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.

When the Swimsuit You Bought Doesn’t Look Like It Did on the Model

Swimsuit on modelI have an unfortunate habit of shopping online for clothing. This is unfortunate because oftentimes that means that when clothing arrives, it doesn’t look quite like it did online or on the model.

I’ve noticed that when I shop online at certain stores, I almost always end up drawn to clothing worn by the same model. Over and over again.

And over and over again, these clothing items arrive, and while they may look decent on me, I’m always disappointed when the items don’t fit quite like they do on the model.

The thing is, we have to be realistic about our body types. It’s not just a weight or muscle tone issue. Women have different figures. Even if we were all standing next to one another with identical fat and muscle percentages, we’d all still look pretty different. We hold weight in different areas, are taller and shorter, have longer legs or longer torsos—there is so much variation to be celebrated!

Yet, sometimes, we can get too stuck idolizing the type of body we want. In my case, I finally realized that no matter how “in-shape” I get, it just isn’t physically possible for me to look like this lengthy, lean model whose clothes I keep buying. I just don’t have the same body proportions as her, but that’s OK.

There’s a freedom in coming to the realization that you can never obtain what you think is the “ideal” figure. And the other good news? Everyone has a slightly different opinion of what that is! Some may wish they had Beyoncé-type curves. Others wish they were as thin as Emma Watson. Some may wish they were tall like Taylor Swift, while others wish they were more petite like Rachel Bilson.

This all ties in similarly with our recent blog post about beauty standards—we all may wish we met some ideal standard of beauty we’ve created in our heads, but there are so many different ways to be beautiful! The same can be said of our figures.

I’ve found over time that the only time I’m ever really content with my body is when I regularly work out and eat right. I don’t even have to lose weight or see muscle definition; I just need to know that I’m doing something healthy and beneficial for my body. That’s when I feel my best and begin to feel comfortable being in my skin.

It’s during the times when I neglect my body that I start to wistfully wish I looked like the American Eagle or Adore Me swimsuit models whom I so often buy clothes based on.

Years ago, while skimming a tabloid at the supermarket as a teen, I read something that truly stuck with me and changed the way I thought about my own body.

It was a quote from a very thin (and small-chested) actress who encouraged young girls to embrace their bodies. She made a comment about her smaller bra size and said something along the lines of how she finally realized that, since she is smaller than most girls, she can wear things they can’t. She may not have a so-called enviable chest, but she could wear dresses with more daring necklines than girls with larger bra sizes. This helped her feel happier and more confident with the body she had.

It was a great reminder that there are always pros and cons to every body type. Even something you may believe is a negative can actually be a positive if you think about it differently.

Ladies, embrace what you have. Take care of yourself, and watch your confidence grow. Soon you’ll be happy in the skin you’re in!

 

Do you have an area of your body that you wish were different? In what ways may others actually envy it? Trust me, someone probably does. The grass always seems greener.


 

Embracing the Plot Twists in Life


If there’s one thing that life will teach you pretty quickly, it’s that change happens quite often—and sometimes quite fast.

These changes can occur in your location, in your relationship status, in your friendships, in your family, in your career, and even in your heart. Some of them are planned, and others happen unexpectedly. Some are welcomed, and others feel more like punches to your gut that took you completely by surprise.

When I was going through a really difficult season of life (partly thanks to a fella breaking my heart), one of my sweet friends sent me inspirational quotes and funny memes every so often. She sent me one that I’m sure many of you have seen before that said “When something goes wrong in life, just yell ‘PLOT TWIST!’ and move on.” I love that, because it’s a reminder not to dwell on the tough changes that we face in life but to accept that they are happening and to keep living.

I studied journalism in college and dreamed of being a sports reporter and an eventual anchor on SportsCenter. I grew up admiring Linda Cohn and figured that I would follow in her remarkable sassy footsteps. When I graduated college, I got my first job as a sports reporter, and it wasn’t too long before I realized that it isn’t actually what I wanted to do with my life forever. I spent months trying to deny it—after all, I had big plans for my future—but it became far too apparent that I didn’t actually want to spend the rest of my life working in the media.

One day not too long after I started having those feelings, the president of the small news organization I was working for at the time informed us that we were going out of business, and I realized that my life was about to change more drastically than I had ever imagined. It was a tough change, but it was a change that needed to happen. And I’m forever grateful that it did.

I think that, just like changes in careers that we might not have seen coming, unanticipated changes in the heart are natural, too. Sometimes we want them to happen, and other times we try to resist those changes. I’d like to cue Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” right now. I would share some of the lyrics here, but I’d have to sell essentially all of my possessions and all of the paychecks for the rest of my existence to Disney first, so I’ll let you consult the Google on your own for that one. But this young woman is experiencing a change in her heart and a desire to find her own identity. It’s a change that needs to happen within her, and she begins to embrace it.

Just like we often need to embrace the changes that happen within us, as well.

You might start off in a career that you later realize is not right for you. You might lose your job. You might find out that you have to move, even after you’ve spent years forming friendships and building community that you love. You might invest deeply in a relationship only to be betrayed or realize that he’s not the person you’re supposed to end up with forever. You might experience so much change all at once in multiple aspects of life and not know what to do. And you might feel a stirring for change in your heart that you need to acknowledge and that you need to let happen.

If you’re not yet ready to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on, start by simply telling yourself that change happens, and you are strong enough to face whatever happens as a result. It won’t always be easy, and it’s OK to admit that you’re struggling with it. But don’t dwell in that state—let yourself be bold enough to stand up and turn those changes into new chapters that are integral parts of your story.

Don’t be afraid to let change happen in your life. Sometimes those changes you weren’t expecting end up being the most beautiful journeys that you’ll ever experience.

Rejection Doesn’t Make You a Reject


Unfortunately, we don’t get everything that we want in life—and this includes acceptance. There will be times when we will come across people with whom (and situations in which) we simply don’t belong.

Rejection is certainly not fun. I remember a day when I was in college and felt like I was one of the most unwanted people who ever set foot on campus. I had applied to be in a variety of different leadership organizations that were available to freshmen, and I thought the interviews for them had gone really well.

It turns out that I was pretty much the only one who thought that.

I’ll never forget when I went to check my mailbox on campus (yes, this was an actual thing with paper envelopes and all inside), and I opened four back-to-back-to-back-to-back rejection letters to the four organizations I so badly wanted to be a part of that year. I sat on a couch in the student center for a little bit and just stared at the words before me: “Thank you so much for your interest in [name of organization]. We regret to inform you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

What is wrong with me? Why don’t they want me?

Needless to say, it was a pretty rough day. I wish I could tell you that this was the end of my days of rejection, but that’s not the case. On more than one occasion, I’ve been on the wrong end of being rejected by guys I really liked. I’ve even gotten excuses from them such as “I have some chores to finish” (this was on a Friday night, and he was 27 years old—really, guy?), “I have to study” (this was for the following weekend and was made yet again by a grown man), and “I need to write thank-you emails” (don’t even get me started on that one). Again, I was left with those thoughts no girl or woman should have.

What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t he want me?

The truth is that nothing was wrong with me then, and nothing is wrong with me now. And nothing is wrong with those guys for not wanting to go out with me, either. There are places we’re not supposed to be and people we’re not supposed to be with—and that’s OK. We don’t get to have all of the desires of our hearts, and though it can be painful at times, we have to learn to trust that there are better plans for us ahead. Some things aren’t meant to happen in our lives because there are other opportunities waiting for us.

Rejection is a part of life, but how we respond to those rejections helps us to build character, become stronger, and be bold enough to keep pursuing our dreams.

Don’t let rejection make you think you’re not good enough. You are enough, sister. And don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from doing things you know in your heart that you need to do. Carpe the heck out of that diem, girl.

You’re worth of the risk of rejection, and you’re strong enough to endure whatever happens.

You Can Cheer for Yourself, Too


Life is filled with so much junk, and it becomes far too easy to get down about the situations you face and down on yourself, in general.

But what if you cheered for yourself, instead? What if, rather than getting upset with yourself and pointing out all of your flaws and what you’ve done wrong, you focus on saying things that motivate and inspire you? What if you let yourself feel encouraged instead of discouraged?

While I don’t think it’s necessary to go around tooting your own horn all of the time, I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing yourself to give yourself a little self-encouragement. Wouldn’t you offer some uplifting words to a friend who needed it? Guess what, girl? You need it, too.

I love running, and sometimes I put myself through some pretty tough workouts. I was recently pushing really hard in one of these workouts, and I was struggling. It hurt! But if I don’t push myself through those challenges in my workouts, how can I expect to on race day?

One tactic I’ve used for a while now and that I used on this particular day is saying things like “Come on, Nat! You can do this!” or “Suck it up, girl—it’s not that bad and is only a small portion of your life!” Believe it or not, I usually pick up my pace after those little pep talks.

Honestly, I wish I did this more often in every other area of my life. Why is it easier to encourage other people than it is to encourage ourselves?

Think about a time in your life—maybe it’s right now—when you’ve needed encouragement. You might have gotten some from friends or family members, but what if you had encouraged yourself? Try doing it more often. Even when things are going really well, there are still likely multiple instances in every single day when you could use some sort of pick-me-up or cheering on.

If you have time this week, write yourself a little “lunchbox note.” Take a few minutes in the morning, and write a note of encouragement for the day—the kind a mom or dad would put in a kid’s lunchbox—and put it somewhere you’ll see it later.

And when you face a tough situation, encourage yourself. Afraid to talk to that cute boy? Girl, you’ve got this! Nervous about your exam? [Your name here], you’re going to ace this! Anxious about an upcoming presentation? Honey, you’re about to dazzle and impress!

You deserve encouragement, and that includes encouragement from yourself. Be bold enough to believe that and to pursue confidence.

You’re worth the investment in yourself.

Different Types of Beauty and Impossible Standards

Mirror Selfie. Beauty.Ladies, take a moment to picture your celebrity crush. See him?

I bet if we polled all of our readers, most of you would have thought of someone different. Some may have pictured Chris Hemsworth, others may have pictured one of the other four Chrises (Pratt, Evans, and Pine), and others pictured a variety of other famous good-looking (or maybe not so objectively good-looking) men.

Oftentimes, we can get very stuck in our heads wishing we looked a certain way. We wish we had thicker hair, smaller pores, a tinier waist, taller legs, etc.

Sometimes we get it into our heads that there is a specific type of beauty standard we need to meet, and many times this can look like a specific celebrity.

Growing up, I loved Keira Knightley. I thought she was so beautiful in Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice. One day, while watching behind-the-scenes extras on the Pride and Prejudice DVD, I heard Keira mention how she always got in trouble on set for pouting. This was apparently just her natural state, but her character demanded a sunnier disposition.  

Well, since I thought Keira was gorgeous, and I hoped to look like her when I grew up, I began adopting this pouting habit. Years later, I realized that my now resting b**** face—as the kids call it—is purely a result of a young and more impressionable me creating a standard of beauty I hoped to meet.

I’d like to tell you that I grew out of these habits. I’d like to tell you that, by my college years, I had realized that just because Taylor Swift had bangs did not mean I should. Yet, here I am at 24, and I still consider bangs anytime I see a particularly good photo of Taylor with them.

When we set these standards of beauty for ourselves, we set ourselves up for disappointment every time we look in the mirror. No matter how much I pout, Keira Knightley will not look back at me in the mirror. No matter how I style my bangs, Taylor Swift will not look back at me.

But there’s a great realization to be had here. Just as we will never look like Keira or Taylor, they can’t ever look like each other, either. And why would they want to? They are both gorgeous women in their own way—just like you and me.

Just like we all have different celebrity crushes, there are so many ways to be beautiful.

Plus, those Chris Pratt fans don’t just love him for his looks, but for his humor. It’s not Keira’s pouting that makes her beautiful; it’s her feminine, thoughtful, and spirited personality that shines through her smile. It’s not Taylor’s bangs, but her sweet, genuine hopefulness that made the world fall in love with her so many years ago.

Next time you look in the mirror, instead of finding a way to be disappointed, remember that there are Chris Hemsworth crushes, and there are Chris Pratt crushes. There are Keira Knightley good looks, and there are Taylor Swift good looks. None of that takes away from the others’ beauty.

And nothing can take away from yours.



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.

Advice Even a Professional Public Speaker Needed: Accept Praise

Accept praise. Microphone with blurred out background.

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

Dana_Perino_at_CPAC_2016
Dana Perino at a speaking engagement. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tyler’s Boldheart Story — How Rape Led to Redemption

From when I was a young age, God was talked about and prayed to often in my home. But He was not the cornerstone of my family’s foundation. I grew up Catholic. Sunday after Sunday, I loved to gain knowledge about God when I attended mass with my dad. However, I did not gain the spiritual disciplines of walking in relationship with Him, nor did I hear or come to understand the heart of the Gospel until years later.

Meet Tyler, a beautiful boldheart!

This surface-level knowledge about God made it easy to slip into walking in the ways of the world instead of committing my life to Him. From eighth grade into high school, I found validation in flirting my way into popularity, dedicating my time to partying, consuming myself with perfectionism, and priding myself on my independence. This all changed the summer before my junior year of high school. The best way to describe how the Lord graciously sobered me from all of those false outlets of pursuing a “satisfying” life was that He flipped my heart, much like a pancake. After one night of partying, I woke up and heard the Lord call me to life with Him. He put in my heart to attend a nondenominational church that I went to once before in the eighth grade when a friend invited me to a service similar to the Porch (a worship night for men and women in their 20s and 30s at a church in Dallas) but for eighth graders.

Shortly after I started attending this church regularly, I heard the Gospel for the first time, and it fell softly on my heart. I accepted that I am a sinner, and I need Jesus. No matter how I might try to tally up my works to prove otherwise, it was about Jesus dying for my sins and receiving His gift of grace to redeem me from those sins. I was secure in eternal life with God and began experiencing true life and joy by abiding in Him.

As I finished up high school, God was evidently clear in calling me to attend Texas Christian University for college. I spent three years at TCU, where I continued to walk and grow in my relationship with the Lord. I was then led out of state for the fall semester of my senior year to pursue a dream internship.

The day before my internship ended, I was raped by a coworker. I remember calling my best friend the next day to confide in her. Terrified to even verbalize the word “rape,” I vividly remember fighting through tears, and before I told her what happened, out came the words.

“Please still love me.”

I didn’t realize it then, but those words were absolutely reflective of the lies I immediately bought from the enemy: that I was unlovable, tainted beyond repair, marked with unredeemable shame, and forever shackled by what happened.

I was scared. I was confused. I did not see how what happened could be used by God. Plus, a huge way God showed me His protection through my wandering years of high school was by preserving my virginity, and here it was taken by abuse, which only led to more confusion. I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it. So I covered it up. I lied through my physical bruises and suppressed my emotional ones. I thought I couldn’t be loved by God because of the sin done against me, and I further believed that I was undeserving of God’s love because I responded to what happened by turning to sin as a way to cope.

I ventured back to TCU to wrap up my last semester of college, where I sought out alcohol as a means to escape reality. I jumped into a toxic relationship that I used as an excuse to Heisman my relationship with God. I shut down all feelings by slipping into a state of numbness, learning how to carry myself “well enough” without anyone recognizing that something was off.

It wasn’t until the Lord started knocking on my heart, rather loudly, that this stance of Heismaning God softened into falling to my knees. As I transitioned into adulthood and started work in Dallas, I was still pursuing everything this world had to offer as a distraction. I wasn’t ready to heal, but it was obvious that I no longer had a choice. The more I pursued the world, the more I found myself committing to my church and the Porch. I couldn’t help but finally have an open heart to hearing and seeing God’s pursuit of me through people, conversations, circumstances, church, community, and His word.

I had enough. I was tired of being haunted by what happened. I had no other option than to follow Him into a radical healing journey that would literally save my life and bring me to a place of experiencing God-given joy. Not only was I able to confess and be freed from the sin that had been done against me, but I was able to accept His gift of grace for the sin I pursued in coping with what happened.

Better yet, God has been gracious enough to reveal the purpose of how He is using my story for His glory and His Kingdom. Genesis 50:20 rings true—God does not just save a person; He saves a person to save people. The Lord has been gracious enough to open the doors for conversations and platforms to share my testimony so that I can, in turn, walk with other women who have similar stories.

I would not trade my story for anything, because it is marked with God’s grace, mercy, and overwhelming love that has only shown me more of who He is. And guess what? God has firmly refuted the lie I bought into that I couldn’t be loved by Him. I get to freely receive His unconditional and sacrificial love each and every day because He is a Healer, He is the Prince of Peace, the Ultimate Counselor, and a Mighty Protector.

Simply put, now I look back on my story and how God is actively using it, and all I see is love—His love for me, my love for Him, and the love He puts in me to love on His people.

 

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