The Comparison Game

We’ve all done it. Spent mindless hours on our smart phones, tablets and computers on one form or another of social media. We succumb to the mindless scrolling into other people’s lives, sometimes out of curiosity and often out of sheer boredom. This small thing quickly becomes a habitual routine that leads to the dark, incredulous path of comparison.

When did she get that new car? Does her job pay more than mine? Will I ever get promoted to a position like hers? How many bedrooms does their new house have? How does she get so many likes on her pictures? Why don’t I get as many likes? Why does everyone seem to like her? How does she always dress so well? Where does she get her clothes? How long has that couple been together? Will I ever be in a relationship that lasts as long as theirs? Is that another baby picture? How can I think about babies when I don’t even have a boyfriend?

And on and on and on it goes……

ImagePhoto via thesimplybeloved.com

 

The comparison game, as I like to call it, is a terrible path to travel down. Getting so caught up in other people’s lives can cause you to lose sight of your own. Your mind gets caught up in the so-called perfection and grandeur of the person’s life next to you that you start to miss out on all the good things and people in your own life.

As a twenty something living in the twenty first century, I’d say it’s easier to get caught in comparison nowadays more than ever. When my parents were my age, they didn’t have Facebook or Instagram to know the whereabouts of every old friend, distant relative and ex- significant other. With social media presenting an open door into people’s lives near and far, people who you would probably otherwise have no contact with, it becomes not only easy but accepted to judge the lives of others’ next to our own.

What does it leave you with?

My first thought would be nothing, but that’s too easy. The trap with comparison is that it leaves you feeling discontent with your own life. It robs you of the joy and peace that comes from being content in who you are, where you are and what you have been given. It robs you of the passion to walk your own path, the path that is yours and yours alone, the path that is distinctly marked out for you, the path that only you can walk.

Twenty Something Lesson (for Anybody)

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

Here’s what I have learned: Each of us are individuals. We walk distinct paths. Whether you believe in God or not, you have to at least agree that we each have our own unique destiny. There’s a reason my fingerprint is different from yours and vice versa. It is the magic and beauty of being you. When you get caught up in comparison, you lose sight of who you are and who you were created to be.

No one on this Earth can look, talk, think or act exactly like you. YOU ARE A GIFT! Don’t let comparison rob you of the joy of the gift that is you. So next time the idleness or curiosity of social media creeps up and you are tempted to delve in to the lives of other people, shut your phone off. Delete that social media app for a few days or weeks. Unfollow that person who you are struggling with comparing yourself to. Do whatever you need to do to keep your focus on being content with you are. I can guarantee the more you focus on the race you are running versus others’, you will find freedom in just being you.

-Stephkt

Operation: Completely Out of My Comfort Zone

I started a new project recently that I am really excited about! I am now working with a magazine called Beautifully You, which is aimed at revolutionizing the way women see themselves in the media. The magazine is targeting girls and women of all ages in hopes to change the way we look at beauty and self image topics. The magazine printed its first issue in 2013. I am so excited to come on board the team and to assist with managing/editing online and print content!

I am so obsessed with magazines and writing so for me this is like a playground. Plus, the message is awesome! Tell women they are beautiful. Tell women they are valued. Tell women that they are good enough just as they are. I’ve been on cloud nine my first few months working with the Beautifully You team. I didn’t think anything could bring my happy train to a halt, but then something did.

Two words: photo shoot.

There was a spring photo shoot planned for the March issue of the magazine. Little did I know that all the Beautifully You staff needed to be photographed for the shoot! When I heard the news, my heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t the good skip a beat you feel when you see a cute boy. It was the kind of skip a beat a person afraid of heights feels right before they go skydiving. It was the kind of skip a beat a person afraid of public speaking feels right before they talk to a crowd at the Mall on Washington.

I was petrified. Why you may ask? It’s just a photo shoot. Right? For me it’s not. It is something else. It’s a big microscope on all my insecurities and imperfections. It’s a closeup on my flaws. It’s exposing my inadequacies and vulnerabilities for other people to see. When I heard photo shoot, all I felt was anxiety.

I’ve worked at magazines for almost a half a dozen years and in that time, I’ve worked at a number of photo shoots but always behind the scenes. I was the girl interviewing the big, glamorous cover girl. I was the person setting up the refreshments for the photographers. I was the assistant helping the stylist pick out outfits for the models. I was the person picking up garments of clothes off the ground and organizing shoes. I was always behind the scenes!

I had never been the person in front of the camera and my fears came knocking at my door.

You’re not tall enough.

You’re not skinny enough.

You’re eyes squint too much when you smile.

You’re not pretty enough.

You aren’t blemish free.

You’re not enough.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

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Photo via Amanda Watson Photography for Beautifully You Magazine

Luckily, fears aren’t true. Well, they are only true if you allow them to be in you’re life. Here’s what I learned: There’s nothing I can’t have, do, or become, if I want it. If I make up in my in mind to do something, I can do it and not only that, but if I am willing to work hard at it, I can do it well. This isn’t to say that I want to get into the modeling industry anytime soon, but the point is, I did something that I didn’t think I could. I did something that I didn’t think I was fit to do. I did something I didn’t think I was good at. I overcame my anxiety and told my fears to be quiet. If I can do it, so can you.

The funny thing is Beautifully You is all about telling women that they are good enough just as they are, and I was afraid of not being perfect enough for a photo. I literally contemplated playing the sick card the morning of and calling out, but I didn’t. I swallowed my anxiety and did it anyway.

Maybe seeing a normal girl like me on a website or magazine, will encourage another young woman. Maybe just by being myself and being honest, someone else’s life will be impacted. So flaws and all, here I am. This is me. I am tired of hiding and being afraid. So it’s about time I step out into the light and face my fears.

Not just me though. What are your fears? What anxiety do you have that’s holding you back? Is there something you have always wanted to do but would never dream of doing out of fear? I urge you to do it anyway. Step out into the light. You can do whatever it is that you set your mind to.

Check out Beautifully You at http://www.beautifullyyoumagazine.com. Here are more photos from the shoot!

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Photo via Amanda Watson Photography

SAMSUNGPhoto via Amanda Watson Photography

SAMSUNGPhoto via Amanda Watson Photography

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-Stephkt

With Open Hands

A good reminder to live with open hands.

Sara B. Stacy

I felt ridiculous. Sitting hands upturned, arms stretched out, as I sat in the quiet of my own home. The whispers of, “You don’t have time for this. You are already running late. Seriously, if anyone saw you they’d think you were looney.”

And yet I sat. In the stillness, just as I do now with only the hum from the kitchen, and my thoughts.

I bowed with open hands, turned up to God. A reverent heart asking, pleading, begging. A heart realizing that these hands hadn’t been open before. In fact they had been clenched in anger, gripping tightly the regrets and wishes, the plans and heartaches. They were balled tight to hold in the dreams and keep out the ones wishing to snatch them from my grasp.

I had grown used to the ache of the clinched fist, of grasping too tightly at my life…a life that…

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The Miley Trend

I often play devil’s advocate. I don’t get enjoyment out of disagreeing with people just for the fun of it, but as a journalist, I have come to understand that there is always two sides to a story and most (if not all) things in life are not black and white. Case and point: Miley Cyrus.

I got into a conversation with a coworker the other day about making mistakes in your late teens and twenties. We were discussing a young lady who is 18 and recently decided to get married to a guy she has been dating for only a few weeks. (Lets give her some credit and say it has been a month). While most people would immediately judge this young women and the situation as rash, immature and just plain, for lack of a better word, dumb, I think there’s more to the story. Do I think getting married at 18 to someone you’ve only been dating for a short time is a good idea? No. Would I condone this to my future children? No. However, I do believe that everyone needs to be free to make their mistakes.

Miley Cyrus is a prime example. Miley recently turned 21 and it seemed like 2013 was her big coming out party. From her breakup with Liam Hemsworth, to her pixie hairdo, to her Wrecking Ball video to her performance on the VMAs with Robin Thicke, Miley’s behavior has drawn a lot of attention. Of course, she has gotten a lot of backlash for her actions this past year. For the most part, it seems that little miss Miley doesn’t care but continues to do one outrageous thing after another.

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(Photo via posh24.com)

Just to be clear, this is not an “I love Miley Cyrus” post. Truthfully, I am not much of a Miley fan.  I don’t dislike her but I am not the first to buy her album or a ticket to her concert. To be honest, I was only able to watch the Wrecking Ball video once. My stomach was just cringing as I sat in my living room watching her straddle a ball completely naked for the world to see. But hey, if that’s her definition of art and that’s the truth she needs to express, who I am I to sit and judge her.

The thing is Miley, just like the engaged 18-year-old, needs the freedom to make her own choices and with that she also needs to be free to make her own mistakes. Do I think Miley thrusting her backside on Robin Thicke was the best idea? No. Do I think that this 18-year-old should be getting married to someone she has known for such a short time? Well, no. But I also believe that falling down is how you learn.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody)

“I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them, because if I hadn’t made them I wouldn’t have learned how to make things right.” – 13 going on 30

My coworker and I disagreed because she was quick to judge Miley and the 18-year-old as dumb people because of their bad decisions. I think “idiot” may have been her word for them. If every person in the world who has ever made a mistake or a really bad choice is an idiot or just a really bad person, well then there are a lot of idiots and dumb people out there. I know I have made some really bad choices and I am only 23. I am sure I will make more mistakes. Looking back on the bad choices I’ve made, I wouldn’t change any of them because I learned from them. I grew. I matured. I changed. Isn’t that what life is all about? Making mistakes, learning and growing.

So hey, yea Miley made some not so wise decisions last year. Maybe when she’s 30 or 40, she’ll look back and think maybe she could have done some things differently. Maybe the 18-year-old girl will find that her marriage is short lived or doesn’t bring her whatever she is searching for. I think people need to be free to make their own choices and mistakes. By all means, if you are in a person’s inner circle (i.e. family or close friends) feel free to warn people and try to give them the most caring advice, but whether they listen or not, you have to be okay with that.

Do you know how many times I wanted to call up Rihanna and tell her not take back Chris Brown? Or how many times I’ve wanted to tell Justin Bieber to not pee in buckets? Or to tell Taylor Swift to not date that boy 5 years younger than her? None of these people are even my close friends. It’s just my perspective as an outsider looking in, but just because I may disagree with others’ choices, I try my best to not judge them as bad people. We all make bad decisions. Those decisions have repercussions, which always bring lessons that are perfectly fit for us. If we really sit with those lessons and ask what they have come to teach us, there’s the marvelous opportunity to grow.

Hoping the best for Miley Cyrus and any other 20 something (or younger or older) who has made mistakes and lots of them!

Stephkt

Do Your Own Thing

I once had a boyfriend tell me the most profound thing. It’s been a few years so my memory may be a little fuzzy, but to paraphrase, he said, “Stephanie, I am always with people, but you, you do things on your own a lot. I am not like that.” Neither he nor I probably understood the weight of the that statement at the time.

I am pretty sure I actually took it as an insult. My thought process probably went something like, “Is he calling me a loner? Hey, I have friends and plenty of them! I am a very social person. Is he calling me anti-social? I get along easily with most people.” Pause. Hold the phone. Hit the breaks on my overly sensitive 20-year-old brain. Luckily, my perspective has shifted since then and I’ve matured to see things differently.

The truth is, my boyfriend at the time was right. He saw something in me that I didn’t see or wasn’t willing to see, my ability to forge my own path and do my own thing. While I consider myself to be an outgoing person, I also have a little bit of introvert blended in my personality as well. Sometimes it feels great to go out with a group of friends and spend time together, but other times, it feels so good to spend time at home on the sofa listening to music, resting or writing (guilty as charged at the moment). I had never thought of myself as someone who liked to be alone until someone else pointed it out, and he was right!

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody)

“What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.” Audrey Hepburn

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In a social media obsessed world where everyone knows what everyone else is doing at every moment, I take solace in quiet. I love the moments of peace in the mornings when I go for a run. I love roaming around a book store for hours in search of finding new writers to inspire me. I like to turn up my music and get lost in the beat while I’m cooking a meal. We all need these moments of solitude to think, to recuperate, to channel our thoughts. It becomes an issue when we can’t take time to ourselves and become more concerned with what everyone else is doing.

I challenge you for the year 2014 to spend time on your own. Get to know yourself. Get in touch with your inner voice and find some peace and quiet. Unplug your phone and disconnect from social media for days or weeks at a time. Having friends and being social is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. However, too much of anything isn’t good for you.

Don’t be afraid to go your own way. The way to find your truest desires and dreams is by getting to know the person staring back in the mirror. Make sure to nurture and honor that person. Don’t be afraid of a little solitude. As Audrey Hepburn said, do your own thing. Because that is the only way you will live a life worth living.

-Stephkt

20 Something Advice from 2013

There’s only a few more hours left until the new year! There is something exhilarating about the beginning of something new. The end of one thing and the beginning of the next is refreshing, empowering, enlightening. New starts are what life is all about. If 2013 was a great year for you, I hope that carries over in to 2014. For those of you who would say 2013 wasn’t your greatest year, I hope you can take whatever lessons you might have learned from the lows and use them to become a better version of yourself in the next year. Here are some of the best lessons I’ve learned this year and wise words that were passed my way. Happy 2014!!

2013 Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody)

Don’t ever let failed attempts get to you. Work ten times harder to succeed.

“If you aren’t at least a little afraid that you’ll fail, you haven’t aimed high enough.” Rachel Millner, Levo League

Be open to the opportunities that present themselves to you. You never know where life will take you.

The choice to change is yours in every moment.

Be hungry to succeed, not thirsty for attention. The most accomplished people keep low profiles for a good reason.” Lauren Maillian Bias, Levo League

In order to grow, you have to be challenged constantly.

When you leave home, you miss family, friends and familiar places. It’s hard but you grow, and that is the best part.

“Do the best you can with what you know and when you know better, you do better.”  Maya Angelou

“Surround yourself with dreamers, doers, believers and thinkers. Most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness in you.” Edmund Lee

Every situation perceived properly is an opportunity for healing.

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” Shauna Niequist

An educated woman is an unstoppable force.

If a pair of shoes doesn’t fit today, they won’t fit tomorrow. Neither will that guy or that job. Don’t settle.

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll

It’s good to be successful and take care of business, but make sure to enjoy life too.

When it comes to your career, refuse to put yourself in a box.

You have to flexible and open. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Woody Allen

We are each a product of our environment. But there comes a point when we have to take personal responsibility for who we have become.”

Be persistent. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.

2013Recap
Some of my favorite memories from 2013

Have the best New Year’s Eve. See you in 2014!

– Stephkt