Contagiously Beautiful

Scrolling through Instagram you pass by hundreds of pictures. Proms, graduations, summer vacations, perfect couples, flawless selfies, you name it, it’s there. At first it’s a harmless scroll, killing time while you wait for the next thing in your day. But then…. the “I wish..” downward spiral begins.

“I wish my hair looked as good as hers”

“I wish I had a boyfriend as good as hers, or even a boyfriend at all.”

“I wish I had a body that was summer ready all the time like her.”

“I wish….”

Whatever you “wish” you start comparing to your life, and not only comparing, but criticizing. Before you know it you’re harmless time killer is now a mood killer and an attitude bringer.

We all do this — maybe it’s not on Instagram and maybe it’s not as obvious but we do it. We’re human, we compare, we find flaws, and we hone in on those, forgetting how beautifully and wonderfully made we are.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but honestly, that’s only one side of beauty — it’s how we, as the beholder, see it. What if we changed the phrase to “beauty IS the eye of the beholder”. By taking out the “in” we change the phrase from us having our own opinions and excuses for what we call beautiful to a universal measurement for beauty.

Let’s face it, everyone has a different look, everyone is unique and there is no set standard for beauty. If you don’t believe me, ask a group of people who their celebrity crush is — you’ll find out right away who goes for the athletic look, the music/artsy look, the country boy look or whatever else they’re interested in. If we consistently judge beauty on the outward appearance we will forever and always be disappointed.

When beauty is in the eye of the beholder we still compare, we judge, we create our own version of what we feel is acceptable, and when people question us we throw the phrase back at them. When beauty is the eye of the beholder, suddenly it’s no longer how we think beauty looks, but rather our ability to find beauty in everyone and everything.

No more comparison. No more judgements. Just straight authentic beauty.

This lesson really hit home for me in the last few months. When the guy I was head over heels for dropped me like a dime for another girl who I believed was skinnier and prettier. Personally, I thought she was beautiful and I told him that, but in an effort to cheer myself up, I started the comparison game.

“She may be skinnier, but you’re more athletic”

“She’s a total party girl — he’ll have fun taking her home to mama…” 

“Her cheek bones are extremely noticeable…so weird”

On and on they went — until I realized it really wasn’t making me feel any better. If anything it was making me more upset because I started to feel I was better yet I still lost. I was tearing down another girl who I didn’t even know just to hopefully give myself a glimmer of confidence in the situation. Was tearing her down really going to make me feel better? No, not really. We may think it will, but all it does is keeps our mind dwelling on the situation. It keeps us self-focused which more often than not leads to self-destruction.

Maybe it’s just me, but do people really enjoy being around the “mean girl”, the girl who constantly is judging others and pointing out their flaws just to make her and her friends feel better? Cuz I sure don’t… I  would rather spend our time around the girl who finds beauty in everything. Instead of seeing a girl at the mall and judging her for her outfit, she compliments the girls hair. Instead of making a negative statement about a couples relationship, she points out how cute they look together (and genuinely means it).

You see, when we start to point out the beauty in others it starts to reflect back in ourselves. God created us in His image (Gen. 1:27) — therefore we are ALL created beautifully. Where our beauty shines through is not in how we physically compare to others, but rather in how we lift others up. Are we constantly pointing out the beauty we see God’s created? Or are we dwelling on the negative the devil’s brought to our attention?

When we find the beauty in others we start to genuinely see the beauty in ourselves. We stop comparing ourselves, we stop trying to measure up to anything, and we start to fully believe and understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). We have a healthy confidence in who God has made us, so we don’t have a desire to tear anyone else down in an attempt to make us feel better. We can give out genuine compliments without any back minded thoughts. We live life so joyfully and freely because we start to admire the uniqueness of each individual.

Honestly, this goes so much deeper than just admiring peoples outward appearances. Have you ever talked to someone who is truly passionate about something, I find people become so alive and absolutely beautiful when they start talking about their passion. My friends are beautiful because they love on kids all day as their teachers, they’re beautiful because they care so much about the heartbreak in this world, they’re beautiful because they’re unique and don’t need to fit in. They’re beautiful because our Creator made them that way — no extras needed.

So go be beautiful — see the world the way God created it, beautiful, unique, and full of life. Build others up, learn to love yourself, not for how you measure up to others but for how uniquely you you are, spread love and joy and you will become the most beautiful person. If you don’t believe me, just try it — for one week challenge yourself every single time you see someone, to notice something beautiful about them. Their heart for others, their contagious laugh, their unique clothing style, whatever it is notice it and mention it. After a week or two of doing this, it will become your natural instinct. No more noticing someones outfit and automatically comparing it to your own. No more pointing out someone else’s flaws in order to build yourself up. Instead, you’ll notice others for how beautiful they are, you’ll be filled with more joy, and you’ll have a whole new perspective on life.

Beauty is the eye of the beholder — see the world beautifully and I promise you will become contagiously beautiful.

A WingWoman’s Guide to Singleness

Every girl needs a good wing-woman, someone who can get along with the guys and introduce you to them. Someone who makes you look good and builds you up in a way no one else can. Over the years that’s been me. The girl who’s best buds with all the guys. The girl who never seemed to be able to get a guy, but got plenty of numbers to “give to my best friends.” And honestly it got quite annoying.

Unfortunately, it didn’t change in college or after college. My friends are all off getting married and I’m still as single as they come — surrounded by the guys interested in dating my friends and not me. The difference now, I’m actually ok with it.

You see, in high school and the beginning of college I constantly wanted to be the girl that people liked but didn’t know how. I kept trying to be who everyone said girls should be. I’d try to do makeup and fail — and I mean bright purple eyeshadow kinda fail. I’d try to dress up at school and got asked if I was a sub for the day because apparently I only knew how to dress professional and not cute. I felt out of place and didn’t know how to “fit in.”

Looking back now, I wonder why I tried so hard to fit in. I’m a “unique blend of everything” kinda girl. I love baseball probably a little too much. I wear heels one day and sweatpants the next. I’m the life of the party when I wanna be, but can curl up in the corner of the room with a book and be just fine. I’m more interested in building muscle than being a size 0. I love to sing and dance but get nervous to do so in front of people. I’m caring and compassionate yet firey when I’m upset. Really fancy dates freak me out and I normally don’t enjoy them at all. I can’t curl my own hair or do winged eyeliner to save my life, but that’s ok.

Know your worth

I’m everything listed and so much more, and over the years I’ve grown to be comfortable with it. To be real with you all, this past weekend I got sunburnt beyond belief, I literally was walking through the airport waddling like a duck. Then yesterday, two really cute guys came into my work and here I am chillin at my desk in a cute dress but my face is peeling like a snake — so attractive. But you know what, that’s who I am and that’s ok. I can laugh at myself and the misfortunate time to be sunburnt. I can own the awkward situations and use this time to build into myself.

Being single isn’t the end of the world. At times it feels like it, trust me I know. I make jokes to my friends all the time of how I’m destined to be the crazy cat lady all their kids call aunt Bri. But at the end of the day I’m thankful for this time and here’s why.

In the last year and a half as a mostly single girl I’ve been able to move to Richmond on my own, knowing no one, but making an amazing life here. I’ve been able to travel all over the U.S. with a national travel volleyball team. I’ve been able to learn more about myself through a rollercoaster relationship and the peace I find being out of it. I’ve been able to redefine what my dreams and aspirations are and make new goals on how to get there. I can go grab a drink with my guy friends, or go to a hockey game, or explore D.C., not worrying about what others may assume.

Paul single quote

You might think since I mentioned I had been in a relationship in the last year my notes on singleness no longer mean anything, and to be honest I can’t blame you, because I used to think that same way. But the relationship I was in was so not normal or healthy in any way that I actually prefer to be single than to be back in the mess of that relationship.

Being single isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing in and of itself. When else are you going to be able to make sporadic decisions knowing you can actually follow through on all of them? Or spend so much time building into yourself so that you are fully comfortable being yourself with yourself, not needing anyone else’s opinions to be ok? Or better yet, spend so much time pouring into other people because you aren’t funneling all your God-given love to one person?

So stop throwing yourself a pity-party because your Prince Charming hasn’t arrived yet. God has it all under control and for now, He’s asked you to be single or to be in whatever stage of life he’s asked you to be in. Just do yourself a favor, don’t settle. Know what you’re worth, know who you are, and find someone who treasures you for all of that and so much more. You are worth someone’s time so don’t tell yourself you’re not. If someone’s broken your heart or killed your confidence, don’t let them ruin you anymore. Pick yourself back up and realize you’re better off without them because at the end of the day you are.

Go be uniquely you. Be the girl with the loud laugh or the baking obsession. Own the quirky little traits that make you everything you are. Because some day someone is going to fall in love with the girl in a baseball cap who wasn’t afraid to love herself.

 

 

Social Media & Me

These days it seems like there are millions of articles about the effects of social media on today’s society. I’m no expert on the matter, in fact I really have no psychology background besides my freshman college gen ed requirement. BUT I can tell you, social media has had a profound effect on my life, and today I’m going to share it with you.

The picture on the left is of me at a fundraiser banquet. I took the picture and was hesitant to post it, because honestly I hate posting selfies, never been a fan and probably never will be. The picture on the right is of a favorite quote and reminder. I had absolutely no hesitation in posting the quote because it’s something I care about and is something I feel is great to spread. When I posted these two photos, my selfie got close to 175 likes on two social media platforms (which for me is A TON), my quote got a mere 25… so what does this show me? Who I am on the outside matters more to people than who I am on the inside. Now would we say that out loud? OF COURSE NOT! But inwardly we are professing it every time we value someones outward appearance over their inward ambition and beliefs.

Now you might think I’m crazy, and if so, congrats you’re one step closer to realizing we’re all a little crazy. But let me ask you something, how many of you have posted something on social media just for the likes or just to make it seem like your having the time of your life? When in reality you’re not happy, you’re tired or worn out. To be honest, I think we all have. I think we post so many selfies because we want to be seen as beautiful, we want to keep up with what society is telling us. But for what purpose. You got 150 likes on your selfie, so what? You got 15 likes on your post, what does it matter? At the end of the day you are you. And to quote Dr. Seuss:

Dr Seuss

If we are who we are — why do we worry so much about what others think. Why do we count the likes on the pictures. Why do we have to make it seem like we’re having a great time, when in reality we’re chillin’ at home watching baseball? Why do we make it seem like our relationships are going extremely well, when they’re falling apart at the seems? Don’t you get it — we all have struggles, we all have bad hair days, we all have doubts, but we’re all valuable, we all matter EXACTLY THE SAME to Christ. He isn’t going to welcome us into eternity based on the number of likes we have on a picture, based on the number of retweets we got, or based on the number of followers we have. He’s going to welcome us in based on our faith in Him and our belief in His sacrifice and saving grace.

Be yourself quote

So next time you get on social media, rejoice in your friends relationships instead of feeling left out that you don’t have one (and trust me I’m speaking as much to myself on this point as I am to anyone). Encourage your friends to post ABOUT themselves not OF themselves. Don’t feel like you need to post selfies constantly, let’s be real, your face hasn’t changed that much from last week or last month…. Use your social media to express who you are because only you are you! To be completely real, when I open someones social media and see a ton of selfies my first thought is not “oh gosh she’s beautiful or he’s hot” my first thought is usually “woah they’re kinda self centered.” Is that the mindset of everyone, no probably not, and I personally need to be better at not judging others. But let’s be real, when we post selfies are we thinking of other people or are we usually thinking of ourselves?

Challenge yourself to post about other people, books you like, quotes you live by, movies you saw, whatever it is that makes you unique and wholly you…. THEN, turn off the notifications. Seriously do it. I started this last week, turned off all notifications on all of my social media networks and let me tell you, it is the MOST REFRESHING thing I have done in a long long time. I don’t feel the need to get on it all the time. I don’t feel like I have to come up with these amazing posts that are going to make everyone love me. I just post, knowing that what I post is true to who I am. I’m more productive at work, more relaxed when hanging out with friends, and more confident in being truly myself.

Stop caring

Yes I still compare myself to others, and I think to an extent I always will, but it’s been so much better since I’ve found peace in just being myself. Every once in a while post a selfie, but use it to show us who you are — post it with a fun hat you found, with your new favorite workout shirt, or with the mountain you just climbed. Stop just posting to post, to try and prove to yourself that you’re beautiful because the truth is YOU ARE, but it’s not your face or your body that makes you that way. You might think you’re trying to prove to everyone else and not yourself, but a million selfies isn’t changing someone’s mind. It’s how you act and treat others that prove to others how beautiful you really are. This week I found the song Pretty by Lauren Alaina and it has become one of my favorite songs simply because IT’S SO TRUE! It proves the exact point I am trying to make and the point I hope you all take home with you today.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t an easy task. We’ve grown up in a society that glorifies social media but in the midst of it, we’ve stopped living. Go out and have fun with your friends and put the phone down. Enjoy the moment, make memories, have real conversations, be vulnerable, be yourself, and win your life back. Stop worrying about how everyone is going to perceive your adventures or your nights you’re staying inside. If you love to sit and read then sit and read, don’t make it seem like you’re out having a great time or feel bad that you aren’t. Be true to who you are, because the people who know you already love you for it. Please stop hurting yourself by letting everyone else be the judge of your self worth. You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are You — so let us see the real you, the true you, the baseball loving sweet tea drinking late night reading you, not the you you feel you have to be for society’s sake.

Choosing Joy. Everyday.

I’ve had a hard time recently thinking of what my next blog post should be about. My last two were so open and vulnerable, so to follow I felt I had to have something drastic to say. I’ve come to the realization though, that everyday lessons are just as important as those drastic AH-HA type moments.

Each day we are faced with millions of choices.

Can I hit the snooze one more time?

What outfit should I wear? 

Starbucks for the flavor, or WaWa for the price….

These choices may seem simple or mundane; choices we make without giving more than a couple seconds thought to it. But what about our attitude choice, do we consciously choose our attitude day by day, moment by moment? It may sound weird to think about, but humor me. When was the last time you consciously chose to be happy, even if the situation didn’t necessarily warrant it? If it’s been a while, then today’s post might be just for you.

One of my favorite new found quotes is by Henri J.M. Nouwen,

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

 

Choosing Joy

 

Joy is a choice we make EVERY DAY. There is ALWAYS something to be joyful about.

If you’re a real debby downer or are going through a difficult time in life you may disagree with me, but bear with me for a couple more minutes and I’ll prove to you why I think this is true.

John 15:9-14 states “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Christ has filled us with His joy if we follow his command to love one another. Our choice is to love others and as we go about our day loving others, Christ’s joy will be full in us. It’s why at Christmas we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” Because Jesus is our joy.

Now let me make a quick disclaimer, joy and happiness are NOT the same thing. Happiness is a feeling, joy is a state of being. Happiness is dictated by what happens to you. Joy is dictated by how you view yourself.

If you view yourself as a beautiful creation, made in the image of God, loved by God, saved by God, and given the ability to spend eternity with God, you will no doubt have the joy of the Lord in you. When you come to a full understanding of how precious God views you and how valuable you are in His sight, then there is reason for joy day after day. The Creator of the universe loves you unconditionally, despite our failure, despite our attitudes, despite anything and everything we do, God love us. That in and of itself is reason to have joy. Every. Single. Day.

Now let me be clear, this doesn’t mean we won’t have troubles or that days are going to be easy. It just means that in the midst of hardship, confusion, or desperation, we have a joy to cling to. When everything seems to be going wrong, we have the joy of the Lord to remind us in the end, everything will be right. And when everything is going right and life seems to be all rainbows and butterflies, we don’t have to worry about the rollercoaster of potential happenings, we can be secure in God’s joy, knowing whatever may happen our joy is complete in Him.

Joy quote.jpg

So how do we go about achieving this joy — by making a conscious choice EVERYDAY. By reading the Word of God and meditating on it, by filling our minds with the truth God has promised us. By loving others. When we’re selflessly loving and generously giving a joyful heart becomes natural. Seriously, have you ever seen a truly generous person with a bitter heart? Or witnessed someone who continually loved others have an ungrateful mentality? I sure haven’t. Because when you continually love and continually are authentically generous, you start to see yourself in a different light and start to see the materials you own and the time you have as mere tools instead of possessions you can’t let go.

If you’re failing to find joy everyday, try for one week to consciously change your mindset. If it’s a rainy day, thank God for the invention of umbrellas or the rain for the crops. If you don’t like the meal your mom made, find joy in the fact you have food on your table and a mom who prepared it for you. If you hate your job, be joyful you have one, find joy in the education you’ve earned to be able to apply for one, or consider it joy that we live in a country where you have the freedom to change jobs. Whatever it is you let steal your joy, try counteracting it. Try opening your mind to find the joy every day. And if all else fails, use this as a motivation to start memorizing God’s word, because I promise you, that will not disappoint.

Joy is a choice. So make it yours today.