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TRU: The Real U

One Woman With Inner Beauty Can Change the World

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

By Matt G. Routine is safe. It’s secure. It’s, well . . . comfortable. It can be truly comforting to know what to expect when you go to school or work each day.  The “comfort zone” often gets an unwarranted bad rap, and leaving one’s comfort zone is lauded as a heroic deed. Is being in your comfort zone really that bad? That’s what I wondered when I contemplated leaving my job to pursue another degree. While there was nothing wrong with my 8:00–5:00 job, I would not have had the opportunities, growth, and friendships I currently enjoy if I had not shaken up my life and moved to College Station, Texas (a city I had never been to in a state I had only visited once prior to my first day of class). As someone who studied English, editing, and Russian  in college and worked primarily as a writer thereafter, enrolling in this program meant leaving behind a steady job with a decent paycheck to take Master’s level classes in subjects I had zero familiarity with. It meant trading in my comfort zone for business classes that at times seemed more foreign than studying Russian. But you know what? The personal growth has outweighed the hardships. It has been totally worth it. And it will be worth it for you too if you decide to do something you really want to do—something that seems impossible. That something could be a variety of things: Trying out for a sports team Singing a solo Becoming a foreign exchange student Volunteering at a hospital Going on a mission trip Doing these things will more than disrupt your comfort zone. It will change your life for the better. You will increase your education, enhance your knowledge, and become a more well-rounded person. Add in the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing something you never thought you could do. I wish you the best of luck as you leave behind your old life and go for your goals. Matt Garrett is a former copywriter, columnist, and Russian interpreter. He only took one business class as an undergrad. Today he is on the Mays MBA Student Advisory Board and is President of SHOC (Students Helping Our Community). Share...

“Where Did I Come From?”: Conclusions on Being Different

“Where Did I Come From?”: Conclusions on Being Different

“Where did I come from?” This is a question I often asked myself when I was growing up. I don’t mean this from a theological perspective (although I would be happy to share what I have come to know from a religious perspective if you are curious). No, usually when I asked myself this question it came when I realized how weird the rest of my family was, like when my mother set off the fire alarm while cooking dinner every night for an entire year, my brother “expressed himself” by making a clay, tribal-looking mask with horns, or my dad attempted to dance (somehow both a frightening and entertaining experience all rolled into one). I am different from every member of my family. In a family of blue-collar workers who labor outside all day, I spend my time in an air-conditioned office cubicle. My family does not like to read; I have read hundreds of books and write for a living. I have more degrees and minors (3) than the rest of my family combined (0). My brother is half a foot taller than me, rail thin, and wears shoes that are 6 sizes larger than mine. I am short and have a wrestler’s build. I was the one who played every possible sport and to this day follow every sport with zealous fervor. My brother couldn’t care less. I am the only one with hazel eyes. I am clearly the best looking. I live in a different state. My chest is hairier. I come from a family of homebodies yet I am possessed by a desire to see EVERYTHING and go EVERYWHERE. Now that I think about it, with all of these differences, maybe I am the weird one. My family and me at my brother’s wedding (I’m the handsome guy on the left) Yet, I have come to realize that these differences are not a bad thing. In fact, differences are what define us, what make us attracted to one another. Think about how boring it would be if we were all the same. And what’s so wrong with being different anyway? I love what Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood said:  “I think being different, going against the grain of society, is the greatest thing in the world.” I totally agree. Sometimes it can be almost painful to be different. Everyone wants acceptance, but that should not come at the price of giving up “The Real U.” If you compromise your values or give up the real you, who is left anyway? No one. No one at all. When you forsake your values and your integrity, you forgo your identity. Like Mulan teaches us, “Be true to your heart.” You don’t need to change to fit in. Similarly, you don’t need to change just to stand out either. Both trying too hard to conform and acting out for the sake of attention are massive turnoffs. Just be yourself. Embrace the things that make you glorious you. It is OK if you like science experiments when all your friends would rather shovel manure than go to chemistry class. It is OK if you are a brunette and the rest of your family is blond. It is OK if you aren’t into boys when seemingly all of your peers are. It is OK to be you. It really is. In fact, it is more than OK: being yourself is the perfect gift you can give to the world. So, while I still haven’t answered my question and have no idea “where I came from,” I am totally fine not knowing. It makes life more exciting and genuine that way. I am content to be myself, to love the person I see staring back at me in the mirror. To embrace the fact that the real me is the best me. Matt Garrett loves his weird family, cookies, shotclocksports.com, and the daily things that make life so special. He encourages you to be true to yourself.   Share...

A Guy’s Perspective on How Girls Dress

A Guy’s Perspective on How Girls Dress

“Daisy dukes, bikinis on top,” sing Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg. Mini skirts. Razorback jerseys. Too short shorts that leave little too the imagination. Doesn’t it seem like everywhere we look the amount of fabric used to make clothes seems to have been cut in half, yet clothing prices have doubled? Hollywood and advertisers everywhere want girls to think that this is how they should dress, and that they need to dress with as much skin showing as possible to be attractive to guys. But what do guys think? What does the cute guy in algebra class really admire when it comes to the way you dress? Speaking from the guys’ perspective, I can tell you that most (good) guys actually want a girl who covers up their body. Here is why: The way you dress expresses who you are and who you want to be. Think about it. Just as the clothes firemen wear help to define them and a basketball player’s attire professes who they are, the clothes girls wear express how they want to be viewed. We guys want a girl who takes care of and respects herself, because it means that she takes pride in her appearance and will respect us too. While looks are important, they aren’t everything, and when we see scantily clad girls, that is all we define them as. For instance, we anticipate that girls who show more of their body in public than they should are clearly trying to lure us in only with their body, and that they probably don’t have anything else to offer. That is not enough for us. True beauty is way more than skin deep. The teen website Virtuous Reality (www.virtuousreality.com) recently worked with the B&H Publishing Group to learn what teen guys really value in a girl’s appearance. One question they asked guys was what thoughts go through their heads when they see girls inappropriately dressed. Here are some of my favorite responses (which by the way sum up the overall findings). “Bless her heart. She must feel like she has to dress that way to get attention.” — Ryan, 18 “They need to respect themselves and everyone else around them by dressing more modestly.” — Travis, 16 “Do you want my sweatshirt? I really struggle with lust, so when girls dress inappropriately, it’s really hard on me. Especially, when I’m in a classroom and can’t escape from the temptation.” — Jake, 16 I think that the girl is convinced that it’s the only way she can get attention. It makes me think she’s not self-confident. — Tom, 16 I think that if they really felt like they were pretty, they wouldn’t have to dress that way. They have no respect for themselves or their parents. — Mario, 14 I think they are desperate. — Alex, 15 Well, sometimes I want to look, but eventually I realize that they aren’t the kind of girls I want to be with. — Chris, 16 For more responses go to www.virtuousreality.com and go to Guy’s Survey: The Low-down on Modesty. I love sports, and in my opinion one of the greatest athletes of all-time is the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. One of his daughters shares a life lesson she learned from her dad when she was dressed immodestly. She says, “When we finally arrived [at the hotel where my father was staying], the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day. My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.” He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.” (From the book, More Than a Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Presented Through His Daughter’s Eyes by Hana Ali) Girls, you really are beautiful. In my opinion women are God’s most prized and beautiful creation—that’s...

Work and the Phantom Snow Shoveler

Work and the Phantom Snow Shoveler

I live on a farm, far away from the city lights where the sounds of car horns and loud neighbors are replaced by crowing roosters and mooing cows. The peace and quiet enjoyed on the farm did come at a cost; we were not afforded many of the services that cities provide. We did not qualify for a city library card, had no representatives on the local governing board, and never received the services of snowplows when winter snowstorms would hit. To the puzzlement of my family and all of our neighbors, we always had both snowplowed driveways and shoveled walkways. At night we would go to sleep during a heavy snowfall, and in the morning all the snow would be neatly cleared. My rural neighborhood was baffled. Clearly some unknown Good Samaritan was silently doing work, a lot of work, out of love for the neighborhood. I aimed to catch this secret Good Samaritan. Morning after early morning I got up earlier and earlier, only to discover that I had already missed the “phantom snow shoveler.” Determined not to give up, I decided to stay up the whole night to be ready when the snow shoveler struck. The next time the snow hit I flipped on all the outdoor lights as soon as I could hear the faint sound of snow being cleared away. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Good Samaritan was none other than my grandpa! Embarrassed at being caught, he explained that he cleared snow for most of the night because he enjoyed serving others. He taught me that the best payment anyone could receive for work is making others happy. Oftentimes I’m tempted to complain about work. Work is taxing on both the mind and body. Work is sweaty, dirty, hot, and cumbersome. It requires effort, the sacrifice of more desired activities, and at times may be a major inconvenience. Yet, all these things make the work and completion of a task much more enjoyable. At times when the task at hand seems unbearable, I like to think about how satisfying the completion of the task will be. I picture the smile on my grandpa’s face when he sees the satisfied and confused faces of his grateful neighbors. The truth of the matter is that anyone can have fun and enjoy a day without responsibilities or goals. Yet, not everyone can handle work. My grandpa taught me that work is the great definer of a person; when the time for hard work comes, some turn up their sleeves, others turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. So, the next time the task at hand seems impossible and insurmountable, don’t give up. Remember that others before you have had to tackle the same tasks and that you are not alone. Be mindful that the process of working is often more valuable than the completion of work. Only through work can we grow and progress and become better and stronger today than we were yesterday. And only through work can we achieve true inner beauty. Just remember, the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary! Matt G. is a recent college grad who can proudly say that he has finally learned to love work! Share...

What a Flower Garden Can Teach You About Inner Beauty

What a Flower Garden Can Teach You About Inner Beauty

I began flower gardening with my mom during my middle school years. She taught me how to appreciate the beauty of a carnation and the smell of a lilac. I must admit that at first I looked at gardening as just another chore and loathed deadheading expired buds and pruning thorny rose bushes. Eventually, however, I begin to look forward to each Saturday morning when I would get the opportunity to work with my mom in her beloved flowers. I not only relished the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with my mom, but also came to the realization that a flower garden can teach you many life lessons. As crazy it may sound, one of these life lessons was insight into the traits that are truly admirable in girls. Here are five lessons the flower garden taught me about the beauty and value of young women. 1. Some flowers, such as the hellaconia, are truly beautiful but take a while to show their true colors. The hellaconia is a vibrant fusion of red, purple, and yellow that is truly gorgeous. However, the hellaconia also takes a long time to show its beauty. Some breeds of the hellaconia are dormant for years before they blossom! However, when they do it is totally worth it. If you are shy or afraid to show your true colors, don’t worry. Just as every flower blooms at different times, so too does it take varying amount of times for girls to overcome shyness and express themselves. There is no need to bloom right away or when everyone else does; when the time is right, you will express yourself. Remember, just as all flowers are beautiful, you are too. 2. For a flower garden to be truly beautiful it takes some work and upkeep. Like girls, a flower garden has an innate, natural beauty. However, a little maintenance work goes a long way toward displaying this beauty. Just as it takes weeding and pruning to keep a flower garden looking great, girls should take pride in their appearance. A little upkeep can go a long way. Although you don’t need to conform to what the media tells you is beautiful, you can still make sure “weeds” such as ill-fitting clothes or poor hygiene don’t detract from your true beauty. 3. Sometimes a flower needs a little fertilizer. Even if it is strong and mostly healthy, sometimes the weather and other elements can be overwhelming and a flower needs a boost. Some flowers, such as the majestic kangaroo paw, need regular fertilizer. At times in your life you will also need “fertilizer.” Let’s face it: life can be tough. During especially tough times when you need a little extra support, strive to grow upward and heavenward like a flower. By remembering God and relying on Him, you will be able to get through tough times. He will give you the boost you need to get over the hurdles in life and begin to grow again. Don’t ever give up. You can do it! 4. No two flowers are alike. Part of the awesomeness and splendor of flowers is that they are so unique. There are seemingly an innumerable amount of types, colors, and shapes of flowers. In fact, this variance is part of what makes flowers so appealing. Remember that it is OK to look different. You don’t have to look like everyone else. In fact, if you did, your beauty and the things that make you who you are would be overlooked and under-appreciated. It is OK to stand out. Never be ashamed at who you are; you are a special flower that adds to the overall beauty of the world. 5. Flowers require pollination. Tiny seeds and pollinating hairs must be pollinated for a flower to grow and bloom. This is a difficult process. Fortunately, however, flowers can help pollinate one another. When seedlings or dander from one flower touch another, the second flower is pollinated and begins to bloom. So, by touching another flower’s life, a flower is literally saved and allowed to grow. Almost every day we have the opportunity to help others and touch their lives. When you have the chance, lend a helping hand. No one wants to be around someone who is self-centered and only cares about themselves. By helping others grow and become beautiful, you also take a step closer to perfection. Remember, we are all in the flower garden of life together. Remember that you truly are great and beautiful. Nothing that you or anyone else says or does can change that. Be confident, take pride in your appearance, and rest assured...

Why Education is Attractive

Why Education is Attractive

As a man and the author of Male Box, I freely admit that sometimes girls confuse me. One particular instance that sticks out in my mind was when I was in high school. I was at a church function and talking to a female classmate whom I thought was super cute. As we talked, however, my feelings of a crush quickly turned into feeling of confusion as the girl told me about the crash diet she was on. As I mentioned, I thought this girl was very cute. As she explained her crash diet plan, I thought it sounded like the worst idea in the history of the world, and had no idea why anyone would ever want to do such a thing. Confused, I asked her why she was on such a seemingly unnecessary, miserable diet. Her response was, “I want to be more attractive.” In the years since that conversation, I have thought a lot about what makes someone attractive. I have come to the conclusion that attractiveness is not a measurement you see standing on the scale nor a result of the brand of clothes you wear. It is not a result of the color or the straightness of your hair, nor is it having the “ideal figure.” True attractiveness cannot be found looking in a magazine or even by looking in the mirror. Rather, it is a measure of who you are inside, your inner beauty. And one important way to enhance your inner beauty is through gaining intelligence. Education and knowledge are truly attractive. Here is why. More education makes conversation easier. The more two people know, the more they will have in common. It goes without saying that this makes communicating and getting to know one another easier. It also means that there will be more shared interests, and therefore a higher likelihood of doing social activities together. Developing lasting relationships starts with shared interests and intellect, so why not study harder to enhance both? Education is an indicator of motivation. By going to school and getting good grades, it shows that you know how to work hard. Even when school is trivial or boring, when you work hard, it is obvious you have the motivation to not give up. This is very attractive to guys. It is also a very valuable characteristic to have in life. It means that no matter how difficult things may be, the ability to work hard and do difficult things will be enough to overcome all obstacles. What could be more attractive than a modern-day “Superwoman” who never gives up? While you may not actually be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, you can push yourself to become better, and that is super awesome and attractive. And it all starts with education. Books are cool.  It is impossible to get a decent education without reading a lot of books. In the old days, “bookworms” were viewed as nerdy and boring. That is not the case anymore. Books are cool and nerdy is the new attractive. You know how in movies like Mean Girls and She’s All That, the smart girl becomes the most attractive girl—both inside at out—at the end of the movie? In real life, it doesn’t take guys that long to figure it out. Sure, there are some shallow guys that only look at body figure (these are the types of guys you should avoid like the plague, by the way), but every good, worthwhile guy respects education and books. After all, books are the source of adventure and wisdom. If you want to become more attractive, hit the books harder, or even pick up a novel more frequently. Education is admirable and appealing. Education garners respect, which will only increase how others view you. Plus, it will also increase your respect for yourself. Of course it’s important to look your best, but your outward appearance isn’t as important as the knowledge you possess and the wisdom you have learned. Education will make you beautiful, inside and out.  Matt G. is grateful for his opportunity to receive an education, and he loves learning new things every day. He frequently posts for TRU, offering a man’s perspective on inner beauty. Share...