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.

Sometimes Unfortunate Events Make Way for Better Ones

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This isn’t always true, but sometimes after time has passed, you’ll look back on something not so great that happened and see that it made way for something better to occur.

This can usually be seen with job losses, breakups, and even smaller day-to-day things, such as canceled plans.

That job loss is horrible at the time, but it may be the push you need to look for something better. A breakup may crush you, but it may be the only way you would have left a bad situation. Canceled plans may disappoint you, but they may make you available for something better or for a night in that you desperately need.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a little short on cash, and I really wanted to go to homecoming—it was our last one, afterall. Tickets got more and more expensive the closer it got to the dance, so during the early bird sale, I asked my friends if we were going to go, and everyone decided against it. I made it clear that I was not willing to pay full price later.

Well, the week before the dance, one of our friends ended up being nominated for homecoming court. Suddenly, just like that, everyone was going. Of course, that made complete sense; they had a new reason to attend the dance to support our friend.

I, however, felt hurt and betrayed. I probably could have asked my parents if I could still go, and knowing them, they would have gladly given me the extra cash for the more expensive ticket. But I was—and still am—stubborn. It was the point of the thing.

I was also going through a pretty rough semester. The guy I had liked the year previous—who had also been one of my best friends—was not really speaking to me. I felt ousted from the people who mattered most, and I was terrified of what the end of the year meant: graduation and college. I cried pretty much every day on the way home from school that year.

Not going to homecoming with my friends really hurt on top of everything else I was going through, but had everything gone my way, and had we all bought our tickets when they were cheap, I may not be married to my husband right now. Yep, that’s right! Had I gone to that dance, my husband and I may never have started dating.

You see, when everyone decided to go to the dance at the last minute, I decided to grab a few friends who I knew weren’t into school dances, and I invited them to go to a drive-in movie that homecoming night.

Even in California, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck at night in October requires jackets, hats, and blankets. It was cold!

And on that chilly night, my husband offered to share a blanket with me so that our friend who didn’t bring a blanket could take one of ours.

Had I gone to the dance, had everything worked out, my husband and I would have never shared that blanket, and I would never have started wondering if he liked me, which snowballed into us finally admitting feelings for one another a few months later.

It feels like the end of the world when our friends hurt our feelings or when we begin to feel left out and alone. You may not necessarily meet your future husband due to a friend hurting you, but take heart in knowing that things will get better. I’m a strong believer that things usually turn out how they should.

So when you’re in a particularly hard time, take a deep breath, and know that you might look back at things very differently once you’ve had time away from the situation.

And make the best of those unfortunate times. If you can’t go to homecoming, go see a movie. If you lost your job, enjoy the time off. If you’re facing a breakup, go do all of the things your ex didn’t like to do with you.

Sometimes things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

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.

 

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?

Trust Life’s Unexpected Turns

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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.

Falling for Someone You Shouldn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was constantly not measuring up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


 

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.



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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