validity + vulnerability

a truth about me: I care about others too much. 

Not in the sense that I spend all my time taking care of others and bending over backwards for others, but in the sense that I care about validation from others. 

I really started noticing this around my 22nd birthday. Why? I didn't think anyone would want to celebrate with me because I didn't think anyone liked me that much. Why did I think this? Because W didn't ask me to take their photos for them, X didn't like my instagram post, Y didn't respond to my text, or Z cancelled plans last minute and a myriad of other reasons. Here's what I didn't take into account: the people that love me dearly, personally, and intimately every day. I was too focused on the validation I was/wasn't receiving on and off-screen to be concerned with the friendships I had that existed beyond the surface level. 

Thirty people came to celebrate my 22nd birthday with me and others texted, called, or sent letters.

And still, I let myself be discouraged and disheartened by the people that didn't come, the people that cancelled, the people that didn't say happy birthday. 

So I let myself sit in it for a while. After a sweet engagement party, I sat wondering if my friends only showed up out of pity. Seeing photos on Instagram, I sat wondering why not all my friends asked me to document their special moments. In classes when the professor didn't ask me my thoughts, I sat and let myself believe that I wasn't worthy to be in this class with these people. And countless other moments. 

So, I decided that for the month of April, I would do at least one thing that made me uncomfortable every day. In this, I would fight against this need to be validated by both society at large and my friends and I would force myself to be truly vulnerable.

+ So, I didn't shave my legs or armpits for an entire month. 

and I wore shorts. 

and tanktops. 

in public. 

(to be honest, I might keep this up because, no one has that kind of time to spend in the shower anyways)

This was really important to me because I let societal beauty standards facilitate my life. I obsess over size, how I look in clothes, perfecting the 'flawless' look, and making sure that no one's looking at me like I can't take care of myself. 

But here's the truth: I don't enjoy shaving every week. I don't like fixing my hair every morning. and I'm not tired or sick, I just don't feel like putting on a show for you this morning. I want to take pride in the way I look without taking pride in society's validation of my looks. 

+ I started dancing in the car.

to really loud music.

at stoplights. 

And I had a lot of fun! It didn't matter that the car over was videotaping my finger guns, I was laughing and feeling light. 

+ I set boundaries. 

This was really hard for me. It's difficult for me (where my people pleaser's at?!) to say no to people. Its hard for me to say no when people need a babysitter, when my boss needs me to work extra hours, when a school organization asks me to do more, when a friend asks me to help out. 

But I did it. 

Twice. I said "I can't, I'm sorry" and forced myself to take care of myself before rushing out to play savior for others. 

+ I sat with my hurt and anger about losing the church I called home for my college career. 
 

If you didn't know, Wildwood College Life is turning a new leaf. I tried to be a "team player" on the outside, but inside, I was screaming I was so angry. God told me that it was time to start looking elsewhere because our relationship was faltering by my staying put. I tried looking around. and it made me angry. It made me so angry that I stopped talking to God altogether for a while. I stopped going to church for a while, and I pushed out community. 

Then it all just kind of came to a head, and I was forced to sit with my anger and hurt. I was forced to tell God how angry I was, how wrong I felt this was, and why I felt like I was being abandoned. 

If you've never screamed at God from the comfort of your dark walk-in closet, I dare you to try it. It's healing. 

+ I took myself out to dinner. 

without my phone in my hand. 

The world tells us that doing things alone is unnatural. The little voice in our head tells us that if we eat out alone, see a movie alone, or do other things alone, everyone else around us is judging us and making up stories about how lonely and weird we probably are. 

Tell that voice to shut up and take yourself out some time. Make yourself sit and really think about why you're uncomfortable being with yourself. When people do stare at you, smile back at them. Engage your waitress/er in conversation. Order dessert. 

+ I cut my hair.

There's something about having long hair that makes many women feel safe and secure. There's something that tells us women that no matter what happens, no matter how bad the day is, we still have our luscious locks and we'll make it through. 

But I was SO tired of trying to take care of my hair. 

If you've ever worked with kids, you know that sticky baby hands will literally be the death of your hair. 

If you've ever had to routinely wake up and go at 6am, you know that the easiest and quickest things to do is throw your hair up in a bun and run out the door. 

If you have crazy curly hair and you've ever slept on it wet, you know that in the morning, a headband or hat is the only way to save yourself hours in front of the mirror. 

So, I went to the sweet ladies at The Social Club and said "cut it. you have full permission to do whatever you want." 

AND I LOVE IT. It's so sweet to spend fifteen minutes in the bathroom versus ninety minutes. 

+ I asked for space. 

The one things I hate more than snakes is being a part of someone's pain. 

About a week ago, my fiancee and I got into a fight that made me want to call it all off and run far away. 

Thankfully, I didn't do this, but I did ask for a few days for both us to separate and think about the root of the issue, why it hurt us the way it did, and further, what we needed from each other going forward.

Matt was really hurt about it. So hurt that I wanted to say 'forget my well-being, I need to take care of my guy.'

But I didn't. I took the space and room to grow and reevaluate and recenter. We're both better for it. 

+ I changed my Instagram from private to business, labeling myself a photographer. 

There's always been (and studies say probably always will be) a little voice inside me that tells me I'll never be ____ enough. When it comes to photography, there's always a little voice inside (and voices on the outside) that tell me I'll never be a real photographer. This imposter syndrome is real and its crippling. 

It affected the way I interacted with others, the way I treated myself, and my confidence in what I can do. 

In doing this little thing, I forced myself to be vulnerable and denied the vulnerability of a world that tells me I can't 'really' do this. 

+ I quit a job I didn't like. 

If you're in school and working and paying all the bills, I see you and I know your struggle. Throughout college, I've held down anywhere from two - five jobs at a time to make ends meet and feel secure enough in wealth to pay the bills and buy myself dinner. This means I've taken a lot of jobs I didn't like and some that I was ashamed of (like deliver driver). Now I have a job that I really love (shoutout to Christie's home daycare), I nanny most evenings (if you need a summer nanny, pls hit me up!), and a lot of people are asking me to take their photos (take that, little condescending voice!)

But I was still holding onto a job that I didn't like just "to be safe". 

Here's the thing about me when it comes to money: there are times where I will stress about paying rent, and all of the sudden, after I've exhausted every option, God will literally just drop money in my hands. So, I've realized that if I step out in faith, my God is going to cover me. So, I gave my two weeks and things have just kept getting better on the financial front (ie. tax return!!) 

+ I took a calligraphy workshop. 

I HATE failing. I especially hate failing in public where people can see and evaluate my failure. 

So, naturally, I'd sign up for a workshop involving something I've always wanted to do, but am completely amateur at. 

Literally guys, I think I was the worst one in the class. My cheeks burned red the full two hours of the class, sweet Sarah had to correct me several times, and I just kept putting myself down in my head. 

But I did it and I think I'm better for it. 
So what if I failed and people saw me? It's a side-effect of being human. 

+ I told the truth. 

A few days ago, sweet Michelle called and asked how I was doing. 

Phone calls are so easy for me to fake and I don't like letting people know I'm struggling because I feel like I'm adding to their multitudinous burden.

But I told the truth. I told Michelle, who is literally the most understanding, truth-speaking, and caring woman on the planet, about all the things I was struggling with and all the feelings my heart was hosting. 

And she didn't condemn me. She didn't tell me I was being silly. She didn't hang up the phone because my problems were too big. 

She loved me, she prayed for me, and she spoke truth over me. 

+ I got a tattoo with my fiancee. 

For almost a year, I've been begging Matt to get matching avocado tattoos with me. This came after seeing one on our waiter and Austin and it looked so great on him that I wanted one. 

I know a lot of people say "I could never get a tattoo because I don't like anything enough to plaster it on my body forever."

That's not really my outlook on tattoos but each one of mine has a special meaning and they matter to me. 

Our matching avo-tats would have obviously had significance, but they also would have just been funny and always reminded me of my fierce love for avo toast. 

Instead, we both got tattoos today (Matt's first!!!) with similar meanings in different forms. 

After our week of separation, Matt told me that life is peaks and valleys and he can't wait to hold me hand on top of every mountain and hold my heart through every valley.

It's all peaks and valleys and here's to having more heart and less attack in every season of our life together.

 

I did a lot of other, small things throughout the month as well, but these are some of the really big ones for me. Needing validation from others has left my life small and surface-level. But I'm tired of making myself small. I'm tired of only feeling like 'myself' when the world tells me I'm acceptable. I am good and worthy and whole because I was created and formed by a God who loved and wanted me. I'm going to keep telling myself this until I believe it. Here's to me and you and anyone else needing to be championed today.

big love, 
k