By Madi Vachuska
Today’s culture sends a lot of mixed signals that can easily distort our views about what makes us a worthwhile person. Society says our accomplishments, test scores, material assets we have, and others' perception of us determine our value.
In an overly contorted world filled with grey lines, belittlement, and media saying our original body and thoughts aren’t good enough...
In a society stamped as the most narcissistic of its time in which we must compare and out shine one another…
Let's be culture changers.
Let's be rebels together.
Let's conquer the percentages and rise above the crowd.
Let's be the generation that realizes our value is independent of merit, achievement, perfection, and performance.
I recently read an article about vulnerability in adolescent development and the findings left me speechless; research found that 92% of middle schoolers surveyed reported that they thought social vulnerability with their friends was inappropriate.
Think about this in your own life: when was the last time you honestly answered the question “how are you?” We are inadvertently playing into a culture that says we must filter our lives to seem perfect and flawless in order to be accepted.
Let's wipe off the worldly makeup. If we allow others to see our 'behind the scenes,' we can be culture changers and create an environment that invites us to dive deeper – beyond a surface of jealousy and comparison.
Don’t you think that if we were more open, we would become more united? If we begin to connote openness with strength instead of weakness, we can change the conversation about where our value comes from.
Value isn’t something you can earn; no one deserves it more than someone else. You are already declared valued and worthy. You are not named by what you create; you are named by the One who intricately created you.
By Jayson Bronkhorst
It didn't click for me until I heard a couple well-known artists talk about their work and personal lives. The interviewer asked the first how she balanced all her work with her family life. Her response was that to work, to create, she had to be in a state of play. All too often, with design and art work especially, I realized I get caught up in deadlines. It becomes dreaded, stressful work rather than life-giving joy to create.
The interviewer asked a second artist a similar question, as he had a wife and three children. His answer was equally simple: his work and home life often naturally mixed. He didn't take time away from his family to work, but for example, he often began the early brainstorm processes by building small Lego models with his kids. He gained fame from beginning to post short, 5-minute doodles that he did as he woke up in the mornings.
I realized I had lost both of these things with Valued, both my state of play as well as my work flowing through my life, thoughts, and experiences. As a result, Valued began to lose passion. I had to think back to the inception and the growth of Valued as a brand. It started as a college project, but it was always more than that, because I do really care about people. But where had that vision gotten lost?
Was it in maximizing the profit margins?
Or the pressure of picking a good nonprofit to donate to next month?
Or the jealousy when I looked at all the other brands around me?
I had become engrossed in the business and forgotten the purpose.
About half a year ago, I made the decision that Valued Clothing would give proceeds from every purchase towards a different cause each month. As an American, I am much more fortunate that many people in the world, and I believe that a core element of sharing value is doing what I can to help.
However, as Valued began to take a back seat in my daily life, it ate away at me. January passed, and I hadn't picked a monthly cause. Then February. Then March 1st.
I realized something important when I heard those artists speak: for Valued to succeed, it needs to be not just a brand or company that I run, but it needs to be part of me.
It needs to be something where every design that I produce, I do so because I love it, I am proud of it, and I believe it will help spread the message that every person has value. It needs to be something where I don't force myself into all the other clothing line molds, because I am not them. It needs to be something that flows out of my daily life and who I am as a person.
In my very first post, I wrote about my convictions that led me to take the beginning steps in the creation of Valued. At the root of it all is the principle of Christ-like love, and how I want to share that: spreading the message that every single person has value. Throughout the various design processes, social media posts, and shirt productions, I stuck to a rule I made: don't make anything openly Christian.
I wanted Valued Clothing to be a brand that anyone could relate to and support without hesitation, and I thought it would help the brand get popular faster. In reality, all it did was suppress my true convictions and passions, and in the process, Valued began to lose its conviction and passion.
I had to decide to no longer worry about that stuff, because I know that the mission and vision of Valued will not change. My passions and beliefs likely will not change, but if they do, Valued will change with them. And that's okay. Valued Clothing Company always has an always will be a company that focuses on spreading the message that every single human being carries value.
I consider working with youth one of the most important things I can do as a human on this earth. As an AG youth pastor, I have the privilege of being part of the most amazing youth district in the country.
Valued giving from the beginning of 2017 through the foreseeable future will go to Speed The Light, as STL is an extension of myself, and gives me life. Speed The Light is not a means to an end, but simply a step in the journey. I believe that every human has inherent value, and Speed The Light truly embodies that cause. You can read more about STL here.
I truly love and adore the heart and mission of every single person and organization that I have had the privilege of partnering with. Now, Valued is moving into a season in which I hope it will be give life to people as I am restoring life to it. I hope Valued Clothing Company will no longer be in stark separation from me, but rather a fruitful extension of my own life.
Valued will support STL from now on, but this isn't to say that we won't work with anyone different in the future. Maybe we'll partner with local youth nonprofit Fighting Chance again (love y'all). Or maybe we'll make a shirt with 100% of the proceeds furthering foster homes and orphanages. Or maybe we'll make a collaboration shirt for Winona State Chi Alpha. ;)
Exciting things on the horizon. If you're reading this, I'm real glad you've stuck around this long. Let's share some value with the world this year.
By Jayson Bronkhorst
Some people love winter, but it tends to bring out the worst in me. Winter is cold. Gray. Cars take 10 minutes to warm up before being driven in the morning, and indoor heaters are unable to keep up. But there's one other key part of this season that can often feel far too apparent: the lack of motivation.
I'd be lying if I said life has been easy lately. It has been busy, and even though I have already gone through the process of learning how to say no, I'm finding myself all too caught up in too many commitments. It all just keeps building up until I find myself overcome by all of it, and feel alone in my mind surrounded by insurmountable obligations. My mind can often feel like a wasteland.
Jealousy is one mindset that can keep me in this rut. If I ever tell you that I'm not a jealous person, that's the pride talking. It tends to begin as bitterness or just unhinged, unreasonable anger towards a person or company that I hold inside of me. It keeps up in my mind until I realize it's an issue, at which point I break it down in attempt to get to the root... and it almost always ends in jealousy.
There have been several times where I've felt the need to confront a person directly and apologize to them for the grudge I've been holding against them. 99 percent of the time, they have no idea and are more taken aback than anything, but it is an important exercise for me to keep my ego in check. Forcing myself to essentially compliment the person I am jealous of breaks down every bit of pride I had left, but it breaks down the grudge along with it. I find jealousy to be rampant in times of personal struggle or desert; it is much easier to envy someone's good situation than work through the problems of my own.
Apathy is another state of mind that can be so easy for me, especially when I'm already behind schedule on something, to just keep putting it off. It was different when I was in school, because there were deadlines. What about for my resolutions for the new year? Or designing that logo that I said I would help with in my spare time? Nobody's going to keep me accountable on that stuff. These are things that I want to better myself in, but I feel stuck.
A Need For Consistency
Before I share this last bit, I am by no means an expert or a scientist. This is just some stuff that I've found to work for me, a young adult with a scattered brain and good intentions (also I'm pretty sure there's science to some of it, I've heard a lot of it from good sources). Here are five things that might help motivate you and keep you on track towards your vague goals and obligations.
1. Drink more water.
This is one of my resolutions for the new year, and I could immediately feel the difference in my energy level after just a week of drinking the intended amount (about half your body weight in ounces... at least that's what I've been doing).
2. If you're working on something and your mind is wandering, do something else.
I'm fairly sure I have some sort of attention disorder that never got diagnosed, but hey, I've made it this far! Moving on always helps me to clear my head, even if it's just for a minute. Because once my mind starts wandering, it doesn't come back.
3. Set your own deadlines.
This is a huge helper for me, and I often will just set reminders for certain tasks on my phone. "Do laundry" at 3:00PM. "Design hoodie" at 5. It's not like I'm forgetting to do these things, I just have to put it on the schedule so I force myself to do it.
4. Do the shortest tasks first--immediately if possible.
If I make my list of reminders and some of them take a few minutes or less, like "take out the trash," "send email," and "bring package to work," I will try to do as many of those as quick as possible. Sometimes, when work gets built up, I can look at my huge list of stuff to do and become very quickly overwhelmed, causing a stalemate in my mind. If I just start to do a few things rather than think about them and let them sit in my queue, that momentum starts to snowball into bigger tasks. Even if it requires me getting out of my slippers and blanket and walking outside on my day off, I'll force myself to do it.
5. Do one thing at a time.
Most of the time, I'm the one with 37 tabs open. in my web browser. Watching the football score in one tab, Facebook open in the next, all 3 of my email accounts, the video game deals I'm watching, the form I'm filling out, the Google search I just did... it can get overwhelming. It's the same thing as staring down a long list of reminders; it can cause stagnancy. If you're filling out a form, close everything else. If you're writing an email, close everything else. It helps keep your mind clear.