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how I got here: a journey to self love

Sometimes I post little question boxes on Instagram asking for prompts from my followers/friends about what I should write or share about. Then, sometimes, I forget to follow through and write about those things. Oops.

I was scrolling through my archive and found a reply from my friend Alicia nearly a year ago saying “tell us about your journey to self love.”

And today, I’m feeling inspired. Here’s my journey and some key pieces along the way that have helped me evolve into the woman I’m becoming — a woman that’s better than I was yesterday, each and every day.


I want to start by saying I am just like you. I am sitting in my bed in my sweatpants on a rainy Saturday. I have days where I cry in the mirror and I have days where I dance through my neighborhood. I “jump to put jeans on” if you will (such a great lyric by Beyonce, amiright?).

You do not have to take my advice or believe that everything meant for me is meant for you. That’s one thing that I fully acknowledge — we are all on different paths. I’m just telling you a little bit of my journey. (When I use the word ‘journey’ too much I feel like I’m on the Bachelor, ope.)

Your journey may have already started, or maybe you’re at a crossroads and learning how to love yourself is top-of-mind. Whatever your scenario (if it’s like mine or totally different) I want you to know that there is always more love and light and grace to grant ourselves.

*** I also want to be sure to say that I have never hated myself. I know that is a privilege in itself. Even on my darkest days, there has never been hatred in my heart directed at myself. If you are feeling self-hatred, I highly recommend you discuss this with trusted people in your life and/or consult a mental health professional.

The song that just came on my shuffle is so fitting for how I feel right now. If you want to listen along as you read, here it is: Girls Like Me: Martina McBride.

My journey, for all intents and purposes of this blog post, will begin with getting my heart broken.

When I was in my relationship, I think I spent too much time giving love and not nearly enough time loving me. I neglected it. When my relationship ‘ended’, it ended a couple times, off and on, and threw me for a new loop each time… until I finally called it quits for good.

I can look back now and laugh because the breakups got easier each time. By the final time, when I decided to stand my ground, I was slowly beginning to realize that I was deserving of so much more — in every facet of my life. I needed to learn who I was without anyone else. I needed to learn how to just love ME and MY LIFE as is. I was already on the up-and-up (following these steps) and I wasn’t about to be dragged back down.

However, it still hurt. I cried and cried and cried. My car became my sacred place to go when I needed to be alone and no one could hear me sob.

I was grieving the life I thought I was going to build.

And that’s where it started. I grieved. I grieved some more. I continued to work through my process and my eyes began to open to the life I got to build for myself. Just me. Myself. However the hell I wanted to.

things that helped me love myself (and my life) more

  1. Share your grief/sadness/trauma/loneliness with someone or some people who love you.

My friends, and (probably most importantly) my mom, were and are instrumental in my life. My mom offers the perfect mix of listening and advice, but never letting me get away with too much of my own bullshit. In the moment, I hate it (“Just let me vent!”) but afterwards I realize that she’s usually right. She always offers a listening ear and is my biggest supporter in everything that I do. She proofreads nearly all of my blogs for me and sends me a text “I’m watching your IGTV!”

2. Re-evaluate your circle.

This goes hand-in-hand with my previous note, but I have to acknowledge that my friendships have ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years. I am a person who recognizes that friendships have seasons. Some seasons are just a shifting (schedules, priorities, etc.) and some seasons come to a close because they no longer provide you with the necessities of friendship. It’s okay to release friendships that no longer elevate your life.

3. Learn your natural tendencies.

Like I said — when I was healing, the process was long and hard. I sat with my feelings. I learned their names and sorted through the memories that were associated. I became familiar with the times when I needed mental rest, emotional rest, physical rest… I learned how to begin to balance my life again — and to give time to the things that deserved my time rather than what demanded my time.

Learn how you recharge — some days, I want to hole up in my room and not see a soul. Other days, being by myself makes me feel like I’m going insane. Honor that recharge time, and seek the experiences that will fill your cup.

4. Don’t be pressured into a timeline.

I’ve written about this before and I probably will again. Do not feel rushed in your own life — not about healing, or ‘moving on’, or dating, or marriage, or a career, or a degree, or anything in between. You’re on your own journey and it’s meant JUST FOR YOU.

5. Talk vulnerably — often.

While I’ve gained more and more confidence about what I share online in the past months, I wish I had opened up earlier (and when it hurt more) but I hid a lot of it due to shame. Even if these vulnerable conversations don’t happen with strangers on the internet (like me!) you can share them with that trusted circle or your momma.

6. Absorb content that feels good.

Unfollow the accounts that make you feel anything less than fabulous. If you feel weird about unfollowing — hit that mute button, baby! Follow accounts that encourage you to think differently, love yourself, see yourself represented, or that make you laugh!

7. BIG, AUDACIOUS DREAMING.

I LOVE THIS STEP. I’ve been doing better at this as of lately — speaking my dreams into reality! I have a vision board in my room and I see it every day — manifesting the dreams that I have for myself. I am trying to encourage myself to dream big and continue to work hard for the life I’m trying to build.

8. I joined a gym.

I didn’t join this gym to get a revenge bod. I don’t work out for aesthetics. I work out because it makes me feel good and gives me an amazing community of women. That’s how you achieve self-love — by doing things for how they make your soul feel. I’ve written about it before – this gym has changed my life. I can schedule that me-time into my days and devote that time to clearing my mind and honoring my body.

9. I made some awesome playlists.

For a long time, I could only listen to worship music. It soothed my soul. Then I transitioned and created my ‘lady jams’ and ‘breakup and glowup’ playlists. Listen to music (again, absorbing content) that makes you feel good, dance around the room, and remember your worth. You deserve dance parties and bad bitch bops.

10. Travel.

While I know this isn’t possible right now (thanks, COVID) I do think it’s an important piece of the puzzle. I hope that when COVID is in the rearview mirror we can all hop on a plane to celebrate. Traveling opens your mind, your eyes, your heart, and just allows you to be present. I am a better version of myself during and after my travels. Book the flight.

11. Last but not least: have fun.

Self love is a journey and you’re allowed to have fun along the way. You might cry one day and laugh endlessly the next. Don’t take life too seriously. You are worthy and amazing just as you are. Life is fun — don’t be afraid to join in.


Remember: I don’t have it all together. Somedays, I totally fall apart.

That’s okay.

Life isn’t meant to be perfect — but it is meant to be whatever the hell you want it to be.

Your way. Your timeline. Your pieces to the puzzle. Your growth. Your journey.

Mine’s been a little funky — but I like where I’m headed. I’m proud of me.

And of course: I love me.

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life is in the outtakes

I just came home from a photoshoot with ladies from my gym. I left with an urge to write and a feeling that maybe others would need to hear these words as much as I needed to be reminded.


I saw some photos of me from the back of the camera and Erica, the photographer, would say “This one is so cute!!” and I agreed… but I thought, oof I look … fat. thick. chunky. whatever word you’d like to use.

Through it all, I still love myself and the body I exist in. I laugh and say to the others, “She a little thick but she’s hot though.” They laugh. I tend to handle weird feelings with humor, but I can’t deny that I look nice in the photos. I did my makeup, curled my hair, I have nice teeth… I look nice. Maybe I don’t look thin, but I look nice.


Other ladies asked me about my trip — gushing over my photos that I posted on Instagram, inquiring about my ‘professional photographer’ (lol, S/O to my pal Michael), and telling me that they loved following along.

**Don’t get me wrong — my trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico was amazing… blog post coming soon!! I can’t wait to share everything we did and saw and enjoyed in PR. With school shut down this week, I’m hoping to write!**

However, I have to giggle and think to myself… these things have one thing in common.

Life is in the outtakes.


There’s so much life that happens between the perfect photo. For every photo I post, there’s 10 or 39 other photos that look very, very similar … but that I thought I looked fat. thick. chunky. whatever word you’d like to use.

Or I looked icky. or sweaty. or wind-blown. or sunburned. or oily. or ‘bad’. whatever word you’d like to use.

I’m not necessarily any of those things. I’m just me. I just exist in a larger body than some. Sometimes, I also look cute. hot. pretty. lovely. stunning. whatever word you’d like to use.

There’s so much of life that happens between the perfect pictures, the right angles, the gorgeous makeup, the flattering outfits. When you think about it… this is why candid photos became popular. So popular, in fact, we started posing for them. (“and laugh on three, 1.. 2… 3…hahaha”)

Because we all know — even if we don’t like to admit it — life happens in the outtakes. That’s where the fun happens. That’s where the memories are.

There’s so many memories from today’s photoshoot, my trip to Puerto Rico, and every moment in between throughout my life that are so special and wonderful there’s no way they could be captured in one singular moment caught in time through a photo.

Now, I also have to admit that I love pretty photos. Pretty photos are great. They hold some magic, and for me — are really fun to take and post and share. I love posing and shooting and editing and sharing.

But I also love my very real life, and I love coming to terms with loving whichever version of my body I see in the mirror or in pictures.


Today, I wore a sports bra in most of my photos for my gym. I felt comfy and confident in the mirror. During a few of the photos I was a little nervous that a certain pose may not flatter me or that (insert body part here) looked (insert adjective here).

I thought to myself… that’s just how I look. This is who I am. This is what my body looks like. My body still does the tough workouts just like these other amazing and gorgeous women. We’re all different shapes and sizes and I am not thinking these thoughts about any of them — I admire each and every one of those badass babes.

My body still carries me and supports me and is healthy. My body is worthy and, to be frank, fucking awesome.

And maybe, just maybe, when these photos get posted… a girl who looks like me won’t be nervous to show up to her first workout.

Or maybe, just maybe, when I post a photo of me that shows my body as it is, a girl who looks like me will post her first post on her new blog/fashion/fitness/lifestyle account. Or wear the funky outfit. Or just show up as she is.

So in case you needed the reminder, like I did, here it is:

Life is in the outtakes and loving yourself is an everyday adventure. It’s okay to show up as you are. It’s okay if it’s not always pretty photos. It’s okay if it is.

Life is more than anything that can be captured in a single moment.

Life is in the outtakes.

me, when a bird flew past me while sitting on a high ledge and scared me half to death
Me, in my photoshoot. Feeling like a bad bitch. **Photo courtesy of Erica Lynn Photography, owned by Erica Lynn Photography and b.well brookings
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we can’t all be glamorous at the same time

I’ve already decided that after Christmas this year (2020) I’m going to book a trip. I don’t know where yet, but I know I want to do something fun during the time between Christmas & continuing for the spring semester. I’m grateful that going to graduate school allows me to have bigger breaks and I want to take full advantage of them going forward. 

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the break that I’ve had and am having. I’ve been relaxing, reading books, making my vision bulletin board, cleaning my house, binging ‘younger’ on Hulu, prepping for the semester, going to the gym…. but I’ve also been BORED.

So what do I do when I’m bored? I scroll social media.

vision board 2020

You might think that this is where I’d go on to rant about social media and comparison, but I won’t. I love social media and it’s allowed me to find connections that I am so grateful for… but today, I was burnt out from it. I decided to disconnect from my phone, blast some tunes from my speaker, and deep clean my house. When I did this, I found myself thinking:

Our lives cannot all be glamorous at the same time.

It’s not a profound concept, it’s just the truth. Right now, I’m not doing fun things or dressing up fancy or snuggling with someone I love or tanning by the water. I’m at home. In pajamas. 

But just because I’m not doing anything ‘cool’ right now, doesn’t mean that the roles haven’t been reversed at some point. I’ve done cool things. I’ve backpacked Europe, I’ve toured DC seven times in one summer, I’ve stuck my toes in the water of two oceans within a matter of months, I’ve worn pretty dresses, I’ve gone on cool dates, I’ve had awesome experiences. So… yes, I have done cool things. 


Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Delish.

And while I was doing those things, someone else might have been working their tail off each day to put away money for later. Or maybe that’s when they were really struggling with their mental health and now they feel more fabulous again. Or maybe that was when they really needed to deep clean their house and spend three full days binging 6 seasons of a television show with Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster.

(okay, maybe not those exact details.)

And I have to remember, that even now when I’m at home and getting a certain type of joy from using my swiffer wet-jet and windex-ing my mirror… there are still people that probably think my life is ‘glamorous’ or have looked at MY life from the outside in and wished they could do THAT or be THERE or look THAT WAY. 

I have pictures that make me look (and feel) glamorous. Of course that’s what I want to post! HIGHLIGHT REEL, BABY. Everyone is posting their own highlight reel, on their own timeline, and I’m no exception.

There is room for everyone to have a little bit of glamor in life… to travel, eat good food, dress up, do cool activities, be fabulous, look gorgeous, soak up sunshine, have adventures….

but maybe, now’s just not the right time for me to be glamorous.

So, I’ll wait.

And I’ll post some cute photos in the snow in the meantime.

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“and I don’t even know you yet.”

Last night, I sat down to write “A Letter to My 2020 Self.” This was my final goal of January, and I officially completed every goal I set for myself for the month. I thought about sharing this letter in a blog, but it ended up affecting me so deeply and personally that I’d rather just stick it away in a folder of my computer for a snowy January day next year.

via @raniban on instagram

However, I will share the sentence I wrote to close the letter:

I love you, Alexandra Grace of 2020, and I don’t even know you yet.

And that’s when it hit me.

I didn’t even know this version of myself one year ago. Looking back, I think the ‘love’ I had for myself was nearly completely defined by how others perceived me, loved me, viewed me, enjoyed being around me, or other standards. For much of that time and the months that followed, I was happy but simply going through a lot of the motions of life. In the pit of my stomach, I still felt not good enough. I felt like nothing I did was amounting to anything, a restless stream of busyness and lack of accomplishment. I had severe burnout and experienced intense heartbreak. I was in an extremely dark place, and I fought tooth and nail and crawled out of that dark place inch by inch by inch. That army crawl toughened me up like a soldier heading into battle to fight for my life and the version of myself I wanted to be.

Today, I can honestly say I love who I am becoming. I still struggle as much as the next person. I procrastinate. I’m always late. I find it hard to socialize, yet I hate being alone. I feel my emotions perhaps too deeply. I overcommit and fail at tasks. I even did my fair share of crying as I wrote a letter to myself… prophesying and praying that when I look back on this year I’m overwhelmed with pride and joy. Despite my struggles and everyday downfalls, I have worked really hard to get where I am. I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain, but damn the view gets better the further I go. There is no quick fix, no diet, no podcast, no workout, no face mask, no self-help novel that will give you all the answers. My answers for how I’m striving for better will not match yours. That’s okay. We’re all different. Find what makes you feel more alive, like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into you. As for me, I’m living life for me by saying goodbye to things that no longer serve me, devoting time to develop healthy habits, and listening to a whole lot of worship music…. and I guess I’m writing letters to myself, too.

If how I’ve felt lately is a trajectory path for the upcoming year, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I don’t know my 2020 self, but so far my 2019 self is the best version of myself that I’ve been in a long time.

I encourage you to write a letter to yourself. Maybe it’s just for next week, maybe it’s for a certain month, maybe it’s a year or 5. Write to yourself. Proclaim your hopes and dreams for yourself. For me, it was a written prayer and vision board and journal entry all at once, and it was absolutely cathartic.

always,

Alex

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shedding layers.

Winter fashion is everything. I like to wear layers. Big, baggy layers. Give me a cami, a sweater, a vest, and a jacket. Throw a scarf on there. Maybe a hat. I want to blend in and morph the appearance of my body for myself and for everyone else. 

I’m a twenty-one year old female. Like every girl my age (and potentially every woman ever) it’s ridiculously easy to fall into the trap of societal pressures, need to fit in, urge to be wanted, and the overarching goal of being seen as beautiful in not only your own eyes, but the eyes of the world. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? 

These forces allow (if not encourage) us to hate our bodies. Body image issues all around, folks. We spend time in the mirror critiquing and pinching certain areas. We agonize over photos of ourselves in our prime physique when we were three-sport athletes or hit the gym every day. We look at the number on the scale and cringe. The cute outfits we used to love no longer fit the way they used to. 

I get it, sister. I’m no size 0. (Even if you are, you can still not feel beautiful. Size is a number.) I have some lumps&bumps&curves that aren’t my favorite. I look back on photos from this summer when I was ridiculously tan and thin from a diet of bread, water, and walking 20,000+ steps throughout Europe. Now, I hit the gym around three times a week (God bless b.well) and my physique has changed a lot because of it… not slimming down, but muscling up. It’s disheartening sometimes. I still can’t do pushups to save my life. I’m out of breath running a couple laps. All these moments I’m writing about are not just ‘you’ moments. We’re all there. I’m writing this so you know you’re not alone.  I’m there too…. but yesterday, I had a moment that was really different. 

here’s me after a sweaty workout. ~*hEaLtH*~

I’ve written before about how absolutely transformative my collegiate dance class has been this semester. Our final projects include to choreograph a minute of tap and a minute of modern with the skills we’ve gained over the course of the semester. I began the morning with modern dance, practicing the moves in a lobby space. Later, my group and I moved into the studio space to run through our tap number. By this time, I was sweating in a baggy pullover sweater. I had thrown a tight tank underneath that day for the sole purpose of making sure my bra didn’t show through this white sweater. No big deal, I’ll shed the top layer in this safe space and just wear a tank top. 

In front of me was a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. When I took off that layer, I looked in the mirror with appreciation. I saw my body how other people see it instead of the way I typically pick it apart. I noticed the muscles in my legs, my strong shoulders, and the way my curves move as I dance. I smiled. 

This moment, however wonderful, was fleeting. Later that evening, I had to switch into a business dress that I felt didn’t do my body any favors. Instead of focusing on the thousands of moments I feel inadequate/ugly/bloated/too curvy/chunky/rough, I’m going to try to focus on that fleeting, beautiful moment. I want to remember how it felt to like what I saw in the mirror; remember how it felt to really love myself despite the flaws. 

Sometimes, it’s important to shed the layers of societal crap, unrealistic expectations, and unhealthy, negative self-talk. Sometimes, it’s important to just wear the damn tank top and see yourself as other people see you. Sometimes, it’s important to dance in the mirror and shake what ya momma/god/time at the gym/lack thereof gave ya. 

Even if you don’t have this moment today, make a conscious decision to cherish the moment when it does come. 

Always remember that you are absolutely gorgeous, and that’s the least interesting thing about you. 

always, 

Alex

Your Brokenness Is Welcome Here. 
and you’re beautiful. 🙂
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fit, well, and good

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The other day, I said I was heading to work out and someone I recently met commented, “that’s probably how you look so fit.” I was honestly shocked. Regardless of the sweet compliment, I felt more excited about those few words than any other “you’re beautiful” or “you’re so pretty” I’ve heard in a long time.

Because I feel fit.

I feel well.

I feel good.

Trust me, it’s been a journey. Since April, I’ve been struggling. My life felt like it was collapsing and continually fighting against me. I didn’t feel fit, I didn’t feel well, I didn’t feel good. I was answering every “How are you?” with “I’m fine.” We all know… things were not fine.

I knew that there was only so many things I could control. If there was one thing I learned in my time as an orientation leader, it was the ‘wellness wheel’ model of total wellness. My focus for the summer was Physical Wellness, Emotional Wellness, Social Wellness, and Spiritual Wellness. I decided that if I couldn’t be ‘great’ or even ‘good’… I was going to be feeling well.

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I have never smelled so terrible or been so sweaty during a movie. But hey, when spin class gets done at 7:15 and the $5 movie is at 7:30…. 

Let’s begin with the big one. Physical wellness. Not my strong suit, let me tell ya. I began the summer wondering what I should or could do to get my life in control. My control. I wanted to grow my strength and stamina. I decided to join b.well and I honestly think it was one of the best things I ever could have done for myself. Here’s what I’ve learned in just one month:

  • No one cares what you’re doing. I don’t mean this in a rude way, but instead in a ‘focus on yourself and forget the rest’ kind of mentality. I had dreaded the gym for so long due to the fact that others could see me, judge me, or laugh at me. I learned early on that the mirrors in the studio aren’t for you to watch others. They’re there to allow you to watch yourself, to truly see yourself, and to watch yourself be a boss.
  • Form > Fast. I have learned so much about my body, how it should move, and how it should look as I do different exercises. I am not a super fit person. Some of those moms with 4 kids could definitely beat me up (though they never would, everyone is so nice) but I don’t worry about doing the exercises quickly. I worry about doing the exercises correctly. I’m okay doing modified workouts as long as I know I’m working towards the ‘hard’ workouts and doing them correctly. (Megan, thanks for making sure my butt’s not sticking out at the barre!)
  • Actually, you can. So many times I wanted to give up. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I need a little break, a little water, time to towel down my sweat pouring from my body (which I have learned to love?). Instead of getting up and leaving the gym or being upset that I ‘can’t’ do something, I work on getting there. I work on doing just one more rep or trying to push through. I can hear Amber’s “Let’s go!” echoing in my ears.
  • No one else will see your progress, but you will. This one I have learned over the past month. I would take a sweaty sports bra photo and see absolutely no results between the photos. But then I remembered that I went up in weights at my last strength class… that’s progress. I saw a photo of my calves in heels looking bomb… that’s progress. I feel my shoulders, triceps, quads, everything ache… that’s progress. Just because I’m not losing inches (not my goal) doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. I went on a run/jog for the first time in YEARS last week and I actually enjoyed myself. I even went AFTER I’d already done a tough workout. GO ME! Seeing women like Bri post about her fitness inside and out of the gym inspires me to incorporate fitness into more than just my time at the gym.
  • Accountability and support are necessary. Internal motivation is necessary. It is absolutely crucial for you to see this change as beneficial and for wanting to make a conscious effort. However, that motivation lasts for about the first few days. This is one of the reasons why I had a friend join b.well with me, and one of the reasons I love going there. The women around me are supportive and welcoming. They smile as I walk in, my instructor comments on how it’s good to see me after I’d been on vacation for a week. This is what makes me feel a little bummed to be taking a 4-week hiatus from the gym…. but hellooooo Europe!
  • You’ll probably hate it… until you love it. My yoga instructor, Nikki, said in my first class, “If you hate it, come again next week. If you hate it a second time, come back a third week. By the third week, you’ll love it.” This was so true. I felt like a fool and completely out of shape/not flexible during my first class. By week three, I felt like I was getting a good workout, my shoulders burned, my balance improved, I knew what a chaturanga was, and I felt so empowered. I never in a million years thought I would be a person that looks forward to working out. Now, I can’t imagine what my week would look like without a variety of classes taught by instructors who really care.
  • You’re killin’ it. No matter how much progress you feel, no matter how many inches lost or muscles gained, you’re killin’ it by simply getting your butt to the gym and doing little things each day to improve your life…. by you, for you. In the words of Erica Schuster (thank you for encouraging me to join b.well, you rock sista) “Do this for who you came here for!”

Thank you, b.well brookings, for allowing me to believe in myself and to become a better, stronger, truer version of myself. I’ll see you after a month in Europe. My body is stronger and more ready than ever for long walking days across the world!

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first time in an infrared sauna • 3 degrees in Sioux Falls, SD • trying new things for both physical/mental wellness!

Emotional Wellness, Social Wellness, and Spiritual Wellness all go hand-in-hand. In addition to my amazing experience at b.well, my friends are supportive and loving, my devotional and time spent in conversation with the big man upstairs fuel me with his grace, and I spend my time continually filling my own cup with dedication to living my best life and loving myself in thoughts, words, and deeds. I’m in a really, really good place and I am so damn proud of myself.

Fit, well, and good.

May was good to me, and June’s getting even better. How blessed am I? I feel like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a previous, less true version of myself. That’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

Bring on Europe.

In the words of my sweet friend Andrea, “The world can’t wait to meet you.

World… I can’t wait to meet you either.

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Cue Hailee Steinfeld’s hit song, “Love Myself.” 

always,

Alex

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my post-graduation hair cut

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I wasn’t a person who loved high school, despite the fact that I immersed myself in fun activities, loved my job, and had enough good times to keep me upbeat for the most part.. I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied with mediocre, or sometimes happy, or attempting to fit the status quo, or feeling lonely, or any of that. I was satisfied with one thing, however… my hair.

Today, I posted a selfie. (yeah, I know.) In the photo, I was surprised to see that my hair looked so long. I cut my hair, about 8 inches, just a couple of weeks after graduation, ridding myself of some weight I had been carrying around… both literally and figuratively. I loved it. I loved the freedom and maturity I felt with it lightly dancing on my collarbone. I loved my tiny little pigtails that I wore while hiking and I loved throwing on my hat and letting my hair do whatever it pleased underneath. Some people told me, “You were prettier with long hair.” or “I miss your long hair!” or “How could you get rid of all that beautiful hair?” But I had to. It was my “big jump” into adult life (or so I thought) and leaving behind my security blanket of hair was a simple part of the transition.

Recently, I’ve been growing my hair back out.. with hair that grows relatively quickly, it has slowly crept towards the length it was back in high school. I can now do the things I missed doing: messy buns, a simple braid, et cetera. But as I was looking at myself, with hair that feels and looks so long to me now… I flashed back to high school, where the end of my hair was much closer to my belly button than my collarbone. I remember a rumor that had been started about me once… that I had gotten extensions. I remember being so bothered by this, the fact that someone had the time of day to think of such ridiculousness… I remember being confused as to why anyone would care. I remember being asked, “Why did you get extensions?” I remember thinking that my hair had been this long for a long time but NOW people are noticing because of a rumor that this hair is fake? I remember being hurt. That’s a feeling I remember a lot from high school.

This rumor, along with so many others, plagued me during high school. But the purpose of this blog is not to hate on high school or complain about my experience. Instead, I have risen from the ashes… or the hair that scatters on the floor post-haircut. I have grown miraculously since graduation. The weight I carried around wasn’t just from my abundance of hair, but it was from all the negativity in my life. As I grow my hair longer and longer, I can’t help but feel a bit sad that I look more similar to the girl I was in high school. But that’s another thing you learn in college: appearances mean nothing. I am NOT the girl I was in high school. I am NOT the girl that is defined by others. I am NOT hurt, or lonely, or satisfied with mediocrity.

I am happy, healthy, changed, and love myself more than I have ever before. And today… I had a good hair day. {More than that, however, I had a good day. I’ve had a seriously fantastic string of good days lately.}

To the girls that are considering the post-graduation chop in a few months: hair is hair is hair, no matter what the length. YOU are the one who will continually surprise yourself with personal growth!

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