10 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

“All the things that break you, are all the things that make you strong. You can’t change the past ’cause it’s gone. You just gotta move on because it’s all lessons learned.”

~Carrie Underwood

They say some lessons need to be learned the hard way. That’s so, ridiculously and unbelievably true. Some people (bless their hearts) learn life’s little teachable moments, easily. Others, like myself, have to be hit in the head with a two-by-four in order to actually understand what the hell is freaking happening.

In my soon-to-be 23 years of young life, I’ve experienced and learned things that I never imagined that I would have to. If I knew then, what I know now, I would’ve done my life a whole lot differently. Or, at least tried to make fewer mistakes. But, sadly, there is no rewind button, no do-over option. All we can do is grow, move on, and nurture those mistakes and regrets that wound us.


Here’s the top 10 lessons that I, (unfortunately) learned the hard way:

  1. Life is short, love is sweet, time is precious. Don’t waste a single second of your life holding grudges or being upset, especially at people you love. They won’t be around forever. Choose your words carefully, and wisely, and always remember that actions speak louder than any words ever could.

  2. Always turn to your family. People say that blood is thicker than water, and you know what? They’re right! In the tough times, in your darkest hour, turn to your side and there you will see your family supporting you, lifting you up, and holding your hand. Nothing is more important than those people. Seriously, love the freaking shit out of all of them, before it’s too late.

  3. Choose your friends with caution. Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. But, I’ve learned that not everyone you meet throughout the course of your life, will be (or stay) your friend. I’ve learned that sometimes, the people whom you opened your heart and soul to, the ones you trusted not to hurt you, the ones you thought would always care, would always treat you with kindness, will give you some of the biggest heartaches you will ever experience. But, when that happens, you somehow grow stronger.


  4. When people leave, wave goodbye and don’t look back. People blow in and out of our lives as quickly as the wind. When their part in your story is over, let go willingly and gracefully. Don’t spend your time chasing people who were never meant to stay. Be thankful for the memories they gave you, and move on to the next chapter.


  5. Never respond to cruelty, harshness, or ignorance. If someone is treating you like you’re the gum on someone’s shoe, it’s time to walk away and surround yourself with the love and respect YOU deserve. If someone continues to disrespect your sensitivity, your heart, your weaknesses, kiss them goodbye. You don’t need that toxicity in your life. Once you realize that, your life will be so much more freeing. 


  6. Respect is a two-way street. You have to give a little, to get a little. ‘Nuff said.


  7. Don’t show up to every argument that you’re invited to. Sometimes, people will be downright bitchy. And, they’ll feel like picking a fight. They won’t accept your apologies, will bring up past mistakes, and will just be miserable…for no reason (and there will be days when you’re like that too). When that happens, you don’t have to feed into it. Step away.


  8. Oral communication is better than written. This is a lesson I continuously learn over and over again. The written word is so misconstrued. Simply put: it’s bullshit. But, we still do it. Tones are easily misread, fights break out from what started as a meaningless conversation, and I don’t know about you, but I’m really beginning to value face to face time with those I care about, instead of looking at a screen, trying to interpret what they’re saying. Pick up the phone. Talk to people. Visit them. You’ll be glad you did.


  9. Opinions are like a**holes: EVERYBODY has them. No matter what you do, or how hard you try, everyone will always have something to say. There will always be people out there that you seemingly can never please. So, ignore the opinions of others, stop trying to fit into their mold, and just live your life. Do what makes YOU happy, what makes YOU fulfilled. You only get one life, live it the way you want to – with no limitations, and no need for validation or acceptance from anyone.


  10. Fear is stupid. Never let it hold you back from ANYTHING. There are things that we’re all afraid of. Things that make us queasy, anxious, and panic. But, I’ve learned that at some point, you will always have to face your fears – and by doing so, you grow stronger, you overcome what you thought you never could, and you might even gain a little confidence. It’s a very hard thing to do, and takes a lot of practice, but once you put your fears aside and just do it, you’ll be able to live your life to the fullest.

Lastly, as an added bonus, I’ve learned that optimism is everything. When you have a positive attitude, you can truly let your light shine. You were created to fulfill a purpose, and to radiate sunshine into the lives of others. It’s an exercise. Every. Single. Damn. Day. And it takes so much determination. But, being positive is worth the effort. Sure, you may fall off the wagon, and that’s okay – you are human after all, but keep working on choosing happy….because….*and get ready for the mic drop* literally everything in this life is a choice, and how you choose to react to your circumstances.

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A Letter to My Single Self

This letter is for anyone who is struggling through a season of singleness right now. It’s for me, for you, the ones who are sweating the single life right now, so listen up.


Dear Allison,

The other day you were asked a question that made your blood boil and your skin crawl. “Why are you still single?” “Don’t you want to date?” “What’s the deal with that?” You felt obligated to answer. You felt obligated to defend yourself. Yet, you were at a loss for words. You smiled and said that you haven’t found the one yet, but on the inside, all you wanted to say was that it is nobody’s business, and to never ask you that again. 

You dwelled on that question for the remainder of the night and then you began to fall into that dangerous trap of self-loathing. You told yourself that you’re ugly, you’re fat, and you’re not worthy of love. You convinced yourself that nobody can love you, (never mind the fact that you’re only 23 years old.), and you have begun to resolve yourself to the fact that you will be forever alone, living with ten cats. You remind yourself that you’ve never had a real relationship, so surely, it must be too late for you. 

Seriously, what is up with those thoughts girlfriend? They’re unhealthy and they cause you so much misery. I’m here to tell you to take those thoughts of yours and put them in the garbage. For good. You’ve been telling yourself these lies for years now, and you’ve started to believe them. They have become part of your core beliefs now. Those should not be going through your mind. What should be going through your mind is: why am I not being kinder to myself?! I need to give myself a break!

Let me tell you something: you’re 23 years old. Your life has just begun. Why are you letting your relationship status define who you are? So what if you haven’t found your true love yet? Maybe you’re just not ready. Maybe he’s not ready. Maybe God has other plans in store for you before you settle down. Maybe God wants you to develop a loving, and gentle relationship with Him (and yourself!) first. 

You don’t think so, but you are in such a good place in your life. You’re learning to spread your wings and fly on your own. You just graduated from college, you’re in your first “big girl” job, and you’re just starting to settle into adulthood. You’re in that part of your life where you’re finding out who you are, and what you want. 

You have the chance to relish in your freedom, in your space. To answer to no one, but yourself  Why don’t you just simply enjoy the season you’re in right now? 

It’s okay to enjoy your single life, you know. It’s okay to live, laugh, learn, dream, explore, and create…all on your own. It’s okay to be happy on your own. Let yourself be happy.

Let’s pause for a moment: throughout your young life you have had opportunities to change who you are in order to get a guy. You’ve had many chances to compromise yourself and your values to fit in with others, but, you didn’t. And you know something? That is really freakin’ brave! Stop putting yourself down for that, and start patting yourself on the back!

You could have settled for one of those egotistical, machismo, boys in high school. You could’ve thrown yourself at the guys you worked with. But, you didn’t. Why? You had, and still have respect for yourself. You refuse to be anyone’s play toy. You know what you want, you know what you deserve, and you refuse to settle for anyone less. Bravo!

Truth is, you’re a badass. I know you rarely ever feel like one, but you are. You’ve chosen to accept the path that is destined for you, instead of rail against it. That’s something to be proud of. Walk with confidence, walk with your head held high. I know you want to hurry through this season of singleness, but remember, there is a blessing in this. 

Lean on your Faith. Focus on putting your relationship with God first, and yourself second. The rest will fall into place in due time. God wouldn’t have you in this season if there wasn’t something good to come from it. Change your perspective, change your thinking. Instead of focusing on what or who you don’t have, focus on the things and the ones that you DO. 

You’re surrounded by a great group of family and friends. Stop wasting your time looking at your Facebook page to see who else got engaged or started a family, and start being in the present moment, loving those who love you with every ounce of your soul.

Remember, this is a beautiful and messy time in your life, but that is perfectly fine.  You’re an amazing person who will one day find someone to complete you. For now, practice gratitude, practice happiness, practice kindness and compassion. Pour the love you’d be giving to that special someone, into yourself, your family, your friends, and your passions. Have experiences, take chances, GROW, get healthy, trust in yourself, and do not be afraid. 

Love,

You.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you ” Jeremiah 29: 11-12

 

Dear Anxiety, Let’s Be Friends

Dear anxiety,

You and I have been together for three years now. During that time, I desperately tried to get rid of you, and I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I still want you gone. But, like it or not, you are a part of me. So, instead of fighting with each other, can we try to get along? 

I know you want to protect me and warn me of the dangers in this world. But, here’s the thing: you don’t have to warn me all of the time. Not everything, or everyone is harmful to me. You see, the stressful thoughts and feelings that you play on the movie screen in my mind are not helpful. In fact, they cause extreme stress and discomfort on my body. The physical symptoms that you bring exhaust me. They make me feel horrible. 

Perhaps, you don’t quite know what you do to me because you think you’re keeping me safe. But, you’re not. Instead, you make me hide from life, from adventure, from the normal things that make me happy. You tend to take awesome things, turn them into a million questioning thoughts, and cause me to always be on the defense. 

And, I have to tell you something. You’re wrong. A lot of the time. You don’t like to live in reality. Remember when you told me that I could never be a travel agent? That I couldn’t make it through training, and wouldn’t be smart enough to handle it? Well, guess what? I’m doing it. I sold my first Disney trip, by myself! I have a great group of co-workers who are always willing to help me when I need it. You just became afraid because this was all a new experience to you. 

Remember when you told me that I could never go out to dinner again because of that one time when you gave me a panic attack? Or when you told me that my friend was mad at me because she didn’t text me back….only to find out later that she was simply busy! See? You overreact to a lot of things. 

You’re not all bad though. You do have good intentions. Some of your reminders are actually useful to me. I love that you want me to be cautious when I’m driving. I like that you really don’t want me to make a mistake at work. That shows me that you really do care. I can handle that constructive criticism!

But, majority of the time, your endless chatter gives me nothing but heartache. You want me to spend every moment of my life with you, obsessing over past mistakes, or things that could go wrong, instead of spending time with those I love. Trust me when I say that I love the people in my life. They are beyond precious, and life itself is beyond precious. I want to start being there for them 110%. I want to give them a clear mind, clear heart, and I want to simply enjoy the ones that God blessed me with.

That’s why I’m choosing not to believe you anymore. I’m choosing not to listen to you all of the time. I’m deciding how I want to live my life now. I want it to be filled with fun, adventurous things. I want my life to be completely overwhelmed with love, laughter, and faith. When your thoughts come into my mind, I’m simply saying to you, “thank you for your concern, but I am FINE.” I’m choosing to stand up to you. 

I’ve finally realized that no amount of worrying or obsessing with you can change the past or the future. You don’t hold that type of power. You don’t actually prevent bad things from happening. All you do is make me depressed, weary, and stop enjoying the good things that life has to offer. You make me dim my light when all I want to do is shine it for the world to see. 

It’s likely that you will be a part of my life forever. So, to make it easier on both of us, why don’t we just stop the panic, stop the worrying, and let’s be happy together? I understand that you will show your face from time to time, but let’s not make it so often. Let’s relax together, take some deep breaths and be brave. When you don’t fill my mind with anxious thoughts, you allow me to be creative, to be excited, to be the REAL me. You allow me to dream, and to work on that dream. You allow me to take chances, tap into my faith, and think positively. I want more of those moments. 

When you cooperate with me, and stop being in the driver’s seat, you and I can do wonderful things. Maybe things that will inspire us, or others. Maybe things that might change someone else’s life. Let’s shake hands, call a truce, and let me & God take the wheel. 

With lots of gentleness and love,

Your person. 

 

 

 

From Broken to Warrior

“But my dear, isn’t it through the cracks how the light comes in?”

~ Unknown

I once heard a story about a woman who had two buckets. Every day she would fill them up and go water all of the flowers in her garden. One of the buckets, looked absolutely perfect. Shiny, strong, and didn’t have a single crack in it. The other bucket however; was filled with cracks. It leaked, it shook, and it often spilled the water.

The leaky bucket felt inferior to the other one. It felt inadequate, and worthless. What good could a cracked bucket do? The other one held its water flawlessly, while this bucket would lose half of the water before even making it to the garden. It was then that this broken and bruised bucket told its owner that it was not good enough for her. 

“I’ve been leaking water every morning” the bucket said.”I’m so sorry for making life more difficult for you. I’m so sorry for being broken. It’s time that you replace me with a new, better, and more efficient bucket” it said to the owner. 

The owner simply smiled and said: “Do you think I haven’t noticed your cracks? I see them, but I look past them.” “Look at all of these beautiful flowers” the owner said. “I may have planted the seeds, but you are the one that is doing the watering each and every day to make them grow tall and strong.”


 

How do you view the cracks in your bucket? Do you nurture them with tenderness & loving care? Or do you judge & shame them for being there?

I think we’re all a little broken. We get hurt, we make mistakes, our hearts break, our flaws show, and we begin to shame ourselves.

So often we beat ourselves up for our weaknesses and shortcomings. We’re not tall enough, we’re not skinny enough, we’re not pretty, or strong, or brave enough. Maybe we have something that embarrasses us. Maybe we’ve made mistakes and can’t even begin to forgive ourselves. Maybe we’re allowing ours or others’ opinions of us consume & define who we are. 

Can you relate? I know that I sure can.

My biggest toxic habit is putting myself down. I look at my flaws, my imperfections, and my mistakes, all as failures. I constantly punish myself for not being like everyone else. I constantly second guess my value, my worth, and my “lovable” factor.  I deal with insecurity and confidence almost on a daily basis. *Seriously people, self-depreciation is not a healthy trait to have.*

After hearing that story – or parable – above though, something changed. It was like a switch flipped in my brain. I had the absolute wrong perspective about myself and my flaws.

Instead of drawbacks, what if these annoying imperfections are really blessings in disguise? What if they really make us shine? What if they give us a purpose? What if our brokenness, our cracks, all water a trail of flowers that we didn’t even know exist? Or a trail of flowers that we were too blind to appreciate?

Drop the mic. Let that sink in.

I have a beautiful piece of cracked glass in my home. When the sun shines upon it, it brings out the most breathtaking colors. It fills the room with shades of green, blue, red, and yellow. It’s like a rainbow burst and landed right in my living room.

That too, got me thinking.

If light can shine through a cracked object such as that, and make it so beautiful, what makes me any different? Why can’t light shine through our cracks and bring out our own unique and timeless beauty?

Big news coming….are you ready? It can. Our greatest strengths can come from our greatest weaknesses. But, we have to allow it. We have to be receptive, open our hearts, open our minds, and allow that energy in.

We have to be warriors and stop shaming ourselves. Instead of judging ourselves, lets dig deep inside and gently love those flaws that we were once so ashamed of. Instead of hiding them, lets embrace them. Embrace what we think is undesirable and thank the good Lord for the path that we are on.

Because…there’s a reason for it. So, I am making the declaration today to start letting the light in through my cracks. To start seeing the flowers that are growing from my own leaky, crack filled bucket.

So what do you say? Would you join me?


 

Prayer: God, thank you for creating me as an imperfect vessel. Thank you for my flaws, my mistakes, my cracks. Thank you for the wonderful lessons that have come my way because of them. Help me to continue to always see me as YOU see me: your blessed child with whom you love unconditionally. Help me to recognize that you are with me every step of the way, holding my hand, and guiding me down my own path. Amen.