Be Interrupted

Mother and daughter

As many of you know, this past Christmas/New Year my mum visited London to see me for the first time since I moved here. Before she arrived, I had a long list of wonderful London things I wanted us to do. Visiting Paris and Madrid was also on the agenda. Mum had never been to Europe and I was set on giving her the best time possible, which meant having a packed itinerary for three full weeks.

A couple of days in I realised that though she appreciated my efforts, she was just excited to see me.

She didn’t care about getting stuff done. The holiday was about us spending time together after almost five years apart. To her, it was about rich conversation and laughter and fun. It was about connection. It was about relaxation. After all, it was a holiday for both of us. She was eager to see the city I call home but what mattered is that she was doing it with me.

Continue reading

Advertisements

You Aren’t Better Than Anyone

Creative Commons: epsos.de

Creative Commons: epsos.de

 

We live in a world of class separation. Sure, it’s a heck of a lot more politically correct and subtle than it used to be, but it’s still there; loitering, lingering, blowing some people’s egos up and trampling on the confidence of others. At its core, class separation is just one person thinking they are better than another. Often because of things that are out of one’s control, like their upbringing and family’s financial circumstances.

I find it fascinating that money and education can give people feelings of superiority. Working in support positions in the corporate world means I’ve experienced much of this. No, I don’t have a degree, but it doesn’t mean I’m any less worthy of respect than the person with a doctorate who’s sitting next to me.

Money makes the world go ‘round, indeed, but it can also do damaging things to a person’s pride. Whether it was earned by hard work or inherited, wealth doesn’t change the worth or value of a person. Neither does skill or education. And neither does good life choices, where is where my pride has tripped me up.

Continue reading

Reputation vs. Character

reputation

Reputations. They are built over time and can take years to secure, but are painfully easy to taint. To have a good reputation is obviously desirable; it gets you friends, romances and jobs. It sets you apart as trustworthy. Your reputation is what lingers once you’ve left a room (hopefully not in the form of odour, but atmosphere).

Reputations are unavoidable and inevitable. If you are consistently late, grumpy or forgetful, you will be known among friends for being this way. If you regularly prove yourself as reliable, people will appreciate that in you and probably discuss among each other your proven reliability with each other. People are watching us and taking notes in their head. If someone cancels on me every time we make plans, I don’t hold their word for much when they say “lets meet up!”.

I’ve always been protective of my reputation, which essentially means I care what people think. I care about how I’m seen in social settings and what people know about my faults, which is never beneficial. We will never please everyone, and sometimes people will form opinions of us regardless of our behaviour. Being too aware of the reputation I am building has meant I’ve struggled to be myself, to have grace for my imperfections and mistakes. To be human.

I’m sure there are some people with whom I’ve earned a black mark by my name. It could have been something I said or did wrong and completely legitimate. Or it could have been a rumour. I remember one instance when there was a misunderstanding and a pretty harsh rumour spread about me. It killed me inside to think that people thought badly of me. When I found out months later, I desperately wanted to make it right; to correct the corruption. But it was too late.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are and your reputation is merely what others think you are.” -John Wooden

When I think now of that situation, I shrug my shoulders. I know who I am. I know that people can vouch for me. I’m not perfect, but try my best to live openly and honestly. I’ve made some really bad calls, I’ve hurt people and I’ve hurt myself. That has inevitably tarnished my reputation with some people, and it’s a harsh fact of life.

Among other things, I’ve been bothered that I have a broken engagement in my history and worried that it will affect how people view me. To some people I’m the good girl, to others I’m a racy Christian with a past. To myself, I’m all of that and more. Just a girl who’s finding her way, tripping up and getting back up again. I’m a million things to a million people, and you might be too.

By paying attention to my character and how I treat everyone I meet, I will also gain a good reputation. But it’s just a bonus. I’d rather spend my time and energy focusing on my strength of character; on what I’m learning from the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make. Our reputation is something to be mindful of but not strive for. Our character is what we should be really concerned about, because our whole life flows from who we are.

Do you have a reputation for a reason? Do you care a lot about what people think? 

Image credit

Independence Isn’t Cool

Not sure if you know, but I’m actually really cool. I moved abroad and I barely even call home because I don’t need family anymore. So independent, so cool.

Yeah, and I often just block God out and say ‘I’ve got this’, because I’m that capable and awesome. I can make it on my own.

If you didn’t already know how hip and cool I am, that’s because I’m not at all.

I’ve just created the belief in my head that doing life on my own makes me awesome, which is entirely untrue. All that my independence does is show me up for my fear of vulnerability and my arrogance, which is so not cool.

Strength is important to have so that we can dodge the curve balls that life throws at us. However strength and independence are not the same, and independence is not the goal. Independence from people is lonely. Independence from God? That’s a sin.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Yes, I can stand on my own two feet. I am capable of looking after myself and had to learn pretty fast, which is great and something I am proud of. But I am never enough. I still need God, need my family, and need my friends. That is not a sign of weakness or a bad thing in the slightest, which I am only just beginning to accept.

Vulnerability is strength unarmed.

I started to think about all this recently when I was really ill. I had a nasty virus and was bed ridden for the best part of 7 days. It was horrible and it was the loneliest I had felt in a long time. I could have reached out to my friends and my housemates for help. I didn’t because I didn’t want to bother anyone or look completely pathetic.

If I didn’t try to do it on my own, that week wouldn’t have been so dark for me. I would have had food in the house and regained strength, but instead I didn’t eat for over a day and got worse. Pa-the-tic.

I’m probably more vulnerable with my counselor than anyone. When I saw him and we talked about my week, it came out: I desperately needed love and attention but I was too scared to ask for it. The independence was a facade to hide that.

I’m learning that fierce independence is more pathetic than vulnerability. It’s a guard so that people can’t see what’s really going on. It’s isolating and dangerous.

The main point is that we all need support, and though we all need a level of independence as adults, taking it too far isn’t cool.

So I quit, because to be vulnerable is to truly be strong.

Can you relate? Are you independent, or do you struggle to be independent? Leave a comment. 

Confession: I can’t fix myself & I don’t know everything

I like to think I’m pretty emotionally stable. I process my emotions, I don’t run away (I try not to anyway) and I cry a lot.  I’ve even been known to call myself a ‘self-analysing pro’ because I can come up with a reason for every single one of my behaviours. I’ve got my sh*t sorted right?

Wrong. Turns out I am somewhat of an ’emotional perfectionist’ (self-diagnosed, of course. See previous paragraph!). No but seriously, I like to be so in control of my feelings and know exactly why I do everything that I don’t let things happen organically.

This is my greatest blessing and my greatest curse, because while I’m very emotionally ‘in-touch’ (are you loving all this psycho-babble?) I also over-think to the point of insanity and exhaustion.

When I talk to my friends I like to sound like I’ve got it all together. Then in the dark of the night I break down, because emotions and grief work on their own schedule that you can’t really control. Turns out being human has some painful disruptions, and I don’t have my sh*t sorted at all. 

So I told my over-active mind to go on holiday and called in a professional.

Yes, I’ve started seeing a counsellor; someone who has qualifications and actually knows what he is talking about; someone who can help me fix me so I don’t have to do it all by myself.

I went to my first session with a heavy heart; I was sad, lonely and running on empty. On the journey there I prayed ‘Please Lord let this be good for me, let me gain something from this because I’m spent and don’t have any strength left’. God heard me. I sat there and released months worth of tear-stained words to someone who is paid to listen to me. I didn’t feel guilty for ‘dumping’ on him, I just went for it (pray for him, poor guy!). He helped me reach some important conclusions in that very first session and I  left feeling so light I thought I might just fly.

The second session was a little harder, grittier and a hell of a lot more painful. That’s when the good stuff happens though and hey, I’m still alive. During these sessions my pain is justified, understood and accepted, but our (my counsellor’s and mine) ambition is my healing and I’m not allowed to sit in my pain and pity for longer than necessary. I must keep moving forward.

I’d rather be dealing with this at 22 than at 42, 52, 62 when I’ve caused other people pain from my own wounded heart. Have you heard? Hurt people hurt people. All of my hurt has come from hurt people, and out of that hurt I’ve hurt more people. It’s a vicious cycle, BUT I have the power to break it and it’s my choice whether I do or not. No I won’t ever be perfect but the goal isn’t perfection, it’s wholeness in Christ so that I’m not operating everyday life out of brokenness.

You might be thinking ‘gosh she is so honest, telling the blogosphere she is screwed up enough to go to counselling’. If it helps you, then heck yes I am honest enough. Frankly we are all screwed up at least a tiny bit, even if we like to act like we’re not. It’s what makes us beautifully human. 

Here’s a tip sponsored by moi: if you have faced trials in the past that you still haven’t overcome, or if you’ve never been to a counsellor, or just think it would be good for you, then go and talk to someone. Who knows, you may only need one session, or you’ll need loads. Whatever the case, deal with your pain so that it doesn’t deal with you. Also I personally think that if you’re in a relationship then it’s even more important; there is a lot of stuff that comes up when we share our lives intimately with someone, and sometimes they can’t carry our baggage. Oh and because I don’t like to leave anyone out: if you really are emotionally stable and this doesn’t apply to you, then that is great and feel free to ignore this paragraph!

All this was to say it’s nice not having to figure everything out by myself. Yes I still have to think, feel, process. However I am externalising it in a healthy environment instead of running circles in my mind. Oh and in case you were wondering, my over-active mind came back from her holiday and then handed in her notice of resignation. Turns out I don’t need her anymore, anyway!

If you can closely relate to the above and need to talk to someone about it, then feel free email me. Sometimes it’s just nice knowing someone understands and is there to listen. 

Hey You, Be Better!

Sometimes, I’m very impressionable. Occasionally, I make bad choices. Every now and then, I lose sight of who I’m living for.

Most of the time, I know I can be better.

Whoever you are and wherever you are; you can be better too. Don’t get me wrong, you’re already great. Chances are we’re friends if you’re reading this and I’m only friends with great people. (If you’re reading this and you’re not my friend then that is GOOD and you’re great too because it means I’m gaining more readers!)

Trust me, I know my good points and I know I’m already pretty great. But my point is that I can be greater. I can stay the same as I am now but that wouldn’t do me any good, because I can be better.

I’ve realised that I can be very influenced by my world around me to the point that I reduce my ideals and standards according to others, either for their approval or just to fit in.

Then I remember I’m not like everyone else; I am from the world but I am not of the world. I’m living for the audience of One, the One who loves and adores me as I am. The One who believes in me and knows I can be better too. The One who makes me better.

Always be inspired by the great people around you, but never try and be them. Be you.

Don’t excuse yourself from certain behaviour because you saw someone else do it.

Never think of yourself better than anyone; you haven’t arrived and you never will.

And don’t live for the approval of people, you will die trying.

Better is whatever you make it. Better is one step further than where you are now. Your better and my better are probably different. That’s okay.

For me, better is

+ Smiling more on the tube where no one smiles (I am honestly too scared which is ridiculous, I know)

+ Sitting down with the local homeless guy and chatting

+ Giving my friends the time they deserve

+ Living with an open hand

+ Being on time all the time

+ Giving God the praise He deserves

+ Working hard at my craft

+ Living with integrity

+ Persevering, committing

+ Forgiving

+ Giving my very best in my job

+ Worrying less, trusting God more

You get the picture. What is better for you? Define it and live it. But also encourage yourself. It’s a journey. Perfection is not the aim, growth is. That can be one step or five steps, the point is that you’re growing and being better.