Self Love 1.0

It’s been far too long, friends. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook ignoring my homework responsibilities. Nothing unusual about it, except there was one post that I scrolled past that made me stop. Not because it was funny, not because I recognized it, but because it was something nobody ever told me and I needed to hear it.

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I know I was on a romantic relationship kick (and I promise more to come on that soon), but I really don’t stop to think about loving myself a whole lot. In the times of finals and the most pressure-filled days of our collegiate lives, I don’t think about my body or my mind. 

I do, however, think about the exam I have tomorrow, the paper that’s due a week out, and the professor I need to ask questions for Thursday. I think about working as many shifts as possible to pay the bills, and I think about calling and checking in with family as soon as a spare moment arises. And then when I finally get done thinking about that, I start to study.

I’m sure you can relate. 

The thing is, I always thought putting myself before school, studying, exams, friends, work, and my boyfriend was bad. Those things are so rewarding. I have to give them my full attention, right?

In that thought process, I forget about the 50 hours of sleep my body is supposed to be running on (maybe I get a little over half of that). I forget about eating meals most days. I forget about making healthy choices on what to eat. I forget about the time I’m supposed to carve out for workouts. And I forget about my mental health.

I’ll be honest, I’m insecure. And I have anxiety, really bad. But, at the end of the day, I don’t do anything to cope with it. I don’t take the time I need to deal with it, I just pile more on my plate. That’s the expectation, right? In order for us to be successful we have to belong to 5 or more groups and get straight A’s.

After reading that post, I realized something really important. I wish I knew this coming into college: You can’t be successful no matter how active you are or how great your grades are if, mentally, you’re falling apart. 

Nobody told me this coming into college. And so I pushed myself so hard, I burned out. I was up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning doing homework. I was perfecting every last grammar error, putting the finishing touches on projects, and sending emails out. Some nights I’d fall asleep with my computer and papers all over my bed. I’d wake up to see crumpled papers, or occasionally my laptop on the floor (no worries, I’m much more careful now). I’d barely be awake enough when I went to class, or I’d miss because I didn’t hear my alarm.

But at the end of the day, I wasn’t taking care of me. I wasn’t taking care of my body or my mind. I was so focussed on getting A’s that I got sick for an entire semester. Not that you can stop mono, but even then, I pushed myself to go to class. I never missed a deadline, nothing was ever late. I still managed a 4.0 after a semester of mono.

It had nothing to do with how driven I was. It had everything to do with the pressure that I was under. The pressure that we’re all under.  If I didn’t get it done, I’d fall behind. Then things would turn into bad grades, and before you know it, it would snowball into failing. Failing isn’t something I can take. It wasn’t something I was ready to handle. So I still pushed myself to go to class and do whatever it took to get that A.

My whole reason behind telling you this: DON’T RUN YOURSELF THIN BECAUSE OF THE PRESSURE YOU PUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS PUT YOU UNDER. It’s not worth it. I probably could’ve been healed after a month, but the side-effects lasted almost four months. And honestly, if you get in the habit of rejecting what your body needs, the effects can be longer-lasting than that.

I wish someone had told me earlier in my life that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to put yourself first, even if that means failing. Why? Because at the end of the day, that job position might close, that internship only lasts so long, school is only a small measurement of your knowledge, and grades are just small marks on paper. You, however, are going to be around a long time, longer than any of those things. And it’s important to put yourself first sometimes and take care of your body and mind during that time in order to be healthy and fully successful in any of those things.

No matter what the pressure says, you’re important. Being happy and healthy is important. Find a balance that’s good for you, and give yourself some much-needed self-love.

Single 1.0

After a much needed talk from a co-worker the other night, I realize what a gift it is to be independent. Not just as a women, but also as a man. It’s incredible that on any given day you can be so comfortable with yourself, and you believe nothing stands in your way.

I think most of the time people learn how to be independent when they are alone: when you’re alone you have a lot more time to think. By no means am I suggesting that you cannot be independent when you’re in a relationship. In fact, I’m certain, that long distance makes you rely on your independence.

However, being single opens the doors to a whole new life of independence. 

The word independent is scary: It reminds us that we’re alone in some way, yet we’re also forced to face ourselves daily. We are forced to sit down, at the end of the day, and think about our actions, words, and decisions. Being independent is far more than being comfortable with sitting alone in your favorite restaurant booth. Being independent means understanding who you are without anyone else telling you what to be.

I thought for a long time that I had natural independence. Again, I had a wakeup call the minute I broke up with my ex-boyfriend X. I wanted to message him all of the time, I didn’t know what a routine looked like without him walking me to and from classes, and I didn’t really see my purpose in other people’s lives without him.

Being single is equally as scary. At least that’s what I thought…

For almost my entire dating life (8th grade, if we should count that, up until now) I felt I needed to be in a relationship. All of these relationships have taught me numerous lessons about myself, that I’m certain of. But I’ve never given myself the time to be alone. I was never able to sit down and really think about who I was, what I aspired to be, and what my future looked like without anyone else in the picture.

I guess in this sense you can call my bluff about ‘single advice’, but being in a long distance relationship is a lot like being single. You’re often alone, working around your own schedule. You spend a lot of quality time with yourself and thinking about how you are going to be better for your significant other. It’s okay to be alone. And you also have a lot of freedom and room to grow through independent experiences . 

When you’re single you have time to think. You can pretend to be anybody, you have time to be genuinely exhausted, you even have time to get all dolled up and go out. (You also have time to do this when you’re in a relationship, but you have more time to do these things as a single person).You can do anything you want when you’re single though: You may decide to date or just play the field. It is in this time that you have more opportunity than any other point in your life to be who you are—single.

Well what the heck was I so afraid of? I’ll tell you. I was afraid to face my own thoughts. I was afraid to sit down and think about the people I’ve hurt trying to be someone I’m not. I was afraid to admit my wrongs, or even my faults. I was afraid to come to terms with all of these things. Being single meant I had to do these things, because I wasn’t seeing anyone who would tell me what to fix/ assure me nothing needed to be fixed.

As long as I was in a relationship, someone was loving me even through the icky parts. This also meant that I didn’t have to work hard at those icky parts, and I didn’t have to think about them. I could lie to myself and say “someone loves you, so your baggage doesn’t matter”. The truth is though, it does matter: it matters because years from now that baggage still weighs heavy on my heart, and probably on yours too. 

Being single meant being independent. And while I was fine sitting alone in the booth, walking to class by myself, and shopping alone—I wasn’t okay with thinking about who I was deep down. Being independent is laying your head down at night and thinking about your actions, their repercussions, and how you’re going to be a better you. 

Thankfully I was blessed to meet my current boyfriend, who really does love me through my baggage, faults, and wrongdoings. The important thing to remember is that I didn’t attract him just because I was single and was having so much fun. I attracted him because I was really independent and working through my tough-to-face issues. I was addressing things to be a better me.

The only difference was that this time, nobody asked me to work on things. I did it because I wanted to: that’s independence. 

Although our long distance relationship is passionate, it’s also really tough. It paved the way for both him, and I, to learn who we want to be in these vital years. It’s taught us how to be ourselves without one another. It’s taught us how to be the best visions of ourselves for one another. Though it’s tough to see other couples day-to-day holding hands and kissing goodbyes, I wouldn’t change these two years. Not at all.

It would be ideal to say goodnight rather than goodbye; but in these years I’ve been able to do some thinking about dreams, myself, and my morals, and why they mean so much to me.

In the context of Runaway Bride and Julia Roberts, I’ve finally been able to answer “how do you like your eggs?” I always listened to whatever music my significant other liked, ordered what they liked, dressed how they liked, etc. It took these last two years to realize I like my eggs over-medium with a little bit of yoke. Z likes his scrambled without cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. I’m finally okay knowing that we have these differences, it’s what makes us uniquely independent. 

I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated this process and how much learning I’ve done. It hasn’t been an easy process, by any means. Being single, or in my case alone, is the toughest, yet best experience people can give themselves. I promise, you’ll learn how to order your eggs, and what radio-station to tune into. Do yourself the favor though, and give yourself time to contemplate those questions as an independent person. Spend some quality time with you: I promise you won’t regret it. 

Relationships 3.0

As promised, here is the third relationship that has influenced me. Most of you will know who he is, but for confidential reasons, I’m just keeping his name anonymous.

My life, when I met this guy, was a mess. But thankfully so, he fell for me when I was at my lowest. I had just finally freed myself from X. I told myself that dating wasn’t going to be in my future, at least not until I made it to college three months later down the road. But you guessed it, I was wrong. (There seems to be a trend about that…)

As any other girl after graduation, I was frantic about college and moving. My whole world was changing in front of me. I was supposed to be pulling my life together. But for the first time in four years, I didn’t know what being single was. It was like learning how to ride my bike all over again: I couldn’t figure out how to be on my own. It wasn’t the only thing I had forgotten how to do. To be completely honest, I had forgotten how to love myself.

There were about three weeks from graduation until the time Z and I started dating. It sounds fast, but we were pretty close friends for the year prior. I would’ve never dated him in high school, but the more he fit in at DQ, the better friends we became. He joked with everyone, laughed with everyone, and he worked hard. He made work feel less like a burden, and more like a stress relief for everyone.

You see, we weren’t going to hire him at the restaurant. I told my boss he would be bad news. He was one year older with a not-so-hot reputation for the weekend life, which was not my thing. But, my boss still hired him, and gave him a shot. It must’ve been God’s way of telling me greater things are coming. And they sure did.

It wasn’t just great things for me, either. He was there for everyone. He listened to everyone’s problems: he genuinely wanted to help fix them. He has a genuine love for people that I wish everyone had. He made everyone want to work harder, laugh more, and enjoy the day-to-day. He was humble about everything he did as well: He was slow to temper, and fast to smile. 

There was something so beautiful to me about him: something beautiful in the way he treated others with such patience and kindness. My parents were rarely able to pick me up and drop me off for work, and he was always the first to volunteer. Again, not just for me, but for everyone. He listened and talked less. He wanted to be there for everyone.

Even though his past scared me, his present intrigued me. He didn’t seem so intimidating now. And what I mean by that, is that he was out of my league. He lived a very different life than I did. But by the middle of June, he had expressed interest in me, surprisingly. We decided to give it a shot after his party life died down and his responsibilities became heavy. But he never complained about working more hours, or taking more on.

The most amazing part of our relationship, to me, is that he knowingly gave me a shot realizing I would be moving in a week. He knew that I was an emotional rollercoaster. He knew that I was trying to figure out who I was away from anyone else. He knew that I was going through so much in my life.

Yet, he still pursued me. Even as broken as I was, he still pursued me because he wanted to be there through everything. And he was. I can’t say that he knew everything he was getting into (do we ever)? But he knew a lot of the craziness that I called life, friends, family, and me. Yet, he still wanted to love me through it. 

He still pursues me, even though we live nearly 200 miles from one another. He still pushes me to be a better person: slow to anger, and quick to smile. He doesn’t realize he even does it, but that’s why I love him so much. He’s been a roommate in times of need, he’s been my best friend for midnight McDonald outings, he’s been a model co worker, and he’s been the love that supports and holds me through everything.  

After being together for two years, he still wants to love me through it all. Two years of a long distance relationship is strenuous. There are days where I miss him so much, I swear I feel the heart ache. But he reminds me, like always, we’ll be together again soon.

We don’t fight (which probably isn’t normal). We don’t argue, even when I instigate it. It’s because we both openly sit down to talk about it. We both want what’s genuinely best for one another. As says, “Why should we fight when we can just talk about it? You do what makes you happy and I’ll do what makes me happy. Along the way, if something comes up, let’s talk about it.” And yes, it’s the complete opposite of my relationship from X.

Being with someone who loves me like Z does is the best part of my days. It’s taught me how to love others genuinely, while also loving myself. He’s taught me a lot about intentionality, and what it means to intentionally do things from your heart. He’s taught me how to listen more, not talk (still working on this one). He’s also taught me that my dreams have purpose.

No matter where this life has or will take us, Z has taught me how to trust myself. When I want to do something, it’s okay to do it. When something makes me happy, I should pursue it. He’s never held me back from what I’ve wanted to do. Which is why we are still 200 miles away from one another. He’s shown me that we can both love what we do, and continue on our journey together. Even if that means from afar. Regardless of what we both decide to do, we’ll make it work and support each other in our decisions.

Finally,  has consistently poured into me. He’s reminded me of my worth, my importance, and my independence. Never once has he objectified me or put me down. But he’s also encouraged me to become more comfortable with myself. He wants me to be independent as I need to be, but also acknowledging that he is always there. For that I’m forever thankful.

Despite having a terrifying experience with relationships, I have learned what a genuinely healthy one looks like. Through the ups and downs, he’s there. That’s important. I have great respect for Z, for abundant reasons. But mostly, for the way he lives his life. And for the love he has towards everyone.

I have learned so much through this relationship: more than I ever thought I’d learn. I’ve never felt more loved than I do 200 miles away. I have never felt more important in my lifetime, as I do now. I have never laughed and smiled so much. I have never been more thankful to love someone. 

It’s funny how God allows it all to work out.

Relationships 2.0

As I previously wrote, writing about relationships is tough. And as promised, I will be writing a short series on three relationships that have changed me as a person, and then going further into the column about my relationship experience and advice. Here’s the story of and what I learned along the way.

As I left off in my last relationship, I was pretty broken and hurt inside. There wasn’t much left to my self esteem, my worth, and I had minimal reason to believe I could be loved again. I was hurting more than I had ever hurt before. 

But there was one guy, Y,  who consistently reminded me that I was worth so much. More than what  ever showed me. He pursued me like I had never been pursued before, and it made my heart happy. He was my best friend, and supported me in everything, even X‘s and I’s relationship, until he saw how miserable I actually was on the inside.

As anyone deserves,  made me believe in myself. He told me that my dreams were sound, that I was pretty in sweatpants (even though he always managed to outdress me), and his family always made me feel so welcome. I was blessed to have someone right there picking up the pieces and holding me up along the way. 

It seemed as though we were meant to be. It was an absolute extreme opposite from  and I’s relationship. For once, I wasn’t a burden to be picked up. In fact, some of the best moments and conversations we had, came from car rides to and from places. My hair and whether or not I did my makeup didn’t matter. Dropping me off wasn’t a burden. Staying after school wasn’t a problem. Nothing was a burden, but rather, an opportunity to see me and get to know me better.

For once, I was reminded my value and worth, because  was so unbelievably patient with my dysfunctional, controlling, and jealous attitudes. He reminded me that I had nothing to worry about, and for once I trusted him. For the first time in my life, I was able to trust a guy.

I was patiently reminded that other girls were not going to infringe on our relationships, I was never asked for a password, and my boundaries were never crossed. There were nights that I spent crying and  sat up until 2 or 3 in the morning piecing me back together. He meant it when he said, “I’d do anything for you.” He was the truest gentleman.

Being as young as we were, we of course had our immature antics.. We disagreed on things because we were both still learning so much about ourselves. Sometimes we forgot that about one another. He was patient and I tried to be as well. Unfortunately, my temper and his stubbornness tended to clash (we could both be lawyers someday, and he was smarter than I was in arguments). Though those times were few and far in-between, they still wore on me.

By the end of the relationship the good still outweighed the bad. But I was so used to focusing on the bad news, that it became my focus of Y’s relationship. The hurt that I felt from X’s relationship carried over, and I couldn’t kick the terrible manipulation and need to control so much. I was so scared that those arguments were going to be much similar to those of Y’s and I’s relationship, and it’s all I could think about.

I wish it was something I knew then, but when you are controlling, you normally don’t realize it until it’s too late. I was controlling Y because I was controlled for so long. I felt the need to do it back: really, it was the biggest mistake. wanted to love me to the best of his ability, and I unfortunately ruined much of that because of the dangerous ‘love’ I once had from X.

Needless to say, I felt guilty for ruining such a great thing. I ran back to my safe spot, X. Which was the stupidest thing I could’ve ever done. But X had me convinced things were different this time. And you guessed right, they weren’t. He now only had more to hold over my head; I had a better relationship with more excitement and care from a different guy. And it never went over well with X: it became the focus of a million more arguments and more degrading comments.

Why did I ever go back? It’s a vicious cycle, one that pleaded for me to get out of. But one that X found himself enjoying all too much. Nothing could prepare me for the miserable nights I spent back with X.

 I learned so much being with Y. I often thought about going back, but knew I caused too much heartbreak and there would be too much mending that 17 year old me wasn’t ready for. I learned that it was okay to be loved again, to trust again, and to accept the things I couldn’t change.

But I was so blessed to have this friend who cared so deeply about me, that for a brief moment, he gave me a breath of fresh air. showed me the sunlight, he watched numerous Disney movies with me, he sang me Katy Perry, and endlessly reminded me of how unique and worthy I was of an enduring love.

There will be a breath of fresh air waiting for you, and they will do whatever it takes to win you. You’ve really got nothing to lose. Although I didn’t end up with Y, I am unbelievably grateful for the small seeds he planted in me. The ones that grew strong enough to stand up to  X, the ones that reminded me of strength and worth, and the ones reminding me of such happiness. 

Promise yourself that you will seek out happiness in relationships that nurture and build you up. This is the basis for healthy and long-lasting relationships. No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, if you’re unhappy then leave. There is nothing binding you from a suffocating manipulative man or woman. There is nothing pushing you to stay with them. There are plenty of reasons why they will say you deserve that, but not a single reason why you should believe them. (Easier said than done, I know.)

Relationships 1.0

This is unlike anything I’ve ever posted before, and quite frankly it’s tough to talk about. I want to start another ‘column’ per say regarding relationships: this would be advice, what I’ve learned, and what is and isn’t important to fixate on in relationships. I wanted to vulnerable here, and give you a chance to understand where my advice comes from on relationships. That being said, I’m going to walk you through three relationships that have impacted me most.

I’ve been in a couple of serious relationships, and I have to say that each one, regardless of the turnout, has been a learning experience. Though I can’t go back and tell myself to do things differently, I can maybe spare someone else the hurt that I experienced. 

There are three relationships that I want to focus on, and these are the three I’ve deemed most influential in my life. The first, for certain purposes, I’m going to call X. It was unbelievably dysfunctional, heartbreaking, wearing, and still leaves me scarred. It was built on a foundation of hurt, lies, deceit, manipulations, jealousy, and control.

I was never allowed to be happy, I wasn’t allowed to do the things I’ve longed for, and red flags went off within the first year of dating. It wasn’t easy to live through that through my high school years, considering I was going through so much already as a teenage girl. These were the years I was supposed to be establishing a foundation for my future though, and I was too busy being torn down and reminded how little value I had. 

When you’re young it’s easy to get wrapped up in flutter and the excitement of new love. But you’ve got blinders on because of it. I was so happy that someone paid attention to me. I was excited to be noticed, as anyone that age is. Almost four years went by with hurt, anger, yelling, separating, and coming back together.

When something really serious happened, I left. But gifts and long notes, messages, and voicemails would stream back in. Everyone saw how sweet he was to me. They were on his side because of it. But nothing behind the closed doors ever surfaced because I wasn’t allowed to talk about the bad: people would know then, and that wasn’t okay.

Four years went by, and he knew every password, every lock, and every secret. It seemed normal for my first relationship, because you shared everything, right? Wrong. Not in that way: not when sharing everything meant losing yourself. 

Even when I called him out on the hurt I felt, it was still my fault. Somehow, it always twisted around to be my fault. Everyone was convinced I was the problem, because in public he was the sweetest star. They knew him as the perfect guy, but behind closed doors, I was still so broken because of him. I was silenced so he could flourish. Soon it became a battle between parents, and my parents thought he was the worst, his parents thought I was manipulative.

What his parents saw and thought wasn’t me being controlling, it was me defending myself. It was me saying if I can’t talk to guys, you can’t talk to girls. If you know all my passwords, then I should know yours. If I say no, you should respect my objection. Somehow, as usual, he turned my requests into manipulative requirements. But I was sick of double standards. He controlled me, and in turn, I felt the need to control and micro-manage every single aspect of my life around him. It became an extremely unhealthy obsession.

When I finally left him for good, I was a different person. It wasn’t a typical breakup though. It wasn’t the typical face to face talk. It was me saying I’m done face to face, him thinking it was a joke, and him calling me 26 times in an hour, showing up at my door, and doing it all over again. I finally had to block his number because he didn’t understand that I was serious. Again, he didn’t listen to my objections, or me at all. This was finally the end.

I was finally allowed to do the things I loved most. As cliche as it is, I cut my hair short (which I wasn’t allowed to do with him), I was allowed to talk to my best guy friends, and I geared myself up for college. The one thing I hated the most wasn’t how empty I felt after, it was losing all my best girlfriends: they were busy siding with him. . . Some of the best people in my life, thought I was the liar, and they believed him.

So, the summer before college, I missed out on a huge part of my life. I had two friends to say goodbye to, and they are still the best two friends I have ever made. They watched me through my lowest lows and my highest highs- for that I’m the most thankful. Their families also claimed me as their own, which has been such a blessing.


Though that summer was the toughest in the 21 years I’ve been alive, it showed me a lot of things. I had two life long friends who loved me through everything, it was okay to go on adventures, it was okay to laugh about silly things, it was okay to do things for myself with myself in mind, and that it was okay to leave something that hurt you.

Long story short, I was sort-of me again, at least the me that I could most remember how to be. I smiled more, I laughed a lot. I joked about stupid things. I got promoted that summer, and prepared for the long trek ahead for college. I was so caught up in the happiness I experienced being independent again, that I almost forgot how heartbroken I was. . .

The heartbreak still lingers. It is ongoing and never ending. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to accept those four years, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sit down and forgive myself for being so stupid, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let it all go either. I certainly know I won’t be able to turn back time and tell myself things that I know now. But, that’s alright.

Because at this very point in my life, I’ve got two very best friends, a boy who respects and loves me tremendously, and a huge support system. Most importantly, I’ve got me; I’ve got myself to lean on, and a reminder that I’m going to get through anything.

Dysfunctional relationships are more common than not. Having the two most extreme spectrums of the worst and the best relationships, it’s important to know the difference. The person I was two years ago is entirely different than the person I am today. I am so thankful for the breath of fresh air that my current relationship provides to me, but I am even more thankful for the learning process that my old relationship pushed me into. 

Again, I’m not saying this to degrade X as a person. He has things to work through in order to be the best person he can be for his future wife, and I hope that he does. But I am saying this because I hope my story resonates with others.

It’s important to be treated with respect and with love. I know this seems obvious, but there is a real difference between loveable and controlling relationships. Get out of those that are controlling, because if you are fixated on a controlling relationship, how can you give a loving relationship a chance? No matter who you are, you deserve to be loved by someone wholeheartedly. This is my story, and my advice. More to come. . .