When you don’t let your singleness define you

As I continue to get older and grow more and more single (is that possible??), I’m beginning to learn more about what it means to love and be loved, regardless of my relationship status.

Because my singleness does not define me.

I’m in my final week in the O.C., which is exciting and sad and weird all in one. I’m beyond happy to move back to Dallas and be reunited with my family and people who have stuck with me through years of joy and pain and all of life’s celebrations and trials. At the same time, though, it’s bittersweet to be closing this chapter of my life that has honestly transformed my heart in more ways than I could have imagined.

Got a gorgeous hike in with sweet Arinda

My friend Arinda makes a vision board every year, and I became interested in making one of my own after hearing her talk about it and her reason behind making one at the start of each new year. On the final weekend in December, I went over to her house, and we sat together cutting out magazine pictures and words that pertain to my life and the goals and hopes and dreams I have for myself. She always picks a word to be her key focus, and there was only one that popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.

Freedom.

We cut out the individual letters for that word, and it has its special place on my board. I covered the rest of it with the images and words we had found, and it’s my new visual representation of who I am and what I’m anticipating for 2019. (As a side note, the only board I could find was this canvas-material thing with bows and some little girl on it that I found at Target in the kids section. I did my best to cover it up, but you can definitely see bits of it through my collage of stuff. Life, you know?)

We are enough.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how fitting the word freedom is for my life right now. I genuinely believe that God called me out to California on purpose and with specific intention, and I believe that one reason was to be set free—free from anxiety, free from the pain of a broken heart, free from fear, and fear from the notion that I’m not enough.

I’m going back to Dallas stronger than I was when I left. I don’t say that to be boastful or to boost your opinion of me, because it honestly has nothing to do with me or with anything I did on my own. I say it because it was all part of God’s plan for me.

I’m as single as they come, and that’s always been something that’s been a little difficult for me. It’s tough to see nearly everyone around me falling in love and starting families while I’m still sending in RSVPs for one and never being able to drive in the HOV lane legally and twirling on the dance floor on my own during the slow songs. For far too long, I let my singleness define what I thought of myself, and I let it be something that diminished my opinion of who I was. I let it convince me that I simply wasn’t enough—not pretty enough, not funny enough, not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not whatever enough.

But “not enough” is a lie.

These girls are going to change the world.

I found freedom from that nonsense during this last more than year and a half. My singleness allowed me to come out here on my own. My singleness allowed me to ask people to be my friends and spend time with me without worrying about messing with someone else’s schedule. My singleness allowed me feel more alone than I ever had and realize that the only One I need is with me all of the time everywhere I go. My singleness allowed me to invite myself places without thinking twice. My singleness allowed me to lead other single and unmarried women and encourage them and pray with them for their future husbands. My singleness allowed me to drop what I was doing and be there for a group of high school girls when they needed me most.

And my singleness allowed me to experience the freedom from the fear and pain that my singleness has brought me for far too many years.

Lifers.

Sometimes we need to take journeys we weren’t expecting to grow and learn lessons that we never knew we needed to learn. We may even be fortunate enough to make some lasting friendships along the way, and I’m so grateful for the lifelong relationships I formed in California. I know in my heart that the distance of miles and miles in between the different states won’t tarnish these friendships. I know that some friendships are only meant to last for certain seasons of our lives, but I didn’t make many of those out here—I’m more of a lifer.

I think one reason that I was able to form such friendships is because I’m letting myself be completely real and open and honest with people more than I ever have. I’m more comfortable being me, even around guys I have feelings for or think are attractive. Heck, I even sent a message on Instagram to my friend’s dentist because he’s a hottie, and she said he was single and that we might be a good match for each other. He never replied, but I’m cool with that.

There’s freedom in finally being OK with the rejections that used to hurt me.

I love Kerry and Nick (and precious Eva!!) with my whole heart.

When you break a bone, it often returns to a stronger state than it was as a result of the calcium that built up during the healing process. I left Dallas with a broken heart that I thought would never be whole again, but I’m returning home with a heart so mended and capable of much more that it ever has been because of the love that built up around it and in it during this healing process.

Life is often unpredictable and will lead you to places you weren’t planning to go. And those are often journeys that you need to go on by yourself in order to discover that you’re never alone as you think you are. Your relationship status doesn’t define you, and don’t ever be afraid to do anything simply because there isn’t someone else with you to make the journey. It might be the adventure you need to help you become who you were always meant to be.

And you’re certainly worth taking the chance to find out.

When you worry about situations that don’t even exist

Things aren’t necessarily always as bad as you think they will be.

But that doesn’t stop us from letting our imaginations get the best of us.

I think it’s easy sometimes to create worst-case scenarios in our minds that don’t actually exist, and we end up dealing with unnecessary anxiety. There’s an episode of Modern Family that depicts this pretty perfectly when Claire freaks out about Haley’s whereabouts and what possibly could have happened within the last 24 hours. She spirals down a crazed worry path, but it turns out that Haley was upstairs in her room the entire time, and all of Claire’s panicking was for naught.

I’ve definitely been guilty of that more than once in my life, and I let those anxious thoughts get the best of me recently.

If you’re worried about being on a trip without your purse, get yourself a pink fanny pack from the nearest Walmart. It’s less than $8 and is a total game changer.

Last week was rough for a number of reasons, mainly because of the whole kidney stone thing. I’ve been feeling like a train wreck since then because something still isn’t right (don’t worry—I’m going to the urologist this week), and I didn’t do a great job of making sure that I got enough rest. I made the perhaps unwise decision to play in my flag football game on Saturday morning, and when I was getting closer to the beach, I noticed a strange sound coming from my car’s front right tire. I started worrying that my car was falling completely apart and that I was going to have to get an entirely new car ASAP if I wanted to be able to drive anywhere. But I really don’t want a car payment right now, so this wasn’t going to be good at all.

I parked on one of the streets near the beach and got out of my car to inspect the damage. All I saw was some circular silver thing stuck in my tire, and I wasn’t able to pull it out, no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t have time to deal with it at the moment because I needed to get to my game, but during my walk over to the beach field, I started thinking about how I was going to return to a flat tire, and I didn’t know how to change a flat. I didn’t want to have to call anyone to help me, so I then started worrying about trying to figure it out on my own and putting it on the wrong way.

By the time I got back to my car, the tire was still intact, and I drove to the nearest America’s Tire (I have a lifetime warranty with Discount Tire, and America’s Tire is the same thing as Discount out here), but it had closed at noon that day. I called two more America’s Tire stores, but it turns out they all closed at noon for some company event ON THE ONE DAY THAT I NEEDED THEM TO HAVE THEIR NORMAL HOURS.

As I drove to the nearest auto place that Google Maps had found for me, I started panicking about how much it was going to cost to fix it or get a brand new tire all because freaking America’s Tire had to have a company event. (I honestly hope that all of the employees had a great time—I used to love it when my company in Dallas would close early to have some fun as a company family.)

I sat inside and watched college football on my phone (don’t ask me why the store had a throwback NBA game on its TV, instead) and had a convo with God to try to get rid of my worrying. It wasn’t too long later that the guy who had been working on my tire came in with the keys and gave them to the guy behind the counter, who turned to me and said that I was all set. It was a bolt that had been in my tire, and homeboy had removed it and then patched up the hole. I braced myself as I asked him how much it was, and he said four words that made my heart soar: “Don’t worry about it.”

He didn’t realize it, but he was speaking to me about so much more than the tire.

All of that worrying and stressing ended up being a waste of energy that I really didn’t have in the first place. I feel like I should know by now that going down the worry path is a horrible idea and usually leads me in the wrong direction. What’s the point in stressing so much about situations that don’t even exist and may never be actualities?

I’m really thankful for people like Amanda who remind me what it means to be a good friend and go through tough times together. (P.S. IT’S HER WEDDING WEEK!!!!)

I have a lot of unknowns ahead in my life right now, and at least one has been causing me more anxiety than it should. Here’s the truth, though: I can handle anything that comes my way, because I know that I’m never alone, and God has never once turned away from me—and He won’t start now. No, that doesn’t mean that everything will always work out in my favor, but it does mean that I can endure the trials and trust Him through them all.

Life is going to throw challenges at us, and there will be times when it leaves us feeling anxious about what may or may not happen. There are questions constantly filling our minds: How much is this going to cost? What if I can’t afford this? What if I’m single forever? What if the dreams in my heart don’t come true? What am I going to do if this happens? What am I going to do if this doesn’t happen?

You can “what if?” until you’re blue in the face, and you can sweat over your mind’s inquiries until you wear yourself out completely. But, rather than spending all of your energy worrying about things that aren’t realities and may never be, why not use it to enjoy where you are, trust that what needs to happen will happen, and love the people in your life in this very moment?

Because one bolt in your tire can’t destroy the entire car.

When your heart needs a reminder

I think it’s important to be open and genuine, and sometimes that involves sharing your heart and being vulnerable when you might not want to.

Right now is one of those times for me.

I’m not going to lie—sometimes it’s really tough being single when you’re an adult. Even if it’s not necessarily true, it seems like every other human being around you is in a relationship and has his or her person to do life with and make memories together. And plenty of people you don’t even ask have their opinions regarding what you should or shouldn’t do to make sure that you don’t spend the rest of your life singing the catchy Farmers Only jingle.

It can be such a special status at times.

This hat is the greatest purchase I’ve made in a long time.

I’ve shared before that, while I’ve never actually had a boyfriend or even been in a relationship (or on what I consider to be a real date), I’ve had my heart broken. And I feel like I’m currently going through a never-ending heartache that I can’t seem to escape, no matter what I do. Unfortunately, there’s no timetable for mending a broken heart—we’re all so different, and we all handle our pain in different ways.

For me, I’ve always tried to deal with emotional pain the same way I deal with physical pain: I ignore it. I do this for as long as possible, and then I usually reach a point when I have to face the fact that the pain is actually there, and there’s no way to pretend it’s not there anymore—I simply have to acknowledge it.

It’s been almost two years since my heart was ripped out of my chest, thrown to the ground, smashed into thousands of tiny little pieces, and then stomped all over by the guy who walked away from it. I thought that I would be over it by now, and I honestly thought more recently that I was. But one day last week reminded me that I was once again just masking pain that was still prevalent. It still hurts, and I still miss him, which makes me feel foolish and pathetic.

But I also know that I’m neither foolish nor pathetic—I’m simply a girl who cares about a boy who doesn’t care about her. It’s not exactly the classic romance tale, but it’s my current reality.

One evening last week, I went to a panel discussion at a church that’s somewhat connected with mine, and the topic was about dating in today’s society. It was kind of difficult to take advice from the married couples up there (especially the ones who had been married for 20 years and more), and I wish they would have had more than one single person to share some insight, but I ended up having a rather enlightening moment on my own in the midst of it all.

As I was listening to some of the couples share their stories of how they met, I began to feel alone and a little sad. I haven’t cried in a while, and I have a feeling the waterworks are coming soon. (Part of that not acknowledging my emotional pain thing that I do means that I ignore moments when I want to cry, so I end up bottling up a crap-ton of emotions, and they typically come pouring out all at once when I least expect them to.) I did the only thing that ever makes sense to me when everything around me makes zero sense: I started praying.

God knows my heart, and I began unloading it in a prayer of brokenness, asking Him what I was supposed to do. I hate the online stuff—it’s not part of my story, and I know it. But I’m hurting, and I’m still sad about [homeboy’s name]. God, if I’m supposed to be single forever, can you please take away this desire in my heart? And, regardless, can you please take away my feelings for him? Am I ever going to meet my person? What do I do, Lord?

And then I heard this quiet, calming voice that has spoken truth to me so many times: Don’t you trust me? I’ve never let you down.

Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. This big and powerful God who has the entire world in His hands—the One who called me out to California and has provided for me in more ways than I could ever have imagined—truly cares about me and has a plan that is more perfect than anything that I could ever create. He’s never failed me, and He won’t start now. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk into the elevator at work tomorrow and meet the man of my dreams, but it does mean that, whether or not I do ended up falling in love with the one guy who picks me out of every other girl in the world, He’s got big plans for me.

God also gave me a Saturday morning run with my sweet cousin Rachel, who was in town last week. I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s always listened to my heart and provided encouragement. I hope you’re able to meet her one day. She’s freaking amazing.

And I do trust Him.

We sang two songs in church Sunday that both had lines about God never failing us and never letting us down. I think it was His way of reminding me (along with countless others who needed to hear it) that He is who He says He is, and He’s taking care of the things that cause me worry and anxiety—He’s funny like that.

I don’t know what you’re going through in life. Maybe you’re like me and wish that you could find love in a world that seems to be more challenging for the single folks every day. I hope that you don’t lose hope. I hope that you keep pressing on through the storms of heartache that try to knock you down. I hope that you know that you are worthy and enough with or without someone else standing by your side.

And I hope that you know that you are loved by the One who will love you more than anyone else in the entire world ever could.

Because sometimes you really do need to check your heart

I didn’t know that a comedian’s words that were meant to be a joke could have such a strong impact in my life.

Especially when they relate to me being so single.

Every week, my dear friend Amanda and I go on a walk on the boardwalk and talk about all things life. Last week, we made a whole afternoon/evening of it by also putting together her wedding invitations. On our way to the beach, we made a pitstop at Joanne’s to get some more ribbon, and there were huge bubble wands on sale for 75 cents right by the checkout area—and I’m a sucker for things like that.

I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a random photographer so much. Also, you can sort of see the bubbles in the air.

As we were walking and chatting and letting the bubbles soar through the Pacific air, we got on the topic of my heart and how it feels when I’m surrounded by couples. Honestly, at this point, I’ve gotten used to it—but I’ve never really checked my heart.

I love John Crist. He’s absolutely hilarious (you should follow him on the Insta if you don’t already). He has a bit he does in which he makes fun of something by saying “check your heart.” For instance, he might say something like “when the self-checkout at the grocery store skips an item, but you just bag it and keep going—check your heart” or “ever skipped church to watch a football game—check your heart.” (It’s funnier when he does it. I promise.)

While his stuff is just for fun, I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about checking my heart from time to time. I mean, it’s a rather important part of me, after all. So when Amanda and I were talking about my heart in terms of being single in the midst of couples, I was thankful to have people in my life who care about me enough to ask those types of questions.

The truth is that I like being able to spend time with couples and families, even when I’m the only one there who is flying solo. It makes me feel included and loved in spite of my status. I think it would hurt more if I knew that people had purposely not included me because I would be the only person not part of a couple.

One of my former coworkers and his family were in town over the weekend, and he invited me to a get-together with his family and friends. It was another one of those situations in which I was somewhat of an outsider, but I didn’t feel like an outsider at all—I felt like I was part of the family.

And I love that family feeling.

I might be biased, but I think it’s a good idea not to forget about the single people in your life. Everyone is different, so maybe someone you invite won’t show up to something where it will be mostly couples and families, but at least the invite is there to show that he or she is always welcome. It’s important for those single people to know that they are enough as they are.

Perhaps one day I will take a picture on a ferry with the guy who’s my guy. Until then, this is what you get.

I was recently having a conversation with someone I had just met, and he asked me why I’m single. That’s always a tough question that I’m never quite sure how to answer. I still don’t know, other than that it’s not part of the Lord’s plan for me right now. Yes, I would love to love and be loved by the person who is meant to be my lobster forever, but that’s not where I am in life right now—and that’s OK.

Because being single can actually be a very powerful thing.

I’ve been given so many opportunities lately to love others and to invest in people God has placed in my life. Yes, I could certainly still do this if I weren’t single, but it definitely feels special to me right now because it reminds me that the Lord is always looking out for me. Even when I’m as single as can be, He’s going to make sure that I never feel alone, and He’s going to find ways to show me that He makes me capable of so much more than I could ever imagine and that He’s given me certain passions and dreams for specific reasons.

If you’re single, I hope you that you let yourself feel comfortable being surrounded by couples and families, and I hope that you let them invite you in and love you as you are. Check your heart, and be honest with yourself and those who care about you.

And know that, whether you’re single or dating or engaged or married or whatever, you are enough.

“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.

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.

ADD THIS TO THE GROWING LIST OF REASONS WHY I HATE GAS-POWERED APPLIANCES.

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.

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 nothing compares to you

Moments of enlightenment can often come in some pretty outrageous forms.

Like an overheard conversation of two rambunctious boys in the front office of an elementary school.

I’ve been realizing a lot lately how much we compare ourselves to other people. I can’t really explain why it happens, but it seems like it’s something most of us do—even when we don’t even realize it.

And it starts at a young age.

I was waiting to interview a student at one of our campuses the other day, and there were two young boys sitting in the front office, as well. Their conversation with one another was highly entertaining, and I listened in (also because they were rather loud, so it was difficult not to sit there and hear every word they said). I have no idea what their names are, but I’m going to call them Rocky and Colt (Three Ninjas is a highly underrated movie).

Rocky: You see this scar on my chin (shows Colt his scar). I had to get FOUR stitches! And my godfather had to get to 24 stitches!

Colt: I have a scar on my hip, and I got 95 stitches!

Me (thought in my head): That’s a hell of a lot of stitches, kid. And I’m sure that’s completely true. Also, how does the godfather factor into any of this?

Rocky: I’m Indian and German and French and Irish and Arabian and probably British, too.

Me (thought in my head): That is quite the combo of heritage you have there. I’m not sure about all of those, because you’re the whitest kid I’ve ever seen.

Colt: I’m all of those things you just said, but I’m something else.

Me (thought in my head): False.

Colt never said what that “something else” is, but it sure gave him a one-up on Rocky, which I’m pretty sure is what he was going for in that convo.

A girl then walked in and greeted them both briefly and kept on to wherever she was going. Colt waited until she was probably still in earshot and told Rocky that “she’s really touchy.” Rocky asked what her name is, and when Colt told him, he said “that’s the boringest name.”

I sat there and reflected on the profound statements these kids had just said and wanted to label them as ridiculous boys, but then it hit me that adults really aren’t that much different. Sure, we don’t always voice our opinions like those kids did in such candid manners, but we let thoughts of comparisons enter our heads—whether it’s about people’s names or looks compared to ours or how we measure up to other people in regard to status or lifestyle.

It’s silly to compare our karate kicks. It’s also silly to compare this filtered pic to the original.

I know I’ve caught myself doing this lately, especially because I don’t really feel like I have my life figured out. (Who does, though, really?) I’m 33 years old and have realized that I’m not where I want to be in my career, and that gives me an unsettling feeling. I know so many people who seem to know exactly what they want, and they are in established roles and flourishing, while I’m sitting here still praying for direction and clarity—something that feels like I should have been doing way earlier in my career than now. But we all have different paths. I was able to be a sports reporter for a year, a teacher for seven years, and now a writer in the corporate setting for almost three years. I know I’m eventually meant to do something else, though, and that can be difficult to accept when you think you’re supposed to be an adult who isn’t so seemingly clueless.

I think we often forget that most people don’t really “have it all together,” despite what Instagram may lead us to believe. You’ve likely heard that “comparison is the thief of joy” (thanks, Teddy Roosevelt), and I think that’s true a lot of the time. You can feel like you’re really killing it in life and then see how great someone else is doing and feel like your accomplishments aren’t as great as that other person’s. But why does that matter? If you accomplished something, you should be proud of that because it’s something that’s part of your life.

It’s been an ongoing struggle for me in the area of being single. I’m extremely happy for all of the people in my life (which is almost all of them) who have found their soulmates and started families and always have their spouses or significant others to dance with them during all of the slow songs. And it’s hard sometimes not to remember that if I want to dance to those same songs, I get to go twirl on the dance floor all by myself. I can be perfectly happy doing that, but I can also look around and let the comparisons of my situation to theirs rob me of that peace I feel on my own.

We’re all unique the way we are, and it truly doesn’t make much sense to compare ourselves to other people. That’s definitely something that’s much easier to say than actually do, so I can’t promise it won’t ever happen again for me. But I do know I want to make more conscious efforts to remind myself that I am who I am, and I’m taking the path I’m taking for reasons I may not know until later. The things that happen in my friends’ lives aren’t supposed to happen in my life because my life isn’t their lives—it’s just that simple.

You are where you are right now for a reason. The people you’ve met and the things you’ve gone through—both good and bad—have not been without purpose. They’re all part of your journey and your story, and they are meant to be for you and not necessarily for anyone else. You are valued, you are loved, and you matter just the way you are.

And that’s a truth that needs no comparison at all.

When you feel like you’re part of something

I think sports not only teach you so much about yourself but also a tremendous amount about life.

Especially when you’re part of a team.

I started playing soccer at a very young age, and while I originally joined because I wanted the Gatorade at halftime, I eventually grew to love the game itself and and everything about it. As I continued through my childhood and adolescence, I played a lot of sports, so I got used to that whole team aspect, and that’s also how I made a lot of my friends.

As an adult, I haven’t played on as many teams, especially as a runner—it’s obviously much more of an individual sport. I’ve run a handful of relays, which are always fun, but there’s something special about going through an entire season (or multiple seasons and years) with a group of individuals all working together and and supporting one another and cheering for each other and becoming more like a family.

At my last job, my company had its own bowling league, and two years in a row, I was a proud member (and team captain) of the Spare Bears. I loved that team—even when some of the members complained about the T-shirts we made the first season. We all still wore them (at least for a few weeks). Even though we weren’t that bad, the ridiculous scoring system left us in last place both years. I don’t like losing AT ALL, but you know what? We had fun, and we made a lot of really great memories as a team. We made it through those losses together, and we even gave each other high fives each week, despite whatever the screen said.

Because we were a team.

I miss the Spare Bears. I miss a lot of things about my life back in Dallas, which I expected would happen. Last week, I decided I needed to join a coed beach flag football league to fill the void of not being on a team and to be able to play a fun sport again and make some new friends. Before I had any time to think of reasons why it wasn’t a good idea, I had registered as a free agent, which meant I would be placed on any team that needed me.

This obviously isn’t our entire team, but I needed a pic, and they seemed photogenic.

My first game was Sunday, and I’m really glad I decided to join. I didn’t know a single person out there, but I immediately felt like part of the group, and it was nice to get some high fives when I almost had an interception and made a few other defensive plays to break up passes and grab flags (I’m telling you—I would be a great strong safety in the NFL). We all even hung out for a little bit after the game at a place down from the pier, and I’m also going to go to a trivia night this week that a couple of them attend weekly—I’m pretty excited about that!

I realize I’ve only played in one game, but it already feels comforting to be part of a team. There’s something really good about groups like this: They’re not only found in sports. Whether it’s our families or coworkers or communities or other solid circles of friends who become family to you, we can be part of so many different teams in life—those people who walk with you through every season and are there for you every step of the way. They cheer for you whether you’re killing it in life or getting your a$* kicked. And they help you up when you fall down, making sure you know that you’re strong enough to get up and keep going. They mourn with you after losses, and they celebrate with you after victories. It doesn’t matter if you’re at your worst or at your best—they’re still there.

I bought a sofa the other day (well, it’s really a loveseat, but I didn’t want something really big). I’ve been watching television while sitting on a blowup mattress, and that lifestyle is getting old and uncomfortable, so it was time for something else. When I told the guy who sold it to me that I thought the loveseat was a better option than the full-sized sofa for me, he said this: “Yeah, it’s the perfect size for someone who’s alone.”

I SWEAR THAT I GIVE OFF SOME SORT OF “I’M SINGLE” VIBE.

Of course, he then started to backtrack and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed.” I should have told him about all of my people. No, I don’t live with anyone; no, I don’t have a boyfriend; no, I don’t have a husband or a date to anything or someone to watch the sunsets on my lifeguard tower with me; no, I don’t have a pet; and, no, I don’t have a lot of other things. To him, that might make me alone, but I don’t think that’s the way I want to look at it. Sure, it may feel that way sometimes, but all I need to do is think about my teams and the teammates who have been by side for years, and my spirits are lifted. I hope you have those people in your life, and I hope you keep finding more.

Because sharing those precious moments in life with the people you love is even sweeter than Gatorade at halftime.