spoiler alert: you’re not a big deal.

And here we are, making it all about us. Time and time again, without fail. It’s just so easy. But what if we stopped doing all of that? Because spoiler alert: you’re not a big deal.

For some reason, we have to make sure we leave all the baggage, put on a mask and pretend like we have it all together. We have to dress a certain way, post the best picture out of the hundred we have taken and let everyone know where we’ve been and who we’ve been with. I mean, did you really go to Bondi if you didn’t post a picture of the Bondi Icebergs? #DoItForTheGram.

Real talk though. I do all of these things and more. One thing that I constantly tell myself is: “I don’t care what other people think”. But the funny part is that the one thing I know I tell myself, but don’t really mean is: “I don’t care what other people think”.

Yep, I’m a full-time people pleaser. To see perfectly curated social media feeds. To compare one lifestyle to the next. It’s no longer just a quick filter or photoshop, it’s “lifeshop”. We pick and choose the best parts and conveniently (intentionally) skip all of the heartache, the pain, and the daily struggles.

But why? To achieve what? To be happy, or to appear happy? 

For some reason, we often think we are a big deal (guilty)! But spoiler alert: you’re not. You matter, yes. I’m not trying to tell you that you don’t. But sometimes we need to be reminded that the world doesn’t, in fact, revolve around us.

We can get so big-headed and forget that there are other people struggling too. Other people that also matter. This world is so huge and I often forget how small I really am. It takes a whole lot of perspective, with a sprinkle of humbleness to really grasp it. You are no greater than any other individual. Likewise, your worth is no less. 

So here’s my question. What if?

What if we treated each other as if we were equals? Seeing anyone and everyone we came in contact with as a human. Race, gender, religion, sexuality, personal history, job, income – all of the nitty gritty things aside – human.

What if we acted as silhouettes, stripping away the facade? What if we were raw and authentic? Imagine what the world would be like if we were all genuinely ourselves? We would see each other’s mess and not only accept it, but empathise, because we would know that other people are going through a difficult time, too.

What if we didn’t judge people we had never met, let alone friends, through our screens? What if we stopped using social media as a grading system; as a way to measure up to other people? What if we acknowledged and appreciated each other’s flaws, rather than criticise them?

What if we stripped it all away and uplifted, encouraged and empowered one another? What if we stopped picturing brokenness as a sign of weakness, but rather that of strength and perseverance?

Ha, what if.

Keep smiling. x

6 Things You Need to Stop Doing Once You’re Twenty.

In a few months, I turn twenty-one. While that is incredibly exciting, in the last year I have realised that this decade of life – your twenties – are, simply put, when everything changes. It is inevitably when life is going to throw you the biggest curveballs of all. Even though I have only really begun my journey into my twenties, I have made a pact with myself to try and change a few things about my thinking and behaviour. So, here are the six things I believe you need to stop doing once you are twenty.

1. Stop being a door mat.
Once you leave school, it’s different. It’s not rocket science – more time and effort has to go into maintaining the friendships you had growing up. Make time for your friends, but don’t forget that it goes both ways. All relationships work better when equal amounts of effort is put in by everyone involved. Some friendships are going to drift and you will feel one of two things: numbness or pain. If it is painful, it mattered. We are taught to stand up for ourselves and not let others use you. You’re not a door mat. Welcome people in to your life, but don’t let those people stand there and wipe their feet clean as they walk all over you. Be a kind person, but don’t let others take that for granted. You deserve friends that treat you right. Don’t you dare settle for less than you deserve.

2. Stop saying yes.
As you get older, you naturally accept more responsibility. Responsibility is great – it not only allows you to show others that you are mature and organised, but you learn how to prioritise and manage your time efficiently. However, don’t forget that you are also allowed to say ‘no’ every once in a while. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t take on so much responsibility that you are no longer passionate or enthusiastic about a certain cause. At the end of the day, those two things are exactly what drives your motivation to do well at something. If you are lacking both passion and enthusiasm, you will find that your performance will gradually decline. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to people. If someone asks you to help them out or take on a particular role, spend some time really considering it, especially if it is a weighty decision. Often if someone knows that you are a ‘yes’ person, they will use you as their go-to person. While you should not feel obliged to always say yes, it doesn’t mean you should stop altogether.

3. Stop saying no.
If you say ‘no’ too frequently, the amount of opportunities that have the potential to come your way will diminish – and it will happen fast. If you close yourself off, then you will never gain that extra bit of experience that could point you in the right direction. Don’t be scared of stepping outside of the confines of your comfort zone. Often, that is where the magic happens. It can be terrifying, don’t get me wrong, but you will always end up better for it on the other end. Whether you have learnt something new or acquired a new skill or maybe even had the opportunity to share your talents with others, you will find that you have also had the chance to grow as well. Sometimes you will get lucky and something new will land in your lap because of a person you have met or something you have done in the past. However, this typically doesn’t always happen, so you need to be open to trying new things. You may be adamant that your internship application will just be a speck in the hundreds of others that apply, but what have you got to lose? Show them you are passionate. Show them you are different from the rest and ready to tackle new challenges head on. Don’t wait for opportunities to find you, actively seek them instead. Patience can only get you so far, but eagerness and a curious mind will always lead you to open doors.

4. Stop waiting for your family to ring you.
Make a conscious decision that once or twice a week you will take five minutes out of your day to ring your family. Whether that is a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin – make it a priority. About a year or two ago,  I realised that I was constantly leaving it up to both my grandmother’s to ring and check up on me. I quickly decided that I wanted this to change. The relationship you have with your family is something so special and I was taking it for granted. Now, I make a conscious effort to ring them both at least once every week or two, depending on how busy my schedule is and what time I get home from Uni or work. Every time I end the phone call or give them a hug goodbye after seeing them, I now make sure I say, ‘love you!’ While this shouldn’t be some crazy, new phenomenon – for some reason it often feels natural to tell our partner that we love them every day, but when it comes to family, we ignore the simple ‘I love you’. Why do we find it so awkward to speak words of affirmation to our family? You don’t want it to be too late and have any regrets, so stop waiting for your family to ring you. Everyone gets busy and fitting in time to have a decent conversation can be difficult, but these relationships are incredibly special and you don’t want to lose that, because you’ll need them more than ever. Never underestimate the importance of a quick phone call or the importance of an ‘I love you’.

5. Stop worrying about what others think of you.
You know what they say – us ‘Millennials’ are experiencing the most severe identity crisis of all. Due to the emergence of social media within the last two decades, it’s pretty damn hard to argue against that. We constantly compare ourselves with the lives of those we may or may not know that appear on our screens. We pick and choose the parts of our lives that we showcase to others and we get so caught up on following the latest trends. We are growing up more socially awkward than ever, because we aren’t used to holding conversations that are not requiring us to only move our fingers and thumbs. We have become one of the most narcissistic generations in history – spending our own time (and sometimes money) trying to acquire people to be interested more in our lives rather than their own. Welcome to 2017! Placing your worth in the values that society has created will do nothing but feed the voices telling you that you will never be enough. If you keep seeking validation from people or things that don’t have the right to be dictating the way you live your life, then you will never be happy. You will find yourself temporarily happy until someone else tells you there is ‘just one more thing’ you can do or change to be even happier – it’s a never-ending cycle. Stop constantly trying to please other people rather than doing things for yourself.

6. Stop thinking you have to ‘do life’ a certain way.
It’s not hard to see why we are so easily falling into the trap of an identity crisis. Individuals asking themselves why their lives don’t quite match up to where it’s “supposed to be”. For starters – that’s a load of poo. The values and ideals that society creates to be ‘normal’ is not reality, but rather an augmented version of it that is unattainable. Stop comparing yourself to where others are in life – whether they are financially stable, have moved out of home, are in a relationship, have an amazing new job, or ha, just have a job. It is completely normal to freak the heck out when you reach your twenties! You not only have a slight existential crisis, but suddenly you realise that oh, this is where it gets real. Society tells you that in the next ten years you should basically have checked graduating, getting your first real job, finding a lifelong partner, moving out of home, potentially moving to another job, getting married, travelling and having kids, off the list. Sounds ideal, right? But who says this is the way it has to go? Set goals and have dreams that you aspire to achieve, but don’t freak out if it’s not all happening the way you planned – because, spoiler alert: it probably won’t.

While I am only skirting around the borders of turning twenty-one, I still have so much to learn when it comes to growing up. All I can say is, every year brings more opportunities to do just that and I will continue to use what I already know to help me become the best version of myself as I work through my twenties. So, to all my twenty-something year old friends out there, this one is for you. Let’s do this crazy decade together.

Keep smiling. x

5 things I wish I knew before leaving school

I witnessed my sister heading off to her Year 12 Formal the other day and I felt so incredibly proud. The beginning of the end to a long thirteen years of schooling and turning the page to a new chapter post-HSC exams. I came home from work the night of Aimee’s last exam and she was glowing. The freedom she had only been waiting forward to was now a reality. I hugged her, welcoming her to this new and exciting journey. I explained to her that while she may feel like a huge burden had been lifted off her shoulders, it is not all cruisy from here. Life throws lots of curveballs and you need to be prepared to face them head on, instead of let them overpower you. 

Later that night, I laid in bed thinking how that was me two years ago and how much has changed in that short period of time. I reminisced about the challenges that I faced as I completed my exams and my personal experiences of that taste of ‘freedom’ that followed. I quickly wrote down a few things that I wish I had known when I waved school goodbye, with the intention of sharing these pieces of advice with my sister.

1. Be open minded. 
You’ll meet new people with different values and morals to you. Don’t let that dishearten you, but rather listen to their perspectives, explore new avenues and deepen your own understanding. Don’t be stubborn and close-minded. Always be willing to learn and grow. Knowledge is power. Stand up for what you believe in, but don’t shut down others for their beliefs. 

2. Embrace challenges. Acknowledge that things won’t be easy, but when difficulties arise, take those moments to pause and evaluate the situation from multiple directions. Sometimes we limit ourselves to the things we want to see and are oblivious to the things we should or need to be focusing on. Your attitude and perspective changes everything, so adjust them accordingly.

3. Find your passion and run with that. Do something that you love, but also try new things – you may love something that you don’t even know yet! The first step is finding something that you love, but the most important thing is believing in that. Never be scared to step outside your comfort zone. Often, you will find that you will make new experiences, meet new people and have the opportunity to reveal your hidden talents when you take a risk and try something different. 


4. Make time for your friends. It is different after school, because you have to put time and effort into maintaining your friendships. You grow up with these people and you learn from each other. These relationships are important and you will find that once you go your separate ways, it is much more difficult to hold on to those special bonds you have created. All relationships work better when equal amounts of effort is put in by everyone involved.


5. Remember that you are Loved. You will quickly realise that this world is messed up. There are so many things going on, not only on a global scale, but even within our local surroundings. It is okay to feel overwhelmed by all of these things, but also remember to have faith that there is something much bigger and greater than all of these materialistic and temporary things. In a world full of chaos, let this reminder bring you peace. 

Growing up is an exciting, but scary and fun, yet challenging experience. I have realised in the last two years, that I have already grown and matured so much. But more importantly, I have realised that this growing and maturing never stops.

Keep smiling. x

happiness.

Warning: personal post! Yes, it’s about relationships and you are probably wondering why I am writing and posting something so personal to me. The reason? I want to be real. And I know that with being real, comes vulnerability and honestly, I am scared – so please be nice. I have wanted to post this for a while, but I have never known if it is right or if it will actually help someone. I want to show anyone that may be reading this that relationships – whether it be with a friend, a significant other or a family member – ALL come with road bumps. I want to encourage you to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation in its entirety, not just from your perspective. So here goes…

It has taken me almost six years to realise that my happiness should not be hindered by the words or actions of other people. It also should not be wholly dependent on someone else, regardless of how close they are to you. It’s not worth it, trust me. I did just that for almost four years. My first relationship began when I was fifteen and lasted three and half years with a four-month break somewhere in the second half. To say it was easy would be a lie. We may have dated a long time, but it was the fact that I had made him the biggest part of my life that was the problem. He was number one and over everything else in my life, he came first. As sweet and lovely as that sounds, it’s not. Putting other people on a pedestal is dangerous and opens up a lot of space to get hurt. 

It has been almost a year since that relationship ended and holy heck, those following months were the hardest, most painful months I have experienced so far. In hindsight though, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt that a relationship works two ways and you both need to be putting in equal effort. I have learnt that being completely open, honest and real with one another is crucial to communicating how you are feeling. I have learnt that other people don’t define your worth and that there are people out there who love reminding you that you are beautiful, special and valued. I have realised that for all that time, I had been putting the wrong thing first. God needed to be first in my life and I had my priorities out of line for way too long. It is so incredibly important to not put worldly things on a pedestal. Love them, love it, love whatever the thing is that is so special to you – but never, ever put it before God.

I guess as cliche as it sounds, you not only learn how to become stronger through heartache, but you also learn that life goes on – and that is exactly what happened. Life went on and I have moved on with a whole new perspective toward all forms of relationships regardless of who they are with. 

Right now, as I sit here finishing off this post, I can confidently say that it has not been easy getting to this point, but I am so incredibly grateful and genuinely happy. So take it from me: your happiness is just that – yours. Avoid letting other people completely influence how you are feeling. If you are upset, be upset. If you are feeling on top of the world, then share that positive energy with those around you. But no matter what, you should never have to justify the way you are feeling to anyone (been there, done that and *yawn* waste of time). Just do you!


Keep smiling. x

Ten things I hate about you.

Yes, this is a rant post. But it’s not your usual rant. It’s a rant about me, to me. The other day my best friend asked me that wonderful question, ‘if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?’ But of course, rather than just making myself feel a small portion of self-loathe, I used up all the fingers I have to list a whopping ten. So no, this isn’t a juicy rant about an old friend or even a movie review (how good is that movie though!?). Instead this is a reflection about those ten things that I want to change about myself.

I strive for relatable content and each of my blog posts are one-hundred percent honest. A lot of the things I am going to share are very personal and with that comes vulnerability, so please, be nice. Before I start, I want to make it clear that the last thing I want this post to become is a sympathy call or a way for me to fish for compliments. I am sharing this, because I feel like self-loathing is, unfortunately, something natural that we all do on a regular basis, whether it is intentional or not. No matter how hard we try, it is incredibly difficult to be completely happy with ourselves – our appearance, behaviour or personality. For me, it’s a mixture of all three.

  1. Comparing. I compare myself to others all the time, it’s actually ridiculous. I know how unhealthy it is, but there are days where I will just come across a picture of a flawless woman or walk through a shopping centre and see a girl with the perfect style, beautiful hair and not a pimple in sight and automatically feel less happy with my appearance. 
  2. Impatience. Crying children, people taking too long to tell their story (which to be honest, I probably do way too often myself), waiting in queues . . . yeeeah, no thank you! 
  3. Forgiveness. I hold grudges. If someone took advantage of my trust or did or said something that hurt me in some way, I find it difficult to just forgive and forget. Moving on from situations, no matter how big or small, is something I struggle with. 
  4. Temper. I get frustrated very easily. If I have already mentioned to my Mum what days I am working during the week or what my plans are for the weekend, and then a few days later she asks me to remind her, I get annoyed and fail to recognise that I have lost my temper at something so insignificant. That said, I am never angry for very long – it really only takes a puppy, a shower or a Tim-Tam and I’m set! 
  5. Head to toe. I told you this was a personal post, so get ready for TMI (apologies in advance), but as most people, there are things I would love to change about my appearance. With a European background, I naturally have darker and thicker hair than most people, which is all well and good as I doubt I will ever go bald, BUT hairy arms, a snail trail and a girl-stache aren’t generally that attractive. I also hate my feet (actually, I just hate feet in general) and am in a love-hate relationship with what have remained my ‘bee stings’ since Year 7 (girls, this one’s for you). 
  6. People pleaser. Although I claim that I don’t, I care too much about what other people think of me. If people aren’t sitting right with me, then I’ll let them know and even if they are the ones in the wrong, I will still put in my own time and effort to try and fix the problem. 
  7. Organised. I like being organised, which is usually a good thing. If a plan hasn’t been sorted or if there is an issue that needs to be resolved I will do all I can to get it done, but this can sometimes come across as being bossy. 
  8. Easily distracted. I am great at the whole ‘talking’ thing, but unfortunately I am a terrible listener. I try really hard, but I get distracted incredibly easily. I need to be completely focused and in the right frame of mind, otherwise I can almost guarantee that you don’t have my full attention. 
  9. Stubborn. I stand up for what I believe in and I like to think that I am open-minded. However, when I get passionate about a topic, particularly in conversations with my parents, I will go out of my way to get my point across and in some cases disagree just to prevent giving in or avoid admitting that I am wrong.
  10. Delegation. This goes with being organised. I hate telling people what to do – I get awkward and it feels uncomfortable, so instead I just do it all on my own. I get bogged down with a lot of tasks, but in my head it’s easier to do it yourself and know the exact process of how it’s being completed. That way there are minimal mistakes and there is no one else to blame but yourself. It all sounds like a perfect plan to begin with, but I have realised that although being a leader of a team requires a lot of effort, your team members are there to be given jobs. My job is to delegate and not doing that means I am not only giving myself more work, but not actually doing my job properly. 

After I finally took a breath and finished recalling the endless things I wish I could change about myself to my friend, the look on his face said it all. He looked at me so upset and when I asked him what was wrong, he simply said that he wondered how I could list to him all these things I didn’t like so effortlessly. It got me thinking, we so often focus on the things we would love to change about ourselves, whether it be physical or not, but rarely are we able to so easily list the traits we love

The thing that I have learnt from this is although self-loathing, to an extent, is almost a natural process, it is unhealthy. Why do we find it easier to hate than to love? Why is it easier to pick out our imperfections, rather than be content with the fact that no one else is flawless either? I am not saying to simply ignore these things, but if there are traits or habits that can be changed, like impatience or constantly comparing yourself to others, then make it a goal to do something about it!

In order to show love to others, you must first love yourself. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with this, so I encourage anyone else to join me in writing down a few things you don’t like about yourself on a piece of paper and then go outside with a lighter, some matches or a lit candle and burn that bad boy up, because the negativity and the self-loathing stops here. You are so much more than those words on that paper. Your value and worth lies beyond that. Focus on the things that make you beautiful, caring, funny, loving, loyal, strong, trustworthy – the things that make you, ‘you’. We live in a pretty messed up world. Don’t waste your time trying to achieve the unattainable standards that society sets for us. Learn to love yourself for who you are and always strive to be the best version of you that you can possibly be. Who’s with me?

Keep smiling. x

win/win

“Granddad, who is God? Where is He?”
“God sits in a house, a massive house, far beyond our imagination. This house has an infinite number of windows…infinite means that when you think they are finished, there’s always another one and then another one again. Each person on Earth looks through a different window, seeing God in a slightly different way from a slightly different angle, but they all look at God.”

I am scared of three things: spiders, heights and the ocean. But my biggest fear is making it to Heaven and finding out that the people I love haven’t made it. I think the thing that scares me the most about that is the fact that I could have changed that; that I had the potential to change their mind, to influence them and to show them how much God loves them.

One of the most attractive and admirable qualities of a person, I believe, is being open-minded. Religion can be a difficult topic. Everyone has an opinion and it is how others react to these opinions that possess many positive and negative connotations. This year I started my first year of Uni and working part-time. These new environments have allowed me to surround myself with new experiences in which I have been given opportunities to have conversations with work colleagues or other Uni students about religion. When people ask you questions about what you believe it’s terrifying, but it is also exciting at the same time. It’s terrifying because you feel a sense of vulnerability – your defenses are down and you are sharing a part of you with someone else and naturally, that can create space for potential prejudice. However, sharing your ideas, thoughts, opinions and beliefs with other people can be exciting because you have the opportunity to challenge others to be open-minded and not take their opinions as the be-all and end-all.

For me, believing in God is an obvious choice. When you think about it, realistically it’s a win/win decision. In the end, if it all pans out and God and Heaven is for real, then we get eternal life! And if it turns out that it wasn’t all what is was talked up to be, then what do we lose? Nothing. I don’t know about you, but I know what I’m choosing.

Keep smiling. x

What does your faith look like?

Earlier this year I was at Hillsong for an annual women’s conference called Colour. Simply put: three days of an intense spiritual high in a room full of oestregen. One of my favourite things about Hillsong would have to be their passion when it comes to worship through music. There are literally thousands of women packed in the one room, all singing to the same God. It is the most incredible feeling being surrounded by so many others who share the same belief as you. But that isn’t what made me tear up while singing.
As the musicians were up on stage, beautiful music and voices filled the auditorium with women standing everywhere with their eyes shut and hands raised – completely and utterly engrossed in the moment and in love with their God. I glanced around, smiling and taking it all in. This is what Heaven will be like – the epitome of love, passion and happiness. Kind of like a jar full of skittles with all the green ones removed, but better. So. Much. Better.
As I continued to look around the room, my eyes were drawn to the women in the front row of the seated area next to the sound desk. It was reserved especially for those with a disability, namely the deaf women. There was a lady signing all the lyrics to the women so they could understand and sing along. My eyes immediately filled with tears as I watched them so passionate and enthusiastic about worshipping. It completely blew me away. I could hear the drums, the guitar, the keyboard, the synthesiser, the singers, the voices of the thousands of women – everything. But they could hear nothing. It made me wonder whether their disability was their catalyst for such passionate faith. So often we get distracted by all this artificial, ‘white noise’ constantly surrounding us that we lose focus of what it really means to love God or worse, we lose focus of God, period. A part of me felt terrible for enjoying the beautiful chorus of sounds I could hear so easily, sounds that they would never have the chance of experiencing. But then another part of me was filled with this overwhelming sense of joy, compassion and awe. They were proud of their faith and their faith was incredible. I want my faith to be like theirs – complete, unhidden and made manifest among others.  
I was on the train this afternoon making my way home from Uni and after three hours of back-to-back classes all finishing before midday the first thing I was looking forward to was sitting down on the train with some food and my headphones in – Uni students, ya feel me? It is a common pet-hate of all commuters – train, bus, plane, ferry, yacht, you name it – when you finally take a seat and get comfortable and all of a sudden what seems to be the only audible thing is a baby crying or a kid testing out the highest decibel he can reach without his core body temperature resulting in a physical combustion (not sure if that’s an actual thing). Well the latter, yeah that happened to me today. Usually in this situation I would preferably want said kid to wipe me out in his path of obliteration, but today was different (well, at least almost). I took my seat on the train and after about five minutes I heard this young boy, probably five years old, make his way down the stairs to my carriage and sit by the window providing commentary on everything that was happening outside to his Mum who was upstairs sitting down holding on to a stroller. 
“MUM LOOK THERE IS A FOOTPATH. DID YOU SEE THE BIG YELLOW, BLACK AND BLUE SIGN? MUMMMM, IS THAT OUR STATION? OH, IT’S NOT OUR STATION MUM, WE DIDN’T SLOW DOWN AT THAT ONE. WHEN IS OUR STATION?” This went on for a solid ten minutes, with thirty-second intervals if he was feeling generous. I turned up my music louder and tried to zone out before I seriously started considering testing out the train’s emergency stop system. A few more minutes passed when the little boy piped up again, but this time with something I could not help but smile at: 

“HEY MUM?”
“Yes bub?”
“I LOVE YOU!”
“I love you too darling.”
“NO, MUM, LIKE I REALLY REEEEEAAAALLLLY LOVE YOU.”
“I really really love you too.”

I looked around the carriage and every single person who had heard it had a small smile appear on their face. It made me think, what if our faith was like that? Complete, unhidden and made manifest among others. What if we weren’t ashamed to tell others how much we loved God? What if we were proud of our faith? 
Ask yourself, what does your faith look like? 
Keep smiling. x