The Twenties: A Time to Deal

Aaah the twenties! Such a formative decade, full of ups and downs. Full of growing pains. This blog is all about chronicling my life as a twenty something and my lessons learned. Hopefully, all you twenty somethings can relate to the embarrassing moments, life lessons, love mistakes, job woes and friendship growing pains, I divulge each week and that you find them to be both entertaining and inspiring.

Awhile ago, I heard someone say something that piqued my interest. They said something along the lines of,” Your twenties are a time to work through all the issues you’ve developed since childhood, grow and learn how to take the good into your adulthood.”

Here’s what I took from that statement, your twenties are a great time for counseling, whether unofficial or official. I don’t say this in humor or in jest. Get some counseling, whether with a professional in an office with a leather chair and polished furniture, at the foot of the bed with your head in your bible or in long talks with a trusted friend. Start learning to deal with things now. Whatever that looks like for you, start processing through the last twenty something years of your life and deal with stuff.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Your twenties are a great time for counseling, whether unofficial or official.”

Between the ages of 20 and 29, you are kind of in the in between. You’re no longer legally a minor, bending at the word of whatever adult is in charge, but you’re not quite an adult yet either. You’re still figuring out how to balance work life, bills, travel, family and friends. You’re taking baby steps, but steps nonetheless, on the road to becoming a full fledged adult. Why not use your “in between” to take the stuff that’s happened to propel you forward?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.”  Whether you are a spiritual person or not, you can still find some relevance in this statement. This verse and really this whole chapter explains that there is a time for everything under the sun. I guarantee you, as a twenty something year old, you probably have your share of baggage, little secrets and parts of your story that aren’t so pretty. There’s a time to deal and to tear down old walls, and that time my friends, is now.

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Each of us has a story. Maybe your childhood was all bunnies and roses. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe college for you was full of nothing but studying, acing classes and volunteering in the community. Or maybe it was full of heartache, wreckless nights, and stories you may never feel quite comfortable sharing with your future spouse. Whichever is true for you, it’s okay. It really is.

The best service you can do yourself and the world around is to use this time in your early adulthood to grow, to mend, to learn how you think and why you think that way, to understand your triggers, to reflect on how your parents’ shortcomings or struggles may have affected you, to heal from past hurts, to figure how who you are and who you want to become.

On the path to becoming who you are meant to be, you have to first deal with the person you have become. Take sometime to reflect. Take a little rest and relaxation to deal with what life has handed to you. Sometimes reflecting back helps you find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

– Stephkt

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Be a Wildflower

So the month of August was really, really rough. A few friends and myself decided to take the no makeup challenge for the month of August, the ENTIRE month. I never realized how much I enjoy wearing makeup until I couldn’t wear it!

It was a very taxing month. Funny thing, the first week of September came and I had the flu. So I didn’t even wear makeup the first week I was actually free to. Jokes on me!

Well since I am a super retrospective person, who always looks for the lesson in things, I took some time to stop and think about my no makeup experience. Am I really so dependent upon makeup? Is my confidence linked to my outward appearance? Can I speak while looking people in the eye and walk with my head held high even when I don’t have any paint on my face? Is beauty really an outward thing?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Authenticity is….about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Brene Brown

I am not going to lie. There were a number of days that I wanted to quit on the no makeup challenge for a plethora of reasons, i.e. dinner dates with friends, job interviews, getting dressed up for really just about anything. I am proud to say I did not quit. (All bets were off if I ran into an ex-boyfriend though. The makeup was going on!)

This challenge was an eye opening experience to examine beauty and my own confidence. It was also a lesson about authenticity. As twenty somethings, we all are trying to achieve something. We want to look professional, adult and successful. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s also okay to not be adult sometimes. It’s okay to take down the facade and just be genuine you.

The no makeup challenge opened my eyes to a world of genuineness and authenticity. Not wearing makeup was hard, yes, but it was also freeing. It was my way of saying, “Hey, world! This is me. Take or leave it. Like it or hate it. This is me.” Maybe just by being my authentic self, I can inspire the people around me to do the same. We all need and crave authenticity in our lives. I encourage you today, to get rid of whatever facades you hid behind as an upcoming, twenty something, and to just be genuine (imperfect, flawed, bright eyed and amazing) you!

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-Stephkt

A Life of Purpose: One 20 Something’s Story

Authenticity is such a rare and beautiful thing. For today’s blog post, Marialicia Coates, founder of We Are Beautiful and Beautifully You magazine, shares her story. This young lady has such vision and purpose, but what strikes me the most about Marialicia is her realness as a person. Through sharing personal struggles, weaknesses and insecurities, she and the team of women at We Are Beautiful, are working to shift the cultural perspective of beauty and to encourage women to pursue lives of purpose.

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Getting to know you a little better……

– How old are you? 27 almost 28 (OMG)

– Where are you from originally from? Ecuador, South America

– Where did you attend college and what did you study?
San Francisco University in Quito, Ecuador.
I majored in Film and Advertising. I also went through 2 years of bible school at Victory Bible College and a year for a Masters in Ministry at Southwestern Christian University

– How did you end up in Tulsa? 

I had been working in an Ad Agency as a copywriter for two years and I liked it, but I knew my life was not supposed to be a “regular” one where I had a job everyday and then went home. I always had a feeling I was meant to do something greater, but I needed to find out what it was so I decided to get closer to God and just leave everything and pursue Him and His word so I moved in 2009 to Tulsa.
– Describe yourself in 5 words.
Passionate. Driven. Funny. Loving. Crazy (in a healthy way though)
– What is the biggest lesson your parents have taught you?
To be a woman of integrity and to love everybody with open arms.
– What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a singer or an actress or some kind of celebrity.
– What is your favorite quote?
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
– If you could pick a character from your favorite movie/novel who you relate most to, who would it be and why?
Beauty from Beauty in the Beast because she saw beauty in the ugliest. She loved regardless and ended up bringing out the real beauty in others.
– Who is one person who always makes you smile and why?
My husband. He knows the way to my heart, but honestly just seeing him walking by makes me smile. I’m in love.
– Where are you currently working? What are your long-term career goals?
I’m working part time at a law office as a legal assistant, but the purpose to work there is just to open up time in my schedule to be able to work in my passion, which is We Are Beautiful, a non-profit organization that helps women realize how amazing they are and how impactful their lives can be if they dare to believe that they are valuable.
– Since you recently got married, tell us what it’s like to be married in your twenties so far? Any advice for 20-somethings considering marriage?
Being married in my twenties is very fun because we don’t have kids yet and we have lots of fun together. We sleep in together, which is a wonderful feeling. No, I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about sleeping, snoring, cuddling, or just feeling someone is next to you. It’s the best feeling in the world. Praying together is definitely one of my favorites. Seeing how real is God and how he answers prayer lifted by a couple is very amazing. Hanging out with other recently married couples is also a really fun and good thing to do because it makes you realize you are not crazy! The last thing I like about being married in my twenties is that we have a lot of dreams and right now they seem so big, far and impossible, but dreaming time is good. We are gearing up to strategize and go for those dreams.  When you’re younger, you think about things less and you just go for it which is yes, risky, but that spark is essential to succeed. How much more amazing if you’re doing it with the love of your life?
My advice for twenty somethings considering marriage is to know that love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. When you start sharing life with the person you love, you realize you really don’t necessarily “love” everything about them right away. There will be things that bother you, but you have to learn to love no matter what.  Of course, communicate if there are things that are not acceptable, but in the great majority of circumstances, let go and try not to control.
Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
“Don’t be afraid of big dreams. Go for it! What do you have to lose?” Marialicia Coates
– Explain the purpose of We Are Beautiful and Beautifully You and how they are different.

We Are Beautiful is an organization dedicated to shift today’s culture, teaching women who they really are and encouraging them to live a life full of purpose. Beautifully You is just one of the strategies we use to reach women with the message of identity and purpose. Beautifully You is a magazine designed to reach ANY women, ages between 15 and 35, and bring them the message of identity. We Are Beautiful also has conferences, websites and soon curricula to help women lead in helping other women realize their value and purpose.

– How did the two get started?

Everything started from We Are Beautiful. To know how WAB started check out the story: http://www.beautifullyyoumagazine.com/about/

– Has your college degree been helpful in the work you do with WAB/ Beautifully You? How so?

Definitely. Back when I was in school, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling led to study advertising and film. I mean, film? C’mon!  It was just crazy, but honestly all the creativity that flows through my brain was pushed to its highest potential while in film school.  Advertising taught me standards when it comes to design, writing and consumer behavior. Bible School, on the other hand, helped me find my purpose because it helped me realize who I am and how much God has put inside of me to really change the world. I thank God I went to school and graduated with both bachelors’ degrees and that I have a ministers’ license because they definitely prepared me for what I do now. There are so many things that I would have to pay others to do, but I am able to do it by myself because I know how to.  Of course I don’t know it all, which is why I have a team of amazing people that help We Are Beautiful grow every day.

– When you were in college, did you expect to be doing what you are doing now?
Not at all.
– Did you always have a heart for women?
Nope. Not at all. It all started in 2010 in that “crazy experience in my room,” mentioned here: http://www.beautifullyyoumagazine.com/about/
– What is your hope for WAB/Beautifully You in the future?
To become a movement. To become a very influential part of women’s society generation after generation.
– As an upcoming, twenty something, what is the greatest lesson you have learned so far?
 “I am what I am by the grace of God, and his Grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
There’s no way I would be where I am today if it wasn’t by finding my purpose and destiny by asking The One who created me. He created me not because he was bored, or because it’s just fun to create humans. He created me because He has an assignment for me on this earth and so I owe it all to Him. Without Him, I am nothing. I do nothing.
– What advice do you have for other twenty somethings with big dreams?
Don’t be afraid. Go for it! What do you have to lose?
** Photo courtesy Amanda Watson Photography, http://www.amandawatsonphoto.com

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

You are the Only You

Writing is something I love to do. The only time I have trouble writing is when it is personal, which is why this blog can sometimes be a little hard for me to maintain. Blogging forces me to be honest about me. I have found that stepping outside of my comfort zone is a good thing and today that is what I attempt to do.

As of today, November 30, I am 22 years old and I am embarking on the hardest journey I have ever trekked. I am on the journey of self-love. However corny or cheesy that may sound, I am attempting to learn to love myself.

I am a young woman at the beginning of my adult life. What I have found so far is that the world is not always a pretty place. The world will shut you down. You may date a guy who doesn’t treat you well and you cannot seem to figure out why. You may get a job where it seems like it is your boss’ sole mission to give you hell every day when you step in the door. Your group of friends may see some drastic alterations in the next two or three years. Your car may break down. Your money situation may not be the most stable. In the midst of all the chaos around you, it is important that you learn to love yourself. If you don’t, who else will?

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This whole idea of self-love has been something that I have struggled with since I was a little kid. For one reason or another, I just always felt different. Now that I am 22, I understand that it is okay to be different. In many ways, this is a very good thing. Tell that to a younger version of me and I would not have believed you.

I can easily make a long list of my weaknesses. I over think things. I have a hard time letting go of people and the past. I run from conflict. I have dry skin. I have a slight over bite. I am slew footed (i.e. duck footed or bow-legged). When I smile, my eyes squint and you cannot see my pupils. I can be critical of myself. I worry a lot. I can be a control freak. The list goes on and on………

For the first time in my life, I came to a strange and daunting revelation. I have not loved myself. Hard to hear and even harder to admit, but I realized that I have spent so much of my life being critical of myself and comparing myself to other people that I lost sight of me. I lost sight of the awesome, strong, beautiful person God created me to be!

I am finding that when I love myself, even when I immensely screw up, that things are easier. I don’t stress as easily and worry as much. I don’t look to other people to define me. I laugh at my mistakes and am easier on myself when I fall down.

10 Good Things About Me

1. Quirky

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2. Analytical

3. Intelligent

4. Ambitious

      5. Outgoing

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6. Artistic

      7. Passionate

8. Driven

9. Strong

10. Beautiful

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Life is a process. You and I will never ever be perfect no matter how hard we try. However, we must still learn to love ourselves. The hardest relationship a person can have is the one they have with themselves. Other people’s treatment of you will reflect your treatment of yourself. People will only treat you the way you allow them to.

Maybe you are in the same boat as me, a 20 something and just embarking on your life. Maybe you are a teenager and just getting a first taste of freedom. Maybe you are in your 30s and raising kids or you are in your 50s experiencing empty-nest syndrome. Whatever stage of life you find yourself in, I hope you learn to love yourself, flaws and all. Love yourself and see all the good things that have been in you all along.  You are worthy. You are important. You are special. You are loved.

So far embarking on this journey of self-love is the best decision I have ever made. It is a process but I am learning how to love me for me. Nobody else can be me but me. God must have put me here for a reason. So I have decided to be the best version of myself possible.

Make your own list of good things about yourself.  Throw away what other people think and what’s happening in the world around you. I dare you to fall in love with you!

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Stephkt

No Comparison

Rainy, cloudy, overcast days like today…… I love them. I absolutely love them. They are absolutely the best days for thinking, introspection and self reflection. If you are a writer like me, then of course days like today are great for writing as well, my favorite past time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about myself lately. That may sound like an arrogant or extremely haughty statement to make, but stay with me.  There is a point. I have been thinking about myself in the sense of self reflection and why I am the way I am. Have you ever done that? Just sat down and really thought about what makes you who you are. Have you ever asked yourself why are you wired the way you are?

I hope you still like me after the statement I made in that last paragraph. I hope that you have continued reading to this paragraph and are happily surprised to realize that my “me” moments recently have been times for self reflection and thinking.  This thinking has brought me to a greater understanding of the person I am and my purpose. It has also brought me face to face with some of my biggest struggles.

I recently took some me time to think about a breakup of mine, my first breakup, my first love. Although it wasn’t very fun, I can definitely say that I really learned a lot. I learned a lot about myself, my needs, the things a guy needs in a relationship, how I deserve to be treated and the list goes on. Then I started getting down to the nitty gritty, the not so easy stuff.  I started thinking about why it hurt me so badly and why it took so long to really recover after the blow. So I started to look at myself…..and boy that wasn’t easy but it was well worth the effort and time.

What I realized is that the relationship hurt so much because it left me feeling not good enough. It left me feeling less than the self I had always known. It left me with those nagging questions…… Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I funny enough? Am I enough? The resounding answer was no. Then I started to think how could one guy or one relationship do all this? How could it strip me of my identity so completely? Tick tock tick tock tick tock………..I had to do some real digging.

After some prayer, some tears and a lot of thinking, I found that this relationship that I valued so much didn’t cause me to feel this way.  It added to a whirlwind of feelings and questions that I had struggled with my entire life. I have always dealt with feelings of being alone, not being good enough and just not belonging. Why? Why? Why Steph? I asked myself the same thing. I have come to realize, through my own relationships with friends, family and myself that this search for identity and worth is something all women deal with. I am sure men deal with it as well, but because I am not a man I cannot say for certain how their search for identity works exactly.

For women, however, it is one big similar quest for us all. From a young age, we are put in a our ribbons, bows and curls. We are surrounded by pink pastels and everything that sparkles and shines. We are surrounded by beauty and we strive to become beautiful. More than anything we just want to be wanted. This desire to be beautiful and to be wanted doesn’t end with childhood.  It carries over into our hearts as women, which is probably why every time I have been hurt or left I always feel like a little girl again.

Two of my cabin girls at camp this summer!

In women’s quest to feel beauty and a sense of belonging, it seems like our society has begun an assault on this journey throughout history. Just think about it.  Think about the number of girls who have been physically or mentally abused. Think about the number of divorces that occur each year and what it does to children. How do you think that little girl felt when her daddy packed his bags and left to start another family of his own? I can guarantee you not very wanted or beautiful.

Those are some of the more obvious ways, but it happens subtly as well. For me, my battle with belonging and feeling wanted was a slow progressive process. As a little girl, I never quite felt like I fit in. I grew up in a conservative, Christian home that I am extremely proud of, but it definitely made me different.  The list of things I was allowed to do and could not do was long enough to put a big gap between myself and my peers. I was friendly and outgoing, but still I just never like I fit. I thought there must be something wrong with me. Assault #1. I grew up a little and went off to high school and the same problems from middle school persisted except the girls were meaner. Assault #2. Then my sophomore year, just as I was starting to feel a little less awkward, my  grandmother, the woman I looked up to the most and felt most loved by, suddenly passed away. Then my family moved across the country to Tulsa, Oklahoma and I was the new kid. I was alone. Assault # 3. As I was getting adjusted to life in Tulsa and moving in to my senior year of high school, my best friend, Felicia passed away from cancer. Assault # 4. The list goes on and on. There was the football player who tried to use me for sex, the time my mom was diagnosed with having a mental illness, the loss of my first love….on and on.

I am not telling you any of this for you to feel sorry for me. What I am learning is that life is a complicated, messy place. We all have struggles, pain and loss. I think with children, especially with little girls, it is important for them to know that they are loved. All the circumstances I listed above left me feeling alone. They left me feeling broken. Each one added on to the unresolved hurt of the other. They made me think something was wrong with me. Not fitting in made me feel like something was wrong with me. People I cared about who passed away left me feeling alone. The guys who broke my heart made me feel not good enough and again like something was wrong with me. Broken is the word.

Every girl goes through it. Your battle may not have looked exactly like mine. Maybe it was a parent passing away or the absence of a father. Maybe it was sexual abuse. Maybe it was a dysfunctional relationship with your mom. Maybe it was bullying at school. Maybe it was a boyfriend who cheated on you. I don’t know your story or struggle, but I know we are similar. I know us girls just want to be loved and feel beautiful. We want a sense of belonging and knowing that we bring to the table is good enough.

One thing that I have come to realize is that who I am, my identity, is not rooted in the things of this world. It is something so heavenly and beyond the sphere of this world. It doesn’t change. The identity I have is in God and it never changes. It tells me I am loved. I don’t have to strive to be beautiful. I am beauty.

If you are a women or girl reading this, I hope you are encouraged to know that you are beauty. You don’t have to strive to be beautiful. You are also loved. So if you ever feel alone or not good enough, please know that voice in your head that says those things is lying. Every time you feel something in you say you are not good enough that is a lie.

My last relationship added to this lie. After it ended, I found myself comparing myself to other girls. I had done this before but now it had become so routine that it was unhealthy. We are not to compare ourselves to others. It is really crazy if you think about it. Does the beautiful boutique of roses in the vase take away from the beauty of the lilies growing in the pond? No. Think of two of your favorite female celebrities who you think are gorgeous. Now tell me this, does one being beautiful take away from the beauty of the other? I didn’t think so. Now change your perspective about yourself and understand that you are YOU. No one else can be you.  If you are spending all your time trying to be like everybody else, who will be you in the meantime? You are you and no one else can compare in that area. I firmly believe that every woman is beautiful and that there is an amazingly sovereign God up above who made each of us. I hope you find this to be true for yourself.

In closing, I’d like to tell you about a little girl I met this summer. Her name is Scarlett. I was her camp counselor this summer and to me, she was such a pretty girl but she didn’t see it. One night as me and my cabin were getting ready for bed, she blurted out randomly that she was ugly. I stopped in my tracks when I heard these words. She said it laughingly but I knew she wasn’t kidding. She said it more than once. After that I started to take note of her more. I would watch as she admired the other girls or compared herself to them or followed their every move. I just wanted Scarlett to see how pretty she was. Yes, she was different from the other girls but that is a good thing.

Girls like Scarlett make me passionate about my purpose. I want to make a difference in the lives of girls and young women and help them see their beauty through the lies. I just want other girls to come to a sense of self acceptance. I know that the things I have been through have been a training field for me to help other girls. I hope you are encouraged from reading this and please, please if you take one thing from this, I hope it is that you have no need to compare yourself to others. You are beauty and that’s enough.

My cabin girls and I this summer. (From top left to right) Scarlett, Chandler, Kate, Emma, Lexie and me.

Stephkt