Fear of Being Rejected

It’s not easy to put yourself out there.  Some people live to meet new people and have no fear going up and starting a conversation with a perfect stranger.  Other people struggle with their fear of rejection.  They are interested in new people around them, but it can be scary to start something with someone new.  Especially if you’ve recently gone through a bad break up or you’ve been single for awhile.

If you have fear, the only way to get over it is to face it.  Outgoing people will tell you they are less worried about how they feel and more concerned with making others feel good.  If your goal is go out and meet new people, try to take your focus off your fear and focus on making just one person you meet smile.  Realize that not everyone you meet is going to be interested in talking to you.  That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or with something you said.  Some people just won’t be in a good mood or be interested in any type of conversation.  Don’t let those people set you back.

Look for people who seem more open or friendly.  Dare yourself to give them a compliment.  Try to learn something from what they are wearing or how they are interacting with others.  Use your observation skills to give you something to start a conversation with.  If you’ve ever noticed, shoes will tell you a lot about a person.  Shoes can give you clues into hobbies someone has or what type of job they do.  Their shoes can tell you if they are more laid back or more stylish with fashion.  Their clothes will also give you other clues as well.  Finally, look at their face and their body language.  Do they gesture or show a lot of expression?  Or do they seem more closed off because their arms or crossed and their face seems blank?

Also, realize that you are giving off vibes as well.  What does your appearance say about you?  Non-verbal cues give off a lot of information to others to let them know if you are more open or closed to being approached.  Are you smiling and interacting with others?  Or are you sitting alone hunched over your drink at the bar?  You don’t have to be super fit and all GQ to get attention.  Your appearance does matter, but how you are projecting yourself to others matters even more.  You want to seem approachable instead of giving off a vibe that says, “Please leave me alone”.

It is okay to be nervous, but try to be aware if you are sending off desperation signals.  Sometimes you can try TOO hard and make the initial approach very awkward.  Remember to think positive and tell yourself positive things to keep your anxiety at bay.  Every person has great qualities, but not all people are aware or acknowledge their positive traits.  Try to focus on those qualities and realize you have a lot to offer other people.  When people get nervous they can focus too much on the negative and think of everything that can go wrong.  Instead, try to stop yourself from going down that path and try to be more positive about yourself and others around you.  Confidence will carry you a long way.

Even if you don’t feel all that confident, you can fake it a little until you get more comfortable initiating conversations.  Practicing will make it easier.  I often tell some of my shyer students to start conversations in less intimidating places.  For example, smile and ask how the gas station attendant’s day is going.  Talk to the cashier at Wal-Mart or the grocery store.  Go to places where you don’t know anyone and take a few risks without too much pressure.  The more you risk facing rejection, the easier it will become.  You will become used to the fact that not everyone responds positively, but that a lot of people will.

The key to remember is that you aren’t trying to make yourself feel better, you are trying to make someone else feel better that day.  Not every person you interact with has soul mate potential or even one night stand potential, but you never know when you may interact with the right person who ends up becoming someone significant in your life.  Just don’t give up and remember that nothing in life worth having is ever easy.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t- you are right”  Henry Ford

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“This time, like all times is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”  Japanese Proverb

Finding Yourself When You’re Single

I saw this post on College Candy. It was written by Katie.  Feel free to click on the link to read more from Katie.

My name is Katie. I’m a twenty-something. I am single. I mean like, painfully single. This means no guys to kiss, to flirt with, to text, to complain to your girlfriends about, etc. Nada. Nothing. Zip. I’m in the healing process from a pretty brutal breakup, and now that ex-Manfriend and I are dunzo, it’s time for me to be single—painfully single.

This is usually the moment when I panic and scramble to find someone, anyone to fill the void that comes with being alone. I will reel in past loves that didn’t work the first ten times. I’ll text a “thinking of you” message to The One That Got Away. I’ll even contemplate online dating for a hot minute. I feel the need to do all this because I’d rather grasp at straws than let the loneliness step in and take control.

I think this is the time in our lives when we’re just plain confused about everything, including love. Am I supposed to be single? Am I supposed to be looking for a hubby? I never know what’s “right” or “normal” in the dating world of a twenty-something. Maybe it’s because a few of my friends are getting hitched and having babies (Please stop doing this by the way, people. I’m not emotionally ready to handle it. Think about ME.), or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of being alone. It could just be the anxiety that drives me to feel like if I don’t pair up soon, I never will. It could be because I’m not exactly the best at being single.

And that doesn’t mean that I’m always in a relationship—quite the contrary actually. I’ve said the “L” word a couple times and been in “serious relationships” (Whatever the hell that means anymore. #bitter), but for the majority of my life, I’ve been a single woman. I think I’m okay with being single, just not painfully single. I guess I should explain the difference.

If you ask any of my girlfriends, they will tell you that I always have “someone.” This basically means that I always have a guy to like or “talk to” or text. I go on dates and all that fun stuff, but there is never any pressure of commitment. When I’m not committed, I’m probably semi-committed by my own doing because I can’t deal with the pain of being single. Sidenote: If I don’t make sense right now, that’s normal because I never make sense to myself when it comes to any of this stuff either. It’s just that when I don’t have anyone to “talk to”, that is when the pain of being single seeps in. It feels like nothing else will ever come along. No new catches, no old flames—just me, myself and I.

When I become painfully single, the panic sets in. I switch into desperation mode. I start looking at my best guy friend differently, consider online dating, and go out more than usual just in case the man of my dreams sits down at the barstool next to me.

I have to ask myself why I’m suddenly entertaining the thought of dating my Boy BFF. Is it because I’m actually interested and have feelings for him or could it be that I can’t deal with being 100% alone? I’m beginning to think the latter. Can you blame me though? Who doesn’t like having someone to text the mundane details of your life to? Someone to snuggle and watch Netflix with? Someone to call yours? Being part of a pair is a wonderful feeling of fulfillment. Though for the first time as a twenty-something, I’m starting to recognize that having a guy be interested in me is not the “be all, end all” for my personal fulfillment.

I’m learning that I can be happy and content without a guy in my life. I can believe that I’m worthy without needing a guy to reassure me of that. I can find out who I am on my own. Male attention should not dictate my happiness and quality of life. I can be alone.

There is nothing wrong with being single. In your twenties, it might actually be one of the best things for you. I think that being single is something you have to do for a little while in order to understand who you are as an individual. A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend about a year ago, and of course, she was bummed. But instead of crying and moping around, she took up running. Whenever she was feeling upset, she just went out for a jog. She soon found herself running almost everyday of the week. About a month ago, she crossed the finish line of her first half marathon.

She told me that she would never have known how much she enjoyed running if her and her ex had never called it quits. She’d be too busy traveling to go visit him a few states away or working extra hours at her job to save up for a plane ticket to go see him on the weekends.

Being single allows us ladies to find out who we are and what we’re passionate about without having a guy influence us. Because let’s be honest, do you really like to golf? Or watching Monday Night Football? Or playing Tony Hawk on his old Playstaion? Or watching Dumb and Dumber whenever it’s on cable? Maybe you do if you’re the perfect woman, but I’m guessing you probably don’t love all those things, you just adopted them because he loves them.

When you’re on your own, you have the opportunity to discover your own passions. You have the time to go out and figure out what you enjoy and what you want to do with your life. You get to cross the finish line of your own half marathon. There is no one to answer to. There is just your mind, your passions, your ideas—yourself. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think for the first time, I’m understanding that difference.

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

Why Am I Still Alone?

Do you believe we send out vibes to others around us?  I do.  I believe our moods and how we see ourselves affects how others interact with us.  If I believe there is something wrong with me, I’m probably going to believe other people think the same thing.  If I don’t like myself, I’m more likely to think others will reject me too.  It may make me afraid of dating or getting close to someone.  If I’m shooting off this vibe of “Please don’t look at me, I’m gross”, do you think that is going to attract the opposite sex?  No, they most likely will be put off by my nonverbal cues of insecurity.

If you haven’t dated a lot in high school or college it is easy to start thinking there is something wrong with you.  I work with students who are depressed because they haven’t been in a serious relationship yet.  When someone feels depressed it is hard enough to get out of bed, so it is no surprise that it is also hard to put on a smile, act friendly and send out a positive vibe to all those potential single people out there to date.  It is one of those crazy cycles.  Like how can I get work experience unless I have a job, and I can’t get a job because I don’t have any work experience.  The same is true for single people who may feel depressed.  It is hard for others be attracted to them because of their mood and because people aren’t attracted to them, their mood becomes worse.

The longer this cycle goes on the more depressed people feel and the more fear they have that no one will ever want them.  The fear comes from not feeling good enough.  The fear may have started in the past from hearing people tell you that you are stupid, or fat, or ugly.  It is hard to believe someone would see something different in you if this is what you have been told in your past.  Or if you have been sexually abused, you may be afraid that if anyone found out they would never want to be with you.  Many people have demons inside of their heads telling them they don’t deserve to be loved.  It only reinforces the fear of being in a relationship with someone.  The truth is everyone deserves to be loved, but it can be hard to believe it for yourself.

So which comes first?  The chicken or the egg?  Do you need to get into a relationship first to feel good about yourself?  Or do you need to feel good about yourself to find a someone to date?  It does happen that a depressed person meets someone who sees through all their negativity and loves them in spite of it.  This can be a huge confidence booster to find someone who sees how beautiful you are even with all your flaws.  This relationship may help you to learn to love yourself.

However, I do believe YOU have more control over learning to love yourself even while you are single.  You can get away from anyone else, but you can’t escape yourself.  Others may not always be there for you, so its very valuable to learn to be there for yourself.  You can start by deciding whether you want to work on accepting yourself for who you are, or if there are things you want to work on changing to feel more confident.  It takes time, but you can learn to diminish those negative voices.  I encourage students look over a list of positive characteristics and mark which ones sometimes describe them.  Most students are amazed at how many great qualities they already have, but don’t give themselves credit for.  I then ask students to focus on those characteristics several times a day.  You have to put positive in, to get positive out.  It’s easier said than done.  Changing your thought process is hard, but over time it can have a big impact on how you see yourself.

I also encourage students who are afraid of being alone to take the initiative to reach out to others.  Start somewhere easy like being friendly to strangers.  Practice when you are out at Wal-Mart and greet the person who checks you out.  Be friendly to gas station attendants, waiters and waitresses, and other random strangers.  See how they react to you and you may find that a lot of them respond positively to the attention.  This will encourage you and hopefully give you more confidence without much risk.  Again,it helps to start somewhere less intimidating.  When you feel a little more brave, then look for someone to say hi to while walking across campus.  Ask someone in your class how they are doing.  Have a goal of making at least one person smile each day by giving them a genuine compliment.

The best way to meet others is to show interest.  Start by just being nice and ask them something about their self.  Don’t start by asking a complete stranger on a date.  That will be too hard to do if you’ve never done it.  Build your way up to that by just being friendly and trying to make other people feel good around you.  As you build confidence, then start to notice people you may be attracted to.  Be friendlier to them and see how they react.  Again, if they show interest by continuing the conversation, then find more opportunities to talk to them.  If they don’t show interest (give you one word answers, don’t ask you anything back or ignore you), then simply move on to the next person.  Don’t be afraid of the rejection.  It is normal and doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.  Not everyone is going to click with you and that is okay.  The more people you interact with, the better chance of finding someone you do click with.  It does take time and practice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  You may need someone to encourage you to not give up or keep you accountable to your goals.  Tell someone you trust about your fears so they can help you fight them.  The only way to defeat fear is to face it head on.  It takes work to be a more positive and initiate conversations with others, but it may be worth it to chase the FEAR of dating away.

I Feel Too Fat To Date

I torture myself a lot by watching shows like 20/20, Dateline & 48 Hours Mystery.  I don’t know why, but they always suck me in.  Last Friday, 20/20 did a show on cosmetic surgery.  I try not to think about all the women and yes, men too, putting themselves through so much pain because they don’t like the way they look. However, the reality is that too many people pay big bucks to change some physical aspect of themselves to feel better.

I, of course, work with college students.  Many of whom would love to get cosmetic surgery but can’t afford it.  It is very sad to me that so many people hate so many things about themselves.  This week is also National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  Another issue that greatly affects a lot of college students.  Many students believe they don’t deserve to eat a dessert or any food at all because they already think they are too fat.  They only see the people who are thinner than they are instead of being aware of all the different shapes and sizes around them.  Where did these messages of hate start?

Unfortunately hating yourself has been going on for a while now.  Too often my students will tell me they watched their moms diet and heard their moms put themselves down for being fat.  Even if their moms didn’t focus their negative energy on their child, the message still gets sent.  Then there are the students whose parents did focus on their weight.  This is the hardest to overcome.  When you’ve been told by your parents all your life that you aren’t good enough, there is no easy road to believing you are beautiful just the way you are.

The battle to love yourself is hard enough.  Just think about how hard it is to then believe someone else could love you?  I have many students who either have random sex with anyone available because they don’t think they deserve better.  Or I have students who don’t date at all because of their extreme fear of being rejected for how much they weigh.

The key is to learn to love yourself.  However, when I see a show on 20/20 about all the beautiful actresses having all sorts of expensive procedures to look even more beautiful, how can I convince some young college student to love themselves just as they are?  I’m not blaming Hollywood or everyone’s parents.  I just think the messages young people receive today aren’t always the most positive.  Yet we expect them not to fall into the eating disorder or cosmetic surgery trap.

Where is it written that you have to be a size 0 to be attractive and get someone to like you?  I know my female students see other women in relationships that are not exactly smaller than they are.  However, they still mistakenly believe they don’t deserve love.  They aren’t good enough.  No one would find them attractive.  Their eyes tell them one thing, but their brain tells them another.  If they can’t afford to have cosmetic procedures done then often they resort to some sort of disordered eating to try to look better.

Yet how come I can’t find anyone who has an eating disorder that is happy?  How come you can lose 20 pounds, but it still isn’t good enough?  Trust me, if you want to find fault with yourself,  you’ll be able to.  I know a lot of people who think they will feel better once they are 115 pounds.  Only to get to that weight and still think their stomach or their butt is too big.  Happiness is not found in a certain size.  You may feel a little better, but if your brain is used to negatively picking yourself apart, it isn’t so easy to change.

What happens is that your brain can still trick your eyes.  You may look better but your brain will still find something wrong.  A lot of women who have lost weight and look good still “feel” fat.  This is why eating disorders are about more than becoming thin.  It is more often about being sensitive to other people around them and being overly concerned with meeting the expectations of those people.  You also don’t have to be in the middle of full-blown eating disorder to have some of these tendencies and ways of thinking.  A lot of students I see struggle with their body image and eating habits, but are not considered anorexic or bulimic.

Even if you don’t have an eating disorder, most people with low self-esteem and poor body image need to seek some sort of counseling to develop better self-confidence.  It can be hard to fix your self-esteem without help because of how the brain can trick you into thinking or feeling things that aren’t true.  Most people who work on their self-confidence also need to work through some issues from their past and learn the steps to fighting intrusive negative thoughts.  Some people have been struggling with their self-esteem for years, so just imagine how entrenched some of those negative thoughts and feelings are?  Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel better overnight. It takes time.

If your confidence is keeping you from getting into or staying in a relationship, don’t give up.  Self-confidence is a long process.  It’s a balance between learning to accept things about yourself and choosing some things to work on and change.  Not everything can and should be changed.  Learning to accept yourself is more than half the battle.  The other part is having the courage to change some things about yourself that are possible.  The biggest thing most people have to change is their thought process, not their weight amazing enough.  Although, this seems simple, it is a complex process and is like learning a new language.  It takes time and effort, but it is very worth it.

Eating disorders and body image issues are serious.  If you want to know more about eating disorders, please click on the links below.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

National Eating Disorders Association

Reach Out

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Things I Love About Being Single

I know Valentine’s Day can be rough if you are single.  I went through many single Valentine’s Day’s in my life.  It kinda sucks to have love thrown in your face when you don’t have it.   I wanted to write a post to encourage all the single guys and gals out there, but then I came across Catherine’s post.  I thought it was so great I wanted to use it on my own blog.  Catherine was gracious enough to let me.  She wrote this post over a year ago and titled it Things I Love About Being Single on her blog, Simply Solo.  I hope her positive message about being single will help you through those rough moments you may be having in your own single life, especially around Valentine’s Day.

 

While being single definitely has its downsides (I can’t tell you how much I miss having someone to say goodnight to every night and there’s nothing like having a date for every work function or wedding imaginable), there are some definite positives to being single that I’m starting to realize. And please, someone remind me of this list when Christmas and Valentine’s Day roll around and I’m alone, OK?

Here are the top things I love about being single:

  1. Going to bed whenever I want, and getting up whenever I want. There’s no one to share the bed and interrupt my beauty sleep. And, there is definitely no one to wake me up with their endless snoring, at which point I have to kick them (semi-softly), which definitely interrupts a girl’s sleeping patterns.
  2. I can flirt with anything that walks. Sometimes, you just gotta flirt. And when you’ve been with the same guy since you were 18, sometimes you just gotta flirt A LOT. Just to make sure you’ve still got it. Definitely can’t do that in a relationship.
  3. Opportunity to reconnect with old friends and family. It’s amazing the relationships that you put to the side (and you may not even notice it) when you are in a relationship. I’ve loved taking the time to reconnect with those people – and have learned my lesson that I will never become disconnected from them again.
  4. Time, time, time. Time to do whatever the hell I want. Like learn how to cook, start a blog, read book after book and actually use the gym membership I’ve had for a million years. Um, for the record, I haven’t really learned to cook and the gym hasn’t seen me in quite a while, but that’s neither here nor there.
  5. No one to judge my ice cream intake. Maybe this one is a little specific to me, but there’s nothing better than eating a bowl of ice cream for dinner. Being single allows me that luxury. I can eat all the ice cream in the world, and there is no one to judge me as I stand in the kitchen after a long day’s work with a spoon, freezer door wide open, taking just one bite (maybe two or three) of Cookies and Cream. Maybe not so good once I go through a gallon in a week, but liberating none the less.
  6. Similar to the above, no one to judge my toilet paper usage. My ex used to be amazed at the amount of toilet paper I would use weekly. I’m not sure where it all goes, but I guess I like to keep a pretty clean behind. Sometimes, I find myself using a million squares and laughing literally out loud because of how amazing it feels to use all the toilet paper in the world, and no one will ever know. Until they read this blog.
  7. No more annoying conversations about what to eat tonight. You know the ones, where you say, “What would you like to eat tonight?” And he says, “Oh, I could do anything, whatever you want.” You: “What about Chinese?” Him: “Um, no, not feeling Chinese.” You: “Thought you said you could eat anything?! What about that pizza place down the road?” Him: “No, I’m not really feeling that either. Maybe we should make something here?” You: “Ugh, I don’t feel like cooking. Maybe I’ll just eat cereal.” These conversations are like my personal hell. Make a decision and eat. It’s not that serious.
  8. I can watch whatever the hell I want on TV. And that means, endless hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Food Network Challenge galore, Bachelorette every Monday night and whatever else I find that seems vaguely interesting. And there is no one to steal my remote control – cause it’s my house!
  9. Walk around naked. And not get smacked on the butt or hear lewd comments when doing so. Sometimes, walking around naked when you are living with a guy is like walking around naked next to a construction site. While I appreciate the recognition, sometimes you just wanna walk around naked for no good reason and have no one address it. You can do that as a single girl (just be sure the curtains are closed!).
  10. Do nothing. Literally, do nothing. Don’t shower, leave the house, get out of my PJs, etc., for a whole weekend if I want. And there is no one to annoyingly remind me of how nice a day it is outside, or how I really should get some fresh air, or gosh, you are really starting to stink – think you’ll shower today? If I want to stay home and be a total bum, it’s my prerogative.
  11. Things are exactly as I left them. And I mean that to say, I don’t come home to a mess that I didn’t create, or food that has mysteriously disappeared from the fridge. And speaking of food in the fridge, I can buy all the Weight Watchers ice cream sandwiches I want, and not worry about someone eating three of them because one is just not enough, never mind that those tiny portions and low fat vanilla imitation ice cream cost an arm and a leg. They are all mine.
  12. No one to ruin my mood. You know how when you are in a relationship, and sometimes you are in such a good mood, but your boyfriend/girlfriend had a shitty day and they somehow ruin your day too? Not like they meant to, but somehow they brought down your entire mood? Now, I own my moods. Good or bad. And, when I’m in a bad mood, I don’t have to answer someone a million times when they ask what’s wrong, did they do something wrong, what am I thinking? It’s just me, with my crappy mood, all evening long. Eating Weight Watchers ice cream and using absurd amounts of toilet paper.
  13. No one to criticize my driving. I’m a terrible driver. Probably among the worst. However, I can live with myself, and even find it humorous sometimes. I crack myself up sometimes when I jump an obvious curb, and I know how ridiculous it is that I’m a 25 year old woman who doesn’t know how to parallel park. But, I can live with myself, and I don’t have to hear anyone else’s commentary about my driving if I don’t want to.
  14. I can have guy friends again. Not that I was ever forbidden from having guy friends, but sometimes when you are in a relationship, it’s hard to keep guy friends around. Your partner will often think something is going on, even if it’s not, and sometimes guy friends come with awkward situations. Now, I can be friends with whoever I want, and not worry what anyone thinks of it.
  15. Getting to know new people. While there’s definitely something to be said for knowing one person so much that you love them for everything they are and possibly can be, there is this amazing feeling you get when you meet someone new. The initial conversations, learning of their background, laughing, telling stories and connecting with another human being that you weren’t connected with before can be so much fun. For example, last night I literally spent more than four hours on the phone with a guy I just met (the Chef – you’ll hear more about him soon. Our first date is tomorrow. But after four hours on the phone, it almost feels like a second date). You can’t connect in this way with new people with you are in a relationship.
  16. No obligatory sex. You may think this is a weird one to include on the list, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all had sex when we weren’t really in the mood. Your partner is really in the mood. You are absolutely not, had a rough day and are just not feeling it. Maybe you literally “have a headache.” But, you have sex with them. You do it because, well, they asked, and they made dinner last night, maybe tomorrow’s their birthday, and well, you would want them to do it for you too if the tables were turned. A single girl does not need to worry one bit about this conundrum.
  17.  First kisses. There’s nothing like a first kiss. Really, there’s nothing like the first 20 kisses with a new partner (assuming they are a good kisser!). I plan to enjoy these – fully.
  18. No one to answer to. I can go where I want, when I want. I can stay out late, go to bed early, talk on the phone till late in the night, drop by a friend’s house to just say hello and because I don’t have any plans. I can do all these things, and not really report to anyone what time I’ll be home, or if I’ll be seeing them for dinner. While there are times that I wonder if I were to get kidnapped if anyone would notice, I definitely think overall this is a plus to being single.
  19. Crushed velvet purple curtains. Yes, you heard that right. I have crushed velvet purple curtains in my bedroom. And I absolutely love them. No guy in his right mind would want those in his bedroom, but as a single girl I can adorn my space with whatever the hell I want. Including a picture of butterflies above my bed. Because that’s how I roll.

I Have to Wax What? Where?

Body hair…we all have it, but it seems like when women are getting ready for that first date or a special night out body hair is public enemy #1.  Why all the pressure to wax, tweeze and shave?  Since when are women supposed to be hairless on every part of their body?  Especially the parts that aren’t exposed?

I blame magazines like Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, as well as internet pornography.  The images of women are either airbrushed to look like the women have no body hair or the body hair has been ripped out in some form or fashion.  In order to wear some of the clothes, underwear or swimsuits, models often have to remove copious amounts of body hair.  Same for the women appearing in pornographic movies.  Although, to be fair, this happens to guy models and porn stars as well (see Steve Carell below).  I guess if I was going to be paid a lot of money to model, I’d sacrifice my body hair.  However, many women are paying lots of money to have this done even though they aren’t going on the next Swimsuit cover.  This has given both men and women the illusion that women either don’t or shouldn’t have body hair.

So, what’s a girl to do when she thinks she may be exposing any of those hairier body parts?  She makes an appointment for a wax or other type of painful hair removal.  Unfortunately, most women feel the pressure to look similar to the women on magazine covers.  A lot of young women are paying a lot of money for hair removal from their face, legs and even their arms.  They also pay a lot of money to remove hair from other more sensitive areas.  It is very, very painful, yet many women do it because they want to feel accepted.  They don’t want to be rejected by a guy who may be expecting what he has seen on magazine covers and on the internet.

Men also have pressure to wax or remove hair from their bodies as well.  It may not be as much as women but a lot of men feel their chest and especially their back should be free of hair.  If you’ve ever seen the 40 Year Old Virgin, then you’ve seen Steve Carell go through the process of waxing of his chest hair.  You know it isn’t a pretty procedure, yet guys feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted as well.

I obviously preach being yourself.  However, I’m very aware  of the pressures to fit in.  I’m not a big fan of pain, but I know what it is like to want to look good for someone else.   I really think it is up to you how far you want to go when it comes to personal hygiene.  I can’t say that removing all your body hair is wrong.  It may make you feel better about yourself.  If all that pain is really worth it to you, then go for it.  Just know that not all guys think having all your body hair waxed off is sexy.  Just like some women don’t mind a man with a hairy chest.

When it comes down to it, you fall in love with a person…body hair and all.  You may feel like you have to go the extra mile to impress someone at first, but hopefully you don’t have to go to such extreme lengths to keep them.  We are all human.  I think it is unrealistic to expect people to look and be perfect all the time.  It just isn’t possible.  I also don’t think it is healthy to compare yourself to this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models.  Comparisons usually leave people feeling bad about themselves.  Try to focus on all the great things you have to offer and try not to fight fate so much.  It may be worth it to learn to accept parts of yourself, body hair and all, instead of trying to change everything to imitate some unrealistic ideal.   If you want to imitate something, try watching young children just be themselves.  Remember how it was to not be so overly self conscious?  Work to get some of that back, because I think it would be great if we were all a little more like that!!

The Reality of Single Life

I know I’m supposed to say that being single is great.  I even have several inspirational quotes, a couple you may find on this post, for being single.  However, I want to address the reality of being single.  It isn’t always great, but it isn’t always a suck fest either.

The reality is that being single is hard.  For a lot of you, it may not be the place you want to end up in life.   Many of you, if you’re honest with yourselves may even say you are very afraid of being single.  I don’t blame you.  It isn’t easy to be alone at times.  I think it is unrealistic to expect that you will be happy all the time while being single.  I also think it is unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time in a relationship as well.  Life just isn’t meant to be happy all the time.

The truth is, LIFE IS HARD.  In general, life tends to be up and down.  Sometimes you can feel like it is more down than up.  Being single is kind of like that.  Which is why it is good to learn how to live the single life.  Life is full of hard moments.  If you can deal with it on your own, then you will begin to build confidence in yourself and your abilities.  It just may be scary because you’ve never had to be on your own before, especially without your parents supporting you.    I also want to remind you that there are happy times while being single, I’m just saying don’t expect to always feel happy.  You will have times of the day when you don’t mind not having a boyfriend or girlfriend to talk to.  You will learn how to fill your time with other things that make you feel good even being on your own.  You may learn to repeat positive affirmations about being single and be able to believe it for a few minutes or even a few days if you practice!

However, be prepared to sometimes wake up and feel very alone.  Some days you will just feel like crying.  It is also normal to still dream about finding the one who just “gets you” and wants to be with you forever even though you’re choosing to be single at the moment.  You may still walk into Wal-Mart and wonder if you’re going to pass the person of your dreams as you’re walking through the cereal aisle.    It is normal to feel that longing to be with someone.  However, that longing is why people are afraid of being single.  It would be so nice if we didn’t have an urge to be in a relationship until we found someone, but life doesn’t work that way.

It’s hard because you don’t always know what to expect.  Although I’m here to tell you that relationships can be very unpredictable too at times.   It still can be scary to be single and never know what is coming around the next corner.  Sometimes you may have a date and end up spending the night with that person.  It is almost like being in a relationship, except there isn’t a guarantee that will happen again in the future.  Sometimes you may go out on a date or go out with your friends and still come home alone.  You may feel lonely, or you may feel fine.  Depends on how the night went.  Sometimes you may be home all alone or have no one to hang out with, but you find things to do and the loneliness isn’t so bad.  Sometimes you spend the whole night crying because you’ve been texting your ex who continues to ignore you.  Like I said, its up and down, and not knowing when you are going to meet someone right can be very frustrating for a lot of people.  Remember, this will prepare you for those up and down moments of being in a relationship and not having things always go your way either.

I try to encourage students not to be too hard on themselves when they have those down moments, hours, days or weeks.  They happen.  Just remember that they do pass.  Not every moment of every hour of every day will you feel so sad and alone.  Some days you will have to push yourself to be more positive, other days it may be a little easier.  Some days you just have to let yourself have a pity party because no amount of positive thinking is going to work.

I do tell students that the best way to deal with being single is to expect those down times, but try to focus on other things when possible.  Do try to reconnect with your friends.  If you don’t have a lot of close friends, it is never too late to try to make some.  Start a new hobby or find a place to become a volunteer.  It is a great way to get outside of yourself and meet new people.  I also suggest focusing on making someone else happy that day.  It could be a friend or family member or a complete stranger.  A student here at Aurora University is doing just that.  Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December she is going to downtown Chicago to spread a little encouragement to complete strangers.  It has made a huge impact not only on the lives of others, but in her life as well.  Click here to read about her experience.  Those kinds of things can help you get through those lonely moments.

No, being single isn’t always this great happy experience some people want to make it out to be.  However, it doesn’t have to be the worst thing that has ever happened to you either.  Take it in stride, because if you can learn to be on your own even in the rough times, you will find you will be less afraid of losing people.  Which in turn can reduce jealousy and other negative emotions that harm, not help relationships.

Believe in Yourself

As you reach the end of the semester, you can be so stressed that it can be hard to focus on the positive side of life.  If you’ve had a crazy semester, you’re not alone.  Here are some inspirations to get you through finals!  (all images via weheartit)

Facing Rejection

It’s not easy to put yourself out there.  Some people live to meet new people and have no fear going up and starting a conversation with a perfect stranger.  Other people struggle with their fear of rejection.  They are interested in new people around them, but it can be scary to start something with someone new.  Especially if you’ve recently gone through a bad break up or you’ve been single for awhile.

If you have fear, the only way to get over it is to face it.  Outgoing people will tell you they are less worried about how they feel and more concerned with making others feel good.  If your goal is go out and meet new people, try to take your focus off your fear and focus on making just one person you meet smile.  Realize that not everyone you meet is going to be interested in talking to you.  That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or with something you said.  Some people just won’t be in a good mood or be interested in any type of conversation.  Don’t let those people set you back.

Look for people who seem more open or friendly.  Dare yourself to give them a compliment.  Try to learn something from what they are wearing or how they are interacting with others.  Use your observation skills to give you something to start a conversation with.  If you’ve ever noticed, shoes will tell you a lot about a person.  Shoes can give you clues into hobbies someone has or what type of job they do.  Their shoes can tell you if they are more laid back or more stylish with fashion.  Their clothes will also give you other clues as well.  Finally, look at their face and their body language.  Do they gesture or show a lot of expression?  Or do they seem more closed off because their arms or crossed and their face seems blank?

Also, realize that you are giving off vibes as well.  What does your appearance say about you?  Non-verbal cues give off a lot of information to others to let them know if you are more open or closed to being approached.  Are you smiling and interacting with others?  Or are you sitting alone hunched over your drink at the bar?  You don’t have to be super fit and all GQ to get attention.  Your appearance does matter, but how you are projecting yourself to others matters even more.  You want to seem approachable instead of giving off a vibe that says, “Please leave me alone”.

It is okay to be nervous, but try to be aware if you are sending off desperation signals.  Sometimes you can try TOO hard and make the initial approach very awkward.  Remember to think positive and tell yourself positive things to keep your anxiety at bay.  Every person has great qualities, but not all people are aware or acknowledge their positive traits.  Try to focus on those qualities and realize you have a lot to offer other people.  When people get nervous they can focus too much on the negative and think of everything that can go wrong.  Instead, try to stop yourself from going down that path and try to be more positive about yourself and others around you.  Confidence will carry you a long way.

Even if you don’t feel all that confident, you can fake it a little until you get more comfortable initiating conversations.  Practicing will make it easier.  I often tell some of my shyer students to start conversations in less intimidating places.  For example, smile and ask how the gas station attendant’s day is going.  Talk to the cashier at Wal-Mart or the grocery store.  Go to places where you don’t know anyone and take a few risks without too much pressure.  The more you risk facing rejection, the easier it will become.  You will become used to the fact that not everyone responds positively, but that a lot of people will.

The key to remember is that you aren’t trying to make yourself feel better, you are trying to make someone else feel better that day.  Not every person you interact with has soul mate potential or even one night stand potential, but you never know when you may interact with the right person who ends up becoming someone significant in your life.  Just don’t give up and remember that nothing in life worth having is ever easy.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t- you are right”  Henry Ford

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“This time, like all times is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”  Japanese Proverb

Why don’t you love ME??

Are you the person who dates someone, falls in love, only to have that person leave and fall in love with someone else right after they broke up with you?  I was reading another blog post (Live Love Learn Breathe) and I really resonated with what the blogger said in her post.  I’ve quoted her below…

“From my first “real” boyfriend back in 7th grade to the love of my life from college, and all of those in between that I may have crushed on once before (or vice versa), their current status makes me feel that I am a mandatory stepping stone on his way to finding love.  In other words I am not the one for him, but one he must ’experience’ before finding the one who is.  And when he makes her his, I’m left behind with a bruised heart and the never-ending question, What is it about me that he couldn’t love?”  I met a great guy about a year ago.  He was the first great guy I had met in a while.  I thought there was potential, and believed he thought the same.  But as always, I had it all wrong.  He stopped writing; he stopped caring.  I was confused as to what caused this, but learned that he met someone else.  And now, that someone is his fiancée.  In thinking about him, and the connection we had, I cannot help but wonder, why her and not me?”

I can relate to this very well myself, and I know a lot of the students I’ve met with have felt the same way.  It is hard not to question yourself and wonder if there is something you’re doing that makes you unlovable.  The truth is that it’s really hard to find someone you connect with that connects with you in the same way at the same time.  Sometimes, the timing is just off.  Sometimes you meet someone too soon and they aren’t ready for a commitment.  They haven’t grown up yet or they have some unresolved issues that unfortunately resolve themselves after they break up with you.  This has nothing to do with you, but it’s hard not to feel rejected anyway.

Other times, it’s the chemistry.  No matter what you do or how perfect you are, it isn’t going to work.  Chemistry is more than just physical attraction.  It is a complicated dynamic between two people.  You feel the chemistry but for some reason they feel it more with someone else.  This doesn’t mean you are the ugliest, most boring, unintelligent person on the planet.  Like I said, its complicated and some of us don’t have the good luck to find the love of our life the first time around…or even the 5th time around.  However, there is no denying that it really sucks when you break up with  someone and find out a few months later that person found love and it wasn’t with you.

So, you may wonder when your good luck is going to kick in right?  If only we all had crystal balls.  Life would be a lot less stressful.  I look back now and tell myself, “If I knew at 20 I wasn’t going to get married until I was 36, I would have just relaxed and and enjoyed myself.  I wouldn’t have wasted so much time being anxious and sad about being single.”  It is the unknown that is scary, but unfortunately life doesn’t give us clarity and foresight.  We all have to fumble through it.  Just try not to be jealous of the high school sweethearts that are getting married in their early 20’s and having babies before 30.  It happens for some, but not for most.  It may seem like life would be simpler if we could all meet someone when we are still in high school, but those couples have to go through a lot of growing pains together that other couples who meet in their late 20’s or early 30’s don’t have to deal with.  Lets just say I learned a lot of what NOT to do while dating when I was younger.  Not that my relationship now is perfect, but I certainly have improved my communication and relationship skills, and my husband is benefiting from it.

It does hurt to know that someone fell in love, but it just wasn’t with you.  It is hard to be confident and self assured that your time will come.  All I know is that waiting can make you stronger and wiser.  Take this time to learn how to be more independent and confident.  Focus on your friends and family while you still have the time and energy (before you have an all consuming relationship and then later your own family).  Volunteer to help others and engage in hobbies or activities that you really enjoy.  Maybe you’ll end up meeting someone who you really do have an awesome chemistry with.  Focus on school or work and take time for yourself.  If you find there are things you want to improve on, this is the time.  I encourage people to focus on what they can control in the moment.  You may not be able to control having someone fall in love with you, but you can still control  A LOT of things about your life in the meantime.

It is okay to have moments, sometimes days or weeks of sadness.  You may feel lonely at times.  It isn’t fun, but be assured that you can handle it.  This time will pass and eventually you’ll find a great person and hopefully have a great relationship in the future.  Try not to compare yourself to the couples you see on campus all the time.  Trust me, there are a lot of single people walking around you too, all feeling the same way.  You aren’t alone.  And believe me, there really isn’t anything wrong with you!!  Don’t give up on yourself.  Remember, it’s a big world out there and you have plenty of time to find true love.