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.

 

Who Am I?

Today someone asked me who I am; he wanted me to describe myself so he could get to know me better, but I didn’t know what to say.

Who am I? Who is Hannah? How do I explain who I am to someone else in just a couple minutes? How can I distill and compress 22 years of life into a mere sound bite? Where do I begin? What parts are important and what do I leave out?

Maybe it was a rhetorical question but it really got me thinking: should I have something prepared and tucked away in the back of my mind for when I need to describe who I am to others?

But even deeper than that, am I truly who I describe myself to be? Does my perception of myself match who I am in reality? Maybe I think I’m better than I truly am in reality or maybe I underestimate myself.

Bottom line is, you can’t take what I say purely at face value. You have to get to know me to find out who I am. I can’t fully tell you who I am because inevitably there will be gaps in my narrative.

I will skim over a lot of things and boil my life down to a few main points: I will tell you about my family, my major, my class standing, my heritage, my immediate future plans, and a few of my best qualities. I will tell you that I love to laugh and have fun, I love people, and I love the Lord. The basics.

But I won’t tell you my bad habits, my weak points, my doubts, fears, or insecurities. I won’t tell you my struggles because I know when you ask who I am you want to hear the basics, the good stuff.

But as much as I wish I was just the good stuff, I know I am not.

I am also a girl with a temper, a girl whose words can hurt people, a girl with many fears, a girl who procrastinates too much, and a girl who may be too attached to food.

I’m the good and the not-so-good. That’s who I am. But you don’t learn all that from asking me the offhanded question “who is Hannah?” You learn that by spending time with me and over time the answer to that question will be revealed in a way more adequate than words alone.

So, who is Hannah? I’m not sure if I can properly answer that question, but stick around long enough and I guarantee you’ll figure it out.

She is, She isn’t

She isn’t the kind of girl who waits around for the guy.

She isn’t the kind of girl who changes her plans so she can be in the same place at the same time as her crush.

She isn’t the kind of girl who lets her feelings for a guy get in the way of her goals.

She isn’t the kind of girl who dumbs herself down so people don’t think she’s “too smart for her own good”.

She isn’t the kind of girl who pretends she can’t do anything for herself.

She isn’t the kind of girl who knows how to be cute and flirty.

She isn’t the kind of girl who has effortless poise and beauty.

She isn’t the kind of girl who turns heads on the sidewalk.

She just isn’t.

She’s the kind of girl who isn’t ashamed about her love for food. The girl who so enjoys the experience of eating and doesn’t mind that she often spills on herself.

She’s the kind of girl whose nails are never perfectly manicured because she is accustomed to doing hard work with her hands.

She’s the kind of girl who prefers tennis shoes over heels. The girl who surprises people when she puts on a dress or skirt on a regular day.

She’s the kind of girl with a loud voice and a boisterous laugh. Yes, sometimes she gets carried away, but that just means she enjoys life in the deepest way.

But,

She’s also the kind of girl who has big dreams and goals and she is running head first into her bright future.

She’s the kind of girl who embraces her intelligence but never uses it to make anyone else feel “less than”.

She’s the kind of girl who is fiercely independent but has also learned that sometimes it’s nice to be able to depend on a few good people in life.

She’s the kind of girl with a beautiful soul and a bright smile that draws people to her.

She’s the kind of girl who does everything she can to bring joy and laughter to people’s lives.

She’s the kind of girl who has worked hard to get where she is and knows she can do so much more.

She’s the kind of girl who has fought with self esteem and insecurity issues her whole life, but as she gets older she realizes more and more how amazing she is.

She’s the kind of girl who accepts all that she is and all that she isn’t and loves herself for it all.

She just is.

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.

We Need To Care

We pass people everyday and say “how are you” automatically, but we don’t care what they say

We just wait for them to say “I’m doing well” so we can continue on with our day

Then one day someone says “I’m not doing well”

And that catches us by surprise because truthfully most people aren’t doing well, but they never tell

See, people are afraid of saying how they really feel, they wouldn’t dare

Because in their minds they think that people don’t care

When did we become this shallow as a society?

Always looking for one answer and never any variety

We’re so content with superficial answers, never willing to dig deeper

Always afraid that someone will pull back and see us as a creeper

We just don’t understand

We don’t see that most people are crying out for a helping hand

We don’t understand that not every smile is real

Sometimes it’s easier to fake a smile than to show how you really feel

Most of the time we simply pretend to care

But when someone asks us for help we hesitate because we think it’s not our cross to bear

This is how we live our lives and we think it’s okay

But it’s not, we cannot simply wish others problems away

We need to go beyond hearing, we must focus on listening

And who knows, maybe this will be a powerful form of witnessing

People are broken and hurting; they have so much to share

And they are waiting for someone who will stop, listen, and genuinely care