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TRU: The Real U

One Woman With Inner Beauty Can Change the World

Here’s to Strong Women!

Here’s to Strong Women!

I found this on a basic internet search, but it stuck out to me: What is a strong woman? Is it someone who is aggressive, domineering, or controlling? No! Whether talkative or quiet, athletic or artsy, working as a CEO or in the home, strong women can be found everywhere. They are women who know who they are, who understand that they are daughters of God and have incredible potential to do good. Women have a huge capacity to make a difference in the world. So go out there and make that difference! Share...

Reflections: My Story

Reflections: My Story

Voices in my head told me I was worthless, that there was no hope for me, that no matter how hard I tried I would never be good enough. . . . I choose to share my experience in the hopes that it may encourage others who are struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel. By Erica C. I don’t gaze at myself in the mirror as a general rule. But this morning is different. This morning, I stop to smile at the woman looking back at me. As I stand there, I recall a time when I could hardly stand to glance at myself in a mirror. I had no desire to confront the stranger that greeted me each time I dared steal a desperate look. I couldn’t bear to see those empty eyes and glued-on smile. No amount of makeup could conceal the sadness and guilt that seemed to ooze out of my pores. I was frightened of what I saw. I am pulled back to the present by a tugging at my leg. I reach down to pick up my precious one-year-old daughter. She giggles at her reflection and I hug her tightly, reveling in the light and joy she emanates. Many know of my past struggles. Many more do not. Some know me only as I am now. They are familiar with the positive and upbeat woman looking back at me this morning. Probably few would guess that the person they know today is a result of suffering, of overcoming, of having to pick myself up again and again . . . and again. Some know of my battles, and were once well-acquainted with the girl who dared not look in the mirror. It wasn’t many years ago that I was at the lowest point in my life. I had been struggling with depression and anxiety to varying degrees for a few years, when a series of life circumstances led me on a downward spiral towards severe mental and emotional instability. I had become a complete stranger to myself and to those who loved me. I was diagnosed with major clinical depression and related mental illnesses that complicated my ability to form healthy relationships and led to victimization by those who preyed on my insecurity. I was racked with self-loathing, perpetual anxiety, and unrelenting fear. Voices in my head told me I was worthless, that there was no hope for me, that no matter how hard I tried I would never be good enough. They told me that I was a burden and that the people in my life would be better off without me. These persistent voices obliterated my ability to reason properly. Over the course of a few months, I was hospitalized three times for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. To my diseased mind, there was no future for me that did not hold more pain, more mistakes, and more self-sabotage. I saw no point in going on. It was during my last stay in a psychiatric health facility that I reached a turning point. I was lying on an uncomfortable bed in a cold, cheerless room that felt like a jail cell. I was alone and terrified. The only light in the room was a murky gleam from a small, barred window. I had never felt so completely forsaken. I was just about to close my eyes, pleading for the respite of sleep, when the setting sun positioned itself directly within the tiny window frame and flooded the room with a soft, warm glow. In that moment, a loving voice pierced the darkness of my mind. “There is a reason you are here,” it said. “You have an important work to do. Do not give up.” I was overcome with the knowledge that God had not forsaken me. I knew I was not alone, even in that lonely place. A feeling of deep purpose enveloped me as something inside reawakened. In that rare moment of clarity and love, I made a deep, inward commitment. I decided I was going to get better. I decided that no matter how long it took, how hard it was, or how many setbacks I had . . . I was going to get through this. I wanted my life back. I wanted myself back. I wanted to move forward, to put all of this behind me and become who I had I always wanted to be. Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying from that moment on, everything was sunshine and roses. I’m not saying that all I had to do was “decide to be happy.” Like...

“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...

Five Quick Service Ideas

Five Quick Service Ideas

So, you know that service makes you happier. It helps you reach outside yourself and connect with something bigger. And, it helps you become a stronger, wiser person. When you serve, your problems don’t seem so bad anymore! But, one of the biggest problems with service is figuring out what to do. Here’s a few quick ideas you can try today: 1. Visit a cemetery. I love cemeteries, because they are so peaceful and beautiful. Ask your local cemetery if you can come by and rake leaves or clean up garbage; they always need projects done! Or, just buy (or pick!) some flowers and lay them on graves that may be neglected. Family members and loved ones of the departed will appreciate that you took notice. 2. Buy someone’s lunch. The idea goes you tell the cashier at the drive-through window that you want to cover lunch for the car behind you. I’ve had a friend do this with great success (she said the family looked really happy), but I must admit that when I tried this, it was kind of a dud. I tried to pay for someone’s lunch at Sonic (a drive-in restaurant), but the waiter ended up telling the people in the car next to us that we wanted to pay for them . . . while we were still sitting there next to them! Awkward. So, go for the drive-through window. 3. Make a care kit. Ask your local hospital if you can make a care package for sick or injured kids. This is especially appreciated around Christmas time. 4. Perform at a nursing home. I’ve sung at a nursing home many times, and let me just tell you, it is one of the most fun things ever! Even if you don’t have a great voice, the elderly people will compliment you like you are a vocal diva. I’ve joined a friend of mine, who gives weekly concerts at a nursing home. I’ve also asked permission to walk around the halls and sing to the residents in their rooms. It’s like putting on a one-on-one concert, and it is so much fun! I’ll never forget caroling with my family at a nursing home at Christmastime. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, us or the residents! 5. Write a letter. Do you know someone who is serving a religious mission, is living abroad, or is serving in the military? They could probably use a note to let them know what’s going on back home and let you know you’re thinking of them. Got any more service ideas? Let me know in the comments! Now, get out and serve! Erin J. is the founder of TRU: The Real U. She is a web writer and a young adult fiction writer. Check out her first book, Walls. Share...

Opposition–>Bravery

Opposition–>Bravery

  Sure, none of us LOVE opposition. Trials, change, criticism, growth—it’s all painful. But how could we ever become strong, capable people without going through some opposition? I love this quote I found: Although I hate going through difficult times, I try to approach them with the right attitude, knowing I’ll become a better person as a result. How have your difficulties made you a stronger person? Why are you grateful for opposition? Share...

Why Your Mom Should Be Your Best Friend

Why Your Mom Should Be Your Best Friend

It makes sense to write a post about moms the week of Mother’s Day. But I actually thought of writing this post before I remembered the holiday coming up. In my mind, every day is Mother’s Day, because moms are awesome. But, if you’re young, it’s likely that you only acknowledge this fact on Mother’s Day, and forget about it during the rest of the year. I know I did when I was a teenager. When I was young, I was often embarrassed by my mother. She is far more extroverted than I am, and would visit my high school, talking to all my friends—and, worst of all, people who weren’t my friends—like they were her best chums. As a fifteen-year-old, this was completely humiliating. I think these feelings are normal for teenagers, so I’m not sure that I could go back and erase them. But I do regret not building a friendship with my mother earlier in life. My mom constantly wanted to know what was going on in my life, but I just wanted to be left alone. I wonder if there was advice I missed out on because I wasn’t willing to listen. When I turned 18 and went out of state to college, I quickly realized who my real friends were. And I was surprised to find that my #1 friend was my mom. I could call her at any time and she would pick up. I could tell her any story about what was going on and she would listen, even with interest. Whether I wanted to complain or share my excitement or ask for a second opinion, she was always there. I came to another realization that one of the main reasons I wanted to visit my home was because of my mom. She made our home a welcoming, fun place to be. She did things for me out of love, and sometimes I just really needed to be pampered. When she wasn’t around, the house was a drab and dull place. Nevertheless, in our new adult-to-adult relationship, she just became a really good friend. We became exercise buddies, shopping buddies, and cooking buddies. We talked about issues and exchanged clothes and jewelry. My mom and me after an exhausting shopping trip But my mom always puts me ahead of herself, even today. “I just bought this shirt that looks great on me,” she’ll say. “But you should have it, because it will look even better on you.” That’s pretty typical of my mom. If you don’t have a good relationship with your mother, let’s just say—you’re missing out big time. So put aside your annoyance at those little things your mom does that bug you. Everyone does things that are going to bug you. Instead, remember the one person who would do anything in the world to make you happy. Make your mom your best friend. I dare you! Erin J. has an amazing mom who always made mothering seem like the world’s most exciting adventure. Erin is the founder of TRU and is a young adult writer. Her first novel, Walls, is available for purchase on Amazon Kindle. Share...

Happiness Comes from Within

Happiness Comes from Within

Piggybacking off of our Date or Dump post, today’s inspirational quote reminds us that happiness comes from within. Although we certainly can be very happy in a healthy relationship, and we should strive to find a great guy we can build a happy relationship with, dating and marriage are not a Prince Charming-sweeps-in-to-save-the-princess kind of cure-all solution. If you don’t learn to be happy single, you probably won’t be happy in a relationship, either. While you’re single, build up your relationship with God and with yourself, spend your time doing worthwhile things that bring you happiness, and work toward creating a happy relationship in the future! Share...