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.  

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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.

 

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.”

 

Finding a Home on the Hilltop

Finding a Home on the Hilltop

“Homesickness is like most sicknesses. It will pass.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie, Brooklyn, and one that has gotten me through a lot in life.  It’s so simple and plain and yet, says exactly what I need to hear very often. Homesickness is one of the hardest things to deal with.  It’s overwhelming and feels unescapable. When you’re homesick, everything feels wrong. And when you have a bout of homesickness, you believe it will never end.  So how do you get through it?

My freshman year of college was hard.  I cried every day of my first month: I missed my family and my home.  I felt like I didn’t belong at Georgetown and I thought of transferring to a university in New York, where I would have the comfort of home.  A junior at Georgetown now, that’s obviously not the route my story took. The change was that in about October, I started to find a community on campus. I was nervous and shy and just wanted to continue to cry, but I pushed myself to join some clubs on campus and try to get involved.  The club that truly changed my freshman year was the International Relations Club.  I decided to travel to a Model UN conference in Boston with the club  and that trip gave me my people here at Georgetown- it’s amazing what a twelve hour bus ride can do.

 I took a big risk that weekend, going away with people who were practically strangers, but that jump made all the difference.  I went into that trip feeling lonely and scared and I walked out with a support system. I went back to Georgetown with a new perspective: I believed it could be my home and so, it became it.  I started getting more involved with our school newspaper and making friends there. By the time Thanksgiving break came, I was excited to go home but I also knew I belonged at Georgetown.

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The friends I made on the trip to Boston.

The only way to get through homesickness is through human connection.  Building a community isn’t always easy– we have to put ourselves out there and take a chance.  My biggest self-care tip is to never let yourself believe you are alone. Everyone feels homesick sometimes– it’s normal.  Don’t let it hold you back though from finding happiness where you are. Homesickness passes, but only when you take a leap of faith and believe where you are can be your home.