How Do You Know When You’re a Grown-Up?

A couple weeks before the wedding, I was having dinner with my uncle (who officiated our wedding). He mentioned that one of his daughters/my cousins had asked him about what kinds of moments or milestones make you realize you’ve grown up or are older than you used to be. My uncle passed this question onto me, wondering if I had any response for it myself. In all honesty, I had no idea what to say.

You know how you expect the world to look different or something after you have a “major” birthday or have some kind of big life achievement? And then… it doesn’t? Do you think there’s really an objective, universal milestone that makes everyone actually feel like an adult? I haven’t have kids yet, so I can’t speak for everything, but so far big birthdays, graduation, and marriage doesn’t make me feel any different. However, I’ve been contemplating my cousin’s question since this conversation, and there are a couple things that I do think mark some level of maturity, whether or not they actually make us adults or make us feel grown-up.

Personally, I have to say that one of those things is realizing the good things in my life situation. It’s definitely taken me some time to realize just how much I have to be thankful for in my life. Things like my parents still being together, having graduated from high school and college, and not being in any kind of debt. I’ve definitely taken all of these things for granted at some point or another, and just in the past year have I gained the perspective of just how blessed I am to have all of them.

The next thing that I think is an important aspect of maturity is pretty simple: appreciating your parents’ affection for each other. If you still roll your eyes or act grossed-out when your parents kiss in front of you, you should probably consider a reality check. Do you know how many people in the world would be straight-up shocked if their parents acted loving towards each other? Be super happy, super proud, and super thankful if you have loving and supportive parents that are on each other’s team.

Another important perspective to have, I think, is realizing that it’s really not all about you. It’s not healthy if you take other people (family, parents, friends) and your relationships for granted, and sooner or later you’ll probably find that they’ll stop putting up with your selfish behavior. Every relationship takes compromise and give-and-take. You’ll have to bite your tongue sometimes, and learn how to be vulnerable, and you’ll have to make sure others are okay and do things for them because you love them (romantically or otherwise) even if it’s not fun and you don’t seem to get anything out of it. Some people are fortunate enough to be raised by parents who are good about teaching them this, but it’s sure gotta be rough for kids who have to figure this one out on their own.

One of the biggest marks of maturity/growing up, to me, is learning that everyone’s lives, purposes, and values are so different and widely varying that there’s no way to be “the popular girl” or any way to be better than anyone else in the real world. There’s a couple quotes I love that talk about this. The first one goes something like, “The way you treat other people says more about you than it does about them.” Seriously, this isn’t high school anymore (thank God, am I right?). If you’re rude and condescending to someone else, there’s no one giggling about it with you – you’re just an awful person. And that’s all there is to it. The other favorite quote is, “In this life, people will love you and people will hate you, and none of that will have anything to do with you.

Along the same lines, I’m going to add the realization that the opinions of others do not affect who you are. This one was a hard one for me to learn, that I don’t have to live to please anyone else. In real life, you have to know who you want to be and how you want to live, and have the self-awareness to know when you are measuring up to being that person. Know that this is all that matters (within reason – basically, as long as you don’t, like, enjoy treating other people badly or other measures that actually do make you a bad person). If someone else thinks you’re shallow or unintelligent because you post selfies (which, let’s face it, is stupid – I basically don’t trust you if you don’t post selfies), or if someone thinks you’re a bad person because a skirt you totally dig is shorter than what they’d wear themselves, or they assume anything negative about you because of anything you like, the problem is them. You’re enough for yourself. Why even bother letting other people have any kind of power over how you feel about yourself? You rock.

And that leads me to another important aspect of being a grown-up: it’s time to stop thinking it’s important to try to make anyone else feel bad about something they like. And along the same lines, stop thinking that you’re better than anyone else because you don’t like something they do. I know people who make me feel like I can’t even open up about things I like in conversations with them because they immediately shoot down anything I say or act like they’re too cool for whatever it is. Being friends (or even friendly) with some one else doesn’t require agreeing that some band is the best thing to ever happen to planet Earth or agreeing that something (or someone) else is stupid. For example, I got a lot of crap on Facebook for mentioning in a discussion that I didn’t care for the music in Frozen (a couple people even told me they weren’t sure they could still be friends with me. They were ultimately joking, of course, but why try to make me feel like I have to defend my tastes or preferences to you? I don’t have to explain myself or the things I like to anyone else, and neither do you). It’s taken me a long time to come to a place where I can respond to someone telling me, “OMG you do/don’t like this or that?? I don’t even understand,” with a simple, “That’s fine.” And I’m proud that I can.

In all honesty, I wasn’t 100% sure what kinds of things I would end up talking about when I began this post, but ultimately it looks like I believe that being an adult/mature means being humble, grateful, considerate, and completely owning yourself. 

What kind of things make you know that you’re more grown-up than you used to be? Are any of those things bigger than “well, now I have to pay taxes,” or “now, I have an extra mouth to feed”?

so, sooo true.  and it may not even be YOU, it may be what they THINK is you

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Wandering Israelites and Faltering Faith

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First of all, Happy Easter, everyone!

Secondly, I know you must all be shocked that I’m actually writing a post that isn’t a ho hum Wednesday Things article, but I just had some Easter-appropriate questions I’d love to discuss with others.

Last night, my mom and I watched the season finale of Parenthood while putting together centerpieces for the wedding. After that was over and we still had some work to do, she bounced around channels and saw that the Ten Commandments was playing. She sentimentally turned to that and let it play quietly while we talked and finished up. The scene played where Moses is up on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments and the Israelites down below just got discouraged and bored and made a cow statue out of gold and partied. And because of that they were then forced to wander in the dessert for 40 years until every person in that whole generation had died.

I feel like, in my experience, in every Sunday school lesson or sermon, etc., that I’ve heard about the multiple falterings of the Israelites’ faith, and it always feels hyperbolic and downplayed and really absurd. To me, people doubting the Lord is a very serious and real issue, and anytime I’ve heard these stories I’ve only ever been told “All of these people were struggling in their faith and had questions and doubts, so they made a gold cow to dance around.” And maybe it’s just me, but especially in the Ten Commandments, I thought that the enthusiasm and behavior depicted in this part felt really unrelatable and made everyone look like morons. They had to have had more logic and reason than that, right? Was it just that they had been so immersed in the culture and religion of the Egyptians and, once they started wondering what they had gotten themselves into, they turned back to that culture they were so comfortable with before for comfort? I don’t know.

I’d be very interested in some sort of bible study which talks about these instances of faltering faith with a perspective that these were real people with real doubts and real questions and real struggles with their faith. I grew up in a church that heavily criticized any questions regarding God or faith, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the case that other churches actually discussed my questions, and that the church I grew up in just tried to skim over that to make it sound just plain stupid or pointless to have any kinds of doubts or questions yourself.

Honestly, I think the healthiest thing you can do in general is let people ask questions, and especially when it comes to such personal topics as religion and spirituality. I also can’t help but wonder, from my limited knowledge about the Old Testament, who the heck wouldn’t have questions after things happening like, “oh, Moses got frustrated and hit a rock with his walking stick and now he’s not allowed to go into the Promise Land he had done so much to lead his people to;” or “Oh, because our parents made a gold cow statue and partied hard, they had to wander until every last one of them died and now we have to care about and find this ‘Promise Land?'” or “Uh, didn’t this God just kill immense numbers of the Egyptians’ and our babies and children like, a week ago?” Seriously, the Old Testament has some intense, heavy, and even bizarre things and I feel like so much meaning and truth and context behind a lot of it gets completely lost or skimmed over. I know there’s a significant amount of things we lose out on understanding due to translation issues and culture differences, but I feel like that shouldn’t be an excuse to not question things or try to understand instead of saying “God said so” or “Just accept it – that’s faith.”

I know too well that churches often avoid talking about doubtful questions and faltering faith, but they shouldn’t. I wish more of the Bible was taught in a way that made the stories and characters sound like actual people. I was shocked the first time I heard a message at a Bible camp about how Jesus sometimes got pissed off and had a sense of humor and cracked jokes and had his own struggles with his relationship with God. Until that point, I had always pictured him as a stoic, poetic, monotone dude who’s facial expressions probably didn’t change much and he probably never laughed or chilled out.

I don’t know. This is just what has been on my mind since watching Charleston Heston on the TV last night. And now, I get to go spend some quality family time with Luke’s side of the family! But I’d love to hear some discussion about what I just talked about by people who have more knowledge or perspective than I do — or even people with other/more questions.

 

January + February Goals

Look, I know I’m already week into February, but it has been pretty chaotic for me so far and that is why I’m late to post my goals for the month.

Reflecting back on January, not a whole lot particularly sticks out in my mind. Some bridal expos, lots of vendor interviews, bouncing between being really bored with school and being really overwhelmed with it. Our music for Chorale this semester is really hard but really wonderful.

Aside from my resolutions, I don’t think I ever really listed any specific goals for the month. A lot of my blogger friends do new goals each month, and look back at how they did the month before. Personally, I really like this system! It’s much better than only setting goals annually. It seems more manageable, applicable, and effective. Also, you can spend one month developing one habit, and then move on to another habit the next month. That being said, here are my goals for February!

  1. Ask for help more often. 
    This is going to be really important. My wedding is going to include a lot of personalization and DIY projects and such. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and even if I didn’t I would need a ton of help pulling a whole wedding together. Fortunately, I have a wonderful community of people supporting my family and we’re all going to orchestrate an amazing day. Even aside from the wedding things, I need to be okay asking for help more often when it comes to school projects, asking for time to sit and focus on schoolwork rather than having to entertain, asking for grace for when I slip up. This month, I really need to try and better understand that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.
  2. Practice flexibility
    Again, this is very much intended for all sorts of wedding ideas and concepts. However, it’s also important to practice this in my life in general. I’ve never been particularly spectacular at being flexible and taking time to think before reacting to news or a change. Also, money is tight, and practicing flexibility to adjust to more of penny-pinching will be really helpful.
  3. Make a habit of working out regularly and making healthier choices
    I feel like this is almost an obligatory inclusion in every list of goals. Also? I weighed myself for the first time in a long time and I definitely do not weigh what I thought I weighed – which is awesome on one hand because it’s exactly the motivation I needed to actually get back to my healthier and more active habits.
  4. Do a better job keeping up with school
    This one really doesn’t need any further explanation. I have a lot of assignments to get done every week, and I just have to do them.
  5. Really rest more
    I lay around and relax all the time, but I don’t spend enough time actually resting. I mean meditating, getting to sleep earlier, reading books, remembering to breathe – the beneficial relaxation. The kind of relaxation that isn’t continually watching just one more episode of Netflix in bed before actually going to sleep, or hitting the snooze until it’s the absolute latest I can get up and get ready for the day.
  6. Keep trying to be more gentle with myself
    Stop getting angry at myself easily, take breaks when I need to, remember to say no to things I can’t handle taking on right now, not holding myself to unrealistic goals consistently (like never letting my room get messy at all?), not beating myself up about silly little things, and trying to let myself better shrug off negativity.
  7. Learn to be my own hero
    This has been my mantra since one of my absolute favorite ladies said it on Twitter. Instead of always daydreaming about that girl I wish I were or dream of becoming one day, I’m working on realizing that I’m already completely who I who I want to be, and I just need to let that show more often. I already ran 3 miles in a blizzard this week – there’s nothing else I can’t do. I can make myself workout as much as I’d like. I can buckle down and get my schoolwork done. I can be kind to every person I meet. I can dress as nice as I’d like every day. I can plan a wedding. I can make friends. I can encourage others. I can already do everything I wish I could do.

Even though some of these goals are are kind of vague and aren’t “measurable” (for instance, losing X number of pounds, achieving a certain GPA, accomplishing a specific task), they’re all really important, and maintainable (or at least practicable). Every day is just a process to be better.

She believed.

Be Truthful, Gentle, and Fearless

The title of this post is a quote from Gandhi. It’s a quote I saw on Pinterest at some point not too long ago, and it instantly inspired me. As most quotes do, this left me feeling introspective about what exactly these words meant to me. My interpretation and meaning may not be the same as yours, but that’s fine. That’s how these things work.

Truthfulness, to me, has a lot to do with vulnerability. I’m not always good at that. Acting and theatre were a huge part of my childhood and growing up. It’s no coincidence that I am comfortable with using acting as a safety net. Throughout my life, I’ve made it through social situations and meeting new people and surviving group projects by being a person that I knew would do well in the situation at hand. This has always left me feeling disconnected and distant from a lot of people I’ve met in my life. I still pick up on times that I’m doing it. It’s just this past year that I’ve really been feeling progress towards being myself regardless of what situations I find myself in. It’s made a big difference, and I’m really proud of myself for learning how to be truthful to myself. This may not have made much sense, but that’s okay.

Gentleness is often construed as an unhelpful quality, and we are told that we have to be tough to “make it” or that we need to pretend like nothing gets under our skin. Not caring has become regarded as being so  “cool” and nonchalant. Not caring has been praised, preached, and pretended. While there is certainly  something to be said about being resilient, I think there is an aversion or maybe even a stigma to caring too much about anything these days. In reality, what I really admire is people caring a whole darn lot. It’s brave. It’s inspiring. It’s passionate.

And, fearlessness? Where can that even fall into my normal life – I’m not a soldier or a missionary or a cutthroat journalist or a revolutionary.

I’m not used to thinking that fearlessness has ever really been a concept that I can play into my own life, especially not day-to-day. Sure, there may be plenty of things I’m scared of (disappointing people I love, intimidating professors, and the classic show-up-to-class-and-there’s-an-exam-I-knew-nothing-about nightmare), but what am I really fearful of? I think, at least at this point in my life, the things I really feel fearful about seem to be more abstract and unknown and undefined (maybe the abstract and unknown is scary itself).

My life is on the edge of, well, a lot. 2014 is one big, challenging, and momentous year for me. This year, I will be (somehow) making it through a semester with four 4-credit, writing-intensive courses; I will be graduating; I will be getting married (and planning the whole thing); I will be moving out of my parents’ place; I will be getting a new job (or two?); I will be apartment hunting in the fall for a second place for me to move to this year. The list can go on as long as I let it. There’s a lot that’s coming at me, whether I feel ready for it or not.

This past year, I’ve tried to become more open to being uncomfortable and being outside of my comfort zone. Looking at what I’ve been through in college, and the year ahead of me, I’m starting to think that life is just one big challenge of our comfort zones and limitations. In 2015, I’m sure there will be a whole slew of new decisions for me to make and things for me to adjust to. And the same in 2016. It’ll probably never end. Knowing this, accepting it, and standing up tall to face the challenge (even if I don’t “feel ready”) is what fearlessness means to me.

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Thoughts and Inspiration

Lately, I’ve had a few things get stuck in my head that I just want to write about, or even just share with someone – anyone. And what do I love more than a good list? So today, we’re putting the two together. (Also, I’ve missed my Wednesday Things for the last couple weeks from the holidays, so I’m just writing things out instead of saving it all for Wednesday).

  1. I’ve lost track of the link where I originally read it, but one of the more powerful (and effective) strategies to judge others less that I have ever come across is this: next time you find yourself starting to judge someone else based on their looks, imagine that person standing in front of you, looking you in the eyes, and saying “I’m beautiful.” Just like some say doing this to yourself makes your brain start to believe it, you will begin to start seeing it in others. 
  2. I just finished reading The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty for Bon’s monthly book club  (lovely gal! I love that she runs a book club through her blog!), and I didn’t really expect to love it when I started it. However, as things progress (especially into the last half of the book) I knew it had some amazing observations of and questions to ask human nature. At least to me, it did. 
  3. When my grandmother passed in October, the core strategy I’ve clung to is to drop all my self-criticism – about how I feel like grieving, about what I feel, and in general. I feel like, initially, I used this escape from my own self-judgement as an excuse to procrastinate, indulge, and overspend; but right now I feel as if this break has naturally come round to a state of mind where I feel genuinely motivated for self-development and self-improvement goals in contrast to the years I’ve spend trying to shame or guilt myself into “fixing” things about myself. I’ve got goals, plans, and a support system. I’m good to go.
  4. Speaking of self-improvement: thank goodness New Year’s started in the middle of the week, am I right? I got four or five days to flesh out my resolutions, set up my plans, and indulge in the last few treats (sweets, not going to the gym, not keeping my room clean, etc.) that I’m limiting a little more in this coming year, starting Monday. These last couple days have also been especially restful since the holidays really didn’t offer too much peace or time to relax. Thus is the life of a server. Now that the holidays are done, we’re in one of our slowest months for the restaurant industry, and even though the nights I do have to go in are slow, part of me feels that they are a nice reprieve from the crazy holiday shifts and hours I’ve worked this past month.
  5. One of my resolutions is to try and take the extra moment to do a little more for others. I find that, when one suspects someone else needs help or someone to talk to or encouragement, it’s so easy to assume some one else will be there for them, and so we aren’t. In reality, this often leads to no one being there for them. It’s another demonstration of the bystander effect.
  6. I know I mentioned this before, but I am absolutely loving audio books! Gone are the days where I have to sit still and read and feel like I may be giving up time to do something else more productive. I listen to books whenever I’m in the car. I drive a lot. In the last two months, I’ve gone through 7 books (that’s almost a book a week!), They make my frequent hour-long commutes go by so quickly, and I’m never scared of being too sleepy to drive home late, and I’m excited about seeing if I like using them while I work out. I’m currently using Audible, but I recently discovered that there’s an app call Overdrive that lets you select a local library, sign in with your library card, and download free audiobooks to your phone or computer (here’s one link for more information).
  7. Um, all I’ve been eating lately is Thai food and yellow curry? One of my resolutions is to start making it myself. Buying it daily is… expensive. Whomp whomp.
  8. I’m watching the series House of Cards on Netflix. I did not expect it to be my thing, but holy crap, do I find it exhilarating. It’s so different than anything else I usually watch, but the story and characters are amazing and at the end of every episode I always find myself wanting more. Let me know if you watch it so we can talk!
  9. For years and years, I’ve pictured “the girl I want to be.” Heck, I’ve even made lists and plans on my computer of how to become that girl. However, this year is about realizing I already am that girl. I’m already exactly who I want to be, but sometimes some bad habits of taking the easy route or worrying too much or losing perspective get in the way. This means that, instead of seeing some perfect goal I hopelessly aim to obtain, I tell myself I already have/am it, and I just have to to choose not to fall prey to an obstacle and stay true to me. Helllloooo perspective change!
  10. Another resolution/goal? ORGANIZATION. I want to go container- and label- and file-crazy this year. There’s no way being organized can hurt, and it does so much for my psyche knowing that I know exactly where to find things I need. Committing to making organization a habit now only strengthens my ability to continue on with it for the rest of my life.

All in all, I feel excited, positive, and confident for 2014. What are your resolutions? What are some thoughts that have been sticking in your mind lately? What are you excited about?

you go girl.

Holiday Catch-Up

I’ve been a busy, busy girl lately. Because it’s the holiday season, and particularly this week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my work knows no schools are in session so they just decided to schedule me just about every day until school does start again. I’m not happy with a lot of my work situation currently, for many reasons. Because my fiancee lives so far away from the restaurant I work at, I know I’ll have to leave once I get married; I thought that knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel would help make frustrations at work more bearable but, in actuality, it does the opposite. With only a couple months to go, I find myself thinking “what am I putting up with this for? Why don’t I just quit early?” Honestly, though, I have friends here. I’m looking forward to my last day to go get married and have people go out with me after work to say goodbye and such. One of my coworkers I was venting to suggests that I just leave now, and find someplace like Applebees to just fling burgers out for cash for a month or two until I get married. This is a perfectly valid plan, but I’m still torn because I love the people where I’m at. I’ll leave the settling for someplace like Applebees until after the wedding until I can find myself a big girl job that actually utilizes my degree or something.

Wedding planning feels a bit like working out right now. I took a break for a couple days from the routine I had been doing, which was just doing something productive and wedding-related everyday. Now that I took the break, it’s hard for me to get back into my routine. Especially because I have the big, fun parts done with and now it’s all details, specific schedules, and guest lists. It’s also hard for me to get time with my mom to sit and power through these things because she’s traveling to see family while I stay home and work, and when she’s home it feels like she and are only ever home at opposite times. Once school starts up and we get settled into routine again, I’m looking forward to having a mom date.

I know very well that I have a lot on my plate this semester. Besides work and wedding planning, I have 17 credits this next semester, and grad school applications to tackle. I’m trying to remind myself everyday not to get angry with myself over little things, and that my attitude is my choice and choosing to be happy makes all the difference. The time I have up until the wedding is going to teach me a lot and challenge me in lots of different ways. Time for my stress management training to actually come in handy!

Right now I’m just trying to catch up on basic tasks and write an essay for my grad school app, and pirating with my man in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag until I have to go to work. 

Falling Together

Here I am, sitting in a quiet living room, browsing Pinterest (because for real, though – my life is now all Pinterest. Shameless Pinterest), and I come across a photoset that I have seen before:

pictures to take before the ceremony without breaking tradition. so cute.

These are photos from grooms and brides having pictures taken together before the wedding, but without seeing eachother. I’ve known for a while that this is something I want for my own wedding, but then I pictured Luke and I in these photos. And here I am, sitting in a quiet living room, and maybe I kinda sorta started tearing up out of emotion and excitement for the first time about everything.

Oh, and do you guys remember this last post where I said I hoped the right choices (especially for venues) would be as clear as day and that I would fall in love with one that was somehow miraculously available on only one of the two dates we’ve been considering? IT HAPPENED. I am feeling so crazy and happy that it actually happened like that! The venue I’m looking at for my reception is one that I really loved when I was looking with my sister for her wedding in 2010. It was the first reception venue I called, and when I told the lady this, she promptly began offering education about things to look for, consider, and ask when it comes to shopping around for reception venues. This immediately made me excited and that I could trust this group of people. They’ve been consistently available to contact, promptly respond to my emails, and very helpful with getting everything to fit into my budget.

Other places I have toured have either been much too expensive, or the girls working with me just weren’t personable or made me feel awkward, or they were unenthusiastic about, well, my wedding (which feels really selfish to say, but for real – my wedding means their business, and being excited and enthusiastic for others is #1 for customer service and even just generally connecting with others).

This morning, I met with a reception venue that was all of the above. Feeling a little discouraged, I drove down the road to the church I am hoping to get married in. I was worried it would be too weird or awkwardly set up, but when I walked into the quiet and empty sanctuary, I just sighed. The room was big, but probably not too big; I know this church does great backdrops for the stage with fabric and lighting; although the carpet color isn’t part of my colors (navy, spring green, and white), it was a muted purple, which fits into the combination so well and was actually a color I had considered using. When I walked down the center aisle to the front of the stage to consider the stairs up to it, everything felt surreal. I felt as if I were a ghost bride, looking at the ghostly, empty seats of my ghost guests, and that all of this would be fleshed out, colorful, alive, and breathing in a few months. As I was leaving the building, I looked out a completely glass wall to a beautiful back yard of the church: a creek with a bridge, lots of trees, and even a gazebo. Perfect for taking pictures.

Is it weird that the carpeting is possibly the one thing about either venue that makes me feel super anxious? I want to say that this is because it is the only thing about venues you can’t change, but that isn’t true. There’s lots of other things about venues you can’t change. Maybe it’s because there’s so much that could be wrong with it – the pattern, color, texture, stains, etc. I don’t know. Weird neurosis, I guess.

I’m usually very good about tuning into my intuition and gut feelings about decisions, and I think that this skill is going to be absolutely key throughout my wedding planning process. Listening to my intuition, staying calm and breathing, and keeping an open mind. I’m so stupidly excited (obviously). I also have an appointment for my first time shopping for bridal gowns, and I’m unbelievably eager to spend time with my mom and my sister, and to just see what there is to see. Going in with no expectations or demands, I can keep my mind and options open, and my stress low.

The big things – the wheres – seem to be falling together. Once I can get a grasp on these big things, I feel that I have a foundation on which to lay each brick and detail. I know it’s within my control to make this process a harried and stressful experience, or a calm and fun experience. I have that control over my responses to the process.

And I choose to have an absolute ball while planning the biggest party of my life.