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.

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.




 

Remember That You Get to Choose

When you’re a little kid, most of your choices are made for you—what you wear, what you eat, where you go, what you do. As you get older, more and more choices become your own. While the freedom and independence you gain are certainly benefits to that whole “adulting” thing, they can also present challenges for your mind and heart along the way.

This is especially true when those decisions you make pertain to the relationships you form.

Dating can be challenging in a number of different ways. For starters, it’s confusing at times. Does he like me? Do I really like him? Why hasn’t he texted me back? I wonder what he meant when he said that he had a “nice” time.

It also takes up a significant amount of your time and energy that you may or may not be investing in the right person. Of course, each date or relationship can also prepare your heart for a relationship with the right person.

There are many decisions to be made in a relationship—where you go for dinner and what show you’re going to binge watch next together on Netflix or Hulu and (as things get more serious) what you’re doing for certain holidays and what your future together looks like.

But there are also plenty of decisions that you make all on your own. There are certainly quite a few pressures that come along with relationships, but remember that you are the one who gets to decide how quickly you want to move and how far you want to go in certain situations. You don’t have to kiss someone before you’re ready. You don’t have to have sex before you’re ready. You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready to do before you’re ready to do it.

Many years ago, I thought that I was interested in a guy who was interested in me. But the more time we spent together, the more I realized that I saw him as nothing more than a friend.

One evening when we went to see a movie together, he held my hand in the car. I didn’t want to hold hands with him. I realize that this isn’t a huge thing, but it was to me, and I wanted my hand free from his. He tried to hold my hand again during the movie, but I told him that I needed a free hand to bite my nails since it was a scary movie.

It might have been one of the lamest excuses I’ve ever used—and, if something like that happened now, I would simply tell the person that I don’t want to hold hands with him if I didn’t want to—but it’s what I said at the time. The bottom line is this: I didn’t want to hold hands with this boy, so I didn’t hold hands with him.

And you can also make the choice not to do the things that you don’t want to do. Life is full of so many choices every single day, and you have the ability to make the ones that are best for you.

Be bold enough to let your personal choices be your own.

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.

 

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.

The Christian Dating Cliche: Guard Your Heart

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I call it a cliche, but it’s a rule to live by: Guard your heart.

When I was 15 years old, I found myself heartbroken for the second time in a year. Out of nowhere, the guy I had been dating (who I thought was so different than my ex-boyfriend) dumped me. He said God was calling him to do it.

Listen, I’m Christian, but I do not think a good way to break up with people is to claim that “God said so.” That is not loving. That is a cop-out. If God is really calling you to break up with someone, then give that person the reason why that may be. For example, it might be that the soon-to-be-ex wants to raise children with different values or has a different lifestyle. Even the cliche “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is better than the “God told me to” line.

The same boy who used that line on me also told me over and over that he thought God was telling him that I was “the one.” OK, dude. I think he was confusing what he wanted with what God was saying to him. Just saying.  

Anyway, I was heartbroken. Crushed. I couldn’t get out of bed. It had taken me months to snap out of my last heartbreak, and I couldn’t face the inevitable road of pain that I knew I was about to walk down again.

My mother, being wise, called me out of school and drove me right down to our church offices to speak with the high school pastor. I’m really thankful for the heartfelt talk he gave me. It really did help—not so much with the pain, but I think he saved my faith. I could have easily turned sour and cynical toward the church and God. After all, did God really tell that boy to dump me? Why would He let me get hurt again?

Ladies, regardless of your religion, it is important to guard your heart and your faith. People lie. People make mistakes. People say things without thinking. I’m sure that boy didn’t mean to hurt me. Honestly, for all I know, maybe he was—VERY WRONGLY—flirting to convert, and he thought he was actually doing a very nice thing by getting me more involved in church. Maybe it was some weird test I didn’t pass.

It doesn’t matter why he said what he said. I should never have allowed myself to be that caught up in someone that my entire world would be shattered by a breakup.

Breakups are hard, and they hurt. As Lorelai Gilmore would suggest, they require wallowing, but they should not derail your entire life—at least not at 15 years old or after only a few months of dating.

Guard your heart. Be sure that you don’t allow your boyfriend to become your world. Keep time for friends and family. Don’t text 24/7 (as tempting as that might be). Schedule phone calls, or have a cut-off time for text conversations.

Most of all, value yourself. You are far more than a relationship. You are more than some boy’s words.




 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Tired girl. Spread too thin.

There is an expectation as you get older to take part in all sorts of obligations. On top of your school work, you’ll also need to be in a number of different clubs. Then, on top of that, you’ll be expected to be a leader of at least one club—depending on if you are applying for colleges.

In college, you’ll be expected to still be a part of clubs, but you’ll also need internships (which often are unpaid), and depending on your financial situation, you might also need a part-time or even a full-time job.

These expectations don’t change as you get older. I find myself often feeling guilty for not taking part enough with our church; for not being able to make it to community meetings that, in the past, I would have loved to be at; and for not having enough time to give to hobbies and friends and family.

Ladies, don’t get me wrong. It is very beneficial for you to be involved with organizations you care about, but there may come a time when you realize you are simply being spread too thin. Things will start to fall between the cracks. You’ll start to feel overwhelmed, and soon the things you care most about in life may start taking a back seat.

Whenever you begin to feel like you’re in over your head or have taken on too much, I encourage you to make a priority list of the things and people in your life. For example, my priority list looks something like this:

1. God
2. Family
3. Work
4. Friends

If you start to find that items lower on your priority list are trumping higher ones, it may be time to make some changes in your schedule. For me, lately, I’ve been neglecting my No. 1 priority: God.

My husband and I have been doing a lot of work on our house and on side projects that, unfortunately, have taken priority on our weekends. As a result, we’ve missed church quite a bit these last couple of months.

By missing church or being too tired to read my Bible before going to bed, my actions do not match my priority list—that’s something I need to change.

We all spread ourselves too thin at one point or another. Take control over your time again by making sure that you’re spending the time you need on your priorities in life.

What does your priority list look like? Do your actions match your list?

Find Your Courage, and Keep It

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I was never that girl who always had a boyfriend, and part of that is because I was never that girl who told guys how she felt.

I was the girl who held it all in but told her friends and posted hopelessly romantic Taylor Swift lyrics on Tumblr, hoping he would notice even though he was not on Tumblr. I put it out in the universe, OK? That should have been enough.

But it is, of course, not enough. If you go about your dating life this way, your crushes will at most only ever hear rumors or have suspicions that you like them. Or, even worst, your crush will be endlessly pestered by your friends—trust me, you do not want this.

Sure, if this were a rom-com (Did you all see To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before yet? It is a perfect film. PERFECT.), the boy in question would still make a move, but life isn’t quite a rom-com, and I don’t want you to live the way I did.

If you have feelings for someone, just tell him. Make your life easy. Why spend time pining over guys if they can just tell you upfront to move on? Why spend time pining if you could be together right now if his feelings are the same?

I know it’s scary. I know you don’t want to hurt. But, at a certain point, you have to make a decision either to move on or to make a move. Do not waste time sitting on the sidelines hoping someone will finally make the call to put you in the game.

I had one moment of bravery in high school. I was sitting in my last class for the day, and I suddenly decided that enough was enough. I knew the guy I liked had feelings for me, but he had done nothing about it. He hadn’t asked me out. He hadn’t confessed that he liked me. I felt like I was being strung along. and it was time to do something about it.

The bell rang, and I burst out of class, speed walking through the halls. I was going to find him. I was going to confess that I liked him. I was going to tell him that I knew he liked me and that he needed to do something about it, or I was done. I was out. Out!

Unfortunately, this one single moment of bravery was abruptly snuffed out. I ran into a friend in the hall, and as I speed walked past him, he knew something was up. He slow jogged along with me and pestered me about what my rush was. I confidently told him what I was about to do.

I don’t recall what he said that made me stop my crazed run through the hall—I’m sure just about anything would have worked since it took so much just to get my courage up to that point.

I sadly listened to my friend as he talked me out of my brave act, and I went on pining and moping for another few months. That friend was genuinely trying to look out for me, but that confrontation and confession was something I needed to do. It was something I would have been proud to do.

Ladies, take control of your lives. Yes, it’s scary when feelings are on the line, but how much better would it be if you could either have those feelings returned or get the answer you need to find someone who is a good fit for you?

Be brave.

And once you have that courage, don’t let anyone take it away from you.

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