but I love me more.

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I am currently sitting at a table on the back porch of Starbucks alone, enjoying a pumpkin spice latte and listening to this super jazzy/folksy/indie/artsy playlist they have playing.

It’s very cold, because Nashville finally decided it wanted it to be fall, and I’m jamming to this playlist and keep asking Siri quietly, “what song is this,” and I am SO HAPPY to be drinking my PSL out of a red cup. However, the key point here is not any of these things; the key word here is alone.

I think I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve been alone in the past 3 months, and when that does happen, it feels so foreign that I have to call my best friend in St. Louis immediately and if she’s in class I have to go down my call list and call someone else and if nobody answers (Lord help me, I almost have a breakdown when this happens), then I have to turn up my music as loud as it’ll go because I think I have simply forgotten how to listen to my own self think. I can’t even walk to class or sit in the cafeteria or ride in my car without needing someone, whether it be physically or via phone, with me. And it’s hitting me, suddenly, how sad this is.

I don’t think college has changed me. I have incredibly sweet and fun and hilarious friends who I love spending time with, and my classes aren’t that bad because I only have them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I’m honestly living my dream because I’m writing at Warner-Chappell almost every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and I love the new independence of living away from home – even though my sisters and parents will be quick to tell you that I’m back home bothering them at least once a week, stealing paper towels or asking my mom to cook dinner (the broke college kid thing is real) or borrowing Anna’s shoes (she made me pay her $5 to borrow her Adidas’ the other day. I call that “renting.” Call me crazy but I don’t think sisters are supposed to have to do that.) ANYWAY, I love college. I really do. But I think I can relate to everyone my age and really anyone going through some kind of life change: it’s a big adjustment. And adjustments bring with them the need to “figure things out.” And in my case, I’m figuring out that I need to learn how to be by myself sometimes.

I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I like being independent. I live for days when I can just go get my nails done or walk around the mall or just run random errands by myself. I still love all this. Like, my heart still craves all this. But somehow I’ve forgotten how to, well, do all this.

My parents and sisters have been making fun of me (God bless ’em, isn’t that what they’re for?) for posting “differently” on social media. In typical 19-year-old girl fashion, I have been ignoring their comments and input and posting to my heart’s content. “Stop trying to put everything on display,” was what my dad said to me a couple weeks ago. “Well, what is social media even for?! You don’t know, Daddy. You didn’t have social media when you were in college.” I continued on and didn’t listen. But the other day my mom said something that got me thinking:

“What are you trying to prove?”

Of course, I didn’t admit to her that it had me thinking. I went to see Beyonce a month or so ago (incredible, life-changing, etc… that deserves a whole other blog post), and about halfway through the show, my phone died. Yeah, of course, I panicked and kicked myself repeatedly for not bringing a portable charger and almost drowned in a pool of self-pity and “oh, good Lord, I am going to miss out on so many good picture opportunities.) Because, you know, that’s all that matters at a concert, right? How many pictures you can get?

Well, because I was forced to, you know, not have my phone up, I did something absolutely crazy. I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I lived in the moment. I took it all in. I watched Beyonce with complete *shameless* adoration and I tried to take mental notes of her dance moves (you know, in case I ever get in a situation where I would need to use them) and I wondered what her dancers felt like and if they were all best friends and if they got paid a lot. And toward the end of the show, I kinda looked around and realized that almost every single person around me had their phone out. (Aside from the sweet old lady sitting down at the end of my row – God bless her, I don’t know who brought her along for the show, but she looked like she was traumatized.) These people were watching Beyonce through a screen. I mean, you can watch her through a screen from the comfort of your bed on YouTube. WE WERE IN THE SAME ROOM AS HER. I MEAN LIKE WE WERE LITERALLY 20 YARDS AWAY FROM HER. And we actually watched her through a screen? That’s messed up, man. It almost made me laugh, because if my phone wasn’t dead in my pocket, I’d be right there with them.

And in the middle of all the lights and fire and confetti and ground-shaking bass, the answer to my mom’s question hit me: I knew what I was trying to prove with all my snapchat/insta/Facebook posts, and it’s not something I’m really all that proud to admit. But since honesty is the best policy and I owe it to you for reading this post up to this point, here is what my subconscious was trying to say through social media:

“I AM COOL. I AM FUN. I HAVE TONS OF FRIENDS. I AM HAPPY. I AM PRETTY. I AM PERFECT.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never once said these things out loud or even to myself. But I’ve had a mindset that says these things. And are these things true? HA. Good one. I’m not very cool (and I’ve accepted that, I’ve been told I’m good at making fun of myself and honestly I pride myself in that). And I like to consider myself pretty fun, I guess –  I mean, I love to have fun. And I have friends. Not tons, but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. (The friends I’ve made here at Belmont are incredible and literally so sweet I could die. And they make me laugh so hard that I come dangerously close to peeing my pants on a daily basis. You friends know who you are, and I love you.) And sure, I’m happy, most days; some days I want to cry for no reason and some days I get back to my dorm room and literally just lay down on the floor because I’m too exhausted and stressed out to climb up onto my bed (I mean, my carpet’s really comfy, but still.) And the pretty thing? Good Lord… I don’t know if any girl ever looks in the mirror and says, “Wow, I’m so pretty!” But since college started, my confidence level has plummeted. Maybe it’s just me being dramatic, and maybe it’s just the fact that I’m in an entirely new environment with entirely new people. But when I look around and all I see are girls who are skinnier than me, taller than me, tanner than me, and frankly, a lot more than me, I just can’t help but to compare.

And now, for the big one: let’s combine all of these things. My dear friends, am I perfect? (And all God’s children said HECK NO.) THEN WHY ON EARTH HAVE I BEEN TRYING TO ACT LIKE I AM?! Now, I don’t think anyone has ever thought I was perfect, but the fact that I’ve been trying to convince people that I am is frankly very sad. Because, well.. Let me give you an example.

The other day I was filling up on gas and I couldn’t get the pump to work. So I started pulling up to the next pump with my door still half open, and then my wallet fell out. All I saw was cash and change spilling everywhere onto the concrete, so of course, I didn’t think about the fact that my car was still in drive and I tried to GET OUT OF THE CAR. Luckily a nice man said, “HEY MA’AM EXCUSE ME YOUR CAR HELLO!” very loudly and I dove back into the drivers’ seat and threw the car into park when it was half an inch from crashing into the trash can. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even yell, “THANK YOU” – I just waved and nodded at him with a frighteningly red face.

And similar things happen on a daily basis.

So, what’s my point? Where is the lesson in all of this? I didn’t even know there was a lesson to be learned, truthfully, until last week, during a boxing class, when my instructor said, “Do it for you. Don’t do it for anybody else. Do it for your own self and for the love you have for yourself.” That thought kind of shook me awake. That thought kind of tied together all of the things my parents have been saying about trying to look too perfect on social media and my extreme discomfort with being alone and provided me with this realization: I am significantly more insecure than I thought I was. And because of this, I’ve been living to impress people. I’ve been living with this mindset that I have to be on display all the time, so that people will see me, see that I’m cool and I have friends and I’m fun and all of these stupid, petty things that #1, aren’t necessary, and #2, don’t have to be displayed. And just the fact that I feel the need to prove something to someone says I need to do a little bit of self-searching.

So, of course, there’s a song for this, and it’s a great one: “Love Me More” by Maggie Rose. I heard it for the first time a couple months ago in the car with my sister Lauren, and it was so good that we fist-bumped and listened to it on repeat for the rest of the car ride. It’s about a breakup; the main line is, “I love you, but I love me more.” But lately, it’s taken a new meaning for me; I’d love to be a lot of things, but I love me and who God made me to be, more.

“Love Me More” – Maggie Rose

Self-love is something I never thought I’d struggle with, because I always found my confidence in the Lord and I never stressed too much about it. Things are different now. It’s a struggle for me to look in the mirror these days, if I’m being honest. So I’m having to re-convince myself of my worth and my dignity, and I’m having to rethink my negative thinking patterns. That’s a challenge, when my thinking patterns have become such a well-beaten path.

But, my friends, I’m getting off this beaten path and blazing a new one. Because sometimes, it’s okay to love you more. If you have to decline a call from your friend because you’re really enjoying the little bit of alone time you have while driving from the gym to Walgreen’s, that’s okay. You can love you more than that phone call. If you have 5000 things to do and have to take one thing off your plate because you simply do not have time to go to Kroger and buy supplies for a homemade pumpkin pie to take to your Friendsgiving, that’s okay. You can love you more than you would’ve loved that pumpkin pie. If you have to turn down an invite to go downtown or say no to a babysitting job or take a day off from work to have a little bit of time just to get your act together, that is okay. It is okay and good to love your work and your friends and your life. But if any of that ever gets in the way of your own mental health, it’s time to take a step back. Because you simply cannot pour from an empty cup. 

And so, I’m sitting here at this Starbucks on a Sunday night with all these twinkly lights around me, and I’m thinking; for once, I’m listening to myself think. I’m thinking about the things about myself that I don’t love, like the fact that I’m terrible at texting people back and the fact that I need to work out more and the fact that I am still late for almost everything. Those are things I’m working on. But I’m also thinking about the parts of me that I don’t love that I really don’t need to work on, the parts of me that God made one way and that are supposed to stay that way. And here’s what I’m thinking:

I’d love to be blonde like my sisters and my mom. But I love my dark brown hair more.

I’d love to be athletic and coordinated and flexible. But I love being able to sit in a room with someone and writing a song more. (You can’t have it all, man – we all have our strengths. I took tumbling for like 8 years and barely was able to do a cartwheel.)

I’d love to have tons and tons of friends and a million people texting me all the time. But I love the few genuine, sweet, godly friends I have, more.

I’d love to feel normal and anxiety-free and happy all the time. But even though my lows are really low, my highs are really high, and that makes me love the fact that I feel everything so deeply more than I would love to feel everything halfway.

I’d love to have it all together. But my dear friends, I’m never going to. That’s just never ever ever going to happen. And if I had it all together, would I be able to be sitting here writing this for you? Would I have anything to ever write songs about? Would I have stories so embarrassing that they make me cringe but make my friends and sisters laugh so hard they cry? Of course not. So yes, I’d love to have it all together. But I love the hot mess that I am, more.

So, do me a favor: whatever is stressing you out or making you mad or bothering you this week, love yourself more. Love yourself more than you love anything, and love God more than you love yourself.

Because I know He loves you.

So so so much love,

Caroline

{pic creds to my awesome new bff Merritt Huey, YOU ROCK AT WHAT YOU DO !!!}

 

 

 

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