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The Problem With Social Media Is...

I love social media. I love that it can make a massive world feel so small. I love that I can stay connected with people I know and stalk people I don’t know. And I love that it unites our generation like no other.

It’s so simple. We can like, heart, tweet, facetime, facebook, face-anything-except-physical-face, retweet, and comment from anywhere in the world, to anyone in the world, at anytime of the day (unfortunately for some, even at 2am after a big night out). And all at the click of a button. But you know what?

It. Is. Exhausting.

In all the liking, hearting, tweeting and faceing-anything-except-actual-faceing, there’s no human contact. There is no vulnerability required. And there is no comfort given.

After hours on the Internet, we are still locked away in our loneliness.

In a world full of virtual community, we’ve never been so lonely. Everyone is connected, yet everyone is isolated.

Almost everyone I speak to at the moment (like actually speak to) feels alone, and ironically at the most “wonderful time of the year.” Maybe you can relate.  Rather than brushing it off as just a “season” (maybe the most overused word in the Christian language) and hoping it wears off after Christmas, maybe there’s more to it. Here’s what I think:

I think we’re lonely because we’re busy highlighting our brand and hiding our humanity. (click to tweet)

Our brand, you with me? Its our reputation, our status, our PR, our style, who we want people to see us as (it’s like the Amplified Bible up in here, choose your own adventure). Our own social media is a show-reel of our life, but we forget that when we’re looking at everyone else’s show-reel. So what do we do? We keep up appearances, because everyone else is keeping up theirs, like a game of chicken, to see who will break first.

We feel lonely because we refuse to share our reality, convinced that it’s not “show reel” worthy for our social media altar ego.

But, today, I’m calling my own bluff, in hopes other people will call their own. It’s a lie.

This show reel social media is anything but real. (click to tweet)

I don’t want a social media altar ego with thousands of “friends” if it means forfeiting my handful of actual friends. There are people around you that you can tangibly hug, laugh with, encourage and even tweet at (if you so feel the urge).

I lose hours on social media seeking community, but I’m left feeling more lonely, depressed and unfit to be human than if I’d steered clear of it all together. Can you relate? But five minutes with actual humans, my actual friends? I’m on top of the world (“ay, I’m on top of the world..” Am I the only one who has that Imagine Dragons song in my head now? You’re welcome).

I have decided. I want the real thing. And that might mean turning off my wi-fi and using my phone for its intended purpose (how retro of me), calling my friends to let them in on the lonely stuff.

We all go through lonely seasons, things our friends might not understand – the loss of a loved one, being made redundant at work, a messy breakup, difficulty falling pregnant, being bullied at school… The list goes on. But I’ve learned that while loneliness is a feeling, isolation is a choice.

Don’t let your loneliness become isolation; it’s your choice. (click to tweet)

Whatever you are going through today, despite your self-talk and what you see on everyone else’s show-reel, you are not alone. People around you might not understand, but they want to listen. Allow them in. Avoid isolation. At all costs.

So today, get out from behind your phone, and get connected. Actually connected.

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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part Two)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc Dear Teenage-Elyse,

It’s me again! I hope this isn’t turning into a creepy, Ghost-From-Christmas-Future type thing.. Of course, we're PK's, therefore we don't believe in ghosts, right?

Anyway, below is some final advice I want to give you... So here goes:

6. It’s ok that you love leopard print. Rock it.

The crazy little quirks that make you feel like an outcast right now? They are exactly why I have learned to love you. Please, stop trying to hide them. Stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.

Here’s a secret:  None of your friends know what they’re doing either; they’re just as insecure as you. So, they’re going to copy someone, it may as well be you!

Learn who you are now before the world tells you who you should be. Should is overrated, I mean the world itself is just weird, go on, look at it. Weird right?

So, stop hiding your freckles with foundation, enjoy your Fanta instead of sparkling water with lemon, and work the leopard print everything. You are so much more fun when you are you.

7. Cheating is overrated

In the ninth grade you’re going to get caught for cheating on your English assignment. Apparently you’re not as stealth as you think because you forgot to read through your stolen assignment before you handed it in. You're story about “wishing I wasn’t the only son in my family" kind of gave it away. Your brother won't be too thrilled either, he worked pretty hard on that.

Here's a tip: do your own work.

The feeling when you receive a good grade on your own work is amazing and (heaven forbid) you might actually learn something! Plus, if you do cheat, Mrs McGovern will find out, and the feeling of getting caught will make you want to crawl in a hole and die. 

8. Stop kissing boys.

(You totally skipped down to reading this one first didn't you...)

Despite what you think, the excuse that you’re trying out for The Bachelorette is not valid. Neither is the excuse, "but he looked like Zac Efron!"

I know you think doing this kind of thing will make you feel attractive and wanted, but it won't. All it does is leave you feeling lonely and guilty. Trust me, I know better now.

Deep down your heart desires love and value. I get it, you want to be swept off your feet and looked after. You'll have that, just be patient. Trying to rush your fairytale will only leave you running out at midnight, with no shoes, feeling like a pumpkin... With no Prince.

9. Your friends are waiting for an invitation. Just ask.

You know how much you want to go to Josh’s party on the weekend, but you’ll pretend you don’t care until someone invites you? Your friends are they same. They want to come to youth, but they don’t want to invite themselves.

Your friends see an invite, any invite, is a verification of your friendship. That includes church. Let’s face it, right now their only plan is to sit at home and watch re-runs of Saved By The Bell.

They won’t definitely come if you invite them, but they definitely won’t come if you don’t invite them.

When you leave school, your biggest regret won’t be missing a party, forgetting that it was mufti day (although that sucks) or getting a detention. It will be that you kept your mouth shut. Please, speak up. Their eternity is more important than your reputation.

10. It's ok to fail.

In fact, it’s kind of liberating. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get it right, every time, all the time. That kind of burden will make you feel like you've just run a marathon, without burning the calories. Exhausted yet unsatisfied. Trust me, you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

 

I’ll write to you again one day. For now, have fun. Appreciate high school, your really fast metabolism, and the fact that mum still makes your bed.

Oh, and don’t try to “grow up” too fast, I know right now it seems as exciting as the idea of being BFF with Miley Cyrus. But, as cute as she might look now, having the “best of both worlds,” one day you’ll be glad you didn’t make her your best friend.

Love, Elyse x

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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part One)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc
photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc

Dear Teenage-Elyse,

How do you start a letter to yourself? How are you? What's new? Seen any good movies lately? Uh oh, I hadn't thought this far ahead, and apparently I suck at talking to myself... Which may not be a bad thing.

I've only thought about the idea of writing this letter, but I've thought about it a lot. I've wondered what I might tell you, what advice I might share with you now that I'm older and wiser (maybe only a little wiser, but that's something, right?).

So here's where I'm at in life – I’ve finished school, had an adult job, and decided adult jobs aren’t that much fun. I’ve made friends all over the world that will last me until forever o'clock, and I've had my heart broken. And now that I’m here, 24-years-and-5-months-old, I think there are some things you should know. There are some things I wish I’d known earlier, some lessons I wish I learned sooner, and I want to share them with you.

And maybe, just maybe, someone will look over your shoulder while you read. Maybe there is a teenager who will read this and learn from my mistakes. Or even an adult. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new.

So here are ten things I want you to know, five today and five later this week. You see, I write blogs now and, to be blunt, I need to spread this kind of thing out.

So here are the first five:

1. It all makes sense in hindsight.

There are going to be opportunities you miss out on, relationships that end, things that don’t go your way (I know, shocking right?). It will hurt and there will be ‘ugly cry’ tears. Sometimes it will leave you really confused, and you may even question God. That’s ok. He can handle it.

But just know, there will come a day where most of it makes sense. And the things that don’t make sense? I’ll write you another letter when I’m 50. Surely everything makes sense when you’re 50.

2. Let him go.

There’s going to be a boy that sweeps you off your feet. There will be kisses in the rain and dancing without music. He will write you letters and songs and for a little while you will feel like the luckiest girl in the world. But it will end. There will be broken hearts and you will wonder if anyone else will make you feel like he did. It’s really going to hurt and I’m really sorry I didn’t walk away sooner.

But please, don’t go over every text message, every photo, every conversation and every memory like a broken record. Don’t shut yourself off from the world because you feel like your best days were with him. You need to let him go.

Let Jesus in. Let Him put the pieces back together again. He’s got someone better for you, I promise. So, turn off PS. I Love You, call the girls, put on your heels and go out. It’s time to move on.

3. Bullies aren’t just a ‘high school thing.’

Remember how you thought once you left high school you wouldn’t have to deal with jerks anymore? Well don’t shoot the messenger (especially since the messenger is you), but some people never grow out of it.

There are some girls that never grow out of trying to be ‘Queen Bee’, bullying everyone else so they feel better about their own lame lives. There will still be guys who use girls, breaking hearts as easily as they broke curfew in tenth grade. Some people will bully you for the decisions you make. You’ll find out later on (at your school reunion when they’ve had three hours too many drinks) that it’s only because they secretly wished they could’ve made the decisions you did.

My advice for the Peter Pans of the world, the ones who refuse to grow up, the ones that think Tinkerbell and her ‘special dust’ can get them out of trouble, is this: Don’t try to change them. Let them go to Never Never Land and discover that it doesn’t actually exist.

Those people have more issues than a Dr Phil marathon, and ‘aint nobody got time for that’ (that’ll make sense in a few years)!

4. Get back in the race!

Even though dad calls you his little angel, you aren’t (don’t worry, we can still pretend you are). You are going to mess up, and you’re going to do it a lot. Just when you think you have it all together, just when you feel safe to call yourself a Christian, you will do something so stupid.

In that moment of ‘oops-I-did-it-again,’ don’t listen to the voice that tells you to run away from God. Tell that voice to “go to hell” and run to Jesus. He will be waiting for you, with open arms. He’s already forgiven you. He dealt with the sin issue ages ago. The quicker you accept His grace, the quicker you’ll be back on your feet.

Jump up, dust yourself off, and get back in the race.

5. Crimping your hair isn’t as cool as you think it is. Trust me.

I think that’s enough for now, see you in a few days. Oh, and the purple tracksuit you wear every day isn’t as cute as you think it is. Sorry love.

Love, 24-Year-Old-Elyse xx

 

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