It's been two years since Sweet Caroline became an official website. It's hard to believe it was that long ago, it literally seems like I just launched it yesterday! It's amazing to see how much it has grown and updated. I plan to continue upgrading it in the future, and I definitely will work at it to make content creating/influencing a part of my dream career. Don't worry, Sweet Caroline ain't going anywhere!
One of the ways that my blog has helped me in my own personal life is giving me more confidence. I'm much more confident now than when I first started out, which is the purpose for this specific blog post. A lot has been on my heart lately, so I think I'm ready to let it spill.
If you were to know me as a family relative or close friend, you would probably know that I've dealt with a great deal of anxiety, stress, and OCD for a long time. I know it's something that every human being goes through, but it just happens to be a big common factor that runs in my family. In elementary school, I became so stressed with the amount of homework I was given (that was the time when division equations were getting risky). I was so overstressed that my friends, classmates, and teachers actually thought that I had anger management problems. Of course I didn't, it's not like I was flipping desk over when I couldn't solve a math problem (even though I could've if I was stronger at the time).
Things didn't get any better in middle school, which is around the time when my OCD habits kicked in. I was even more overstressed with homework and I felt lonely. I had at least five friends, but I still felt like an outcast. First off, let me just say middle school is a shitty time and barely anyone looks back and remembers middle school as an "amazing" experience. My anxiety was increasing greatly until I went to a private high school where I went to seek educational help and I made more friends in the progress. Although those four years were some of the best of my life, I still mentally struggled a lot. I developed the habit of comparing myself to other people who I thought were funnier than me, prettier than me, and more hardworking than me. You know the one big thing I regret from high school? Not voicing my opinions enough. I used to get made fun of for my positive attitude, which is really a stupid thing to tease someone for. Some guy in my grade even told one of my friends that he thought I was too ditzy. High schoolers say shit about people because they think they can, and you'll realize how silly that is once you've graduated. And being positive isn't always easy, sometimes I have to put on a brave face, smile, and push through it. I look back at that now and realize some of those negative jerks were most likely jealous that they couldn't relate to my level of positivity. The way I see it, positivity means holding a great amount of confidence, which leads closer to the main point of this blog post ...
My anxiety and stress may not be as bad as it was in elementary through high school, but it can still be overwhelming in college. The amount of schoolwork and studying combined is horrendous. And while I have amazing friends who accept and love me, I still can't help but sometimes compare myself to others. Sometimes I feel like I don't try hard enough to hang out or meet new people, whether I'm busy or not. I still pray constantly to God to help me let go of the insecurities that bring me down. Coming into college; however, has helped me seek my true passion: fashion. That's the one thing that makes me confident and that I know I'm good at. I consider myself very well-dressed with a good taste, a style which consists of a combination of class and funk. I feel like a total badass when I enter a room with a classy dress and a pair of stylish pumps that give me power. That's when I was struck by lightening with the idea to start a fashion and lifestyle blog. Now here I am two years later still typing away while attending Kent State University as a fashion merchandising major with a minor in PR, a member of the school's fashion student organization, and a member of the all-female health + fitness group CHAARG. Writing each post, whether about fashion, a recent vacation, lifestyle tips, or some of my weekly favorites, has helped uplifted confidence within myself, and I want it to inspire people to be confident in their own skin.
I am disgusted with the amount of people that judge anyone who they consider to not be "perfect enough". It's almost as if we live in a completely photoshopped world like what we see in magazines or Instagram pictures. I find it cruel when a so called perfectionist claims that only size 2 can make you look beautiful. Even girls who are thick as a stick are considered not attractive. It also infuriates me when girls make fun of girls who don't wear makeup or wear too much of it. Like, is there even an in between for that matter? That's just complete bullshit, and let me just say that everything you see in magazines and social media is unrealistic. No one is perfect (except for Jesus) and no one's life is perfect as it may look in the pictures they post. Argue with me all you want, it's a true fact. Ashley Graham once quoted, "I realized if I didn't love the woman I saw in the mirror, then there was no way I was actually going to be successful." Don't know who she is? Let me tell you that she's one of the most successful, beautiful, and confident plus-size fashion models of our generation.
Most of the time you get to read my opinions on the blog, but I have many confident friends and relatives who give the best pieces of advice when it comes to self-love. My wonderful, inspiring, and beautiful cousin Karly managed to take some time off from her busy schedule as a hardworking laboratory scientist to share her story on finding confidence not just in fashion but within herself:
"My entire life has been a struggle with my size. If it’s not about my weight, then it’s about my height. When I was in fifth grade, I was one of the tallest kids in the school at 5’2”. As a 28-year old adult woman, I am still not one bit taller than I was in fifth grade. In college, a man walked up to me while I was at work and asked me why my legs were “so damn big, girl!” I gave a smart quip back to him about having more strength in one of my legs than he could ever imagine having in his whole body. While we stood there and laughed together about the size of my legs and smart-ass retort, I was crying on the inside. Humor has always been an easy and quick defense mechanism for me. It’s much easier to laugh at yourself with a group of people than to cry all alone. So that’s what I would do. When an old boyfriend told me that he would marry me if and only if I lost forty pounds, I laughed at him and made a joke about “my fat ass being perfect just the way it is”. When he said the same thing to me a second time a few months later, laughter was my only response because then I realized that he was serious. I was with someone who truly felt that he would only be willing to spend the rest of his life with me if there was LESS of me. Laughter was a little bit harder after that.
I grew up with a gorgeous family. Both of my little sisters are the actual definition of the word ‘perfect’. My cousins get more and more beautiful with each year that passes, and my mother and her sisters are unattainably gorgeous and kind-hearted. As a young woman, hell even as an adult woman, it’s hard to not compare yourself to the people around you. For me, I still haven’t grasped the idea of looking at my little sisters and not wishing I could look like them. Of course, nobody would ever know this because I am an actual wizard when it comes to hiding my feelings. Just waiting on that Hogwarts letter. Should be any day now. But what I’m sure my sisters don’t realize, (and my cousins, and my mom, and my aunts, and my best friends) is that they have all helped me reach a place in my life where I can look in the mirror and be honest with myself. I can look in the mirror and I can be positive and uplifting and I can say all the things to myself that I make sure to say to my friends and family and I can actually believe myself. “I am beautiful. I am smart. I am totally and absolutely fine just the way I am.” Some days are easier than others.
Last year, while I was living for a short period of time in Vermont, I went dress shopping for a friend’s wedding. I was having a bad day. I felt bloated. Nothing fit the way I wanted. Everything in my size made me feel like the girl who turned into a giant blueberry in the Willy Wonka movie. So I decided to take a break from trying on dresses and picked up a pair of jeans. It is absolutely true what they say about the perfect pair of denim jeans. They. Can. Change. Your. World. I am still fully convinced that these jeans were made for me by some magical creature living in a beautiful forest. I didn’t want to take them off. In fact, I kept them on, walked to the shoe section, picked up a pair of heels and just walked around the department store for a few minutes. I looked so good. More importantly, I FELT so good. The next dress I tried on, I fell in love with. I was so high from feeling so good about myself in those jeans that I allowed myself to compliment what I saw in the mirror, not pick apart every little thing that I hated or that wasn’t “perfect”.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as an adult woman who is ALMOST 30 (yikes) is that I have to dress the body I have. I have to feel comfortable. Most recently, my best friend Caitlin, who is phenomenally talented and owns her own clothing boutique, styled me at her house. One of the things she kept repeating to me was “If you aren’t comfortable and if you don’t love yourself in it, then it’s not for you. Don’t spend any more time in it. Even if people are telling you how amazing you look in it. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t push it.” In terms of fashion, Caitlin has helped me (and dressed me) for the last fifteen years. She’s helped me have the confidence that I have right now as I write this in an outfit that she pretty much put together for me thousands of miles away. Every single day, it gets easier for me to get dressed and look in the mirror and think “DAMN, KARLY! YOU LOOK GOOD, GIRL!” Every single day, it gets easier to look down and see the tree trunks that I have for thighs (which I have lovingly named Thunder and Lightning) and think positive thoughts rather than negative ones. Every single day, it gets easier for me to stop comparing myself to someone else because I have learned that I am me, and I am AWESOME. Every single day, it gets easier to accept the body that I have. It’s unrealistic to be positive every single day about every single thing, but it is not unrealistic to be kind to yourself every day and to lift yourself up rather than putting yourself down.
Lesson number one comes directly from a member of my favorite morning radio show, The Bert Show in Atlanta, Georgia, Cassie Young. “Your inner-value and self-worth comes from YOU, not what you look like. Who gives a f**k if you got a few extra pounds. Or ten. Or twenty. Thirty. Whatever. If you are happy and healthy, that’s ALL that matters.”
Lesson number two comes from my little sister, Summer. “Spend the extra money and get the good concealer. No one will be able to tell you’ve been crying.”
Lesson number three comes from my other little sister, Haley. "Walk into a room with your head held high, with confidence and strength, and when in doubt, use your terrible British accent to make everyone around you laugh until they cry."
Lesson number four comes from my best friends, Jessica Howard and Caitlin Nystrom. "You are you. And you are enough. And you are beautiful."
Lesson number five comes from recently single, twenty-five year old Karly who finally had the courage to do the right thing. “The things he said about you and the way he made you feel have no bearing on how beautiful and amazing you are. There will be others. And sometimes they may hurt you. But your happiness does not rest in their hands. It rests in your own.”Finally, lesson number six comes from my beautiful and inspirational cousin, Caroline Tullis. "I truly believe confidence is the best thing a person can wear, and everyone is beautiful in the skin they were born in.” A direct quote from a beautiful and uplifting text message she sent me last year.
It’s a long, arduous journey to self-love, but once you get there, it’s impossible to go back. Even with the help of Thunder and Lightning.
- Karly Lippert, Medical Laboratory Scientist at Aureus Medical Group - Medical Laboratory Team