Do You Like Me, Or The Idea Of Me?

Do You Like Me, Or The Idea Of Me?

Time to take off the masks, my dudes

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A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed my fall break at my grandparent's one-story brick house that has wooden panels for interior walls instead of paint. To get a break from the stuffy living room (and my boredom), I went shopping at the local Dollar General.

I picked up $30.00 worth in soup cans (for a canned food drive fast approaching) and candy for my brother. Although these were the only items I needed to purchase, I went to the Halloween aisle.

I'm a bit of an impulse shopper. I curb this habit by avoiding shopping unless absolutely necessary.

In the middle of the cat ears, face paint kits for wanna-be zombies, and fairy wands was this beautiful silver mask. It sparkled in the fluorescent store lighting. I have always enjoyed masks. Whenever I go into a costume shop, they are the items that draw my attention and fascination. I think I started liking masks because I loved the Hillary Duff when she played Cinderella, the Phantom of the Opera, and Wesley from the Princess Bride. They were all iconic movie characters who, you guessed it, wore masks.

I bought the bejeweled item because it was only $3.00. I bought it because whenever I have bought masks in the past and put them on (in the comfort of my room), the girl I see in the full-length mirror is mysterious, beautiful, and intriguing. I bought it, but I'm not sure if I should wear it. The masks I have always bought in the past have been itchy, obstruct my vision, or don't fit quite right.

Lately, I've been reflecting a lot on the question I chose for my title. "Do you like me, or the idea of me?" Do you like me, or the girl I present to you to see? Which one do I prefer for you to like and know? Another question is do I like Jesus, or do I like the idea of Jesus?

Let's delve into the Jesus part first. Jesus calls us to be perfect and holy like His Father. Jesus calls us to forgive endlessly, do charitable works (especially for orphans and widows), admonish evil-doers, and take up our cross and follow Him. He says that we are like sheep being led to slaughter, but take heart, because God is on our side. He says that this way of living is the best thing for us, but that it is anything but easy.

Jesus did not hide the difficulty of being like Him or following Him. Jesus did not hide His anger when people were disrespecting His Father's house - the holy temple. He did not hide His frustration when His disciples didn't understand Him. He also didn't hide His love for children and His immense ability to lay down His comfort to heal the sick, instruct the spiritually blind, and guide the faithful.

Jesus wasn't afraid of revealing Himself to others, but I am not always happy to do the same. I think this is because I am very aware that I am not as perfect as Jesus. There are things in my life I am not proud of. Here is my confession - I would rather you like the fake happy me, the me that doesn't mind that annoying thing you do, or the me that hasn't made a mistake than, you know, the real me. It's because I don't want to talk about when I'm feeling sad, don't want to have tough conversations with people, and I get insecure about my mistakes. Revelation: I'm human. I want to hide these things about myself.

But my dear friends, the antidote to fear is love. I am afraid to be me 100% all of the time, and love for myself and love other people give me will help cure this problem. Also, some honest self-reflection will help me avoid feeling the need to hide in the future.

I think we all struggle with wanting to hide ourselves. We all want to wear beautiful masks because they make us feel secure when we don't feel secure at all. These masks give us a false idea of control instead of allowing for love to transform our souls.

What I'm going to ask you to do is listen and be attentive to others this week. Ask more probing questions about their day. Listen to hear, not to respond. Carve out some face-to-face time for communication. Make it fun by going to dinner, or keep it chill by making food at home (food is vital in all relationships my friends!).

Let's start letting people see more of us than before, because honestly? We're all pretty awesome.

Much love,

Brooke

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An Open Letter To My Amazing Boyfriend On Our Two Year Anniversary

Here is to the past two years and the many to come! Our story!

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Dear Sam,

This is a little tribute to Sam and I's story, how we met, and some of the most amazing things that have happened over the past two years!

Two years ago today at the time of 10:25 am made April 25, 2017, the day that I would cherish and remember forever. My boyfriend and my best friend, Sam asked me to be his girlfriend after Spanish class, which was the class we had together. Sam was a senior in high school and I was just a junior, we had Spanish class together in the morning, every day.

But how did this all happen?

Where it all began, Sam and I had Spanish class together, we had never said a word to each other, I knew his name, saw that he was cute, and loved his laugh. Lost in confusion in that class we continuously looked across the room at each other and laughed and made weird confused faces. We played a study game in class called Kahoot, both of our goals was to win and beat out the other on the leaderboard. He usually won.

Then there was social media which played a little roll in how we started talking, in the early weeks of March 2017, I put my Snapchat on my Instagram story because I had a major crush on Sam and wanted to see what would happen. After the 24 hours of it being on my story, nothing happened, so then I went and put it in my Instagram bio and just left it there. Two whole weeks later, I got a notification on my phone saying that Sam had added me on Snapchat. I freaked out (that is a bit of an understatement) and added him back.

I was shocked and thought he must have been looking at my Instagram. I waited a few hours and decided on March 16, 2017, that I would send the first Snapchat, it said "Don't forget to wear green (with a green heart)", this seems really random, I know, but there is a reason behind it, the next day was St. Patricks day and our Spanish teacher said that if the entire class wore green we didn't have to take the quiz, we all needed this, so I just wanted to make sure he didn't forget.

At this point, all I knew was there was this super cute guy in my class, who I liked a lot.

After Snapchatting for a little less than a month, and to be honest not ever talking in person because we were nervous and cheesy, I walked into Spanish class on April 7th, 2017, to Sam dressed in a blue button-up shirt and a pink bow-tie (which he says was for baseball) holding a poster that read "Will you rock with me to prom but before will you rock with me to the Zac Brown Band concert?" Of course, I said YES!

Promposal 2017 Photo by Molly Hudson

Now not only was I going to prom with this amazing guy that I had never talked to before in person, but he also found the way to my heart, with what is now one of my favorite bands, Zac Brown Band.

Still communicating on Snapchat, one night I was Snapchatting him as my sister was driving a friend home, I told him that I was running out of data and couldn't Snapchat right then, he responded saying he was too, which made no sense because he was at home, but at the time I believed it, (we both were not running out of data we just wanted each others number), once we had each others number, the rest of our story kind of all fell into place.

A week or so later I invited him to come with my friends and me to go bowling, he agreed, and this was the very first time we hung out and even talked in person.

Our first date: I was out at a birthday dinner on April 23, 2017, for my friend and when I got home I got a text from Sam saying "I am coming to pick you up, what is your address, let's go get ice cream?" To say I had butterflies in my stomach or that I was nervous is an understatement, I had never had a conversation with him just him and I, what was I going to say?

He got to my house, HE CAME TO THE FRONT DOOR, we got in the car, and drove to Sweet Republic, a local ice cream place not too far away, it was a little quiet because it was quite obvious that we were both nervous. We got to Sweet Republic, Sam got mint chocolate chip, and I got brownie swirl, we ate the ice cream talked, and played games, at Sweet Republic they have games, we played a couple of different ones. This has become our spot, every time we are home together we make it a tradition to go.

Oooh the first kiss: Driving home from our first date on April 23, 2017 we arrived back at my house, he walked me up to my front door, I wasn't expecting anything, it was our first official date together, I went to unlock the door and say bye, and he grabbed my hand and pulled me back for our first kiss. It was great. That's all I am going to say.

Back in Spanish class on April 25, 2017, we had a normal class, but what happened after, is why I am writing this article, I walked out of Spanish, Sam and I would talk before I went to English which was my next class, right then he asked me to be his girlfriend, I said yes of course. Best. Day. Ever.

It was now two days before Prom, May 5th, 2017, we were headed to the Zac Brown Band concert, he picked me up from my house and met my parents for the first time. The concert was so fun, the best concert that I have been to, I may be biased, I mean going with Sam was definitely a plus and made the concert so memorable.

May 7, 2017, was our first prom together, Sam showed up to my house dressed in his all black suit with "Champagne" colored tie and vest to match my black and "Champagne" dress, with his parents and his sister, so not only was it prom I was also meeting his family, I was nervous, but looking back on it now, I wouldn't have changed the timing of it all, what so ever. His family was so nice and welcoming, made me feel like part of the family right away. To make this short his family is amazing and I love them. We had the most amazing time at prom, danced the night away at the Phoenix Children's Museum and lived up to the prom 2017 theme, "Forever Young."

"our wedding party" running joke....Photo by Molly Hudson

After less than a month of dating, Sam told me he would be going to college in Ohio, although I knew this was far, I didn't think much of it. The thought of not doing long-distance never crossed my mind, we tried not to think of it throughout the summer, we just made the most of all of the time we had together. I was and still am proud of him, he was going to follow his dream and study business management.

The night that we said bye and you left for your freshman year of college, was one of the hardest days of my life, at this point we had only been dating for four months almost five, I don't think I have ever cried so hard in my life, it felt like everything was being ripped away from me, I am not exaggerating when I say I felt like I couldn't breathe, my heart ached. We are a few weeks away from completing our second year of long-distance. We have done what many wouldn't even try to do.

From my two trips to Ohio to visit, exciting winter breaks together, Valentine's day when he said he was coming home for my senior prom, lots of country concerts, trips and hikes, and so much more, life with Sam is more than I could have ever imagined possible. Although long-distance isn't always easy, we are killing it!

To our families and parents, thank you for believing in us, and helping us through one of the hardest things we have to do right now, thank you for showing us what love is, and continuing to ensure our confidence that we can do this. We love you!

To Sam, thank you for being my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my whole world. Thank you for all of the laughs, the thousands of FaceTime calls and for making me feel like the most amazing girl in the world, I am the luckiest girl to have such an amazing guy like you in my life. I love you! Happy 2 years, here is to many more amazing years to come.

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Be Nice To Everyone, Even The One Who May Be A Total Jerk to You

You don't know what everyone is going through, so just be nice.

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"You're always so bubbly." "Why are you so nice?"

These are phrases I typically hear, and to tell you the truth, it's because why would you want to be mean? The reason I am nice to everyone is that you honestly don't know what people go through. You don't know if they're giving a fake smile or not because they have problems at home or with their friends. Even if you're having a bad day, don't take it out on someone else because you shouldn't use someone as your own personal punching bag.

People go through so many things in their daily lives. Everyone has their own demons and may be fighting their own fights, so why would you want to add fire to that? Wouldn't you want to be the person that makes someone smile after they have been having a bad day? Making someone's day will honestly make your day because you will feel like you helped someone.

Many people who are bitter at the moment tend to rain on other people's parades, or in other words, they want to stop the positive attitude of someone who is having a good day. This instance has happened to me many times, where people tend to want to ruin the positive attitude I have just because they don't agree with what I say or think that they're above me. When you're mean to a person, you give off the feeling that you think they're less and we live in a country where everyone should be treated equally. Being nice is about being a decent human being and treating the people you meet with kindness and respect, regardless of who they are.

In the past, I have had my share of bullying and people who are closed minded and have negative attitudes. In my experience, I don't even want to continue and engage with them because if you surround yourself with negativity, it will eventually start to rub off on you. Self-care is also choosing not to argue with people who are committed to misunderstanding you, which is exactly why sometimes I just stay quiet and let the other person think they have "won" the argument because, at the end of the day, you believe in what you want. People should know the difference between voicing their opinion and trying to change someone's opinion.

Lastly, being mean doesn't solve anything. As hate crimes have risen in the past couple of years, it is an effect of being mean to people. As a society, we honestly do not need any more hate or bullying or negative attitudes. I understand that some people aren't as friendly or outgoing, but it's simple — if you have an encounter with someone, just make sure to be nice and not put anybody down. Words hurt, too.

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