Have you ever noticed that even in most Disney movies that glorify a strong female character, the story inevitably ends in a marriage?
She’s defeated warriors (Mulan) and saved lives (Frozen), but the plot isn’t really complete until she’s found a husband, presumably with whom she will have many, many babies.
Please hear me: the desire to be married is beautiful and God-given, and should never be looked down upon, in a man or a woman. But what I take issue with is the idea that a person- specifically a woman- is somehow incomplete until she’s entered into marital union, and then, given birth.
For the majority of human history, in most every time and place, a woman’s value has been defined by her ability to bear children. You can imagine what this has meant for millions of females over the centuries who have remained single, or remained unable to conceive: extreme pain, loss of identity, powerlessness, despair.
If you happen to live in a first world, Westernized city/state/country, chances are you may feel overwhelmed much of the time. Especially in major metropolitan areas in the U.S., the culture is focused on a lot of –ing words: doing more, working harder, feeling better, looking hotter.
Having grown up in this culture, I appreciate its drive and thrust towards progress, but it’s also a culture of near-unattainable ambitions and intense pressure. It can cause us to feel never enough—never successful enough, never hot enough, never healthy enough. It can cause us to build schedules and lives that help us to feel like we’re striving towards those expectations, even as we remain out of touch with what really brings us joy and fulfillment.Continue reading “Stepping out of survival mode”→
She remembered who she was, and it changed everything.
The first time I was given a personality test, I was 23, fresh out of college, and very, very sure I knew exactly who I was, how I function, and what I value. At the time, I was a student in a small ministry school, and the aim of the test was to help us communicate better as a team that would eventually go to India together on a mission trip. I agreed to take the test, but I felt condescended to and frustrated.
I was unique—how could I be categorically labeled and defined by a formula?
I recently came across a single phrase* that got me thinking about my attitude towards much of what I would like more of in my life: material resources (yes, I’m talking about money), relationships (yes, I’m talking about getting married and having children), and even spiritual fulfillment (yes, I’m talking about God).
This week, I turn 29 years old. While not officially 30, I feel it’s close enough to merit some reflection on the past almost-decade.
In fact, “29” feels a little odd to me—like the space between two stair steps. Like I’m reaching for something ahead, but not there quite yet. Those two digits that have evolved, at least in contemporary American culture, to suggest that now there are no more excuses to put off adulthood. Your career should be well on its way; if you’re not married yet, thinking about it should factor into your every decision (hate to say it, but especially for women). Your twenties are for exploring and experimenting. Your thirties are for adulting.
I recently returned from a trip to Paris, during which my priorities were shaken up, stirred, and reordered. Still stuffed with French butter, baguette, and chocolat noir, I spent my plane ride home drifting in and out of sleep and melting memories of those things that make Paris Paris: the gray and cream cityscape at dusk, the steep ascent to the hill at Montmartre, the assurance of perfect croissants on every block. I’ve been to the city many times, but this particular trip moved me in such a way that I’ll be processing, remembering, and living in it for weeks and months to come. Continue reading “Cultivating creativity + community”→
Here’s to being vulnerable: for most of my life I’ve struggled with perfectionism. I’ve felt I had to make the rightchoice in every single situation, however seemingly inconsequential. Did I study the right subject in school? Did I say the right thing in that conversation? Am I wearing the right outfit? Did I eat the right thing for lunch? I used to obsess over decision I had made, agonizing over whether I had made the “wrong” one and whether that would taint a (ridiculous) aspiration to live perfectly. Continue reading “How to fail forward”→
One of my favorite French phrases borrowed from the English language is le week-end. In French, “week” is semaine and “end” is dernier. I guess the French allowed week-end to slip through the typically impenetrable fortress of the French language to make it just a little easier to reference those glorious two days at the end of every work week.
In theory, we rest and recuperate on Saturday and Sunday. Le probleme is that the French- and many other cultures- do le week-end so much better than most Americans do. When we do have “time off”- which is often rare- we have the tendency to fill those extra hours with more scheduled time. Grocery store runs, hours at the gym, and quick coffee dates with friends end up dominating days off, or hours after work. Continue reading “Why you should schedule rest”→
Just over a year ago, I moved back to my hometown of Palos Verdes, CA, after almost ten years of a journey that I never expected to end where it started.
Returning to California, I’ve found that I haven’t rediscovered my home so much as discovered it for the first time. As a child, I could not see the gorgeous purple bloom of bougainvillea, the drama of high yellow cliffs over the surf, or the wide, blazing sunsets. I did not marvel at the rolling hills and rocky outcrops of my hometown, or explore coves and winding trails. I wanted to go to the pool, the mall, the movies. But now, I look at where I was born and raised as a frontier in and of itself: a destination just as much as any of the cities or countries I have lived in before. Continue reading “Not so faraway places: Palos Verdes, CA”→
When it’s possible to run a business out of your purse, learn a foreign language on your phone, or become famous overnight on YouTube, the future seems like a menu of possibilities for those of a certain generation. As children, many of us were told to follow our dreams, which, as it turns out is both terrifying and wonderful. It can leave us paralyzed with indecision, or- in the best case scenario- it can motivate us to move forward and actually do it: venture into an intersection where faith meets action; where uncertainty about our abilities is eclipsed by a jolt of confidence that we can and will achieve what we want to.
Whether it’s starting a business, making a big move, or just giving up a conventional career to make your side gig your full-time gig, making the big leap into pursuing your passion at the expense of security can be scary. But there’s a greater challenge ahead on the Oregon trail of your following your dream: and that is remaining on the path, even when it begins to be an uphill climb, there’s a river bypass, your horses die, or your wagon wheels break. Your business may fail, you may run out of money, your submissions and auditions rejected. Challenges are almost always inevitable, especially if we want to do something great. Continue reading “When fulfilling your dream takes longer than you think it should”→