It’s Hard to Feel Pretty

Spilled milkI had the opportunity to guest post for The Spilled Milk Club this week on a topic that is so real and important to acknowledge today. The topic of comparison and body image and how media has changed it is all involved in my blog post here!

I am so thankful for the opportunity The Spilled Milk Club has given me to share this story and to God for the ability to write and hopefully, reach others who feel the same.

 

 

The Comparison Game

I’m here, climbing these steps in the gym. Kind of wishing I hadn’t set myself up at such a high speed. I’m already tired. I’m trying to act like I’m not actually dying, huffing and puffing up these steps. 

I come here to feel good. To release stress. But I find myself even more stressed. I look to the person to my right. She’s going faster, she’s been here for 20 minutes, I’ve been here for four and I’m exhausted.

She’s got a bigger butt, leaner legs, probably a thigh gap too. Probably because she’s more determined. She’s better at this kind of thing. I’m not as good.

I go straight to the leg machines. If I have a nicer butt, toner legs people will notice. And sometimes they do. But then I wonder if that’s the attention I should be looking for.

Then it switches:

That girl, she’s wearing those leggings… but should she? Should I? That girl should probably do more squats. Oh, she gained some weight, or she lost a lot of weight. She used to work out all the time. Well, at least I’m ahead of her. But she, she works out every day. I need to stop being lazy.

When did other women become my enemy? Something to degrade to make me feel upgraded? An enemy I have created myself, in my mind. 

When did I become my worst enemy?

When did something in my mind go off and say that I can belittle myself? Or others for that matter.

How did I get to a place where I lose confidence because I lack self-love. 

I tell myself I do it to feel good. Exercise, eat healthily.  But as I roam around the gym I realize my mind may not be in the same place as my heart.

These two thoughts come to mind:

  • Real, authentic self-love is hard. Be humble they say. Don’t be prideful. She’s too confident. Don’t overdo it. Don’t be too much. Oh, and don’t be too little either. 
  • Yet, be confident, be proud of your accomplishments, show people what you’re made of.

How is anyone supposed to live with these expectations? Is there even middle ground here? How can I balance these feelings?

These are all words I typed on my phone as I moved around the gym to different machines and places that would make me feel different feelings and emotions. I had to ask myself why I think such detrimental thoughts and why I hadn’t noticed it before.

I feel ashamed for the way I look and feel about myself, but more so about how I look and feel about others. It’s all a subconscious thing until now. This conversation had gone on in my head for so long, I didn’t realize its effect.

So, what now? I don’t know. It’s a constant struggle to show myself and others respect inside of my mind. Because those thoughts count too. Thinking of them in the first place is what leads to saying them out loud.

So I have done the only thing I know how to do right now. I know I want to take steps to eliminate these negative, demeaning thoughts.

1.) Pray for positive thoughts

2.) Find an accountability partner

3.) Stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones ASAP.

4.) Remind myself we are ALL human. We’re all made in the image of God and judging ourselves and each other isn’t even our job.

5.) We should be loving on ourselves and each other, not degrading. Whether it’s only in the space of our minds or not.

6.) Get over yourself. (What I have to say to myself because I’m not the only person in the room.)

Writing this, let alone publishing it, has been hard. I was so hesitant to hit the publish button because it could mean shattering some views other people have of me. But, if it means being honest and real so that more people- women specifically- can talk about this comfortably, then it’s worth it.

As you can see I’m not perfect. I don’t have this all figured out. But, I do want to make a change. I want girls and women to feel confident going into the gym or anywhere. I want them to feel good about themselves and others. So, I hope this is a step toward that.

And know that no matter the size on your tag, the size of your butt, whether you wear leggings or not, how much time you spend in the gym, or how many green things you eat, God loves you all the same. And He is the only one who can authentically, unconditionally, portray that kind of love. But, we can learn from Him and hope to love each other and ourselves like that.

Have you ever felt these feelings? Let me know your thoughts!

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Words and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

Long Distance Can Be Good Distance

For anyone who has ever been in a long distance relationship, kudos to you. It’s a daunting thing honestly. A lot of people may not recommend it. Some will say it never works. But for me, I say everyone should go through it at least once.

What on earth would make me say that? If you had asked me that freshman year of college I would have laughed in your face. However, experience has given me a new perspective on it.

To fill you in, me and my boyfriend (A.K.A best friend) have been doing this long distance thing for almost three years now. He’s kind of my favorite person ever and deciding to be a state away from him for 9 months out of the year was incredibly hard. BUT. Here are a few reasons why it has been so so good for our relationship:

Long distance? How can that be “good”?

1.) You HAVE to meet people:

As an introvert, if I had gone to school with my boyfriend, I would have never met the amazing people I have. I was forced to put myself out there which -while it was painful at first- was one of the greatest things ever.

2.) You grow on your own:

I found that it was hard to watch him doing his own thing in Michigan, but it also has allowed both of us to grow apart… and not in a bad way. Individually, we have learned to rely on ourselves and God, away from each other. A little bit of space can’t hurt.

2.1) You grow together:

Yes, you grow on your own, but you also get to grow together. You have to learn how to continue to involve the other in your life despite the miles in between.

3.) You learn how to communicate… Wait what’s that?

Communication is so hard in general. However, you learn real quick how crucial it is to keep each other sane and honestly, together. At first, it’s so difficult. Texting can only go so far ladies and gents. You have to commit to Skype dates and phone calls, and scheduling time to actually be together. Oh and boys, you better learn girl code real quick.

Example:  “I’m fine”: NOT OKAY. RED FLAG. ( Learn to speak this unspeakable, inconsistent language and you’ll be set!)

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You really have to try. You have to put effort into asking how his or her day was, what his or her classes were like. Are they stressed? What triggers that and what can you do to help since you cannot be there in person.

4.) You learn where your identity comes from:

As a believer, I have found that my identity is not in our relationship or in each other. Yes, it’s a significant part of who I am but it’s not everything. This has been so hard to grasp. But, God definitely finds a way to show both of us who should really be at the center of everything.

Saying you put God first is one thing, doing it is entirely different. And it’s SO difficult. I can admit I’m NOT perfect at it. But, the encouraging part is that He is always willing to help. He’s always full of mercy and grace. He’s always there to nudge and help straighten out priorities to put Him at the top of the list.

This is probably the most challenging lesson to learn, sometimes the most frustrating too. It’s hard to balance the two and sometimes you- I- do a really poor job. But, it’s just like anything else in life; you have to get back up and try again. You have to count on each other to point the relationship and one another to The One who holds it all in His hands.

Many times I get discouraged and wonder what God really wants from me. I think I am doing everything wrong and I don’t deserve this relationship. But he says differently. He continually reminds me He is on my side. He’s on our side, working with us and in us to make this relationship even better.

While it’s a challenge, so much good can come from it. I think I can speak for my boyfriend when I say it has all been worth it. ( I guess I’ll find out real soon if he disagrees…)

 

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Words and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)