Sometimes You Have to Do Things on Your Own

My Post (56)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let Yourself Receive Compliments


I’m not exactly sure why, but sometimes it’s difficult for us to hear good things about ourselves—it’s as if compliments are only meant to be given and not received.

I can’t really explain why this is a thing. I love encouraging people and telling them all of the qualities they have that make them wonderful. I love seeing smiles dance across their faces when they realize that other people notice those traits about them. Yet, for some reason, I feel weird when I receive compliments.

I struggled for many years thinking that I wasn’t enough—not pretty enough for guys to be interested in me, not talented enough for various activities, not capable enough to achieve certain goals, and simply not enough for anyone or anything. I don’t know if it’s believing those lies for so long that led me to be uncomfortable with compliments, but it’s possibly a root cause.

Here’s something that you should know, though: It’s perfectly OK to let yourself be complimented—it might even actually be healthy.

No, you don’t need to fish for compliments (this is often something many people tend to do when they are feeling insecure), but it is important to be comfortable with letting other people offer you words of affirmation.

Letting people remind you that you’re enough.

Letting people remind you that you are worth more than you know.

Letting people remind you that you matter.

And letting people remind you that they see you for the person you are, and they still love you.

My boss recently told me how great of an asset I am to our team and how thankful he is that I came to work for the company—that I’ve already changed the culture there and provided tremendous value to the work we do. I felt myself start to squirm mentally, but then I decided to accept his words as truth and let them engrain themselves into my own belief. Because I needed to remind myself that I’m enough.

And so are you.

Don’t make excuses or blame your successes and positive characteristics on luck or say they are results of accidents of some sort. Instead, say “thank you,” and believe that the affirmation you’re hearing is full of genuine truth.

Compliments are meant to be given, but that means that people also have to receive them. Every once in a while, let yourself be one of those recipients. You don’t have to become a narcissist (after all, Taylor Swift says that she never trusts one), but you can let yourself be reminded of the good things about you and the positive qualities that you bring to the lives of others.

You are uniquely you for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with letting the encouragement and uplifting words of others further affirm the remarkable treasure you are.

Don’t Lose Yourself While Trying to Find Yourself


As you’re growing up and learning more about life and how you fit in this world, it can be easy to stray away from your true identity while you’re trying to figure out who you really are.

Sometimes we tend to let other people influence our likes and dislikes. I wish that I could say I’ve never done this, but that would be a lie. When I was in college, I was in that stage in which I was starting to fall for a guy who was one of my good friends, and I suddenly found myself listening mainly to the kind of music he liked and not as much to the country tunes that I actually preferred. Sure, I did actually like the songs he liked, but I then started only listening to those bands and those genres rather than paying attention to what I wanted to hear.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation—suddenly thinking that the things you find interest in aren’t really as great as you once thought they were? That maybe you should learn to like more of the things that the people around you like? If that’s the case, please know that you’re not alone. Sadly, most of us probably do this way more than we would care to admit.

Even when I started off in my first career as a sports reporter, I thought that I had to act or present myself a certain way in order to be accepted and respected, especially because I was a woman in a male-dominated profession. I wish that the younger version of me would have understood that losing my own identity in order to try to be someone I definitely wasn’t was a horrible idea.

When I fell really hard for a guy who broke my heart, I sometimes found myself hesitant to let certain things about me be made known to him simply because I thought that he was looking for something—or someone—completely different. That’s not a healthy way to move toward what you want to be a genuine relationship.

I’m proud of the person I am today, flaws and all, and I’m glad that I don’t have to hide who I am or strive to impress others by changing my likes and dislikes. I don’t like chocolate. I don’t like marinara sauce, so I don’t like most pizzas. I eat Wheat Thins with everything. I put ketchup on almost anything. I would rather watch sports all day than anything else on television. I hate snow. I’m morally opposed to fantasy football. I’m a virgin who has only kissed one guy, so my experience level is near zero. I have an unashamed love for country music. I can’t stand Star Wars.

Ladies, don’t ever try to hide the things that make you you, and don’t try to create an image of you that isn’t actually you. Growing up isn’t always easy, and there will be times in life when you really are trying to figure out who you are and where you belong in this world—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s natural. But don’t soil that time of discovery and the experiences you have along the way with false pretenses that you have to force yourself to feel or believe.

To revert back to those glorious carefree days of childhood, Grandmother Willow said it best in Pocahontas: “Listen with your heart, and you will understand.” Let your heart be what guides you in your journey to discovering who you are.

Because if you lose yourself while you’re trying to learn more about who you are, then you’ll never know or become the real you you’re meant to be.

Trust Life’s Unexpected Turns

My Post Copy (1) (1)

There will come a time in your life when something unexpected happens that changes the route your life was previously on. In fact, odds are that this will happen multiple times.

When I was a freshman in college, I had plans to be a big-time political news commentator. I had big opinions, and I wanted them to be heard—I wanted to make a difference. I was thrilled when I began chasing that dream by writing a political column for the school paper.

It only took a year for this dream to be squashed. It was a year of tears and isolation as I realized that people who share big opinions are not looked on kindly by people with opposing opinions.

Then I was told that I would not be needed back as a political commentator for the next school year. I was crushed. My dream began to unravel at the seams. Was I not a good writer? Was it my content? Was it my beliefs? My confidence spiraled.

Though this unexpected event crushed me, it was actually a blessing in disguise. That year writing publicly about politics was actually a horrible experience for me, a perpetual people pleaser. Knowing that half of the school population disliked me for my opinions was my worst nightmare.

Throughout the year, there had been other red flags that this was not a lifestyle I wanted to pursue. Not being invited back to the paper was the final kick I needed to realize that being in the spotlight was not for me. I didn’t need to grow a thicker skin. I needed to find a new career.

Since then, things have definitely improved. I found a better calling in public relations and marketing fields. I still get to write, I’ve been able to work on political campaigns, and best of all, I don’t have to cringe when opening my inbox wondering if I’ve received any hate mail.

Recently, my husband and I moved from California to Nebraska. That was another huge life change that was rather unexpected. I had no plans to leave our shiny new Southern California apartment. I had no plans to leave my first real full-time job. I had no plans to leave my family (whom we had just finally moved near).

But life happened, and just a little more than a year after starting the life of my dreams, we packed everything up and moved halfway across the country.

At first, I just wasn’t sure what God’s plan was other than us saving some money. But, only six months into our new lives, I’ve realized that this is once again a blessing in disguise.

Moving gave us the ability to buy a home (something we wouldn’t have been able to do in California for years and years), flex my creative writing skills, fall in love and raise an adorable Border Collie puppy, and I just found an amazing new job that is exactly the type of place I’ve wanted to work since I decided to move into the public relations field.

Listen, there will be times in your life when you will think, “Come on, God—what are You doing?” Those are usually the times when you will grow the most and become the person you need to be for the next season of your life—a season that might just be better than the previous.

Embrace those unexpected turns or roadblocks in your life. They will probably lead you somewhere you never considered going before—somewhere you might be glad you found.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Seeing as how we shared a quote from Chip Gaines on our social media pages last week, it may come as no surprise to you that I am a huge fan of the Gaines family.

A few years ago, I had no idea who Chip and Joanna Gaines were. I saw their photos all over magazines in line at the grocery store, but all I knew was that they were on HGTV. I was a little surprised that a couple on that channel was of interest to news tabloids (though today it’s not surprising at all), but other than that, I thought nothing of them.

Then I became aware that they were under attack for the church they attended. After that I began to pay a little more attention to them; as a Christian myself, it’s always interesting to see how others—especially those in the spotlight—handle those types of situations.

At some point last year, I became completely enamored with this joyful and delightful couple. I loved watching their show. I loved Joanna’s Target line. It was beyond just liking their style or products. I grew to respect them as people. I loved that they involved their kids in their work. I loved that they worked hard as a family. I loved that Chip was always bringing animals home. I loved that they lived on a farm. I began to think that maybe my own similar dreams were possible.

After reading their books, The Magnolia Story and Capital Gaines (OK, I lied—I am still in the middle of the latter), I respected Chip and Joanna even more upon learning about how they’ve reached the level of success they have today.

I think, in the back of our minds, we can sometimes make excuses for why some people are successful—as if to make excuses for why we aren’t or why we can’t reach that same level of success. We think, “Oh, well that’s because they had money to begin with” or “Well, they knew people in the industry.”

What I love about the “Magnolia story,” if you will, is how honest the Gaines are about what it took to get where they are. This couple took risks to see their dreams come to fruition, and it worked because they weren’t fearful of failure. They saw failure as a learning opportunity and never as something to be ashamed of.

Taking risks is something I’ve always feared because, ultimately, I didn’t see failure as acceptable. To fail, in my mind, was to be not good enough or to have not worked hard enough.

Chip and Joanna have given me an amazing gift. They’ve helped me understand that sometimes failure is out of our control, and there are times when it’s actually necessary to experience failure in order to learn the life lessons needed to accomplish greater feats.

Whatever your dream is in this life, go for it. Do not be afraid of failure. Keep running after it until it’s in your grasp. Do not let fear intimidate you or cause you to second-guess your abilities. Life is far too short not to achieve all you can.

Chip and Joanna worked hard to make their dreams and goals a reality. You can, too.


What are your dreams? What risks are necessary to make those dreams come true?

Facing Rejection Like a Champ

My Post (39)

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.

 

You Voice Matters


When I lived in Texas, I had to report to jury duty once. It’s a civic responsibility about which many people grumble, and it takes up a lot of your time when you have to take an entire day out of your life to sit and hear about other people’s potential crimes. It feels like such a long and arduous process.

Like those grumblers, I can’t say that I was looking forward to being a possible juror. I had a lot going on at the time, and my mind was in a million other places. When I got to the courthouse, I entered the room with what seemed like thousands (it wasn’t) of other people and took a seat with a book. A little later in the morning, some video started playing letting us know why we were there. There was one line in that video—and pretty much the only thing from that entire day—that I remember.

“Your voice matters in the Texas justice system.”

I kept thinking it over and over in my head. My voice matters. I didn’t care so much about that Texas justice system part, but I really liked being told that my opinions and what I have to say are valued and appreciated.

And I want you to know that yours are, too.

As women, we don’t always get the platforms and respect that we deserve. This is often particularly true if you’re a young woman. People might even make you feel like you don’t have any right to speak up or the authority to preach or teach or be the voice of those who can’t speak for themselves. My dear, I’m going to tell you right now that this is completely false. Hear this, and know it to be true.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS—and in more places than the Texas justice system.

No matter what age you are, no matter what race you are, no matter what gender you are, no matter what your social status is, no matter what your educational background is, no matter what your relationship status is, no matter what—your voice matters. And it needs to be heard.

So often, we sit and let others do the talking for fear that what we say isn’t smart enough or maybe is too controversial. Or perhaps we think that others will judge us or don’t respect us enough to hear what we have to say. Unfortunately, many women face this in the workplace and are more silent than they should be in meetings that are dominated by men or other women by whom they’re intimidated. I hope that you will help to break this mold and mindset and be part of the change that allows women to be more comfortable speaking up and pursuing more leadership opportunities with the confidence that they have strong and valuable voices in all areas of life.

Sister, please speak up. Please be brave. Please let boldness flow out of you to the point where you can’t contain it. Please don’t ever let fear keep you from saying what you want and need to say.

If you’re passionate about sharing your heart through writing, go for it. If you want to study theology and work toward becoming a pastor or speaker, go for it. If you want to teach or mentor others, go for it. If you’ve been holding back the feelings in your heart but really want to declare them out loud to the guy you love, go for it. If you have something to say in your meeting at work, go for it (and don’t start off with “I’m sorry” or some other way of apologizing before expressing what’s on your mind). Whatever it is that you know you need to say in whatever the situation, go for it. Don’t let fear or intimidation hold you back.

You have a beautiful and powerful voice—so let it be heard.

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.

Up ↑