Loose Ends

I’ve always prided myself as being a “go-with-the-flow” person. I’m okay with unknowns, and I love a good plot twist.

Last minute change-up in plans? No problem!

I tend to consider myself fairly flexible–but even generally flexible people reach a point in life where they feel stretched beyond their comfort zone.

Back in April, I made a pretty big change in my life: I left grad school, and this was essentially my internal monologue:

what a dumb idea meme

While my passion for people and relationships continued to grow during my classes, there was a deep longing for the creativity I once had in my undergrad courses.

I have usually had a knack for spotting silver linings, and pointing out the little things that make life more vibrant and meaningful, but with every day that passed, I was starting to feel that natural ability start to slip into cynical sinkhole.

Now don’t get me wrong, the world needs counselors, but even while I am not incredibly emotional, I am empathetic–I’m not one to cry, but I pick up on the pain of others, and talking about that pain in my classes all day started to take its toll, and I started to lose some of my soft side.

One day during one of my counseling classes, we were put into groups and asked to do a team building exercise that required us to pick an item out of our backpacks and pitch an advertisement for the product.

When the challenge was announced, I felt the most alive I had ever felt during class. My brain buzzed with ideas, and I could barely sit in my seat as I bounced my thoughts off of my group members.

I felt creative and engaged, and my heart sped up the way it does when you put on an outfit that you really like, or when you come up with that perfect, clever line to say to your friends in the moment, rather than 3 hours later. My group ended up winning the challenge, and in that moment, I felt the absence of the teamwork, public speaking, and creativity that I relished in my undergraduate classes.

That’s when I realized something: since I started my classes, I had stopped writing. I had stopped creating. I had seen some of the things that I once thrived on begin to fall to the wayside, and I didn’t really feel like myself anymore. I wasn’t doing what I was made to do.

So I decided to stop my classes and start applying for jobs.

Now this switch-up felt freeing and fun, and right, but it didn’t play out the way I imagined it in my head. I didn’t tell many people I left school, because I wanted to find a job before I made the announcement.

Call me naive, but I pictured myself finding a job within the first couple months of starting my job search, and as I sit here writing this, I am still (as the kids are saying these days) “funemployed.”

Except it’s not so fun anymore. I wake up every morning and fill out applications for every job I can find, and each response has come back the same, “Sorry, we are looking for someone with more experience.”

After the first ten rejections, I was still feeling fine, but once I hit twenty, I stopped counting and started to feel discouraged.

i like saying no

PS, this is what imagine all of the HR People look like when they are reading my applications ^

I procrastinated writing about my decision to leave school until after I had a new job to tag onto the end of the post, you know, something to validate my decision and make it look a little more competent and together.

But as I scrolled through my social media feed the other day, I thought about how I wasn’t accurately portraying myself. While I am recently engaged to an amazing guy, celebrating the weddings of close friends, and sharing precious time with family members, there’s a lot of mess and confusion in my life as well, and I have been pretty intentional about hiding that from my social media feeds. The joyful, put-together moments in my life have served as somewhat of a smoke screen for the obscure details in my life that are still up in the air.

I guess I have always thought that it’s more fun to share the way that God stepped into the chaos and tied all of the loose ends together–after everything looks like it has been tied up with a nice, pretty bow.

But sometimes I think it’s more powerful to show the questions marks and the confusion, because God is just as with us during the liminal stages as He is when things seem clear cut and scheduled.

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The past few weeks, I prayed a prayer that went kind of like this:

“Hey, God. I know that you have a plan and everything, and I’m completely committed to your timeline, but I guess I just really thought that I would have a job by now. I felt pretty obedient when I left school, but I was also trusting that you would have something lined up for me…and that hasn’t happened yet. I want to do what I can to serve you during this in-between phase, so please help me see how I can do that, and how I can make the most of these loose ends.”

The response was quiet and subtle at first, as God’s responses often are. I think God speaks to us a lot more than we realize, but we just don’t clear our minds enough to hear Him. As the weeks passed, I knew what I was supposed to do:

Write.

Within the past couple weeks, I have had around 5 people ask me when I was going to start writing again. My answer was the same every time, “Once I have a little more direction about where my life is going.” But that was my pride speaking. I didn’t want people to see how I have gone months without employment or schooling.

I prayed again yesterday about what to do during the loose ends, and I got the same answer: “Write.”

So here I am, writing. I don’t really know what the next step is, but I have faith that everything is going to fall into place. So I am going to start writing again. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the details about the ways God has blessed me during the unknowns, and how I am learning lessons in faith, humility, and gratitude.

So thank you for joining me in the loose ends. I don’t have it all together, but I serve a God who does.

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Pushing Harder Than Healthy

This is one of those blogs I’ve resisted writing for a long time, but sometimes God gives me little nudges to write, and today I decided to listen.

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I deleted my TimeHop app today, because I do what I can to avoid looking at photos from 2014. Looking back on the year, it’d be confusing why I’d do such a thing, because from the outside it looked incredibly successful; the throwbacks from my social media accounts and camera roll show daily runs and trips to the gym, multiple internships, a series of modeling jobs, the third year of a relationship, glowing report cards, and clean recipes made by my own hands.

But despite this glimmering facade, 2014 was the year I compromised my own health and happiness in pursuit of perfection.

2014 was a year I became obsessed with my own self-image. That October, my modeling agent invited me to meet with an agent from New York City. Another girl from my agency had been offered a contract, and the NYC agent wanted to meet other girls from the agency to check if he could use any of us in New York.

I was flattered and excited by the invitation to meet with a big city agent, so I put on a tank top, skinny jeans, and heels (as instructed), and drove down to the agency and waited in the lobby. I picked at my nails and fiddled with my hair until I was called into the back room, where I met with the agent. He smiled a charming smile with bleach-white teeth and snapped head shots on his iPhone. He asked me to walk, to 360, and finally, he took measurements.

After measuring around my butt and my hips, he asked me if I was a runner. I told him that I was, and he explained that if I would want to be considered for runway, I would have to stop running, squatting, and using the elliptical so I wouldn’t build my glute and thigh muscles, which were currently too big for sample sizes.

10300309_10201891968842483_1616362575456524003_nThe man told me that I had potential, but would have a better chance if I could go down about 10 pounds. With that, he handed me his business card and assured me I’d receive a call from him soon.

I never did.

That’s when the seed planted: “You’re not good enough.”

This thought process began to spiral into a constant internal war of comparison and pushing my body harder than healthy.

I woke up early every morning to do Pilates, ran to my classes, survived off salads without dressing, and went to the gym until it was dark outside, or I saw at least 800 calories burned off on the elliptical; whichever came first.

Within a few months, my clothes were baggy, my eyes hollow, and ribs visible.

But I couldn’t stop. Or maybe I just didn’t want to. When a couple of my close friends or family members expressed concern over my disappearing body, I blamed my shrinking weight on my ADD medication, “It kills my appetite.”

But it was so much more than that. It was a pattern of obsessing over getting smaller. Smaller. And smaller.

I couldn’t control how giddy I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw a thigh gap for the fist time since middle school, and I felt a rush each time I stepped on the scale and saw the numbers in rapid descent. By the time the spring rolled around, I hadn’t lost 10 pounds, I’d lost almost 30. Take that NYC talent agent.

At least, that’s what I thought.

I knew my mindset wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t want to admit it.

I may have been afraid of eating bread, but I got more “You look great!” comments on my Instagram photos.

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I may have felt panic if a single day passed without an intense work out, but more girls asked me about my fitness secrets.IMG_5009

I may have cried after treating myself to a couple scoops of ice cream, but I was getting more modeling jobs, making more money off of my appearance.

I may have almost skipped dorm events out of fear for whether a dress made me look heavier than I had wanted to look, but I had a doctor ask me not to lose anymore weight, and at the time, I interpreted that as the sincerest of compliments.

I may have had a BMI that rested decimals above the danger zone, but I was leaving Express with a pair of size 0 shorts in my bag, and that was what I considered the ultimate achievement.

IMG_1619But one morning, it all changed. I woke up to make some oatmeal before my morning workout, when the dorm coffee kitchen started spinning. I felt nauseous and stumbled into my room, finding my bed and leaning over my mattress before I passed out.

Not too long after, I awoke to a concerned roommate who found it unusual for me, an early bird, to be sleeping past when my alarm would have typically gone off. I told her that I’d passed out, and she quickly advised me to eat something and take it easy, handing me a box of Cheerios. I stuck my fist into the box and started eating, only to appease her, but what I didn’t tell her was that I was terrified of the idea of eating a “processed” cereal and taking a day off of exercising.

It was this very moment that I was able to realize that the way I was living WAS NOT HEALTHY. It began to hit me that the exercise and eating which I had always claimed to be “clean,” and “healthy” was harming my body and my soul so much more than it was helping them.

I lived for the compliments and the comments from others on how “thin” and “skinny” and “toned” I looked, and I realized that I was compromising my own health and happiness to gain this response from others.

It dawned on me that at even my smallest, I had stood in front of the mirror pinching back the skin on my thighs, my arms, and my stomach, thinking how much better I would look if that “excess” could vanish. And that made me feel sicker than the thought of facing my fear of eating ice cream.

So I got help. I talked to a nutritionist at school, and she helped me develop a meal plan to make sure I got the nutrients I needed. I opened up to a friend about my fears of weight gain, and I faced those fears as I started fueling my body again. I leaned on prayers and time spent in scripture to remind me that my worth does not come from my appearance, but from my identity as a child of God. And I started, slowly, to realize that less of me did not make me more valuable. 

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that a few visits to a nutritionist, a couple chats with some friends, and a handful of prayers cured every insecurity and brought me more confidence than ever before, but I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to heal. It’s possible to take the baby steps.

Baby steps like calling your boyfriend after stepping on the scale and saying, “I weighed myself for the first time in a year. It was more than I thought, but I didn’t cry.”

Baby steps like learning that putting on weight is sometimes in your favor rather than against it (spring 2014, summer 2016). 

Baby steps like going up a jean size at your favorite store, and not tearing yourself apart in the dressing room.

Baby steps like seeing an unflattering photo on Facebook and choosing not to untag yourself because of the way your body looks.

Baby steps to treat yourself with the same graciousness, gentleness, kindness, and respect that you would give to your closest and dearest friend.

You are more than a number on the scale. You are more than the size of your jeans. You are more than the number of compliments you receive on your social media feed. You are more than the food you eat or the workout you complete. You are more.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

Song of Solomon 4:7

Ps, this was not a blog I wanted to write, but a blog I felt that I had to write, in the hopes that even just one person will be comforted, encouraged, or positively impacted. Whether this blog is a message of hope to someone who finds themselves fighting a similar battle, or a message of caution to those who might be struggling with body image and see similar warning signs, please know that I am here for you. Feel free to reach out if you need any prayers, encouragement, resources, or accountability.

Love,

Kelly

Resources:

http://www.center4ed.org/resources.asp

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/eating-disorder

P.S.S, please keep in mind that the best resource is to speak with a friend, a family member, or a doctor. This is something I wish I would have done a lot sooner, and would highly recommend.

You’ve Got This [because He’s got you]

I should be writing a paper right now. After all, it’s due in 2 hours. But sometimes, the Holy Spirit prompts me to write (something other than an academic paper), and so here I am, following that nudge to share my words with you.

I’m here to tell you that you’ve got this.

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish. Whether you’re a high schooler struggling to decide on a school, a college student biting your nails over the idea of entering the “real world,” or a parent who stays up at night second guessing whether they have what it takes to provide for your family—

you’ve got this.

I tell you this, because this is a message we all need to hear sometimes. I know I certainly needed it this week. And you know what? God provided it.

The past two days, I have felt like an ant in a dishwasher. Midterm week hit hard this year, disorienting and stressful. Typically I like to be the of encouragement voice to others, but this week, I was the one who needed it.

I didn’t really know this was what I needed, but God has this funny way of knowing exactly what we need when we don’t even know to ask for it. I needed a few flickers of hope this week—

and that’s exactly what I got.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:8

I didn’t ask anyone for encouragement this week–not even God, because in all honesty, didn’t even know. But over the past two days, He repeatedly showered me with mini messages of encouragement.

A professor opened class telling us how proud he was of us for grappling with challenging material, read us a prayer, and let us leave class early.

I needed that.

As I raced to my duplex, a small pack of birds congregated in the tree behind my house, chirping happily, reminding me of one of my favorite verses,

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matthew 6:26

I needed that.

A friend gave me a hug and bought me sweet potato fries.

I needed that.

A housemate walked into my room and told me she was thankful for me.

I needed that.

This morning I woke up to an encouraging text from a friend.

I needed that.

As I sat in the library this morning, fingers flying across my keyboard at an unholy speed, a student (one I have never seen before), stood up from his desk in the library, gave me a thumbs up, and mouthed, “You’ve got this,” as he left. 

I needed that.

This kid has probably already forgotten his gesture of encouragement. He probably won’t remember me if I ever seen him again on campus. He probably thought nothing of his little thumbs up.

But I won’t forget it, because, at that moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear–

Because in my head, the soundtrack playing all morning was, “I DON’T KNOW IF I’VE GOT THIS.” 

No matter what you’ve got going on right, now, take a deep breath, and know that you’ve got this, because He’s got you, and He anticipates all of your needs. 

I needed some encouragement, then I needed to share some encouragement with you…and now,  I need to wrap this up and finish that pesky paper that’s due in a couple hours.

But hey, He’s got me, so I’ve got this.

And you know what?

So do you.

The Catch of a Lifetime

I stopped looking for “The One.”

Some of you may be thinking, “WHAT?! A Calvin College student has given up her search for marriage?”

Over the past year, I realized something: a huge portion of my conversations with God revolved around boys.

I approached a lot of those conversations with a strong sense of entitlement; “God, I’m working really hard to follow your will for my life, and I am doing all that I can to become a better person. I think I’m doing pretty well, so if you wouldn’t mind, can you give me a spoiler alert about the guy you have in mind for me? That would be fantastic.”

It’s almost like we believe that having a relationship with Christ guarantees us a relationship with one of His followers. We use the term, “Future husband/wife,” assuming that there will be a future husband/wife.

We tell our single friends, “Just be patient, God will bring you someone special when you’re both ready!”

While there is no fine print stating that a relationship with Jesus includes a free soulmate, we usually assume that He will bring us one.

But what if He doesn’t?

I mean, Paul was an incredibly prominent figure in the Bible, and he was #SingleForLife!

So, what if God’s plan doesn’t include a marriage partner?

If you were to ask me this question a year ago, my heart would have dropped into my stomach. But this year, things are different. I have realized that I have to be okay with a life of singleness, even if that is not the life God has for me. I strongly believe that we have to be content and satisfied in Christ before we are ready to entertain the idea of a relationship. When we find peace in Christ, peace floods all aspects of our lives.

It is for this reason that I have stopped looking for “the one”:

The best relationships do not take place when we pursue/wait to be pursued by “the one,” they happen when two individuals pursue Christ and collide in the process.

This summer, two outfields for the Tampa Bay Rays illustrated this idea perfectly.

As a fly ball soared above the outfield, teammates Daniel Nava and Kevin Kiermaier, sprinted across the grass with one goal: catch the ball—the result? The catch of a lifetime.

Both players were so focused on the ball that they collided in the outfield, caught the baseball, and completed synchronized backward somersaults (points for creativity), all within a matter of seconds. The men jumped to their feet, punctuating their incredible play with a fit of giggles and a high-five as they jogged back to the dugout.

The outfielders collided because each kept his eye on the ball. If one or both of the players had been distracted by the actions of their other teammates or the noise coming from their fans, neither would have caught the ball. Nava and Kiermaier focused and followed the ball, and as a result, they were a part of an incredible play.

These players didn’t plan on doing somersaults through the outfield, or sharing a high-five and some laughs, but because they both did their best to make the play, every other experience was an added bonus, not an expectation.

So let’s stop pursuing people, and start pursuing Christ.

Let’s not get so focused on finding “the one” that we ignore the One who Loved us first.

 

 

Let’s keep our eyes facing upward, and we’ll end up wherever we are supposed to be, along with anyone else who was meant to be there with us.

Now that’s the catch of a lifetime.

Faith & Flourishing: The Gardener

He cuts off every branch joined to me that does not bear fruit. He trims every branch that does bear fruit. Then it will bear even more fruit...Remain joined to me, just as I also remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself.

John 15:2, 4-6 NIRV

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I am very good at receiving flowers.

I am not very good at keeping them alive.

I think I grew up spoiled; in my home, every room was filled with potted plants and trees, thriving in every season. During the summertime, the house was accessorized with lush leafy plants—

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Susan Doles’ garden: where canines lounge like kings on literal flower beds

ivy climbing up the giant backyard sycamore, bright purple morning glories wrapping their their squiggly vines around the lampposts, and tall sunflowers stretching their golden faces to the summer sky.

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Susan Doles’ backyard: where man and his best friend rest in the shade of lush greenery

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Susan Doles’ sunroom: where children gather lettuce for salads they will later refuse to consume during family dinner

My mom has a green thumb, so I kind of just assumed this was some sort of talent I would inherit.

Unfortunately, I realized that one does not simply “inherit” a garden filled with perennially flourishing flowers…you have to work for that (womp womp womp).

This annoying concept became all too real to me when one of my friends gave me flowers. This friend is a flower fanatic—we bonded when he noticed my tendencies to halt conversations for the sake of pointing out any flowers entering my line of vision. This habit of mine delighted him, because it presented opportunities to flash his quirky ability to identify these flowers by name, along with the details of how much water and sunlight and maintenance they require.

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One day, he stopped by my house with a potted hyacinth; in my book, this flower is the G.O.A.T. [for those of you who have not yet made this acronym a regular part of your vocabulary, it stands for Greatest Of All Time/aka, the best], and I was elated. I couldn’t wait until the tiny little sprouts blossomed to fill my room with the flower’s fragrant, springy scent. I loved that hyacinth.

But it died. I mean, let’s just cut to the chase.

I accidentally killed my beloved plant through my passive approach to flowercare. I admired my hyacinth every day—I smelled it every chance that I had, and I showed it off on Instagram. I gave that flower as much enthusiasm and appreciation as a person possibly could, but it still withered. Why? Because—

“You didn’t water it! Kelly Doles…telling your flowers how much you love them isn’t enough to keep them alive; you have to take care of them.”

Actually, he also called me a plant-killer, thereby revoking my privileges as a recipient of any future flowers. Glancing from the dead plant in my hands to the botanical paradise bursting in my backyard (can you say juxtaposition?), I thought about all the time my mom spent caring for her plants—she did much more than admire her plants—she tended to them. This visual became a powerful metaphor for my faith.

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I am someone who loves to ask God for big bouquets of beautiful requests. I pray big prayers because I believe He has the ability to answer them, but I often neglect to acknowledge the role I must play in bringing them about.

Similar to my flower experience, as much as I love having faith, I forget that it will not blossom if I don’t do my part in tending to it…and even after the petals open, I have to be intentional about caring for it every day if I want to see further flourishing. Australian evangelist Christine Caine puts this poignantly:

“God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth and expansion.” 

fleurIf we want to bloom, we must face growing pains and endure pruning. Faith isn’t compatible with freeloading, and neither is gardening. We can’t fully experience the perks of flowering if we’re unwilling to invest the necessary time, effort, and attention! When we ask God help us prosper in faith, He often allows us to encounter situations that provide opportunities for the growth we requested. 

“God, make me strong.”

The painful call to let go of your long-term relationship.

“God, make me kind.”

The task of demonstrating kindness toward your obnoxious coworker.

“God, please help me put you first.”

The conviction to obediently remodel interactions with any object/goal/person taking God’s place on your priority list. 

I’m not going to lie, experiences like these are painful, but I know they are paramount to our growth—they have anchored me with roots that are strong enough to keep me steady during situations that would have previously shaken me.

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Is the process fun? Hardly. Is it easy? Rarely. But that’s what makes the fragrance of our faith so much sweeter, and the blossoms all the more beautiful. Most importantly, it reminds us that we belong to a Gardener whose thumbs are (thankfully) much greener than our own—in times of pruning, we will be sustained by His faithfulness, and in times of flourishing, we will radiate His goodness.

My Square Inch

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

-Abraham Kuyper

I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a planner; I’m much more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of person. With my preference to keep my options open, there is one particular question that has always deflated my go-with-the-flow balloon:

“So, what do you want to do after you graduate?”

WOMP WOMP WOMP (I really don’t know the proper spelling here, but imagine that noise you hear in a cartoon when the character is about to go play with her friends, but her mom stops her and tells to do her homework first). 

Why would this be “womp womp womp” worthy? After all, the person asking the question is showing a polite interest in my life! Well, I’ll tell you why: because, in all honesty, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. It doesn’t help that this inquiry is trailed by a few all-too-familiar follow-up questions, such as:

“Where are you going to live?”

“Any special guys who are going to be part of the picture?”

Unfortunately, yelling, “IDK” is not a socially acceptable answer, so I had to get creative. I used to have a memorized standard personal PR statement I issued upon receiving such questions: 

“I’ve been testing out a few different internships to see what is the best fit, but something in the communication field; whether that is broadcasting, marketing, or public relations is still up in the air, but I’ll decide once I compare my internship experiences.” 

This usually garnered a lot of approval from others, but it felt pretty insincere every time it rolled off my tongue. One day, after praying about a direction for my future, I was browsing my school’s homepage, when the school mission statement caught my eye:

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I had heard this statement a thousand times, but this time, it took on new meaning. My half-hearted response to questions about my future was indicative of a scary truth: My heart was not in the career path I claimed to pursue.

I was not prompted to invest in any of the jobs I had once wanted, and the lack of sincerity in my response proved it. How could I offer my whole heart to a line of work toward which my heart was no longer invested? How could I establish any future plans if I wasn’t passionate about moving forward with them?

At Calvin, we love to talk about Abraham Kuyper’s idea that every square inch of the earth belongs to God, but He gives each person their own inch to pour their gifts and passions into.

For example, Steph Curry’s square inch is in the sporting world. As a talented basketball player who loves the game, he uses his platform as an athlete to give the media a glimpse of what it looks like to live a life for Jesus during a time when Christians are making the news for fussing over Starbucks cups. 

Now picture if Curry decided to pursue a 9 to 5 job that seemed “safe,” even though his heart wasn’t in it. The world would have missed out on delighting in the entertainment provided by an athlete who uses his gifts and his love for the game to glorify God! We would have missed out on the way he serves as a role model to other young people who want to know what it looks like to be in a Christ-centered marriage. 

No one else can fill Steph Curry’s square inch, because he is the only person who was created with the gifts, life experiences, personality traits, and passions necessary to fulfill the assignment that was given to him.

Now, everyone has a different square inch, and everyone has a different platform, so this square inch won’t look the same for everyone; it won’t even look the same throughout the progression of our own lifespan. Even though Steph Curry is a basketball player right now, that will not be his career his whole life, but when that career ends, his purpose in life won’t disappear. 

That’s because we aren’t defined by our careers. While we make quite a production about finding the perfect job, establishing yourself in a career is not the end goal. One day, that career will end–and if that’s where your sense of purpose is nested–so will your purpose.

With the realization that my life is not defined by what I do to make a living, I started praying that God would show me where to offer my heart. I prayed that God would help guide me as I tried to find my “square inch.” 

And guess what…

He answered.

After a lot of prayer while searching for my vocation, the answer came through a past conversation I had with my dad; though this conversation took place last year, it wasn’t until this fall that its value appeared to me.

At the time of the discussion, I was complaining to my dad, telling him that I didn’t know what to do with my life, because I didn’t have talents that were as flashy or obvious as some of my friends and family members.

“Some people are extremely athletic or artistic or musical or hilarious, but I don’t really have any specific strength that sticks out.” 

My dad gave me a confused look, “Sure you do; it’s your ability to love others.” 

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I shook my head, “That’s not a special strength, Dad…anyone can do that.”

“That’s not true. Kindness is not natural to everyone. Not everyone can care about others the way that you do. Kelly, the only reason it seems easy to you is because it’s such a part of the way you’re wired. Think about all the time you spend showing other people that they are valuable and appreciated. You’re passionate about people, and loving them is your gift.”

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This realization gave me that serendipitous, floaty feeling you get when you open a Christmas gift you really wanted, but never thought you’d actually receive, or when you discover that the person who gives you butterflies has a crush on you. 

This floaty feeling came from way more than an answered prayer; it was the beginning of my ability to notice glimpses of God’s faithfulness surfacing as things finally began to fall into place.

I began to notice how my favorite part of every job I have taken had always circled back to making others feel valued; asking those I served at Russ’ to tell me about their grandkids while I filled their coffee cups, complimenting my photographers’ creative processes during modeling gigs, or putting people at ease before they went on-camera during my WOTV internship. 

My greatest passion rested in making people feel valued, whether that was through pointing out their gifts, encouraging them, or lending a listening ear. I found the most joy in any moment that let me extend love to others in the ways they needed it. 

This realization has certainly shaped my post-college career plans; I recently applied to grad school to Master in Marriage and Family Therapy. After a lot praying and listening, I know this is where I can fuse my passion for families and relationships with my gifts for helping others to be seen and understood. While this next step in discovering what I want to do after college is an important part of the course my life will take, my new post-college plan is much bigger than that. 

My new post-college plan makes me excited for the future rather than fearful. My post-college plan has prepared me with a much more substantial answer to give to the next person who asks me what I want to do after I graduate:

I am going to love others wherever and however it is needed, to encourage and support others others so they can confidently pursue their passions. That is my passion, and that is my gift, but more importantly, that’s how I can best offer my heart, promptly and sincerely…and that is my square inch.  

An Open Letter to All “Nice Guys”

Dear Nice Guys,

Thank you for being you. In a society that glorifies the “Bad Boys”, the media hasn’t exactly worked in your favor; in fact, it’s done the opposite. Often, you have been painted as boring, weak, or even weird–but here’s a secret: your demographic is quite possibly my favorite.

Why?

Well, besides the fact that Stephen Curry and Chris Pratt are a part of your squad (you’re in good company), here are the reasons why Nice Guys are the real MVPs:

Because you beat the odds.

Because in a society that measures masculinity with status, money, sex, prestige, and dominance, you’re an anomaly.

Because, Nice Guys, when I’m around you, I feel safe, never threatened; like a person, not a pawn.

Because when you carry my books or hold the elevator door for me, you do it to be helpful, not to impress me.

Because when you ask about my interests, it’s out of curiosity, not strategy.

Because you respect my achievements rather than compete with them.

Because you know the difference between seeing someone and looking at them.

Because I can trust that when you give me your jacket, it’s because you care about my comfort more than your own.

Because when you are friend-zoned, you never accuse me of leading you on.

Because I can trust that you’ll answer my questions with honesty rather than telling me what I want to hear.

Because I know that when you ask me my name, you’ll remember it.

Nice is not synonymous with boringgentleness and strength are not mutually exclusive.

You aren’t boring; you’re rare, and that’s exciting.

You aren’t weak. You’re gentle, and that shows strength.

You aren’t weird, you’re different, and that’s extraordinary.

So thank you for being you–thank you for being nice.

Sincerely,

Kelly M. Doles