I Am Fierce

I have spent the majority of my life being the nice girl next door. I’ll smile, take one for the team, and try to avoid putting up a fuss. Conflict was the disease, and trying to please everyone was the cure.

But no more. I refuse to let myself be trampled on by people too unkind to care. I will not shut my mouth when people are rude, inappropriate, or otherwise morally wrong. I won’t be a smiling doormat. I won’t be a damsel in distress. I will not be made to feel inferior because I am emotional, because I have a sensitive heart, because I am young, because I am female. No. I am fierce. 

 

Advertisements

I Want To Be Beautiful

I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty recently, specifically my own. I’m not sure why. Well, actually I do. I have one school year left, and then I’ll be out on my own. I’ll be an adult. Yet, here I am, still looking like I’m 14 years old. I look back on selfies from two years ago, and they look exactly the same. Most people have these transformations, but they never happened for me.  Isn’t there a point where you stop looking like you’re 14?

I don’t want to hear, “Oh, you’ll appreciate it when you’re 30 years older!” I know I will, but I want to live my life right now. I’m trying to live in the moment, not just look forward to things years down the road. I do enough of that already.

It’s not just an annoyance anymore; no, I’m actually angry about it. I want to leave high school looking different from when I started. I want to look beautiful. I’m tired of “cute” and “adorable” being the only compliments I ever get on my appearance. Can’t I be beautiful? Why do I have to be just cute? I’m not even trying to look 30. I just want to look like I’m not fresh out of middle school. I just want to be able to ask for a guy’s number without looking like a little girl. I want to be taken seriously. 

Individualism & Tact

In my natural state, that is, in a familiar environment in which I feel safe and accepted, I consider myself to be a casual, companionable, slightly irreverent person. I’ll talk candidly about my feelings. I’ll make jokes. I’ll swear quite a bit and feel free to simply live life, and go along with the flow of things. This is how I wish I could live all the time, but that’s simply not possible. Life isn’t always about relaxing in one’s natural habitat. One has to get out there in the world and adapt to external demands. So, like a normally developed person, I’ve learned to regulate and change my behavior in a way that aligns with specific situations. For instance: I don’t wear pajama pants to church, I don’t swear around children, I don’t discuss or display my feelings in a professional environment (if I can help it). These are social customs that I try to abide by, because it’s the respectful and appropriate thing to do.

Learning to be appropriate while simultaneously maintaining one’s identity is a true balancing act, and leaning too far towards either side leads to trouble. If one lost who they were in an effort to conform and be socially appropriate, they would also lose the unique gifts they have to offer the environment they’re in and the people they’re with. However, if one completely disregarded all social customs in favor of being completely true to whims and personal expression, they would be inappropriate and tactless.

Becoming more socially appropriate and less individualistic, I believe, comes with getting older. As one continues aging, the struggle turns more towards trying not to lose oneself in every trivial folkway. Life swings like a pendulum, and all things are a matter of balance.

The Basis of Human Connection

Sometimes I see somebody in the hallway and I think, why does she have friends? I don’t mean it in a condescending way, although the way it is phrased definitely sounds cruel. I suppose the essence of what I’m asking is, what qualities does one have that attracts certain people and not others? What is the basis of human connection?

I have never been able to explain why I feel connected to some people and not others. It’s chemistry. It’s an unexplainable “click” (interestingly, pronounced the same as “clique,” which is along the same lines of human connection). True human bonds are not based upon appearance; rather, they are formed by emotional connection and the ever-elusive chemistry I wonder about. So, then, what’s actually in one’s personality? Humor, loyalty, maybe talent (though I have noticed that humor really opens the door to any kind of informal relationship).

Just as I wonder about that girl at school, I ask myself–inquisitively, not in a self-deprecating manner–why I have friends. What qualities do I have that are appealing? I’ll use my humor as one example. I’m funny, but isn’t everybody funny in their own way? There must be something about my humor that certain people are enthused by, and others aren’t. I’ve told the same joke to different people. Some laugh, some chuckle, some just stare. What is the basis of one’s taste in humor–environment, experience, possibly even biology?

I ask myself these questions, but the more I think, the less I really know.

Clear Perspective

I have always found it interesting how one situation can appear so radically different based solely on how it is described, or more accurately, perceived. Everybody sees the world in different ways, and every time we recount an event, it is colored by how we see things.

Some people see the world simply, for how it is. They don’t paint it with a sheen of poetry. Sadness is not the screaming of an anguished soul at nightfall; it’s just sadness, just an unhappy emotion. Happiness is not a euphoric splash of sunset hues against the canvas of an expectant heart; it’s just happiness. Things are what they are. As much as I enjoy having my own perspective, I admire these more practical people. In some ways, their eyes see more clearly, and their perspectives are more pure.

I might even venture to say that poetic brains are grossly overrated. They’re great for writing, but not so much for emotional health. Automatically seeing things through maudlin, song-tinted spectacles makes for a very volatile existence. One bit of melodrama leads to another, until the truth is completely distorted by subjective perception. It’s only a few steps away from full delusion.

When my lenses of life have become lacquered by fiction, I need to clean them with simplicity. When I say that my whole being has become consumed with frozen despair, sometimes I need to hear, “You’re only sad.”

 

I Am Me

Sometimes I still worry about what other people think of me. When I’m out on the neighborhood swing and I see people crossing the street, I feel a little self-conscious. If my hair doesn’t look great, or if my outfit is complete crap (which, with the effort I put into my attire, it probably is), I want to melt into the wall a little bit. Even the blog posts I publish make me a little insecure sometimes. What if people are unhappy with how many faith-related posts I’ve been writing? What if there are grammar errors in there? I, too, am a human. I worry about these things.

However, if I make a conscious effort, I can feel better. Who cares if people see me on the swing? They have better things to do than gawk at me. So what if I look horrible? Half the people at school are probably too tired to keep their eyes open long enough to judge me; or, more likely, they’re too busy watching the Snapchat stories of people they really don’t care about. And for crying out loud, who cares if people are unhappy with my blog posts? I don’t write to appeal to a crowd–at least, I try not to; it’s easy to get caught up in trying to captivate your audience. I want to write what I think and what I feel. What’s a blog if you lose yourself in the process of cultivating it, anyway?

I am me. I have always been me. I will remain me no matter what other people think.

Tips For Reading Your Bible More

I’m going to be completely blunt here: the Bible can be horrendously boring. I think that’s one of the biggest hurdles the common man has to face when trying to get into the Good Book. Also, life’s demands get in the way. When there are two projects due tomorrow, you can bet I’m not going to be sitting at my desk combing through Exodus. How, then, can a person read the Bible when it’s boring and there’s no time? Here are some things I’ve found have really helped me.

  • Have a desire to read. This is basically the fundamental. In order to read the Bible more, you have to want it at least a tiny bit. You can’t get anywhere if you don’t want to read. But, considering you’re reading this post, you probably have a desire. Even a faint intrigue matters! Coals can be fanned into flame.
  • Download the Bible app onto your phone. This is especially helpful for people who are pressed for time, or for the majority of people who don’t want to lug around a huge book. If you search for Bible on the app store, it’ll be there. The app icon looks like a brown Bible with a red bookmark sticking out the bottom. It’s totally free, and you can do so many things with it. You can highlight in an entire rainbow of colors, bookmark, and find plans that help guide you through reading. Delete Candy Crush for this. I promise it’ll be worth it.
  • Switch to a different translation. Many people associate the Bible with archaic, confusing language. This is mostly because they’re thinking of the KJV, or King James Version. Believe me, I wouldn’t be reading this much of the Bible if all I had was the KJV. Switch to a different translation! It’s the same Word of God, except phrased differently. I recommend the NLT (New Living Translation). It’s simple and clear. Oh, and if you download the Bible app, you can switch between dozens of translations with just a few taps. Download the app. 
  • Read in chronological order. I love books and stories, so I’m reading the Bible in chronological order. If you love imagining the past, I recommend doing this. You can visualize time, history, and customs progressing. It’s more motivation to keep on reading.
  • Choose the right book to read. I mean, there’s no right or wrong book to read, because it’s the Bible. What I mean is that when you’re starting off, you should pick a book of the Bible that piques your interest. Don’t force yourself to read through Numbers if you don’t feel like it.
  • Buy highlighters. I also have a hard copy of the Bible, because I prefer to read an actual book when I’m at home. I have a pouch of four, different-colored highlighters. Each one represents something different. If you assign a category for each color, you can look for verses that correspond with that category. If you’re lost, you can start with my categories: blue, which is for hope, is great to read in crises; pink, which is for love, reminds me of God’s love and instructions for how to love/care for others; green, which represents growth areas, helps me identify areas of my life I need to work on; and yellow, which is for relatable verses (woe is me) or things I strongly agree with. For a skeptic like me, I also have a black marker I use to underline verses I don’t agree with, or that are confusing.
  • Find a devotional. Devotionals have verses that correspond with the passage, so you can always look those up really quickly.
  • Read Proverbs. I am currently obsessed with Proverbs. It’s so much fun to annotate with my aforementioned highlighters, and there’s a lot to learn there. Even if you’re not a Christian, Proverbs has a ton of practical, common sense advice. (Don’t sleep with your neighbor’s spouse–yep, that’s in there. Pretty standard knowledge.)
  • Read a shorter book. In the New Testament, there are plenty of micro-books. 1, 2, and 3 John are pretty short. So, if books like Psalms overwhelm you, you can stick with the shorter ones. You can read those in less than 20 minutes.
  • Keep track of verses you like. Sometimes I’ll be reading, and I find a verse that really sticks out to me. I scribble it on a piece of paper on my desk. Then, weeks later, I look back through the verses I’ve identified and I read them again. It’s like opening a gift for the second time and being just as surprised. If you look hard enough, you’ll find something new to think about every time you read the Bible.
  • Pray. This should really be at the top of the list. If you’re having trouble finding the time or motivation to read, ask God. Believe me, you’re not alone. I’ve had to ask God to help me want to want to read the Bible.

I hope I’ve helped you some. If you have any other suggestions, or if you want more tips, feel free to drop a comment. 🙂

 

 

 

 

My Foothold

I was very distressed last night. I felt scared, sad, anxious, and guilty. It was late in the night and I was making my bed, but at some point I just stopped and cried on the floor. My life is becoming so stressful. I feel myself becoming more moody, and even my self-esteem has started to take a hit–the self-esteem I took so many years to cultivate. I’m fumbling for a foothold as I hang off the edge of a cliff. Completely chaotic and unsure of what to do, I went to my Bible and prayed.

In just two minutes, I started feeling a cool peace washing over me. It surrounded and flowed into the places where anxiety burned hot. Where weeds grew, God planted flowers. Where deserts lied, God poured lakes. Where clouds shrouded the sky, God beamed light. It was then that I was once again reminded that God is the only one who can bring this kind of peace. Nothing and nobody in this hurting world can sustain like the Lord; for he is eternal, and we are all just a moment. Trusting in moments will give back mere moments, but trusting in the eternal will give back eternal.

I brought my Bible into bed and slept with it by my side. I recognized its constancy, and I didn’t want to be a minute without it. I need this durable hope right now.

Practice What I Preach

I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to making a difference in people’s lives, being inspiring, and being kind. Every moment I can, I preach self-respect and self-acceptance. I always tell people to embrace failure, to forgive their mistakes in order to start fresh again. You’d think that the person who preaches these truths would practice them herself, but that is not always the case.

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. There is a marked split between what I tell others to do and what I do on my own. I could be ripping myself to shreds, emotionally, while smiling and telling somebody else to go easy on themselves. I don’t even think of it. My inner life and outer life are so separate that often, I don’t even connect them. When I’m on break from my activist duties (if one could even call me an activist), and I make a social faux pas, I will not just “go easy” on myself. When I’m alone at home, viewing my grades, I will become very angry if I see something I deem unsatisfactory.

I’ve always been aware of this–it’s rare that I’m not aware of an emotional state of mine-but I realized it once more the other day, when I saw something I’d written. On my bedroom wall, I have “take a deep breath” written in blue sharpie underneath my bunk bed. Originally, I wrote the phrase so I could post a picture on Instagram with an inspiring caption. But seeing it the other day, upset and panicky, I realized that I could take my own advice. The fact that I could do that hadn’t even dawned upon me. The split between what I do for others and what I do for myself is so prominent that I hadn’t thought to bridge the two.

I’m trying to build that bridge, because as of late, I have not been treating myself with the respect I deserve. Maybe I’ll read through my Instagram captions and, instead of thinking of them for solely for others, apply them to my own situation. I must remember that I can indeed take my own advice.

Why I’m Quitting Social Media

I’m someone you could call “plugged-in.” I’m active on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook on a daily basis. (I know, I know, call me a Millennial.) Social media, in many ways, has had a positive impact on my life. It keeps me up to date on slang, internet trends, and current events. I’m able to see how my friends are doing and peek at the accounts of guys I’m interested in. And if I meet a new friend somewhere, I’m able to keep in touch with them without the commitment of giving them my number. Despite all these benefits, though, I think social media has been negatively affecting me as of late.

I’ve simply become too emotionally attached to my accounts, specifically Twitter and Snapchat. Not the accounts themselves–I’m referring to the release they provide me. I need to talk about my feelings in order to feel healthy, and because of how accessible my social media is, I’ve been using those platforms as micro-diaries.

This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was using it purely to vent, but it isn’t that simple. By nature, I am an artfully passive-aggressive person. I find it difficult to come right out and say something. Things like “I need help” or “I’m upset with you” are foreign phrases to my mouth, but all-too-familiar to my heart. Thus, I have a long history of passive-aggressive behavior. Social media has not been helpful in my struggle to become more direct, and has done nothing but abet the dysfunctional ways in which I express myself.

Hopefully my departure will help me grow closer to God as well as improve my self-advocacy. If I’m upset, I want to pray it, not tweet it. If I’m concerned about something, I want to bring it to Jesus, not a couple hundred followers who don’t know me or even care. Not having the social media apps on my phone might even force me to read my Bible more.

I don’t expect this to be easy, but I feel that it’s necessary in order to become a better person. My life has started to fall into a rut. I’ve noticed my sense of peace and self-esteem take a dip. A step in the right direction is sorely needed, and that right direction, I believe, leads away from social media at this time.