September 24, 2013

Making New Friends (For Introverts!)

Hello everybody, I hope you're having a wonderful week as always. I have a super long post in store for you today, so I'm just gonna cut to the chase right away. There is a lot to say on this matter, but I'm writing this with the purpose of providing a starting place for making new friends. This post includes two main parts: The first will hopefully get you to think about how you interact with others and provide some inspiration; the second will have my best tips for breaking out of some of those shells that you may have. And without further ado, let's get started!

A little bit about myself: I don't know if you can tell from this blog or not, but I am actually a pretty introverted person. I mean, I don't get butterflies in my stomach when I think of social interaction, but I do find myself getting overwhelmed fairly quickly while in a group of more than six people. That being said, God did create us to be in the world to interact and enjoy each others' talents, expressions, and company. I think of intoversion and extroversion on a spectrum. I'd say that I'm in the middle, though closer to the introverted side of the scale since I recharge by spending time alone reading or writing. But being with people stirs up a different kind of energy, which is also good in its own way.

Anyhow, there are a lot of times when I feel my shyness getting the better of me, and this post is for anyone who finds his/herself freezing up in certain social situations, or having a hard time making friends. It's okay to be on the quiet or shy side, but it's no good if it gets in the way of you pushing your limit and being surrounded by people who may come to be some of your best friends!

In order to illustrate my point, here is a video by Matthew Hussey that I think you'll find to be interesting:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

For me, there are components that I would agree with and ones that I would disagree with.

I would agree that the biggest obstacle that is in your life is usually yourself. Your own perceptions of yourself can really limit your capabilities. For lack of better words, I'll reference David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything:
The question I'd like to bring to language, my own and everyone else's, is the question of reductionism. Reductionism reigns when the words we use to give account of people and events serve only to reduce, degrade, and devalue human beings... This is a perversity we employ--perhaps it employs us--when we reduce a person to a "just" ("So-and-so is just a...") or a "nothing but" ("You're nothing but a..."), as if we've gotten to the bottom of all they are and will ever be (page 121).
Let's try combine the thoughts expressed by Hussey and Dark to conclude that we should avoid labeling ourselves and other people in order to make new friends, to learn and discover from others. In my experience, the people who really have trouble making friends are labelers--they either put labels on themselves or the people around them.

I personally am more guilty of the former. Have you ever been in a quiet mood? Where there's nothing wrong, but you just didn't feel like talking and wanted to spend time by yourself and think? I get in those moods frequently I recharge by relaxing by myself with a cup of tea or writing, not by meeting and greeting. Yet, when I attributed my quietness to shyness, I stopped making the effort to reach out to others. Because, well, that's just what shy people avoid doing.

I think it's also fair to say that we're all guilty of doing the latter--putting a label on someone else before having met them--one time or another. "Oh, that person seems really stuck-up." Or "It seems like s/he likes sitting alone, so I'll just leave him/her be."

Can you see how these presumptions limit not only ourselves, but the other person too?

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we should shed all labels, though. Adjectives, actions, and experiences make us who we are, and being aware of these help us grow.

Say you're a shy person. Do you want to keep being shy, or do you want to change that? Or say that you're angry person. Do you like being angry all the time, or do you want to change that?  Say you made a mistake in your life. Do you want to be burdened by that forever, or do you want to move on?

What I'm trying to say is: Let words describe you, not define you.

There are also "positive" or "goal" labels. What does a goal label look like? Well, I would like to be labeled as caring, compassionate, empathetic, hardworking, friendly, approachable. Aren't these characteristics that we want to hear when someone is describing us?

Anyway, I wanted to focus on introverts today, so I'll get back to that now. The whole point of the speal above is that you really need to want to get rid of that shyness before you can put yourself out there.

So think about all the things you can gain in life--love, peace, shelter, brotherhood--by challenging yourself to reach out. Then ask yourself if it really is worth being quiet.

With the reflection component of this post over, here are seven tips for getting started with becoming a more outgoing and friendly version of yourself! I hope you find these helpful--if you have any of your own ideas or some feedback, please let me know in the comments!

#1: Force it.
I used to be really shy, guys--practically afraid of talking to anyone I didn't know. If this gives you a proper illustration, I carried a book around with me every day during middle school so that I would have it as an excuse to avoid talking to people during snack break. So when I arrived in college 5 years later, meeting people initially still felt like ripping fingernails out. However, I just had to buckle myself down and approach others, throwing out a name and a smile. It feels really unnatural at first, but if you practice it every day, it starts becoming habit. Don't overcomplicate it. Swallow the anxiety that's churning in your stomach, step out, and ask someone, "Hey, how's your day?" Whether you're in an elevator, sitting in a cafe, or happen to see a person you barely recognize, that's all you really need to get a conversation going.

#2: Join a group activity.
It is so much easier to form connections with people when you already have something in common. So, instead of working out by yourself at home, go running on the track at the gym. Or if you enjoy reading like I do, you could join a book club. It would also be fun to try something new. My experiment was joining tae kwon do, and some of my most influential relationships formed during high school were from the people I met there. (I met my mentor and first boyfriend through the tae kwon do school.)

#3: Invite someone over.
It doesn't even really have to be anything formal like dinner, either. You could just invite someone over to watch some reruns of a TV show you and that other person enjoy. Making that one step usually causes the other person (or group of people) to recognize you more easily and thus forms a stronger connection.

#4: Put some time into your appearance.
I feel somewhat shallow when phrasing it like this, but it actually does pay off to look good. Let's face it: when you look good, you feel good--it's just natural instinct! That being said, there are many ways to improve your appearance. Working out, eating healthy, treating yourself at the mall by buying a new outfit, applying some makeup--all of these are ways to help you look your best and then gain confidence in yourself.

#5: Remember to have some down time.
Putting yourself out there takes a lot of energy and while fun can be pretty draining. I spend my down time in my room, writing, reading daily devotions, and prayer-journaling. Sometimes I do stretches or sit-ups too, and face massages are always a nice treat. Another option would be writing an email to a distant friend, which not only gives you an opportunity to reconnect with someone but reflect on all the things you've been doing. Take some time to recharge by yourself so that you'll be up at your 100% when it comes to meeting new people.

#6: Be informed, and be aware.
Keep up with the news, read blogs (and follow this one!), and listen to NPR every now and then. Also be conscious of the movements happening around you, and pay attention to the conversations you're in. The more you know, the more you'll have to say.

#7: Don't get discouraged.
Let's face it, not everyone is gonna like you. It sounds a little cliche, but haters are gonna hate. Also, you may at first feel like the effort is not worth it if you don't instantly feel a connection with another person that you tried approaching. This shouldn't get you down, though, because once you start meeting more and more people, you'll find the right niche that fits you perfectly, where friends will love you unconditionally. It is a trying process, but just keep up at it and you'll be forming connections and networking in no time!

For some reason, silver linings popped into my mind at this point. So here is one from
So there you have it guys! A nice, long post about making friends if you're an introvert. I hope you found this inspirational and got you fired up and ready to start meeting new people. One last bonus tip: It's only awkward if you make it awkward (you'll know what I'm talking about if you run into one of these situations...and that wasn't meant to sound dirty!).

Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to leave a comment or email me at! I write a post every Tuesday, so also remember to subscribe to my blog through Bloglovin' or follow me on Twitter so that you'll never miss an update. There are also options to follow Smiles No Matter on the right sidebar (email, RSS, and Google Friend Connect), so just choose what is most convenient for you. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I love blogging!

Take care,
-Riley XO

P.S. I saw the most adorable pug puppy on campus yesterday. She was absolutely adorable and was only two months old--I spent about five minutes petting and talking to her. So here's a quick picture to share some puppy adorableness with you!

Awwwwwww <3
Now whenever you have a bad day, just think about this warm, cuddly puppy. Smile on.

September 17, 2013

5 Hair Care Tips

Hello there everybody! How was your last week? I am still adjusting to college life and have been in the process of getting plugged into everything that's been going on around campus. I've been having a great time though, and even though there's so much happening here I'm so happy that I'm finding time to keep this blog up. I wish I could post twice a week like I was able to during the summer, but Tuesdays will just have to continue being our special day. Thank you for visiting time to time because I really enjoy your readership!

College life. Word.

This Tuesday is all about hair. I actually meant to write this many weeks ago, but let's just say that life happened. Last summer, I developed a random obsession for hair because I decided that I wanted to grow it out and then donate it to Locks of Love. My mom made me cut my hair pretty much all the time and now that I'm a college student, I thought it'd be fun to let it be long for once in my life. This being said, it became important for me to take better care of my hair to prevent split ends so that it could be healthy and grow to its full length.

(On a side note, I would not consider myself to be a master of beauty, but I've found that when I focus more time on my appearance my confidence increases. I also find myself being more alert during the day. So that is why I'm sharing a little bit of this today.)

Wow, I just noticed how pale my face looks in this
Anyway, I've found that college keeps me so busy running everywhere to get things done that it's been harder to set a lot of time aside for beauty. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't ever feel pampered! This post is especially for fellow college students who want to look and feel their best and spend little time doing so. Without further ado, here are my top five hair care tips for busy college students!

Tip #1: Don't wash it a lot.
Okay, this initially sounds kind of gross, but in all actuality, we wash our hair way too much. It is important to remember that hair is at its best when it's in its natural state. Secondly, when we wash our hair, it actually strips the hair of good nutrients too. If hair is washed too frequently, your body naturally compensates by producing more oil (which is no good because we want poofy, soft hair). The best thing to do is to only rinse your hair if you shower every day until it starts getting oily--then shampoo only when it starts collecting oil. You'll see soon enough that your hair will be less oily for longer amounts of time, and when it's in its natural state, it will grow stronger and longer.

Tip #2: Use a wide-toothed comb.
When I get out of the shower, I always want to brush my hair right away because tangles drive me insane. Hair brushes aren't very gentle, though, so I use a wide-toothed comb which still does the job. I've actually noticed that my hair falls out less because of this. So, hey, that's cool right?

Tip #3: Condition!
I'm currently using Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner, and I condition every time I wash my hair. However, I also recommend purchasing a leave-in conditioner. I use Pantene, and it's designed for overnight care, but it's helpful because whenever my hair is looking dry or a little frizzy, I just apply a little squirt of it, and--voila!--instant results. A lot of people recommend deep conditioning treatments, but for me I don't have enough time to leave product or DIYs in my hair for half an hour because I like being out and about. But if you ever have some spare time during a long weekend or something, I recommend using honey, olive oil, and/or egg for a nice DIY hair treatment.
Tip #4: Trim it every two months.
So the photo of me up above was posted to Twitter because I was so proud of myself for trimming my own hair for the first time. Trimming your hair gets rid of split ends, which in turn prevents hair breakage. I decided to trim my own hair because it seems like salons always take off a little too much. Since I'm growing my hair out, I only take a quarter of an inch off each time I cut it just to get rid of the split ends. Also, it's better to have one length (no layers) for donating hair, so trimming on my own is very doable for me.

Tip #5: Avoid contact with heat.
This is a no-brainer, but unfortunately we've reached the extent of my hair care ideas that I have found the most helpful. I almost never use hair dryers or straighteners, which helps my hair stay healthy and happy.

And that's about it for today! I hope you found these hair care tips useful, and if you'd like to see some more quick beauty tips for college life, please let me know in the comments (or feel free to share your own ideas in the comments, too!).

Have a great week and take some time out to pamper yourself!

Take care,
-Riley XO

September 11, 2013

Commemorating Hope

Hello there. I can only imagine how many people in the blogsphere are talking about this day, but I have some words that I'd like to share with you, so thank you for visiting and taking the time to read this. 

As some of you may know, I visited New York City last June. The city left me wide-eyed and amazed. Broadway shows, the dazzling lights of Times Square, outstanding pizza, Chinatown, the Empire State Building... Each of these parts of New York, so beautiful and fantastic in its own way.

The most memorable part of my trip, however, was visiting the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial itself is an impressive sight, a work of art, giving tribute to families, friends, and strangers. However, it's the stories that made the experience so impactful.
While being there, I heard several stories that just tear at my heartstrings. If you ever meet somebody who was in the city at the time, ask them to share their story, or take some time to think about these stories, to remember the grief that Americans everywhere experienced--then you'll know what I'm feeling right now.

Even as they stood in the ashes, they didn't give up. Instead, they did the exact opposite, comforting each other, networking, struggling to stand when there was so much weighing down. When so much was lost, people took what they still had and shared it with each other: hope.

Hope is one of the most powerful things in this world, and I could even argue that at times it is stronger than love. Hope is what causes people kneeling at the bottom of a dark pit of despair to just look up and see the light that is there, far but attainable.

The Survivor Tree
Today, I challenge you to listen to stories, to share hope, and inspire love and gratitude in the people around you. Start by telling your friends and family how much they mean to you, and let it blossom from there.

Keep hope sacred.

Open up your heart, and let it take over you.

And have a blessed day,
-Riley XO

September 10, 2013

Surviving the First Weeks of College

Hello everyone! It's been quite a while since I've been able to sit down and write a nice long post, but I have finished most of my other work beforehand so that I could finally take some time out and update you about what I've been up to lately, which is something that is only fair since you guys showed so much support during the series Get Ready For College With Me.

Just thought this was a cool pic from
A former Astronomy teacher said that there's not really that big of a difference between classes in high school and classes in college. I actually agree with him on this one. University professors aren't more brilliant or enlightening by any drastic measure. Each one has their own style, and some styles are better than others, just like high school teachers. With that said, my classes aren't too bad this semester; my most challenging class would have to be Calc II just because the pace is pretty intense (I do think it's worth it, though!).

Even though the classes themselves aren't that different, it doesn't mean that a lot of other things have changed.

The biggest adjustment I had to make was moving from a quiet home in the suburbs to a dorm that's right by a street in the city. Living here, there isn't much of an option to be antisocial and stay cooped up at home playing video games. There're usually people getting food together, wanting to do homework, wanting to go to other places on campus--most of the first friends I made are the ones that live with me because I see them every day. I also find myself going out now that the excuse of having a long drive has been eliminated--our campus is a relatively small one, so everything is within walking distance and I've had so much fun going to sports games, attending Christian events, visiting friends, and hitting the gym.

However, living in the dorms also has its cons because I found myself downscaling starting from all the space I could ever want within my parents' house to this:

Plus a wardrobe for my clothes.
So although there's an entire campus at my fingertips and my roommate is extremely considerate and sweet, my actual personal space is basically limited to my bed and desk. For me it's definitely a fair trade so far, though.

I've also found my personality changing due to the new environment. It is so much easier to make friends in college because you move from a place where everyone knew each other to a place where no one knows each other yet, so in general people are extremely open to one another. I have met more people than I could count within these first few weeks, and it's been an absolute blessing. I've also prayed to find some good friends and I'm starting to find those, too. 

My biggest advice to anyone who's struggling to make friends freshman year is to throw self-consciousness out the window and start saying "hi" to people. I actually went door to door through my entire hall introducing myself when I ran for a position in the inter-residence hall government. Although I didn't win, a majority of the people in my hall--from all five floors--recognize my name and face. At first, starting conversations takes some effort and courage, but eventually it becomes natural and people will start approaching you in return. (I'm planning to write a post about this sometime in the upcoming weeks, so please subscribe to see tips for making new friends even as an introvert!)

The second major change that I've experienced is that there are significant breaks in between classes. This presents opportunities to socialize, do work, take naps, and in my case blog. I am still deciding what clubs I can join and hopefully find a chance to start doing research with faculty, so I haven't made a handy dandy daily schedule yet, but hopefully that will come soon. Freshmen find themselves with a lot of spare time, but once they start getting involved on campus life picks up quickly. It's a process, but it's starting to happen for me, so I'm very excited about this year. Plus, being involved is another easy way to make friends on campus that have similar interests to you.

As far as the rest of my college experience up to this date goes...

I'm a part of a service community, and this semester I will be working with refugees, helping them learn English and possibly setting up new apartments for families to move into. I am so excited to be a part of this! My dorm also has a community time every Sunday evening, and last time we broke up into small groups and shared our stories. I basically shared the story that you guys know, and included all the inspirations for this blog. It helped me form connections with other people because each of their stories are also so unique and empowering to hear.

I've also enjoyed emailing and writing letters to my friends every week and reading about their new adventures. The people in my life are such a blessing, and right now I'm just so happy that I chose to come to this particular university. I hope that your experiences also feel full and special, too. I would love to hear about your lives, so please feel free to comment or send me an email at!

That's all I have to tell you guys in this post. Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have a fantastic week!
-Riley XO

September 3, 2013

Never Give Up

Perseverance is a quality that I hold dear to my heart. It has inspired me to get my black belt, go to All State with my violin, and arrive at college. The school year has just started for many of us, so today I wanted to share some inspiration to pursue your passion and follow the path that has been laid down before you.

From Tumblr
The people who've been following my blog for a while have probably already gathered some of the beliefs that I hold dear to my heart, but I'll quickly summarize/reiterate them right now. Class, race, nationality, and gender contribute to who we are, but our sense of self should be based primarily upon our strengths and weaknesses. I do consider people to be on a horizontal plane, in the sense that every one of us has pros and cons. With that said, each person on this Earth has their own unique story, something to share and leave behind.

Passion and perseverance--these two words are powerful on their own, but they are intertwined in order to function properly.

Just think to yourself: Why do I get up every day? Did you answer yourself with a certain relationship, activity, or event? This is your passion. Now ask: Why must I pursue this relationship or do well in this activity? The reasons you come up with are what will inspire you to persevere. Nothing can deter you, because your passions are so much greater than any obstacle.

Of course, finding the answers to these two simple questions is easier said than done. Maybe your passion is finding what your passion in life is supposed to be (this is one of mine right now!). But I suppose that it's mostly about taking a deep breath and knowing that at the end of the day, you will accomplish what you were meant to, even if you're not sure what that is yet.

I don't know guys, I do a lot of self-reflection, so that's what's given me a strong sense of who I am. I encourage you to meditate a little bit, to stop, take a deep breath, and think about passion and perseverance for yourself. Hopefully it'll feel like a breath of fresh air before you start the rest of your life!

Take care,
-Riley XO

Please leave a comment and subscribe if you liked this post! I love hearing your feedback and would like to know what drives you. I've been recovering from a cold and life here is a lot busier here than it was back in Colorado, so my last few posts have been short, but I am hoping to write a nice, long Diary entry fairly soon, just so you guys can have another peek into my life. College has been going well, but there are those bumps and lessons that I would love you to share with you! In the next few weeks, I would also like to share some hair care tips (college version!) and some advice for making new friends from the perspective of an introvert. As always, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day!
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