Fairy Tales

“That’s because you’re still single”

Sometimes I have to try really hard to love other people, especially people I don’t know very well.

Because people can be very difficult to love at times.

One day last week, I was at the grocery store on a day after work when it seemed like everyone in that area had decided to go to the store at the same time. I use self-checkout whenever I can, and even that had a line backed up. Whenever I have to wait in line, I like to talk to the people in line with me because, well, why not?

I was talking with a nice woman in front of me about her purse (I LOVED the color of it), and I made a comment about how I rarely take my purse with me inside the grocery store anymore because I always end up using the handheld baskets and prefer less weight on my shoulders. I said something about how I couldn’t even remember the last time I used an actual cart. It was more of me thinking out loud than anything, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the response that ensued.

“That’s because you’re still single.”

Wait, what? I had quite a few responses running through my head as she continued to talk about how shocking it can be to realize how much food a family goes through each week. The nicest thing I could think to say was “or I just really like strength training,” which totally contradicts what I said about my purse, but whatever. This woman seemed really nice, and I’m sure she didn’t mean her comment to be hurtful, but I couldn’t help but feel a slight sting when she said it. After all, I hadn’t even told her that I’m single. Maybe it’s just that obvious, but still.

I really wanted to Photoshop my wrinkles out of this pic, but I didn’t. You’re welcome.

The truth is that I am still single, but there could be worse things in life. I mean, I don’t know that I would have moved out to California if I weren’t still sending in RSVPs for one to everything—and I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. We all have our own paths we need to take, and it’s a really good thing that they’re not all the same.

Before I moved, I went through a really rough heartache for far longer than I thought it was going to last. In all honesty, I can’t say the hurt is completely gone, but I guess time does actually help sometimes. I didn’t move to run from the pain, because that type of stuff will go with you wherever you are. I moved because God called me out here—and I’m so thankful that He did. Not only have I met some truly incredible people, but I’ve also been reminded of His sufficiency, largely because I am still single.

Sure, you can certainly know He’s sufficient when you’re married or dating, but it was my singleness that helped me to see it even more clearly. I moved out here all by myself and knew no one, and it was really lonely at first. Over and over, I asked God why He called me out here, and one day as I was driving in my car and crying out to Him, everything became so clear when I felt His voice whisper because I am sufficient.

That’s all I needed to hear.

I know that I want to fall in love. I know that I want someone to love me back. I know that I want to have a permanent dance partner. I know that I want someone to appreciate my quirks and probably tease me about them in a loving way. I know that I want someone to kiss me in the parking lot in the pouring rain, and I know he’ll be worth me getting my hair wet. I know that I want someone to be my cheerleader just as much as I am his. I know that I want to find my person who will be my person forever.

But, even though I hope for it all to happen someday, I know that it’s simply not in the cards for me right now.

Whether you’re single or not, I hope that you know how much you matter just as you are. Not every person you meet in the grocery store is going to make you feel that way, but please call me if you need the reminder. I’ve been there. I’m glad I didn’t say anything snarky back to the woman in the store, though I was pretty close to doing so. I’m trying to be better about loving others well, even when I really don’t want to.

And the good news is that I can still live a life full of love even though I’m still single.

When you set off the fire alarm at winter camp

Sometimes you make mistakes that make you feel like the messiness just keeps piling up in life.

And sometimes you have a hearty crowd to see the mishap happen live.

These are some truly remarkable young women right here.

Over the weekend, I went to my church’s winter camp as a leader for the freshman girls group in the high school ministry. It was a few days packed full of fun, craziness, and helping kids learn the importance of loving others. As with most of our activities within the high school ministry, there were a variety of games, some of which involved a bit of ridiculousness.

On Saturday, we got a full rundown of some rules that were specific to the venue that hosted us for the weekend. One of those rules was not to pull the fire alarms unless there was an actual fire emergency. We were all warned about the trouble and fine by the fire department that would ensue if an alarm was pulled when there weren’t any flames or anything. Ruben, the guy in charge, also told us that, because we knew all of this and because there wouldn’t be any planned fire drills that weekend, any alarm meant that there was a real fire, and we all needed to evacuate and head to some location that he mentioned.

Essentially right after that reminder speech, we went to our meeting space for a few games and a message for the high schoolers (there were also students in the fourth and fifth grades as well as students in junior high). We played a game called “Poser” or something like that, and as soon as a pose popped up on the screen, you had to mimic it. The judges chose the worst poser each time, and that person was out. I was right next to an exit door, so when the handstand pose was shown, I decided to use that to help keep me balanced. Here’s the prob: There was a fire alarm right next to the door, and I definitely hadn’t noticed it.

I think you know where this is going.

Somehow—a way that I will never truly know—my foot managed to hit the alarm and pull it completely down. I honestly didn’t really feel it too much, but when I was standing upright, I looked over and saw my co-leader Kate’s face with a sheer look of horror and panic on it. I was wondering what she was worried about because I thought maybe I had accidentally opened the door somehow, but I didn’t think that was such a bad thing.

Then a piercing and persistent noise began that let me know that I had done something much worse.

The moments that followed were filled with chaos, people making jokes to me about my little slip-up, and others trying to assure me that it was just an accident and that surely I wouldn’t have to pay the massive fine to the fire department. I already started mentally preparing for that fine and thinking of how I could convince them to let me get on a monthly payment plan.

One of the other leaders had sprinted down to the main office of the camp (in the cold and misty rain, mind you) to let Ruben know that it was a false alarm and to see if he could please call the fire department so that it wouldn’t send a truck full of good-looking firemen out. Even though we didn’t get to see the eye candy, it was actually a much better situation for me, because it meant that I didn’t have to pay the enormous amount of moolah to cover the fine.

At least I know how to dress like a penguin when the situation calls for it.

I’m not going to lie—I do a lot of clumsy things in my life, but this one affected more than just me. I mean, all of the elementary and junior high kids had already started evacuating their buildings, and some of those poor students probably thought it was a real fire, which likely freaked some of the younger ones out quite a bit. And that wasn’t the only thing I did that pointed out my flaws that weekend—I also spilled a bunch of batteries everywhere when I was trying to turn off an electric candle, spilled Cinnamon Toast Crunch all over the cabin room floor when I was trying to clean up, got lost on a morning run in an area that I didn’t know (and ended up having to hop a fence because of it), and took my girls into the closed dining hall to get some tea to take back to our rooms (but, as it turns out, we were not allowed to be in there at the time). It’s also possible that I stole a book that I thought belonged to our student ministries leader but doesn’t.

But all of my flaws and all of my failures are part of who I am.

I know I’m not perfect, and I’m very aware that I never will be. Sometimes I try to be, but I’m way too human for that to be possible. One thing I’ve been trying to focus more on lately is loving others well. I want people to know that they are valued, that they are loved, and that they matter and that nothing can change that—including the things they do that make them feel ashamed or maybe even stupid.

I’ve also been trying to love myself better in spite of my failures, as well. How can I expect these precious young women to believe what I’m telling them and live lives that reflect it if I can’t even do so myself? It took years, but I’ve gotten to a point at which I can kick fire alarms and accidentally break rules without beating myself up about it. I used to think that some of the things that made me me—like my quirks and klutziness and lack of heart-stealing beauty—made me not good enough for guys to love me. But what I have to remind myself of often and what I continue to remind the girls in my group is that it doesn’t matter what guys (or anyone else, for that matter) think of us because God made us as we are to be the people we’re supposed to be.

I guarantee that I’m going to mess up many more times in life. Heck, I’ll probably make multiple mistakes today alone. It is Monday, after all. But mistakes often lead to lessons, and lessons often lead to growth. We won’t always know why they happen to us or because of us, but those mistakes and those failures and those moments when you want to crawl in holes and hide for a while are all integral parts of our stories. I think that getting knocked down and getting back up again (you know, like Chumbawamba, though I’m not sure if the subject matter is the same here) is bold. It takes courage, and it takes accepting and admitting that you aren’t as perfect as you’d like to be—and that’s OK.

Even if you end up kick a fire alarm or two along the way.

Because #singlegirlprobz are real

I sometimes forget that adulting involves a lot of responsibility and that I don’t have another person with me enough to look out for me when I mess up.

But then I’m reminded in big (and sometimes dangerous) ways.

One day last week, I somehow slept through all three of my alarms—4:09, 4:13 and 4:19 a.m. just never happened for me. When I opened my eyes at 5:17 a.m., I’m pretty sure I said my version of a cuss word and jumped out of bed. I hadn’t washed my hair in about a week, and I really needed to that morning. I already knew that I didn’t have time to run, but I briefly thought about trying to squeeze in a run without touching my hair after.

For some reason that I may never know, I let hygiene win the battle that day.

I was in a bit of a hustle to get out the door on time and was scurrying all over the place. I had my hands full—I decided I was going to get a pass to a gym for the day to do my tempo workout on the treadmill and some strength circuit training after, so I had my shoes and change of clothes in my hands—and I bolted out of my apartment.

I actually had a really good tempo run that afternoon and was in a much better mood than I had been (one reason why I usually prefer to run first thing in the morning). I stopped by Sprouts to get some premade meals that I could zap in the microwave and headed home. When I lived in Dallas, I learned how to use my stove, and it was easy to toss some chicken and veggies in a pan and have a nice little meal. Out here, though, people—including whoever made my apartment complex—seem to prefer gas stoves. Don’t ask me my opinions on gas stoves and ovens. We would be here for days.

I’ve mastered using the self-timer as a single gal, but I still can’t figure out gas appliances.

When I walked into my apartment, the entire place reeked of gas. That’s neither good nor normal. I hadn’t used the stove or oven recently, so I was a little confused. I looked over at the stove knobs and saw that one was slightly turned. Uh oh. I guess somehow in all of my madness of the morning I had bumped into the knob and turned it slightly—which means that gas was filling up my apartment for a little more than 11 hours.


I immediately opened my window and patio door, searched Google for what protocol was, and called the gas company to see if I was about to die. The following conversation ensued (I’m skipping the intro in which he told me to call him mister something rather than a first name and me summing up what I found when I got home and asking him more than once if I would die if I stayed there).

Mr. Gas Company Guy: Open your windows and doors, and don’t turn on any appliances, including lights.
Me: OK, I did that. Wait, no appliances? But I already turned on the lights. Oh no! What will happen?!
MGCG: You turned on your lights? Was there an explosion?
Me: I’m still talking to you, aren’t I?
MGCG: That’s good. OK, don’t turn on anything else.
Me: What about the microwave? I need to heat up my dinner.
MGCG: No, don’t do that. That’s an appliance. Can’t you leave and go grab dinner somewhere else?
Me (replacing the meaning of “can’t” with “don’t want to”): No, I can’t.
MGCG: Well, I would wait at least an hour, and make sure to leave your doors open for a few hours so that the gas can dissipate.
Me: Oh dear. A few hours? It’s cold outside, and that will make my apartment cold. I’m guessing I can’t turn on my heater, huh?
MGCG (clearly beyond the point of minorly annoyed with me): No, you cannot turn on your heater. Don’t turn on any more appliances.
Me: But I need to shower.
MGCG (probably wanting to reach through the phone and punch me in the face): The shower isn’t an appliance and doesn’t use electricity. It’s water.
Me: I have to turn on another light in my bathroom to take a shower, though.
MGCG: Well, nothing exploded when you made the decision to turn on the first light, so you should be fine.
Me: I always turn on the light first thing. If there’s a murderer inside, I want to see him.
MGCG: Is there anything else you need help with?
Me: My life.
MGCG: Anything pertaining to the gas appliances in your home?

Homeboy had obviously reached his limit with me.

Her reply of “#onit” is only one reason why she’s such a great friend.

I thanked him for his help, and we said our goodbyes. Don’t tell him this, but I didn’t wait the full hour to use the microwave. It’s OK—nothing exploded, and I didn’t die from exposure to the tainted air (I think it left my apartment pretty quickly).

Life can get messy at times, and it can be tough trying to navigate it without others to help you. I mean, what would I have done without the wise words of the guy on the phone (and the people at Google)? Being single isn’t always challenging simply because it seems that everyone else around you has someone to hold—it can also be downright scary when you have to face situations without anyone else there with you. And I know that I’m never actually really alone, because God is always here, but there’s a reason He put other people on the planet.

As a side note, please see the screenshot to the left of the text I sent some of my people last week. This is my life.

I can’t even fix my hair without it being a mess. How am I supposed to keep an apartment safe?

I hope you surround yourself with people who remind you of the theme song from The Wonder Years and that you love them well. The good thing about being single—aside from being able to make new friends at the gas company because you have no clue what to do in that particular situation—is that you’re still perfectly capable of loving others and being loved by others. No relationship status changes that.

None of us really has it all together (although, if you do, can we chat so that I can have some of your insight?), and I certainly still have a lot to learn—and not just about science. For instance, I obviously need to take an extra few seconds each morning to make sure that I don’t hit the stove knob. We’re all busy, but I’m continually learning that I sometimes need to slow way the heck down.

Especially when it comes to making sure other people know that they’re loved.

When getting off the lift is a struggle

Sometimes the most challenging moments are small steps toward our bigger aspirations.

Like the small but ridiculously difficult step of exiting the lift chair on the ski slopes.

Last week at my church group, I was talking to my friends Jen and Jay about flag football and how the new season starts soon, and Jay asked me what I was doing Saturday.

Me (thinking he was equally as excited about football): “Nothing. Want to practice??”
Jay (clearly not concerned with football): “You want to come snowboarding with us?”
Me (thinking about how I’m not a huge fan of snow and how I should probably work on some freelance work I needed to do over the weekend and then thinking that I shouldn’t think so much): “Absolutely, I do.”

Like Jan once told Pam in The Office, “there are always a million reasons not to do something.” But, like Jan also said without actually saying it, sometimes you have to ignore all of those reasons.

As soon as I hopped in the car Saturday morning for the two-hour drive with my new friends, I knew that I’d made a good decision. I was actually excited to snowboard, even though it had been 12 years or so, and Jen and Jay are two of the kindest and most fun people you’ll meet (and I do hope that you meet them), so I was looking forward to a fun adventure with them. Even though I was totally third wheeling it, they didn’t make me feel like I’m a third wheel at all. They’re very welcoming, and Jen even let me borrow a bunch of snowboarding gear because, well, I didn’t need much of that in Texas. Ever.

I had such a blast snowboarding—and I didn’t even feel that rusty. One part that always stresses me out, though, is getting off the lifts. Only one of your feet is strapped in when you do, and I just feel so out of control. I don’t fall much when I’m boarding down the mountain, but I usually count on falling when getting off the lifts.

And I typically don’t disappoint—I think there was only one time I didn’t fall Saturday when dismounting that freaking lift.

But, whether I like it or not, getting off the lifts is part of the snowboarding process. You have to get to the top of the mountain somehow, and the lift is the most sensible option. And you can’t sit on the lift forever if you actually want to board.

Remember that time when none of us fell when we got off the lift? That was a good moment.

I think that’s sometimes how many of the big steps we take start—with things that should be so simple but often seem scary. But you have to take that small first step before you can get to that next bigger adventure. Sure, you might fall, but getting back up is actually a lot easier than some people think. Here’s what happens: You fall. It hurts your pride (and maybe your a$* or other body parts). Then, you get back up, and you keep going. Some falls are worse than others. Get back up, anyway.

I’m single. We all know that. It can be tough sometimes, but I never want the fact that I don’t have a guy who loves me forever by my side to keep me from doing any of the things I want to do or from enjoying any part of anything I do. I think it’s important never to be afraid to be the individual you are. If you’re single, I hope that you have people in your life who make you forget the feeling of being alone. If you’re not, I hope that you welcome the single people with open arms. And I hope that we all take the chances that we might be afraid to take—including the seemingly small ones.

Even if you end up face planting while getting off the lift.

Because sometimes you reel in a bat ray for a fisherman

Some days are filled with unexpected surprises.

Like catching a bat ray and then setting it free.

My friend Ashley and I had been planning a day road trip for a few weeks because she and her husband are moving to Nebraska this weekend (I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT), and we needed an adventure. We had originally planned to go to a castle tour and some of the areas nearby it, but when I woke up Saturday morning, a four-hour drive (or longer) didn’t seem like the best idea. For some reason, while I was running, I thought that Santa Barbara sounded so much better.

I hope you find a friend like Ashley. She’s a true gem. Also, please notice that freaking awesome glistening wave.

When she picked me up that morning, I ran my idea by her, and she seemed relieved. It turns out that she had also been thinking that we should nix the castle thing. It was SO gorgeous outside, so we agreed that making the shorter trek up to Santa Barbara was the way to go.

If you’ve never been to Santa Barbara, you should consider changing that. It’s truly beautiful and has so many quaint areas. As soon as we got there, we got food (because priorities), and then we hopped on the trolley with the friendly driver Jim to take us down to the wharf. I had never been on a wharf, but it was fascinating. We took some pics (duh) and then walked to the end and sat to relax and stare out at the water. After a few minutes, we heard a commotion behind us, so we walked over to see what all of the fuss was.

One of the guys fishing had apparently gotten a hold of something big, but whatever it was wasn’t going down without a fight. Some people speculated that it was a thresher shark, and the fisherman began walking along the edge of the pier to follow the huge creature’s path. I followed him with my phone because I had started taking videos of the whole scene—you never know when something really exciting might happen—and the rather large crowd that had formed started following, as well. The fisherman finally saw that it was a bat ray, handed the pole to his friend, and went to get a net or something. The friend then turned to me, and the following conversation ensued.

Enthusiastic guy: “You wanna fight it?”
Me (thinking he was joking around): “Absolutely, I do.”
EG: “You really want to fight it?”
Me (realizing I had never “fought” marine wildlife and thinking maybe “fight” didn’t mean an actual fight): “Are you serious?”
EG: “Yeah! Come on, little woman!”
Me: “Little woman? Give me that pole.”

I wish I had an actual picture of the bat ray, but I don’t.

The next few moments of my life were ridiculous and awesome all at once. I had told homeboy that my name is Natalie and that he needed to stop calling me names that are synonyms for “small.” He then kept yelling “Come on, Natalie! Yeah, Nat! Woohoohoo!” I kept reeling and reeling, and finally I got that thing above the water. Fisherman Perry rushed over with a huge net and got the ray inside of it when I reeled it high enough. It took a couple of minutes, but everyone in the crowd watched as he took the hook out of the bat ray and untangled the little fella from the net before tossing him back in the water. He and his pal then gave me public recognition in front of all of those gathered in the area, and I’m sure I bowed or flexed my muscles or something.

And I can now say that I’ve received applause from strangers on a wharf for my brute strength.

When you make that trip to Santa Barbara, please climb this tree.

Saturday turned out to be a day I never expected, but it was just what I needed. I honestly had no idea what I was doing reeling in that bat ray. I don’t fish often (or ever), and I was pretty sure that, with my luck, I was going to somehow fall off of that dock because there weren’t any bars or barriers to stop a person from going overboard—and, let’s be honest, my track record doesn’t exactly exude balance and poise.

The whole experience was different, and it was exciting.

Life doesn’t always go the way we think or plan it will. If it did, I’d be watching the Winter Olympics every night with the man I love instead of by myself with a bag of candy. I love the quote “when something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘PLOT TWIST,” and move on” (the Internet tells me Molly Weis said this one, so we’ll believe it) because it reminds me to adapt to the unexpected things that come my way instead of being afraid of them. So, if someone hands you a fishing pole and tells you to reel in some large creature you’ve never heard of, don’t be afraid to give it a try.

And you might find that you’re capable of more than you thought you were.

When you’re single on Valentine’s Day

There are two words that make almost every single gal roll her eyes each year.

Valentine’s Day.

I’m not sure how I’d feel about Valentine’s Day if I had a boyfriend or husband. I still don’t think I’d be a huge fan because it seems like a superfluous day on which people spend way too much money for things that, to me, don’t actually signify love. Maybe they do to some people, but I can’t get on board. Besides, I hate chocolate, flowers, and jewelry, so the typical gifts aren’t for me.

I don’t have a Valentine, so I’m just going to imitate my favorite emoji.

I also don’t like the idea of one day out of the entire year being the day you’re supposed to show someone you love him or her. Isn’t that something you’re supposed to do every day—without gifts involved?

Maybe I sound like a bitter single person, but I don’t think I’m bitter about anything. However, I’ll certainly admit that Valentine’s Day is one of the most difficult days for a single person to exist because everything around you screams hearts and love, and there you are, sitting at home by yourself (yet again) while the rest of the people you know are celebrating the fact that their SOs and them have picked each other out of all of the other people in the entire world. Comforting, huh?

I’ve experienced 33 Valentine’s Days on my own, so I’m used to it—but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier. It’s another sucker punch to the gut after surviving Christmas and New Year’s Eve solo. You get about a month and a half, and then that reminder pops right back up: Hey, girl. Here’s another holiday that makes you realize everyone around you is coupled up. Have fun watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. You could do it in four or less.

I’m no psychology expert, but I don’t think those are the healthiest thoughts to have.

Probably watching a romcom and thinking about candy

There are likely many women out there who gather together and have their own Galentine’s Day celebrations (thank you, Leslie Knope), and maybe that’s a smart idea and good way to forget that, even though you’re all alone on Valentine’s Day, you’re actually not all alone at all. I usually try to ignore the holiday, though I’ll take advantage of some of the limited-edition candies (I’m singing praises for you, Cupcake Hershey’s Kisses).

I try to get through February as quickly as I can, anyway—thank goodness that it’s a little shorter than the other months. It makes me think of the time I mustered up all of the courage I had and asked a guy out (I had purposely waited until well after Valentine’s Day), and he told me that he had a girlfriend he had never mentioned and said “I would, but I can’t.” Great. They later broke up, and that commenced a rollercoaster of emotions with him until he finally broke my heart for good months later.

But that’s the past, so perhaps this year I should soak up every second of February I can get, even if it does include what I consider to be an unnecessary holiday. The truth is that I love love, so how can I hate a day that is supposed to be centered on it? Sure, it’s gotten out of hand and has lost true meaning for a lot of people (not everyone, of course), but I can try to make it a day that I make sure everyone around me—single or not—feels loved. I know what it’s like to feel alone and wishing you weren’t, so I want to help others not to feel that way.

I feel like my 2017 Christmas card picture is fitting for Valentine’s Day, too.

I lead a group of high school girls at my church, and they’re depending on me to set a good example for them and to love them as they are. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do for everyone, as well? I want those girls to know that you don’t have to have a ring on your finger or a date on Saturday night in order to love and be loved—because love is a lot more than that. Yes, it’s different and special in its own way when it’s between two specific people, but it’s also something that should be shared with every person in every single walk of life.

So this year on Valentine’s Day, even though I won’t give or receive tiny little cards or go anywhere that a lot of people probably consider romantic, I will love. I won’t throw a pity party like Jessica Biel did in the movie Valentine’s Day, and I won’t storm into said party and beat the piñata senseless like Jennifer Garner did (still one of my favorite movie scenes), but I will love. And I won’t post a pic on Instagram with a new hashtag to celebrate my engagement, but I will love. I hope you will, too. And I hope we will continue to love every single chance we get on every single day we’re given.

Because love shouldn’t be limited to one day out of the year.

Because sometimes you fall down

Life is filled with ups and downs and moments when you have to pick yourself back up when times get tough.

Especially when you actually fall.

I’ve started running with a fun group of gals on Monday nights, and it’s become one of my favorite runs of the week because I actually get to run with other humans. For the past two weeks, I’ve run with my new friend Hilary, who is about as friendly as they come. She’s one of those people whom you meet and instantly know you were meant to be good friends.

Last week, though, I ran part of my Monday evening run solo while she ran with the precious 10-year-old (and by far the youngest of the crew) for a few miles. We planned on me turning around and then meeting back up with Hilary to finish the rest of our run together. It seems like a pretty reasonable plan, right? Plus, there’s not that much to running on a boardwalk other than following the path, so surely everything would be fine.

Let’s please remember the individual involved in this scenario—I have a way of ending up in ridiculous situations.

I turned around after a certain amount of time and headed toward where we started. When I was almost back, I saw Hilary running toward me, and we both threw our arms up in purposely exaggerated excitement. I signaled to her to question if we were turning around again to go the direction from which I had just come (the lighting is better that way), and I turned as she got to where I was. However, I wasn’t really paying attention to the ground below me—I rarely do when I run, which I realize isn’t always the smartest thing ever—so I didn’t notice the wet and sandy concrete that happened to be right where my feet were trying to turn the rest of me around.

I bit it. Hard.

Here’s a closeup for you.

It was like this slow-motion fall scene in a movie that I didn’t see coming, but it felt quite dramatic. As soon as it happened, I didn’t really want to look down because I knew it was going to be ugly, so I tried to keep running. Hilary suggested that we walk for just a second and maybe rinse off my leg, but I didn’t want to put water on it yet—it would sting. Like I typically do, I opted to ignore my pain and just keep running.

By the end of the run, I noticed just how much my leg stung and then looked down and saw how gross it was. When I got home, after I showered (and somehow avoided the water directly hitting my left leg), I made what might have been one of my poorest decisions of the day: I poured rubbing alcohol on my leg. Remember how I didn’t want water to touch it? Let me tell you something you probably already know. RUBBING ALCOHOL BURNS SO FREAKING MUCH ON AN OPEN WOUND.

The scrape hurt a bit (even though it doesn’t look so bad here), but it was still a fun run with Hillz!

I bandaged up my leg with all I had that night, which were some My Little Pony Band-Aids. I went to the grocery store the next day and used Avengers ones after that because they made me feel a little tougher. While My Little Pony characters are certainly bada$*es, there’s something about having Captain America and Black Widow on your bloody leg that says, “Hey. Don’t mess with me.”

Right after the fall happened, my leg hurt pretty badly, but the pain was minimized by having Hilary right there by my side. The rest of the run was filled with genuine conversation and a solid steady pace that I probably wouldn’t have gone after the fall if I had been by myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, moving to California has been challenging in a lot of ways. If I had moved here with someone, I think it would be a lot different. But I wasn’t supposed to move here with anyone, so it’s required me to make sure I find ways to surround myself with the right people who will be in my tribe. I could sit here and whine to you about how being single and living alone means that there was no one there to take care of my leg for me when I got home and how I really wish I had someone to hold my hand when life gets really rough—and part of me really wants to whine more about that in this moment—but there’s truly no point. That’s not in the cards for me right now, so I won’t complain any further.

What I will do is remind you that it’s important not to let the thoughts of the things you don’t have overshadow the wonderful things that are already in your life. There are going to be times when you’re doing great, and your actual life might be a direct reflection of an Instagram post, but then there are also going to be seasons when it seems like all you’re doing is falling down. Let the people around you help you up—let them remind you that it’s OK to acknowledge your pain and that you’re strong enough to keep going. Let them be those friends who run (or walk) alongside you and talk about all of the things in life, both good and bad, and what the hopes in your heart are.

Find those people, and never let them go.

Falling down isn’t the worst thing in the world. It hurts when it happens, and it might hurt for a little while after, too. And if the fall involves a broken heart, that “little while” might actually last a lot longer than you would prefer.

And that’s when you have to fight.

Please don’t stay down when you fall. You’ll miss out on so many great things if you do—you’ll miss out on running on the boardwalk with a friend or new career opportunities or exciting adventures or a man who will finally be the one you’ve been waiting to capture your heart forever and not break it. It’s OK to fall, as long as you get back up.

Besides, you might get to wear some really cool Band-Aids when you do.