You know, when you see this picture, a lot of you will say "wow, that's so cute! they're literally perfect. #goals" But it's been on my heart lately to be real. Social media is such a cool avenue to keep people in the loop about life but I think it's not really about that at all. It's become more about how you take 20 tries to get the right angle, vsco it up, spend 36 minutes finding the most engaging three line caption and hope for the pictures to reel in all the likes and affirming comments. Because honestly, we want to be accepted and approved. We constantly all search for validation, for meaningful people to say we are good enough, worthy enough, gorgeous enough. What's behind and underneath and between our posts though? We are struggling, fighting, retreating, losing, fearing, and living non-edited, real-people, tear-stricken, exhausting, unfulfilling, day to day lives. Yet we highlight and document and spotlight our beautiful moments and hope people take that as the real us. So here's food for thought - guess what's in between the pics of me and my incredibly dashing and heartwarming man? It's not always roses and butterflies, cheesing-hard smiles, love, laughter, grace upon grace, balance, forgiveness. What's actually in between the cute captions and immaculately wonderful photographs are some hard times, stress, the push of work and school, time-management, greasy hair and stinky feet, starved bellies from under eating due to busyness, miscommunication and sometimes low investment emotionally and spiritually. But you don't see that, of course. Guys, when will we be real and say hey - yeah, life is great and I love sharing about it with my sick pictures and cool edits, but here's the real me. The real US. The real inside story behind the scenes. Let's be real for a moment. People, circumstances, life stages, faith, and relationships all have brilliantly wonderful parts to them. But they also have difficult parts too. So don't just get caught up in the scrolling and comparing and judging. Because the same people that are your #goals are having bad hair days, hard points in their relationship, and times where they snap at those they love. So if you mess up, can't get the right lighting, hate your smile with teeth, think you're unworthy to post a makeup-less selfie or whatever your insecurity is .. just pause and be real. What you see on instagram or facebook or snapchat is most likely the prettiest and most glorified part of someone's day, week or month. Don't worry guys. It's ok to struggle. Be honest and wrestle in the struggle a bit. Talk it out, figure it out, hash it out. But be REAL. Search to be authentic - don't park at the extremes of "woe is me" or "wow I'm the absolute best." Commit to finding a middle ground and just be humble and honest.
Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.
1. He has always been there.
Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.
2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.
I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.
3. He sends the cutest texts.
Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.
4. He taught me how to be brave.
When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.
5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.
My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.
6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.
Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.
7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.
Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.
8. He shows me how I should be treated.
Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.
For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!
College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.
1. The "freshman 15."
Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.
2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.
For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.
3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.
This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.
4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.
I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.
5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together.
Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.
6. Pulling all nighters, ever.
If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.
7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.
This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.
8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.
A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.
9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.
I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.
10. Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"
If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.
11. Skipping class whenever you feel like it.
You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.
12. Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).
"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?