Burn the Bears

A while ago I decided no more small teddy bears. In fact, I’m sure I even wrote about it but I’m too lazy to actually look. Some of you may read that first sentence and wonder why I have such a strong preference toward small stuffed animals. Let me explain.

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I know it’s cheesy BUT IT GETS ME

I’m not sure when I first saw that picture, but man did it change my life. It kind of became my go to for advice when I thought anyone was clinging to something they should leave behind. Yes it’s fine I know I’m the worst, but at least I knew in my self-righteousness I also needed to give up my bears.

The problem is I couldn’t.

I ignored them, sure. I put them in a pile of other things and said it didn’t matter to me anyway. Or worse, I thought God and I were holding onto the same, right-for-me bear so it was cool. It was God’s timing.

Soon enough I found myself back in the same place of self-doubt I know so well, sobbing into my little teddy bear and feeling like a fool. I saw my teddy bear for what it was, and saw all the denial I’d lived in for too long.

It came to me in a park. I had just read through the book of Titus and I was thinking about the verse in chapter 2: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (11-12).

My first reaction was how I have this option to say no, and yet I find myself saying yes all the time. I am not self-controlled in any area of life. If I want it, I buy it because what’s a few more dollars on my credit card. Oh that boy didn’t treat me well? Better play his games again. I already ate three donuts, but that fourth one looks so good.

You get the idea.

That is where my journaling began to take a turn and I realized I couldn’t hold onto my teddy bear anymore. I thought by admitting other areas of struggle, I would be off the hook and I could cuddle with my pain. Fortunately, Jesus is a rescuer.

The comparisons plaguing my brain began to disappear and slowly I felt the teddy bear leave me. My Savior was there again, even though I stubbornly clung to what I thought was best because it was what I wanted. He gently reminded me where my worth comes from and how no one in this world determines my value. I wanted to spiral into the land where no one wants me, but Jesus reminded me there is no such place. He is always there, always comforting me, always reminding me that I am more than the way others make me feel.

And then it was gone. I released my bear. I gave to God the tiny fantasy I desperately wanted because it was the only thing I knew and decided to trust Him with my great reality waiting just beyond this season.

Now I’m free to dream again, beyond the limitations I willingly kept. I don’t have to stay focused on what I thought I wanted. I’m not trapped with something that will never give me what I need. In a phrase, I am free.

While this obviously applies to a specific thing in my life, it could apply to almost every area of my life. I hold onto what I know, good and bad, because the not-knowing seems worse. When I’m feeling low, I know that I can give it to God and feel light again, but I won’t. Instead I watch Netflix all day and dream that my life is like the shows I watch and slowly I slip from this beautiful reality I’m blessed to live everyday.

Earlier this week I said I wanted to make a change in my life, maybe a haircut or maybe burn down everything I own. Naturally I didn’t mean actually burning my possessions because that’s fiscally irresponsible, but a fire did occur.

I knew a change was in order, and it wasn’t one people will see. My room looks relatively the same and I still have all my hair. But I am lighter, freer, happier.

I burnt every last small teddy bear.

Perfect should try to be you

This is a hard topic to try and talk about, because sometimes it’s really difficult for me to see my worth, and I know I’m not alone. Even my most confident, beautiful and wonderful friends struggle at times. You can’t blame us, not in a world constantly saying you aren’t good enough.

While I could spend hours writing about the negative effects of advertising and the media on how we perceive ourselves, that isn’t the focus of this post. It’s more in how let others treat us and how that affects our value.

I think too often and without realizing, we let the opinions of others change the opinion we hold of ourselves. For some, it happens when you’re too young to realize you deserve better and for others it happens so slowly over time until you don’t believe there’s anything different.

To really summarize this idea, I’m going to borrow a quote from the brilliant Stephen Chbosky:

We accept the love we think we deserve.

Now, before I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I saw this quote circulated around social media so frequently I wrote it off in my brain as a silly way “edgy” girls romanticized their poor dating choices. Please know I’m not proud of this judgment I so easily passed.

I didn’t read the book until they started filming for the movie in Pittsburgh, but I’m so glad I waited. The first time I read it when I was very early into my 20s, it hit me like a welcome train of awareness. Yes, the characters were teenagers and going through things I couldn’t even imagine, but the truths were there waiting for me. It made me think about how I let people treat me and my motivations and through it, I began to confront some demons.

Another book, The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler, taught me the important lesson surrounding this idea of ‘deserving.’ We go through life telling our friends they deserve better, but at the root, they (and we) don’t. Yes, this sounds crazy and no, it doesn’t mean you should let everyone treat you like garbage.

Love is a gift we give and receive, and we learn to love because our Father loved us first. At no point have we ever deserved that love. I mean really, read pretty much every Bible story ever and you will see a people continually falling short. None of that matters, though, because of His great love. He created us, knowing we would never be enough. He continues to pursue us, knowing our hearts are wicked and prone to other gods. Nothing we do can change His love either way. We can’t deserve more by good behavior and we can’t deserve worse by bad behavior. This is such a powerful truth.

It’s not about deserving better treatment, but realizing we’re worth more because we’re children of God. We aren’t designed to let people treat us poorly because that’s not what Love is about. This is so much harder to actually follow, I realize.

Getting back to accepting the love we think we deserve, I think in some concepts deserve is used very well. When we accept the love we think we deserve, we are accepting imperfect love. Love that is flawed and conditional. Love that only works on the terms established by someone else. We are failing to see the beauty of love because we’re so blinded by the things within ourselves that make us feel less.

In my life, this lack of self-worth is related to my father, which is tragically far too common. Despite being a Christian all my life with a good stepfather, I was still trying to earn the love I never received from my father.

Because I never loved him as well as he thought he deserved, my father made me feel less and like I had to continually work to gain anything from him. I would go out of my way to see him and talk to him until it was me initiating every conversation. This pattern is one I can spot in almost every romantic relationship I’ve had.

Until I paid attention, I didn’t realize this was a problem. I assumed it was just guys and I really didn’t know what it was like to feel wanted. I questioned everything about myself and changed trying to find someone who would actually love me.

Because I didn’t see my value, no one else did who I was pursuing. It didn’t help I pursued men I could see weren’t good for me in any capacity, but their slight interest was all I needed to give up my ideals and compromise to make them happy. I was trained to work in exchange for fake love that never lasted.

When I couldn’t see my value, I accepted less than the love God intended for me to have.

Our need for companionship can be so strong it leads us down paths we know we shouldn’t travel. We pick people we know aren’t good for us but we tell ourselves lies like it’s nothing serious anyway or it’s just fun or this is just how guys treat us (and reverse for men, obviously). Or we even think that somehow we can change them and then they will love us in the way we want.

Think about some of the incredible married, engaged or in a serious relationship people in your life. Do you think they got where they are by making their significant other feel less or like they don’t really matter? Do you think the strong couple foundation is built on belittling or neglect?

The answer should be no. If we see healthy relationships, why do we assume we can’t have it, too?

On the other side of this, I can tell you the behavior justifications won’t hold up once you begin to really look at your life. I can’t excuse those pieces of my past, like staying with a guy for too long because it was fun and a distraction, because now I know better. All of these experiences shape who we will be, both alone and in relationships.

Now I have a hard time believing men are actually attracted to and interested in me. I doubt their motivations when they’re nice to me and convince myself they’re like this with everyone. If they stop talking to me, I assume it’s because they are like all the rest.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking yeah, but it is nothing and just fun, and I really hope that’s true for you. What I know is it isn’t true for me, and every bad experience lowered how I valued myself a little bit more.

When we say yes to people we don’t really like or go back when we say we’re done, we’re showing them how we value ourselves. I know these are generalizations, but that’s where I’m focusing and I want to acknowledge I know there are exceptions. But on the whole, when we give in, we basically tell that person I don’t really value myself at all.

The other side to worth is thinking you aren’t good enough because of something in your past or where you are. We diminish ourselves because we aren’t exactly where we should be or we’ve made mistakes in the past and can’t believe someone could see past them. We carry that weight like a sign around our neck that says ‘I’m a crummy person and not good enough for you.’

Please know that’s nonsense.

Worth is tricky, isn’t it? The power we have to affect how someone views themselves and the impact we can have to make them see they are worth more. It’s hard to convince people of their value, but all we can do is try. And try and try and try because this is a fight you shouldn’t give up on, no matter what.

Even though I’m better than I was, my best friend still needs to remind me of my value when I start to doubt. I can still lose my mind over texts without replies and delays in conversation. The difference is now I’m more selective. I don’t just let anyone in. Conversely, I’m learning to tear down the walls I built to protect my heart and realizing not every man will hurt me. The way I guard my heart now is by reminding myself of how I am so loved by God, and that is the person I want to keep safe so no human can make me feel less.

So what can you take from all this? Remember that while we don’t necessarily deserve anything, we are worth way more than the way we let people treat us. I don’t know what happened in your past or what you did or how they hurt you, but I know restoration is possible. It will never be about finding the right person who will love us the right way, but by learning to love ourselves first and recognizing there is a Greater Love at work within. Completion comes from God alone and successful relationships happen when you can look at every piece of you, whole and broken, and realize how valuable you are.

Maybe you will get to a point where you know and feel this and don’t need reminders or maybe you will still need a daily check in with yourself to see how amazing you are. Either way, you are amazing and valuable and loved just as you are right now.

I will end with a poem by Bo Burnham, called Perfect:

I love you just the way you are

but you don’t see you like I do.

You shouldn’t try so hard to be perfect.

Trust me, perfect should try to be you.

Find Your Sam

The story of finding my Sam is basically all I need to remember God has a plan for our lives and man, is it good. Our story isn’t one that begins with instant connection or common ground. We didn’t hate each other and suddenly realize we should be best friends. We were just people who, by the grace of God, found each other and He worked out everything else.

Before I begin, let me describe what having a Sam means for your life, so you can understand the idea. Best friend is a description casually assigned to a lot of people that you may enjoy spending time with and may know all of your secrets. You hear people use this a lot, and sometimes I wonder how many best friends a person can have (I’m not saying there should be a limit, of course).

But a Sam is different.

A Sam is someone who is your person, your actual person. Not the person you latch onto because you WANT a person. As Emily Bronte describes it, whatever souls are made of, yours and your persons are the same (adjusted for my purposes). By my estimation you can only have one of these people in your life because they will understand you so thoroughly and so terrifyingly that more than one may overwhelm you. It is the person who always sees right through you, tells you when you’re being an idiot and never wavers in love and support.

That’s abbreviated of course. Now back to the story.

My first memory of Sam is her backpack. I was the nerd in class ready to crush freshman year with my Jansport classic and she had a corduroy backpack covered in flowers, probably purchased from somewhere hip like PacSun. She was there in my first college class, and she had a cool backpack.

One of the first things I said to her was I like your sweater. This was a few months later and we were standing outside a professor’s office. It was very nautical with red, white and blue stripes and gold buttons. I now possess this sweater, almost eight years later.

During bingo night in the Beehive (our cafeteria alternative), she was there with a bunch of people I kind of knew. She was wearing a giant sweatshirt and proudly owned the fact she wasn’t wearing a bra. I was partly mortified and partly in awe of this hero among women.

In our second semester, we had back to back classes and a mutual friend who sat between us. There was the occasional lunch and conversation, but nothing substantial. It wasn’t until an early morning drive and a rooming snafu that our paths truly crossed.

As you can tell, I could spend endless amounts of time describing the interesting events that brought us together and the relationship that developed. We became roommates for our sophomore year and strangely decided to have the same class schedule. She arrived on campus before me and when I got there, told me one night she was sure someone was breaking in but it was just a soda that exploded in the fridge. This is one of our earliest stories and still one of my favorites. She just waited in bed assuming she was about to be killed.

Back on track.

It’s been more than seven years since we became roommates. I’m not sure when we became best friends, but it slowly built until one day we just were. I think I like that best about us. We just were. We weren’t each other’s first roommate so the pressure to be best friends wasn’t there. By that point we had mostly established our own identities on campus. We weren’t desperate freshmen adding everyone on Facebook. We didn’t need each other then, but I definitely need her now.

She’s the person I can completely open my soul to – the good and the bad. I can tell her anything and trust that she will be there. I can try to lie to her and know she won’t tell me she actually knows better. Love is patient, love is kind, and love is my Sam.

The greatest gift she’s given me is acceptance. All my life I’ve worried if people still liked me, or if I annoyed them too much, or if I said too much. I meet people and leave feeling terrified, even if it went well, because the record plays of all the reasons why they shouldn’t like me. Even conversations with friends I know well can put me in a spiral because I’m never sure where I stand or if maybe this time I’ve been too much.

I never feel that way with my Sam.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of a breakdown, saying the same realizations I’ve had a thousand times before but still not changing anything. I can be completely delusional or in denial of how I actually feel. I can be condescending or self-righteous. I can be the worst version of myself around her, but I know I none of that will change how much she loves me.

What having a person means is true, unconditional love. Love like Jesus. Even if we’re both busy and we don’t talk as much as we used to, I still know how she feels. I can see her pursue different interests that maybe I don’t like and know she will still love painting her nails and going shopping with me. Our friendship isn’t jealous of other friends, because even when I see her with someone else a lot, I know how she feels because she tells me and makes me feel that no matter, it’s still me.

This is why someday our husbands will die and we will buy a house in the Hamptons, fill it with cats and raccoons and live out our days together. There is no better future.

The best advice I can give everyone is find your Sam. When you do, you will never be the same. She will challenge you and make you a better human bean. She will help you understand just how much God loves you and the way He loves us. Find your person who will still love you when you text her on her birthday to call her rude because she responded to your sister’s text and not yours.

Find your Sam, but don’t stress the people who won’t be. You’re not going to miss who God puts in your life, trust me. I didn’t find Sam. God brought her to me and made sure I wouldn’t miss out on the amazing adventure of being her best friend, her person, her soulmate.

I thank my God every day He gave me Sam.

Korres

TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW OF SKINCARE! ANOTHER BRAND WHERE I HAVEN’T TRIED ANY OF THE PRODUCTS. What a crazy week I’m having.

Last night I brought you the disastrous combination of Five Guys and a peel off mask. Fortunately, this endeavor was a little more successful (minus some burnt popcorn). And by more successful I mean I really don’t have much to say about my experience with Korres.

Actually it’s five days after I did and I reviewed a lot of new products today so this post feels inconsequential at this point. To keep it spicy, I’m going to follow a completely different format for this so I don’t waste any of our time together.


What I Used:

Greek Yoghurt 3 in 1 Cleansing, Toning and Eye Makeup Removing Emulsion

This was pretty effective makeup remover. It quickly removed ALL of my makeup (including eye) and left my skin feeling really nice. Plus it also helps tone the skin which is important.

Wild Rose Daily Brightening & Replenishing Buff Cleanser 

Exfoliating is cool. This was okay. It’s very gentle but your skin feels fresh when you’re done. Personally, I don’t like physical exfoliators that much, but this one wasn’t bad.

Wild Rose Vitamin C Petal Peel

This was a two-step process and during the second it said keep on for 3 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to sting. I forgot to time and it never began to sting so I became very worried I would melt my skin off by accident.

This didn’t wow me either. I’m a big Babyfacial fan, mainly because I can feel it working my skin and no pain, no gain. This one didn’t leave my skin feeling as nice or as new as I like.


Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixir Serum

Honestly I have no idea what any of these words mean but it felt nice on my skin.

Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial

I contemplated whether a sleeping facial was a good idea after doing a peel, but I threw caution to the wind and said the heck with it, I’m doing it! My skin felt thick after I applied, which is probably because I didn’t sleep until three hours later so I was awake when it was freshly applied.

When I woke up, I didn’t notice anything about my skin. It wasn’t super soft or clean feeling. I think Korres is a nice brand, and a lot of my feelings are probably due to poor product selection for my skin type, but either way. I don’t think there are any products that would draw me back in. Except maybe the emulsion. I liked that.

You need to stop

This week I received my first speeding ticket. I didn’t realize I was speeding, but suddenly the officer was behind me, flashing his accusatory lights while I began praying I had a light out. When he reached my window, the panic set in and I was like a robot, unable to say anything other than sorry while I fumbled for all my information.
I had just left a park where I was scouting a location for my next Bible study. I stayed with traffic, not watching my speed and thinking about getting to work and the never ending list of things on my to do list.

Recently I’ve been paying more attention to my speed, not because I planned to slow down, but it occurred to me I was probably on the verge of a ticket. When driving the same road post ticket, I felt like I was crawling to my destination as I obeyed the posted law.

Go go go is the voice in my head, urging me past the other vehicles. 

Today I went out for a run, but my legs gave up before I made it a half mile. Frustrated, I tried again, confused because I had done this same thing the past two days without issue. A second time my body just stopped.

Instantly I began my attack. What’s wrong with you, Chelsea? It’s not hard. Why can’t you do this? Why can’t you finish anything? Get it together. Be better. Push harder.

And then I looked up. 

I realized it was a beautiful morning. The birds were chirping and people were beginning their days. The houses on the street were old and ornate. I had run down this road the last two days, but I didn’t look up to notice. I just kept pushing pushing pushing

It was in this moment I heard God. His words weren’t spoken aloud, but I felt them in my heart.

You need to stop.  

Even when I’m lying down, I’m in a constant state of rushing. Everything I need to do and want to happen is swirling in my brain, rarely allowing for peace. The end of the day is a reminder of all the things I have left to do that I’ll add to tomorrow’s list.

Amidst this chaos, I find myself wishing to fast forward past this phase. I want my life to be like a movie trailer. I want to see all the good parts, stumble over the darkness and then emerge victorious as the end to the beat of a catchy song. I don’t want the day to day monotony that I have to drag myself through. But I do, always wishing for that happy ending.

I want to make money fast to get out of debt. I want to find my calling fast so I can stop fumbling around. I want to meet my husband fast so I can stop being alone. I want my life to happen fast because this slow track I’m on is crushing my soul. 

Because everything is slow, I try to push faster. If I keep going, it won’t catch me. I don’t want to be here now, I want to be there, dreaming about a time where I’m not always tired and always working and always busy. Say yes to this, this and this and don’t you dare stop.

You need to stop.

Part of me tries to argue with God. Sorry, but You know my schedule. If I stop, I don’t make money. I can’t pay my bills. I can’t pay my rent. I have to keep going, God. My schedule demands it. I have things to do and accomplish and if I breathe, I might miss something. Together we picture my planner and I aggressively point out the level of busy I need to maintain and look away when He reminds me He has the small job of maintaining everyone and everything.

I didn’t try to start running again. When I hit my standard turnaround point, I kept going. I didn’t have a plan. I just knew I had to keep walking. I started to think of everything I had to do today. How I was going to spend my morning. And God just kept saying stop stop stop

Instead of worrying about getting back or checking my pace, I just wandered for a few miles until I found my way back home. I sat down to read my Bible and jump into the list I graciously set aside so God could distract me, only to be disrupted once more. It was my wonderful sister and nieces coming to pick me up for brunch. 

Most people would feel this was a kind gesture, but for me it was torture. I had so much to do! I just can’t leave. I’m in the middle of reading my Bible. I have to check my email. I have to send some emails. Why doesn’t anyone appreciate how valuable my time is! 

 You need to stop. 

I’m always running and pushing and speeding to the next thing. What does ‘experience the moment’ even mean? My moments are spent mentally preparing the next part of my schedule. I’m focused on when something ends so I know how much time I have to be here before I have to be somewhere else. How much time is left until I can go home and sleep. How much time until I have to wake up.

I tell myself hustling is the way to prove myself to God. Maybe if He sees how hard I’m working, I can rest. Maybe that rest won’t come before Heaven, but I can earn it. Maybe He will give me what I want if He sees how hard I’m trying. Yes. Just keep pushing and your Heavenly Father will give you rest and what you want because you deserve it.

I write that, and I hear His plea for me echoing in my soul. I don’t deserve anything and I can’t earn anything. Why do I keep trying? He wants me to stop and I want to go to prove myself as worthy. He wants me still and I worry I’ll get stuck. 

I’m like a child running to my parents, desperate to get to them, and while I hear the words that I need to slow down, I think I can handle the speed. That’s when I fall. That’s when I fall every single time. 

You need to stop.  

Running is a popular image in the Bible. We’re told to run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), persevere to the end of race to win the prize (Philippians 3:14) and hope in God so we can run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31). If that’s the case, why is God telling me to stop?

Because I’m not running for Him. I’m running for me. I’m running for my pride and ego.

I’m running in vain (Philippians 2:16). I don’t have the endurance promised by God (Hebrews 12:1) because I’m listening to my sins of pride, arrogance and worry as they trip me up again and again and again.

If I go fast enough, I can make it out of this. I can find the end that justifies the means and live restful and peaceful and maybe even be present in the moment.

I need to stop.

This much is clear, but the question of how remains. This is my life. Going going going. But I don’t want it anymore. I want to feel each joyful moment in every miserable day. I don’t want to miss this because I want what I imagine is there.

I have to enjoy the drive and not try to cut as many seconds from my commute as possible. I need to see the world around me instead of keeping my head down so I can finish my route faster.

I need to trust that when God tells me to stop, He will still be here, and here is the only place I need to be.  

I like you and I want to date you

No, not you. At least probably not you. This post isn’t a confession to that special someone, rather a realization of words I’ve never said in my life. They seem easy enough, don’t they? You meet someone, you develop feelings and you express your expectations. Unless you’re me. 


The other day I went to my first counseling session. We went over all the details of my life for her to develop a basic understanding of me, and then she asked why I decided now was the time. At first I almost blamed my father’s recent problems but then I realized surprisingly he wasn’t the catalyst. It was, of course, a boy.

I tried to explain as concisely as possible because time was running out. I’m 26 and I don’t know how to have a healthy relationship. In the eight years since my last official relationship (equally unhealthy), I’ve had a few casual flings that just left me feeling rejected. I always felt like a secret to the boys I chose. They never seemed to want to openly date me, or even see me while it was still light outside. They made me feel convenient and I was too afraid of the rejection to tell any of them how I actually felt. I’ve lived the last decade of my life compromising and refusing to push the issue because it meant I could pretend for a little while longer that I had finally found something.

I told her I recently met someone new and I can’t even receive a message or respond without experiencing an overwhelming amount of dread and terror. And about how a piece of my past recently came back into my life and I could feel myself wanting to slip back into the darkness.

At this point, she asked a few more questions about the one who resurfaced, and then asked if me I ever told him how I felt. I responded I made it clear. I told him I missed him and I liked talking to him. But then I stopped talking as I thought about it more. No. I never actually told him. 

She continued and asked if I had ever said that to anyone. I quickly filed through the short list in my head and realized I never told anyone, no matter how strongly I felt, that I liked them and wanted to date them.

The closest I came to it was in college with this boy I was sure I loved. I had liked him for almost a full year, after he quoted the Bible to me at the bar. In one magical and unexpected move, it seemed like just maybe it was finally falling into place. I’m not sure if he told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious or if I just picked up that vibe, but I rolled with it because I didn’t want to lose him. One night, after hanging out, we were texting about feelings.

It’s important to interject I only actually communicated with this boy directly 40 percent of the time. Most of the time I desperately passed my phone to my best friend because it was easier to face any possible rejection through her.

The night in question, she wasn’t there. She was home for the weekend and away from her phone and I was panicking. He asked me how I felt and while I had words upon words upon words, I couldn’t say them and risk him not feeling the same. So instead I said, like the casual and cool girl I was, that I wasn’t looking for anything, but if I was it would be him. To my delight, he replied the same and again my brain thought maybe I hadn’t screwed up too bad. Maybe it would be all right.

It was a week or so later and I was at the bar for the weekly Thursday trip, but he wasn’t there this time. I drank too much and kissed two other guys while I was there. I couldn’t say no. They wanted to kiss me and it didn’t matter what I wanted because it felt good to be wanted.

Of course I told him the next morning. I felt horrible. But he said it was cool but that was it. It wasn’t the same again. For years I felt like it was my fault and I broke this growing thing between us because of my issues, but I can see the bigger picture now. Yeah, I made a really stupid mistake, but he wasn’t innocent either. We were both young and reckless.

Foolishly, I held onto hope for him for way too long. It’s rare for me to actual meet someone I like, so losing that was hard and he lived in the forefront of my mind until I found someone else. With each new connection, I hoped maybe this time would be different, but it never was.

Rejection was just a lesson I kept learning until it became the only truth I knew. 

No one asked me on dates. We didn’t take any photos together. There were no social posts. Just me and him at home, watching TV, late at night. Sending texts about hanging out, but only after a certain time. They didn’t seem like bad guys either, which meant I was the problem.

Were they embarrassed to be seen with me? Did they want something casual? Were they unclear of what I wanted so kept quiet themselves? Was I just convenient? Did I even matter?

These are the thoughts that echo when I meet someone new and run through every reason why he couldn’t possibly like me. I think of the reasons the others didn’t, and soon they become his reasons too. Now I’m so cautious I don’t even really want to try.

I used to think the right guy would change everything. I don’t need a prince on a white horse, just a guy who would text me and make it clear he liked seeing me. Who would ask me to dinner and maybe eventually ask me to be his girlfriend. I believed the right one, or at least a right one, could prove they weren’t all the same.  

You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you look for a savior in humanity.

Recently, after meeting new person, I realized there was no one on this earth who could come in and break through my insecurities by saying the right things. Most likely he would say them and I wouldn’t believe him so I would find a way to ruin it myself to stay protected. If I want a healthy relationship, I need to be healthy.

My goal is to be able to say ‘I like you and want to date you’ without fear of the consequences. I want to remember what I want is important and holding onto someone based on what they want will only make it hurt worse in the end. I don’t think rejection is ever easy, but I don’t want it to be debilitating anymore. 

This is what I want to say and believe in full confidence: To everyone from my past, I liked you and wanted to date you. Maybe you didn’t feel the same way, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m less or I need to feel like I’m nothing. Hopefully we both find what we’re looking for now.

It’s all a journey, right?

Present > Perfect

What do you want be when you grow up? Surely you were asked this question at least once, in some form. Maybe it came in high school when you realized you had to make the choice of where to go to school and what to major in. Seriously, our system trusts TEENAGERS to potentially decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

At 18, I thought the High School Musical 3 soundtrack was quality and it was cool to wear sunglasses inside. And this was a year AFTER I applied to the school I would eventually attend.

Perhaps we think an 18-year-old has a good handle on his or her future because we’ve been trained to get to this point. We all know college is coming and we have to make a choice. For some, it isn’t college and they elect to do something else. For too many, it’s assumed. There isn’t another option. You go to college, hopefully major in something with a good job outlook and achieve. This was my experience.

You see, I’ve always been a smart kid. You know the problem with smart kids? They know they’re smart but haven’t developed the tact to keep it in check. Fortunately, my parents did an excellent job of downplaying my straight A’s and accomplishments to keep me humble, but they could only do so much.

I spent my entire life achieving. I wanted to be the best in every class. To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve ever lost a game of Around the World. More than just the best grades, I wanted to be first. Rarely did I look over my work or spend the available time remaining checking my answers. I thrived on the looks of other students when I finished early and still maintained my perfect A record.

I can’t imagine what the other students actually thought of me.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I was stumped. For so long, I focused on what I was good at without thinking what did I enjoy doing? I did well in every subject but nothing stood out to me. I once asked my art teacher for guidance, and she told me she always thought I’d make a great talk show host. I’m still not sure it was a compliment.

I was envious of my friends who knew what they wanted to do. For some, they wanted to teach and had a passion for a subject or an age group. I have a friend who dreamed of being an apologist and still writes and speaks Russian which is pretty incredible. It seems though, looking back, most of my friends were as lost as me, settling on majors that were safe.

I decided to be responsible and become a nurse like my mother with dreams of attending Pitt (main campus, obviously). I was being responsible and striving to be the best.

Obviously, if you know me, neither of these things happened. My mom’s insistence that I attend a Christian school led me to tour Waynesburg University where I instantly fell in love and said goodbye to my dreams of a diploma that read ‘University of Pittsburgh.’ Soon after, I discovered the major of public relations and realized it was kind of like student council for adults, which was cool with me.

At the time, I never considered writing, which is strange looking back. My childhood was spent creating elaborate worlds and backstories for my toys filled with drama and intrigue. I used to spend time on the computer writing stories, typically with exaggerated details like 53 broken bones in a car accident or a dog that was blind and deaf and ran into walls all the time. My imagination is hard to quiet, always crafting an alternate version of reality that I tend to get lost in, then and now.

In my own way, I was a storyteller. The problem was I HATED English class (except reading the books) and at 18, I didn’t want to go to four more years of English classes. Again, this is why you shouldn’t trust teenagers with their futures.

So I went to college, excelled and maintained a high GPA (although not a 4.0, curse you Print Journalism). I was focused on being the best – being involved, attending conferences, pushing harder, being known for the work I did, etc. All I knew was continued achievement for the sake of working hard and recognition. I thrived in this world.

Looking back, though, thrived is the wrong word. I graduated with honors and a handful of friends and no real college experience to speak of. So yes, professors knew I did well, but what was all the time I invested really for? So my resume looked good? It seems now I survived college the only way I knew how.

To my great surprise, I didn’t immediately get a job. WHAT? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Do employers not realize how hard I worked for years? Here call my professors they will tell you I’m a STAR and you will be #BLESSED to have me on your team! No? Okay.

Like approximately 74 percent (made up statistic) of college grads, I ended up working in retail, probably in what we could consider the hellmouth of it all, Sears. It was here I hit a grad school dark place because I wasn’t achieving and I felt lost and I needed to fix this. I needed to be able to say I work in retail* (*but I’m getting my master’s degree).

Yes, in case you’re wondering, I had always planned to double my student loans and become a master of something. I’m an achiever, remember? Turns out, if you have a high enough GPA and some recommendations, the Integrated Marketing Communication program at WVU is pretty easy to get into.

[Not disrespect to the IMC program – I had a great experience]

To condense the next few years, I quit my job in retail and planned to move to Buffalo with my family only to get a surprise job in communications in Pittsburgh where I stayed for two years while I became a Master of Science and worked with the local chapter of a national public relations society before getting a surprise job that allowed me to move to Buffalo with my family.

As I approached 26, I was exhausted. My life was a giant to do list and I kept checking boxes that I assumed would lead to happiness. Get a bachelor’s degree. Get a job. Get involved in the field. Get a master’s degree. Get involved at church. Have a group of friends. Get a dog. Start your life.

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” Mark 8:36 MSG

At a time when I thought I was gaining myself, I was actually losing so much.

Right after I moved to Buffalo, I preordered Shauna Niequist’s new book, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. It sounded interesting, but I really didn’t think I was all that frantic and I really didn’t think I would get anything out of it. Why did I buy it then? Because God gave me the gift of reckless spending.

What I learned from reading this book is I was wrong. So wrong. Everything I had built in my life began to crumble in my mind as I examined motivations and the should and the whys. It made me realize I’m here in my life because I felt the expectations to be here. I should be involved with my small group, I should have more education, I should stay in this field. I’m not saying everything associated with a ‘should’ is bad, but if it’s your reason, it’s bad.

At some point, I became a cyborg as I lost my soul to the world. It didn’t look like people might think and I’m sure from the outside, most people probably didn’t notice. But I felt it. I made excuses for why I didn’t make real connections and justified where I was.

“I did what ‘people’ thought would be good for me. I did what ‘should’ have been done. I became what I was ‘expected’ to become. And it did not get me where I wanted to be.” (pg. 201).

I literally said YAS QUEEN when I read this out loud. It never occurred to me I’m not where I want to be because I’ve never asked me, Chelsea, where that place was. Sure, I’ve grown a lot and become more accepting of who I am, but I still haven’t really examined why I’m here.

[Sidebar: I don’t write this because I think everyone is settling and you need to quit your job. We are all different, beautiful little butterflies who need to flutter our own way]

If you’re reading this and you’re like me, ask yourself why you’re here and what do you really want. Not what you mother expects or your father wants. Not what society tells you is the right path. Not what you know is safe. Figure out that answer and do something about it. People will always expect things and tell you why you should do something, but those people aren’t you.

This life is your call.

Hourglass

Sometimes with makeup you have a vision of how it will turn out and then sometimes you realize the eyeshadow was way more pigmented than you realized and suddenly everything changed. The latter is my life today.

My first encounter with Hourglass came from my best friend’s obsession with the blush. At the time, I only recognized it for the marbled appearance and price tag that told me I would probably just stay away. Since then, I’ve tried the most famous primer, Mineral Veil, and the highlighter and enjoyed them both. But I still don’t like the price tag.

Brand History

Back in 2004, before we really understood the importance of eyebrows, Carisa Jones saw potential in the world of beauty. An industry veteran herself, she wanted bring back luxury cosmetics that were revolutionary, combining beauty, luxury and science. Cool.

Before

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Products Used

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The Look

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As previously mentioned, everything started a-okay with this look. The primer felt nice and actually seemed to blur out some of my unsavory spots and the foundation stick + hidden corrective concealer just wowed me into submission and it was like this is how my skin  should always look.

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The brows went okay and all the powders were nice and soft. These are good if you’re looking for natural, not heavy finishes. They’re buildable to achieve the look you want but remain so soft and pretty. I used Ethereal Light to set and create a glowy finish and then Dim Light and Radiant Bronze Light to bring life into my face, with Mood Exposure to bring the much needed color to my cheeks. Euphoric Strobe Light gave me just enough highlight that I resembled the angel I actually am inside lol

This is when things took a turn.

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As you can see, this is a very interesting design for an eye palette. At first I had no idea what to do, but then I saw some separation between colors and thought I would be okay. Now, my standard look is a neutral color to define the crease, lighter shade on the lid and then finishing with a darker corner in the outer corner into the crease (plus color below the lower lash line). Again, everything was all well and good until the pigment of the dark green was way more intense than I wanted and suddenly things got dramatic and smoky.

Sadly, the final picture doesn’t really do it justice. Also I took it off quickly so I’m not sure how anything would’ve actually worked on my face because I hated the eyes that much. The liner was okay, not the best liquid liner but not the worst. The tip was longer than I like so not as easy to control. The mascara was another shrug. There are better ones in store.

Finally, the GIRL Lip Stylo. I love the packaging on these and all the names, plus the formula felt really nice. I probably wouldn’t gravitate toward it every day because I like something a little more long lasting, but it wasn’t bad.

Also sorry, I don’t have strong opinions toward using or not using any of these products again so I probably wouldn’t buy anything, but I would try it again.

Laura Mercier

Laura Mercier is so hot right now thanks to the brand’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Because we’re in the YouTube age, a few influencers began supporting this product and suddenly it’s flying off the shelves almost as fast as Champagne Pop highlighters or Better than Sex mascara. Another frequently purchased items are the tinted moisturizers, which are pretty nice.

I don’t frequently gravitate toward Laura Mercier, but I have used the setting powder because I’m a slave to the hype (but you know that). I like it just fine, but I’ve never been wowed like other people. Sometimes it looks too cakey on my skin, but it’s just as likely I can’t use it properly.

Brand History

Laura Mercier is basically the all-star of fashion you’ve probably never heard from. At 17, she attended school for painting in Paris before deciding to take her talents to the face instead of canvas. It was then she attended the very prestigious Carita Beauty School and later became an artist, teacher and pupil of Thibault Vabre, some important and very good makeup artist.

More than just an artist, Mercier also has a hand in the editorial side. In 1985, she left for France for the US and founded American Elle while also assisting other magazines such as Glamour, Allure and Vanity Fair. She continued to grow in popularity, both for her roles in magazines and being a celebrity makeup artist to some little known personalities like Madonna, Julia Roberts and Celine Dion, among others.

With the desire to create a naturally flawless complexion, Mercier launched her cosmetics line in 1996. Her goal was to have products to fit every age and skin type. Products from the line, like the tinted moisturizer and setting powder, continue to win best beauty awards from Glamour, Allure and InStyle. Her philosophy remains ‘what make you unique, makes you beautiful.’

Products

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The Look

I was nervous almost as soon as this process began. While LM has several foundations and tinted moisturizers, I wasn’t sure if any of the colors would work very well with my skin. Because when I started swatching none of them looked very good on my skin.

Finally, one seemed to match ok, and I got ready to start by priming my face. Next of course is foundation so I dove right in. That’s when I noticed the horrible change that had happened on my hand.

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As you can see, the color oxidized and suddenly became very different than what I had intended. Fear began to set in as I realized I was too deep in the cover to back out now, so all I could was pray I wouldn’t look like an Oompa Loompa.

Next comes the concealer and Secret Camouflage and while both worked, I wasn’t instantly blown away. Because I’m familiar with the iconic less setting powder, I selected the pressed version instead, It seemed to do a nice job.

Actually, I really liked most if not all the products I tried today. The rest of complexion went smoothly and each product seemed to do okay on the skin. My favorite of the blush/bronzer/highlighter combination was the blush. I definitely looked flushed and natural.

The brows. I chose brunette, assuming it would the reddish tones to add some warmth to my brows and always match my warm hair. Oh no no. It was almost black and as soon as I got one done, I just shrugged and thought it’s Monday who care.

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Then comes the eyes, arguably my weakest knowledge spot in the brain. The Eye Artist’s Palette was beautiful and pretty easy to work with, especially if you like a natural look. The mascara, however, wasn’t so impressive. It only has about a 2.5 rating on Sephora.com and I have to agree. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

The lip products were both nice and long lasting, and went on smooth which is always the dream. Overall, this was a very natural and simple look, but I really liked how it turned out.

Probable Purchase

  • Eye Basics – so I didn’t mention this in the review and while I could’ve easily gone back and edited, I didn’t. You know I’m an Urban Decay kind of girl, but this was so light on the eye and really held the shadow so I would consider
  • The foundation was so nice and oil free, which is a major plus.

Never Again

  • The brow pencil. Sure I could consider a different color, but all I can picture are my Ernie brows

I almost do 

I bet you either think I moved on or hate you, because each time you reach out there’s no reply. And I bet it never, ever occurred to you that I can’t say ‘hello’ to you and risk another goodbye.

No, those aren’t my words. They belong to the queen of expressing heartbreak herself Taylor Swift, but I found myself singing along as I read your text today. It’s funny because I’ve jammed to this song before, thinking of past loves, but I never thought about you.

As soon as I saw the number, I prayed it was someone else, but deep down I kind of knew. To be honest, part of me wanted it to be you. It’s been so long and I miss you so much. Sometimes when life is hard, I imagine the talks we had and how much you listened, cared and believed in me. All I want is that again, to be reminded that I can do anything and that you’re so proud of me no matter happens. 

Maybe this is why we’re bad for each other. We’re both lazy dreamers who want so much but arguably watch way too much television to accomplish anything. You support my wild ideas and impulses because you’re just as flighty as me. Or maybe I’m just as flighty as you. After all, you are my father.

I want to be rude and ignore you, because after all it’s what you deserve. What kind of person tells his daughters he needs some time away from them? Then I remember that I’m not blameless either, and the ‘get what you deserve’ game is a dangerous one, considering deep down we’re all garbage humans anyway.

I want to be nice to you because I don’t want to be the bad guy in your social media rantings. I don’t want people to think you’re some martyr with demon children because for some reason they believe everything you say online. I don’t want strangers, or even worse the people who watched us grow up, to believe the nasty things you say about us online, and maybe if I play your game I can spare the condemnation.

I want you to come back into my life because I miss your laugh and stupid jokes and the twinkle in your eye. I want you to know I’ve forgiven you and to ask for your forgiveness too.

But then I remember you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, and you won’t say sorry. Why would you? You’re sick, right? We need to be more understanding. We need to love you more. We need to put you first. 

My nostalgia for the good times of Saturday night trips to Butler and late night movies spirals into the bad, like all the times you didn’t show up when we needed you. Or when you wouldn’t pick us up on time because you were drunk. Or when you finally showed up and took us somewhere while you were still drunk.

You swoop in like the hero of my story to remind me of your great love for me, even if I can’t believe it. You make it seem like we could be happy again if I just got over my pride and accepted your love. You ignore my sister and try to pull me back in, just like every time before.

It’s almost as if you can tell when I need you the most. Maybe you still have fatherly instincts buried somewhere deep. You get to me when I’m weak and give me a glimpse of the love I used to know. You make me want to crawl back to you.

In this way, you’re the worst kind of ex. I know you’re bad for me and I know you will hurt me again. I want it to feel like it used to, but I know it never will. I even start to tell myself this time it will be different, but like every idiot from my past, you can’t say to me what I need to hear.

I’m sorry.

It’s all I need. I don’t need it to forgive you; that’s already done. I need it because it means for the first time you see how much you’ve hurt us too. You understand that disappearing and not showing up and sending emails about killing yourself can have a profound effect on your daughters. 

I don’t want you to apologize for being sick, I get that. I don’t hold your mental illness against you. But you’ve admitted and we know that your illness isn’t to blame for everything. I want you to say sorry for being selfish and cold toward us.

Sometimes it feels like I spent my entire childhood trying to convince you I loved you, because you could never believe I actually did. It got harder and I stopped trying as much, and it was like you stopped trying too. I used to believe I had to hold us together and do whatever it took, even if it hurt, but now I know that isn’t what we needed.

I’m sorry, Dad. I’m sorry I wasn’t enough and couldn’t convince you of my love. I’m sorry I saw you less and less as I got older. I’m sorry it got harder and I became more selfish. It doesn’t matter how you made me feel, I should’ve kept trying for you.

This is just another way we’re alike, I guess. We’re good at relationships when they’re easy, but when they going gets tough, we become the victim and only think about ourselves. I see this now, and I want to get better. I hope you do, too.

I love you so much. I have a great life, but there is always a piece of my heart missing. It doesn’t matter that you broke it; it still wants you to come back and make it whole again.

I just want to tell you it takes everything in me not to call you. And I wish I could run to you, and I hope you know that every time I don’t, I almost do. 

I almost do.