Rachael Kirkconnell: Weird, Grateful, & Growing
We sat down with Rachael Kirkconnell to get a glimpse of who she is on the inside, the things that make her happy, and the valuable insight she has to share with the world.
Q: In your own words, who is Rachael Kirkconnell?
A: This question always intrigues me because I think everyone, whoever you ask in my life, would have a different answer. If you asked my mom, she’d say that I’m fun, confident, compassionate, and outgoing. If you asked my sister she’d more than likely talk about how weird I am (in the nicest, sisterly way possible) yet someone she still somehow looks up to. If you asked Matt, he’d say I’m loyal, caring, patient, and someone who is sure of themselves with unlimited amounts of potential.
It’s funny because I was faced with the exact same question before I had gone on the show, and I had never felt more unsure of myself. I had just graduated college, I hated my job, and I was very much trying to figure out who in the world was Rachael Kirkconnell. I was completely lost. A big part of me believes that going on the show helped answer that question for me. I’ve always classified myself as quiet, shy and introverted, or rather an extroverted introvert. I put up walls around new people (especially in big group settings) because I’m afraid of how they would react when they got to know the real me. For some reason I have been extra aware of how judgmental many people are and it’s all I can think about when I first meet someone. Honestly, when I was asked to be on the show I was completely shocked. I didn’t think I had it in me to stand out in a group of 30+ beautiful, intelligent women who had strong, confident personalities. I realized, though, that regardless of how I felt inside, people were still going to assume who I was anyway, and it’s taken a lot of work to not allow that to define me.
I am still trying to figure myself out, and I’m still working towards being that confident girl many may see. All I ask of myself these days is to be a better version of myself than I was the day before. I’ll always be a work in progress. I know that I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, a friend, a Christian, and more than likely someone who will always feel a little awkward in her own skin, but I don’t mind it.
Q: How are you defining happiness these days and what makes you most happy?
A: I’ve been through a lot within the last year that has challenged my happiness and overall feeling of content with my life. Looking back at what was arguably the darkest time in my life, and comparing it to where I’m at today, I feel as though it is a blessing. I think part of that is because I stopped letting my happiness be dependent on others and I started to look for happiness within myself. Once I realized that I can’t put my own happiness aside to try and please others, it all clicked for me.
The people closest to you in your life are all that really matter – your friends, family, whoever is in your support system, and those who will truly be there for you at the end of the day (including and especially yourself). Happiness for me is snuggling on the couch with Matt, going for walks, cooking dinner with my family, watching Netflix with my sister, belly laughing with my best friends, taking naps with my pup, exploring new places, finding new music and recipes, reading a good book, traveling, creating, being present and thankful for what’s right in front of me.
Q: What are your favorite and least-favorite parts about your life lived in the spotlight (on social media and in the national media)?
A: My least-favorite part is easily watching people assume they know exactly who I am and what I stand for. It’s difficult having millions of people think they can define me and tell me who I am, all without having ever spoken to me before. It’s also difficult dealing with so many negative, unhappy people online. You can read 100 positive, uplifting comments, but for some reason one hurtful comment can stick with you for the rest of the day (I’m trying to get better at not letting this get to me as much).
For the most part, I try to let people in on my life as much as I mentally can handle it. I try and share almost everything I do and eat because I love the idea of people getting to experience it with me and taking everyone along, but the commentary I can receive makes it unbearable at times. I think it really bums me out because social media has this opportunity to be this incredible gateway to connect with one another in a positive way and sometimes it feels like all it seems to be is a platform to tear one another down. I think many people forget we are real people on the other side of the message or comment and not some character on a show.
My favorite part has to be finding the love of my life through it all. Getting to live this exciting, fulfilling life with Matt has been nothing short of extraordinary. I can’t even express how thankful I am that we can travel the world together and experience the things we do. I have also met some really incredible people along the way and wouldn’t be able to call many of these people my friends if I wouldn’t have gone on the show. It’s also helped me become who I am today, and I just hope I’ve helped at least one person along the way, maybe helped them learn something, or change their perspective in a beneficial way.
Q: What’s a secret about your boyfriend Matt that he’d be OK with you sharing?
A: Matt will take his shoes (AND socks) off anywhere he is able to. Restaurants in the middle of dinner, movie theaters, on the plane, basketball games, literally ANYWHERE.
Q: Do you think 10-year old Rachael is proud of who you are today?
A: I think that if I sat down with 10-year old Rachael today, she would be proud. She would be excited for all the things she is going to get to experience and learn along the way. I still have all the journals that I kept throughout school when I was that age and what’s funny is that every time I had to answer the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question, I always pictured something different for my life. I always told myself “I need to do something else other than a traditional desk job.” I’ve always thought there was more to life than work. I think somewhere our society got lost along the way and we live to work, instead of work to live. But of course, I had no idea what I meant then and I’m pretty sure she had no idea that this is what that’d turn into, but I think if I showed the 10-year old me my life, where I’m at and what I’m doing, she’d be happy. She would also give me a high-five for snagging someone as cute as Matt 🙂
Q: What are three things you’re grateful for right now?
A: I’m grateful for the people in my life who have stood by my side, for my faith that has helped me through everything, and for the life I’ve been given through it all, everyday is a blessing.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received that you want to pass on to everybody reading this?
A: The best advice I’ve ever received, and one that I apply to myself almost daily was from Matt. He told me, “I think we forget that we’re not put on this earth to live for others” and that struck me because as someone who has always cared too much about what others think, I realized that those opinions can’t have more weight than my own. At the end of the day, you have to be happy with who you are because you are the person who has to forever live with you. You will never please everyone, especially people who are committed to their idea of you. Live your life for you and for those that you love.