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“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

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21 sounds young, but to me I feel like I’m getting old, especially since I’m a senior in college this year. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me  that there’s plenty of fish in the sea, that it will happen when I least expect it. Sure, maybe it will. Still, that never seemed to help me.

But I think I was going about it all wrong.

God put it in our hearts to want love, to want marriage. Marriage will be a beautiful thing, a day to celebrate the joining of two families into one. I find myself skimming through Pinterest engagement pictures, thinking about that moment when he pops out a ring, how he’ll get down on one knee.

I’ve looked at wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, where we would want the reception, types of flowers and decorations. I’ve thought about those steps down the aisle, not being able to see anyone but him waiting for me.

I look at guys in my life, guys I like, and begin trying on their last names. I imagine honeymoon locations, and buying our first house. I imagine the private things that happen on honeymoons. I imagine tailgate parties, motorcycle rides, and picnics in the park as husband and wife. Sometimes I rub my stomach and think about experiencing that first kick, the excitement of seeing a baby we made even after the pain.

If I have a daughter, I hope to name her Natalie; if a son, I hope to name him Ethan. I’ve thought about what I’d decorate the baby room into, about having a summer cabin by a lake where we could take family vacations. I’ve thought about teaching my kids patience through fishing and hard work by feeding the calves and pulling weeds in the garden. I’d hope my daughter to be a volleyball player like I was. I would love to have a son on the football team.

I’ve thought it all, I’ve read it all. Most experience something of the sort, some don’t.

But then I have to remember something: my priority has never been marriage. My priority has always been God. I have even told myself that in my relationship God will always come first, so why do I have it in my head that I need to find someone before I spend the rest of my life alone? 

A part of me loves being alone. Lately I haven’t had enough time to myself, and I’m someone who needs “me time” if I’m going to survive being with people all the time. I love seeing my friends and family and just people in general, but, for me, there really is such a thing as too much people-time.

For me, to read, write, do summer school homework, play guitar, listen to music without having to participate in conversation; these things I need to do alone. When I was in Italy, I was with people every single day and never really just went for a walk by myself or sat in my bed reading what I wanted to read. I wanted to be in the lounge hanging out with people because I knew my time was limited and I wanted to see them all as much as I could.

But what I seem to keep forgetting, what I think we all forget, is that all of us need time alone. Some need it more than others, but you can’t really reflect unless you give yourself some space from the things that distract you. Since I’m single, I’ll get more “me time” than I will once I get a real full-time job, a boyfriend/husband, and kids. Once my life starts with someone else, my life will be devoted to them. However, right now, I get to devote myself to simple things that I love. This may be the most time I’ll ever get to work on writing my books, and that doesn’t even feel like much time at all.

At the end of the day, yes, I’m single. But I’m also using that time to work towards the things that God has me here to do. Right now, I don’t have a boy to distract me from my writing. I know with every part of my being that God has stories He wants me to share with the world, and He chose me to write them for Him. God is all I’ve ever needed, and I will always seek His Kingdom first. A relationship with a man will always come in second to my relationship with God.

God really is enough, and I hope if you don’t know that already, that you will come to realize it as well 🙂

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Without even going any further, I’m sure you have a pretty good idea what I’m talking about.

The List. A man’s worst nightmare. The checkpoints that supposedly makeup your ideal man, maybe the perfect man, maybe the man that ends up being gay or simply something you copied from a Disney story. Maybe he’s one of the heroes on TV that knows just what to say to make a woman go weak at the knees just by watching. He doesn’t exist, sweetheart. If you put that much pressure on men, you will just make them confused and exhausted.

I think at first we start out broad—handsome, funny, tall.

But as the months go on, it gets more specific—optimistic, similar interests, gets along with family and friends.

And then it becomes almost obnoxiously pinpointed—guitar player, can cook, loves cats.

No offense to the guys that might be reading this, but you can’t expect much from men. I think the less that you expect, the more they tend to surprise you. Sometimes the qualities you are looking for, or that you think you want, are not necessarily what’s best for you or what you will be happy with.

For example, if you want to marry a doctor is it because he likes making people healthy again, or because it means he has money? Do you even know how busy doctors are? If you think he has the time to both work and wait on you hand and foot, then you are sadly mistaken.

I think some people underestimate personality. Just because he may not always look cute, does not mean he isn’t the funniest person you’ve ever met. Sometimes their personality makes them handsome.

Sometimes I believe in the phrase “What’s meant to be will always find its way,” and then other times I believe that’s crap because of how people use it. You can’t sit on your ass and then say “If God wants me to get married, I’ll get married.” You actually have to put forth some effort to get the answers you’re looking for. Shocking, I know.

Now there should be some sort of attraction between the two of you that is more than just sexual, or your relationship will never be happy. (some people need to remember this: just because he may be good in bed, doesn’t mean that he will be a suitable husband for you. Whether you like it or not, there has to be an actual good relationship. Eventually good sex won’t be enough. I know couples who get divorced because of this.)

Somehow, many people are surprised when a quiet person and a social person end up being together. This does not surprise me at all. I am a bit more quiet, so I look for people who talk more than me because I am a listener.

However, yes you should keep open-minded, but whether we like it or not, all of us have something that is somewhat of a requirement for us. Think about what yours are without making a list three pages long.  One of mine is the guy needs to be a Christian because I want my family to put God first in everything they do.

Don’t be afraid to wait, but that doesn’t mean you need to turn down everyone who comes along.

That probably sounds more complicated than what it really is, but you’ll figure it out 😉

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I’ve really been working on my self-confidence the past few months. Surrounded by pretty girls all the time can make anyone feel self-conscious, especially when the majority of them are skinny and go for runs everyday while I sit my lazy butt on the couch and read a book. It would probably help if I didn’t eat seven pieces of pizza the other day, and I could have probably skipped the hot chocolate and chocolate Easter eggs that I had tonight, but then when I look at the older people I know, they would probably gain weight from lettuce. My metabolism may not be as high as others, but it’s definitely better now than it will be when I’m thirty. 

I have an unhealthy love for chocolate, I’ll admit it, but maybe because chocolate is the laces to my shoe. Maybe it becomes the Tequila to my margarita and pretends to be all sweet and innocent until it starts blowing up my love handles like balloon animals. But then I look in the mirror and say, “Hey, ya still got a pretty face. Wear a tshirt today and no one will even notice.” 

I live in the country, and when I’m hanging out with people I love simply being in jeans and a baseball cap, yet nowadays I hope for more hours at work just so I can go shopping for more clothes. We are never satisfied with what we have. Even when I have lost a couple pounds off my hips, I feel I still need to be skinnier. When we get money we wish for more money. It is an exhausting, never-ending cycle of wants instead of needs and complainers who like to bitch about things just so they can find someone who feels sorry for them. 

Honey, I don’t care how much you weigh. I don’t give a rats ass if you have a pimple on your forehead, crooked teeth, weird toenails, or the fact that you may need to pluck your eyebrows. 

And yes, there will be other people who care, but you know who has to live with it? You and only you. Maybe a husband or wife once you get that far, but if something small like that is going to break your relationship, then that’s pretty pathetic. 

I have a couple curves that probably don’t need to be there. I wish I had gotten braces when I was younger so I could have a nicer smile and or that I could find the will to stop chewing my nails so I can wear fingernail polish again, but when I get up in the morning, I don’t necessarily always feel beautiful, but I’m comfortable enough with myself to be okay with it. 

There will always be someone who doesn’t like you. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, nicer, taller, skinnier, and so on and so forth. If you can find satisfaction with yourself, then simply give a smile to the rest of the world, even if you decide to walk out in sweatpants for the day. If you don’t mind, they don’t matter. 

I don’t need to know who you are to tell you that you have something beautiful about yourself. The more you put-down yourself, the easier it is for you to let others put you down. Confidence itself can be beautiful when it’s not taken over the top. Start there, and you’ll find what makes you beautiful.

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