The Battle to Overcome Rejection

One of the first pieces I ever wrote when I began this writing journey was an ‘Open Letter for When You’re Not Chosen.’ I was grieving hard over a rejection and, in my delirious, over-emotional state, I wrote a letter about how humans are like popcorn- not everyone chooses to snack on them at the cinema, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty. I’m pretty sure I was dreaming that Cobbs would read it and sponsor me with a lifetime supply of Sweet and Salty.  

Even though the feeling of rejection was the catalyst that broke the writing dam, I’ve been incredibly reluctant to openly publish any pieces about it. Unpacking rejection would mean having to talk publicly about the humiliating events leading up to it and admit that yes- I have been rejected.

But I made a promise to be vulnerable and honest on this corner of the internet. If I want this to be a place where people who have gone through hard things can come and feel understood, then I’m going to have to be the first to shed some skin.

So here it goes.

Rejection is an issue I’ve had to wrestle hard with over the last three years. Every time Rejection and I had to face off in the boxing arena, I would always end up slammed and pinned down. In boxing, you have ten seconds to get yourself up before the game is over. For me, it took months before I could even peel my head off the floor.

On its face, it can appear that no two rejections are alike. Some are painful stings that last momentarily and can be quickly soothed. Others begin as an ache that continues to throb and flare up over a long period of time.

I have friends who barely bat an eyelid if a date went badly, but would sob over pints of ice cream when their job application is turned down. Now that we’re in a season where we have to apply for clerkship and grad offers, we hear more about the rejections emails than we do the acceptance calls. In the writing world, I see people mourning the rejection of their book deals and constantly asking for feedback on their pitches. For me, it was the area of romantic rejection that caused the most grief. I’m learning that the area that hurts the most is where we put our worth. As much as we try to conceal it online, everyone goes through rejection.

When you really dig deep, you’ll find that rejection – no matter what area of our life it hits- is actually the same for all of us. In fact, it’s laughable how repetitive it is. The more I experience it, the more I learn that there’s no creativity or innovation in the painful feelings that overwhelm us.  

Rejection is programmed to tell you that you’re not good enough. Like a bad record on repeat, it’ll tell you that you mustn’t be worth a lot. That you were never a worthy contender in the game you’ve made up in your head. Even when we know deep down that we dodged a bullet, Rejection will still slap a label on you declaring ‘Not Chosen.’

The word ‘chosen’ is a constant theme in my life. I have always wanted to be chosen by someone. I wanted to be someone’s first pick in the team of Life instead of always being second best. Plan A instead of Plan B.

 I want to pause and say that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be picked. I know there are people out there tearing themselves apart because they think there’s something hopeless about feeling this way. It’s human nature to want to be seen and known, and yes-chosen. To anyone who thinks there must be something defective in them because they feel this way- stop believing that. There’s nothing wrong with you.

The desire to be picked flared up a couple years ago when I became deeply infatuated with someone I really wanted to call ‘mine.’ I built up the feelings and replayed the fantasies so much in my head that when I found out somebody was already in the picture, I shattered. It literally felt like someone had punched me in the faceand kicked me in the stomach at the same time.

The months after became a full-blown battle between my head and my feelings. I’m talking a Hunger Games Style fight to the death. Every insecurity would swarm into my mind wielding weapons and slicing down every rational, positive thought I tried to have. Unresolved questions such as ‘Why aren’t I chosen?’ or ‘Is it because I’m not good/pretty enough?’ or ‘When will I be picked?’ would pervade my mind and interrupt my sleep at night.

Friends had to nurture me back to life with constant reassuring phone calls and Netflix was a brilliant numbing tool for the pain. Every time it felt like I was making progress, I would be dragged back down again whenever I lurked too hard on social media or witnessed something I didn’t want to see.

Amongst the many helpful conversations I had with my loved ones, the one I remember most happened while I was double fisting burgers. What began as a light-hearted banter between a friend and I, quickly turned into me trying desperately not to become a bawling mess in the crowded restaurant.  

 “It sucks that I’m not chosen,” I said while trying to hold back tears in my eyes.

“Yeah but you have to be the one that chooses them too,” she told me. “Is this person really your first choice?”

I think rejection hurts so much because we believe it’s one sided. We believe that the other party has all the power to either accept or reject us, when actually- we get to play a massive part in the decision-making process as well. It’s one thing to be chosen. It’s another thing entirely to choose them back.

In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t choose any of the people I thought were rejecting me. I eventually discovered that there was a severe mismatch of character. A difference in our life’s calling. An inconsistency with our values. The colour of his eyes and a crooked smile won’t hide the fact that they’re incompatible with your desires and ambitions.

When you make a choice-whether that be your grad job, your literary agent or the person you want to date- you want to be sure that they’re the right fit. Apart from that person’s looks or the reputation of that firm you want to work at, you want to be sure that you’re making a decision that’s good and durable in the long run. Not just in the moment.  

Of course- I didn’t want to hear any of this while I was in the spiral of feeling rejected and lost in self-loathing. I believed that there was someone out there keeping track of all my rejections just to use it against me later. Spoiler alert: No one is keeping score. That’s just you.

One night, when I was in the thick of my heartache and wondering if I’d ever feel peace in this area, I heard a voice say very clearly that ‘the victory will be sweet.’ Some will call this voice my intuition, but I like to think of it as God comforting me that night.

Sure enough, the peace came a few months later.

I had gotten so use to the pain that sat dully on my chest that I felt empty when I noticed it was gone. Then I realised it was because I felt weightless. Now that he and I get to reclaim the title ‘friends,’ I can feel just how euphoric the victory is. Now it’s the hopeful reminder I tell anyone feeling the ache of rejection: the victory will be sweet.

 Where there’s rejection, there’s also redemption. You’re allowed to grieve and throw tantrums at the blow to your ego. You’re allowed to feel sad and angry and wonder when it’ll be your turn to be picked. But above all, know that the point of this life isn’t to be chosen by everybody but to treasure those that do.

Rejection serves a purpose that’s far greater than you know. You may not see it while it’s happening, and you may never get the answers to why it had to happen this way. But one day you’ll be sitting at a job you love or besides somebody who makes you feel like home, and you’ll think to yourself ‘thank goodness I was saved from that other path.’ Hold out for this moment.

Flip the script that tells you you’re rejected. Cling tightly to your values and your worth. Continue to fight against the lies that tell you you’re not worthy. There will be cuts and bruises and it’ll probably be the hardest battle you’ve ever fought. But any fight to reclaim your mind will always be worth it. Know that you are always good enough no matter who picks you to be on their team. Maybe the point of all of this is that you finally learn how to pick yourself.

The irony is that I’ll probably publish this and then cry next week because I feel rejected over something else. This only goes to show that there’s no finish line with this thing. I say that a lot because I always thought that once I conquered a painful emotion, I would never have to deal with it again. Now I know that the pain just increases our capacity to experience all the good feelings too.

For anyone currently going through the ache of a rejection: chin up and eyes forward, babe. The victory will be sweet.

Encouraging you always,

Ash xx

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THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hey you,

I see you lurking and struggling to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

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The Fault In Our Friendships

The following message was re-posted with permission. I get a lot of questions about friendship and finding the right people, and it seems to be a recurring theme in people’s lives. For some reason, friendships only get harder as we get older, so I wanted to post this as a way of letting you know that you aren’t the only one trying to figure it all out.

So I’m currently in a phase of post college working life. And I’m just questioning if my friends are just friends or proximity of actual friends. I love them, but I just don’t feel like they put in the effort to hang out or catch up. I understand we’re all busy cause of full time work and church etc. but I just miss them. When is it time to just let go and invest time elsewhere with people that are willing to invest time back? Or am I just thinking too much into it? I just feel like I don’t have any friends but I do. Are you still close friends if you don’t see or talk to each for weeks/months? I don’t know if this makes sense, but have you ever been in the position of having to reconsider your friendship circle / your inner circle?

I threw myself a birthday party last year.

Since I was overseas for my milestone 21st, I figured I would compensate by throwing a huge party for my 22nd. In reality, I procrastinated so long that by the time my birthday came around, I had no choice but to host a small get together instead.

When I set up the Facebook event and sent out the digital invitations, I was immediately flooded with anxiety over whether anyone would show up. I began to question if I had been a ‘good enough’ friend to others and wondered where I stood with certain people on the guest list.

The next day, I sat across from my counsellor and word-vomited all my angst over the event. Am I worth showing up for? Would my friends still make an effort even if I wasn’t offering a $1000 bar tab and a killer DJ?  

After a solid 20 minutes of me listing all my fears, she finally said “Have you considered that your friends might express their care in different ways?”

“You value showing up for people,” she told me. “It’s clear in the way you speak and the way you endeavour to be there for others. But your friends might express their love differently. They may prefer to send you a gift instead, or they may think that cooking a meal for you is more important than their presence at your party.”

And this mind shift made all the difference.

As a serial overthinker who values words and quality time, it can hurt when others are seemingly not making an effort to be there for me. Thoughts like ‘are they really a good friend?’ and ‘do I bother investing in them?’ can flit through my mind when I’m feeling overlooked or unloved. But I constantly have to remind myself that it’s rarely a reflection of their care for me, and actually a revelation on how they express it.  We’re all unique and that translates over to how we love on each other. I have to trust that, although they aren’t free until June or some ridiculous date, their heart is in the right place. It’s hard not to take it personally, but like every good relationship, the problem can be solved by just knowing how to communicate your needs and wants.

That being said, I also know that friendships go through seasons.

There have been periods of my life where I’ve leaned heavily on one group of friends, only to have Uni, work and other commitments, separate our course. As hard as it is to have people you were once close to, get pulled away, I also think there’s a lot of beauty in it. I’m a big believer that we all serve a purpose in each other’s lives. God always knows who we need and when we need them, and He is faithful in making sure our paths cross.

 There was a girl that I barely used to see. I was lucky if I even got a 5 minute one-on-one conversation with her. But now that we’re both forging new careers for ourselves, we get to spend so much time working together, supporting one another and pushing each other to keep moving forward.

In the same way, I used to see one of my closest friends all the time when we both really needed each other’s support and wisdom. Now that she works full time, I rarely get to see her but I know that it’s a new season for her to invest in her career and form friendships with her new co-workers.

The fact that you don’t get to spend as much time with certain people doesn’t de-value the quality of your friendship. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t friends anymore or it’s time to cut them off. ‘Being close’ to someone isn’t dependent on how often you see them, but on how safe you feel when you’re around them. There are people I see on a weekly basis who will only know what’s happening on the surface level, and there are those I only see yearly who know the words in every chapter of my life.

One of the bittersweet parts of life is that we don’t get to keep the people that come into our lives.

I used to wrap my self-worth around other people and look at the quantity of my friends as a measure of how ‘enough’ I was. But that’s a really dangerous position to be in – especially since we can’t mandate that the friends we love will stay with us forever.  No matter how much we declare that we’re going to be BFFS 4EVA, people get pulled in different directions. They may get married or have kids or move overseas, and we have to let them go. As a result, people leaving used to feel like literal stab wounds and I would take every single one personally.

I’m now learning that every friend I have is a blessing, not an entitlement.

People aren’t possessions that we can hoard and keep in our treasure chest forever.  They aren’t a measure of our worth or made to carry the burden of our expectations.

Now, when people leave, I let them go knowing that while they’ve been a blessing to my life, it’s now time for them to impact somebody else’s.

Then comes the age-old question: When is it time to re-invest in new friends?

In high school, I was friends with a group of girls who were fluent in tearing each other down. Secrets and gossip were basically our second language, and we’d always find a way to undermine each other. I can’t speak for the rest of the members, but I’m sure deep down we would leave each encounter feeling worse about ourselves and with large dents in our self-esteem. I never had the courage to break free until school ended. But if I could do it again, I would tell my younger self that life was too short to hang out with people who don’t know how to uplift and support one another.

The same thing happened in Uni when my values clashed with another friendship group. Although there were days when I would feel euphoric hanging out with them, when conflict inevitably struck and things got hard, I found out where their loyalties really were.

To this day, I still look back at that period of my life and refer to it as ‘the year I had no friends.’ It was heartbreaking and traumatic, but I can also look back and see God’s hand all over that crisis. If I hadn’t lost them, I wouldn’t have found the people who helped shape me into who I am today. Confident. Self-assured. And most importantly, joyful.

There’s a saying that you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. If that’s true, then you’d want to be intentional about who you’re spending time with. I can only speak for myself, but through all those ‘trial and errors,’ I now know that I want the people around me to be encouraging, others-focused and pursuing a great call on their lives.

To the person who sent this to me, and for anyone else questioning whether it’s worth staying friends with certain people- I can’t tell you what to do or who to stay friends with.

I don’t ever want to show up on this page and claim I have all the answers. It was so hard writing this and knowing there were ten different ways I could respond. Relationships are intricately complex and diverse, and I’ll probably write another post in a year’s time with a completely different opinion.

I don’t know where you are right now. Maybe you’re someone who got to stay friends with the same 5 people you’ve know since primary school. Or maybe you’re now trying to pick up the pieces of a broken friendship group and wondering if you’ll ever find people who just ‘get you.’

All I know is that friendship is one of those things that’s worth taking a risk. You need people around you that will remind you to keep going. To push you to be the best version of yourself. To call you out when you’re about to do something shady. Like every other relationship, you’ll act salty towards one another and then make up in the next week. You may inadvertently hurt each other, and someone will leave.

As someone who’s come out on the other side of many toxic friendships, I can still say that it’s worth going through the hurt to find the right people. You may not find them tomorrow. Or even by next week. But gosh, if there’s anything I know it’s that you were not made to do this life alone, and God will always give you the people you need.

Encouraging you always,

Ash xx

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THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

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In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

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So what are you waiting for? Subscribe below and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

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The Truth About Change

Ash Chow the truth about change

I flew home from England this time last year.

I’d completely forgotten about the date until I caught up with my friend Jess last week. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to bring the kindred spirits you meet overseas back home with you, and Jess was one of them.

“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we’ve seen each other,” she said as we sat down. “What’s happened since then?”

A whole flurry of memories from our time abroad rushed through me as she said that. Some were nostalgic memories about the people I’d met, while others were of more traumatic incidents that I’d buried and repressed.

Then came the aftermath.

People who go on exchange or travel for an extended period of time like to joke about never wanting to come home. But for me, it was a hard fact. In the days leading up to my flight, I remember hoping that something would happen so I wouldn’t have to get on the plane. Maybe I could stay here for a few more months, I thought to myself- a sentiment that was destroyed once I checked the state of my bank account.

If I was strikingly honest, I was afraid of coming back home and feeling restricted by people’s judgements and the responsibilities of the real world. Above all, I was afraid of coming back to a place that I believed wouldn’t have good things for me.

And sure enough, once I landed, everything crumbled.

One of my favourite writers likes to label this point of time as the valley. The valley is something we all go through. It’s this rocky, cavernous space in-between each highlight moment that we have to navigate before reaching the top again. You might know it as the low point in your life when depression came back or when things felt stagnant, no matter how much you tried to move. It’s that place where you feel like giving up every two steps and you’re unsure if you’re ever going to see sunlight again. 

Time slows to a crawl when you’re in this emotional pit of despair. All of a sudden you become this fortune teller who only ever predicts crappy things about your future. This person would most likely go out of the fortune telling business in real life, yet when it comes to our lives and our voice, we’re quick to believe the bad things. 

My valley lasted for two whole months. This sounds like nothing in the grand scheme of things, but every day that passed felt as long as a year. All I could feel was anger towards a God that hadn’t pulled through on the promises He’d made, and a devastation that all I was ever going to know was the ache that stemmed from loss and heartbreak.

I’m only able to recount these memories now after looking back at my journals from last year and seeing every page with ‘I’m angry!’ and ‘This sucks!’ scribbled across it. But when I sat across from Jess and thought back to those moments last year, I could only feel a flicker of what used to be intense, fiery emotions.   

All this to say, so much has changed since I landed back in Melbourne a year ago. A lot of the beliefs I held about God not having good things for me are gone, and the things I cried over or worried about are now only distant memories. The worst outcomes that I’d believed for myself never came true, and when I look back on the things or people that hurt me, the only thought that reverberates across my mind is how ‘the victory is sweet.’

“Everything has changed since last year,” I told Jess.

Change.

That word used to be a death sentence to me. Whenever I was in a good place with friends, family and work, I would always pray that everything would stay exactly the same. I was so sensitive to it that on my first day of my 2nd year of Uni, I could actually feel that everything was different and I called a friend that night to cry about nothing being the same. We sold our old house a few months ago and I remember texting everyone that I wasn’t emotionally ready to move out even though our new place was literally 10 minutes down the road.

But a few weeks ago, I got a string of messages from someone going through their own valley season. She’d lost faith, felt forsaken, and was basically quoting lines from my journal right back to me. And turns out, the thing I said that gave her the most comfort was that ‘things change.’

The way things are now is not how they’re going to stay.

This can be an incredibly scary sentence depending on what position you’re in. For some, it can feel like a sense of foreboding that the triumphant mountaintop they’re on now could come crumbling down. But for others, it’s a comforting reminder that things will get better. That the feeling of grief or heartbreak or lost sense of hope, is not going to sit heavy on their chest forever. That they will not have to bunker down and declare their emotional pit of darkness ‘home’ for the rest of their lives.

Regardless of what feeling it evokes, change is inevitable and necessary. We are not meant to stay stagnant. Gosh, what a boring life we would lead if we were allowed to remain as we were. There would be no room for new beginnings or second chances or fresh relationships. There would be nothing to give us momentum or push us forward. We are intricately designed to move and evolve and grow, and funnily enough sometimes growing requires us to go backwards first.

My close friends who know my past like to tell me all the time that I’ve changed. Yet all I can see and feel is that I’m the same mess of a human being I always was. But I think that’s how change manifests itself sometimes. There won’t be a finish line that tells you to stop running, or a banner declaring you’ve made it. Instead, the best, long-lasting, transformative changes happen incrementally over a long period of time. You most likely won’t see all the ways you’re growing when you’re in the thick of your mess, but rest assured it’s happening.

So, at every point you feel defeated, remember to hold onto this- things change.

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Observations of Loneliness

When people find out that I write weekly on the internet, they inevitably ask where I get my inspiration from. If I’m honest, there’s 22 years’ worth of stories backed up in my mind, but sometimes the words don’t want to come out. This sounds strange for someone who’s literal job is to produce words on paper, but I have to respect that some stories are living entities that don’t want to be born before their time.

At times like this, I like to turn to my friends and ask what struggles they want me to write about. Because I don’t want this page to be about me. I may be drawing from my own experiences as a springboard, but it’s never been about me. At its simplest, I want this to be a place where people who’ve gone through hard things can come and feel understood.

And so, when it came time to find a topic last Wednesday, I asked a friend what she needed to hear.

“Write about loneliness,” she told me.

And I hesitated.

Loneliness is a subject I knew I’d have to open up about, but I didn’t feel like I could unpack such a weighty topic with the finesse or justice it deserved. So I copped out last week and re-posted something else. But since then, a lot of lonely hearts have been reaching out to me and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t delay this post any further. I’m learning that while there are some things that benefit from us sitting and waiting, there are others that we need to have the courage to speak up about- even when the words aren’t pretty.

So for the lonely ones, this post is for you.

***

I haven’t felt lonely in a long time.

I say that because there was once a time where all I felt was lonely. I was straight up dripping in loneliness. I couldn’t tell you what joy or excitement was, because all I had was years of heaviness and isolation wrapped around my bones. Loneliness would be there to greet me in the morning when I opened my eyes. And it would crawl into my bed every night like an unwanted visitor. I would go about my days with an achy, gaping hole in my heart wishing for something or someone to fill it, and I would despair that my whole life would be tainted with this longing.

Being able to write ‘I haven’t felt lonely in a long time,’ is a hopeful reminder that it passes. For someone who once thought that I would literally bleed out loneliness, this sentence is a reminder that it doesn’t sit on your chest forever. Like the majority of other emotions, it’s transient. Although it may feel like days, months, or god forbid, years, before it finally dissipates- it always does.

If you’re in the depths of a lonely period now, then that sentence likely won’t do anything for you. Loved ones have probably said it to you so many times now that it no longer has any soothing effect. It’s become as tired as a cliché. But the thing with clichés is that people wouldn’t repeat it unless it was true.

At its surface, I find loneliness is triggered when I notice it’s been a while since anybody’s checked in to say ‘hey’ or ‘how are you?’ Or when it feels like everyone in the world is having fun without me. My gut reaction is to wonder what’s wrong with me? What fatal flaw do I have that pushes people away or makes me not worth missing?

Now that I’m on the other side, I know that it’s rarely a ‘me’ thing. 80% of the time, people are likely too caught up in their own lives to think about reaching out. Although I don’t doubt that the intention and love is there, the execution can be lost. As easy as it is to turn inwards and nit-pick at our flaws, the truth is that we’re living in a world with other unique humans. Some people may express their love in different ways while others struggle to be the first to initiate a catch up. A lot of my friends have to recharge on their own before they have the energy to invest in others.  People not reaching out probably has nothing to do with you. Often, it’s a prompting to set an example and be the invitation.

Yet I also know that loneliness isn’t just about who’s messaging you every day. You can feel the ache of loneliness when you’re alone and wonder if you’ll meet anyone who fits you. Or you can feel the hollowness when you’re surrounded by people who don’t really know who you are.

When I’m brave enough to sit down with my loneliness and really look it in the eye, I find that it hits when I don’t feel seen and known. When I feel like I’ve been overlooked. Loneliness floods in when I feel misunderstood or like nobody ‘gets me.’ At our core, I think that’s what we’re all craving. We just want a tangible reminder that we’re not forgotten. That we’re seen and known in our entirety and every part of us is loved.

But babe, to be seen and known is to let other people in. There’s a tendency in us to want to come off as Neyo’s Miss Independent. We want the world to know what we’re killing it on our own and we don’t need no man, friend or missus.

But if I were to ask you to be really honest with me- like, gun-to- your-head-tell-me-the-truth-type-of-honest- I bet you’d tell me that you’re keeping people at a distance because you don’t want them knowing about the dark spots in your life. The things that cause you shame.  The opinions you don’t want to air. But if loneliness is here to teach you anything, it’s that you need people.

It’s coded into our DNA to love and lean on people. We were made to relate to others and to hear the words ‘me too,’ when we open up about the scary parts of our lives. Don’t brush off your desire for companionship or write it off as weak. Being open about needing people is the most courageous thing you can do. So tell the ones you love about the things that makes your heart ache, the things that keep you up at night or the wounds you’ve kept hidden. There are people who are just dying to understand everything about you, if only you just give them the chance. For so long I’ve thought that a lot of my past was too shameful to let anyone know. But all of us are just looking for someone to connect with. Loneliness dissipates when you begin to let others in to your dark spots.

The danger comes when you rely too much on people. Your loneliness reveals the things you’re relying on to plug up the holes in your life and be your saviour. To be lonely is to feel endless waves of hurt and angst, and it’s tempting to seek solace in someone else’s arms or the Disney movies on Stan. But there comes a point where you have to really ask yourself if you’re just using other people to distract you from the discomfort in your life?

A few years ago, when loneliness was all I felt, I would claw at anything and anyone just to avoid acknowledging the gaping hole in my heart. I would message people I had no business messaging and start conversations so I would feel a little less lonely. There was once someone I clung onto so hard because I didn’t want to have to sit with my own thoughts. Even though I knew I had to let him go, I would always reach back out again when it got too hard. In the game of push and pull, I would always be the winner.

I think we’ve all been guilty of clinging onto people who have long outgrown their storyline in our lives because we don’t want to deal with the aftermath of loneliness when they leave. But we run the risk of turning people into collateral damage when we do so. More often than not, those relationships end up disintegrating and two hearts inadvertently get hurt. This idea of collateral damage is a whole other post for a whole other Wednesday. But for now, I try my hardest to check myself and make sure I don’t play with people’s emotions as a distraction.

You can ask people to sit in the mess with you for a while. You can try your best to describe what it feels like to hurt on the inside, all whole knowing that your words will barely scratch the surface of what it feels like to ache with loneliness. But you can’t place people on a pedestal and ask them to rescue you.

Loved ones would tell me that I had to really be comfortable with who I was alone before I could ever invite someone else to be a part of my life. And I would hate that. Like really hate that. I’d have to resist the urge to throw something at the person who said that to me. Because I wasn’t a stranger to being alone. I’m the self-proclaimed Queen of losing people and having to pick up the pieces by myself.

But it’s one thing to squirm through the whole lonely period while clawing at others to distract you. It’s another thing entirely to be able to sit with the discomfort and find its purpose.

When I sit down with others and tell them about the dark period in my life, they inevitably say that they would never have imagined I was lonely because I was always surrounded by friends. All to say, that no one is immune from loneliness. There’s no vaccination you can take. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising and setting. It comes and it goes.

Loneliness will strike me again at any time. It may come as soon as I stop writing this and watch other people have fun without me on social media. Or it may lay dormant for a while only to come raging back in full force on Feb 14th. Loneliness can feel like a pit in our stomach even when we’re with lots of people. Or it may feel cold and hollow when you sit across from someone and feel like they don’t really know who you are.

Something beautiful happens in your loneliness though. It’s something you’ll only be able to see once you’re past all the heaviness and angst, but rest assured it’s there. Loneliness is what it means to be human. It’s up there along with love and joy. As much as you’ve always wanted to fast forward through the achy breaky parts in your life, loneliness is there to widen your capacity for love. It breeds in you a deep compassion, astounding empathy for the hurting ones and an appreciation for who you are when you’re on your own.

Know anyone that feels lonely? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

Gems written just for you:

Brick by Brick: Thoughts on Building Community

If you’d asked me two years ago about finding community, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you.

To me, ‘community’ was a buzz word you used to tempt people into moving to a retirement home. 

To know my story is to know that I used to be part of friendship groups with girls who didn’t have each other’s best interests at heart. I thought that the type of people who had your back during the highs and lows of life, only existed within the pages of books and on the screens of sitcoms. I remember laying on a friend’s couch one night watching Carrie Bradshaw rotate through men and shoes and handbags. But never her friends.  “Do people really stay so close for that long?” I asked my friend. “Nope,” she said while stuffing more chips in her mouth. “Only in movies.”   

 Worn out by disingenuous motives and people that chipped away at my self-esteem, I clung onto wounds from the past and built walls to barricade others from getting too close to me. At a housewarming, while some were huddled together having intimate conversations, I stuck close to the booming music and ducked out of conversations that threatened to go beyond “how are you?” Although I craved a deeper connection, I didn’t have the energy to open myself up to others only to be disappointed again.  After all, what what the point of meeting him, or her, or anyone, if they were just going to ditch when the going got tough.  

Sometimes, I wish the lessons we needed to learn came in the form of handwritten letters tucked inside envelopes, titled Lesson 0.15: How to Make Friends That Last.  It would come every month alongside our phone bill, and we’d all be inspired to be better humans. I’m still negotiating with God over this. 

My lesson came in the form of a misunderstanding, severe lack of communication, and people who were desperate to avoid discomfort. It came in the form of  hitting rock bottom, a divine intervention, and then, finally, a clean slate. 

Someone I now call a true friend, dragged me through the doors of a place that promised love, welcoming, and belonging. But I still clung onto my old attitude like an old, worn out cardigan with shrunken sleeves that I couldn’t bear to throw away. Week after week, I would sit on the sidelines as a blurred face in the crowd, make brief small talk with the people next to me, and then speed home straight after the event. 

If God were to write me a letter, I imagine mine would read something like this: 

Girl, throw out the damn cardigan. 

It’s easy to wait for people to approach you first and get salty when they fail to notice you. It’s easy to stick to superficial conversations and wonder why nobody knows who you really are. It takes a certain type of boldness to  step out of the boat and go deeper with a few. 

His lesson is clear. If I really wanted something different- if I wanted to feel seen and known and loved by a group of genuine people I could one day call community, I’d have to be the first to suck it up and do the heavy lifting. 

I know nothing about building houses, carpentry or cementing. I once convinced myself I could build a life with a tradie, only to quickly realise that was not my destiny. But I imagine any type of building starts off small, with the repetitive laying down of one brick after another until you’ve constructed yourself a solid, sturdy house. 

Building a community from the ground up is the same. You roll up your sleeves and lay out the groundwork by asking people out with the intention of doing life with them. Most people will eagerly accept. Others just happen to lead busier lives. There are no guarantees the work will be easy. Not everyone will be as welcoming as you hope. But often, difficult people are placed in our lives to help us appreciate the ones who are warm and make you feel included. 

If a deeper connection is what you’re craving, then you’re going to have to be the first to show some skin. When the obligatory small talk is over, dive for the deeper stuff. Ask “how are you” and then say “No, really. How are you?” when they give you a vague, generic answer. Be open and honest about the fact that you don’t have your life together, and provide a no-judgement zone when others tell you the same. In a world where everyone is desperate to show off the highlights, your vulnerability is refreshing and invites the other person to open up about their secret struggle too. Someone once told me they felt safe confiding in me about their burdens and I nearly cried. In its simplest form, I think that’s what community is: a group of imperfect humans providing a safe space to share about their imperfect lives. 

Done well, your tribe will be made up of cheerleaders, world-shakers and shoulders to cry on. It’ll involve people who let you share difficult truths over pancakes and maple syrup, and friends who write you love letters when you’re feeling unlovable. It’s 2 am calls when anxiety is keeping one of you awake and driving for 50 minutes to their home because somebody has to put in the effort. Your community will be made up of people who bake the cakes and buy the flowers. Some will cook you dinners after you give them lifts, and others will open up their couch to you after a hard day. Ever brick you’ve ever stacked in love will come together to build you up. They’ll show up for you, and you’ll show up for them. 

I thought about all this recently when a friend told me about life at her new church. “I’m pretty sure only about two people like me there,” she said in a passing comment. 

After I got in my car, I wish I’d told her that it takes time. That nothing worthwhile was ever created by just showing up once. Whatever you seek to build will require commitment and a promise that you’ll keep working at it. To neglect this process would lead to a flimsy shelter that would barely survive a drizzle of rain, let alone the storms of life. 

Community isn’t built in a day. It’s showing up when things are messy. It’s the first to be vulnerable and the extending of an invitation. It’s shaking off your perfect facade and getting knee deep in the muddy trenches with one another. It’s tears, being honest, having fights and making up. It’s a combination of hello’s, goodbye’s and I’ll see you soon’s.

Community is not sitting on the sidelines with a wish to be picked. It’s stepping up to the plate, putting skin in the game and saying, ‘hey you, there’s no guarantee this will work, but I want to try this friendship thing  anyway.’  Its picking up and laying down one brick after the other in the form of coffee dates, house visits, and showing up for people till you’ve built a solid fortress that will be there to pick you up when life gets heavy. 

I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you’ve finally found yourself a solid tribe or maybe you’re picking up the pieces of a broken one and wondering if you have the energy to start all over again. If you’ve ever needed a letter to show up for you, let this be it:

Life isn’t meant to be done alone.

You’ll find your people.

Commit to the long haul.

Show up for one another.

Stack the bricks. 

 

When the fresh start to the week has worn off, but the weekend still feels ages away, you end up with humpday. This dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed.

 Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti* and encouragement to make humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti* and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

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