Worry and Anxiety: You’re Not Alone

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I am a perpetual worrier. My anxiety about the mere possibility of bad things happening can be completely overwhelming to the point where I can lose sleep. Oftentimes, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone before bed because I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.

The thoughts are usually ridiculous. They typically trail into the what-ifs of losing people I love or those horrible awkward flashbacks we all have of some embarrassing moments from junior high or high school. The latter I can live with. It’s the first that haunts me.

I don’t know where these thoughts come from, but I’m sure there are others out there who suffer from the same worries.

The thing is, we waste so much time worrying that we ruin peaceful and joyful moments. While I’m laying in bed worrying, I’m missing the sounds of my puppy fast asleep making her little “woof” noises during the midst of a dream. I’m missing the fact that my husband lovingly has his arm around me.

We all have things we don’t want to lose, but if we worry too much about losing them, we’re missing the present.

I don’t have an answer for how to eradicate your anxieties completely. I find the best thing for me is to find something more pressing to think about or to pray. Prayer is really the only way I think we can completely overcome such intruding thoughts.

And it’s important to know that everyone has fears. Everyone worries. You’re not alone, and it’s OK to talk about it. Sometimes we need to.

So pray, be honest about what you’re feeling, and know that you’re not alone.

 

Don’t Put People on Pedestals

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I’ve had a tendency my entire life to put people—usually celebrities—on pedestals. Most notably, I did this with Taylor Swift as a teenager—and, to be honest, I still do. I still find myself making excuses or defending actions I probably wouldn’t agree with if it weren’t her doing it.

I tend to do this with people whom I see are standing out from the crowd and, in my opinion, are serving as positive role models. The problem is that I then hold these celebrities to standards they can’t possibly live up to, and then I’m disappointed when they let me down.

I found myself going down the same familiar path this weekend. My husband and I saw Twenty One Pilots perform last week, and we’ve been listening to them non-stop ever since. I’ve always liked their music, but outside of having their songs on my Spotify playlists and what friends who liked the band had shared, I didn’t know much about the band itself.

As I researched more about Twenty One Pilots, I found myself falling into my familiar traps. God forbid I found something I didn’t agree with or something I was uncertain about in their lyrics or in a quote from an interview with the band members.

I put these poor celebrities on pedestals that they cannot always stay on. I hold them to standards that they can’t possibly meet. They’re just people, and people make mistakes. People have different backstories and different ways of thinking.

I cannot expect an artist only to release songs that I relate to or that have messages I agree with. I cannot expect Taylor Swift never to change as a person and continue writing fairytale country songs. I cannot expect that Twenty One Pilots’ religious references in their works won’t include doubts or misgivings—shouldn’t we, instead, applaud them for being honest about something most Christians feel at one time or another?

I do this with the people in my life, too. My entire life, I’ve held myself to strict standards, and when other people fail to meet my standards, I can be judgmental. That’s not fair. That’s not right.

For one thing, I can’t even meet my own standards, so how can others? Human beings are flawed, and the more quickly we learn to love and embrace others even when they let us down, the less disappointment we have to live with in our lives.

I finally had to accept that Taylor Swift and I, while perhaps at one time similar, are living very different lives. I have to accept that sometimes my friends and I will not see eye to eye. I have to accept that things are not always—in fact, most likely are not—going to go the way I think they should.

And that’s actually quite great. Because I certainly do not have enough answers to be able to dictate how my life or the people in it should behave.

Don’t put people—celebrities or not—on pedestals. No one is perfect. No one will always meet your expectations.

Just love people.

Prioritizing the Important Things in Life

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As a perpetual people pleaser, I sometimes fall victim to prioritizing what other people need from me rather than the things I need to prioritize.

For example, Friday morning, it snowed here in Omaha—like really, really snowed. As a Southern Californian native, I’ve never in my life driven while it was snowing. I drove on snow when we first moved to Omaha at the tail end of winter last year, but never did I drive during a snowfall.

At first, the snow seemed harmless, magical even, as I began my morning commute into the office. As I continued on, though, I heard the local radio station reporting multiple crashes and repeatedly urging people to drive carefully.

The snow began to fall harder, and before I knew it, the roads were no longer clear, and the car in front of me was swerving back and forth. Soon after, I found my own car behaving the same. At one point, I couldn’t even stop in time for a red light. I made the decision to stop trying to brake and, instead, to quickly slide through it.

By the time I got to work, I was 10 minutes late and shaking. I was terrified of what just happened. I apologized to my coworker and my boss for being late and sat down at my desk. I wondered how my husband had done on his way to work. I texted him and didn’t hear anything back. I began to worry.

He finally called me, and for several seconds, I hesitated to answer. I was worried it would look bad to be late to work and then answer a personal call. Luckily, my common sense kicked in, and I took the call. He had made it safe but had spun out at one point and had multiple close calls.

Could you imagine if he had called me after he spun out? What if he had been stuck off the freeway and needed help, and I hadn’t answered because it would “look bad”?

My people-pleasing trait had gone too far this time. Yes, it’s important to be professional at work, but mine and my husband’s safety is far more important.

Work is a huge priority in my life, but if I were to write a list of my ideal priorities, it would look like this:

1. God
2. Nicholas and loved ones
3. Work

But I think, in reality, I can let it look like this:

1. Other people’s opinion/happiness with me
2. God
3. Nicholas and loved ones

Don’t let your list look like my second one. It breaks my heart that I hesitated to take my husband’s call when we had both experienced dangerous commutes to work, and he or our dog (whom he drops off at dog daycare on his commute) could have been in harm.

Make sure your priority list doesn’t get away from you. Life’s too short for that.

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.

Make Time for the Holidays: Be a Kid Again

I love Halloween. I have absolutely adored it ever since I was a child. I’m the type of person who begins picking out next year’s costume on November 1.

That said, I definitely struggled during those odd teen years around Halloween time. Was I supposed to go trick-or-treating? Was it OK to buy those Leg Avenue costumes if they didn’t look overly scandalous on my short 14-year-old frame? There were a lot of questions—and, honestly, that lasted up until last year for me at 23 years old when I finally decided to go all out on a costume for the first time in years.

I have a very kid-like mentality toward holidays. Holidays, in my opinion, are supposed to be fun. I’m talking plastic reindeer covering the yard, fake bunny footprints in the yard, kiddy Valentine’s Day cards, and holiday Spotify playlists. The older we get, the more complicated life seems to become, so I find it so odd that, on top of becoming complicated adults, we lose our childlike joy when it comes to holidays.

Your level of enthusiasm depends on your own personality, but don’t get so lost in the “I have to be cool” mentality or the “I’m just too busy” mindset that you forget to enjoy the holidays that you loved as a kid.

We grow up so fast. Slow down, and enjoy life. If you want to go trick-or-treating, grab some friends, or join a younger family member. If you want to dress up as an obscure character or reference but fear no one will know who you are, just do it. Dress up is dress up. You don’t need to be the 10th Wonder Woman at the Halloween party—and, that said, if you want to be Wonder Woman but fear too many others will have that costume, just go for it! Life is too short not to make such silly and fun decisions.

Last year, after years of living hours away from close family and friends, I threw a Halloween party from some of those friends. I bought decorations, made way too much food, and spent way too much on costumes my husband and I will probably never wear again. But I had a blast planning it, and I had a blast hosting it. It is one of my fondest memories of the last couple of years.

This year, my husband and I are once again far away from those friends and family. There’s really not anyone to dress up for. There are no parties for us to go to. But we’re going to make the most of it. We’ve planned and made costumes for ourselves and our dog. We’ve put up the Halloween decorations left from last year’s party, and we are for sure going have a blast handing out candy to kids while settling in for another year of watching Hocus Pocus and Hotel Transylvania (we aren’t really scary movie type of people).

If something means a lot to you, make sure that you make the most of it—even when it seems like there’s no point. If it will make you happy, just enjoy it. Don’t worry if it’s too childish or uncool.

Life is far too short not to enjoy one night of silly fun. Enjoy the excuse to be a kid again.




 

Sometimes You Have to Do Things on Your Own

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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.

 

10 Little Things to Do When You’re Sad

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We all have those days. We’ve messed up at school or work. We’re fighting with friends. We just feel low. In those moments, we need to take time to appreciate the small things. These little pieces of joy are not going to heal our hurts or fix our problems, but they can give us comfort and remind us that life isn’t so bad. Here are some of my favorite go-tos.


1. A bubble bath and a good book

If I start to feel “blah” or finally have free time after a stressful week, nothing beats a warm bubble bath and reading a good book. I, unfortunately, never seem to have bubble bath soap in the house, so I usually make do with body wash—it’s not quite the same, but it does the trick.

2. A favorite childhood movie

I’ve talked about this before in a similar post, but nothing quite comforts you as well as a favorite childhood film. It wraps around you like a hug from an old friend. Pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate, wrap yourself up in a fuzzy blanket, and let your problems fade away as the Disney theme starts to play.

3. Going for a walk

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. At the end of the workday, I’m always surprised at how good it feels to walk outside and feel the wind on my face. It also does wonders to clear your mind. If you need a new perspective or feel like you’re hitting a wall with a problem, go take a walk. See what you come up with when you come back. Sometimes your brain just needs a break or some inspiration.

4. Painting your nails

When I was a freshman in high school, this was my go-to “feel better” activity. I’d binge-watch Gilmore Girls episodes and change my nail color about once a week. My nail polish collection was never so bright and cheery as it was that year.

5. Prettying yourself up

Maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I start to get grumpy if I don’t feel good about my appearance—even if I’m just hanging out at home. For me, doing my makeup and hair is something I need to do to feel productive, and it’s an instant way to improve my mood. Plus, it’s nice to feel pampered, even if you have nowhere to be.

6. Working out

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t.” – Elle Woods

Enough said.

7. Practicing a favorite hobby

Playing guitar gives me a real peace. I don’t get to play often anymore, but it always makes me feel more relaxed. If you have a hobby you enjoy, take time to practice it—especially on days when you’re looking for something to cheer you up.

8. Talking to your mom

My mom is my go-to person to call on bad days. She always listens and offers wisdom on whatever problem I’m facing.

You don’t necessarily have to call your mom—it can be any family member or friend whom you’re close to. Sometimes we just need to vent or ask for advice. Talk to that person in your life. If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that, consider if there are any groups in your community that you could join. Everyone needs support. You can also reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram if you need ideas.

9. Writing letters to friends

The best way to forget your problems is to think about others. Think about what and whom you have to be thankful for in your life. Write some thank-you notes to them. These could to be a teacher, friends, family, or whomever you’d like. It’ll put the good and the bad of your life into perspective.

10. Having a good cry

There are those bad days when there is nothing left to do but cry. Let it out. Cry as much as you need. Everything always feels a little bit better after you’ve acknowledged your pain.

The Christian Dating Cliche: Guard Your Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




 

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.

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