous thought pass through our minds, “Oh, but I can change him.”

Darling, don’t fall for this trap. It will never end well. It will fail in the same way it would if a guy thought he could change you.

It’s funny how everyone naturally changes with time. That’s one of the reasons people file for divorce: because people change.

But odds are you’re not going to see the change you want to see. If there’s a trait you need that you’re not seeing in a guy, walk away. That trait will not magically appear just because you care for him—even if he cares for you back.

This is a very personal story for me. It may seem silly, but it defined my faith. I was better for walking away. I share it with you now because I hope you’ll be able to do the same if the situation arises.

After dating two people who were clearly not right for me, I desperately searched for a new crush. I was that 15-year-old girl. I had to be crushing on someone.

I found someone I thought was a better fit for me to like. Christian. Nice. Straight-A student. The issue was that I decided he was the type of guy I needed to like. I didn’t actually fall for him; I barely knew him.

While I, in vain, was trying to make that work, actual real feelings began to creep up for a friend—the way they do. Always unexpected, it seems, and at the oddest of times.

I was torn. The friend wasn’t Christian. He had a slightly inappropriate sense of humor (I was miss goody-two-shoes. I was the girl whom people came up to and said things like, “Taylor Swift said ‘douchebag’ on SNL last night! Are you heartbroken?”). He wasn’t anything like the type of guy I thought I’d like. But he was funny, and we had slowly become great friends over that school year.

A chance arose with the guy I thought I should be with, but I turned it down. I finally had learned that you can’t force yourself to like someone. Plus, it was a little too much like dating myself. I think we both knew that it wasn’t quite right. I made the right decision to walk away.

But that’s where my good decisions stopped. I’m all for romance and falling in love (hello, I got married at 21 years old, after all), but you have to be careful about whom you fall for.

I spent about a year and a half crushing on this guy friend who, though he was wonderful, at the very core of it, did not share the one belief that defined me: my faith.

I tried to get him to go to church with me. He went once or twice. It wasn’t for him. I ignored it. I was in too deep. I couldn’t just turn my feelings off. The thought passed through my head: he’ll change.

Beyond the main issue of having completely different belief systems was the issue that he kind of led me on for that year. He confessed he liked me to friends but did nothing. I spent night after night tossing and turning, completely sick wondering what I was doing wrong.

I tried so hard to impress him. Why didn’t he think I was funny? He would say it in a teasing way, but I can so clearly still hear him saying or see him giving me looks that said, “that wasn’t really clever.”

I was constantly not measuring up.

Ladies, when you’re with the right person, you never feel like you don’t measure up. Once again, Taylor Swift said it best, “I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did.”

The right guy will think you’re funny. Unless, you know, that’s not your thing. But the right guy will think you’re perfect just as you are.

Anyway, back to the story. After a year of heartache, the guy finally asked me out. I was over the moon. He apologized for taking so long. He said everything I needed to hear. It was a big gesture to make up for everything. It was an episode of The O.C. come to life.

That night, I felt kind of empty. I had texted him, and he had taken his usual extremely long time to respond, and something inside me fractured a little bit: nothing was going to change.

I couldn’t outright even think the thought, but I instinctively knew that dating him wasn’t going to be any different than being friends with him. Nothing would change. I would still constantly just be chasing him, wondering why I’m not enough.

We went on one date. A date I’d been waiting for forever. I should have been so blissfully happy, but I felt kind of sick the whole time. Something was off. Something was wrong. I felt awkward. For the first time ever since I’d known him, I didn’t want to be there with him. I was so torn apart over what I was feeling.

I came home and cried in my room—the way teens do. I knew what was wrong. Besides all of the little things, it had finally hit me that, if this was real, I was now dating someone who could possibly never share my beliefs. There was no future there—not the one I wanted.

I prayed the hardest thing I ever had in my life at that point. I asked God that, if this boy wasn’t the one for me, He would just take care of it. I told Him that I couldn’t really handle another heartbreak, another breakup. I asked, if this boy wasn’t the one for me, that nothing would happen. We just wouldn’t continue on. We wouldn’t hurt each other, and nothing more would come of it.

I’m still in shock about this because it really doesn’t make sense, but nothing ever happened after that. And I mean nothing. We never discussed a second date. We never have actually acknowledged that we ever went on one at all.

The really bizarre thing is that we were in the same friend group. We still hung out regularly. It seems impossible that we never had any sort of discussion about it, but clearly God had heard my prayer.

I was heartbroken for a long time. I was angry. But, with time, I realized that God had answered my prayer. How could I be mad about that?

I know this is kind of silly and overdramatic. It wasn’t like the guy was on drugs or a heavy drinker or something. But, for me, I had fallen for someone I shouldn’t have. I got in over my head, and I suffered for it.

Beyond just needing a guy that was Christian, we clearly were not meant for each other. With the right person, it’s easy. There isn’t a year of pain or wondering why you aren’t enough.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, pray about it. Get out of it. You deserve so much more, and really, so does he.

I’m still friends with the guy, and I have so much respect for him and truly wish him the best. I was clearly not the right girl for him, either. The girl that’s right for him will be funny to him. He’ll want to text her back. And I hope he finds her.

Shortly after all of this, I had those unexpected feelings pop up again—well, they’d actually been there for a while, just under the surface—for a different friend. With him, things were easy. There was no year of suffering or questioning if I was witty enough for him. And that’s how I knew he would be my husband, but that’s a story for another time.

Don’t try to force things. The right match will all fall together oh so easily and perfectly.

It won’t be someone you’ve decided you should like. It won’t be someone who leaves you hanging.

It’ll be perfect (in a perfectly imperfect way—John Legend knows).

Choose Your Own Path in Your Dating Life

With all of the dating apps now available at the fingertips of all of the single folks trying to find their lobsters (it’s a
Friends reference, for those who don’t know), the ways of meeting people and falling in love have certainly changed.

While the many available dating apps have certainly proven to be successful for a countless amount of couples, they’re not for everyone. Just because something works for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you, too.

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t really liked my experiences with dating apps (and I haven’t tried the online dating sites). Yes, I have friends who have ended up getting married as a result of using them, and I couldn’t be happier for my people finding love. But I can’t say that I’ve been a huge fan of them for me. It’s kind of like studying habits or workout routines—what’s best for you isn’t always best for everyone else.

If you try the dating apps and enjoy getting to meet people that way and like the idea of getting to know someone through the chat features before going on a date, that’s wonderful—you keep doing you, sister! They are absolutely great ways to find the person you’re looking for to be your man. But there is also nothing wrong with not going through the online dating sites and apps to fall in love.

I’ve tried a handful of the apps, and I haven’t been one of the fortunate ones. The guys I talked to ended up being fellas who were clearly meant to be with other women who aren’t me, and I hope they find their lobsters soon. My dream way of finding love is to be running or walking through a park or at the beach, and a guy throws a football or Frisbee that accidentally hits me. He runs over to see if I’m OK, and sparks fly. (Yes, it’s possible that I’ve watched one too many romcoms.) I realize that it might not happen this way, but a girl can dream.

Because this is a bit far-fetched and hasn’t come close to happening yet, I’ve had more than one friend tell me that I need to keep giving online dating a chance or that I need to do this or need to do that. You know what I really need to do? I need to do what’s best for me—and you need to do what’s best for you. If you had multiple bad experiences with guys you met on Bumble or Match.com, but you still want to keep at it with the dating apps, then keep at it. If you want to join a social club or sports group to try to meet someone that way, then sign up. If you want to find your lobster more organically, then maybe start hanging out at Starbucks or Whole Foods more often.

I know that a lot of girls want to meet nice guys at church—and many do happen to find their husbands that way—but it’s sometimes easier said than done (and it’s also not exactly the focus you should have when you’re at church, anyway). If that happens, great! If it doesn’t, don’t let searching for your soulmate be the sole reason you’re going to church.

There’s no one surefire method to find your lobster. You might even have to go through a few bad crabs who break your heart to get to him, but it’s important that you do it your way. And it’s even more important that you trust God’s timing through it all. Using dating apps and online sites doesn’t mean that you’re not trusting Him to provide—it simply means that it might be His way of bringing you two together.

Follow your heart, and don’t let others tell you what to do. After all, it’s your dating life, and when you and your lobster are meant to be, there’s nothing that will stop you two from finding each other.

Sometimes You Need to Face and Embrace Your Fears

We all have fears in life, some of which are somewhat irrational (I still check behind doors to make sure velociraptors aren’t there) and some that are a bit more legitimate (maybe you’re afraid of heights or animals that are actually still in existence).

While I don’t think we need to subject ourselves to all of the things that scare the daylight out of us (for instance, if you are terrified of snakes, don’t feel like you need to go stand in a field full of them just to see how brave you are), some of our fears definitely need to be faced and conquered.

Cue my freshman year of high school.

When I was a teenager (and for much of my 20s, actually), the thought of letting my crushes know that I had feelings for them made me queasy. I started sweating at the mere idea that someone would know a piece of my heart belonged to him, and I did everything I could to make sure he never found out. The risk of rejection and being hurt was simply too much for my naïve heart to handle.

There was a moment during my freshman year of high school when I had to make a choice to face my fears or to run away. Unfortunately, I chose the latter. I had left my English class to go to the restroom and was walking through an empty hall on my way back. But then the hall wasn’t empty at all—the guy I’d had feelings for since forever ago was walking the opposite way down the hallway.

My stomach immediately started doing flips and flops that even Olympic gymnasts wouldn’t dare attempt.

I had a decision to make: I could either keep walking and say “hi” to him, or I could keep walking right by him and not acknowledge him at all. I chose neither—I hid. I dodged into the nearest classroom, which happened to be a science classroom full of seniors, and stood with my back against the door as the confused sets of eyes all started at me. I glanced over at the teacher and said something along the lines of “just give me a minute,” and I waited until I was pretty sure that unsuspecting boy had passed. Then I bolted.

What would have been so bad about having to interact with someone I had feelings for when we were all alone in a hallway? Looking back, it seems so silly. All I had to say was one word—one simple syllable—and I couldn’t even do that. I let my fears get the best of me, even though saying “hi” would not have given him the impression that I adored him, and I hid in a room full of upperclassmen who likely thought I had lost my mind. I’m glad that their opinions were the least of my concerns, but I’m not proud of the fact that I cared so much about what one freshman boy thought of me.

It took years, but I finally grew out of that ridiculously long stage, and now I am not so afraid of talking to guys who have captured my attention. In fact, I’ve even put my heart on the line in more than one situation by telling guys exactly how I felt for them. I survived those moments, and I even survived the ones that ended in my risky heart shattering.

Ladies, don’t let fear grip you so tightly that it keeps you from going after the things your heart wants. You’re worth too much to spend your life wondering about what would have happened if you were bolder in certain moments of your life.

And you certainly don’t belong standing with your back to a door as opportunity passes you by.

10 Ways You’ll Know You’ve Found “the One”

10 ways you'll know you've found the one. Couple on the beach.Everybody’s version of “the one” is different. Your right person won’t be the same as another’s, but these tips can help you know what to look for in a partner.

1. Conversation comes easy.

When you find the right person, conversation is easy—it’s not just a chick flick trope! Sure, it might be awkward at first (like all first dates and initial moments with crushes can be), but when you find the right person, you’ll have just enough things in common for the conversation to naturally flow. It doesn’t feel forced like it can when you’re with someone who’s wrong for you.

2. You won’t want to play games.

I didn’t necessarily “play games” when I was single, but when I was with the wrong person, I tended to find myself wanting to see how far I could push the envelope on certain things. What happens if I don’t text him back right away? Will he be concerned? What happens if I tell him he doesn’t text me enough? Will he step up? These are thoughts I did not want to see played out when I began dating my now-husband. I didn’t want to push any boundaries, and I didn’t want to see how far I could push before he pulled away—because I didn’t want to risk him pulling away. Maybe I just matured, but I think, really, he was just the first person I knew I couldn’t risk losing. With the others, I wanted to see if I could lose them in order to see if they were the one, but when I met the one, it wasn’t even worth the risk to check.

3. You can hang out doing separate things and still be totally happy.

At the beginning of a relationship, it’s normal to want to do everything together, but a relationship becomes really strong when you can be completely comfortable in silence or doing separate things. Sometimes it’s nice just to know the other person is in the same room as you—even if he’s playing video games, and you’re catching up on The Bachelorette.

4. You may have separate interests, but you still support one another.

You don’t have to have the same passions—though I do think having the same values and belief systems is incredibly important—but love means you support one another’s passions. You don’t have to be in the same clubs or in the same professions, but you still root for each other and care about each other’s accomplishments and failures in these areas.

5. You have fun together doing absolutely nothing.

It’s easy to see why people on shows like The Bachelor fall in love so easily when they’re off on grand adventures, but you know you’ve found the one when you can have fun with him doing mundane tasks like grocery shopping or even doing absolutely nothing. That’s true love.

6. You feel like you are enough as you are.

When you’re with the right person, you never question if you’re enough for him. Sure, you want to better yourself, but the way he treats you assures you that you are all he needs in a partner. You’re confident in that. You’re safe in that.

7. All of your future plans include him.

When you’ve found the one, all of your future plans slowly start to change as you add him into the equation. Eventually, you can’t picture a future without him.

8. Hard times aren’t all that bad.

When you’re with the right person, hard times won’t drive you apart but, instead, strengthen you. You can lean on each other, and in the words of Taylor Swift, you can trust that he’s going to be there even “when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or you’re making mistakes.”

9. You want to be a better person.

As mentioned in No. 6, the right person makes you a better person. You work on improving your not-so-nice traits. You try to be the best partner you can be. This includes always looking for ways to serve the other person. It could be simple tasks like taking over one of his chores when he’s having a rough day or sacrificing time to go see a band he likes (and you maybe don’t) perform.

10. You love with understanding and forgiveness.

Nobody is perfect. Even “the one” will not be perfect—he’s a human being, after all. You know you’re with the right person when you can see past those imperfections, when you love unconditionally, and when you know forgiveness comes before being right.


Girls Can Ask Guys Out, Too

We live in a society in which women are constantly seeking more opportunities and taking progressive steps in a number of areas—including in the dating world.

While the traditional expectations were for men to pursue women and eventually ask them out, times and standards have certainly changed. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with letting guys still be the pursuers (and they should pursue you), but it’s also perfectly fine for women to be the ones to ask the guys out, too.

It can definitely be beyond scary to stand in front of the guy you have feelings for and risk your pride and face the possibility of rejection as you muster up the gusto to get the words out of your mouth. You could walk away with a heart full of lovey-eyed emojis or with that same heart shattered into a thousand tiny little pieces.

I’ll never forget the first time I worked up the nerve to ask a guy out. I was terrified at the thought of it. But then I thought about Taylor Swift’s Fearless album (one of the greatest gifts to mankind) and her quote about fearless meaning to be afraid but to jump, anyway. I decided that I needed to jump—I needed to ask him out.

I did, and it turned out that he had a girlfriend, so I walked away with that heartache feeling. But you know what? To this day, I will never regret that moment in my life. In fact, I’ll always be proud of it. I see that moment in my life as a huge growth point for me. I did something bold, and it felt really good to be honest about my feelings with someone who needed to hear them.

I don’t recommend asking out a guy who already has a girlfriend, but I didn’t know that he did. (That’s a story in itself—he had never mentioned her, and we spent a good amount of time together.) But if you’re interested in a guy who you think is interested in you, too, why not take a chance and ask him out? Why do guys always have to be the ones to work up the nerve to risk rejection? It’s probably not always easy for them, either.

No, it might not work out how you dream in your head, but it also might. You’ll never know unless you actually go for it. You don’t have to wait for the guy to be the first one to take a chance—you can be the one to jump first, sister.

Don’t ever let fear hold you back from doing the brave things your heart really wants to do, even when those things scare the heck out of you and make you sweat more than an hour in hot yoga. You’re worth the risk.

And who knows? Maybe he is, too.

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.

In Love with the Idea of Love

My Post (8)When I was younger, around the age of 13, I thought I would never get a boyfriend.

At 13, every boy I had liked hadn’t liked me back. I was devastated. What was wrong with me? Was my hair too curly? Too frizzy? Was I still carrying too much puberty weight? Was it my acne? Did I smell? Was I not funny?

I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but what I do know now at 24 is that I’m glad I didn’t have a boyfriend at that age. I wouldn’t have been ready.

When I eventually did get my first boyfriend at 14 years old, I was still too young. I know I was too young because I focused too much on what it meant to have a boyfriend rather than how I was actually feeling about the situation.

I was so happy that someone who seemed popular and cute could possibly show any interest in me. It felt like a movie or a Taylor Swift song. I was over the moon. But, about a month in, it should have become clear to me that the boy, while seemingly great on paper, was not actually a good fit for me, and I was not ready for a boyfriend.

The first time he tried to kiss me, I expertly (awkwardly, more like) maneuvered my face away. At a school dance, I didn’t want to dance with him because I felt awkward. After more time passed, I started leaving my phone in other rooms so that I would have an excuse not to reply to his texts. I began to get embarrassed when he hung out with my friends because their senses of humor just didn’t match.

I even started crushing on other guys. At that point, I began to realize maybe this wasn’t what a relationship should feel like. But then I would talk myself out of it. After all, you can still find other people cute even though you’re in a relationship, right? The mature thing, I thought, would be to ignore it and stay with the guy I was with.

Sage advice from my 14-year-old self but not applicable to the situation. If you’re having more fun talking to another guy than your boyfriend (whom you’ve only been dating a month), and you’re embarrassed by things he says, and you actively avoid affection from him, then yes, in that case, you should break up. I thought I was being mature, but it was actually a sign of my immaturity that I ignored my feelings in order to keep the status of “in a relationship.”

After a while, I finally did break up with him, but we stayed in an “on-again, off-again” relationship for a while longer (due to my immaturity and people-pleasing nature) until he finally dumped me, ending the cycle. He finally saw what I had been seeing since the beginning. We were not a good fit for one another. Not at all.

And you know what was the most telling moment? It wasn’t my constant avoidance of his affection. It wasn’t my cringe when he told jokes to my friends. It was a moment we had on a date when he asked me one simple question: “What are you thinking about?”

We were sitting on a bench, looking out at some trees. I had been quiet. That day was actually one of the few happy days I had with him. Probably because we were doing something outdoorsy. I had a brief glimpse of what a good relationship should actually look like. I was reflecting on the joy I felt and how nice it was to be cared about by another human being (other than family members or friends).

But at that moment, I was having a rather random, silly thought. I was thinking about what we would do if a bear suddenly appeared and started climbing one of the trees near us. It was such a silly thing, but I remember I didn’t want to tell him that. It was too silly, too weird, too specific. He would think I was so odd.

“Nothing,” I said, instead.

Ladies, that silly, silly thought is the type of thing I would now get a kick out of sharing with my husband. That’s the exact type of silliness he would completely understand and relate to. Those are the types of ridiculous things half of our conversations are made up of.

That was when I knew my husband was the guy for me—when I realized those random thoughts were not only things I wouldn’t mind sharing with him but were the things I would go out of my way to share with him.

Don’t be so in love with the idea of love that you would settle for telling someone “nothing” because you’re too embarrassed to share your thoughts with him. Wait for that person who excites you to share your silliest thoughts with. Don’t waste your time, and don’t waste someone else’s. It’s not fair to either of you.

You both deserve so much more.


Something Borrowed: Giving Away Our Dreams

For some reason or other, we can tend to deny ourselves the things we want in life. And we can tend to sabotage our best chances of seeing those dreams come to fruition.

One of my mother’s and my favorite movies is Something Borrowed. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s based on a novel by the same name—though I liked the film better (a first for me). The film follows the story of two lifelong best friends. One, Darcy, is outgoing, bubbly, and flirty. The other, Rachel, is mousy, studious, and lacking confidence. Maybe the contrast between the two of them is too stereotypical, but it paints a picture we all see growing up.

The gist of the story is that Rachel befriends a fellow (and very cute) law school student. There are clearly feelings there (between both of them). As they near graduation, Dex asks Rachel out to celebrate. Rachel’s lack of self-confidence causes her not to realize he clearly intends it to be a date, and when Darcy shows up (flirty as ever), she completely self-implodes. She ends up making an excuse to go home early, leaving a confused Dex to hang out with Darcy.

Flash forward a few years: Darcy and Dex are engaged, and Rachel passively helps Darcy plan her wedding. Once Darcy was added to the equation, Rachel thought she couldn’t compete and, thus, removed herself from the situation instead of fighting for what she wanted.

No one would really be that much of a pushover, right? Well, I’ve seen it in my own life, and my mother recently called to tell me about witnessing a Something Borrowed situation in real life. She had watched a young coworker fall into the same trap, encouraging another girl to go out with a guy she clearly liked.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I think we get scared when our dreams actually seem within reach, and so when competition appears, we practically hand our dreams over. It’s like we’re saying, “Oh, right. I knew this was too good to be true. Here you go.”

And this doesn’t have to be about a guy. We can do this with career goals, in friendships, and in all aspects of our lives.

If you want something in life, you have to know that you deserve it. You have to ask for it. You have to pursue it. It will most likely not be handed to you. You have to fight for it.

You’re not a bad person if you speak up. If you want a chance to work on a dream project at work, but it’s been given to someone else, it doesn’t hurt to ask to join or to ask for a similar project in the future. If someone else develops feelings for the person you have feelings for, you’re not wrong to be honest with the other girl and pursue those feelings.

Unfortunately, sometimes when we want something, it means someone else won’t get it. A promotion. A contest. A romantic interest.

If you’re anything like me, winning any one of those things—particularly if you know the others competing with you—can cause massive amounts of guilt. But you know what? Don’t feel guilty. Those competitors will win other competitions that you won’t. They will see other dreams and goals accomplished—if they fight for them.

Worry about your own goals. Fight for what you want—because no one else will. People cannot read your mind. Not your boss. Not your boyfriend. Not your friends. Not your crush.  You have to speak up and state clearly:

This is how I feel.
This is what I want.

If you’re too afraid to speak up and be honest about what you want, you may wake up in a few years planning a wedding for someone else. One that could have been yours.

Don’t leave the dinner early. Stay and fight.

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