A Woman Who Cuts Her Hair…

A couple days ago I posted some pictures on social media to show off my new haircut. The caption of one of the pictures had this quote by Coco Chanel: “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” And from outward appearances the pictures showed me to be content and confident in my new look with short hair. But, today I’m here to tell you the truth. And the truth is I’ve actually been struggling to feel confident and beautiful ever since I got my hair cut.

So let’s start from the beginning. Why did I cut my hair? I cut my hair because I am making some big life changes right now and one of them involves moving overseas as a missionary for the next year. I cut my hair because I didn’t want the worry and stress of figuring out how to do it while also adjusting to a new place. I wanted something low maintenance. So I walked into the salon, sat down, and got my hair chopped off. IMG_4368.JPG

Now, I would love to say that I was immediately comfortable and confident in myself as soon as I walked out of the salon, but I was not. I figured I would struggle to get used to it, but I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of insecurity and self doubt that plagued me in the days after the haircut. I’ve always been insecure, but this haircut took that to a whole new level.

Society puts a lot of emphasis on women to look a certain way and having long hair is seen as desirable. So with that in mind I was worried about so many things: Do people think I look like a boy? Does this haircut look good on me? Will guys be into me now that I have short hair? Did I make a mistake? But the question that kept plaguing my mind was: Am I still beautiful without my hair? Because honestly, I felt ugly and masculine every time I would glance at myself in the mirror. I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me.

This self-doubt and anxiety about my hair lasted for a little over a week, until yesterday. Yesterday I had a complete meltdown and shed many tears on account of my worries about looking like a boy with short hair. But thank God for big sisters because she picked me back up and put all my doubts and fears to rest.

From that point on I knew I had a choice to make. I knew my hair wasn’t going to grow back overnight so I had to decide whether I would learn to love myself with short hair or continue to live with doubts and fears.

I chose to learn to love myself. And that’s what I’m working on right now. I’m slowly getting used to seeing the new me in the mirror and I am speaking to myself positively. All the compliments I’ve received from people are useless if I don’t see myself in a good light.

As time goes by I am realizing that I really do like my new look; the girl who cut my hair did an amazing job! It’s all so new and definitely takes some adjusting to, but the initial regrets from before have subsided. I’m proud of myself for taking more risks in life because that means I’m growing.

So to any other women struggling with their short hair, I will say this: It’s ok to not be ok for a while, but eventually we all have to make a choice and move forward. I hope you choose to work on seeing yourself in a positive light. I’m not completely there yet, but I’m working on it and every day it gets easier. Plus, the way you carry yourself really impacts how people perceive you (it’s not all about how you look). So I am choosing to walk with confidence; I may not have a lot right now, but I’ll fake it till I make it.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Before Haircut

img_4300-1.jpg

After Haircut

And I will continue to remind myself that with short hair I am still femininedesirable, and beautiful.

Can It Be Both?

This evening I posted a tweet that said “Friendship can either be a two way street or a dead end. You decide.” And I meant something very specific when I said this. Either friendship is a two way street with mutual appreciation, respect, communication, love, and everything else we think of with strong friendships or it is a dead end friendship which has no future and the only thing to do is cut it off and turn around.

Now when I posted this tweet I was thinking of friendship in a very black and white type of way. Like, it can be this or that and nothing else. But then a friend replied to my tweet and simply said “it can be both…” And as simple as those words were, they opened up new ideas in my head and sent my thoughts into a spiral.

And I realized, yes, friendships really can be both a two way street and a dead end. I really sat down and thought about how that would work and I’m not sure if this is what he meant, but this is what I got from that.

OK so look. I’m going to break it down.

Some two way streets seem to go on forever and those symbolize those strong friendships that last for a lifetime.

Then there are some streets that you can clearly tell from the beginning are dead ends and those are those friendships that end as quickly as they started. It just wasn’t meant to last from the start.

But there are also some streets that seem like they will last forever, but eventually end in a dead end. This can be representative of friendships that are productive for a while but eventually reach a dead end. Those friends who helped you grow and learn for a season in life but were not meant to last a lifetime. During that season of life it seems like the friendship will never end, but eventually you start to see the signs. The ones that say “Dead End Ahead”. And you start to realize it won’t last forever and you both slow down until you come to a complete stop. And that is the end.

Now with those type of friendships you have a few choices. You can ignore the sign and keep trying to move forward, at your own risk. You can stay at that dead end and lament, cry, wallow, and feel sorry about the lost friendship. Or you can appreciate the friendship for what it was, realize not everything is meant to last, turn around and seek new paths.

I would hope you choose to let go, turn around, and seek new paths. Because continuing down a dead end road can be dangerous. You put yourself in harms way when you ignore the sign and you may find yourself in situations you were never meant to be in.

If I’m being honest, I struggle to let go of friendships even when they reach the clear “dead end” point. When I reach a dead end in a friendship it hits me hard and I want to do anything I can to fix it. But from past experience I have seen how holding on to a dead friendship can be detrimental. It was very damaging to me as I tried to salvage something while the other person had moved on.

But if you need to sit at the dead end for a moment while you gather yourself, it’s ok. Eventually though, you will need to turn around and seek new paths.

Even with those dead end friendships, it is important to appreciate them for what they were. Appreciate the good times you had, the moments you shared, and the lessons you learned. Those friendships were beneficial to your journey even though you may not be able to see that for a while.

As they say: some people stick around forever, but some are only meant for a season in your life. And that is ok.

 

Please, Don’t Ignore the Signs

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you ignored the obvious negative signs right in front of your face? Yea, I have too.

Here’s the thing, sometimes we want something so badly that every little thing seems like a sign for why we should pursue it. Most times these situations have to do with whether or not to pursue someone you’re interested in or whether or not the person you like likes you back. And honestly in those situations, when you want someone bad enough, everything can seem like a sign if you look hard enough. And unfortunately in the process we tend to overlook all the obvious signs that tell us to back away or else we’ll get hurt.

For the past few weeks I’ve been looking for signs to show me how to proceed with a certain person in my life. And up until a week or so ago, I was so sure that all the signs pointed towards a happy ending for this story. But the problem is that I was willing to overlook a lot of negative traits and details about this person because I was convinced things were meant to progress and everything would somehow get fixed in the long run.

The problem is that I am a dreamer, I like to think of what could be and oftentimes I misinterpret the reality of the situation.

Unfortunately, these situations usually end with someone like me, a dreamer, getting hurt when he/she realizes that reality is not matching up with his/her fantasy. I’ve been there, several times, and it sucks. So this time I’m not going down that road again.

For all the dreamers out there, it’s not a bad thing to dream, but please don’t misconstrue reality just so you can have your imagined happy ending. Don’t ignore the signs that are right in front of your face. If you are constantly questioning a person or situation, that might be a sign that it’s time for you to move on. If things don’t feel quite right and you feel like you’re constantly letting things slide, then chances are this person is not the right fit for you.

I know sometimes we worry that we’ll never find someone better, but trust me, you deserve someone who will never make you question his/her devotion to you.

Don’t make a permanent decision based on what you think is true. Please respect yourself enough to wait for someone that you can trust beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait. And who knows, maybe what’s to come in the future will far exceed your wildest dreams. But you’ll never know if you don’t let go of that “someday-maybe-he/she-will-come-around” mentality.

I haven’t found the right fit for me yet, but I’ll know it when I see it. Because I won’t have to search for signs, everything will be clear, and for once my dreams will match my reality.

Surprise, The World Does Not Revolve Around Me

Yesterday I made a fool of myself…a lot. But after the initial embarrassment I realized something profound: nobody really cares. I mean seriously, nobody just stands there waiting for me to mess up…and if they do, then they probably need to find new hobbies.

See, my church went on a group outing to an amusement park yesterday and I will admit that I am not the most graceful person so I was somewhat afraid of making a fool of myself in front of all those people. So my sister and I went on the Lazy River ride where you sit in a tube and float around; it’s extremely relaxing. Well, it didn’t start out very relaxing for me because I couldn’t get on top of the tube like I wanted to. I tried to get on without making a fool of myself, but I couldn’t, so I stopped trying and decided to just hold on to the tube and float along. Well, that wasn’t very relaxing. After a while my sister told me to just try jumping on it, but I knew that probably wouldn’t end well. And it didn’t. I tried to jump on it, landed wrong, and ended up flipping over into the water. I was so embarrassed. But as I looked around me, everyone else was doing their own thing and they really didn’t care about what I was doing. After several failed attempts to get on the tube, I finally made it on and was able to fully enjoy the rest of my time.

You know what I realized? The people around me didn’t care about my failed attempts to get on my tube. If they did pay attention they just smiled or chuckled, but no one went out of their way to make me feel embarrassed.

After my experience yesterday I realized that much of what I do or don’t do depends on how I think others will perceive me. I don’t want people to think I’m weird or laugh at me, so I try to act as perfect as possible around others.

I realized that this goes deeper than just how I act in public, it also affects how I get ready when I am about to leave the house. I’ve always been afraid to wear comfortable clothes like leggings, workout gear, or baggy clothes outside because I don’t want people to view me as undesirable.

So whenever I leave the house I make sure I’m wearing something cute in case I bump into anyone. But, most times I end up dressing up for nothing and wishing I had just chosen to wear comfy clothes to run my errands.

Honestly, I think I look pretty darn cute in my chill clothes, but I just recently got comfortable enough to start wearing them outside.

And you know what I realized? For the most part, people really don’t care what I wear. Unless I am wearing something completely out of the ordinary they really don’t notice…and life goes on.

Life goes on when I don’t wear makeup on Sabbath to church. Life goes on when I go to the grocery store in workout pants and a tank top. Life goes on when I trip on the sidewalk on my way to class. Life goes on.

Somehow I’ve got the notion that I am so important that everyone watches me wherever I go…which is clearly a false notion. Not everyone around me is watching me, they usually have a billion other things occupying their minds.

I’ve come to realize that the sooner I stop caring about how others view me the happier I will be in life. I will be free to enjoy myself even if what I am doing makes me look weird or foolish. I will be free to enjoy life on my terms without anxiety about what others will think.

Look, the truth is I am a little weird and I’m clumsy and I’m awkward. But you know what? That’s ok, because I like me just the way I am.

Trust Me, It’s Ok to be Single

If you’re like me you always imagine that your future involves a house with a white picket fence, a spouse, and 2.5 kids. The American dream. From a young age I knew that some day I was going to fall in love and get married, I had no doubts about that. I knew God was going to bring the right person into my life at the right time, all I had to do was wait.

As the years went by I noticed all my friends getting in and out of multiple relationships and there I was, still single. In high school I always told myself that my time would come when I got to college. Well, I got to college…and still nothing. I started to think that there was something wrong with me, why wasn’t God blessing me with a serious relationship?

As I have had time to reflect, I pinpointed 4 problems with how I was approaching the situation.

1. I assumed that being single indicated that there is something wrong with me.

I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, tall enough, skinny enough…and the list could go on. I was always searching for ways to improve myself so I could be more desirable. To me, being single meant that I was flawed and undesirable. If I was desirable then someone would want to be with me, right? Wrong. Being single does not mean you are imperfect. I had to realize that I am perfect the way God made me and I am just waiting for God to bring the right person at the right time. In the mean time if I want to change anything about myself I will do it for myself and not for the attention of others.

2. I felt like I was entitled to Gods blessings.

I’ve always been somewhat of a “goody-two-shoes”, I’ve always done the right thing and I do my best to avoid trouble. Because of that, I assumed that I deserved to be blessed. I was treating my relationship with God like a business. So basically I live a life that is pleasing to Him and in turn He is obligated to bless me. I soon realized that God is not obligated to give me anything, He chooses to bless me out of the goodness of His heart. Nothing I do can appease God, He cannot be bribed. God does not have to give me a significant other just because I have done everything right. He will give me the desires of my heart when He sees the time is right and not a second before that.

3. I idolized the idea of being in a relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, being in a relationship is not a bad thing, but it is not the greatest achievement in the world either. I was too focused on a relationship because everyone around me always made a big deal out of it. It seemed to me that when you got in a relationship you had officially made it in life. Which is obviously not true, but that is what my young mind held as truth. Now, I have filled my life with so many other wonderful things that bring me joy and fulfillment. If God decides to bless me with a relationship it will fit into my life, but it will by no means consume my life.

4. I was seeking after a relationship with a man more than I was seeking after a relationship with God.

Over the years I have gotten so much advice, heard multiple seminars, and read many books and articles that are all targeted at single people. One of the things I have heard over and over again is that we should pray for our future spouse as we wait for God to bring them into our lives, which is good advice. But just the other night as I was praying for my future spouse and I was urgently petitioning God on behalf of my love life, a thought struck me. God said to me “You should be seeking after me as hard as you are seeking after your future spouse.” And after that moment everything changed for me. I felt so ashamed for asking God for human affection and then neglecting to seek after Him. So I changed my prayer, I now pray for a deeper relationship with God and I pray that He makes me content in knowing that I have Him by my side even if I don’t have a man.

So now as I look at my life I am not worried that I am single. I used to be scared of never finding the right person, I was scared that getting married was not in God’s plan for me. And maybe it isn’t, but even if I never get married I know that the relationship I am cultivating with God is more than enough. And maybe one day He will bless me with a spouse, but until then He continues to bless me beyond measure and He has filled my life with amazing friends and family, what more could I ask for?

Devotional Life

If anyone were to ask me to name what I value most in life, I guarantee one of my first answers would be “my relationship with God”. Yet, even though I say it’s important to me, I don’t act like it is. Truthfully, I struggle with consistency when it comes to doing my devotions.

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a rut, I feel like I’m not progressing with my life, and I feel like I’m not getting as much out of life as I should be. As I began to examine my life I realized that I’d never developed a consistent devotional life and because of that I’d never truly experienced God. But despite that realization I still didn’t know how to get out of the rut; I had become so complacent and comfortable with my mediocre life.

Then about two weeks ago I talked to a woman by the name of Heather Thompson Day, and she changed the way I thought of devotions and spending time with God. Here’s an idea of how our conversation went, of course this isn’t word-for-word:

Me: how do you keep a consistent devotional life?

Heather: I wake up at 5 am every morning and I spend at least 30 minutes doing my devotions.

Me: Why so early?

Heather: There are many places in the Bible where people speak of rising early to talk to God and even Jesus rose up early to spend time with God. God wants to be the very first one to spend time with us during the day because it’s so easy for us to get so busy during the day that we forget to spend time with Him. So, before the day begins it’s best use the first quiet moments of the day to commune with God.

Me: But why 5 am? That’s too early and extremely inconvenient.

Heather: That’s the problem these days, somehow these days people think spending time with God is all about what is convenient for them instead of what is convenient for God. We prioritize everything else in our day and then we schedule in time with God as if it is an afterthought. We try to make God fit our demands and our schedule instead of putting Him first and letting everything else fall into place around Him.

Me: So how do you even get up to 30 minutes of devotional time? I can barely do 5 minutes of devotions and even then I feel like I’ve done a lot.

Heather: I read 5 chapters of the Bible every morning. It’s so important that we read the Bible because much of what we believe in is found in the Bible, yet many of us have never read it. How then can we claim to be true Christians?

Me: How do you even know where to start when reading the Bible?

Heather: The Bible is one of the only books that people look at and wonder how to read it. When we pick up a novel we read it from beginning to end. The same goes for the Bible too, just pick it up and start reading from the beginning. There’s so much to learn from it, there are so many interesting stories in there, and when you read it from beginning to end you are able to see how certain stories fit together.

At the end of that conversation I walked away feeling empowered, I finally had the tools I needed to get myself out of the rut I was in. I decided that I would start waking up early like Heather and I would read 5 chapters of the Bible a day. There’s a powerful quote that says:

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

See, I’d never had a consistent devotional life and I’d never truly had a close relationship with God, so I was willing to endure the inconvenience of waking up at 5 am in order to cultivate my devotional life and my relationship with God.

And honestly, though not much time has passed since I started doing my devotions that way, I have started to feel a little different. I’ve started to notice a slight shift in my thoughts, in the way I act towards others, and even in my desires. I’ve realized that I think and speak about God more often than I did before. There’s been no big changes, but the small changes are just as important and will contribute to making a lasting change in the end.

This process is going to be different for everyone, it may not be 5 am for you, but you have to be willing to do something different to get out of the rut you’re in.

Let’s Be Real: Self Esteem

Ok, honesty time. I’m going to be 100% real with you.

I have finally come to a realization that I’ve tried to deny for far too long. I have low self esteem. I am just going to say it as plain and simple as that because it’s the truth. And the thing is, I’m sure many people have low self esteem as well but are too scared to say it out loud. So I’m going to be a voice for all those who are too afraid to admit this fact to themselves and others.

See, when I started this blogging journey I decided that I would be completely honest with people because someone out there needs to know that they are not alone. So if you have low self esteem, this post is for you. And if you don’t have low self esteem then that’s awesome, but maybe this post will help you better understand those who do.

I know many people won’t believe me when I say that I have low self esteem because everyone sees me laughing and smiling all the time. But don’t you know that sometimes the happiest people are the best fakers?

See, I can be with people all day long, but at the end of the day I feel lonely. Oftentimes I feel like my mannerisms and behaviors just bother people. And for the most part people have never given me a reason to feel this way, but for some reason I’ve come to view myself in this negative way.

I put myself down and I have a hard time accepting compliments. I care too much about what others think or say about me. I worry that what I do or say will come off wrong to other people and they’ll end up pulling away from me. I compare myself endlessly to other people and that causes me to put myself down. I focus too much on my negatives and never enough on my positives. I just don’t regard myself as highly as I should.

I am fully aware of my flaws.

Here’s the thing, I look at myself and I see all my rough edges. Yes, I also see the good in myself, but the things that stand out so clearly to me are my rough edges. So then I start to wonder what I need to change about myself to be a better person.

Honestly it’s hard to tell people this because everyone expects me to be happy-go-lucky all the time. Nobody wants to deal with someone else’s rough spots, we just expect everyone to be fine all the time. And when people open up about how they truly feel we brush it off and give some generic advice so that we can move past the deep moment.

But I’m not fine all the time. I doubt myself, I put myself down, and I worry that others will see me the way I see myself.

Here’s the good thing though, now that I’ve finally come to terms with that aspect of who I am, I can take steps to overcome it. And the process will be different for everyone.

Personally, I’ve realized that my self esteem issues have occurred because I lack a solid foundation in Christ. My whole life I’ve relied too much on other people to fulfill me, but I never fully relied on the One who created me. So that’s what I’m working on now, I’m working on building back a relationship with the One who knows everything about me and yet still loves me. Because once I have established myself firmly in Christ, the attacks on my self esteem from the devil won’t matter anymore. Yes, I’ll still struggle with negative thoughts every now and then, but they won’t overpower me anymore.

Everything in my life right now is in transition; I feel like I’m finally becoming the person I’m meant to be. So, I know that I can and will overcome these struggles in life because God is not finished with me yet.

My advice to anyone struggling with low self esteem is, if you are religious, then spend time cultivating a closer relationship with God, because he is the only one who can help you realize how valuable you are. In addition to that, you should cultivate friendships with people who actually care and are concerned about your wellbeing. I’ve come to realize that I would rather have a few good friends than many superficial friendships. Find people who have gone through or are going through what you are going through, because there is strength in numbers.

So yes, I’m still a happy person and I still love life, but I also struggle. However, one day I’ll be able to stop saying “I have low self esteem” and I’ll start saying “I had low self esteem, but here’s how I overcame that”