Design for Discouragement

“I hate that I can still be so easily shaken, and somehow I convince myself that if I could just develop a healthy enough psyche, life couldn’t touch me.” -Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

I wish the men in my life would stop wounding me. For the most part, they are godly, well-intentioned men. They are just thoughtless and oblivious. And I say that in the kindest way possible.

There are a few officers in my a cappella choir, one of whom is our Media Director. Knowing my experience with graphic design, he asked me to design some posters for our upcoming concert. I was thrilled to be asked and ecstatic to get started. I love to create. I love a blank canvas. I love developing a vision and seeing it become a reality.

Unfortunately, the Media Director already had a vision in mind, but fortunately, it’s one that I liked. He asked me to employ a minimalistic style, but when I showed him my work after spending an entire evening in Illustrator, he said it was too simplistic. Hmmm… minimalistic art being simplistic…? Go figure!

Minimalism

Minimalism

The Media Director sent me a patterned background to add as a layer in place of my simplistic one. I thought his background made the poster look cluttered, but I did what he asked. When I sent it to our Choir VP for sign-off, though, he said it was “too busy” and needed to be “simplified”. I’d used posterization because the media guy asked me to, but the VP said it made it “too hard to make out people’s faces”. He asked me to remember that we want “an aesthetically pleasing flyer.” Oh, we do? Sorry, I thought you wanted an atrocity of a flyer. 

Posterization

Posterization

Art is personal. It’s an extension of oneself. To criticize someone’s artwork without offering any kind of compliment or encouragement is damaging. In his introduction to The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne wrote about the vulnerability of self-expression through art forms:

“The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates or lifemates. Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed, only and exclusively, to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy.”

Still further, I was only trying to do what our Media Director asked of me. I wish the officers had gotten aligned, that the VP had been kinder in his words, and that the Media Director had backed me up when the VP criticized my work that was a direct result of his guidance.

There were a few other instances with other guys this week, but I don’t even want to write about them. It will just get me upset again and stir up all kinds of insecurities I thought I had already dealt with.

“I feel everything. My joys are huge, and so are my sorrows. If I’m mad, I’m really mad, and if I’m despondent, I wonder how on earth I’ll go on… God gave me this tender heart, and though I want to give up my chronic insecurity, I really do want to hang on to my heart. I like to feel. When I don’t feel something, it’s like being dead.” -Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

Authentically Aurora

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The Lies We Believe

Angry Unikitty - part 2The most fearsome sight you will ever behold is a female INTJ while she is PMSing.

Seriously. I intimidate myself sometimes.

And while I am in the dark and twisty place of PMSing INTJ-ness (a truly terrifying place, to be sure), I believe a lot of lies about myself and others. Things I know to be true in the Light, I begin to question in the sudden Darkness.

Or, you know, the throes of hormonal mood swings.

Here are 3 Lies I’ve believed this week:

  1. I Am Fat.
  2. I Am Undesirable.
  3. I Hate Everyone.

I Am Fat.

Height WeightIt’s true that I weighed in at 132 this morning, which is 7 lbs heavier than I would like to be, but I always weigh about 4 lbs more on the days leading up to my period (sorry, guys. Deal with it or stop reading). At 5’4″, even with this extra monthly tonnage, I am still well within the healthy weight range for my age, gender and height.

I just FELT fat because, besides it being “that time of the month” resulting in bloating and clothes not fitting right, my hormones have been all out of whack, which increases my sensitivity and insecurities.

I read a book a few years ago by Beth Moore called “So Long, Insecurity.” I HIGHLY recommend it to all women everywhere. This means you, girlfriend. I consider myself a fairly confident woman, but she helped me identify some blind spots for myself (e.g. perfectionism as a form of insecurity) as well as the root causes of some of those insecurities.

Beth writes of battling our insecurities, “We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”

I Am Undesirable.

In addition to feeling fat, I felt generally undesirable this week. Besides perfectionism, I also struggle with the fear of rejection. And Bryan has been distant this week. We had our first major fight on Sunday, and on Monday, he took this other girl Jenn out for a steak dinner for her birthday. Umm… what?!

Not only was I horrified that he was taking another woman out 1:1 for a steak dinner, but ironically, I had been craving a nice, juicy steak all weekend (you know, period-induced anemia that has my body craving iron – i.e. red meat). It’s true that Bryan freely volunteered this information of going out with Jenn, and he reassured me that he was doing it out of obligation because she’d taken him out for a steak dinner for his birthday a few months back, but I was still upset – I think, understandably so. But fortunately, I was able to rein in my inner Grumpy Cat/Angry Unikitty (apparently my spirit animal is a cat of some sort…?). Ever-perceptive Bryan is hopefully none the wiser about the Green-eyed Jaguar poised to pounce out of his jealous maybe-almost-kind-of-girlfriend.

Beth writes about this particular struggle, “We need a place we can go when, as much as we loathe it, we are needy and hysterical… I need someone who will love me when I hate myself… As if the battle isn’t hard enough, we sabotage ourselves, submerging ourselves with self-condemnation… How often do we think to ourselves, I should be handling this better?”

I Hate Everyone.

Yep. I feel this way most of the time, monthly period or not. People suck. They constantly disappoint me. I try to lower my expectations of humanity, but I fail. I want better for people than they want for themselves, and that makes me sad. I don’t want to have to lower my expectations of humanity. I want people to step up to the plate and be the amazing men and women they are capable of being.

The truth is, I don’t hate everyone. Or even most people. In fact, my problem isn’t that I care too little but that I care too much! The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. I’m not a robot or a cold-hearted, calculating villain. I’m a tender-hearted young woman bleeding out for the world to be better than it is.

Beth writes of herself, “I feel everything. My joys are huge, and so are my sorrows. If I’m mad, I’m really mad, and if I’m despondent, I wonder how on earth I’ll go on… God gave me this tender heart, and though I want to give up my chronic insecurity, I really do want to hang on to my heart. I like to feel. When I don’t feel something, it’s like being dead.

“Each heart knows its own bitterness (Prov 14:10). The more intense the pain, the more it feels like nobody understands… Your personality and history shapes your response, just as my own unique background affects mine… For me, this is one profound reason that God, omniscient and omnipresent, has been the vital element in my healing. During particularly lonely or frustrating times, [we feel] that nobody else gets it. But He gets it better than we do. So many times He has shown me where I was coming from instead of the other way around.”

When I believe the Lies of the Darkness, I want to remember to set my eyes on the Truth of the omniscient, omnipotent Father of Lights who sees me as I am, remembers that I am dust, and Loves me.

Authentically Aurora

Secrets to Getting Asked Out

ask-girl-out-1I have girl friends who tease me all the time about how often I get hit on. But then those same girl friends turn around and ask me how I do it.

It boggles my mind that I – the shy, math club nerd in high school – am the girl who gets asked out at the gas station and the grocery store. Over the past two months, I’ve had an average of one first date/week. A lot of times, I don’t even understand it myself. I’m a pretty girl, but I am by no means the most gorgeous girl out there. So what’s the secret? Here are a few tips from personal experience:

1. Dress for Success

This doesn’t mean being scantily clad or wearing tons of makeup. In fact, a lot of guys prefer the natural look. Ultimately, you attract the kind of guys you dress for. If you want one night stands, dress like a one night stand kind of girl. I personally am a modest dresser because I am looking for a respectful, Christian man who is husband material. And apparently my jeans-and-blouse attire is working for me.

Your outfits themselves actually don’t matter that much. All I mean by “Dress for Success” is: Take care of yourself. Brush your teeth. Accessorize a bit if you want to. Look put together. Stand tall, with your shoulders back. Carry yourself with dignity and confidence. Smile. All of that goes a long way in drawing attention because, honestly, it’s rare to find a woman who carries herself with genuine self respect and elegance. Forget the three inch heels and dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and allows your true personality to shine through.

2. Exude Confidence and Kindness

I mentioned this a bit in “Dress for Success”, but confidence has an indescribably magnetic effect on guys. A woman who carries herself with confidence (and kindness!) will be a head-turner almost no matter what she looks like. Slender, curvy, blonde, brunette – it all goes out the window when a woman is secure in who she is and exhibits positive personality traits because we really can be more physically attracted to people based on their personalities.

False confidence isn’t as effective as a true sense of self worth, so if this is a growth area for you, take some time to reflect and learn to love yourself well. “So Long Insecurity” is a great book that helped me a lot with self esteem.

3. Express Interest in Others

Sometimes all it takes is one moment of courage to break the ice. Maybe you notice the emblem on his T-shirt and realize that you went to the same school. Maybe you’re both in the condiments aisle trying to find the best brand of mustard. Wherever you are, there is always an opportunity to strike up a conversation. You don’t have to ask the guy out (in fact, I’d advise against it), but if you make a small offhand comment, you open the door of opportunity for him to further the conversation. And people love to talk about themselves, so ask his opinion on something. “What do you think – spicy brown or regular yellow mustard?”

Here are some examples of first date opportunities from just tonight:

1. Dress for Success

I went to a college football tailgating event and wore unique overalls with my school’s colors stitched all over them. It took some boldness to wear them, but I decided to be brave and a bit out of my comfort zone, and I got multiple compliments on them. They were an easy conversation starter and definitely won me some attention from all sorts of people ranging from grandmas (“I love that stitching!”) to – yes – cute boys (“Cool overalls”).

2. Exude Confidence and Kindness

There was singing and chanting involved in tonight’s festivities, and it would have been easy to be a wallflower, but instead, I joined right in. I embraced being silly and vulnerable, and since I was owning it, a guy in his early thirties opened up and joined in, and we stumbled through songs together, helping each other with the words. It was a bonding experience.

3. Express Interest in Others

When I took a break to head to the restroom, I was in line behind an attractive man carrying a tripod. As a photographer myself, I gestured to his tripod and asked him, “Do you know if they charge fees for doing portrait photography at this park?” I asked him about his (obvious) hobby, and we struck up an easy conversation. We didn’t end up exchanging business cards, but we easily could have. All it took was one question to get the conversation going.

I hope this helps! What other advice would you offer as tips for getting asked out? Guys, feel free to join in!

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part II

Campfire 2Sitting around the campfire, I was soon introduced to the young, curly haired girl who was so possessive of Flynn. Her name is Patricia, and she and Flynn have been dating for eight months. I’m not a boyfriend stealer, so I made a conscious decision to keep my distance from him, although that was difficult in a group of just twelve people sharing a common campsite.

As women, when we become jealous of other women, we have a tendency to dehumanize them so that we are better able to focus on their flaws. Beth Moore writes in her book “So Long, Insecurity” (which I highly recommend):

“In order to nurse a rival mentality, we… view our competitor through a one-dimensional lens. She is not a person. She is a contender… It’s easier to despise her that way. If she got the promotion we sought, she’s the embodiment of selfish ambition… If she’s more attractive than we feel, she’s only skin deep. We can’t fathom that she’s ever been betrayed or brokenhearted… When we go against the grain of our human nature and determine to personalize someone instead, rivalry loses its bedding ground.”

So I decided to try to get to know Patricia in order to personalize her and stop viewing her as a rival. After all, she already has the guy. But Patricia didn’t seem very interested in getting to know me. In fact, she acted standoffish toward everyone except Flynn. It would seem that Patricia was only there for her boyfriend; not to make other friends.

SurvivorFlynn had put together a Survivor role playing game where we were divided into three teams and each given different supplies. We had to make judgement calls as a team on whether we were going to stay at our crash site or try to walk to civilization. Flynn had planned for a real-world element as well, in which – for example – we had to shoot a tangible bow and arrow set to determine if we successfully hunted down food for that day.

I am not-so-secretly a sci-fi geek and lover of RPGs and strategy games in general (hello! INTJ = master strategist!), so I got really into the game. In fact, my team won. But 25-year-old Patricia spent the entire game sequence complaining about how boring her boyfriend’s game was and how unrealistic his survival scenarios were.

Later, when Flynn tried to stoke the campfire and stirred up mostly smoke due to the recent rain, Patricia criticized him, “Come on, I thought you were an Army ranger.” Watching them together was painful, not because of my attraction to Flynn, but primarily because of how uncomfortable is it to observe a woman publicly ridicule her man.

Over the next 48 hours of the camping trip, Patricia frequently made comments alluding to her desire for Flynn to propose. In one instance, Flynn joked that she is expensive to date because she is always hungry. Patricia retorted, “Yeah, you buy me lots of food, but what I’d really like is something sparkly.” She wiggled the fingers of her left hand.

Later, Flynn told the group about his family in Louisiana (why am I always attracted to Louisiana boys?!) and how he wished he had family locally. Patricia jumped in, “You could have a great set of in-laws in town any time you wanted to seal the deal.” Everyone around the campfire discretely raised their eyebrows at one another.

Still later, when the group was talking about what each person does for a living, Patricia admitted that she’s unemployed and living with her parents. But she also said unashamedly that she’s not in a hurry to get a job since she probably wouldn’t need it for long anyway. She smiled coyly at Flynn, her 34-year-old mechanical engineer and sugar daddy. Gag me.

How to Lose a Guy in One Week

Day 1: Pick a man 9 years older and far more mature than you are. Display your immaturity at every possible opportunity.

Day 2: Make no effort at all to build relationships with any of his friends. Be clingy and obsessed with him. Have no identity of your own.

Day 3: Complain constantly. The more whining, the better.

Day 4: Make fun of his interests and hobbies. Insist that he stops all of his lame hobbies and picks up yours instead. Don’t compromise.

Day 5: Drain his bank account by making no effort to get a job and insisting that your parents are letting you stay at home, so he needs to cover all the rest of your expenses. State openly that you have no intention of contributing financially to the relationship, either now or in the future; either in tangible dollars or sweat equity.

Day 6: Disrespect him publicly, questioning his masculinity and capability, especially in front of his friends.

Day 7: Make frequent mention of your family, specifically to cite them as his future in-laws. Be sure to couple this with pointed comments about wanting and expecting an engagement ring soon. The pushier, the better.

With this winning combination, you too can Lose a Guy in One Week!

Authentically Aurora