Make Time for the Holidays: Be a Kid Again

I love Halloween. I have absolutely adored it ever since I was a child. I’m the type of person who begins picking out next year’s costume on November 1.

That said, I definitely struggled during those odd teen years around Halloween time. Was I supposed to go trick-or-treating? Was it OK to buy those Leg Avenue costumes if they didn’t look overly scandalous on my short 14-year-old frame? There were a lot of questions—and, honestly, that lasted up until last year for me at 23 years old when I finally decided to go all out on a costume for the first time in years.

I have a very kid-like mentality toward holidays. Holidays, in my opinion, are supposed to be fun. I’m talking plastic reindeer covering the yard, fake bunny footprints in the yard, kiddy Valentine’s Day cards, and holiday Spotify playlists. The older we get, the more complicated life seems to become, so I find it so odd that, on top of becoming complicated adults, we lose our childlike joy when it comes to holidays.

Your level of enthusiasm depends on your own personality, but don’t get so lost in the “I have to be cool” mentality or the “I’m just too busy” mindset that you forget to enjoy the holidays that you loved as a kid.

We grow up so fast. Slow down, and enjoy life. If you want to go trick-or-treating, grab some friends, or join a younger family member. If you want to dress up as an obscure character or reference but fear no one will know who you are, just do it. Dress up is dress up. You don’t need to be the 10th Wonder Woman at the Halloween party—and, that said, if you want to be Wonder Woman but fear too many others will have that costume, just go for it! Life is too short not to make such silly and fun decisions.

Last year, after years of living hours away from close family and friends, I threw a Halloween party from some of those friends. I bought decorations, made way too much food, and spent way too much on costumes my husband and I will probably never wear again. But I had a blast planning it, and I had a blast hosting it. It is one of my fondest memories of the last couple of years.

This year, my husband and I are once again far away from those friends and family. There’s really not anyone to dress up for. There are no parties for us to go to. But we’re going to make the most of it. We’ve planned and made costumes for ourselves and our dog. We’ve put up the Halloween decorations left from last year’s party, and we are for sure going have a blast handing out candy to kids while settling in for another year of watching Hocus Pocus and Hotel Transylvania (we aren’t really scary movie type of people).

If something means a lot to you, make sure that you make the most of it—even when it seems like there’s no point. If it will make you happy, just enjoy it. Don’t worry if it’s too childish or uncool.

Life is far too short not to enjoy one night of silly fun. Enjoy the excuse to be a kid again.




 

Facing Rejection Like a Champ

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I know it’s trashy, but I live for my weekly viewing of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or—the king of them all—Bachelor in Paradise.

Maybe it’s because I live a boring and drama-free life compared to the people who go on these shows, but sometimes after a stressful week, nothing can make you feel better about your own life than watching guys or girls (depending on whether it’s a bachelor or bachelorette time of year) lose their minds over a love interest they barely know.

I find the most common thought I have (or statement yelled at the TV) while viewing is “why are you crying? It’s OK!”

Especially early on in the seasons, it’s a little silly when contestants start crying when they aren’t chosen to continue on to the next week of dates.

The thing is, these contestants aren’t crying because they are brokenhearted over losing a chance with the bachelor or bachelorette; they’re crying because they’re facing rejection.

Rejection is a tricky emotion. It can manipulate you into thinking you care about something you really don’t. It can trick you into thinking you have feelings for someone you don’t.

This happened to me as a teen. I was not happy in a relationship, but once I was the one facing rejection, I did everything in my power to get the guy back because I thought those feelings of rejection were something that they weren’t.

Just because those feelings of sadness aren’t real feelings for a person or for something in your life (maybe it’s a job offer or not being included by a friend), that doesn’t mean those feelings of rejection don’t hurt. They hurt a lot! That’s why it’s all so confusing.

The pain is still very real and has to be dealt with. The key to accepting rejection in a healthier and less painful way is to change your perspective.

The reason people cry when they’re rejected on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is because they compare themselves to all of those other candidates who were chosen to continue on. They think they don’t stack up compared to them. Perhaps the girls are prettier or funnier. Perhaps the guys are more attractive or have more appealing careers.

This way of thinking is toxic and completely the wrong way to look at it—that’s why I end up yelling at the TV, “Why are you crying?!”

It’s not because I think they shouldn’t be sad; of course they should be. It’s extremely disappointing to be sent home, but they usually start spouting off a bunch of self-deprecating, pity-me comments about how they don’t understand what the remaining contestants have that they don’t.

That’s the thing—it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what those candidates might have that the person crying in the back seat of the limo doesn’t.

What should matter is that it wasn’t a love connection. Those remaining people just click a little better with whoever is handing out the roses that season. They are by no means better people than the ones being sent home (well, most of the time!); they just are better matches.

It’s the same with being rejected after a job interview. Whoever got the job isn’t better than you; that person just fits better with the position you both were vying for.

It doesn’t make the rejection sting less or make it any less disappointing, but it can keep you from losing your confidence or being too hard on yourself if you think of rejection as more of a two-way street.

Even if you are going through a time in your life when you feel like you’re facing rejection in the dating world, in your career, or amongst your friends or family, think of it as a saving grace.

Chances are that, if you’re being rejected from something, it probably isn’t a good fit, and that rejection is saving you from a possibly miserable situation dating someone you wouldn’t be happy with, working in a job you’d hate, or spending time with someone you maybe shouldn’t.

Rejection never means someone is better than you. We all have different flaws and strengths. Rejection just means someone may be a better fit than you for that particular situation.

It means you probably have something way better out there waiting for you. And isn’t that worth celebrating?

 

It’s OK to Be Quiet

My Post (37)Recently, I was at Petco with my 6-month-old puppy, Cooper. Now, Cooper has had some fear issues. She is extremely apprehensive of strangers and the outdoors, in general. She’s been improving a ton, though, and we try to take her everywhere we go (when possible) so that she can socialize with more people and other dogs.

A week or so ago, I was in Petco with Cooper. I usually have to carry her around the store because she’s so aware and fearful of the other dogs and humans doing their own shopping. This time, though, Cooper was doing amazing. She pranced right in and sniffed around, walking down aisle after aisle with me. I was so pleased and excited for her that she reached this new milestone.

A woman approached and asked if she could pet Cooper. I said yes but asked her to go slowly. Cooper has been known to snarl if people approach her too quickly (we are working with her on this).

The woman tried to let Cooper sniff her hand, but Cooper wasn’t interested and stayed near me. I could tell that the woman thought this wasn’t normal dog behavior. She started asking questions about Cooper with a concerned tone as if she was trying to pinpoint where we’d gone wrong with her training. In the end, she suggested we try socialization classes.

I was polite but left the encounter rather upset. I kept thinking to myself, “just because my dog isn’t interested in you doesn’t mean she’s broken.”

Now, I’m not saying this line of thought is healthy; I was taking this all way too personally, and Cooper really does need more socialization. That’s why she was at Petco, after all.

But it did remind me of how I sometimes feel since I’m a more introverted and shy person. I have often felt as if people can think less of me for being too quiet or too private or see me as unsocial.

I’ve seen this with other shy or introverted folks, as well. I think all too often that we can look at quiet people and think that they’re broken, that they need our help. We need to break them into the social scene. We need to drag them out of their houses and to parties. We need to build their confidence.

What I want to stress here is that it’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to be shy. It’s OK to be an extrovert. It’s OK to be outgoing. It’s OK to be a combination of these traits. We are all broken in our own way, and usually it has nothing to do with how much we enjoy socializing or talking.

Quiet introverts can still be confident—maybe they just express that in different forms than spoken words. Quiet introverts can still enjoy socializing—they just need time alone to recharge. Quiet introverts have just as much to offer as outgoing extroverts, and we desperately need both in the world.

Regardless of where you fall on that shy or loud, introvert or extrovert spectrum, the world needs you. Because, yes, we all love a good party, but sometimes we need the quiet.

You are not broken because you prefer the latter.

 

Some Advice for College Freshmen

My Post (34).jpgAs we close out our Fourth of July celebrations and the end of summer looms closer, many of you will be about to head off to college.

College is an amazing—but sometimes horrifying—time to grow and figure out who you want to be in this life. As someone who didn’t enjoy or take advantage of her time in college, here are some pieces of advice so that you, hopefully, won’t make the same mistakes I did.

You don’t have to be BFFs with your roommates.

I moved into a triple dorm room during my freshman year. I was so excited. Two automatic friends instead of just one, right?

Unfortunately, in my case, the other two girls became best friends, and I felt odd for not fitting in. I wish I would have realized at the time that it was completely OK. You cannot get along or be best friends with everyone. You do not have to be BFFs with your roommates. There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t click with them. Just be nice and courteous; that’s all that really matters.

Join clubs, and find your people.

You may get lucky and find your new friend group right in your dorm building, but even if so, college is the time to get involved and discover your interests.

Go to your campus’ club showcase, and sign up for a few clubs that match your general interests. Try them out, and then narrow it down to one ot two that really excite you. This is also a great way to figure out what you may want to do career-wise.

Be a little silly.

College is the last stop before adulthood responsibilities set in. Sure, there’s a lot you still have to be responsible for in college—definitely more so than when you’re in high school—but paying rent sure is less stressful when you don’t have student loans to pay!

Make sure that, in between studying and internships, you remember to have some fun. You won’t always have hour breaks in the middle of your day or Fridays off.

You will fail, but don’t give up.

During your freshmen year of college, you will probably end up failing in some way. Classes are harder than they were in high school (or at least they should be), professors aren’t quite as accessible (especially if you attend a large university), and it may be hard to be without your family and friends from back home.

Don’t give up when you mess up. Learn from those mistakes, and keep going. Some mistakes may even cause you to rethink your major. Give it time before you make any drastic changes. Easy roads are not necessarily better.

Spend Wisely!

Money, money, money. If you’re moving away for college, my No. 1 piece of advice to you is to start saving now. Shop as cheaply as you can, and try to avoid unnecessary entertainment or eating out costs. Come up with a reward system so that you don’t miss out on something you really want, while still putting money away for the next year. You’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t compare.

When you’re in classes with people all competing for similar career goals, it becomes easy to compare yourself to your classmates’ progress. Comparison is never a good idea, but it can be especially harmful if you fall into that trap during your freshman year. You don’t want it to become a habit.

Everyone will have different career successes and majors. Don’t compare. You’re each on your own special path to reach your goals.

Stick to your beliefs and convictions.

College campuses are a bit tricky today. There will inevitably be some unpopular opinions that won’t be “cool” or even seen as acceptable to have. You might completely agree with the majority, or you could be in the minority.

Wherever you lie, I challenge you to research your own beliefs and convictions if you begin to have doubts. We should always strive to become more knowledgeable about what we believe and what the alternatives may be, but don’t change just because people tell you you’re wrong. You’re better and stronger than that. Look into the issue for yourself. Do the research. Present your case. Come to your own conclusions.

Make up your own mind. Don’t follow just to follow.

Stay in touch with your people back home.  

Lastly, stay in touch with your friends and loved ones back home or who have left on their own college adventures. You’re going to miss them a lot—especially in your first year. Send handwritten notes and sweet texts, and call or FaceTime whenever you can.

After all, they miss you, too.

You Don’t Have to Think That’s True


I think a lot of times people make comments about teenagers caring too much about what people think about them, but I would argue that it doesn’t matter what age you are. For some reason or another, we simply place too much emphasis on other people’s opinions.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you felt judged or looked down upon by someone else? Or maybe that person actually said something hurtful that made you feel like you weren’t good enough? I’ve never trusted that ridiculous saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

False. Words hurt.

What I think is truly important, though, is that we don’t let other people’s words and opinions change the way we think about ourselves. We recently posted a Taylor Swift quote that is so powerful: “You’re not somebody else’s opinion of you.” And it’s true. What another person says or implies really shouldn’t matter—what does matter is what you think of you.

I volunteered at an event called the Brave Conference recently, and it was a powerful evening full of bold young women who don’t even know how bold they are yet. There were some incredible speakers, and two of them gave some advice that I wish I had heard when I was younger. Although I don’t care much about what people think of me now, it’s definitely something that I struggled with when I was in middle school when my identity was rooted more in what I was wearing or what group I sat with at lunch.

These speakers said that when someone says something to you, you simply say “I don’t think that’s true.” For instance, if someone tells you that your outfit doesn’t match, fire back with “I don’t think that’s true.” A friend or peer doesn’t think your choice of music is that great, sing it loudly, sister: “I don’t think that’s true.” Even if no one actually says anything, but you think someone might be thinking something, focus on what you think. If you feel like someone else has an opinion that makes you feel insecure, remind yourself: “I don’t think that’s true.”

You can do this as an adult, too. It’s something I had to overcome in terms of what guys I have feelings for think of me. I would let thoughts fill my head like I’m not pretty enough and I’m not smart enough and I’m not good enough. NO, girl. I don’t think that’s true.

I am enough—and so are you.

The next time you are in a situation in which you’re worried about what others are thinking of you, take a moment to step back and decide what you think of you. Don’t let their opinions define who you are.

Only you can do that.

Don’t Waste Your Time Waiting


I don’t know about you, but I’m usually not a fan of waiting for things to happen.

Unfortunately, though, waiting is a part of life that we have to deal with on a regular basis—we wait for food at restaurants when we’re reaching the point of hangry, we wait to hear back from colleges or potential employers after we’ve submitted applications and résumés, we wait for replies to emails and texts when we need answers, and we wait for lights to turn green as we rush off to the various places we need to be.

Sometimes waiting is natural, and we don’t really think much about it because we have so many other things going on at the same time. In other situations, though, we become less active in our waiting and essentially spend too much time waiting—not so much in anticipation but often in worry that what we’re waiting for might not happen—wasting precious moments that we could actually be enjoying.

And this seems to be especially true when it comes to guys.

What is it about waiting for a reply to a text message that gets our heads spinning and our hearts pining? Those letters that form words on a screen suddenly become so essential to our very beings, and we wait very impatiently, wondering whether those guys have read the texts and are waiting the standard 10-minute minimum (or is that just a girl thing?) before replying, haven’t even seen them yet, or (the worst one possible) already read our carefully crafted texts and simply haven’t cared enough to respond.

It’s so non-dramatically emotionally draining.

To be perfectly honest, I should probably be embarrassed by how much time I’ve spent wondering what some guy I think is really special is going to say back to me, only later to realize that he really wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped and imagined, and his replies were essentially a waste of my eye strength. For instance, I once texted a guy to see if he wanted to go watch a football game on a Friday night with me because I thought that would be something fun. I sent the text and then waited. And waited. And waited. And then the panic set in.

Why hasn’t he responded yet?
Did I try too hard to be funny but was stupid, instead?
Should I not have sent it?
I need to go crawl into a hole and hide forever.

Like I said, none of this is dramatic at all.

You know what that fella I fancied so much said back to me? That he had to stay home and do chores. On a Friday night. As a 26-year-old who lives alone and can do chores whenever he wants.

Talk about a complete waste of time waiting on that one.

We wait and wait and worry about the silliest things sometimes when we really could simply enjoy the things right in front of us so much more than we already do. Rather than agonizing over a mere text I had sent and what the guy would say back, I could have just sent it and not worried about it so that I could channel my energy toward more important matters—you know, like if I was more in the mood for a chicken sandwich or a cheeseburger for dinner.

Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to wait at different times in our lives. But waiting doesn’t have to be such a huge world-stopping thing. Seek to enjoy those moments or long periods when you’re waiting, especially if you know what you’re waiting for is worth every single second.

Just make sure you don’t miss out on the wonderful things happening right before you because you’re too busy waiting during your times of waiting.

 

When was a time you had to wait on something and spent too much time just waiting?

Have you ever been a victim of the dreaded waiting-for-a-text-from-a-crush situation?

We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

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).

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”


There’s a word that you learn quite early on in life and become all too familiar with but then don’t necessarily use enough when you get older:
no.

It can be a difficult word to say at times. Your friends want you to do something that maybe you don’t want to, and you might find yourself unable to utter this one little syllable that’s only two letters long. It’s so simple yet, for some reason, can’t seem to escape from your mouth.

“No” isn’t always a popular word, especially when you’re a teenager. (Depending on your personality, it might also not be very common in your vocabulary when you’re an adult, either.) What I’ve learned over the years—and sometimes the hard way—is that “no” is sometimes the best thing you can say, and you don’t even need to add on an explanation with it.

Want a drink?
No.

Take a hit of this.
No.

Come on, it’s just sex.
No.

Those are only a few stereotypical examples, but they exist for a reason. You aren’t required to be who other people want you to be. You can be the you you want to be—and you can so “no” to the things that you know will keep you from authentically being her.

And you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Sometimes I think toddlers have the right idea. They don’t seem to care at all what other people think of them, and they march to the beats of their own drums. You try telling a little tot to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, and it’s very likely you’ll get one response: no. There’s no reasoning as to why or any excuses offered—just that simple word that carries so much emphatic power.

I remember when I was a senior in high school and at a party, and a guy came up to me with a drink and said something along the lines of “I just want to see you take one sip—just one—so that I can say that I saw you drink before we graduate.” I kind of laughed and then said that word “no” and walked away to go chat with some of my friends.

It felt good.

The choices you make are yours. They’re not your friends’, they’re not your boyfriend’s, and they’re certainly not some guy’s who just really wants to see you take a sip of alcohol.

This word “no” is especially important to remember when it comes to your body. There’s a lot of pressure in this world for individuals to have sex before they’re really ready. There’s no mandatory timeline saying that you can’t be a virgin when you graduate high school or college or when you turn 30 or 50, for that matter. Don’t do something just because someone else wants you to or because you’re afraid to go against the majority.

Be bold enough to say “no” and walk away fearlessly and confidently.

Mr. Right & Love: Finding Your Rick O’Connell

My Post (20)I still remember sitting in class at 16 years old and being told that I was far too concerned with getting married for my age. I had been telling a cute story our pastor had shared at church about him and his wife (she was one of the church’s worship leaders—does it get cuter than that?), and I wistfully shared that I couldn’t wait to be married like them.

A friend—with good intentions, I’m sure—shared his concern that I would even be thinking about such things. We were 16, after all!

The thing is, it’s perfectly natural for young women (and young men) to dream of their “happily ever afters.” We all do it.

I was always a romantic in the very traditional sense. I was waiting for my Brendan Fraser (circa The Mummy movies) to come sweep me off my feet since I was 8 years old. In that sense, I guess it was only natural that, for most of my teen years, I hoped to soon meet that person who would be by my side, who would fight for me, and who would be just mine.

While all perfectly normal feelings, I wish (and that’s why I’m sharing with you) that I hadn’t looked so hard to find Mr. Right because the result was relationships/crushes with guys I didn’t really have feelings for and being more in love with the idea of love than I was with any guy.

Your time will come. Don’t be so in love with the idea of a boyfriend that you ignore warning signs or settle. Ladies, instead of focusing on what you need to do or who you need be to find Mr. Right, I encourage you to instead focus on what you need to do in order to grow into the woman you want to be.

Don’t worry about what type of girl your crush wants. That type of thinking will drive you crazy and lead you down a path of turmoil. If you have to change something about yourself to get a guy to notice you, he’s probably not right for you.

Instead, worry about what type of person you want to be. Work toward your dreams and goals for your future. That will make you far happier and build up your confidence—both qualities that are way more attractive than attempts to be a different version of yourself for each new guy you’re interested in. The right guy will like you for you.

And, speaking of Mr. Right, instead of worrying about if you’re the type of girl your crush wants, focus instead on if he has the traits you want.

Make a list of qualities your future guy needs to have. My list back in the day would have looked something like this:

  1. Christian
  2. Makes me laugh
  3. Ideally, similar political beliefs
  4. Same family goals
  5. Adventurous/outdoorsy/wants to travel someday

Of course, I spent too much time worrying about if I was an ideal girlfriend or crush than focusing on if the guy was actually anything close to what I wanted. In fact, time and time again, I avoided the fact that some of my crushes weren’t Christian (the first thing on my list, for goodness sake!). Maybe with time, I’d think.

If a guy you like isn’t exhibiting a key trait on your list, do not think you can change him. That is not a position you want to be in. That is not a path to true love or happiness. It is a path for bitterness and pain for both parties.

While dreaming of your future “happily ever after” (more on that in a later post) is perfectly normal and exciting, don’t let it consume your life. Enjoy where you are now. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your family. Grow into the person you want to be, and everything else will fall into place. You’ll meet your own Brendan Fraser soon enough.

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