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.

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Before Haircut

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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.

 

What if I Choose to Love Myself?

For as long as I can remember, I have been in transition.

Working toward my goal weight. Working toward a certain clothing size. Working to break bad habits. Working to form better habits.

Working to be a better version of myself. Never satisfied with the current version.

Society often tells us that we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves unless we meet certain standards of perfection. So by default, anyone who doesn’t meet that standard should be profoundly unhappy and dissatisfied with life.

And that is why we are so shocked and taken aback when we see “imperfect” people speaking out about how they love themselves and are happy with who they are right now. We are so conditioned to work towards “perfection”,  so we can’t wrap our minds around the fact that someone can be truly happy in an “imperfect” state.

But, what if I choose to love myself? I mean, really just love myself for who I am at this moment, in my imperfect state.

What if I choose to love myself at this size? What if I choose to love myself enough to be content with the number on the scale? What if I choose to love every single curve on my body? Because yes, I am still not at my target weight, but I am proud of how far I’ve come.

What if I choose to love my hair every day, even when it doesn’t cooperate? What if I choose to love it right after I’ve washed it and it’s in short, tight ringlets around my head? What if I choose to love it when it’s not straight like everyone else’s?

What if I choose to love my bare face every single day? What if I choose to love my face even when I break out or get a huge pimple? What if I looked at my face every day and said “wow, I’m beautiful”?

What if I choose to love myself as a messy person? Because try as I might, I cannot keep my living space spotless 24-7. And even though I try my best to be neat and proper while I eat, I will inevitably spill or drop something on myself.

What if I choose to love myself with my less than perfect dancing skills? What if I stopped hiding on the sidelines and actually just let myself cut loose on the dance floor without caring about anyone watching me? Because as long as you’re confident people don’t really care what you do on the dance floor.

What if I choose to love myself as an emotionally empathetic person who feels everything deeply? What if I let more people see that side of me instead of continuing to keep people at arms length and acting like nothing can hurt me? Because there is strength in being a highly sensitive person and it’s ok to show others how much you care.

What if I choose to love myself as someone who sometimes gets attached to people too quickly? What if I saw that as a good thing instead of a weakness? Because, in a world that says it’s cool to be the one who cares less, it’s nice to stand out as someone who shows people that you value their place in your life.

What if I choose to love myself as someone who has various bad habits? What if I wasn’t so hard on myself all the time? Because I am human and I will mess up sometimes, but it’s not the end of the world when I do and it’s ok to cut myself some slack.

What if I realize that I am enough, I am whole, and I am worthy of love just the way I am right now, without any more improvements?

And, what if YOU choose to love yourself just the way you are? What if you look at yourself and choose to love the person you see? What if you take a break from your constant self improvement and decide to appreciate who you are at this moment?

How would that kind of love and acceptance of ourselves change the way we live our lives? How would such a blatant disregard for societal norms change the way we interact with ourselves as well as others?

To love oneself completely, at every point of life, is such a profoundly brave thing to do. It takes a lot of courage and determination to fight against the status quo of the world, but it’s so worth it.

So, while it’s ok to want to be better, I hope you will at least learn to love yourself now. Because you are already amazing.

 

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?

Why I Deleted My Snapchat App

Yesterday I was in Chicago and I did not post a single Snap story about it. I know; can you believe it? Honestly I felt the urge to post a Snap story at various times during the day while I was there but something kept stopping me. See, over the past few weeks I have noticed myself becoming increasingly distant from various forms of social media, especially Snapchat. This dissociation from social media might not seem like a big deal to you but it was to me because I used to be practically addicted to social media.

I am the person who has had almost every form of social media possible. I have a Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr…you name it and I probably have it. Up until a few weeks ago I used to be obsessed with all things social media. I do not know how I possibly kept up with all those accounts at one time, but somehow I found a way to stay active. Most recently I found myself consumed with Snapchat because that is one of the hottest trends in social media currently.

When I first got a Snapchat I thought it was such a great idea and I began using it rather frequently. I found myself adding dozens of people and subsequently spending much of my day keeping up with their Snap stories. I didn’t use my Snapchat to talk to a lot of people; I mainly used it to post stories of almost everything that I did during the day. I found myself pulling out my phone multiple times during the day to capture pictures and short videos to upload to my story; oftentimes completely missing the true sentiment of the moment because I was too preoccupied with recording it for all my friends to see.

Now, having distanced myself from Snapchat I have had time to reflect on the role it played in my life. I think about why it was so important for me to post about everything I did, every place I went, and every person I was with. In the past few weeks I became increasingly annoyed with myself every time I took my phone out to Snap something. I would ask myself, “Why do you want everyone to know everything about your life at all times?”

I came to the realization that one of the main reasons I posted was because I wanted people to see how interesting my life is. I would watch other people’s stories and sometimes I would get envious about how great their lives looked so I would post about my life so other people would be envious of me. I posted everything from family gatherings to “good morning” selfies; I displayed everything down to the minuscule details of my day. My life was an open book for all my friends to see and I never saw a problem with it.

It’s safe to say I was fully on the Snapchat bandwagon, but recently I began to question my dependency on Snapchat. I didn’t like that I would continually check the list of people who viewed my story to make sure everyone saw what I was up to; I didn’t like that I felt reliant on Snapchat to validate my “interesting” life. So I began wrestling over whether to delete my account cause I do use Snapchat to talk to some of my close friends. While I struggled with that decision I kept my account alive and occasionally posted stories.

Then this morning I woke up and knew I had to delete the app. I deleted the app but not my account because maybe in the future I’ll want to log back in, but for now I have denied myself access by deleting the app. This is a personal decision and I am by no means forcing anyone to delete Snapchat, I just don’t like how dependent I have become on social media.

I don’t like how the fear of someone posting me on their Snap story kept me from acting goofy or truly living and enjoying moments of life. I don’t like feeling attached to my phone at all times because I’m trying to capture the perfect Snap for my story. I don’t want everyone to have open access to my life at their fingertips. I’m just tired of feeling like I have to keep up with everything.

I’m tired of comparing myself to others based on the stories they post. Why am I comparing my entire day to the 120-second highlight of someone else’s day? People usually post the best parts of their day and so did I. Just like them I only posted the best parts of my day so others would think my life is so put together. We all know that nobody’s life is perfect but we continue to think others have a perfect life because of the sneak peeks they give us on Snapchat.

So yes, I deleted my Snapchat app and now I can focus on capturing and storing memories in my heart rather than capturing pictures and short videos that will be gone in a few hours.

Let’s Be Real: Worry

There was a song I used to sing when I was growing up and it said “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself”. I would sing that song all the time, but I suppose I never truly understood what I was singing, because here I am at 20 years old and I still worry about every little thing in life.

I will admit it, I am a worrier. I worry about small and big issues. I worry about vitally important and trivial matters. I worry about past, present, and future issues. I worry about almost everything. In fact I presume I am worried about something almost every day whether I realize it or not.

As I’ve been doing some soul searching about my struggle with worry, I pinpointed the main reasons behind why I worry so much. I worry because I am trying to do everything on my own and because I don’t trust God enough.

I try to do everything on my own, which means I leave no room for God to work in my life. Because of that I have brought so much unnecessary stress and worry into my life. I like feeling in control of my life and I am a very independent person so I have a hard time asking for help. Even though I have seen how incapable I am without God’s help, I still try to take control of everything in my life and I am constantly overwhelmed with trying to keep everything in my life afloat. It’s so funny how the more I try to push God away and take control of my life, the more out of control my life gets.

I also mentioned that I worry because I don’t trust God enough; though it’s not easy to admit, it’s the truth. Whenever I have something that is worrying me, I brood over it or even talk it over with a friend, and prayer is usually my last resort. Instead of trusting God to take care of my needs and problems, I let the worry eat away at my life. And even when I do pray about it, I have a hard time letting it go, I have a hard time surrendering the problems over to Him. I don’t trust Him enough to come through for me, even though past experience shows me that He always comes through.

After realizing the causes behind my excessive worrying, I realized that, like my other struggles, this comes down to my relationship with God. I try to do everything on my own because I don’t trust God enough and I don’t trust God enough because I don’t have a deep connection with Him. So, like my other struggles, I’ve realized that in order to fix my worrying problem I must first fix my relationship with God.

See, being close friends with someone usually means you trust them. So, if I don’t trust God enough then that means I don’t consider Him a close friend. How can I say I love God yet in the same breath admit I don’t trust Him?

True love cannot exist without trust, therefore if I truly love God then that should mean that I trust Him. And saying that I trust Him means that I trust Him with ALL my worries. All the small and big issues. All the vitally important and trivial matters. All the past, present, and future issue.

I can’t say I’m completely worry-free yet, but I’m working on it. Right now I have to keep reminding myself to leave everything in the hands of God. Though sometimes it feels like He isn’t listening, I know that He hears every prayer and He cares. When I pray I have to be willing to let go and let God work.

And when I do start to worry all I have to do is think of Proverbs 3:5-6 and I know everything will be ok:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

So, I’m working on this relationship with God. And as I grow deeper in my relationship with Him I know I will fall deeper in love with Him and I will learn to trust Him completely.

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.