Tag Archives: 2015

On embracing uncertainty


Raise your hand if you’ve ever been overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty (mainly related to the future), questioned what you want to do with your life and then thrown yourself into an anxious frenzy which may or may not to lead to mass consumptions of wine, frequent heart-to-hearts with your mom and the sudden desire for an exotic vacation in which you can just go LIVE YOUR LIFE (read: spend your days on a beach, drink, have no worries, lay in the sun, get a tan, did I already mention cocktails?)

Welcome to your 20s.

I’ve been overwhelmed, I still question what I want to do with my life (kind of everyday), and am getting better about the whole anxiety thing. No comment on the wine, mom talks, or vacations…

For lack of a better analogy, life this past year has been a roller coaster. My boyfriend recently changed his career and that has provided its challenges for him, for me and for us. Having him make that big change in his life caused me to turn inward and look at my own career. In a big way, I’ve closed out the creative side of myself in hopes that my fear of following that passion and avoiding it all together would make it go away. (It didn’t.) I also asked myself (and my mom) a lot of questions – what do I really like doing? What makes me happy? Can I apply that to my job? Instead of being constructive about this process though, I was really hard on myself.

It has only been recently (are you surprised this revelation occurred during a heart-to-heart with my mom?) that I’ve decided being this hard on myself is nothing but a great recipe for making me feel absolutely terrible, and that maybe embracing the uncertainty of it all is the way to go.

This feeling was only reinforced with these powerfully simple yet so true words that magically appeared in my inbox at just the right time:

“If you’re in your 20s or even 30s, you might feel a lot of uncertainty all the time — you aren’t sure what your life purpose is, or your uncertain about what path you should take in life.

This is normal.”

I’m sure you’re intrigued, so go read the fantastic article on zen habits that prompted this whole blog post today.

Obsessing over whether or not you are doing the right thing or following the right road does nothing except keep you exactly where you’re at – which is stuck, anxious and worried. What’s even more important to know is that regardless of what your peers are posting on social media or telling you about at parties, inside we all feel this lost, hopeless, what the hell am I doing with my life feeling from time to time. As Leo Babauta states, it’s normal, and of course we don’t want to all show that side – it makes us look vulnerable and like we don’t have our ducks in a row. But we all feel it, especially in our 20s. It’s easy to forget we’re all winging it out here and that none of us have it all figured out.

The zen habits article provides a few solutions to coping with the uncertainty. And so I’d like to add my own advice to the mix – EMBRACE the uncertainty. Take it from someone who already wasted her time wallowing in it, constantly second guessing herself and wondering if she was wasting her time or doing the right thing or pursuing the correct passions. That path did nothing but give her anxiety.

Halfway through my 26th year, (which has felt like one big bundle of uncertainty) I’ve learned embracing this unclear point in my life is the most important thing I can do for myself right now. I will never get unstuck if I keep approaching my life questions in the same old ways (like avoidance). I’ve also learned that feeling like I’m in a place of not knowing does not automatically mean I’ve failed myself in any way – by embracing the unknown I’m just putting a little more trust in the process and opening myself up to potential to learn on the go.

Embracing the uncertainty, doing something outside of your comfort zone, and trusting the process may seem small at the time, but they are often the catalyst to welcoming more positive change into your life. Embrace on!

FYI – You can have your financial cake and eat it, too


A few days ago, a response to this article on Elite Daily was posted on one of my favorite blogs, The Financial Diet. After reading both pieces, I have to admit I was a little fired up too.

If you don’t feel like reading either (I do recommend you read them as they are both thought provoking) I’ll sum it up for you here. The Elite Daily article presents the idea that saving money in your 20s is stupid, you should spend and enjoy all your money and focus on landing yourself a $60k pay raise instead. It goes on to say that by focusing on saving, you apparently are accepting defeat and robbing yourself of potential.

The Financial Diet article firmly stands against this advice, stating that it is idiotic to follow, and more importantly that it is horrible advice to seek in light of the issues we are facing in our 20s – the fact that many of us have just thrown in the towel when it comes to finances (due to high levels of student loan debt and a crap economy) and made false assumptions that it’s okay to live it up now and just figure it out later.

What aggravates me the most about the Elite Daily article is that it presents life and finances in such a black and white manner. You can be wild and crazy and spend all your money having a supposed “fantastic” life, or you can be a non-career driven loser who saves all their money and never has fun. What? It’s unfair to take such a complex subject (finance) and present it in such an extreme manner.

If there’s one thing I have learned by starting to clean up my financial act, it’s that successful money management is all about BALANCE. It’s not about having one or the other, it’s about having both. Enjoying your life in the moment, while glancing towards the future every once in awhile to let your future self know you’ve got her back.

Listen – I am all for living it up in your 20s. I did it and it was a fun and wild time of my life, but in the past few years I’ve wisened up to the fact that there are things I want in life in addition to new clothes and nights out. There are certainly places in my life for those things, but my bigger goals are becoming equally, if not more, important as I get older. Among these: the freedom to pursue work that truly makes my heart sing, without having to worry primarily about money as a deciding factor, marriage, eventual retirement, more travel. All require – you guessed it – MONEY and in order to have money you have to both make it and save it to meet your goals.

Before I continue, I do have to say that there are a few points the article makes that I agree with. Making more money for more example. I admit to being afraid to ask for more, even when I know I’m worth it, or uncertain about setting up more income streams for myself even though deep down I know I could succeed. I’ve given away things for free without second thought. I’ve never negotiated pay. I’ve definitely undercut myself more than once.

I’m also fully on board with taking some risks while you’re young. At 23, I quit my job and moved 1,000 miles to live with my long distance boyfriend after 1 year together. I didn’t have a job lined up and had very very little money. But it worked, and 4 years later I’m still here and happier than even with my decision. I’ve also switched up my career multiple times and never looked back.

Your 20s are certainly a great time to make big changes and try new things. I wholeheartedly agree with not holding yourself back when it comes to making decisions that can potentially improve your life drastically. However, making more money and taking risks as your sole strategy fails to account for the numerous times in life in which it is necessary and wise to cut back, proceed with caution and save a bit. As with everything in life, balance is required in order to be successful.

In a way, I think our 20s are a lot like the earliest years of our lives. We’re born, and we get to have fun and generally worry about nothing while someone else takes care of us. But as we get older, we learn and grow, and eventually it’s time for us to stand on our own two feet. We learn to walk, we fall down, we get up again and try until we’ve got it right. And, eventually, we have to make a choice after high school pertaining to our general life direction. The choice we make after high school doesn’t necessarily have to be the only path we follow, but we care enough about our futures and understand that it’s important to at least give ourselves some sort of rough plan to follow.

Your 20s are a lot like this, just more grown up (read: confusing, frustrating, exciting) and completed in a shorter timespan. If you’re anything like me, your early 20s were spent bar hopping, meeting new people, living paycheck to paycheck, worrying about rent and bills, spending money like its hot, having credit card debt but not really understanding the full implications, and generally not wasting any time thinking about anything past the next few months. But give it five years or so (at least that’s how it happened for me) and it’s time to figure out what you actually want to do with your life, get your financial shit together, and start thinking about your future. Nobody said you can’t have fun and stay out til 2am drinking, or blow your tax return on a tropical vacation you’ll remember forever. But you’re also foolish if you can’t be bothered to look out for your future self at least a little bit.

Your 20s are a time to have fun and enjoy youth, travel and explore, but they’re also a time to start taking care of yourself. Look out for the future you just a little bit – she’ll be grateful for it. You don’t have to choose between being the fun crazy twenty something carefree girl or the smart saver with no social life or career goals – instead, you can choose to be the girl in between who knows the importance of both sides and chooses to plant her feet firmly in the middle.

Which girl would you rather be?

Take it from a twenty-something: You’re allowed to take a time out


Regardless of my job or stress levels or personal workload, one thing I’ve always prioritized is my time away. As much as I enjoy working hard at things I love, I equally enjoy the restorative feeling of going to a new place, getting out of my comfort zone and forgetting about the things that worry me – even if only for a day or two. This thinking got me on a flight to Belize with 6 amazing women in my family, and it also got me to Siesta Key with my mom and boyfriend, John, for a few days over a holiday weekend.

Sitting on the beach at Siesta Key, sunset over the water and drink at hand, my worries were a world away. It reminded me of the importance of taking mini time-outs (for me, that means from work) to simply be.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying to hustle my way through my twenties simply because they feel uncertain and uncomfortable. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing where I’m going or if I’m doing the right thing. But taking the time away from all of that always reminds me that it is ok to just CHILL OUT and enjoy life for a minute.

Taking a time-out forces you to snap back into the here and now. It makes you realize that yes, while it is important to worry a little bit and push yourself, the world won’t stop turning if you want to press pause for a minute. Guess what? You’re allowed to say “I’ll be right back,” head to the nearest beach, grab a cocktail and forget the worry and comparison and oh-my-god-what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my-life feelings.

In fact, my experience tells me that taking a time-out is often the first step to working out those feelings anyway. When you give yourself permission to relax and loosen the reins, the answers often appear on their own. You can probably think of a million excuses not to take that breather (there’s too much to do, work is too busy right now, I’ll think about this crap later) but sooner or later it always catches up with you.

As cliche as it sounds, you really are only this young once and it’s up to you to make the most of it and make a commitment to spending time with yourself, figuring out what you like and learning about what truly makes you happy. If you need to take a break and travel the world to find that, or simply spend a weekend at home thinking and writing, it’s up to you to make that time and grant yourself permission to take it.

At 26, I know how it feels to think about where my life is headed far more than where it’s been (or is) and concentrate maybe a bit too hard about hustling my way through life when it comes to my finances, job and relationships. But sometimes slowing down and taking a break from it all is the best way to enjoy this very short decade of our lives. If you feel you need a time-out from it all for a day, a month, a year or more – take it – you’re allowed.

If you take one thing away from this – remember that nobody is keeping score. We are all in this together. Even if it seems like everyone’s life is perfect and running according to schedule, don’t forget we’re all also master editors of our own lives when it comes to what we show everyone else. Getting through your twenties is not a race and if you treat it like one, you’ll always feel behind no matter what level of happiness and greatness you achieve. So slow down, chill the heck out, and enjoy it.

On Comparison vs. Acceptance


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about acceptance. Ever since graduating college, I’ve felt a lot of pressure (from myself, mostly) to do certain things, be a certain way, or have a certain level of accomplishment in my life. Where does this pressure come from? I hate to be cliche and blame it on social media, but it’s true that information is so accessible these days that it’s near impossible not to feel a little less than compared to my peers. There is always someone traveling to amazing places, getting engaged, having a baby or celebrating some other adult life event I’ve yet to encounter. I actively participate in this comparison game without thinking twice about it.

What does comparison do for anyone? It rarely ever spurs me into action. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It makes me feel like I’m not enough, like where I’m at in life isn’t the right place, or that I’m not successful when compared to others my same age. Comparison does nothing for me except make me feel inadequate and sad, and like my life is lackluster in some way even though it’s not.

With age, I’m learning the value of acceptance. Acceptance of where I’m at in life, and acceptance of who I really am regardless of my notions of who I should be, or who others think I should be. I’m a little scared right now, and that’s okay. Most days I wake up and wonder where life is heading, what I want to do with my life, and it scares me that I don’t have the answers. So I scroll through the lives of others, picking up bits and pieces of the possibilities but realizing that I don’t feel much better after doing so. We really should stop that. In reality, does anyone in their 20s, even 30s and beyond have the answers? I’m not sure any of us ever find the answers we so obsess over finding. Life flourishes when we’re willing to let go a bit and embrace the change. We never grow when we compare, we grow when we accept, let go a little, and move on.

So – I accept my body. I accept that I really love pizza, and ice cream, and baking cookies. (Especially cookies.) I also accept the fact that I know I have the discipline to diet and workout 5 days a week and have the body to show for it, but also that maybe I don’t really want to be that hardcore. I’ve got some arm flab and some extra around my middle, but I’m okay with that.

I accept that good for me is enough. I will share my thoughts and my photography here and know that there are people out there who will think it’s bad and will dislike it. Fear of not being accepted (ha) is a big one for me. It holds me back from sharing things for fear of social disapproval, but I’m ready to be done with limiting myself in this way. If I am writing about something I find interesting, or take a photograph I find beautiful, I feel really good. And good to me is enough. It doesn’t mean I won’t push myself to be better or grow, it means I understand that what I think is good is not the same as what others deem good. I have little control over this and therefore shouldn’t let silly things like that control me and influence my decisions.

I accept that I’m not always so good with money. It’s really frustrating and exhausting to deal with cleaning up those messes, but I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way. It took me a long time to end the cycle of overspending, buying clothes and shoes out of boredom (and I still struggle with impulsiveness sometimes) and the desire to fit into a certain look that wasn’t me. It took an even longer time to begin the cycle of paying off debt and actually paying attention. I used to think I could find happiness in a shoe box or a new dress. A lot of money has come into my life over my years, and I’ve spent almost all of it without recollection of where it went (okay, shoes). But I’m also making really positive steps in changing how I think of money, saving, and spending, and that feels really good.

I accept where I am at right now, not where I am going or have been. We waste hours and days dwelling on things that have either already happened and therefore can’t be changed, or things that have yet to happen or may never happen in the future. The past is gone and can only really serve to teach us and help us grow, and the future is never certain. I’m not perfect at the balancing act of past, present and future and never will be, but I accept my past failures and triumphs and relinquish my desire for 100% control of my future. It’s just not realistic. Some of the best things in my life have resulted from stepping into complete uncertainty and it’s important to remind myself of that when I’m feeling afraid or trying too hard to control my future.

I accept my big, crazy dreams. I want to travel the world, live in another country, sail around the world with John, find a job where I can write, photograph and design all at once, make a big difference in someone’s life, be a bartender or own a beach bar, live at the beach, I could go on and on. There is so much I want to do in this life but I’ve always played gatekeeper when it comes to my dreams. If it sounds crazy I’ve been quick to dismiss it. I’ve bought into the assumption that the acquisition of things and status symbols and more money means more happiness. That is what everyone else does and it feels safe and “right.” My dreams and desires don’t fit into that world though. I accept that achieving my dreams is going to be difficult. It will require a lot of discipline and hard work, successes and failures, but to me it is totally worth it.

I accept who I am. Perfection is not attainable. I can admire others, but should not desire to emulate or be them because instead, I am me. I can grow and change, but it’s okay to do that on my own terms, at my own pace, true to my own values and opinions. I’m not perfect and will certainly be influenced and tempted from time to time by others, another thing I accept fully about myself, but at the end of the day I’m very thankful for the person I’ve become and in almost all ways am happy with myself. The relationship I have with myself is one of the most important ones to invest in. I never want to stop working on it.

The biggest lesson of all has been that acceptance doesn’t mean settling. Acceptance is to embrace. I’ve realized that I’m probably never going to have the answers to my life’s big questions if I can’t get past the step of accepting me 100% first. How can anyone make a change or move in a new direction without first knowing what she likes and values? And we certainly can’t move on from something without first accepting what has already happened. Acceptance is a baby step towards big change and I’m ready to take that chance.

A Letter to my Little Sister


Dear Amy,

As I write this you’re on your way home from a one week “solo adventure” where you did nothing but exactly what makes you happy. I don’t mean to get sappy, but as your big sister you have no idea how proud/inspired/happy this makes me feel. While I always try to be the best example for you that I can be, what you may not know is that you’re an increasingly amazing example for me.

I know I haven’t always been the best big sister. Our 6 year age gap meant that I went through my crappy teenage phase during the years where you yearned most for a relationship with me. You were my mini-me (still are – quit stealing my look) yet I ignored you for so much of the time we could have actually spent together. Gladly, I grew out of it, and gladly, you forgave me for it. My time with you now is some of the most valuable time I have and you’re one of my best friends.

Like any great relationship, our friendship and sisterhood has taught me a lot. You’re going to be 20 next month and for someone your age, you seriously have your shit together. As the big sister, aren’t I the one that’s supposed to have my shit together, leading by example? Sometimes I like to sit back and learn from you instead of the other way around.

Being your big sister is one of my favorite roles. I have a built in best friend for life. I have someone to call at any hour of the day to talk to about everything or nothing. You’re my shoulder to cry on and that person who nudges me to do what I really want, without letting fear get in the way. And you’ve already taught me SO much.

You teach me to live a life true to myself. I admire that you follow your passions and dreams and take risks. You don’t really care what people think of you and your decisions because if they make you happy, then why NOT do them? You aren’t afraid to voice your opinion or take risks and as a result, good things tend to come to you naturally even when you change course. You exude confidence in what you do and how you do it, and I so admire you for it. You’re a little more adventurous and a little less afraid – maybe this stems from being the younger one – you benefited by witnessing my mistakes and triumphs early on. Lucky.

You teach me how to take care of people. When you came along my instinct to take care of you and protect you was totally natural and I feel it now more than ever. You’re about to enter your 20s and while you’re making things happen for yourself I know that inevitably I can’t protect you from everything. But you can bet your butt I’ll be there for you every step of the way.

You also teach me that I don’t always have to be the caretaker. As we both get older, we only get closer. I share things with you that I don’t share with anyone else, and I can count on you to always cheer me up when I’ve had a bad day, or cheer me on when I’m contemplating a change and need a little push. I’m amazed at how great you are at taking care of ME.

You’ve also taught me about what’s really important. For me, that’s time with the people I love and care about, and time spent doing things that bring me fulfillment and happiness – like my art, and writing, reading, being outside, etc. The time we spend together is always full of the good stuff – laughing and eating and being active and okay – snuggling with Bally because who can resist? You don’t expect me to do certain things or be a certain way. Like any relationship, the big sister little sister one takes work. And with both of us entering our adult years, I’ve realized that there is little more important than time together in our relationship. I’m so thankful for any of it that we can soak up.

Lastly, you teach me that it’s okay to let go a little. Being the big sister is an important job. I know I have someone in my life looking to me for guidance and a glimpse of what the future and adulthood look like, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best role model. I’m the uptight and more anxious one of us, but you always find a way to ground me. You know nobody is perfect and have no problem reminding me of that. You accept it yourself. You let yourself dwell on the crappy stuff a little bit, then take action or make it better or simply move on.

As you return from your trip – which I know was amazing and incredible – I hope you’ll realize that the time you spent discovering things about yourself has also caused me to reflect on the things you’ve taught me about myself. You inspire more than you know and you’re always teaching me new things or showing me a new way to solve an old problem.

Being a good big sister to you takes work. But I’ve never felt luckier.

Your big sister