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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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+Encouragement, -Toxicity

I have a sticker on my laptop that says, “Be An Encourager.”

I see it nearly every day. It’s the perfect reminder for who I want to be right now. I have been working on myself wholeheartedly since this spring. I made a conscious decision to be a better person. Well, scratch that. Perhaps, I acted with intent to strip away the years of negative self-talk, gossip, failed friendships, daggers in the back, and held-in bitterness that harbored so much hatred and hurt in my heart to reveal the person I have always been and have always wanted to be.

As my dance instructor stated today, “You are in charge of your own authority.” What she meant by this is that I have the right, the option, the privilege, the courage, and the power to be in charge of my own life. My faith and the amazing people in my life feed me love and support and strength, yes, but I am making decisions for me. Honestly, I don’t believe that I am changing who I am. I’m just becoming a more true version of myself. This true version of myself includes empowering others to live better and more true lives by making my own life a labor of love and choosing to remove toxicity from my mind/heart/soul/life.

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• • • On being encouraging • • • 

Whenever I’m asked what my biggest pet peeve is, I answer: “when people are fake.” My favorite word will always be authenticity and I see it as a core value to who I am as a person. However, I want to be an encourager. I want to support my friends, my family, women I barely know, people I don’t know, and anyone in between.

So here I am – balancing my authentic feelings and thoughts and brokenness and healing and awesomeness and magic and beauty and emotions and mishaps with my love for people and the feeling that my purpose in life is to make others’ lives better. I will never be fake. My support, my love, my encouragement will never be fake. I have a lot of love to give. I may not comment on all your posts or message you every day or be able to provide the perfect advice… but when I feel it, you’ll know that I felt it. Support doesn’t need to be seen. It needs to be felt.

How can I encourage others? How can I make others feel loved, supported, valued, and worthy? How can I make someone else smile?

How can you?

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• • • On removing toxicity • • • 

Now, let’s switch to the flip side. Since I have begun encouraging others openly and vocally, I have concurrently found myself attempting to remove toxicity from my life. That may be physically removing people from my life, quitting negative habits, or finally deciding to unfriend/unfollow certain accounts on social media.  Honestly, the social media accounts took a long time. I would look at these accounts to stay ‘in the loop’  because I hated to be uninformed. I saw knowledge as power and power was necessary for me to maintain my hard armor shell that protects my soft and easily-hurt heart. Deep down, however, I knew that this was unhealthy behavior. It didn’t help. It didn’t protect me. It didn’t give me power. It made me hurt, it made me weak, it made me angry, bitter, jealous, and resentful.

I find it hard to balance caring so much about people (not wanting to hurt others’ feelings) and not caring what other people think (because I value myself and believe that some things are truly toxic for my own mental health.) This mental gymnastics is really hard. I wasn’t giving myself authority. Those people and my allowance for them to continue to be in my life was toxic. It was time to let go.

I finally committed to myself and made those decisions to remove myself from toxic situations. I had someone ask me today, “Do you hate _______?” after knowing that this person and I had crossed paths negatively around a year ago. He asked this question in case we would all be mingling in the same group this week for homecoming celebrations. My response was simple… “I feel that that scenario would be toxic for my mental health and I’m not going to choose to put myself in that situation, but I’ll see you around!” I am putting myself first. I am putting my mental health first. Maybe that’s selfish to some… but it’s also self-love. I don’t need to speak negatively about that person or continue to be held up on negative experiences. Sometimes the mature thing is not to make a choice between forgive and forget, but to simply acknowledge that it happened and that you don’t need to place yourself in that situation or any situation that makes you uncomfortable.

In removing toxicity, I am being my own encourager. It’s okay if other people do not understand that.

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• • • On where I am • • • 

So that’s where I am. And I’m okay with that. I do not need to let the negative things weigh on my heart when I can simply acknowledge the existence and learn to live and breathe through them. I am currently trying to live and breathe and pray and work through my heartbreaks and to encourage others that they can do the same. I am being my own encourager by removing the roadblocks of negativity and toxicity that stand in my way. I am creating a life I love and learning to fulfill my purpose. I am staying true to who I am and discovering new things about myself every day. I am still a work in progress; an imperfect girl loved by a totally perfect God.

So, today and every day: I challenge you to encourage others but do not forget to encourage yourself and make ‘selfish’ decisions that benefit your heart, soul, and mind.

always,

Alex

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