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.

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.




 

Just Like We Shouldn’t Slut-Shame, We Shouldn’t Virgin-Shame


Listen, I wasn’t in the “cool” circles when I was in high school, and everyone’s experiences are different, but when I was in high school less than 10 years ago, slut-shaming didn’t seem to be a thing anymore.


Sure, even in my AP circles, there were rumors about if a couple had “taken it to the next level,” but I don’t think anyone was shamed for that—just gossiped about as a couple in a wistful or grossed-out tone. Again, everyone has different experiences, so if you were slut-shamed in high school (or ever), I’m truly sorry, and I don’t mean to belittle that.

When I was in school, though, and what I definitely see happening in society as a whole now, is a new trend that shames virgins. It seems like, as a society, we tend to shame whichever group is the minority. For a while, it was girls who slept around, and then as that became more common, now it’s virgins who are shamed.  

And, if anything, it’s not just girls that experience this, but it might even affect guys even more so. There seems to be some bizarre macho-man pressure on them that they have to be sexually active by a certain age, which is so sad because everyone is different. Not to mention different religions have much more conservative beliefs about such things.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who came off as more “worldly,” shall we say. I have no clue if she was actually sexually active, but boy did she like to make jokes and comments that insinuated that she knew about such things.

She must have picked up on my innocence because she liked to try to get me to admit that I knew what she was talking about. One time I joked as if I did get her reference (that actually went way over my head), and I regretted it horribly afterward. I just wanted her to leave me alone!

When I started dating a guy in our class, she made multiple comments that made me unbelievably uncomfortable. She also tended to have a tone that pitied my boyfriend because we were not physically wherever she thought we should be. She was shocked that we hadn’t kissed, and when our class was accidentally exposed to a naked Juliet’s chest during a viewing of Romeo and Juliet, she made jokes that it was something my boyfriend hadn’t seen in real life yet.

It was really hurtful, and as you can imagine, the comments did not help the relationship I was in. While the guy and I ended up breaking up for lots of reasons, at the time, I blamed her quite a bit.

I don’t know why she felt the need to be so invested in our relationship. Maybe she thought she was helping, but it was nosy, inappropriate, and just downright judgmental. I might not have agreed with her relationship choices, but I would never have criticized her or belittled her in front of anyone, let alone her boyfriend and an ENTIRE classroom full of people!

Regardless of the choices you make or how you feel about them, do not put people down for making decisions that are different than yours.

Virgins shouldn’t think they’re better than those who choose to be sexually active (after all, especially if you’re abstaining for religious reasons, we all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up). Sexually active folks shouldn’t look down on virgins or pressure them to change their views.

Be loving. Be kind. Stop shaming people for making different choices than you. Let’s stop finding a minority to attack and show love, grace, and kindness instead of being critical.








 

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.




 

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?

Find Your Courage, and Keep It

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I was never that girl who always had a boyfriend, and part of that is because I was never that girl who told guys how she felt.

I was the girl who held it all in but told her friends and posted hopelessly romantic Taylor Swift lyrics on Tumblr, hoping he would notice even though he was not on Tumblr. I put it out in the universe, OK? That should have been enough.

But it is, of course, not enough. If you go about your dating life this way, your crushes will at most only ever hear rumors or have suspicions that you like them. Or, even worst, your crush will be endlessly pestered by your friends—trust me, you do not want this.

Sure, if this were a rom-com (Did you all see To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before yet? It is a perfect film. PERFECT.), the boy in question would still make a move, but life isn’t quite a rom-com, and I don’t want you to live the way I did.

If you have feelings for someone, just tell him. Make your life easy. Why spend time pining over guys if they can just tell you upfront to move on? Why spend time pining if you could be together right now if his feelings are the same?

I know it’s scary. I know you don’t want to hurt. But, at a certain point, you have to make a decision either to move on or to make a move. Do not waste time sitting on the sidelines hoping someone will finally make the call to put you in the game.

I had one moment of bravery in high school. I was sitting in my last class for the day, and I suddenly decided that enough was enough. I knew the guy I liked had feelings for me, but he had done nothing about it. He hadn’t asked me out. He hadn’t confessed that he liked me. I felt like I was being strung along. and it was time to do something about it.

The bell rang, and I burst out of class, speed walking through the halls. I was going to find him. I was going to confess that I liked him. I was going to tell him that I knew he liked me and that he needed to do something about it, or I was done. I was out. Out!

Unfortunately, this one single moment of bravery was abruptly snuffed out. I ran into a friend in the hall, and as I speed walked past him, he knew something was up. He slow jogged along with me and pestered me about what my rush was. I confidently told him what I was about to do.

I don’t recall what he said that made me stop my crazed run through the hall—I’m sure just about anything would have worked since it took so much just to get my courage up to that point.

I sadly listened to my friend as he talked me out of my brave act, and I went on pining and moping for another few months. That friend was genuinely trying to look out for me, but that confrontation and confession was something I needed to do. It was something I would have been proud to do.

Ladies, take control of your lives. Yes, it’s scary when feelings are on the line, but how much better would it be if you could either have those feelings returned or get the answer you need to find someone who is a good fit for you?

Be brave.

And once you have that courage, don’t let anyone take it away from you.

Finding Your Sunshine: Tips to Improve Your Mood

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just get in a funk. You could be stressed about work or school or sad about a friend or family issue, or sometimes you don’t even know what’s wrong—you’re just not in a happy place.

Below are some tips that almost always improve my mood during those times.

The Three Day Rule: Health and Fitness

A lot of times I get in a funk because I start to feel bad about myself for not eating right and failing to exercise the way I want to. Sometimes it can be downright daunting to think about where you want to be fitness-goals-wise and how long it will take to get there—which can cause you to get in even more of a funk!

Luckily, I’ve found that all it really takes is three days to build back up your self-esteem. You don’t need to hit any goals; you just need three days straight of eating better and exercising the way you want. I guarantee you that just those three days will drastically improve your mood (probably from being healthier!) and build up your confidence. 

Get Out of the House

My husband and I are both introverted people, so sometimes we can spend a whole weekend just hanging out at home, and since I am not working right now, sometimes that means I don’t leave my house for a whole week at a time outside of grocery shopping or taking our dog, Cooper, to the vet.

I often won’t even realize how in a funk I am until I finally do get out of the house for a non-chore-related event and feel my mood improve. Make a point to get out and do at least one fun thing a week. You need it!

Do Something Productive

Ever heard the saying “messy room, messy mind?” It’s kind of true. If you’re feeling down, it may seem counterintuitive to force yourself to do chores, but when you’re done, you’ll feel so much better. It can be something small, like cleaning your room or organizing your closet. You could even do some virtual cleaning by cleaning up your computer desktop or organizing the apps on your phone.

Watch an Old Movie

Sometimes, if you’re feeling really down, the last thing you want to do is go out or be productive. If that’s the case, I recommend watching an old movie you loved from your childhood or a guilty pleasure. Watching childhood favorites brings back old feelings of comfort and safety, while guilty pleasures can just be pure fun to watch. Some of my favorite films to watch when I’m feeling sad are Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, and Something Borrowed.

Find Reasons to Be Thankful

Another way to bring some positivity back to your day is to take a moment to think of three things in your life for which you’re thankful. A lot of the times when we’re in bad moods, we just need perspective switches. You can read more about the benefits of gratefulness in our blog post on the topic. It might be the best mood booster on the list!

 

Facing Rejection Like a Champ

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I know it’s trashy, but I live for my weekly viewing of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or—the king of them all—Bachelor in Paradise.

Maybe it’s because I live a boring and drama-free life compared to the people who go on these shows, but sometimes after a stressful week, nothing can make you feel better about your own life than watching guys or girls (depending on whether it’s a bachelor or bachelorette time of year) lose their minds over a love interest they barely know.

I find the most common thought I have (or statement yelled at the TV) while viewing is “why are you crying? It’s OK!”

Especially early on in the seasons, it’s a little silly when contestants start crying when they aren’t chosen to continue on to the next week of dates.

The thing is, these contestants aren’t crying because they are brokenhearted over losing a chance with the bachelor or bachelorette; they’re crying because they’re facing rejection.

Rejection is a tricky emotion. It can manipulate you into thinking you care about something you really don’t. It can trick you into thinking you have feelings for someone you don’t.

This happened to me as a teen. I was not happy in a relationship, but once I was the one facing rejection, I did everything in my power to get the guy back because I thought those feelings of rejection were something that they weren’t.

Just because those feelings of sadness aren’t real feelings for a person or for something in your life (maybe it’s a job offer or not being included by a friend), that doesn’t mean those feelings of rejection don’t hurt. They hurt a lot! That’s why it’s all so confusing.

The pain is still very real and has to be dealt with. The key to accepting rejection in a healthier and less painful way is to change your perspective.

The reason people cry when they’re rejected on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is because they compare themselves to all of those other candidates who were chosen to continue on. They think they don’t stack up compared to them. Perhaps the girls are prettier or funnier. Perhaps the guys are more attractive or have more appealing careers.

This way of thinking is toxic and completely the wrong way to look at it—that’s why I end up yelling at the TV, “Why are you crying?!”

It’s not because I think they shouldn’t be sad; of course they should be. It’s extremely disappointing to be sent home, but they usually start spouting off a bunch of self-deprecating, pity-me comments about how they don’t understand what the remaining contestants have that they don’t.

That’s the thing—it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what those candidates might have that the person crying in the back seat of the limo doesn’t.

What should matter is that it wasn’t a love connection. Those remaining people just click a little better with whoever is handing out the roses that season. They are by no means better people than the ones being sent home (well, most of the time!); they just are better matches.

It’s the same with being rejected after a job interview. Whoever got the job isn’t better than you; that person just fits better with the position you both were vying for.

It doesn’t make the rejection sting less or make it any less disappointing, but it can keep you from losing your confidence or being too hard on yourself if you think of rejection as more of a two-way street.

Even if you are going through a time in your life when you feel like you’re facing rejection in the dating world, in your career, or amongst your friends or family, think of it as a saving grace.

Chances are that, if you’re being rejected from something, it probably isn’t a good fit, and that rejection is saving you from a possibly miserable situation dating someone you wouldn’t be happy with, working in a job you’d hate, or spending time with someone you maybe shouldn’t.

Rejection never means someone is better than you. We all have different flaws and strengths. Rejection just means someone may be a better fit than you for that particular situation.

It means you probably have something way better out there waiting for you. And isn’t that worth celebrating?

 

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