Bold, Italic, & Unapologetic

Bold ItalicI attended the CMT Awards last night for the first time in several years…only the second time I had attended since I lost my dream job at CMT in my mid-20’s. (That full story is in my second book, I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has, which just happens to be $1.99 on Kindle & Nook right now). Once upon a time I interviewed celebrities on the red carpet at those awards, a job I loved and cherished with all my heart and soul. But it was not where my destiny ultimately lied, and God knew that. Still…it’s always interesting to revisit key people and places of our pasts, if only to reflect upon how they brought us to our present. I like to think I’ve gained some wisdom and perspective over the years since my planned career path for my life went up in smoke to make room for my ordained career path. I’ve pondered this in my heart a great deal today in the wake of the awards show that briefly transported me back to my past last night, and one key phrase keeps coming to mind…

I’ve always been too much and yet not enough for some people.

When I started my job at CMT at age 24, I had just broken away from a church movement that brought me more pain than it did peace. I was in that church for five years: completely devoted, completely sold out, completely invested in the people and the movement. My entire live revolved around the church…until the day that it didn’t. The church was a wonderful, safe haven for me at first. It helped me come to know God. It brought new friendships into my life. It filled my days and nights with endless activities: Bible studies and youth ministry and conferences and serving. But as I moved up the ladder of leadership and came to see the inner workings of the church, I began to notice what at the time I was too young and naïve to identify but what I now know was extreme legalism. Guys and girls weren’t allowed to ride in the car to church events together because we had to “avoid the appearance of evil.” We were instructed to throw away entire stacks of CDs and DVDs that were not “honoring to God.” The women were harshly reprimanded if we wore spaghetti straps or anything that would “cause the men to stumble.” MTV was dubbed “Mucus Television” by my pastor. Not to mention the hate and judgment that was rained down upon gay people and Democrats from the pulpit. That church introduced me to God’s wrath with nary a word about Jesus’s grace. I can honestly say having an intimate relationship with Jesus Himself was never even something that was mentioned to me during those years at that church. It was all about serve more, do more, be perfect, don’t sin, don’t cause anyone else to stumble OR ELSE.

And I never quite measured up to that church’s standards of perfection. I had a little too much spirit…I laughed a little too loud…I dared to plan events that included both guys and girls because I knew how innocent and pure our friendships were. I didn’t agree that women should be seen and not heard and I even (gasp!) wore a spaghetti strap top to an event in sunny California. The final straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when they called a staff meeting to discuss my v-neck dress without bothering to invite me and then deduced that I “didn’t have much discernment in the area of clothing.” That sent me running and I never looked back. But for years after I struggled with how they had made me feel about myself. For a long time, I felt cheap and sinful and wrong for wearing miniskirts and sundresses. But while that church and the leaders there temporarily broke my spirit…by the grace of God, they didn’t break me. (And thank God all churches don’t reflect what that one did. It was extremism and legalism at its worst.)

When I arrived at CMT, fresh off the heels of heartbreak caused by my exodus from the church body I had been a part of for five years, I was feeling wounded but free. I was ready to embrace my new job and my new life with open arms. I felt like surely I had found “my people.” Creatives. People who were as passionate as entertainment news and music and pop culture as me. I just knew I would be welcomed and appreciated for exactly who I was.

But I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong…my job was a JOY. 99% of the people I worked with during that time were a joy. But the two “powers that be” who sort of ran the roost over my department were older, somewhat shrewish and cynical types who were constantly nitpicking my actions. Granted, I was 24 and clueless about life and I know without a doubt at times I acted 24 and clueless about life. But I was also enthusiastic and energetic and darn good at my job. And yet, despite my work performance, my boss was constantly peering over the wall of my cubicle, retorting about my clothes or my shoes or my friendships with the guys at work. I wore heels too often/I dressed too cute/I was friends with too many guys at work (I had tons of friends; male and female, gay and straight at CMT.) Once again, I was too much and yet not enough. And once again, me “not quite fitting in” caused me to lose things dear and precious to me…ultimately, both my job and my self-confidence.

I’m not saying I didn’t do anything wrong during my time at both the church I was a part of and at CMT. I know I did. I was young and impulsive and still figuring out who I was. But the way society and the workplace and even the church often makes women feel…particularly single women…about themselves is incredibly unfair. We’re too pretty. Too ugly. Too childless. Too skinny. Too fat. Too flirtatious. Too sexy. Too chaste. Too uptight. Too loose. Too single. Too opinionated. We’re always too much and never enough.

Even today, as a grown, experienced, older and wiser woman, I’m still often caught between “too much and not enough” in my day to day life as a writer. Some people think I’m too “Christian.” Other people think I’m too “worldly.” It’s a never-ending battle to just be myself and to be content with that…and I think it’s a battle that most women are facing right along with me. We’re not supposed to simply be content with ourselves and celebrate who we are, because that would be “too arrogant.” But then when we’re left questioning ourselves and our worth based on some label society or our boss or even a holier-than-thou stranger has given us, we’re dubbed “too insecure.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m done fighting the battle of too much and never enough. I’m done. I’m just going to be ME. And if I’m someone who laughs too loud or loves my gay friends too fiercely or votes Democratic too passionately or wears a skirt that’s too short or talks about Jesus too much then you’re just gonna have to get over it. (Insert fist bump emoji here)

CMTI’ve been in this season of really embracing and honoring and even celebrating my life and my singleness and MYSELF and I hope you’ll join me on that journey. Last night I walked into those CMT Awards with my head, heels, and confidence high (and wearing the boldest red dress I could find) because I know that two people who crushed my TV career in the palm of their hands all those years ago didn’t crush me. I went on to do exactly what God called me to do, by just being ME. So I encourage you to just be YOU, regardless of who has a problem with it. You can’t get to your destination in someone else’s lane. And you certainly can’t get there by constantly stopping to apologize for who you are. Being yourself is the hardest and scariest and best thing you will ever do. There will be lonely times. And disappointments. And falls and fails and tears and heartbreaks and dead-end roads and crazy bosses and stupid boys (in the words of Keith Urban, which feels fitting here) and dreams delayed and even denied all together but there will also be JOY and MAGIC and the unwavering confidence of knowing you didn’t sacrifice parts of yourself to fit someone else’s mold.

Until next time…let’s just be who we are. Messy and imperfect and flawed as it may be. Because we might be all of those things…but we’re also bold and italic and never, ever regular.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Has anyone ever made you feel “Too much” or “Not enough”? Sound off in the comments below!

19 Responses to “ Bold, Italic, & Unapologetic ”

  1. Paula
    June 9, 2016

    WOW! That’ s exactly how I have felt tons of times! Thank you so much!

  2. Shanna
    June 9, 2016

    I feel like not good enough all the time. And I’m so sick of it. I want to stand on my own two feet and say “Here I am world. Take it or leave it!”so I will! Thank you for this post Mandy!

  3. Kristine
    June 9, 2016

    Yep, mainly by men but occasionally by women! O.V.E.R. it! I am enough. Period. (just found your blog this week while searching how to get over a man.

  4. Melissa
    June 9, 2016

    Absolutely !! You inspired me to celebrate my single hood and don’t let those bad influences drag us down !!!

  5. Jamielee
    June 10, 2016

    Wow! Such a great read! I grew up in a church just like this. And I too struggled for YEARS after I got out of it. I don’t think it’s something that ever fully leaves. It’s definitely a daily choice for me to work on self confidence and loving who I am instead of all of the self loathing. I get you girl. Thanks so much for baring your heart and soul. I thank the Lord for making you who you are and making your writing available. Stay golden 😉

  6. Lisa Molidor
    June 10, 2016

    Mandy you just described the last 3 years of my life coming to a head 6 months ago when. I have spent the last 6 months trying to figure out who I really am and what is going to being me joy. During this time I believe that I have also finally come to peace and am embracing my singleness. Your posts have really helped me a lot!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! #EMPOWERED

  7. Lerato
    June 10, 2016

    Wow Mandy…….Wow ! What a word of wisdom, my God ! You speak directly to my spirit. Thank you so much..Power✊

  8. Veronica
    June 10, 2016

    You Go Girl! I often find myself not part of a group but i enjoy doing things on my own. After I turned 30 i decided to just let some stuff go n relax n enjoy life as me loud at times, shy in big crowds n grooving on the dance floor with my eyes clothes is such a freedom

  9. Amanda
    June 10, 2016

    Mandy, ok did you make a copy of a chapter out of my life’s book?! A church has done a very similar thing to me too. It has been a long road from legalism to grace, for me as well. Thank you for reminding us to be who we are called to be. I’m going through a break up and yesterday was the first day in two weeks that I genuinely felt happy. It was so comforting to feel because I didn’t go to dinner with friends, I wasn’t with distracted by anything else, I was just happy to be at home, trying a new recipe…and that felt nice. (It was a cucumber salad recipe that was delish.)Thank you once again for your post and all it had to say.

  10. SusanMichelle
    June 10, 2016

    This is exactly what I needed to read today! I know for a fact the majority of women have felt this same way at least once in their life.

    I struggle with this daily. I come from a Baptist church-going home; thankfully though, my loving parents weren’t too constricting and always listened. This is something I’ve grown to realize more as I drive full-throttle into year 35 of my life. I don’t have many people in my life who actually make me feel like this, I tend to make myself feel like this. Which as I read the blog, torques me off a bit that I do this to myself!

    The one thing I don’t enjoy of being “too much” is apparently I likely love Jesus a little too much. If any of my life choices are based on “What Would Jesus Do?” That’s too far, even for some of my immediate family. I need to remind myself they don’t have to live with my conscious, heart, and soul…I do.

    Thank you, Mandy! As always, you hit the nail on the head. 🙂

  11. Carrie
    June 10, 2016

    I was having a really great two weeks in my internship, loving everything about it! It’s showing me that I love the degree in will have. Today, I got a text of bad news regarding my son from his father… telling me I am not enough as a mom. I really am doing the best I can with all I have been given to do. Too much, and not enough. ..

  12. Betsy Mireles
    June 10, 2016

    This really hit home!! I too left my childhood church family about 5 months ago because I finally realized why I never could fit in a legalistic church, I’m too bold, too italic for it!!!! I’m called the outcast, the rebel now but I know who I am in Him so much so that it’s not important how others label me!! I am His!!! I’m sooo thankful for you Mandy!! You’re life inspires me and has lifted me so many times and today not being the exception! Thank you for letting God use you to talk to me!! Many blessings your way and never ever change!!!

  13. June 10, 2016

    Hi Mandy,
    I’m multicultural and there have been times when people from both sides made have made me felt like I wasn’t good enough. Just found this blog. I’m happy you’ve decided to be you.

  14. June 13, 2016

    It’s like I’d asked you to write about my life!!!! It’s amazing how I feel identified with you. Sorry for my English but I’m from Mexico. Your books is helping me to improve my English by the way. My interest in your stories is to big that I have to do my best effort to understate it. Thank you so much for share this with us. For long time I was out because my singleness but now reading this is like I find someone like me!!! The last week I told my BBF that I feel like if nobody is searching someone like me, because in many times I feel too much or not enough to stay by me. But no more! Exactly I’m bold, italic and unapologetic!!!!

  15. Mary Hicks
    June 13, 2016

    As always your true self speaks to so many of us single women. after reading the various comments to your blog, I realized that even though I’m turning 60 this year I can still relate, appreciate and take away so much knowledge and inspiration from you. I have all your books and subscribe to your emails. Keep up the good work Mandy…we all hear you even though we may not comment all the time. Your upbeat and inspiring words reach our hearts and souls.

  16. June 13, 2016

    I love this article post!!!

  17. June 13, 2016

    I love this article post!!!

  18. Rachel
    June 14, 2016

    I love this! The most “not enough” I’ve ever felt was in a church when apparently they never realized that not every woman in the world is married with children. But now I’ve decided to own who I am.

  19. Irishfledah Martinez
    July 7, 2016

    “You know, you can never prevent yourself from being ‘too’ attached to someone.

    At the beginning, you will notice everything. Every single detail. The way he talks with his humor and wit. The way he makes you smile with his weird ways. When he asks you if you’re home or to stay safe. When he randomly sends selfies. When he messages you at the wee hours of the morning, just to ask if you’re awake. Just to have someone to talk to. When he asks for your opinion on things. When he listens to your requests. You can’t help but feel special. You’ll feel valued at some point of your exchange.

    That’s why attachment is a risk, you’re putting your heart at risk with something uncertain. With something unclear. But.. But it should always be a risk you’re willing to take— if you really like or love this person and when you know he’s worth it.

    Actually, being attached is a happy feeling. Like, you really don’t regret anything. Even if it’s unrequited. Even if he doesn’t feel the same extent of emotion towards you. You will still feel happy and contented.

    But of course, despite of how contented you are, you can’t not have fears— The fear of rejection, and of being lonely. The fear of too many expectations, the fear of disappointments. These are just some of the fears you should face, in order to understand the essence of liking, of loving, and of being loved back. Without these fears, you will not experience the joy of loving.

    It’s like a part of growing up— you will not get everything you want, and it’s okay. It’s being mature enough to understand that not everyone will like you back and it’s not his fault and it’s not your fault too, it’s just the way life is. Life always happens.

    So, no matter how mentally destroying being attached to someone is, you cannot ignore the fact that it is also a liberating feeling. You just have to accept reality and go with the flow. Just like how the “it’s great while it lasted” and “It’s better to love than not love at all” saying goes.

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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Life doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
*US shipping only