How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

For the past week or so, I’ve been feeling stuck.  My focus has been lacking, my creativity has been nonexistent, and I’ve just not been feeling like myself.  When I’ve been trying to write, I’ve felt a wall go up: I can’t figure out what I’m ready to share about myself and my experiences.  Every time I try to write about my experiences, I lose my words. It’s like a wall goes up within me that stops me from sharing. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why I’m in this rut right now.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting and I keep coming back to this point: a year ago, I was preparing to embark on an amazing adventure that would cause huge amounts of growth in me as a person.  For the last year of my life, I have changed locations and routines approximately every four months. I have not settled and now, I’m going back to a routine of sameness and I can’t help but fear that in settling in one spot, I’m not growing enough as a person.  I had a feeling I would go through a struggle this semester, and it’s the very reason I did not study abroad: I need to learn how to be in one place for a while.  

Staying physically in one place and one lifestyle though does not mean my life needs to be boring, mundane, or lack growth.  Today, I realized that staying in one place and having a routine here is giving me the opportunity to do what I haven’t done in a while: pursue things just because they’ll make me happy.  I have been so constantly moving for a year that I haven’t taken time to do things just because. I’ve felt like I had to experience everything all at once because each place I’ve been in, I’ve had a limited time there.  Even over break when I was home in New York, I felt this weird sense of urgency: I had to go to the diner and my favorite coffee shop and to see a Broadway show, because I don’t know when I’ll be back and able to do it all.  Now in DC, I don’t have that urgency and when I push aside my fear of sameness for a moment, it’s almost freeing to be able to prioritize my happiness without feeling like I’m missing out on something.

So, this semester, I’m going to do things for no reason other than that I want to and they will make me happy.  And to be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to do. Maybe, I’ll take that pottery class I’ve always said I was going to take.  Maybe, (when the government opens again), I’ll spend a day reading at the National Portrait Gallery or maybe, I’ll find my way back to an old hobby, like songwriting.  I don’t have to plan it all out perfectly for once. I can just live in the present for a while.

 

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“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

Sometimes, it feels like everyone has it all together except for you.  Everywhere you look are people who have it all figured out for the next ten years and then, there’s you.  You don’t even know what you’re having for dinner tonight, let alone what’s in your path five years, or even one year down the line.  It feels like the world is spinning too fast and you’re at risk of falling off the planet altogether.

BREATHE. You are not alone in this.  There is nothing wrong with you and I promise you, gravity will not abandon you anytime soon.

Behind the Picture

Often, we assume we know people and their lives better than we actually do.  We forget that we only see what other people want us to see and with that, we miss most of the story.  The girl who has our dream job doesn’t share the tons of interviews she went on before she landed that job.  She doesn’t share her struggle with mental health that affects her daily. She only shares the perfect pictures with the world– the good times, the perfect-fitting suits, and the success.  We assume we know her life, but we don’t see any of it. This is not to say she is not doing well and her successes shouldn’t be celebrated, but rather that it is not all picture perfect. She does not have it all together all the time– she’s just convinced us she does.

Making it Through

Personally, I find there’s something comforting when you take the mask off and see the reality of the world around you: everyone is making it through their own struggles, their own way.  That’s the thing though: everyone is making it through. The Earth hasn’t stopped spinning and people with struggles are not spontaneously combusting. Everyone is fighting through, day-by-day, because that’s life.  Life is not about having the perfect picture, but rather about making it through our struggles, scarred and bruised, and coming out the other side with a smile on our face.

I think life might even want us to embrace our baggage and our wreckage.  It is the moments with no direction that truly determine who we are. It is when nothing is given to us on a silver platter that we find our strength, determination, and path.  We live in a society that so badly wants to stuff our struggles under the carpet, but when we do that, we lose out on showing the world the most beautiful and bright parts of ourselves.  

 

The Comparison Trap

The Comparison Trap

I made my Instagram almost seven years ago, when I was thirteen years old.  Despite my love for the app, I can’t help but wonder how Instagram has changed my life and the lives of those around me.  While I know it has done great things, such as giving me a true platform to connect with people through, it also has fostered a community of comparison and envy.  Let’s dive on in.

For years, we have paged through the magazines and watched movies and television shows with the most glamorous celebrities.  We have sat glued to our televisions as perfect Princesses, such as Diana and Kate Middleton, have emerged and shone. We have followed along for years with the messy antics of celebrities, while always admiring the glamour and luxury their lives still entail.  Is it any surprise that when social media appeared, we used it to make our lives look just as glamorous as those we had been idolizing? We use social media to tell stories of our best parts of our lives– the incredible vacations, the beautiful outfits, and the never-ending stream of friends and outings.  We are surrounded by perfect lives everywhere we look but now, those perfect lives belong to our friends and families.

And, suddenly, we look at our own lives and well– they seem a bit lacking.  We think about all the Friday nights we stayed in, the Saturdays spent binge-watching Gilmore Girls (for the tenth time) on Netflix, and the Sundays without brunch plans.  The perfect Instagram girl though has her weekends packed– it’s not at all unreasonable that we feel like we don’t compare and are jealous of that perfect life. So, what now?  How do we deal with this idealized world that we see every time we look at our phone?  

Acknowledgement is not always enough

First, we must acknowledge that Instagram is a highlight reel but also realize, that might not be enough all the time.  By the time I entered college, I had been on Instagram for over four years- I knew Instagram was a highlight reel. However, that acknowledgement did little to comfort me as I saw high school friends posting about having the time of their lives at college while I cried of homesickness and inadequacy every day of my first month at Georgetown.  In those days, all I saw was people with friends and happiness compared to my own loneliness. My life held no weight. In those moments, the best thing to do is close the app. I am not one for social media cleanses– I personally do not think they work or do long-term good, but if you are in an emotionally difficult place, remove yourself from potential triggers.  Connect with others on a real level– talk with friends about how their lives are actually, not what you see on the screen. Sometimes, looking for real connection can do far more good than just acknowledging that Instagram isn’t the full story.

Breaking the Cycle: Unfollow

What if you are in a good emotional place though but Instagram still triggers you into a place of comparison and envy?  I recently became a fan of the unfollow button– for six years of my time on Instagram, I think I clicked the unfollow button maybe five times.  This year, I changed my relationship with the unfollow button. I had an amazing 2018 and was really happy, but when I went on Instagram, I found myself feeling negative as I looked at photos of the girls who just never accepted me as a friend or the friend group I thought I had once belonged to now without me.  When I looked at these posts, I felt not only that my life wasn’t beautiful enough, but that I, as a person, wasn’t enough. If my life and I had been enough, these people would have loved me, they would have accepted me, and I would have been in the photo. One day, it hit me: I was choosing to subject myself to feeling this way by continuing to follow these people.  I was choosing to continue a negative cycle and all I had to do to break it was hit the unfollow button. I found once I clicked it and got rid of the people who were negatively affecting me from my feed, Instagram could be a much happier and healthier place for me.

Coming to Growth

However, even though I’ve become a fan of the unfollow button, I still see it as a resource to be used sparingly.  Never before in our lives can we just delete what we don’t want to see– we can eliminate having to see the perfect lives we so badly want and resent the people who have them.  This doesn’t do us any good though: we have to grow as people and coming to terms with envy and pride is apart of that growth. When a girl from high school posts about her boyfriend or her new internship, a little green monster grows in us and it uses our language of “Instagram isn’t real” as the key to thoughts that wreck the picture such as “she isn’t really that happy,” and “there’s problems beneath the surface.”  This language though deals with envy by diminishing someone else, instead of working on ourselves. Just because someone else’s life is in a different place doesn’t mean it is better or worse than ours. It just means it is different from ours. Just because someone else is getting engaged and we’re still surfing the plethora of dating apps doesn’t mean we’re behind– it means our lives are on different timelines and that’s okay.  Everyone’s life is different, everyone’s journey is different, and everyone’s timeline is different. In coming to terms with this, we can find some peace and join in the celebrations on social media, rather than become the Hulk each time we see them.

My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

Every December, I begin to think about New Year’s Resolutions.  I usually find myself at a bit of a cross roads: I never stick to my resolutions, but I want to improve myself and new year’s resolutions seem like a good way to do so.  I tell myself this year will be different than last– this will be the year that I will stick with it. And, sometimes I do well. Last year, I pledged to live healthier and I stuck to it for a large majority of the year.  I aspire to get back to the mindset I had, as it was such a healthy and happy state of being.

Other years, my resolutions have sent me down paths of disaster.  My freshman fall at Georgetown, I struggled and it showed in my grades.  I had always worked hard and had my hard work pay off, but it seemed things would be different in college.  I would need to work harder. Ever the planner, I resolved to improve my life in all areas and I made a literal life plan for myself, with goals for each day, each week, each month, each semester, and each year for the next three and a half years planned out.  These goals included health, academics, extracurriculars, professional development, and social. This life plan did not work out too great, as life did not want to stick to my plan and soon, everything was out of place. I was devastated and after a few tearful meltdowns, I gave up the life plan.

This year, as I think about what my resolution should be or if I should even make any, I keep coming back to one thought.  My 2018 was incredible because nothing went as I planned. Everything was jumbled and out of place, but that mess included some of the happiest times in my life.  So many of those moments almost didn’t happen because they didn’t fit in with what I had imagined for the year and that would have been a true shame.

So, this year, I’m setting one resolution: I’m going to try to plan less.  This doesn’t mean I will abandon my perfectly color coated google calendars or stop scheduling out how I plan to study for classes.  But, it does mean I will get less bogged down in the details.  I will not let my perfect plans rule my life.  Rather, when opportunity knocks, I will greet it, instead of cowering away in the corner because I had not booked it into my calendar.  And if opportunity happens to offer to change my life, I will gladly shake his hand and throw away the schedules and calendars, happily pursuing the adventure life has given me.

Over my bed, I have a canvas that reads, “Anything can happen if you let it,” a favorite quote of mine from Mary Poppins.  Like usual, she’s quite right. She is practically perfect, after all.

 

2018 Year in Review: Part Two

2018 Year in Review: Part Two

How do you a measure a year in the life?

I’m continuing yesterday’s year in review and looking through my experiences in 2018, month-by-month.  Here’s part two:

June: While May had been a month of many tearful goodbyes, June had many exciting reunions.  My childhood friend, Emma, came to visit from Ireland and we got our entire childhood friend group together for one day exploring Manhattan.  I saw my cousin, Sophia, again after many months apart and we enjoyed a wonderful summer night in Bryant Park. Soon, some of my Disney friends, Jenn and Ryan, even made appearances in Manhattan and I was overjoyed to be reunited with these people that I missed so dearly.  In June, I realized how blessed I was: I have so many amazing people in my life that bring so much joy into the world.

July: July is always my favorite month, as it is my birth month (I am a proud cancer), and this July was as wonderful as ones in the past.  I spent Fourth of July with my friend, Sam, who could rival Captain America with his patriotism. Soon, the event I had been waiting for for months approached: the Taylor Swift concert.  I boarded my bus to D.C., eager to see her perform and see some of my good friends. Her concert was one of the greatest nights of my life, even if we did almost end up stranded in suburban Maryland.  Scream-singing Taylor Swift songs with your friends is so much more fun when Taylor Swift is singing live. I also reunited with an old friend, Sunny, on this trip: Sunny and I had done a summer program years ago together and kept in touch.  She and I got lunch in D.C. and then had a fabulous night when she visited New York a few weeks later. I also reunited with a great friend from high school debate, Katie. Friendships like Sunny and Katie’s are so meaningful to me: no matter how long apart you are, when you reunite, it’s like no time has passed.  

August: August included returns to two of my favorite places: Disney and Georgetown.  Thanks to my sister who gifted me plane tickets to Florida for my birthday and my dear friends who housed me for a week, I was able to return to Orlando one last time before school started.  And, what a wonderful week it was! I went to Universal and went on drives with Kelsey, I spent days running around the Disney parks with my friend, Kelly, I spent hour meandering Disney Springs and the surrounding hotels with another friend, Abby, and I spent days by the pool with Julie.  I never wanted the trip to end, but it soon did and led to my return to Georgetown. Once I arrived, I realized I had forgotten how dearly I missed this place and was excited to be reunited with great friends and my activities, such as the school newspaper, The Hoya.

September: September brought the start of school and with that, the start of club recruitment season.  As social media editor for The Hoya, I found many of my days being consumed by working on my daily tasks, such as best promoting the content, and working to best publicize our application and lead recruitment.  I wouldn’t have it any other way though– the hours I spent with friends at the paper are hours I cherish. In particular, this paper brought me a new friendship this month with a girl named Kathryn. Kathryn is now one of my most treasured friendships and I am so grateful for this organization for bringing us together.  In addition to newspaper recruitment, I also had sorority recruitment this month. Sorority recruitment is stressful for all but I loved getting to spend time with all of my sisters (and all the free food) and welcome in an amazing new pledge class.

October: October went by in a blur.  I went home for the first time this semester and had an amazing time apple-picking with my mom and sister and exploring a local fair. October also brought one of my greatest joys and biggest excitements: the launching of this blog!  I am so happy to have started this journey with you all. This month though also proved my most challenging of the year, as I struggled to keep up with all of my commitments, while still maintaining my mental health and practicing self-care.  I had some failures in October, but these failures just helped make my direction even clearer.

November: November was a month of smiles.  It started with getting my two amazing littles who I adore and am so happy to have them join my little sorority family (shoutout to Emma for being the world’s best sorority twin).  It continued with a wonderful newspaper photoshoot with my social media team. Thanksgiving was a welcome trip home and I enjoyed spending time with my family (especially my puppy, Luna) and friends for the weekend.  Returning to school brought my favorite night of the semester: last night of production for the semester of the newspaper. This night was so much fun and when it was over, I found myself wanting to press pause on life and just live in the happiness that existed in these moments forever.  I truly love the people I got to work with this semester– they have become my support system, my motivation, and my great friends. I am so grateful to have them.

December: The beginning of December brought wonderful nights of dancing and too many days of goodbyes.  With formals for both my sorority and the newspaper, I got to spend great nights, dressed to the nines, dancing and singing with great friends.  However, these nights soon turned to goodbyes, as many of my friends are going abroad next semester. I am going to miss them all so much, but I cannot wait to reunite in the fall.  Speaking of reunions, I was able to reunite with a few Disney friends this month and these moments make me smile so bright. I am so happy these friendships withstand distance and are still so strong.  The latter part of this month has been at home, where I’ve been going on many adventures with my family. It’s been a great time, getting to truly enjoy being with family.

I think back to where I was last December and I cannot believe the difference a year can make.  I come back to thinking of Seasons of Love and another lyric:

 

Measure your life in love.

 

This year, I was blessed with so much love and that love changed me.  Love has the power to change the world, if we open ourselves up to it.  Thank you to everyone who has made this year filled with so much joy– you are so special.  

 

2019, you have big shoes to fill but if you’re anything like 2018, it’ll be a year full of new dreams and adventures.  I can’t wait.

 

2018 Year in Review: Part One

2018 Year in Review: Part One

This is part one in my year in review content.

Five hundred twenty-five six hundred minutes

How do you measure a year in a life?

A friend recently reminded me of these lyrics and as 2018 comes to a close, I find this on my mind.  2018 was a great year, but how do I describe it in the context of my life? How do I measure all of the experiences from this year?

To preface, I ended 2017 feeling lost and confused.  I felt like I had lost my sense of self, like for the first time in my life, I had no idea where I was going.  All I knew was that I wanted to change directions: I wanted to find myself, to rebuild, to be better. Looking back month by month at 2018, I am sure that that lost and confused girl would smile at what a year did.

Here’s part one of my year in review:

January: The year started off in the place that would be the most influential spot of the year, Magic Kingdom.  On this last family trip before my College Program began, I knew that Disney World would give me an adventure, but I had no idea how much this program would change my life.  The month progressed with me having a bit of dead time that I spent enjoying home and New York. During this time, I volunteered with my high school’s speech and debate team and saw some wonderful old friends.  These days were some of the most important of the year. They reconnected me to my younger self, one that had passion and drive. They connected me to a version of myself that had no doubt I would change the world for the better.  The month concluded with the beginning of an adventure: I moved to Orlando, Florida and into my apartment at Vista Way on January 29. These last days of January are some of my favorites: they brought me three of my greatest friends, Kelsey, Beth Anne, and Destiny.  These girls, my roommates, have become my rocks and I treasure our friendships.

February: February began with some roommate bonding and exploring of our new neighborhood.  Beth Anne mapped out for us a day to go hotel hopping around the Disney resorts and the day ended with us eating dole whips by the pool at the Polynesian– in my opinion, that is how all good days should end.  Two days later, my Disney adventure truly began, as Destiny and I went through our Traditions (Disney orientation) together and got our park admission (aka the key to the kingdom, quite literally). I spent my first days off exploring the parks alone and my first days of work going through training, following by spontaneous roommate trips to the parks at night.  I look back so fondly at these first days: the magic was so alive and vivid. February also brought me one of my favorite people in the entire world, Julie. Julie and I worked together and after our last day of training, Julie asked me to go to Magic Kingdom with her that night. That one question formed a most wonderful friendship. For the rest of the month, Julie and I were practically inseparable and spent all of our days off exploring parks together.

March: March brought my first family visit and I was so happy to see them and show them around my new home.  The rest of the month can be summarized by the arrival of new friendships. I grew closer with my coworkers and I felt the magic in Disney changed.  No longer was the magic from the place, but rather the people I got to spend every day with. I could not get enough of these people: we worked together for forty hours a week and I still wanted to spend every moment off with them.  These park adventures we went on together were some of the most random, unplanned, yet magical days I had my entire program. I cannot say enough times how much I love my coworkers and friends I made at Disney: they are my Ohana.

 

April: March ended and April opened with festivities: Destiny turned 20!  We celebrated in appropriate Disney fashion: with a character breakfast.  The month continued with hang-outs with my amazing coworkers and one of my favorite days of my entire program: a day spent at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival with Beth Anne and a good friend of mine from work, Sadia.  I mention this day specifically because it was so wonderful: the three of us spent hours together, laughing, joking, and eating at every country in the world showcase. It was the definition of pure bliss. This day was shortly followed by a very special family visit– they were here to celebrate my dad’s birthday and my sister even came along: we had so much fun celebrating together.  The latter parts of the month were spent trying to take advantage of the parks as much as possible and spend time with friends, as my departure date of May 17 started to creep closer. It was in this time that I found Disney and Orlando had become a home to me.

 

May: May was a month of many tears and goodbyes.  As my departure day approached and many friends departed before me, I found myself realizing how much this program had meant to me.  It gave me people who truly loved me and appreciated me. It gave me people who had magic within them and they gave some of that magic to me.  Together, we were able to make the world a little bit happier. I tearfully walked through Magic Kingdom in those last days, staying on Main Street with friends until we could stay no longer, passing by every cart I had worked at with a wistful look in my eye, and watching Happily Ever After, the fireworks show that had lit up my workdays.  I cried as I turned in my key and took one last look at Vista Way, the place that had been my home since January. I knew as I drove away that this place had changed me. I would miss it and the people dearly.

 

The Days with No Name: Living in the Moment and Adventures at Tiffany’s

The Days with No Name: Living in the Moment and Adventures at Tiffany’s

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve may be the strangest that the year has to offer.   It’s a no man’s land in a sense: there’s no sense of time or urgency in these days. Wednesdays slip into Thursdays and Thursdays slip into Saturdays without anyone realizing or even batting an eyelash over where Friday disappeared to.  I might be weird and it may shock some considering my love of Christmas, but these are my favorite days of the year. There’s something refreshing about losing the stress culture society’s gotten us to buy into over the years: anything is possible in these days.

This year, I’m spending these days doing things I love to do.  I’m writing blog posts, I’m taking photos, I’m spending time with loved ones.  And so far, these days have been wonderful. Wednesday, I spent the day watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with my mom before eating at an all you can eat sushi restaurant nearby for dinner.  There was nothing extravagant about the day, but that’s what made it so wonderful– there was no stress, no pressure, no worries.

Thursday, I went into New York City with my mom to go to Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany’s.

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My mom and I at Blue Box Cafe

 I have wanted to go here since they opened and so, a month ago, I frantically got on my computer exactly at 9 AM to make a reservation and I will admit, those minutes were some of the most stressful of my life as I watched reservations be booked out for the day in only five minutes.  But, it was all worth it. I don’t think there’s a better way to deserve my love for Tiffany’s than by providing my favorite monologue from all of Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

“The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? …Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then — then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!”

There is nothing like Tiffany’s and no better time to enjoy it than this strange little holiday season.  After Tiffany’s, my mom and I continued to enjoy the city, browsing through Bergdorf’s and Bendel’s, before making it to New York’s craziest spot: the Christmas tree.  Even with all the crowds and the pushing and shoving, I can’t help but marvel at it. It’s spectacular.

Looking forward from here, my plans aren’t so clear.  I’ll meet some friends here and there, work on my blog and internship applications, and just enjoy these moments.  The thing about these days is that they are very finite: I know the second the clock strikes midnight and rings in 2019 that it is all over.  The dates will become clear again, everyone will be back to work– I’ll have only a week left at home before I return to school again and a new semester will begin.  In these days, it’s like the whole world is Cinderella at the ball, but reality will strike again. For now, I plan to appreciate these days as much as I can and take joy in whatever life gives to me.

 

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of slump and I’ve been trying to cover it up with excitement, but the truth is: this year is missing some Christmas spirit for me.  I’m not sure exactly why– maybe, it’s the aftermath of a stressful finals period and now the waiting for final grades to be released or maybe, it’s the rushed feeling that has been in my home as we struggle to get everything done in time for the holiday or maybe, it’s even the distress that comes along with following politics this season.  Whatever it is, something just feels off to me.

I think admitting that we can’t feel the holiday cheer is something hard for a lot of us to do.  What is wrong with us that we don’t just feel overjoyed this season? In almost every Christmas movie, the people who don’t feel Christmas cheer are often villains or mean people. They live quite unhappy and grouchy lives until someone opens their eyes to how great Christmas can be (often by going to some small, adorable town where they find love and community). But, sometimes, not feeling the holiday spirit doesn’t mean you’re a grinch or have let the season go.  In fact, sometimes, it’s exactly the opposite: you want more than anything to be able to feel the Christmas cheer that everyone else seems to feel.

Right now, I’m at a personal struggle.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year and I told myself that finals were just a blip in my Christmas spirit radar.  I would spend a week unhappy, but then I could get back to happiness and excitement. I came home though and found that was not the case– no matter how many Christmas songs I listen to or movies I watch, something just feels off.  

A hard part of self-care is checking in with where you’re at emotionally and not beating yourself up if you aren’t where you want to be.  It is okay to not feel overwhelmed with excitement during Christmas, even if you wish you were. It is okay to feel sad or alone or confused.  I’ve said it before, but I think we, myself included, could all do to hear it again: it is okay to still be human during the holidays.

Despite this all, I’m still holding out hope that I can find my perfect Christmas cheer again.   Maybe, I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  Maybe, Christmas spirit doesn’t live in hundreds of cookies or fancy wrapped boxes with ribbon or pretty decorations around the house.  Maybe, every Christmas movie does have it right: it’s in the love that’s all around us every day.

 

Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues

Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues

If you’ve read my posts lately, you know I think the holidays are a time filled with joy, cheer, and happiness.  But, the holidays can also be hard. Maybe, you lost someone you loved or maybe, life just doesn’t look the way you wanted it to.

It’s okay to be sad during the holidays.  It’s okay to struggle during the holidays.  Just because the season is beautiful doesn’t mean all your problems somehow instantly go away.

For me, the holidays always fall at the same time as finals and I have a difficult past of dealing with tests.  When I was in the second grade, I got hives every night before I would take a standardized test. This continued for the rest of my grade school and high school experience. My freshman year of college, I could not keep food down for two days before my statistics final– my nerves overwhelmed me.  This past midterm season, I worked myself so hard that I ended up crying of exhaustion on my couch at 3 AM one night. So, whenever finals season approaches in December, all the joy I have built up for the holiday season comes crashing down around me as I am filled with this test anxiety that has come to play a major role in my life.  

And, suddenly, I feel full of dread every day when I think about how Christmas is coming closer, but that also means my tests are coming closer.  Then, I beat myself up for that thought because how could I ever dread the beauty of the holiday season? How could I ever feel so many negative emotions during my favorite time of year?

It’s okay to struggle.

Giving myself the permission to struggle is so important in changing the way I view myself and my difficulties.  Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean my problems go away or I should ignore them: they are what make me human.  I have to confront them and deal through them, not hide them away and feel guilty for struggling.

Maybe, you’re a student having the problems as me this finals season or it’s your first Christmas without a loved one or your family situation has changed recently.  Whatever your situation, the message still is the same: you are allowed to struggle during the holidays. You are allowed to be sad, happy, angry, frustrated, and confused all at once.  You don’t need to hide what you’re going through or feel guilty for it. You have done nothing wrong.

This holiday season, let yourself be true.  Let yourself be real.  

Ranking My Favorite Christmas Songs

Ranking My Favorite Christmas Songs

When I lived at home, every November 1st, I would quietly change the radio station in my mom’s car from her adult pop hits station to Sirius XM’s Holly, the Christmas music station.  It would take about a few days before my mom would realize what I had done and would rant to me about how Christmas did not start until after Santa came down the road during the Thanksgiving Day Parade, to which I would always protest that Christmas music is too good to listen to only for a month.  So today, in honor of this love I hold for Christmas music, I’m ranking my favorite songs for the season:

5. What Christmas Means to Me.  This song is an underrated bop and I don’t just say that because I had all the lyrics committed to memory when my high school choir sang this for our Christmas show sophomore year.  It is such a fun and exciting song– it makes you want to dance!

 

4. Last Christmas. This song has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember.  I am a huge fan of 1980s pop, and this song has that fun vibe to it that causes me to start singing it without even meaning to.  Also, this song has the perfect amount of Christmas cheer mixed with angst that makes it IDEAL to sing along to.

 

3. Dominick the Donkey.  In my second grade music class, we had to vote for our favorite Christmas song and I still remember my teacher’s shocked expression when we all voted for this song.  It’s one of those songs you don’t want to love– you want to find it annoying and hate it, but then you find yourself going ‘la la la’ along with the song.

 

2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  This song is another one of my favorites for as long as I can remember but as I’ve gotten older, I have grown in my love and appreciation for it.  The original version of the song is beautiful in its anticipation for the future and honesty: life is not perfect now, but next Christmas, it will be.  Newer versions of the song have tried to make it happier, but there is something so authentic and wonderful about a song that does not sugarcoat.
1. All I want for Christmas is You.  No surprise here.  It’s a classic and is one even the biggest grinch can’t help but sing along and dance to.

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

From the time I was a child, the holidays have been the absolute most magical time of year to me.  One of the most magical parts of Christmas to me is the movies– there’s just no way not to feel Christmas joy when you watch ABC Family (now Freeform)’s 25 days of Christmas movie marathons. In college now, I don’t get to watch the 25 days of Christmas but during finals season when I get overwhelmed, I often take a break to watch a Christmas movie and afterwards, I always feel a bit more clarity and peace of mind.  Watching Christmas movies is my favorite holiday self-care activity.

In honor of us being exactly 20 days away from Christmas, I’m giving my ranking of my top five Christmas movies.  

  1. Love, Actually.  Recently, this movie has become the subject of much debate and unfortunately, hate, but I absolutely love it.  It has a million and one plot holes, the characters are ridiculous most of the time, but I can’t help but fall in love with this movie when Sam runs across the airport to declare his love to Joanna or the Prime Minister knocks on every door on a street in London to find the woman he loves.  It’s these truly outrageously cheesy moments that have me watching this movie at least five times every Christmas season, without fail.4099872673_2375d80dcf.jpg

 

Christmas Shoes.  This movie, I believe, is the most underappreciated Christmas movie ever.  It’s a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS and starred Rob Lowe. It’s also based upon one of my favorite Christmas songs.  This movie makes me cry my eyes out, but reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas: love and giving. It is a movie that should not be missed.879319287_257fb71233_b.jpg

3. The Polar Express.  I remember going to see this movie in 3D in theaters when it came out and feeling so absolutely immersed– my dad can tell you, I kept reaching my hand out to try to grab the ticket.  I walked out feeling like I had just been at the North Pole and seen Santa himself. I even put one of the reindeer’s bells on my Christmas list the next year, desperately wanting to live the Polar Express.  Even today when I’m older, I feel that same type of magic for the Polar Express– it’s like I’m there at the North Pole each time I watch it.The_polar_express_logo.png

2. The Santa Clause.  In my house, this movie is the ULTIMATE classic.  It’s one of few movies that can get us to all gather up together in the living room to watch, without anyone complaining that they wanted to watch a different movie.  Tim Allen will forever be my favorite Santa Clause– he’s hysterical in his original denial of the Christmas spirit and eventual complete embrace.

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DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!
1. The Year Without a Santa Clause. They call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch.  Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite Christmas characters ever and the Miser song is so great– I lowkey quote it all year.  It also features another classic Christmas song, Blue Christmas. This movie just leaves me feeling so happy at the end and I just feel like it has the warm-fuzzy feeling you expect of Christmas.  

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It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

There is nothing I love more in this world than Christmas music… except, maybe Christmas cookies and decorations.  The entire season excites me so much and despite the shorter hours of daylight and the chillier temperatures, I can’t help but smile when I see a house decorated with lights or a wreath hanging on a door.  It’s a special time of year.

I’ll admit, all of that sounds superficial.  What difference does some twinkly lights make to our lives?  Well, I believe that all the beauty and decor that goes along with Christmas just helps to stand in for what the season really means: hope.

The holidays bring us together.  In my family, we have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies.  When I was a little girl, this would be a whole day activity with all my aunts and uncles. Today, the tradition has become just my mom and I as many of our relatives have passed away, but when we bake our family recipe of strufoli, it’s like they’re still with us.  I can hear my Aunt Loretta’s laughter in the kitchen and my Uncle Joey’s patient voice as he explains to me how you have to roll the dough. In those moments of baking, I feel so much hope that my family is still with me. My mom and I always grow closer after a day of baking, because I know she feels it too.  Our family is not lost from us, but within us. In those moments, I can’t help but feel hope that the world is a beautiful place, because my family is made of the most beautiful people and if they’re still with me in some way, life has to be spectacular.

This year, I’m trying to bring this feeling of hope I get from my family holiday traditions to everyone I know.  I’m hosting a Christmas party, I’m getting a group together to spend an afternoon decorating cookies, and I’m volunteering in my community.  Life is so stressful and hard most of the time– I want people to be able to take a moment to see it is still beautiful. I want people to feel hopeful and excited for the future.

When I look at Christmas decorations, I see so much beauty in this world.  I see people just trying to make the world a happier place, one light at a time.  When I participate in gift exchange, I feel so much care and affection. Someone took time to think of what would make me happy.  When I listen to a Christmas song, I smile because this is a season that brings people together and brings out the best in them.

This holiday season, let yourself be filled with hope that the world is still a happy and caring place.  Let yourself believe that the world is good and there’s so much more than your daily stress. That hope you feel inside when you do, that’s what Christmas is all about.  

It really is a wonderful life.

 

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

A Christmas tradition that never fails to stress everyone out is Secret Santa.  Maybe, you pulled the name of your best friend and have no idea how to get them a good enough gift in $20 or less or maybe, you pulled the name of someone you’ve never spoken two words too.  Have no fear, I’ve compiled a list of the best Secret Santa gifts for $20 or less so you can enjoy this holiday tradition, instead of stressing.

$10 and Under

Toysmith Mini Ping Pong Set: $5.62

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Tea Bag Shaped Tea Infuser: $5.95

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Cable Bite: $6.00

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Mini Double Chocolate Cocoa: $6.95

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Sugarfina x The Grinch Super Sour Hearts (or any Sugarfina candy makes for a great gift!): $8.50

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Satin Bow-Tied Hair Tie Set: $9.60

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Dash Red Mini Waffle Maker: $9.99

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Star Wars: May the Force Be With You Mug: $9.99

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George & Viv Gifting Bar Soap: $10

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$15 and Under

Acrylic 3×3 Block Picture Frame: $11.95

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Stamped & Cashed Dancing Queen Cuff: $12 but 15% off with my code PIXIEDUST until 12/20

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Keep Cool Face Mask Set: $12

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Make + Model Butter Socks: $12

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Oooh Yeah Men’s Luxury Combed Cotton Crew Socks Pizza Party Large Socks: $12

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Easy, Tiger, 12 oz Goil Foil Stackable Mug, “No”: $12

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Let It Snow Layered Cookie Mix: $12.95

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Acrylic Watch Hat: $12.99

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Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined: $13.46

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L’Occitane Shea Butter Ornament Set: $14

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Monogram Lidded Jewelry Box: $14

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$20 and Under

HoMedics Essential Oils: $14.99-$19.99

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Fredericks & Mae Paper Games: Dots & Boxes: $17.96

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Kate Spade New York What Do You Say Tumbler with Straw: $18

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Hat and Scarf: $18.99

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Coziest Throw- Space Dyed: $19

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Fleece Block Checked Large Blanket: $19.90

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Gift Guide #2: Self-Care Gifts

Gift Guide #2: Self-Care Gifts

We are all on our own personal journeys and that can sometimes make it hard to find gifts for others.  Maybe, you’re shopping for a friend whose selfless and is always running around for everyone else or maybe, you’re trying to find the perfect gift for your workaholic friend who is stressed out all the time.  No matter who you’re buying for or wherever they are on their personal journey, giving a gift that makes self-care easy is always a good idea. I’ve compiled my favorite self-care gifts for this season in this list so you don’t have to stress on a holiday gift hunt this season.

$15 and Under

Tea Time Monogram Mug: $7.00

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Sheet Mask Set: $7.90

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The Mindfulness Coloring Book: $9.23

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Boscia Black Charcoal Blotting Linens: $10

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Capri Blue Mini Zodiac Candle: $14

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Philosophy: Comfy, Cozy, Clean: $15

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$30 and Under

Mindfulness Cards: $16.95

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Lavender eye pillow: $16.99

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LALICIOUS Sugar Kiss Mini Sparkle & Shine Set: $19.00

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: $19.99

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Mila 2018-2019 Planner + Pen Set: $24

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Mer-Sea & Co. Sugar Scrub: $30

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$50 and Under

You are Amazing Care Package: $32

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My Bucket List Fill In Journal: $34.99

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Your Tea Antioxidant Tea: $35

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Philosophy’s Guide to Warm and Cozy: $39

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USB Essential Oil Diffuser: $40

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Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Face Mask: $49

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Slip Silk Lashes Eye Mask: $50

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Over $50

Amped Fleece Printed Throw Blanket: $59

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Franklin Desk Riser: $39-$59

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Paint the Town Set- GLAMGLOW: normally $89 but on sale for $69

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That’s all of my self-care gift finds for now.  I am constantly looking for the best self-care products so I may post an updated version of this a bit closer to Christmas.  Let me know in the comments what gift guide you’d like to see next!

Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

The holidays are a joyous yet stressful time.  One major stressor of the season is getting all the presents you need for your friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing my gift guides to make the season as easy as possible.  Today’s gift guide is to help you find gifts for under $35, so you can get the best possible gifts without breaking your bank.  All of these gifts are from Forever 21, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Vineyard Vines. I’ll be honest: I was really worried going into this gift guide, unsure if I would be able to find any good gifts in this price range, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many amazing and affordable gifts.  I’m so excited to share thirty of these options with you today and make sure to let me know in the comments what gift guide you’d like to see next!

$15 and Under

Cross Pendant Chain Necklace: $3.90
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Go For It Pendant Necklace: $3.90

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Faux Fur Earmuffs: $6.90

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I Woke up Like This graphic Travel Mug: $7.90

i did not wake up like this

Ribbed Knit Gloves: $9.90

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PLAY! By Sephora: Beauty Schooled: $10

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Plaid Flannel Oblong Scarf: $14.90

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Leith Crystal Wraparound Necklace: $14.90

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Perfect Selfie Ring Light + Lens: $15

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Philosophy Comfy, Cozy, Clean: $15

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$25 and Under

 

Serefina Bow Tie Bracelet: $15.20

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Sephora Collection Experiential Masks Set: $18

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Mario Badescu Mini Must Have Winter Edition Set: $20

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Jupiter Candle: $24

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Chenille Hat & Scarf Set: $24.90

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Philosophy Warm Caramel Apple Cider Set: $25

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Illuminating Bright Eyes Gels + Silky Mask Beauty Sleep Set- Beauty Bio: $25

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Bite Four Little Bites Amuse Bouche Lipstick Set: $25

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Tarte Here Today, Gone to Maui: $25

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Weekends & Chocolate Holiday Bath Truffle Set: $25

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bh Cosmetics Crystal Quartz 12-Piece Brush Set: $25

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$35 and Under

Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette & Brush Duo: $26.50

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Vineyard Vines Classic Twill Baseball Hat: $28

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Benefit Cosmetics Goodie Goodie Gorgeous Gift Set: $29

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Eva NYC Mini Flat Iron: $30

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Pixi 5th Edition Ultimate Beauty Kit: $32

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Out From Under Haiden Cozy Sweater: $34
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Cozy Chunky Knit Beanie: $34

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Nubby Blanket Scarf: $34

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Lime Crime Best of Lip Reds Holiday Gift Set: $34

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Happy holiday shopping!!

 

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There’s holiday traffic, fear of burning the turkey, and of course, praying for the entire day that no two family members end up in a screaming battle.  However, despite all the stress and the negatives that come along with the day, I see it as an opportunity for positivity: in the moments of panic, take a breath and think less of what bad could happen and instead of what good things you had.

I know, sometimes, thinking of the positives isn’t easy but we are all so blessed.  Let’s take one day to think in terms of gratitude instead of anxiety.

I want to share with you all just a few of the things I am so thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

  • The response to this blog.  I started this blog with no real expectations.  I had no idea if anyone would want to hear my self-care journey, but I felt like I would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t try to tell my story.  The response has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have been so blessed to have so many of you reach out and tell me how I am impacting your lives and that means the world to me.  I could not be more grateful this Thanksgiving for all you have given me.
  • My support system.  This year has involved making so many hard decisions and just going through the general ups-and-downs of life.  I can say I would not have gotten through those moments without the people I am blessed to call my friends, my family, and my support system.  They pick me up when I’m down. They encourage me to take risks and follow my heart. They are so so special to me.
  • My opportunities. This year may have been a difficult one, at times, but it’s also been my most exciting.  I have gotten to work with two amazing companies in D.C. as an intern, I got to move to Disney World, and I’ve gotten to explore so much by being in leadership for my extracurriculars.  All of my development this year has come from being able to pursue these opportunities and I feel so blessed to have had these chances in my life.
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Disney World, Spring 2018.
  • My homes.  I’ve written on the blog before about feeling like I have multiple places I call home and belong in.  While this can be difficult at times, it is also such a blessing in my life. I close my eyes and I can see three places I truly and distinctly belong: DC, Orlando, and New York.  This is hard, as I always am missing somewhere, but I am so happy to be grounded in these three amazing places.
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There is nothing like coming home to a puppy.
  • My growth.  This one piece of gratitude is probably the most personal of all.  Over the last year, I have grown so much as a person. I have found an inner-strength I did not know I had.  I have grown in my beliefs, my values, and my abilities. I am thankful for all a year can do for a person.

 

I wish in this post I could spend time saying the name of every person I am grateful for, but if I did that, the post would go on for days.  If we stop to think about all the wonderful people in our lives and the little things they do for us, we will be amazed by how much we have to be thankful for.

Today, I will be taking time to sit down and send out some personal messages of gratitude to those whom I am thankful for this season.  I want to give some of the positivity that has been brought into my life back to others.

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the negatives overwhelm you.  Take the time to be grateful and appreciate your life’s blessing.  Let today’s holiday be ruled by positivity.

 

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.

Finding Time for “Me Time”

Finding Time for “Me Time”

As we enter the holiday season, the hustle and bustle is exciting, but also can be overwhelming.  It feels like there’s always another task to get done, another person to see, and another place to go.  The constant motion is exhausting. In these days more than ever, it’s important to take time to ourselves.  Call it your designated “me time.”

My designated me time is Friday mornings from 10 AM- 12 PM.  During this time, I have no obligations and am free to do what I want.  Sometimes, I’ll watch a television show I’m behind on. Other times, I’ll read some articles I had saved, but hadn’t had time to read.  Then, there are other mornings, like yesterday, where all I want to do is curl up on my couch with my warm drink and think. And for those two hours, I can do that.

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My me time is not at all extravagant– it’s simple and actually, boring.  But, when I cut those two hours out of my week, everything feels off. I feel more stressed out– like I’m constantly running with no end in sight.  Those two hours a week are what center, calm, and refocus me for the coming week.

It’s time to breathe.

I always repeat that self-care is a journey, with successes and failures.  Finding two hours a week to dedicate just to me has been a huge success. However, I want to emphasize that me time doesn’t look the same for everyone.  For some people, their me time will be a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it might be painting or drawing, while there will also be people who elect for meditation as their me time.  

Me Time is not one size fits all.

It’s a struggle to find what works for you.  I had tried making my me time going to the gym– while I still go to the gym, I didn’t find this was a calming time for me.  I tried making my me time when I journaled, but I still felt crazed. I struggle with meditation and so, it couldn’t be my relaxant.

It was in trying all these different methods though that I realized what I needed from my me time.  I needed no pressure and no obligation. I needed the ability to be quiet and loud, depending on the day.  I just needed free time.

And, when in doubt, I listen to Billy Joel’s Vienna, a song that I mention very often on this blog.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while

 

 

 

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Sometimes, we just wish for the past.  There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with our present, but something in us longs for an era gone by.  That’s the nostalgia kicking in.

My week started off with a midterm on Monday and has been followed by a packed schedule of interning, tutoring students, and juggling my extracurriculars with my academics.  It’s one of those weeks where there’s nothing really bad happening, but it still feels overwhelming. To add to matters, I’ve been starting to feel stir-crazy at school, just wanting to get out of Washington, D.C. for a little while and breathe.  What is this all the perfect recipe for? A lot of nostalgia for my Disney College Program.

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Working at Storybook Circus with two of my favorite people, Abbey and Amanda

My time at Disney wasn’t perfect and yet, there is nothing more that I yearn for at this moment.  I’m craving the winter days spent at water parks, the days spent laying on the Hub grass with a view of Cinderella Castle, and the unexpected perfectness of random days spent eating all the food Epcot had to offer.  It’s been six months since my program ended and as I’ve finally gotten used to school again, my time in Disney feels like nothing more than a fantasy I created. It’s become my perfect dream.

As I think about my time at Disney and this craving I have right now to go back, I wonder: is it the place I wish for or is it the people?  I have not seen many of my friends for six months now, with no end date to this separation in sight. As I think of the days I am looking at nostalgically, I realize it’s the people who make the stories so beautiful.

It’s ranting with Kelsey over noodles and ice cream.  It’s car rides home, singing Taylor Swift, with Julie. It’s the long talks at 2 AM with Destiny.  It’s gossiping with Sadia. It’s the smiles (and groans) that were shared with Jordan as we passed each other during a work day.  It’s the photoshoots with Jenn. It’s the laughter in the kitchen with Beth Anne. It’s the adventures with Kelly. It’s the random late nights with my coworkers who became my best friends.

I could go on for years, listing the name of each person who made my time at Disney so special.  I realize now that it’s not the Magic Kingdom nor the rollercoasters, not even Mickey or Minnie that I’m so badly craving and am nostalgic for.  It’s my people.

When it comes to feeling nostalgic, I think it’s important not to push those feelings away.  You long for a time for a reason: find that real reason, not just the surface one. However, don’t dwell on your longing.  You cannot live in the past and if you do, you miss out on the present.

I am grateful for my college program and I am so grateful for the people it brought into my life.  However, I will not dwell on my longing to be back in a day gone by. Rather, I will think of my friends and know that as Mickey always says, I’ll see ya real soon.

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Learning to Love the Little Moments

Learning to Love the Little Moments

Life gets so busy sometimes that I think we forget to live.  It feels like we are always jumping from one place to the next and never in the moment itself.  This weekend, I wanted to be different. I wanted to do things without thinking of the next seven-hundred places I had to go.  I wanted to spend time with my friends without feeling stressed. So, when my friend Pippa asked if I would go with her to the Poutinerie by Air Canada on Saturday, you know I said yes immediately.

I will be honest: I really didn’t know what poutine was except that I had seen it on Instagram a couple times.  I had no idea on what I was missing out on. I don’t know how or why I went my life without poutine but I don’t think we’re turning back now.

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While the food was delicious, the most enjoyable part of this spontaneous weekend trip was spending time with my good friend.  We both are obsessed with Christmas and believe it should start as early as possible so, we enjoyed taking winter-photos in this pop-up Canada booth.

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After we had finished with our poutine and our photoshoot, we moved to Philz coffee across the street, where I found my new favorite coffee blend called Philtered Soul, which is a chocolate and hazelnut mix.  We went and spent some time in Dupont Circle, enjoying the crisp air and feeling of Christmas that we both had. It was a wonderful, slow day with a wonderful friend.

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My Sunday started off busier than my Saturday.  I had a midterm on Monday and a list of meetings I had to get to throughout the day.  I craved the ability to just live in the moment like I had the day before, but my best moments came when I took some seconds to breathe.  I spent just fifteen minutes with a friend I don’t see often anymore and even that short time felt like a breath of fresh air in my life.

I studied with a friend and even though we both were stressed, I find that I often never laugh quite as much as I do during a study session.  There’s really no timeline to a study session and in those rough moments of stressful memorization of concepts, there’s a freeness that doesn’t happen all the time.  When I look at the last two years, so many of my happiest moments were while doing homework or studying with friends.

I think we all take these little moments for granted.  We don’t think about how priceless the laughter and smiles are.  We don’t take time to give thanks for having beautiful, wonderful people in our lives.  We are always so busy looking forward to the next event that we miss out on everything. I want to end this weekend round-up with a Chinese proverb.

 

Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.

 

A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

A Letter to My Mom on Her Birthday

There is no one like mom.  My mom is my world: she’s the first person I want to share my successes with and the person who I know I can call when life falls apart.  She’s the one who has been silently cheering me on since I was small. I don’t say these things to her enough, even at all. I should.

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With self-care, we often look at it as a tool to make the hard parts of life easier but it should also be a tool to recognize the great parts of our lives.  One part of self-care is recognizing those who love us and we’re most grateful to. That’s what this post is about today: recognizing the crazy amount of love and care my mother has given to be.  I felt the best way to do this is a letter.

 

Dear Mom,

I wish I could tell you how much I want to be with you today.  It breaks my heart to hear you say that today is just an ordinary day when it is far from ordinary– it is your birthday, and that is very special to me.  I don’t tell you often enough how special you are to me. It’s hard for me to exactly describe what you mean to me, but I want to try.

In elementary school, you had to come countless times to pick me up from the school nurse’s office because I had gotten myself injured somehow.  You didn’t yell about my clumsiness. You didn’t tell me to stop my tears. You held my hand through it all.

In middle school, when I came home from school crying, you were there.  You sat and listened to me cry about how girls could so cruel. You comforted me as I felt alone and confused in my friendships.  You stayed through it all.

In high school, you dealt with all my mood swings.  You supported me when I achieved success and listened when I failed.  You sometimes yelled, but you never judged. You listened to it all.

In college, things have been different.  I don’t get to go home everyday and sit with you and tell you about my day.  Still, you care. You read this blog every day, you follow up on everything I tell you, even the silly, nonsensical things. You care for it all.

Our relationship isn’t without its flaws.  At times, I feel I am too similar to you to bear, with us both getting irritated at seeing our own faults front and center. Sometimes, I envy the ease of your relationship with my sister, where you don’t have to overcome this similarity.  But these negatives mean nothing when compared to all the love within our relationship. These faults do not stop us from loving or caring for each other. They make our relationship human– it is perfectly imperfect and true.

I hope you know how much you mean to me.  I would not be the person I am today without your unfaltering love and support.  You are my greatest influence and you make me a stronger, better person. If I can live my life giving out to the world just half the love you have given me, I will have lived a great life.

Thank you.  I love you.

 

Today, I challenge us to all to recognize those who give us unconditional love and the effect it has had on our lives.  There are so many people who love us, with no terms or conditions, and they make us better. They pull us through our rough times and into the light.  We cannot achieve self-care or self-love without recognizing these amazing people in our lives who make everything possible.

 

Where I’m Meant to Be

Where I’m Meant to Be

Sometimes, we just feel stuck.  There’s no way around it: we feel like our life has hit a point where nothing is moving.  Maybe, we’ve become complacent and stopped trying or maybe, we keep trying to change things but end up standing in the same place every day anyway.  No matter what, it’s frustrated when you wake up one day, look around, and wonder if this is your life now.

It’s okay to be unsatisfied when you feel stuck, even when you acknowledge that your life is good the way it is.  It’s okay to still be searching for something else. Life is a journey and part of that journey involves accepting that sometimes, we won’t be happy even when we feel we should be.  Listen to yourself and trust your feelings. If you feel you need to travel the world to change your life, then travel. If you are working and feel called to go back to school, do it.  Follow the path you feel you belong on.

This fall, I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever made: I chose not to study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, and instead, remain at Georgetown for the spring semester.  Studying abroad has been something I have wanted to do my entire life and I fell in love with the idea of studying European history at the University of Edinburgh. But when I looked at my life, I realized that if I chose to go study abroad, I would, in fact, be stuck.

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It seems that for now, the closest I will get to Scotland is Disney’s UK pavilion.

It sounds crazy: how would going abroad make me more stuck in my life than staying at Georgetown for the semester?  Well, it’s complicated. Last fall, I fell into college stress culture and when the opportunity to go to Disney knocked on my door, I grabbed at it and never looked back.  I will never regret that decision but knowing I was going away for eight months changed the way I looked at things for the rest of my fall semester. Everything felt like it was transient and nothing in my life felt permanent.

When I went to Disney, I often felt like I was living in a dream.  It was all just a break from my own reality. I remember on one of the final days of my program, I said to my roommate that I had loved this program so much but that I needed to get back to my life. I needed to go back to school and back to the organizations I loved.  

I went home to New York for the summer and then back to DC in the fall.  I came back to campus and felt like I had to play catch-up. Everyone’s lives had moved on, while I felt I had hit the pause button on mine.  The first few weeks back were hard– I had missed so much of my friends’ lives and it seemed in some ways, I couldn’t catch back up. Despite my belief that my life had been paused, it hadn’t been.  I had changed and so had my friends. Some of us changed too much to be compatible anymore.

I know: this all sounds like a reason to go abroad.  School was hard and Scotland was another dream of mine.  But, that’s the very reason why I couldn’t go abroad. In six months, I had lived in three different cities, each one being my home now.  Each one felt like I was there, the problems of the others faded away and paused. I could jump from world to world and never feel responsibility in any; in no world did I have real roots set to the ground.  And, not being tied down is nice except for when you long to have one place that when you think of home, you can picture.

If I went to Scotland, it would be four cities in one year.  It would be four different worlds for me to jump between. It would be two years of my life where I never lived in one place for longer than six months.  It would be another pause on my reality. And I knew that if I chose to go abroad, I wouldn’t grow because I would be stuck in my own personal cycle. I needed to try to set down roots for a little while, to make a place I call home.

This story is long, complicated, and hard for me to tell.  Sometimes, we just have to do what we know we need in our life at that moment, even if it’s a hard decision.  We need to think about how we can move our lives forward and keep bettering ourselves. We need to listen to ourselves, no matter how crazy our ideas may be, and follow through with the path we see set forth for us.

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For now, where I’m meant to be is right here in Washington, D.C.
Home is Wherever I’m with You

Home is Wherever I’m with You

Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?  There was just something in you that told you that you didn’t belong here but everyone else did.  If you’ve ever felt that way, you know that it is the most heartbreaking and isolating feeling. You just feel like you don’t belong anywhere.

 

This feeling of belonging is something we constantly are all searching for.  It’s a feeling of love and appreciation and acceptance. It’s feeling like in that moment in time, you are exactly where you need to be.  

 

Sometimes, having multiple friend groups from different parts of our lives can complicate this.  If I belong somewhere, can I still belong where I have been before? Can I belong with my high school friends if I truly belong at Georgetown?

 

Yes.  Each community may love and appreciate us in different ways, but this is so essential for us to be a whole person and to love ourselves.  You can be loved in different ways.

 

Where do I belong?

 

I belong at Georgetown.  The people here are so influential for shaping exactly who I am.  At the newspaper, they push me to grow professionally and to stand strong for what I believe in.  My sorority sisters are a huge aspect of my support system: they cheer and root for me. I belong with people who help and support me to grow.

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Women of The Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper.

I belong with my Disney community.  They saw me not for my plans and achievements, but for the love I was willing to give the world.  I belong with people who remind me to show love to the world and remain empathetic, even when I’m scared of being open.  

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Magic Kingdom, April 2018

I belong with my friends from high school debate. These friends have watched me grow from a young and confused teenager to a slightly less confused young adult and have stood by for every phase.  I belong with people who watch me grow and love me anyway.

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Yale Debate tournament, September 2015

I belong with my childhood best friends. They know me for my best and my worst.  They’ve seen my weird phases and even joined in.  I belong with people who don’t judge me, no matter what.

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My 13th birthday, July 2011.

There is not one way to love.  Different people in life will love us in different ways, but each time it is just as valuable and just as important.  That love is a sign that we belong.

 

If you’re reading this and are struggling with feeling like you don’t have a place in this world, please know that isn’t true.  You have so many people who love you and appreciate you and with you belong with. They may not all be located in the same place, but they love and care about you.

 

If you ever feel alone and need someone to talk to you, reach out to me.  

 

In Defense of Procrastination

In Defense of Procrastination

In our world today that values productivity so intensely, you could say there really isn’t room for procrastination.  Everything is about do more tasks in a shorter period of time. Use more lists, try new work methods– do whatever you have to do to get more accomplished.  

 

I commonly fall into the trap that is the quest for infinite productivity.  If I work hard and long enough, maybe, just maybe, I’ll stumble upon the holy grail of efficiency and I won’t need breaks any longer and I won’t struggle with getting tasks done with the hours I am given in a day.

 

Unfortunately, this quest will always be for naught and in the process, you’ll only hurt yourself.  Procrastination has been unnecessarily demonized and expanded to encompass everything that isn’t being explicitly done to further one’s own productivity.  

 

If you feel burnt out but know you have a series of tasks due in the next week, procrastinating your work by taking a break is not a bad thing.  Sometimes, you need to take a break and push the work off for later: it’s the only way you remain sane.

 

This Saturday, I felt overly exhausted after a week of having been sick and pushing through to get all my work done.  I just felt drained. So I didn’t start a paper, but rather I watched This is Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  I chose not to beat myself up for taking this day off: I needed a day to relax and recharge.  I knew that if I continued to push myself, I would not perform well and my productivity would plummet.

 

Further, we lose our way when we don’t occasionally push something off.

 

A friend recently asked me if I’m doing what I love right now.  Am I giving myself to what I’m passionate about or am I just on the hamster wheel of life?  When we don’t take breaks and give ourselves room to breathe, we lose sight of what we love.  We always are thinking of the next task and looking forward that we miss the opportunity to experience the present moments.

Procrastination does not have to be a demon in one’s life that stops you from doing what’s important.  Rather, it’s a tool to accomplishing tasks while taking care of yourself.

 

You are not a robot.  You are not an energizer bunny.  You are a person who deserves your own time.  You are not behind. You are right on-time. You are doing just fine, even when you take a few hours off.

 

Lessons from Writer’s Block

Lessons from Writer’s Block

I’ve started four different blog posts tonight, but none of them are finished.  Tonight, I am struggling to find the words to say as ideas swim around in my head.  I’m suffering from writer’s block.

Throughout my life, I’ve periodically suffered from writer’s block.  As a kid, writing was my greatest escape and then… I would lose my words.  Suddenly, writing would not be a refuge, but a nightmare. In college, I’ve rarely taken time to write creatively, but when I’ve tried to journal, I have found myself unable to say anything.

I usually lose my words when I get stressed out.  This is the time when I am craving the escape and joy that comes along with writing, but I can’t seem to reach the words to communicate the ideas I have in my head.  They all sit on the tip of my tongue, but as I try to put them to paper, they all disappear.

I usually beat myself up when I get writer’s block.  How can I be incapable of doing something I love so much? Why do I struggle so much in these times of stress with the one activity that should come naturally to me?  How can I be so stupid to call myself a writer but have no words?  How can I be so stupid, in general?

We’ve all been there.  We bully ourselves because we didn’t meet an expectation we set for ourselves.  We define ourselves by our ability to do one task and one task alone.  And in these moments, we see ourselves as failures.

We are so much more than that though.  I am not just a blog, but a person with struggles and experiences.  My intelligence is far more than just the blog posts I publish and yet, I allow my inability to write to completely discount myself.

I want to change the way I talk to myself and view myself.  This isn’t an easy task, but it’s essential on my self-care journey. Today, I’m telling myself that it’s okay to struggle.  It’s okay that I missed a day of posting on the blog.  It’s okay that I can’t find the words to describe all that I’m feeling right now.

I am allowed to struggle and it doesn’t mean I’m stupid or unworthy of love or respect.  

It means I’m human and that’s okay.

What Do You Say to Taking Chances?

What Do You Say to Taking Chances?

I’ll admit, I like to play things safe.  I like to know the outcome before I throw the dice.  I don’t leap without looking. Everything in my life is perfectly planned out well in advance and I’m prepared for every situation.

Life doesn’t always stick to our plans though– it has its own ideas of what we should be doing.  

Sometimes, we have to be willing to throw the plans away and let life lead the way.

That’s what I learned one year ago, when on a whim, I applied for the Disney College Program.  I’ve often been asked why I applied– the answer is I don’t know. The summer before I applied, I told my parents I could never apply because it didn’t fit in my perfect plan I had for my college years and yet, when I sat down at my laptop last October and applied, that perfect plan didn’t seem to matter for a moment.

I never thought that I would get into the Disney College Program and then, I did.  I had three days to decide whether or not to continue on my planned road or to get off the beaten track.  Being someone who does not like risk, I can say that I shocked everyone, including me, when I made the decision to take a semester off of Georgetown to move to Orlando to intern with Disney.

I will always be grateful that I took that huge leap of faith.  Disney pushed me to be uncomfortable and try something completely new.  I had never worked a job like I did at Disney, I had never been so far away from my family, and I had never been in a city before where I knew absolutely no one.  This discomfort pushed me to grow as a person and I walked out in May with such a sense of clarity on who I was, what I wanted in my future, and what was important to me.

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It takes people to make the dream a reality -Walt Disney

None of that growth would have happened if I hadn’t taken the original risk of applying to this program and then choosing to pursue it.  I gained so many great experiences and an amazing support system while in Disney, and it is almost insane to think now that none of that would have happened if I had done what I usually do and stuck to the plan.  It had been a dream of mine forever, but I assumed it could only be just that: a dream.

 

Life’s best experiences happen when we don’t expect them and aren’t ready.  They require us to put down the to-do lists and life plans (yes, I actually had a document entitled life plan on my computer that mapped out the next five years of my life).  They ask that we have faith that everything will work out just fine. They only happen if we stop trying to plan the future and accept the unknown.

 

All we need for them to happen is a little bit of faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.

 

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Who would have thought where my path would lead would be Walt Disney World? 
Finding Your Way Forward from a Friendship Break-Up

Finding Your Way Forward from a Friendship Break-Up

You thought you had a friend forever, but lately, you’ve been feeling otherwise.  Maybe you’ve been gradually growing apart from your friend or maybe you had a bad fight that’s making you question this friendship.  Whatever happened, you’re suddenly sad and confused and missing your support system. We’ve all been there. It’s a friendship break-up.

Society doesn’t treat friendship break-ups like it does romantic break-ups.  When you end a relationship, it’s ok to stay in bed for a week and eat nothing but chocolate.  When you end up a friendship, you’re supposed to keep moving like nothing is wrong even though you’re struggling because you’re missing an integral part of your support system.  I’ve been there.

 It’s not easy to get through.  Friends are the people we share everything with, from our screaming rants to our achievements and joys to our bitter break-downs.  We open up to them and show them us at our core, our most vulnerable.  When a friend chooses to walk away after having truly seen you, it feels like you’re going to fall apart entirely.  You won’t.  

Friendship break-ups hurt so much, but they are survivable.  I know how you feel and I have gotten through those low moments when suddenly, your whole world is changing.

So what do I do to get through my friendship breakups?

  • Take some time alone.  It’s ok if all you want to do is cry because you miss your friend.  Go ahead and cry.  Don’t be afraid to grieve your friendship.  Your friendship meant a lot to you– that doesn’t change over night.  Let yourself experience the hurt, don’t push it under the carpet– you’ll only end up feeling all those emotions later.  Take the time alone to process how you’re feeling and what you want to do going forward.  Maybe, you want to try to make up your friend or maybe, you just want to move on. Take the time you need to think it through and know that whatever decision you make, it will be okay.

 

  • Talk to another friend. Talking to a friend helps give some perspective.  I always try to talk to two different people: one who knows me and the friend who I’m having issues with and one who doesn’t know the other person.  Having the perspective of someone who knows me on my own and in reference to the friendship always helps me find clarity.   Additionally, whenever I go through a friendship break-up, I feel like I lost everyone, even if it’s only one person leaving my life.  Talking to friends reminds me that I’m not alone and I have people who love and support me still in my life.
  • Do a ‘self-care’ activity.  No matter how bad I feel, I feel better with a face mask on.  So, when I feel down- I do a face mask. Do something small that makes you happy- whether it’s baking cookies, painting your nails, or going to a yoga class.   It might seem silly, but when you feel down, you need to remind yourself that you deserve good treatment and are worthy of love from others and yourself.
  • When in doubt, Netflix binge. I’ve never had an emotional problem that can’t be better by watching Netflix.  My go-to show when I’m feeling down is Gilmore Girls. I always feel like Rory and Lorelai get where I’m at and that’s comforting.  I’m also a big fan of binging Disney movies and bad romantic comedies. Find what makes you feel good.

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  • Sleep. A recurring problem you’ll hear about on this blog is my tendency to cut hours of sleep in order to get more things done in a day.  This might be good for my academics, but it’s not so good for my emotional health. Everything feels better with some sleep- it gives you time process and heal.

 

Those are my five tips for getting through a friendship break-up but like always, it isn’t one size fits all.  Every friendship is different and every end is also different. No matter your situation, make sure you’re taking time for yourself and your feelings. Most importantly, remember:

Your friendship ending does not mean you are not a good or deserving person.  It means this specific friendship doesn’t work at this point in your life. It says nothing about the type of person you are.

 

Self-Care Meets Social Media

Self-Care Meets Social Media

I love social media.  I love Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn.  Despite my love for these social networks, they aren’t always good for my mental health.  However, I’ve tried to do social media cleanses and those also are not good for my mental health.  So how do I go through my life with the constant flux of information about my friends, other bloggers, and celebrities being thrown at me?  Here’s my few tips on how to live healthily with social media as a main part of your life.

 

    • Recognize that social media is a highlight reel. This is the most cliche tip I could ever give, but it’s the one that’s made the biggest impact in my life.  The social media network that I struggle with the most is LinkedIn, where I always feel like I can’t measure up to other people’s successes.  And yet, I know that everyone feels that way. Everyone is putting up the best title they can think of and writing a description that makes them sound most important on LinkedIn, while the truth is, no one has it that figured out at eighteen, twenty, or even twenty-five.  Recognizing this fact has made it that I don’t have a mini-freak out about the direction of my life every time I log into LinkedIn.
    • Decide what content matters to you.  There is so much going on on social media that it’s hard to make sense of at times.  You end up viewing content that isn’t relevant to you, but now it feels like it should be.  Tailor your social media to you and what you want from different platforms. On my twitter, for example, I mainly follow news outlets and not as many people I know.  I want to use twitter as a platform to hear about the greater world around me. I’ve also set my Facebook so that I see lighter content there– I am a big fan of the Dogspotting Society.  My Instagram is the place where I most embrace seeing my friends’ content. Having each platform have different content, it allows me to focus in on what matters to me when and also, escape the content that overwhelms me.
    • Think about why you’re on social media. This tip has been one of the ones to challenge me most.  Why am I on social media other than the fact that everyone is today?  For me, I’ve found it’s a genuine love for getting to connect with others in a format that gives me a peek into their lives.  I want to pursue a career in social media marketing and it’s because of the connections that you can form through social media that motivate me.
    • Make your content real.  I am as much a fan of Huji and photo-editing apps as the next girl, but it’s important that your content shows your reality and not what you wish your life looked like.  If you had a horrible time at the party last night, don’t post the photo of you smiling just because you feel like you should. Post the real moments: the candids that weren’t staged, the smiles because you actually are having a great time, and if you dare, post the imperfect moments too.  Don’t create an Instagram that doesn’t even reflect your life.
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One of my favorite photos: it’s blurry and we are drenched from the rain, but it was a moment where we were all genuinely having fun.  I posted this to my Instagram Story.
    • Believe in yourself.  One of the reasons social media can be so difficult is that its a physical representation of validation.  You can count how many people think you’re pretty though ‘likes’ and ‘reacts.’ I know I fall into this habit, specifically with twitter, where I want people to retweet me so I feel smart.  Ultimately, you have to believe you are beautiful and smart, even if no one likes your photo or tweet. You have to recognize that this platform isn’t indicative of your worth as a person and you deserve success and love.

 

I hope these five tips help you as you navigate through this social media age we live in.  Just remember, no matter what your social media looks like or how many people liked your last Instagram: you are enough.

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This is usually what my Huji looks like before I post any photo- it has a lot of the outtakes.

 

Slow down, you crazy child

Slow down, you crazy child

I promised this blog would be the honest truth.  I promised it would be my successes and my failures.  It would be the lessons that I’ve learned and the mistakes I keep making.  Today’s post was originally supposed to be tips for surviving midterm season without running yourself into the ground.  When I wrote it though, something felt wrong. It didn’t feel authentic. And, that’s because this midterm season has been a failing for me when it comes to self-care.

I have done exactly what I advocate against: I’ve sacrificed sleep for end results.  This last week, I’ve felt completely stretched too thin between my internship, school, and my extracurricular activities.  And because of this overcommitment, I haven’t felt able to truly enjoy any of it.  There’s always something else I have to do looming overhead.

Self-care is a journey.  It’s not always an uphill road– sometimes, you make great leaps forward towards a healthier and happier you.  And sometimes, you fall into ways you know aren’t healthy because you feel you have to.

 

Acknowledging that you’ve made a mistake is an important step though moving forward on this journey.

 

So, what are my next steps?

First, I have to learn to rein myself in.  It’s easy to overcommit and want to give all you have to every task you take on.  At least for me though, this isn’t realistic. I need to start taking steps back and recognizing when a day or weekend looks too full.  It’s okay to say no to activities.

Second, I need to listen to my own advice.  The following were the tips I had written down for surviving midterms:

  1. Sleep
  2. Do something outside of your work for thirty minutes
  3. Spend time with people
  4. Ask for help

Most of my issues this week came because I didn’t follow any of those tips.  Two weeks ago during my first two midterms, I did follow those tips and they worked– even though I was stressed, I didn’t feel the exhaustion I feel right now.  I advise you also follow those tips, because they do make life better.

And finally, I have to not beat myself up.  I had a rough week. I made some mistakes. But, I also had some great successes.  Starting this blog has been a dream of mine for months now, but this week, I finally made it happen.  Every hour I’ve devoted to it this week has been an hour that has made me incredibly happy. This week was a success, if just for the blog.

I’d like to end this post with a lyric from the same song that the title is taken from: Vienna by Billy Joel.

“It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two.  When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?”

No More Excuses, Do What You Love

No More Excuses, Do What You Love

“There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.”

This lyric played through my headphones as I sat in our student lounge, trudging through a never-ending to do list and feeling a bit disheartened.  The last few weeks have been stressful here at Georgetown: it’s midterm season and I somehow got lucky enough to have midterms nearly weekly for an entire month.  I’m in week three now and am feeling exhausted by the constant high level stress and my never ending to-do list, daily activities, and projects that seem to pile up quite effortlessly.

 

This lyric made me think though: what do I want to do?  If I had all the time in the world right now, what would I do?

 

I would travel.  I have no idea where I’d travel to: I’d get in a car and just drive.  I’d go to the airport and just buy a ticket.  I’d go anywhere, exploring this amazing world we get to live in.

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Exploring the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.

 

I would visit every museum I could find.  I am a huge history nerd, with a passion for learning everything I can about the past.  I love quirky and different museums and would love to explore every museum the world has, if I could.

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Having fun at the Met, my favorite museum, in the modern art section.

I’d read for pleasure- this summer, I rediscovered my love of reading by challenging myself to read a book a week.  Since being back at school, I’ve read only for classes- I miss reading as an escape from the world, not because of it.  

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The Nest was one of the books I read this summer as a part of my challenge.

 

I’d bake enough baked goods to practically run a bakery.  I’d call my mom and ask for all her recipes and try to master them all.

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Christmas cookies- a favorite family recipe.

I’d write a book.  I’ve always dreamed of writing a book and say I’m going to try every November, but life always happens and I feel like I don’t have the time.

 

Why don’t I do these things?  I’ve recently found myself saying to myself, “after midterms, we’ll bake cookies,” or “once I get through this test, I can read again.”  Life is always going to be busy.  There’s always going to be another thing to get through.  One thing will lead to another and suddenly it’s been two years of your life.  My reading challenge was prompted this summer by realizing that I had read two books for pleasure in the last two years, after having been an avid reader my entire life.

 

It’s time to start incorporating the things I love back into my life, no matter how busy I may feel.  It’s time for us all to start prioritizing our own happiness and passions in our lives, instead of just a list of tasks we feel obligated to complete daily.    

 

I’m going to try to visit a museum at least once a month, bake some sort of treat every other Sunday, and read at least one book for pleasure a month.  This blog is bringing writing back into my life, a love that I thought I had previously lost in my life. It’s not the constant that I would do with endless time in the world, but it brings the things I’m passionate about back into my life.  That’s self-care: learning to balance what you want to do and what you have to do.

 

Make time to do something you want to do this this week, for no other purpose than you want to do it.  I’ll end this post with the classic Ferris Bueller quote:

 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”