I am incredibly self-conscious about myself. Always have been. People look at me and typically see a seemingly confident person. The truth is, I never think I am doing anything right, especially  when dating. Am I wearing the right clothes? Why is my face breaking out like this? Can she tell that she is way out of my league and should not be with me right now? Should I explain that to her and take her back and thank her for her time? Does she hate guys with tight pants? All I own are tight pants! Is there something in my teeth? Crap, my shoes are squeaking, I really hope she doesn’t think the squeaks are really on-tempo farts. Can she tell I lift when I wear this shirt? Does it hug my arms good enough? Should I overcompensate and talk about how much I love the gym?  I am so scared. Can she tell I’m scared? I need a hug. But wait, is that too forward?

I kind of feel like I am broken at times, like I wasn’t made right or something. I work hard to appear cool and interesting, and then I get ghosted and I am like… “Hi, I am sorry I ruined your life with my presence.” LOLZ…. Sigh…  So then you jump back on Tinder and swipe your life away while watching Netflix…. but not really watching Netflix cuz you gotta find your eternal bae. And oh ya. You bet your bottom I try to strategically organize the photos in which they will be seen. “Okay, so this is a good first picture cuz it shows my smile and that will tell them I am a happy person. But the next one really needs to be me with a dog to add variety and the fact that girls love dogs! All of the memes on the internet tell me so. Oh and something adventurous so they don’t assume I watch Netflix all day! Which I totally do, but I gotta SEEM adventurous!” *one week later “Hmm… Not a lot of matches… There must be something wrong with my picture formula! No chance it is me. It was the order in which I placed them!”

We live in this dating world where you go on a million dates and don’t click with anyone, and the ones you end up really really liking end up destroying your heart, punching it in the face, stomping on it, and then sending it in a spaceship to some unknown planet that then gets blown up by an alien ship. So, eventually you just become jaded and then everyone around you that is in a relationship is telling you that you are single because you are just soooooo picky. Cuz like. It’s your fault duh.”Just pick someone and love them! It’s not hard!” Oh? I am? Okay. Cool. You’re right. But you are taking way too long to decide what to eat at the drive-thru so maybe you should just order a packet of ketchup and we can be on our way? Shut up person. The only reason you are in a relationship is because you got lucky. Not because you have all of the answers. *drops the mic

So, here’s the thing. I have no idea what I am doing. But I am not too convinced that anyone does. Not even you, self-righteous annoying perfect Instagram relationship know-it-all couple *barf (jk I love you and your happiness… I am just super jealous).  I am awkward. I hate dating. It scares the living daylights out of me and gives me anxiety and I just want someone to love me and for me to love them back. But somehow I gotta do it! We all have to do it. I mean… You don’t have to. I’m not making you do anything. Just a suggestion.

So, here’s what I propose. Let’s all be a little more kind to each other. Life is hard. It’s harder for the awkward single people scared of real communication and time away from Netflix. It’s hard to open up. It’s hard to be real. But let’s give it a shot? Let’s be confident in the fact we are awkward. And then let’s try to find more ways to be truly confident and love ourselves!

I am nowhere near perfect. But I try so hard to find new reasons to be grateful, and new reasons to love who I am. Hey you reading this, YOU are unique! Maybe you don’t like the way you look in the mirror, but someday someone will! They will love your awkwardness. They will love you for no other reason other than the fact that you are YOU. How wonderful is that? Every single person you date will not work out except the one that does. Okay, that doesn’t sound too great. But hey! I’m in this too!

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Love yourself, love the process, and grow. You aren’t perfect, no one is. Not even your really hot date that you think is out of your league is perfect. I honestly don’t know why you are still single. Shoot, I have been single for what? 7 years? 8 years? I don’t really remember at this point. But I know loving who I am is important. Growing is important. Helping others is important. There is more to your worth than the person next to you on that square photo on instagram getting all kinds of likes because you are #RelationshipGoals.

As you take on a new year as a single human, maybe make a resolution to be a less miserable single human (I am a super dramatic annoying miserable single human, so I am mostly talking to myself). A single human that accepts their flaws and strives to become better and more loving to themselves! I know, it’s hard. But your happiness depends on it. You either let yourself be miserable, or you try and find the good in life whether you are in a relationship or not!

Be forgiving of yourself. These things take time, and not everyone is on the same timeline. Always look for ways to serve others. Always take the time to spend by yourself in a meaningful way. And next time you are on a date with someone super awkward, maybe give them another shot 😉

Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are a sexy beast because you ARE,  you know you are, I know you are, and everyone knows you are. Now get out there and make it happen in 2017 and always!

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You kind of have expectations for how life will go. If someone in your life is struggling, you just expect them to get better eventually. The worst isn’t what happens. It’s not what is supposed to happen. Well, the worst happened.

My sister struggled with addictions. These addictions eventually caused her to change into a completely different person, and eventually pass away. However, along the path, there is one thing that was always the same about my sister, even when she was prisoner to these addictions–Her insane ability to love.

My sister didn’t really see any characteristic in humans that would deserve this type of kindness other than the simple fact they were just that, HUMAN. You could be a billionaire or the homeless person in the street and she would have treated you the same. She didn’t have much, but what she did have, she gave.  It would never matter to her if your opinions were completely different than hers…. Nothing else mattered. She would take care of you.

My sister was the type of person that would invite a homeless person to stay at her house on a cold night. You may think I am kidding, but I am actually being serious. Like, that happened.  Now, I am not saying to go and do the same, I am just saying that she had so much trust and love for people that she literally would do anything in her ability to help.

I didn’t come from a family of many means. My sister knew this, and although she didn’t have barely anything herself, she still found ways to help. One year when she got her tax return and she spent almost the whole thing on my family. She took me shopping so I could wear “cool kid” clothes and feel a little more normal at school. My sister loved us so much, and one day she knew it would all be better for us.

After she passed, I was shocked. I guess anyone would be. But.. I thought she was supposed to get better. After my intense grieving period ended, I learned just how important it is to love people better. I experienced so much pain.. My family did. It was the kindness and sensitivity of others that helped the most. People tend to get scared of people who are in pain like they are some kind of alien, to no fault of their own. This is just the human condition. This kind of perceived rejection from society is difficult to deal with when you are already in so much pain. This just kicks you while you’re down.

I learned a lot from my sister’s life, and her death. I learned how hard it was when she passed and how it made me feel. I learned that everyone’s problems are important and that everyone deserves love and kindness like my sister would have shown. I am still not very good at it. I do my best to include people like she did. I do my best to treat everyone equally like she did. I try my best to love the homeless person smelling like alcohol, and the business acquaintance I meet in the same way. To not look at their current circumstance, but the light inside.. The fact they are human is reason enough to love them. The fact they both have their own struggles should mean they deserve love all the same.

It’s funny, the one person I wish was with me after she passed… was her. I hope to one day love like she did. Even when she had nothing and was a prisoner to addiction she still managed to give what she had to help others who had their own problems no matter how big or small they seemed.

Tomorrow is Christmas, and 2016 is ending. This year, let’s all try to love like Aprildawn. We deserve it.

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This isn’t really one of those “I believed in myself and made it” kind of stories. More of the, “I got the living crap kicked out of me but I somehow came out the other end alive!” Kind of stories.  I honestly never thought I would graduate college. I didn’t think I had it in me. I thought I would give up somewhere down the line. Well, as of this week I now have a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Minor in Business Management.

Can I first walk you through my failures during this experience? Well, to be frank I didn’t do very well in school right out of the gate.

If you remember an old post I did, you know that I also struggled with suicide. Such a horrible horrible horrible horrible thing. I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t think God loved me. I didn’t think I was capable of anything great.

My first semester went pretty well, other than the slight setback mentioned above, and then my grandfather passed away and I completely failed every single class the next semester. After that, I took a semester off debating if I would go back to school. I mustered up enough courage to go back. However, I lost my good standing with the school and had to plea with a board to let me come back. I did it! They let me in! But… I didn’t do very well and lost my good standing AGAIN.

I. Failed. Again.

But…. This is where a miracle happens.

I didn’t think I could graduate college, but I knew I had to. I knew someway I just had to. I wrote my letter for the board again to let me come back. I don’t remember what was in this letter, but they let me come back. They took a risk and believed I could do it, so ever since then I put my head down and just went for it.

We all know I also went on a mission in the middle of my schooling, came back, and had a sister pass away. From that, I experienced such a hell that I would not be able to put into words. My depression was very intense and I went to a therapist weekly (that was actually really nice! I love that guy). And oh ya, I also was laid off 3 too many times from jobs I really needed to survive. If it wasn’t for my brother and his wife taking me in, I would not be where I am now.

There were nights when I would get on my knees and cry because of mistakes I had made, or failures I experienced. There were times I looked at my schedule and thought, “I will never be able to pass that Finance class.” Or “how will I ever work full-time and take this many credits.”

But… I did it. I made it. I am happy, I love myself, I graduated, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY (just a side note), I love my job, I love my passions…. I made it.

The point I am trying to make is, NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF. You are worth so much more than you think and God wants you to succeed. He wants you to be happy, even if you don’t see it now. Had I had an easy college experience, I don’t think I would have the drive that I do now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I needed that. I needed to know that I can stick with something and come out the other side a winner (a beaten and bruised winner lol, but nonetheless a winner). After having “failed” in so many areas in life, I needed this.

If you are faced with something you just don’t think you can overcome, I beg you to keep trying. Keep knocking on that door until it opens. CHOOSE to live, CHOOSE to love others more, CHOOSE to follow your passions, CHOOSE to not give up.

After my father left our family, my mother showed me exactly how you push through something even if you don’t know how. Even if you don’t think it’s possible. She accomplished the impossible. She showed me the path to get to where I needed to be. She showed me how to fight. She showed me life is worth living, and at the end of the day, it’s all about being around those you love and sharing experiences.

A friend of mine posted something on facebook that said, “Hustle like it’s all on you. Pray like it’s all on God.” My experiences have given me the tools I needed to know I can be great. I intend on being great. I intend on working my hardest to be the person I was meant to be. If you fail… Get up. Never stop getting up.

If you know someone who is struggling, or has come to a difficult time in their life, please send this message their way and tell them how much you love them. You wouldn’t believe how helpful that can be.