20 things I will do

I had a teacher last year who forced us to write 20 things we will do in our lifetime. Looking back, it was one of the best assignments I had ever completed. It was a list that made you really think about what you aspire to be and what you truly want out of the life you were given. I still have the sheet of paper that I wrote my list on – it hangs above my desk so I can read it each and every day. It is my inspiration to keep going; because of that, I decided to share my list with you. Here it is:

1. Ride an elephant

2. Eat a meal that I don’t think I would usually try, such as escargot.

3. Swim with sea turtles (COMPLETED!)

4. Study abroad

5. Be able to say “I made it – I’m accomplished.”

6. Change someone’s perspective

7. Have a son and name him Luke

8. Have a daughter and teach her what it is like to always love

9. Get a tattoo

10. Visit every continent, including Antarctica

11. Write a short story

12. Learn how to dance

13. Win an award

14. Fall in love with a man and have a ridiculously happy wedding

15. Have a chalkboard wall in my house and cover it with quotes that I love

16. Give my time to those less fortunate than I

17. Have a conversation with someone who is homeless; make them laugh

18. Go on a spontaneous trip with someone I love

19. Make enough money to take my Dad on a trip with me

20. Find a way to prove to him that I love him, and make him proud of me.

21. Adopt a dog from the humane society (multiple dogs are okay too)

22. Buy my mom and stepdad a very expensive bottle of wine, then sit down and drink the entire thing with them

I know I had a couple more than 20, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a lot of goals! I encourage you all to write your own lists, and if you do, send me the link! I would love to read them. This truly is one of the best ways to really reflect and get to know yourself a little bit better.
  

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I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either

As I sit here in this coffee shop, drinking chai tea and looking at the people sitting around me, I quickly notice the diversity that surrounds me. There is an older woman next to me who looks to be in her late 40’s doing school work. A little bit farther, there is a black girl scrolling through Twitter. To the right of her, an Indian boy listening to music, mouthing out the words while looking through a textbook. Next to the door, a white girl who biked here, drinking a frozen mocha and looking out the window. We are all different, and we may have nothing in common except the fact that we all happen to be at Biggby Coffee on this day. With that said, I cannot find anything negative to say about these people, and that is exactly how it should be.

Confidence is a hard thing to have. Nowadays, it takes real courage to stand up for yourself. Why is that? Why should it take everything you have to look in the mirror and say, “I am an incredible human being”? There should be nothing that stops you from believing that. Other people should not affect how you feel about yourself; their opinions should not dismantle your own. However, that is much easier said than done.

For a long time, I believed that there was some magical recipe for being beautiful. I thought that if I straightened my hair every day and made any cellulite I had invisible and wore really expensive makeup, people would look at me and think, “wow, I want to look like her.” As I grew up though, I realized that there is no magic potion that would make me beautiful. In fact, I began to understand that the only way other people will perceive me as a beautiful person is if I believe that I am. I’m not only talking about physical beauty either – I would have to believe that my mind exhibits something amazing too, which was very difficult.

That is exactly the problem. Convincing myself that I am worth everything and anything should not be difficult. I found a quote on Tumblr the other day that actually presented this in a very deep way:

“At seventeen,
the hardest choice you should have
to make is what clothes you want
to wear,
or what food you want
to eat;
not sitting at the edge of your bed
at four in the morning
considering whether or not
your existence matters in this world.”

This is an issue so many people face, and it is one that often goes unnoticed. We are a generation of “I’m fine”, and “Don’t worry about it”, rather than “I need to vent, can you listen for a bit?” We are a generation that questions ourselves and whether or not we are good enough for the people around us even though we know that we will constantly disappoint ourselves by thinking this way. We are a generation that doubts our own beauty and worth simply because we aren’t up to date on the latest trends. We are a generation that blames society and by doing so, blames ourselves.

I dare you to look into a mirror today and tell yourself that you are amazing. Compliment yourself. Walk outside, think to yourself that you are beautiful, and do whatever you need to do. Smile at everyone you walk past and tell a stranger they look good. If you present an aurora of confidence, it will pass on to those around you. In order to breed confidence, you must start with yourself. Let me get you started: I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either.

Why you should love yourself … “#LikeAGirl”

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how football works. I don’t understand it whatsoever, and no matter how many times my family and friends have tried to explain it, I simply just don’t get it. So when super bowl Sunday rolls around, I usually find myself a seat next to the chips and salsa and wait around for the commercials to start. Yesterday, I believe most people were quite disappointed with the lack of comedic commercials; it seemed as though almost all of them were either extremely dark (Nationwide) or very emotional (moms, dads, self-esteem…). One, however controversial, stuck out to me.

The feminine product brand Always had a commercial showing what doing something “like a girl” means to people; specifically the difference between prepubescent girls and teenagers. I found it absolutely empowering for young girls. I think most people forget how horrible it is to grow up. As a young girl, you’re not worried about makeup, clothes, boys, acne, money, popularity… all you care about is getting chores done so you can play outside. I was thrilled that they created this social experiment to show why we have feminism, because so many girls are put down simply for being a girl, and that needs to change.

I can definitely say that I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences with low self-esteem. It’s a phase that almost every girl goes through. Girls are taught from the start to look a certain way and talk a certain way, and what happens if they don’t? Well, society just pushes those girls down to the bottom rung of the ladder. Every girl is supposed to be skinny, they should have long hair that shines, pretty blue eyes, a perfect complexion, and the most important: curves. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you don’t have these features.

What makes it even worse is that girls aren’t even allowed to love themselves. If a girl posts a picture of herself that is captioned “I just felt beautiful today,” her peers either don’t like it or attack her for being conceded. Since when did self-love become conceded? PLEASE explain that to me. If I want to say I’m beautiful, who are you to tell me I’m not?

So this is what we need to do – we need to teach young girls that freckles are cute, that scars can be pretty, that hair of all types is gorgeous, that every shade of skin color is absolutely stunning, that each and every girl can feel like a queen without having someone tell them they are. We need to preach self-love and confidence so it doesn’t die as they grow older. Girls need to believe in themselves, they shouldn’t have to rely on others to figure out if they are beautiful or not.

As for myself, I can tell you that I’ve grown to hate the little lisp that slips out when I get nervous and the freckles that magically appear when I go outside. I have never liked the way my hair curled in some places and not in others and I hate the fact that my skin is basically at war with me. I’ve always wished my feet were smaller than a size 10 and that I was shorter than 5’7″ and my waist was smaller than a size 8.

However, with confidence I have come to learn that the lisp that slips out is part of me, that my freckles come out when I’m enjoying the sun – they arise from happiness. My hair looks natural and that in itself is beautiful, my skin will change in time just as everyones does. My feet and my height and my waist all perfectly coincide with each other and that is how it was meant to be. I was not put on this earth to spend the years hating myself, I was put here to love myself and spread that love to those around me. So why don’t we start teaching every girl that this is how it should be?