Fairy Tales

When you follow your own heart

I’ve always hated Jelly Beans, but a few months ago, I let some people at work convince me to try some special Jelly Bean that supposedly tasted really good—and I had to spit it out because it was so horrible.

We usually know ourselves better than other people do.

People are constantly telling us what to do in life. Many times, we have to listen and do what we’re told—you know, like in our jobs and regarding certain laws and stuff. (I know you might be thinking that we should abide by all laws, but you’re never going to convince me that waiting for a crosswalk signal is the best idea. If I have enough time to cross the street without an impending death, I’m going, especially when I’m running.)

But there are plenty of times when you aren’t required to do what other people tell you to do, and it’s actually probably a better idea to do what you want or what you know you need to do. We’re all full of thoughts and insights, and that’s truly wonderful, but other people’s opinions don’t have to become yours—and they certainly don’t have to influence your actions.

One thing I’ve always admired about my mom is that she does what she wants but never in a way that’s hurtful to other people. My parents got married right out of high school, which most people would not recommend, but they knew it was best for them. It’s 45 years later, and they’re still together and love each other more than they can explain.

When I was in middle school, my mom went back to school and earned her bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree. She didn’t ask other people’s opinions on whether or not it was a good idea to attend college classes while working a full-time job and still raising three kids. She knew she needed and wanted to finish her education, and she went out there and did it.

I challenge you to talk to her and not smile. It won’t happen.

And the joy she had on her face and in her heart when she walked across that stage after finishing graduate school is indescribable.

I live by the belief that anything matches if you wear it with confidence, and I think I learned that from observing the way my mom lives for so many years. She’s a woman who wears fanny packs because she loves them, thinks you can never have too many pairs of cowgirl boots, drives antiquated Suburbans into the ground because she’s grown attached to them, and makes up her own moves during well-known line dances (I’m fairly certain I acquired my love of free-style dancing from her). She doesn’t let people tell her what to do, and she’s one of the strongest people I know.

And I think her being so comfortable being herself at all times helps her to love other people in big ways. I mean, she introduced me to Kennedy, an employee at Altar’d State, while we were on FaceTime the other day because she was so excited and because she doesn’t care about all of the things that many people think should be social “rules.”

I’ve been trying to remind myself to live like my mom in that regard lately. I think I sometimes expect people to support me in all of my ideas and hopes and beliefs and actions, and those are pretty lofty expectations. Not everyone is going to have the same mindset as I do, and that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean I need to do what they tell me to do. For instance, I don’t like dating apps, and I’m not going to use them. I understand that they are ways to meet people, but I don’t want to meet the people I’ve seen on the apps. Is it ridiculous for me to hope for a love that right now doesn’t seem likely? I don’t think it is.

All I can do is trust that God has a plan for me and that it’s a good one.

Your life is your own, and you only get to do it once. Wouldn’t it be better to reflect upon your life years from now and know that you lived each day the way you knew you were meant to live and not the way that other people thought you should have lived? I think Frank Sinatra would agree—he even sang about it.

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
And much, much more than this
I did it my way

Just sitting on my lifeguard tower that I’m probably not supposed to be on—but it’s my place of peace (insert shrugging girl emoji)

I know that sometimes people with big hopes and dreams seem a little idealistic at times, but there’s nothing wrong with believing that crazy things can come true. They’re called miracles, and they happen all of the time. I have a phone case that says “follow your heart” on the back, and I wear a bracelet that says “be brave”—and I hope I never stop doing these two things that my mom has shown me how to do so well.

Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem like you’re on the same page in life as everyone around you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dream your big dreams, hope your big hopes, and let your heart lead you where it needs to be led.

And believe that you can be bold enough to make those hopes and dreams come true.

Because it’s OK to go on Ferris wheels by yourself

There are plenty of reminders in this world to remind a single gal that she doesn’t have a fella.

Like when you confirm that she only wants to buy one ticket for something.

Let’s be honest: I’m a hopeless romantic. It’s why I always wanted my first kiss to be in a gazebo (didn’t happen). It’s why “Love Story” has been my ringtone since 2008 and why my favorite song on TayTay’s new album is “New Year’s Day.” It’s why Christmas lights make me happy and why I’ve always wanted to go on one of those horse-drawn carriage rides through the streets of Highland Park in December when it’s cold enough weather to cuddle. It’s why I still want my dramatic “I love you” declaration in a parking lot in the pouring rain with a kiss to seal the deal. It’s why romcoms are my fave. It’s why fireworks make me smile.

And it’s why I love Ferris wheels.

I understand they can be fun rides for friends to enjoy together, but if you’re a fan of The O.C. (and probably other TV shows and movies), you get it. Whenever I see a Ferris wheel, I inevitably have to ride it—even when I’m flying solo. (I don’t think I’ve ever actually ridden a Ferris wheel with any guy ever, so keep your fingers crossed that it happens one day.)

There’s a Ferris wheel at the Irvine Spectrum Center, and my sister and I went on it together when we visited back in the summer. Over the weekend, I went to that area of town for the first time since I moved out here, and I couldn’t resist forking over $5 to hop in a little gondola and go in a few circles.

When I went to purchase my ticket, the following conversation ensued with the young buck behind the counter.

Me: Hi! Can I have a ticket for the Ferris wheel, please?
YB: Just one?
Me: (trying to ignore slightly snarky and sarcastic comments running through my head) Yes, only the one.

Ready for takeoff on my solo Ferris wheel ride

I know the kid didn’t mean anything mean by double-checking that I didn’t need more than one ticket, and maybe it’s protocol to verify there will not be more than one person in the gondola (I think each one seats five or six people), but it’s one more reminder that I do most things alone—even the ones that I really would prefer to do with the homeboy who falls in love with me (if that happens).

As I was on that Ferris wheel, when it stopped when I was at the top, I thought about how it’s important to do the things that matter to you and the things your heart knows you need to do, even if you end up doing them on your own. I may be single forever, but I don’t want that cause me to miss out on some really great adventures simply because I wasn’t willing to do them alone.

The day before my Ferris wheel ride, I had gone up to Los Angeles for a bit and then stopped at Venice Beach before I went home. I’ve always heard about that place but had never been, so I thought I’d see if all of the hype was legit. I’ll tell you one thing: It’s a great place for people watching. There were a lot of couples out there, and there were also a lot of people on their own who were doing their own things.

I went on a pretty long walk on the boardwalk and saw a variety of interesting happenings, including a couple of setups that appeared to be people shooting scenes for their future films (I didn’t recognize anyone, so maybe they are hopeful filmmakers). Did I get offered some marijuana by a guy with dreads sitting on the curb? Absolutely. Did some other guy standing near a tent encourage me to “come here for a second”? You bet. (Good news: I declined both offers.)

That little adventure out there was a good reminder of how different and unique we all are but also that we all need love. It was an adventure I needed.

When I was walking toward the Ferris wheel the following day, I saw a little boy wearing pants and no shirt who was running around and dancing in one of those splash fountain areas that many kids love. I was a little surprised because it was only in the 60s, and running through water seemed like a horrible idea to me, but he didn’t seem to mind. He looked like he was having the time of his life, and he was putting smiles on the faces of all of the people who walked by, including me.

That’s how I would like to live my life—so passionately enjoying those moments that make you forget about any of the bad things that might happen (like being super cold and wet) and simply dancing through the adventures.

Even if you’re dancing alone.

Because you might miss out when you’re scared you’re missing out

Some of the most valuable things I’ve learned have come from the most unlikely places.

You know, like Urban Dictionary.

I used to have my students to help me out with the latest lingo and snazzy expressions people are saying these days. Since I’ve been out of the teacher world, the struggle has been real for me to keep up with all of the hip quips. If I want to know what something means, I usually have to resort to Urban Dictionary.

One thing I’ve learned is that FOMO refers to the “fear of missing out,” and I think it’s a pretty legit abbreviated expression because it’s very true—certain things truly do make you feel like you’re being left out of some really great memories. I mean, just open up your FaceBook or Instagram app, and take a look at all of the fun events and activities your friends are a part of, and you might experience some of the symptoms of FOMO.

Why am I not there?
Why are they having so much fun without me?
Why was I not invited?
Why did I choose to sit at home when I could be out with them?
Who is that new person in this picture with my friends?
What if I’m missing out on some really wonderful memories?

There are just so many questions that come along with the FOMO moments.

I must admit that I’ve had many FOMO times in my life, even before it was a hashtag. When I was in high school, most of my friends started dating, and I sat back and waited for my turn (still waiting, by the way). It was the same story in college and after that, and then everyone started getting engaged, and I felt like I was being left behind.

When I went through all of those issues with my kidneys recently and wasn’t able to run much, I started to feel like I was missing out on a lot in the local running community, especially because I had to miss out on a some of the bigger races I love running. I still haven’t raced in almost a year, so it’s been rough.

Not thinking about what I’m missing out on—pondering important things, instead

Since I moved to California, I’ve definitely had my fair share of moments of feeling like I’m missing out on some really great things with my people back home. When I see pictures of my friends, I want to be there with them. When my sister texts me pictures of her with my mom, I want to hop on a plane and go take a selfie with them. When my brother sends me pics of my sweet niece, I want to rush over to their house like I used to every weekend and hang out with them.

I recently had to remind myself, though, that if I spend so much time thinking about what I’m missing out on elsewhere, I’m actually really missing out on the moment right before me.

No, I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend or a date to anything ever, but my singleness has never actually gotten in the way of my life. Maybe one day someone will fall in love with me, but if he doesn’t, then I can’t let that stop me from dancing on my own and enjoying every moment I can.

No, I haven’t gotten to race or be anywhere close to in racing shape in quite some time, but for some reason or another, I needed that time away from all of that. I needed to slow down a little, and I reached a point when I realized that my main focus needed to be on enjoying those moments when I wasn’t hooked up to IVs and in so much pain that I couldn’t even get up to walk without it being a struggle.

No, I don’t live in Texas anymore, but there are a lot of great people and great places in California, and I don’t want to miss out on them because I’m focusing so much on what I’m missing out on somewhere else. God called me out here for a reason, and I’m going to trust whatever it is and not what it’s not.

The wise and poetic Hannah Montana said it best: “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” You can’t be everywhere with everyone all of the time—you only can be where you are in the moment. None of us knows how many moments we’ll get, so it’s important to be present and to make each one count.

Because if you’re so busy letting the fear of missing out get the best of you, you’re actually missing out on more than you know.

When you love like your heart has never been broken

I love how people can create works of art that touch your heart and make you truly think or feel in remarkable ways.

And I really love when they come in the form of song lyrics.

Thankfully, I found a country music station out here that plays not only the current hits but also some from previous eras of my life—you know, like 90s Shania Twain and Faith Hill and some of the classics by George and Garth. But I still love many of the popular songs that are out there now, so I appreciate the variety this station brings. There’s a song I love by Old Dominion called “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart,” and it really spoke to me the other day in a way that was more than me simply singing along to a catchy tune—the lyrics hit me right in the gut of my heart the way most Taylor Swift songs do.

The chorus goes a little something like this:

‘Cause you can’t keep the ground from shaking
No matter how hard you try
You can’t keep the sunsets from fading
You’ve gotta treat your life like
You’re jumping off a rope swing, baby
‘Cause the whole thing’s really just a shot in the dark
You’ve gotta love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart
You’ve gotta love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart

As I was driving home from work one day last week and listening to these words, I began to wonder if I live like that—like no past hurts could ever get in the way of the things I say and do now when it comes to matter of the heart.

Just driving and listening to this solid jam (I’m pretty sure I was at a stoplight)

I honestly think that answer has sort of changed over time. If you had asked me when I was in college, I would have told you that I was still afraid to open my heart to anyone because I went through all of high school thinking that no boy would ever love me. That feeling came as a result of one boy wanting to make fun of me when he found out I had a crush on him, another getting my hopes up that he was going to ask me to prom but then went with another girl, and another boy spending a lot of time with me and sparking feelings in my heart while he was simultaneously chasing another girl.

And those are merely a few examples.

I think that I would have had a similar opinion right out of college, too. There was a guy who was one of my really good friends, and when another friend of mine let it slip that I had feelings for him, everything changed, and our friendship eventually faded like an image in your rearview mirror. It gave me the mindset that I was always going to get burned if I ever even started to think that love might actually come my way. I figured it was best always to hide my feelings and try to bury them before they ever became too real.

Then, in my late 20s, I fell for a guy to whom I gave my first kiss away (yes, I waited a very long time for that), and I let myself hope it might have actually meant something to him. I’m not sure if it did, but he moved away, led me on for a little while, and then stopped talking to me. I know it was for the best—he wasn’t the right person for me—but it still hurt.

Somewhere along the way, though, I decided none of that stuff in the past mattered. I’ve learned to be somewhat braver when it comes to sharing my heart, and I hope I can continue to do that in the future, even after my most recent heartache that topped them all. I know that all of the crud we experience in life is with purpose, so I have to believe that the pain from rejection and crushed hopes is making me stronger and getting me ready for whatever it is that’s ahead of me in life—whether that’s alone or with someone else.

I really like Old Dominion’s comparison: You’ve gotta treat your life like you’re jumping off a rope swing, baby, ’cause the whole thing’s really just a shot in the dark. It really is true—we have no clue what’s ahead of us, but sometimes you simply have to leap and be ready for wherever it is you land and for whatever ends up happening. It’s often difficult for me to accept that I don’t live in a romantic comedy, and the plot isn’t always going to end up with the ending I dream up in my head, but I have to brace myself for reality.

Do I still want that moment in a parking lot in the pouring down rain when I’m pouring my heart out to the guy who stole my heart, and he actually feels the same, and then we have that dramatic kiss moment? Absolutely.

And I can’t let any former heart-shattering moments change that.

I still believe in fairy tales and epic love stories. I believe in true love. I believe in people being meant for each other. I believe in wishing on shooting stars and dandelions for the simple reason that you have hope in your heart for something special. I believe in letting someone know how much you care, even if it means facing rejection. I believe in finding that one person who makes your heart beat wildly out of control and makes you forget about everyone and everything.

And I believe in loving like there’s no such thing as a broken heart.

Three words on a froyo spoon that might change your life

I often find inspiration from unexpected people, places, and even objects.

You know, like froyo spoons.

I love froyo. In fact, I consider myself a froyo connoisseur (yes, I have become that much of an expert on all of the best places and what all they have to offer—taste, texture, flavors, toppings, atmosphere, etc.). My absolute favorite place is still in the DF-Dubs area, but I have found a handful of places out here that I frequent.

As if I needed another reason to love froyo

One that I go to sometimes near work is Yogurtland, which is a popular chain that exists here and in Texas. One day when I was eating there recently during my lunch break, I looked down and noticed my spoon had a few words on it that I needed to read in that moment: Hope changes everything.

Word.

As I sat there, I started thinking about how sometimes it’s really difficult to find hope within your heart, especially when you feel like there is no hope worth hoping. It’s been the story of my life in terms of guys—I always have hope for my friends and their relationships or them finding their perfect matches, but I never really have hope for myself in that regard. Whenever I’m interested in someone, I assume it’s not going to work out and that I probably shouldn’t get attached to him. And it doesn’t help that none of my crushes have ever panned out and the two times that I’ve actually let those feelings be known and not just sit back and do nothing about them, it’s eventually ended in heartache for me.

But, despite any broken heart that I have to endure for whatever reason, I still need to remember that hope changes everything.

I went for a long walk Sunday after church, and it didn’t end up being the walk I had planned. I normally hike at a canyon I love, but I wanted to try a new area this day. I drove toward what look like mountains, but I’m not sure if they actually are, and I spent longer than I wanted trying to find a place to park to get to where I wanted to go. (Yes, using Google Maps was my first thought, too, but I didn’t like how long homegirl was telling me it would take to get to a certain spot. When I looked on the map, it seemed like I could get there a better way on my feet.)

But Google Maps can make things seem simpler than they are.

I parked at a high school and started walking toward where I thought I could enter the mountainous/hilly area. However, much of it was fenced off and didn’t look very walkable. I know it’s cheesy, but I thought of my yogurt spoon from a few days before and reminded myself to keep the hope alive. After walking for about 20 minutes, I turned on some sketchy street and found a dried-up ravine I could cross to get to an area that had a path. Navigating down the steep slope to the ravine was a bit tricky, and I had a slight concern I was walking straight through poison ivy at one point (it’s fine—I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I only had a small rash on my arm and minor itchiness later). But I made it to the other side and felt a little accomplished.

I honestly had no idea where I was, but I knew that I needed to do what I was doing—I needed that hike because I needed a small victory. Life is tough sometimes, and we often need those moments that make us remember that we can do the hard things, and we can see our desires come true.

Especially when we let hope change everything.

I eventually turned around because I needed to get home to watch the Cowboys (which didn’t even air out here—I can’t talk about it), and I had a minor concern that a bear would pop out at any moment. I don’t know if bears frequent that area (I’m guessing not at all), but you never know. There were zero humans around, and it’s probably not super safe to continue hiking in an area with no cell phone service, no people, lots of trees and maybe poison ivy, and potential bears.

We aren’t always going to get the things we want in life. I’m pretty sure we’re all living proof of that. Ask anyone you know if he or she has had every single aspect of life go as planned, and I’d bet that the answer is a big NO. But it doesn’t mean you can’t hope for the things your heart wants.

I always have confident expectations for my froyo being delicious.

I know all too well that Proverbs 13:12 is correct: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” It hurts when we don’t get what we want—when the cancer isn’t cured, and you lose someone you love; when the job you applied for doesn’t work out; when the guy you poured your heart out to walks away and lets it break into thousands of tiny pieces; when your team is one pitch away from the World Series and blows it. Whatever it is, we’ve likely all been there at some point.

But what about all of the great things that actually do work out? Would they ever have happened without hope? My friend who wasn’t supposed to be able to have kids now has two beautiful children—because hope changes everything. Multiple people I know have survived truly tough battles with cancer that even the doctors didn’t think they’d make it through—because hope changes everything. My sister found a man better than any guy she’d ever met and now gets to spend the rest of her life with him—because hope changes everything. I once sat through one of the Twilight movies for a grad school project and lived to see another day—because hope changes everything.

My good friend Michelle recently reminded me that hope is actually “confident expectation,” and I like that definition. You truly believe something will happen, and you don’t need other people or outside factors trying to convince you otherwise. You might be wrong, but you might be right. Either way, it’s good to believe in the things you’re working for or waiting for to happen. If you don’t believe, what’s the point?

There are certainly going to be letdowns in life. Your hope may be deferred, or your dreams may be fulfilled. Life can be pretty unpredictable, but it’s also short, and you only get one—which is why it’s so important to dream big and let every ounce of hope in your heart help to carry those dreams.

Because hope changes everything.   

When you feel like a lost toddler standing in a swim diaper

When almost every aspect of your life is messy and out of control, sometimes all it takes is a simple single instance to make you see things a bit more clearly.

One moment.
One person.
One act.
One second.
One breath.
One sight.
One heartbeat.

For me, this moment came in the form of a tiny little human who had lost his way on the beach. I was actually sitting on the ground—usually I prefer being on the lifeguard stands—and was reading a book when I felt someone standing next to where I was. I looked up to see an adorable young boy (so young that he was still in a swimming diaper) looking in all directions like he was searching for something. He had a look of terrified panic on his face, and I figured he couldn’t find his family. I was surprised he wasn’t crying—he looked too determined to let sorrow take over. I was about to say something to him and help him find his parents, but then his face lit up.

He had found them.

I watched as he took off running as fast as those chubby little legs would let him toward the tent with his parents and baby sister. The entire scene warmed my heart, and I’m pretty sure I would have cried if I were one of those happy criers. I think I also would have cried if I were big on sad crying because, in that moment, I felt like I could relate to the little guy.

I’ve had much to ponder lately.

It’s now been exactly one month since I packed up my entire life and moved to California. My world is definitely a lot different than it used to be, and I feel like I’ve had a string of one unfortunate event after another occur. There was the whole multiple flooding episodes at my first apartment (among the many other problems there) and then having to move, and now I’m having to take that place to small claims court; the cable guy bailed on me last weekend and had to reschedule, so I had to go the entire week without television or Internet at home (yes, I know that this is a materialistic first-world problem, but you try doing it, and let me know if you enjoy it a ton); then there were a few things that happened last week on my birthday that I don’t feel like discussing right now; also, there was a wildfire not too far from work that created a slight scare and even impacted some of my coworkers; last Friday, the “check engine” light came on in my car, so I got a diagnostic run, and that’s going to be a fun little expensive thing to deal with now; and then I stepped on a jellyfish not too long before that sweet little lost boy gave me a fresh perspective.

Having to take a business to small claims court has caused me more stress than I can explain, and I had to be late to work two days in a row to go to the courthouse (there were some corrections that had to be made to the paperwork that apparently had to be done in person). The first day I was there, I stood in the wrong line outside for 30 minutes and then had to stand in another one to go inside the building. As I was waiting in the second line, I noticed a sign saying that no weapons of any sort were allowed in the building (you have to walk through a metal detector and have your purse searched), and it hit me that I had a knife in my purse. I had a gun pulled one me a couple of years ago, so I always have a knife or pepper spray on me. I really didn’t feel like getting arrested that day, so I asked the homeboy behind me who was in line because of his recent DUI to hold my place in line so that I could go hide my knife behind a plant. On my way out, I had to be kind of sneaky and pretend to tie my shoe that wasn’t untied when I picked the weapon back up because the security guard was looking at me through the window.

The second day I went, I made sure I was the first person there and in the right line (I left my knife in the car that time), but it was a really humid morning. When the security guard started putting signs outside and unlocking doors, I asked her if it would be possible to let me stand just inside the doors even though they weren’t open yet. She looked at me like I was crazy, but then I explained to her that I had washed my hair that morning and curled it, and I really didn’t want it to frizz and lose any of its curl. I wish I could show you her expression. She told me that wasn’t allowed, but I think she perhaps thought about the importance of hair maintenance because she had a change of heart a few minutes later and told me that I could come inside and go sit on one of the benches. It was a small victory during this time of my life, and I embraced it.

When the weekend rolled around, I was spent.

My precious niece knows that level of excitement of dreams coming true. She’s one of my favorite humans ever.

I think a lot of us feel like that little boy at times—we’re searching and searching and not finding what our hearts really want and need. We feel lost and alone and scared and uncertain of what we’re supposed to do. But then we see what we’ve been hoping for all along, and nothing can hold us back from running toward those fulfilled hopes at warp speed.

And in that moment of seeing that happen, I remembered that it’s OK to be scared, and it’s OK to feel lost, and it’s OK to feel so confused and out of place when you have no idea what’s in store for you. The important thing is to keep going and to keep believing that you can and will get to wherever it is you need to be.

That little boy ran toward safety. He ran toward comfort. He ran toward love.

And I hope that every day of my life I let my heart light up and run at full speed toward love just like he did.

Another dance floor reminding me that I’m single

It’s no secret in life that I’m single, and I didn’t think I could become more single than I always have been.

But apparently there’s an even more single status that I have officially reached.

I haven’t been in California too long, so I obviously am still making friends and meeting people. I’ve made a handful of friends, one of whom I think is going to be one of those solid forever friends you always hope to find. (Her name is Kerry, and she is also a huge fan of the Christy Miller Series, so I knew she was a keeper from the start.) In fact, I only met her a week ago but already had to sleep one night at her and her husband’s home because of the wretched apartment situation I was dealing with at the time. (I will not be discussing this topic any further, but I moved Saturday to a new complex and am in a much better situation.)

I went out dancing Saturday night with Kerry and some of her friends, and I love a good dance floor. We went to a country place—not quite like being in a Texas country bar, but it brought a little bit of home here—so there was a lot of line dancing and two-stepping going on. Naturally, I only thrived on the “free dance” songs when I could do my own thing (major thanks to Leo the DJ for playing my request for TayTay’s “Shake It Off”) because structure and organized dance simply aren’t my thing.

There’s one slight issue with going to such a place full of couples out on the dance floor: It’s a terrible reminder that you don’t have someone’s feet you can accidentally step on when you’re messing up what should be an easy two-step jaunt.

I looked out on the dance floor, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I’ve had so much going on in life lately that I’ve tried not to think about certain heartaches or anything of the sort, but sometimes when you try to avoid something for so long, it comes flooding back to you all at once in a powerful way. Even if you leave a place or people somewhere else, your heart still goes with you every step you take—and sometimes it will remind you of what you don’t want to be reminded of in a moment when you really don’t want to be reminded of it.

Were there guys there who struck my fancy? Meh. Sure. But they were busy dancing with other girls (and ones who actually knew how to two-step and not make it look like they were attempting to put together complicated pieces of IKEA furniture with only little pictures to help them through the assemblies.) I had to give myself a little pep talk to remind myself that it’s perfectly fine that none of those guys were interested in me and that not many have been in the past. Maybe there’s a guy out there who will like my style of dancing and pick me out of everyone else in the world. Maybe there’s not. Either way, I’ll be OK.

Maybe you should hope I find a man so that you don’t have to keep seeing my solo pics.

I wasn’t trying to feel sorry for myself that night, and that’s not my goal now, either. But it’s tough sometimes, and I know there are people out there who have gone through or are going through some of the same things. It’s not always easy to see the people around you creating these beautiful lives and memories with the people they picked and who picked them back out of everyone else in the world. Sure, you’re happy for them, but it also makes you feel a little left behind and alone at times, even though you know you’re not alone at all.

Regardless of whether or not my love story ever actually happens or if I stay single forever, I know I have to keep dancing my dance and believing that God has designed a plan for my life that only He could create and carry out. We’re all so different in so many ways, and we all have different stories and paths to take—and that’s how it should be. It’s not always easy to remember that in the moment, but we were never promised that life would always be easy and not filled with hardships and a little bit of pain every now and then. But if you can get through those tough times and let yourself have hope for better things to come, you’ll realize that you’re stronger than you ever knew, and your value and worth aren’t found in other people or where you are or what job you have.

And whether you’re single, married, divorced, widowed, happy, sad, hopeful, discouraged, strong, weak, in love, heartbroken, confident, scared, or a number of other things, love will always be there for you—because we’re capable of showing love to anyone in any walk of life.

And love will make you forget those moments when you were on the two-stepping sidelines.