Saturday, January 30, 2016

If I Ever Have a Daughter

If you know me and my husband you know that kids are pretty far into the future for us. I know accidents happen, but excluding a birth control mishap or a literal act of God kids are still at least a ways off. So, before you read the rest of this make sure to take in this disclaimer:
**I am NOT pregnant OR trying to get pregnant. Not yet.**

That being said, I think a lot about what kind of parents I want us to be. I think about the kids we will have one day. I know that it's kind of frowned upon to pick a gender you would prefer, but I really want a little girl. I want a boy, too ... the best case scenario would be to have both. But I know I will be disappointed if I don't end up with a daughter. Even still, that terrifies me. I know each gender has its own struggles. Guys and girls both have expectations put on them by society and there are different issues depending on whether or not you have an X or Y chromosome, but I can't empathize with boy struggles. I know what kind of issues my daughter will face as she grows up. I know how much she will struggle with her self-image, no matter how confident she is. I know how much she will struggle with where she derives her sense of identity and purpose. I know how much she will struggle with impossible beauty standards.

If I ever have a daughter...these are the things I want her to learn:

Your heart is the most precious aspect of yourself. Do not give it away easily. 
One day there will be a boy. He will be cute, sweet, charming ... everything you think you want in a guy. Chances are, you will be too young to fully understand the concept of love and that's okay. Part of how you figure all that out is through experience. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about relationships and unconditional love and what mistakes not to make, but the fact is that there are some mistakes you have to make on your own in order to learn. I hope you don't make my mistakes, but at least if you do you know I'll understand. Just promise me that you will guard your heart. Guard it like your life depends on it. Guard it like you only have one to give away, because you do. Once you give your heart and soul to another person, there is a piece of it you won't ever be able to get back. There is an innocence associated with it that disappears forever. And no, I'm not talking about sex (although it's true for that as well). Be careful not to confuse infatuation with love. At first, infatuation always feels like love. It's tricky like that. Time is the ultimate test. When in doubt, always take things slowly. Better yet, take things slowly even if you don't feel doubts. Infatuation has a way of blinding us to the truth. We ignore red flags and issues. Always be cautious. Also, chances are the boy you date in high school is not the one you will marry. It happens, but it's so rare that it isn't even worth considering. So, at least for a little while, focus on having fun and making friends. There's a lot less to regret that way.

In your friendships, always give more than you take.
This isn't an excuse to let people walk all over you, instead make sure that you aren't asking for more than you are giving. There is a reason the bible says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." If you want your friendships to be deep and meaningful, you are going to have to be there for people. You are going to have to listen, really listen, not just wait until the other person is done talking so you can say what you want to say. Sometimes, if your friend is going through something, you are going to have to make more of an effort than they are to keep the friendship alive. However...

Not all friends are worth keeping.
Realize when you are being taken advantage of. Understand that there is nothing wrong or dishonorable about walking away. If you have a person in your life who turns you into someone you don't like, walk away and don't look back. If you are the only person in the relationship doing any giving, walk away. Don't be a doormat. It is possible to be compassionate AND assertive. Some friendships are not worth keeping. And that is okay.

Remember where your worth comes from.
You are a child of God. He knows you now, before you have even been conceived. He already loves you. Your worth comes from your relationship with Christ. It comes from above and it comes from within you. There will be days when your identity is found in what others think of you, or what you look like, or whether or not you have a boyfriend. That's okay, as long as you know the truth. You may not be able to act on it all the time, just strive for it. Everyone has an identity crisis. Everyone struggles with judging themselves based on societal standards. Every Christian in the world has issues with finding their identity in Christ. This isn't a concept you figure out and then never have to deal with again. This is something you have to struggle for every. single. day. It never ends. Some days you will feel the peace and comfort of knowing that your worth isn't measured by the size of your hips or the admiration of someone else. But some days you will struggle. Just don't ever forget that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Don't ever forget that even when you can't find something about yourself to love, He can.   

I love you.
I don't know you yet. I'm not even ready for you yet. In fact, the thought of you terrifies me a little. But I'm already thinking about you. I'm already praying for you. Your dad and I are already preparing for you financially. And I know that if I can think about you and picture what you'll be like now, then I can't even imagine how much I'm going to love you when you're here. Even if we only have boys, all of this still applies, I just might phrase it a bit differently. You will be cared for. You will be cherished. You will be loved. I know I can make this promise now, even before I am ready for you, because I have great examples of what that looks like from my parents, my mother-in-law, and each of their parents. I won't say I can't wait to meet you, because in all honesty I would like to wait just a while longer, but I can say that I love thinking about you and picturing you. I can tell you that I know the day you come into the world will be one of the happiest days in my life. 

If I Ever Have a Daughter

If you know me and my husband you know that kids are pretty far into the future for us. I know accidents happen, but excluding a birth control mishap or a literal act of God kids are still at least a ways off. So, before you read the rest of this make sure to take in this disclaimer:
**I am NOT pregnant OR trying to get pregnant. Not yet.**

That being said, I think a lot about what kind of parents I want us to be. I think about the kids we will have one day. I know that it's kind of frowned upon to pick a gender you would prefer, but I really want a little girl. I want a boy, too ... the best case scenario would be to have both. But I know I will be disappointed if I don't end up with a daughter. Even still, that terrifies me. I know each gender has its own struggles. Guys and girls both have expectations put on them by society and there are different issues depending on whether or not you have an X or Y chromosome, but I can't empathize with boy struggles. I know what kind of issues my daughter will face as she grows up. I know how much she will struggle with her self-image, no matter how confident she is. I know how much she will struggle with where she derives her sense of identity and purpose. I know how much she will struggle with impossible beauty standards.

If I ever have a daughter...these are the things I want her to learn:

Your heart is the most precious aspect of yourself. Do not give it away easily. 
One day there will be a boy. He will be cute, sweet, charming ... everything you think you want in a guy. Chances are, you will be too young to fully understand the concept of love and that's okay. Part of how you figure all that out is through experience. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about relationships and unconditional love and what mistakes not to make, but the fact is that there are some mistakes you have to make on your own in order to learn. I hope you don't make my mistakes, but at least if you do you know I'll understand. Just promise me that you will guard your heart. Guard it like your life depends on it. Guard it like you only have one to give away, because you do. Once you give your heart and soul to another person, there is a piece of it you won't ever be able to get back. There is an innocence associated with it that disappears forever. And no, I'm not talking about sex (although it's true for that as well). Be careful not to confuse infatuation with love. At first, infatuation always feels like love. It's tricky like that. Time is the ultimate test. When in doubt, always take things slowly. Better yet, take things slowly even if you don't feel doubts. Infatuation has a way of blinding us to the truth. We ignore red flags and issues. Always be cautious. Also, chances are the boy you date in high school is not the one you will marry. It happens, but it's so rare that it isn't even worth considering. So, at least for a little while, focus on having fun and making friends. There's a lot less to regret that way.

In your friendships, always give more than you take.
This isn't an excuse to let people walk all over you, instead make sure that you aren't asking for more than you are giving. There is a reason the bible says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." If you want your friendships to be deep and meaningful, you are going to have to be there for people. You are going to have to listen, really listen, not just wait until the other person is done talking so you can say what you want to say. Sometimes, if your friend is going through something, you are going to have to make more of an effort than they are to keep the friendship alive. However...

Not all friends are worth keeping.
Realize when you are being taken advantage of. Understand that there is nothing wrong or dishonorable about walking away. If you have a person in your life who turns you into someone you don't like, walk away and don't look back. If you are the only person in the relationship doing any giving, walk away. Don't be a doormat. It is possible to be compassionate AND assertive. Some friendships are not worth keeping. And that is okay.

Remember where your worth comes from.
You are a child of God. He knows you now, before you have even been conceived. He already loves you. Your worth comes from your relationship with Christ. It comes from above and it comes from within you. There will be days when your identity is found in what others think of you, or what you look like, or whether or not you have a boyfriend. That's okay, as long as you know the truth. You may not be able to act on it all the time, just strive for it. Everyone has an identity crisis. Everyone struggles with judging themselves based on societal standards. Every Christian in the world has issues with finding their identity in Christ. This isn't a concept you figure out and then never have to deal with again. This is something you have to struggle for every. single. day. It never ends. Some days you will feel the peace and comfort of knowing that your worth isn't measured by the size of your hips or the admiration of someone else. But some days you will struggle. Just don't ever forget that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Don't ever forget that even when you can't find something about yourself to love, He can.   

I love you.
I don't know you yet. I'm not even ready for you yet. In fact, the thought of you terrifies me a little. But I'm already thinking about you. I'm already praying for you. Your dad and I are already preparing for you financially. And I know that if I can think about you and picture what you'll be like now, then I can't even imagine how much I'm going to love you when you're here. Even if we only have boys, all of this still applies, I just might phrase it a bit differently. You will be cared for. You will be cherished. You will be loved. I know I can make this promise now, even before I am ready for you, because I have great examples of what that looks like from my parents, my mother-in-law, and each of their parents. I won't say I can't wait to meet you, because in all honesty I would like to wait just a while longer, but I can say that I love thinking about you and picturing you. I can tell you that I know the day you come into the world will be one of the happiest days in my life. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Confidence = Beauty

I am ashamed to admit this, but I fell prey to one of the most common human fallacies there is. I superficially went searching for some kind of acknowledgement or confirmation that I am attractive. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've seen this photo already.
 
The caption read, "So, there's this website where you can upload pictures of yourself and it'll guess your age and uses some algorithm to tell you how attractive you are. I uploaded this one, trying to get it to register me. Instead it registered @jacob.cockrell and gave him the highest rating. I'm ashamed to admit I tried 3 different pictures of myself and never even got close to that high on the scale. Needless to say, it's been a great self esteem day for me." 

You've got to admit, the irony in this situation is pretty humorous. I've always known Jake is incredibly attractive, and he's one of those men who gets more attractive as he gets older. Here's proof:
Jake, when we first started dating.
Jake, now.
You see my point? My hubby is handsome as hell. I knew that already, I didn't need a website to tell me. Although, in spite of my disappointment in my own score, I was proud of his. 

I finally got the website to register me at "Stunning," which is the second to highest level, but it took a professionally photographed and re-touched photo.
I love this picture of myself because it makes me feel beautiful. In fact, this photograph makes me feel "Godlike," if we are speaking in the terms of the website's scale. But I am ashamed at how many times I tried to convince the algorithm on this website to tell me I was attractive. I'm ashamed at how easily I fell prey to the idea that some random Swedish guy who created a beauty determining algorithm was qualified to tell me how I should feel about the way I look. 
The website lets you see what celebrity photos rank as, and I started looking through some of the tested photos. The only ones that scored in the "Stunning" or "Godlike" scale were the professionally done, re-touched photos. It's disappointing that it takes false images to register as being the most attractive. 

This issue has never really been one of my soapbox issues. I agree with those who argue that physical beauty can't be defined by such basic standards; that it's subjective and in the eye of the beholder. I also agree with those who argue that girls and women should be happy with their bodies and that we shouldn't let magazines, TV, or professionally re-touched photographs of women who have unlimited amounts of money to throw at personal trainers or plastic surgeons - but who still need their photos to be re-touched - tell us how we should look. I agree with it, but I've never gone off about it. I think part of that is because I've always been relatively happy with the way I look. There are areas of my body that I don't love and there are things I've always wanted to change, but for the most part I'm relatively confident in my appearance. By uploading multiple photos of myself to this website, I made a decision to give someone else the power to make me feel less that what I really am. I chose to doubt that I am the best person to determine how I should feel about the way I look. It bothered me more than I wanted to admit. I played it off as a funny joke, but I was surprised at how annoyed and hurt I was. Then I was mad at myself for being hurt by it because what does that Swedish guy know? Who is he to tell me that I am only "Ok"? 

Sure, I look good in my professionally done bridal portrait, but that's not the only time I've ever felt "Stunning." My mom always told me that confidence is the most important aspect of your appearance. If you own the way you look; your outfit, hair, makeup, etc, and wear it like you mean it then other people will notice. If you are confident in your own beauty it makes you that much more beautiful. You are the only person who is qualified to determine how attractive you are, and unfortunately so many of us grade ourselves way too low on the scale. 

Confidence and beauty go hand-in-hand. If you want people to think you are pretty, you have to think it first. The best part about that is that if you are confident enough in your appearance, then you won't give a damn what anyone else thinks about the way you look, ensuring that you will always feel attractive. It's a win-win situation.

I'm mad at myself for making the mistake of trying to get a website algorithm to confirm that I am attractive. I can't promise that I won't make a similar mistake again, but I think I'm more prepared not to. I'm a little angry that this website even exists, but I can't control that. What I can control is how I act and how I feel about myself. I don't have to buy into it. I don't have to upload photos and keep trying to get the result I want. That's not the website's fault, it's mine. 

A lot of people out there argue and get on pedestals about the body image issue. They say that we should stop airbrushing and re-touching photographs, they say that we should stop fat shaming, they say we should stop ridiculing people for their clothes, hair, acne...
All of it is focused on how not to make other people feel bad. The truth is, there is always going to be someone out there who makes you feel bad. Instead of teaching everyone else how to quit making people feel bad, how about we teach ourselves how to feel good? This is something I'm going to have to do every day. It's not something you just figure out, like a movie "aha" moment, and from that point forward everything is just peachy. I think most things are like that. Being proud of the person you are is an every day effort.