I’ve been an alarming amount of different people since I turned 18 (how Gavin has loved all of them, I don’t know, but I love him even more for it). Some stages and decisions I’m proud of. Some I am not. But through it all, I’ve shifted and molded into who I am today, and I love her so much. And I love my life. And I love who I’m becoming and where I’m going.
I finally feel like I’m who I was meant to be all along. I’m finally happy with my belief system- even though I know who I am and what I believe is fluid and susceptible to change. I know I’m doing my best with the knowledge and experience that I have at this point in time.
I’m finally happy with my career after several changes. Can we stop expecting high schoolers who have to ask permission to do anything to suddenly be functioning adults with critical thinking skills that know what they want to do until they’re 65? That’s another convo for another day. I edited my first book (someone else’s book, not mine, I’m not there yet), which was huge for me going forward and getting new clients.
I did all of the hard work this last year. I started going to therapy. For some reason, I’m afraid to admit that. Who am I kidding, I know the reason. I’m working on breaking the stigma surrounding getting help for your mental health- even if it’s only within my own circle of reach. If I can encourage someone to get help and it stops them from passing on generational trauma, I want to.
I’ve apologized to myself for constantly expecting me to be further in life and not just letting myself be where I am. I’ve forgiven myself for the times that I didn’t see how much I have to offer. I’ve let go of the things that happened to me that had no reflection on who I was or what I deserved. I’m only responsible for me and what I can control.
I was able to text my counselor 2 weeks ago to say, “Can we cancel my appointment? I’m running out of things to say.” I know that’s a good thing because I’ve gotten everything off of my chest, and I’m free to breathe now. I don’t have to keep reliving it.
Maybe this was TMI for a birthday post and more than anyone asked for, but I thought about sharing it in a social media caption and didn’t, so I really did try to spare you. I’m working on sharing more of the me that I’ve become in private. So even though I’ll probably have anxiety and cringe at how much I overshared and under proofread when I’m trying to sleep tonight, and maybe for months to come, I have peace knowing that I did what I felt was best for me today. That’s all we can do until our last day.
If you want a stress-free wedding experience, getting married at the court house in your favorite blue jeans is your best bet.
Even if you choose this route, know that I was on the verge of tears after spending 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot downtown that didn’t say “owned by a lawyer, violators will be towed”, while trying to obtain my marriage license from the courthouse.
Wedding week nerves may or may not have played a role in my frazzled, overly sensitive mood that day.
We just celebrated our 6 month anniversary (some may tell you that isn’t a real anniversary, but we love making up reasons to celebrate life), and all I can say is, life is so much easier post wedding.
With that being said, the months leading up to your marriage are such an exciting time in your life, and you should do your best to enjoy every second of it.
I was described as an “easy to please” bride by those closest to me. Honestly, I have no idea who that girl is, but I’m glad I was able to channel her for the sake of my relationships.
I’m going to share what worked best for me during the planning process, what I don’t recommend, and what won’t matter when you look back on your wedding day in 30 years.
Don’t Worry About Losing Weight
Listen, I’m all about taking care of yourself and eating healthy; but I can’t think of a better way to be stressed out during wedding planning than to be starving and exercising till you’re dizzy in hopes of shedding a few pounds.
Some women who have an extremely healthy relationship with food and their bodies may be able to lose a little weight without harming their health in the process. If it’s going to stress you out more than you already are, DON’T worry about it.
This may sound silly and obvious, but I believe it’s worth mentioning. The person who wants to marry you, wants to marry YOU. They want you in the body you have now, in the dress size you are now.
Why would we decide that the way we were before we got engaged isn’t good enough? That we should work for months trying to get a new body for a 3-hour event?
You will not be an ounce happier on your wedding day if you lose an inch or two off your waist. You will be a gazillion times happier for the rest of your life if you decide you accept and love yourself the way you were created.
“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”-Dr. Gail Dines
Be Open Minded When Dress Shopping
I was the girl who had a Pinterest wedding board since before I was legally old enough to even get married. I’d probably pinned hundreds of dresses, and the dress I got married in, didn’t slightly resemble one of them.
Picking a wedding dress was the easiest, most enjoyable part of planning for me because I decided to keep an open mind and not pressure myself to get a dress the first day I went shopping.
Try not to have a super strong mental picture of what you want to look like on your wedding day. It can lead to disappointment if your “dream dress” doesn’t look how you expected once you try it on.
When my dressing room attendant brought in a blush pink, tulle dress and I said “I can’t wear a pink wedding dress!”, I’m so happy I was open-minded enough to try it on and follow up with, “Of course I can wear a pink wedding dress!”.
I felt gorgeous in my dress, and I knew it would bring the man I love to tears, which was obviously my biggest wedding day goal.
Choose the dress you feel most beautiful in, don’t force yourself to recreate the image you’ve had of yourself since you were 6, and only bring your besties who aren’t going to give you their opinion unless you ask for it. (Kinda kidding, kinda not. We’ve all seen a Say Yes to the Dress episode where that one girl just can’t seem to keep her thoughts to herself.)
Have A Moment Alone Before The Ceremony
This was one of the best decisions I made for my wedding day. I decided not to do a first look to save up the emotion of seeing each other for the first time at the altar, but I loved that with a first look, you get to have a calm before the storm moment with your groom.
Even if you opt out of having a first look, try to set some time aside to talk on the phone, or exchange letters from either side of a door (letters are also a great alternative if you want to write your own vows but not read them in front of everyone you know).
I started to feel really nervous a few hours before the ceremony. I couldn’t move around very well in my big dress in a small room, and I couldn’t relax without messing up my hair and makeup. All I could do was sit up very stiff and try not to throw up. #justgirlythings
I felt so much better once I got to hear my husband’s voice and hold his hand. I was able to remember that this wasn’t some over the top party I had to host- it was about me and him and how much we love each other.
Roll With the Punches
You will plan for months or possibly years for what is truly one day out of your entire life. I don’t say this to discourage you from going all out, but to take some of the pressure off of you.
My wedding cake was…uh…not the easiest part of wedding planning.
We accidentally hired a pastry chef from a reputable bakery under the table. When they were fired two weeks before my wedding, and the bakery had no trace of the order we placed or someone to make it, I was fully prepared to serve Bluebell ice cream and grocery store cake to my guest.
Thank God the bakery stepped up to the plate and was able to bring someone in to make our cake. It was beautiful, but when we cut it, I realized it was a flavor I’ve never tasted before, and it definitely wasn’t the signature wedding cake flavor I’ve eaten 50 times before.
Guess what? No one noticed. No one cared. Because we were all having a great time, celebrating our love, and eating cake. It put into perspective that I was the only one who knew exactly how things were supposed to be.
Your guests will not notice if your decorations are a little crooked, if the cellist plays the wrong song, or if your hair doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to.
They will see you and your new husband, the couple they love, having the best day of their lives.
Try to remember in the midst of all the craziness and what seems like a life or death matter, no one will ever know if something isn’t perfect.
Like marriage, the tiny imperfections of your wedding day will be overshadowed by immeasurably more joy. You’ve got your whole lives to succeed and mess up together, and this is just the beginning, so embrace it.
Sometimes, God lets us face trials so that we can help others who struggle with the same issues in the future.
I want to share with you some Biblically based practices that have helped me overcome the depression, anxiety, and fear I was dealing with on a daily basis.
Recognizing that you’re having these feelings is the first step to recovery, and knowing what to do about them is the second.
1. Read Your Bible Before Checking Your Phone
When I start my day by checking social media before I’ve even rolled out of bed and turned on the coffee pot, thoughts of comparison and sadness are usually there to bid me good morning.
Making the conscious decision to not touch my phone before I’ve read my Bible and talked to God always sets the tone for a great day.
Give yourself a fighting chance against depression and anxiety by spending the first part of your day with the author of joy and peace versus filling your mind with the opinions of anyone with a Wi-Fi connection.
“But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”-Matthew 6:33
2. Start An “Attitude of Gratitude” Journal
Write down at least 5 things that you’re grateful for everyday.
Eventually, you’ll name all of the obvious ones and will have to start digging deeper to come up with a list.
I like to choose one from multiple categories, such as: a physical blessing, someone I love, progress in an area of my life, a characteristic I appreciate about myself, and an attribute of God.
I’ve noticed that when I’m so busy thanking God for all He’s done and the beautiful life He’s given me, I have less time to spend worrying about my shortcomings and what I don’t have. This practice also makes me less prone to negativity and causes me to not take the blessings I have for granted.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”-Philippians 4:6
3. Take Care Of Your Temple
I feel so much more joyful, accomplished, and motivated when I make time to go on a walk and prepare nutritious meals for myself. I’ve found that exercise, sunshine, and the perfect foods that God made for us have helped me tremendously when it comes to the healing of mental illness.
When you show your body that you value it, your mind will respond positively.
Whether it’s taking a bubble bath, watching a wholesome movie, or listening to worship music, find what makes you feel relaxed and do more of it.
Depression and anxiety are sicknesses, be kind to yourself and allow your temple to heal.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”-1 Corinthians 6:19-2
4. Have A Support System
There have been times in my life when my depression and anxiety were manageable and temporary. Other times, I’ve gone months without seeing my friends because I could barely leave my room.
If you’re as private as I am, and you would like to try to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety between you and God, I understand. But as soon as you feel like you can no longer handle it on your own, please tell a parent, friend, pastor, or seek medical help.
Find someone who can empathize with and validate your feelings, while giving you wise counsel so that you can gain freedom from bondage.
The devil loses power over us when we decide to not suffer alone.
There’s no shame in needing people to talk to, pray for us, and seek advice from.
“Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you”-Matthew 18:20
I pray these habits help you as much as they’ve helped me, and that you find rest in God’s presence.
God always provides us with the encouragement we need when we need it.
Over the weekend, a dream of mine was placed on the back burner in a way.
Last week, I was praying about how much I wanted a specific piece of property for my husband and I to build a house on. I prayed that God would open doors and make a way for us to get it…if that was His will.
Up until that point, we had our eyes on the land for about 3 years. We already own a home that we have to live in for 2 years (for taxing purposes) before we can put it on the market, so the right time to pursue building our next home never came around.
I hadn’t prayed much about my dream to build right there until the week before God showed me it wasn’t His plan for us right now.
Within days of asking for God’s provision, and above all else, His will, we received news that the property had been purchased.
But that’s the thing about praying for the “maybes” in our lives. Sometimes it gives God the opportunity to tell us “no” when we’re so hung up on hearing “yes”.
I was deeply disappointed. I went back and forth with grieving and feeling guilty for wrapping so much expectation into something so uncertain and circumstantial.
Little did I realize, every time I thought of the house that my husband and I would have a family in, I was envisioning us being in that spot. More than me being sad over not getting a certain patch of grass, I was sad to lose the dream of having a cul-de-sac home for my kids across the street from their grandparents.
Throughout this year, I’ve been reading a devotional titled “100 days to brave” by Annie F. Downs.
Let’s say I’ve taken the scenic route through a book that could be finished in a little over 3 months.
But in my struggle of trying to finish one book before starting another, God used a “weakness” of mine to show Himself to me.
On day 25 of the book, He taught me that it’s brave to dream. This prompted me to pray for an open door to start building a house.
Day 26 showed me to not be afraid of praying hard prayers. Looking back on this devotional, I was encouraged to ask God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. Though I’m sure, I prayed a little more fervently for an open one.
A couple of days later, after being presented with a closed door, I got around to day 27, which by no coincidence was on closed doors.
Annie writes, “Brave people commit their work to the Lord and trust that His plan for their lives might not look the way they planned. And that’s okay. If you’re looking at a closed door today, then there’s an open one just around the corner.”
I told myself to get over it. It’s not that big of a deal anyway. The loss of the property doesn’t affect the big picture of our life. We can still build or buy a house somewhere else. God has a plan and it’s not my job to figure it out. But grace.
On day 28, I learned that it’s OK to “mourn dreams that have died”.
Annie F. Downs tells of her yearning for a husband before her 30s, and subconsciously grieving when this did not come to pass. Annie is comforted when her counselor tells her that “The dreams you thought would come true in a certain time frame never did. You saw a life for yourself that you will never have. You can mourn that loss.”
And so I did. I let myself grieve for a few days…and then I moved on to the doors that are still open for me.
On day 29, we’re told to “Chase the dreams that are still alive.”
“God loves to put wings on dreams that His kids chase, dreams that can bring Him glory.”
Having little to do with my classic southern dreams of a white house to clean and babies to kiss, while noble and beautiful on their own, I dream of being a writer and an author.
Although I go through times of feeling discouraged and inadequate in this area of my life, I crave it more than any other earthly goal.
Even when faced with closed doors and disappointments, my dreams are still alive and well, and so are yours.
A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.
I believe there’s a reason behind nearly everything that we do. Whether it was meeting a social expectation or wanting to impress someone, I’ve done little in my life that was about nothing and no one but me.
Writing is one of the few things I can say I’ve always been passionate about and done for myself.
I’ve found glittery notebooks that my first grade self filled with ramblings of zoo trips and what my mom bought at the grocery store that day. I love seeing how deeply ingrained my need to express myself in this way is.
From as young as age six, I’ve always been very private about my writing. I kept this side of myself tucked away and almost never shared it with anyone.
This is why I never considered writing becoming a career of mine.
Writing’s the only way I’ve ever known how to be vulnerable with no masks, no filter, no standards, and no judgment. I thought my words would lose their value if I shared them with everyone, and I was afraid of not being able to take something personal back once said. I didn’t want my hobby that I enjoy so much to become another responsibility to check off or a deadline to meet.
I didn’t know how to make money from writing in a world that tells us we’re unqualified for basically everything without a degree.
It didn’t feel realistic or doable, so I never pursued it.
Notice one excuse after the other.
After two years of confusion about who I’m supposed to be, what I want to do, or where I’m supposed to start, I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by squashing my gift.
I started saying more and more that I would like to be a writer, but I was still fearful and doubting myself. I thought some other form of myself with a more exciting life to talk about could do that. I didn’t believe I was ready or that I had anything to say that would interest anyone.
After some time, I decided I don’t want to wait until the perfect opportunity arises. I want this for myself and I want it today. I started calling myself a writer. I started telling people that I am one. I’ve begun speaking into existence what I can see God has been speaking over me my whole life. I feel myself coming into my purpose and morphing into who I’m meant to be. I’ve never felt more like myself.
Sometimes, I still lose eye contact and my voice sounds less sure than usual when I tell someone that I’m a writer. I don’t know what they’ll think of me or if they’ll understand how that can be true. But when I envision a life for myself that I truly love, writing is a big part of that picture, and I don’t want to jeopardize it because of the fear of starting.
I’ve realized it doesn’t matter if someone sees me as unqualified and I decided I don’t need affirmation or permission, from anyone. I don’t need to go to school for what feels like the most natural thing I’ve ever done. Getting out of my comfort zone and getting over myself has been so freeing.
I decided that I am a writer. I was a writer before anyone had the chance to read my work, and I’ll still be one even if no one ever does.
I know I won’t be entirely comfortable and confident in my abilities overnight, and I know I still have so much to learn. I don’t know what my niche is or where I want to end up, but I’ve started taking baby steps in the right direction and I’ve never been more proud of myself.
Imagine your ideal life five years from now. What are you doing? Where are you? Who are you with?
Now, what are you doing to get there? Are you working towards it a little each day? Are you believing that you’ll end up there?
Start today by calling yourself what you want to be in the future. Speak it over your life. Say it every day until you believe it so much that it’s inevitably what you will be.