Friends! It has been quite a minute since I last shared with you all. I served the city of Taunton with a crown on my head, I completed one internship and started another, I GOT ENGAGED (*EXCITEMENT INTENSIFIES*), and I met and made connections with so many beautiful humans along the way.
I also spent a lot of time struggling. Grieving the loss of a best friend, tackling fears and mental health concerns, and trying to put 110% into my relationships when at times, I was running on empty. 2018 has been full of ups and downs.
But as always, you live and you learn. And I want to share with you some stuff that I started doing and stopped doing to really, TRULY get closer to living my best life.
#1 I stopped being controlled by my stress and started actively managing it
In the first couple of months of this year, I was convinced that I had two entities living on each of my shoulders, pushing me through each day to the next. You know, kind of like the angel and devil on Goofy’s shoulders in those old Disney cartoons? Well, my angel was the voice and wisdom of God and my devil was stress. If you’re not a Christian reading this, then maybe your angel is positivity, or the universe, or whatever you draw your “I-Got-This” mentality from. And I think most of us can relate to the stress devil.
My stress manifested into negative self-talk, self-conscious thoughts, and doubt. Doubt that I wasn’t a good enough girlfriend, that I wasn’t fit enough, that I wasn’t enough of anything.
When I began my first Transformation Series, I was handed a clear cut structure of what my lifestyle was going to look like for 6 weeks. I was waking up, going to the yoga studio, going to Duke’s Bakery, and all throughout the day I was eating things that didn’t make me feel guilty or sick. This structure allowed me to set realistic goals and the transformation proved to me that I could reach them. Once I realized that structuring my lifestyle minimized my stress, I stopped beating myself up and I wasn’t worried about anybody else’s success making my efforts look insignificant. I just kept on doing what I loved doing everyday.
Bottom line: I learned that I needed to actively take steps to ensure that my stress would not take over my whole life. Exercising, eating donuts, and eventually using essential oils daily were the steps I took and continue to take to keep the stress devil quiet.
#2 I stopped accepting the narrative and started speaking my truth
This one applies to so many areas of my life. For one, I got sick and tired of people hearing the word “Christian” and thinking “Trump Supporter” or “Conservative” or “Anti-LGBT+”. I also got sick of seeing Christians around me nodding their heads at the words of Jesus and turning around to advocate for politicians, organizations, and ideas that completely contradict everything that He preaches and emanates. I HAD TO- and when I say I had to, I literally had to, for my own sanity, separate myself from the narrative that says that Christianity is exclusively for people who look, think, speak, and act like proclaimed Christians.
I thought this one would be an easy thing to move on from because who Jesus is and what He did for mankind is pretty straight forward. But the reality of it is is that the Word of God can be interpreted in so many ways. Its never black and white when it comes to interpretation and wedges have been driven between people for centuries over these differing interpretations.
Bottom line: I believe that Jesus’s message is love everybody. Even if they drive you crazy, even if you don’t understand them, even if you don’t think they deserve it. And don’t under any circumstances make anybody EVER feel like they can’t get in on the Jesus Love Club. Because spoiler alert, you are not the club president. Jesus is. And He says welcome to literally everyone who comes to the club meetings. He even gives them snacks just for showing up.
Another quick note: This applies to pageants too. I won the Overall Interview Award at Miss Massachusetts because I stopped believing that the judges wanted to hear the right answers and started believing that they wanted to hear my answers.
#3 I stopped pointing out my weaknesses and started focusing on my strengths
I had this really bad habit when I was competing throughout the local 2017 pageant season and into that state competition. When the judges would ask me a question in interview, I would be quick to point out in some of my answers that I didn’t actually know anything. I know that sounds weird, but trust me, I’m sure you’ve done it before too, maybe without even realizing it.
Think about it. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone that maybe you admire, you want to impress them, or you want them to like you? And you start contributing to the conversation and as the words are coming out of your mouth, you start to whole-heartedly regret everything you’re saying AS YOU’RE SAYING IT but its too late so you just stop yourself by saying something like, “but I don’t know” or “but I could be totally wrong.”
EVERYONE DOES THIS.
But I found myself doing that in interviews! I was literally trying to prove to people that I was worthy of a job, a scholarship, and a crown, and I was stepping on my own experience and knowledge by pointing out weaknesses that the judges probably hadn’t even seen in me until they came out of MY OWN MOUTH. How crazy is it that we do that to ourselves?!?!
When I was in a mock interview preparing for Miss Massachusetts this past summer, I told the judges that it was one of my dreams to have a seat on a local city council someday because I have a passion for local government (how Leslie Knope am I?). After my interview, one of the judges looked me in my face and told me, “Don’t ever tell your judges that you want to be on a city council. Dream big! Tell them you want to be the president!”
And I remember thinking, “Hmm. You just kind of stepped on my dream a little bit there, sister.” I don’t want to be president. I want to be a city council woman and for me, that is a big dream. I had been working with city council men and women in Taunton all year and they were constantly blowing my mind with their dedicated service and outreach mentality. City council is dreaming big.
So instead of going into my Miss Massachusetts interview and telling the judges,
“I really would love to be on a City Council someday, but I never dream big… so I guess I’ll try to be president instead”
I actually said,
“You know, they say dream big, but I DO NOT want to be the President of the United States. I want to have a seat on a local City Council someday. I love how locally focused the City Councilmen and women are in my city and I know that I would do a great job serving in that capacity.”
#4 I stopped not doing the thing and started taking one step at a time
This one is relatively recent and is something I will continually work at. I have been waking up for the past 3 months with this nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me,
“You need to create meaningful content.”
I have so many goals in terms of sharing meaningful content that my tribe of friends and followers can relate to and I simply won’t ever achieve any of them if I’m putting them off until tomorrow.
This can be said about anyone and any goal. If you know you need to get it done, DO. IT. And the biggest advice I can offer here, is don’t feel like you have to do it all at once.
If I think about the entire essay I have due tomorrow, I can guarantee you that I won’t sit down and take it head on. But if I commit to outlining my ideas this afternoon, getting some solid bullet points down this evening, and putting it all together tomorrow morning, it will happen. Piece by piece, step by step.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. But it also doesn’t happen if you stay still.