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.

 

We All Have Our Own Struggles


The great Hannah Montana once sang a lyric that’s so simple yet so jam-packed with truth:
Nobody’s perfect.

We’re all flawed, and you’re likely never going to meet someone who has it completely together. Despite what Instagram might make you think, most people have at least a little bit of junk in their lives. Whether it’s personal struggles or things we’re facing in our relationships, we all have our own issues.

It’s easy to hear about another person’s strongholds in life and immediately become judgmental—after all, there’s no way that you would do that or be like that if you were in the other person’s shoes, right? You know what’s a little bit tougher but so much better, though? Loving that person in spite of his or her imperfections.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as imperfect as they come. I certainly don’t always say the right things, and I have a tendency to encourage others so much that it’s almost like I lose encouragement to feed to myself. Then I end up feeling like I’m not worth other people’s investments of time and energy and like I’m not good enough for certain people or roles in life.

I’ve been a lot better about overcoming this over the years, but these thoughts still creep back into my mindset every once in a while. You know what, though? All of those negative beliefs are lies that I shouldn’t be letting myself count as truths.

But they’re also further reminders that I have a lot of work to do on myself.

And we all do. One of the good things about being human is that we’re all completely different—which also means that we’re all completely capable of different things. We all have talents that aren’t exactly like those of our friends and family members. We can use those gifts in meaningful and impactful ways, especially when we realize how much more effective they are when we use them to help others.

One thing that we’re all absolutely capable of, though, is loving others. Regardless of their looks. Regardless of their social statuses. Regardless of their incomes. Regardless of their personalities. Regardless of their pasts. Regardless of their mistakes. Regardless of their inabilities.

And regardless of all of the things that we think make them unlovable.

Don’t be afraid of people’s faults. We all have them. Sure, some of them are bigger and sometimes scarier than others, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t extend love and grace.

There may be times when a toxic relationship causes us to have to walk away from a friendship or a love, but even then, we can pray and wish well for that person—even from a necessary distance.

We all want to be loved. Why not show that same love that you desire to others?

You Don’t Know What Others Are Going Through: Be Kind

Sad girl in hammock. You Don't Know What Others Are Going Through
*Sigh.* So, I really wanted to like the new Netflix movie
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. It looked so endearing and starred Barb from Stranger Things and the loveable guy from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. By all accounts, it should have been amazing, but about halfway through the film, I had to turn it off due to my rising anxiety levels, second-hand embarrassment, and pure horror that one of the scenes included a character being misled about whom he was kissing with his eyes shut. (Consent, guys. Consent.)

One of my initial issues with the movie was that the stereotypical mean popular girl was over-the-top cruel to her classmates—she was the type of cruel that had me thinking, “Did these screenwriters ever attend high school or just watch movies about it?”

Thankfully, the screenwriters did explain the character’s behavior with a fleshed-out background featuring a hectic home life and pressures from her mother to be perfect.

It’s an important lesson that, though it seems to be pounded in our heads incessantly in film and books, I tend to easily forget: You never know what others are going through.

I can be a am a judgmental person. I’m trying to be better, but more often than naught, I let my thoughts get away from me, so these next few paragraphs are as much for me as they are for anyone reading this.

Once again, you never know what someone else is going through. That person who cut you off on the freeway might be rushing home in the midst of a family emergency. That person at work who put you down in front of your boss might be dealing with job insecurity. Your friend who made a snide comment about your outfit might be feeling left out.

We should, of course, stand up for ourselves, but instead of responding in anger or defensiveness, take a moment to think about what the offender may have going on his or her life.

Sometimes things we take offense to may not even be intended to be taken as an insult.

I’ll never forget, one time in junior high, my friend pulled up her hooded jacket in a really cute way, and I said something like, “Aw! You look just like a little mouse peeking out of a hole!”

She got really upset, and our friends who witnessed it all asked me why I would say that.

While I looked like the biggest jerk in the world, I had only made that statement because my father had said it to me a few days earlier, and I had thought it was really sweet. When he said it, it had come off extremely endearing. Obviously, it had not come off that way when I repeated it.

And there’s the kicker: Not only should we be mindful of what offenders may be going through, but we should also be mindful of what anyone we are around may be going through. Something we say without thinking could be harmless to us but could scar the person we’re speaking to for life.

We’re all bound to make mistakes in this department, but be mindful, be caring, be understanding, and, above all, be quick to forgive.

God knows I’ve certainly cut off my fair share of people on the freeway, hurt people’s feelings, and just been a downright unpleasant human being.

The least I can do is extend the same grace that I hope others are giving me.

But What Do You Want?


When you’re in a relationship, whether it’s fairly new or one you’ve been in for a while, it’s easy to get caught up in what your significant other wants and forget about what
you want.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship—or if you’re in one currently—think about a time when you did something simply because it’s what your boyfriend wanted to do. More likely than not, you can come up with at least one example, and that makes perfect sense. Relationships involve compromising and also sucking it up sometimes and taking part in activities that you may have no desire to do (e.g., seeing a Star Wars movie when you absolutely hate Star Wars).

It becomes a problem, though, when you’re constantly the one having to sacrifice your wants and happiness to accommodate the other person.

If you reach a point in your relationship when you feel drained from consistently having to set your preferences to the side in order to make the other person happy, then it might be time to reconsider whether or not he is the right person for you. For me, I know that I want to be with someone who cares about me enough to want to experience my interests with me and who also wants to invite me along to his own hobbies and interests—someone who honors and respects me enough to acknowledge that relationships are about more than one person. He shouldn’t be constantly catering to what I want to do, and he shouldn’t expect me constantly to cater to what he wants to do.

It has to work both ways for the relationship actually to thrive.

This isn’t exclusive only to romantic relationships, though. It can certainly become the case in friendships, but there should still be that same general understanding. Friends should respect that, while they aren’t going to have every single thing in common with one another, they can still enjoy time together by sharing experiences and memories by partaking in each other’s hobbies and interests. My sister doesn’t like big crowds (like, at all), yet she’s come with me to multiple concerts and sporting events because she knows that I enjoy those things, and she enjoys spending time with me.

But compromises like that can’t be one-sided. I’ve gone places with her (like going to see a musical starring her middle school students on a Friday night), as well, because my sister is my favorite person, and I like sharing moments with her—even if those moments take me places that I might not have necessarily gone without her.

When you’re on your own, sure, it’s much simpler to do what you want when you want. I guess that’s one of the perks of being single. When you finally meet the person who makes your heart beat faster, though, you need to accept the fact that sometimes you will find yourself in situations and places you don’t necessarily want to be (I’m looking at you, State Fair). Just make sure that your choices aren’t always taking the back seat.

Because sometimes it’s OK to ask yourself a question that must be posed once in a while: “But what do I want?”

Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

As I write this, the Holy Fire in Southern California is blazing away not far from my parents’ backyard.

I hope, hope, hope, and pray that by the time this is published the fire is mostly contained or completely extinguished.

My heart breaks thinking about all of the wildlife being displaced, fighting for their lives. My heart breaks thinking about all of the people who have had to face the question of “What in my home can I not live without?”

My heart breaks for the people who have had to make the hard decision of what precious memories are to be left behind in homes they may not be able to return to. My heart breaks for the people who didn’t even have that option.

I cannot fathom how anybody could commit such an act that could cause so much pain. I cannot fathom how anybody could purposely cause such mayhem and destruction.

For those of you who have had to face tragedy, I cannot possibly know what you have gone through. You are far braver than I am.

We will all inevitably face some tragedy in our lives. We will all lose people we love. We will all go through hardships and trials.

In those times of darkness, it is so vital that we cling to the love in our lives. Think of those who give you purpose. Think of those who need you.

You could lose all of your possessions in a fire, but so long as you have loved ones and people to cling to, you’re going to be OK.

And, if you feel alone, I urge you to find a community to help you as you rebuild your life. Find it in a church or a support group. Find it through volunteer work.

It’s people who can bring us those first flutters of that “everything is going to be alright” feeling. In your darkest times, don’t hide. Don’t push people away. Cling to them. Let them in.

Don’t push hope away.

Just Friends: Don’t Lead People On

My Post (23)I write the following words with conviction, as it’s something I’ve done. It’s something most of us have done.

You’re young; you worry about feeling loved and attractive. Will anybody ever like me? you think. And then someone does—only it’s not whom you wanted.

You let him down easy, or maybe you avoid letting him know how you feel at all, while still remaining friends, texting, and hanging out.

You may not even realize you’re doing it, but you might be leading him on. You might have unconsciously created a safety net—a guy you can hang on to in case you eventually decide you like him back.

Don’t get me wrong, guys do this, too. This is not a cruelty exclusive to girls, but it’s important that we recognize that we have the power to hurt guys as much as they have the power to hurt us. Sometimes in the midst of emotions and heartaches, it’s easy to get so lost in your own feelings that you forget about others’.

When I was young, I made that mistake. I knew that a guy friend had feelings for me—or at least had at one time—and, yes, I had told him I liked someone else, but I still did not put up enough boundaries. Under the premise of being “close friends,” I essentially allowed us to create a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship emotionally. We texted constantly. We hung out all of the time. All while he watched me pine for other guys.

Obviously, he could have created distance if he needed to, but I still think I had a responsibility there.

Later, when I actually did start dating someone, I essentially had to “break up” with him, as that boyfriend did not appreciate the constant texting between myself and the friend. You know why? Because he recognized what I didn’t at the time. It was COMPLETELY unhealthy and inappropriate.

And you know what else? It made what once was a meaningful friendship feel weird and distant. Listen, somewhere there is most definitely a middle ground where guys and girls CAN be just friends. I’m not one to necessarily preach on what that looks like, but I can tell you that you’ll know when you may need to set up some boundaries to spare either his or your feelings.

Don’t get so lost in your own feelings that you forget to look out for someone else’s. While it’s important to guard your own heart and protect it from heartbreak, it’s just as important that you recognize when you can harm someone else’s heart.

Preserve your friendships. Preserve others’ hearts.

It’s what you yourself would want.

Friendships and Growing Up

Friendship. Two girls at the beach.When I was in high school, I had a really fantastic group of friends. I felt so safe and comfortable with them, and the knowledge that we would all go our separate ways for college was really hard for me to come to terms with. Everyone told me we would lose touch.

People grow apart, that’s true, but I don’t think it’s something that has to occur. Friendships (like relationships) require a lot of work and effort. If you acknowledge and understand that every single one of your friends will change—and if you decide to love all of them no matter what—those friendships can adapt without growing apart.

You will naturally change as time goes on, too. You will meet new people, and you’ll find different friends who better fit with the stage of life you’re in. But, there is something so special about having people in your life who you’ve grown up with and who knew you during vital milestones in your life.

My friends from high school have all gone different directions in their lives. Some are working full time, some are in graduate school, some are still figuring out what they want to do in their lives. Some are single, some are dating, some are married. Our lives are all at different stages. Because of that, things are very different, but I think we’re all pretty good at understanding that we can change and still care about one another.

We might not think the same things are funny anymore. We might not have the same views. We might not like the same movies anymore or enjoy our old favorite hang out spots. But still, we can come together and reminisce and share about our new lives.

Many more changes will come as the years go by, but no matter how much my dear friends change (and how much I change), I will choose to love them. Love, like friendship, is very much a choice.

As your friends change, choose to embrace them and enjoy getting to know who they are now. It may at first hurt if the changes seem to be going a different direction than your own life or the lives you guys dreamed of during younger days, but it’s so much better to understand and support their new goals—unless it’s something that can harm them (but more on that at a later time).

Friendship, like any relationship, is a two-way street. Even if you love your friend through change and growth, if your friend doesn’t make time for you, then, unfortunately, it may be time for you to move on. Still, keep in touch when possible, but utilize your time on others who have the same love and respect for you!

And remember, friendships need constant love to thrive! Are there any old friends you can reach out to today? You’ll be glad you did.

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