An Open Letter to my Hometown

Margaretville,
They say home is where the heart is. This little town that I spent 17 years of my life in, will always have a little piece of my heart. However, my heart is no longer in this town. I no longer find comfort in the trees that look over the water of the Catskills. I no longer feel at home walking the small streets as I am now among the faces that are foreign to this town. As I have spent the last five years away from New York, I have simply grown apart. I have found a career that is not possible to pursue in this town. I have grown apart from the people that I spent 13 years with in school. I have been away from this town for long enough where I am no longer able to drive around without people thinking my license plate means I am someone who rents a weekend home. I have grown apart from these mountains.

The home that my parents have raised me in is starting to empty. The walls are turning white and the shelves suddenly have more room. The memories that were built here are ones I will take with me to wherever I find my next home. Tomorrow, I will close the doors and leave my home for the last time. The home that I have been able to stay in between my years in college and during the holidays will no longer be the home I return to. As my parents sell the house they raised us in, I am reminded that comfort is always great to have in your lie, but the day that you become comfortable with where you are or what you have in life, is the day you stop growing.

This town is no longer where I feel at home. But I am thankful that this town pushed me to become the person I am. This town created a comfort zone for me for a majority of my college journey and I am forever thankful for that. I am thankful this town also helped me become my own.

You will always be my hometown, Margaretville. But these mountains are no longer my home.

 

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What It’s Actually like Being 22

Much to the surprise of the lovely image Taylor Swift has left on this age for many of us, we find it is not all it’s cracked up to be. There is a beautifully written article floating around facebook titled, “The brain on 23” and everyone was sharing it and I thought I needed to read it. While the words flew beautifully and the point was actually very relatable, there was much to be argued not every 23 year old can agree with. 

For many of us, 22 or 23, we enter the phase of life where reality easily slaps us across the face, usually multiple times a day. However, the article made it seem as though it was more of a gradual transition from college senior to entry level worker. For some of us, it was more of a light switch effect. Here’s what the brain is like (for some of us) actually being 22*. 

We used to tell time based on when we had classes. We used to count the hours to see if we had a sifficient amount of time to squeeze in a nap before happy hour at the bar on a Friday. We used to count the hours to see what time we would need to wake up to get 8 hours of sleep. The mind at 22 now works only around the time of work. How many hours until I have to leave, how many hours until I am done for the day? 

We used to wish for the weekend so we could go out and drink and dance the night away. Now at 22, we wish for the weekend to finally have time where we can lay down and possibly not leave the house. At 22, some of us live on our own. We are proud we can hold our own but sometimes we wish we weren’t coming home to an empty apartment. We know we are too young to stay in and yes, hangovers hurt now. But we cherish the days we get to stay in, drinking in the bath tub alone. 

We no longer focus on one task at a time but are constantly looking for ways to save the minutes of each day. We have mental breakdowns in the shower because you save some money on tissues as well as completing a daily necessity. We listen to lectures in the car on our commute to work because we are still doing graduate work and trying to complete our education. The mind at 22 is much wiser and we regret spending hours watching movies in bed when we realize we could have used that time for so much more. 

The mind at 22 is looking for love because we want to focus on someone more than ourselves. We want to fill the emptiness we may feel. But at this age, we know our value and we push away anything we feel won’t match our mindset and outlooks. 

At 22, our lives are passing so quickly we are cringing when we realize how close we are to 23. We stop wishing for the weekends because the weeks go so fast that before we know it, they arrive anyway. We pick up the same groceries at the store every week because we know that food won’t break our budget. We screw up a lot, we miss deadlines on paying bills, we break things, we don’t sleep enough, but we keep trying. We spend hours on the phone with friends venting about things not everyone relates to but we just wait for the other end to say how strong we are and that we will be okay. We meet more people now and we realize how small our circle of friends may have become because we have simply walked away from those who are not helping us grow. 

At 22, we are struggling between “I am an adult” and “I don’t know how to be an adult.” We need help with our taxes and we still want our moms when we are sick. At 22, we are trying to be strong and independent but we are afraid because our paths seem so uncertain. We look back at how life was in college and how much we miss running drunk down the street with our friends at 2am. There is no way we would be able to do that now. We are trying to grow, we are trying to move, we are trying to get where we want and we are often very hard on ourselves. We forget we are still so young and we still have so many mistakes to be made. We forget we are doing the best we can. We forget every 22 year old before us struggled. We forget about all the good things because we focus too much on the negatives. 

At 22, we are always wanting more adventure, love, friends, partying, memories, money. For some, that will never change. For some at 22, we are struggling much more than others the same age. But we are proud of who we are, no matter how un-fun this life may sound. We want life to slow down so we can breathe more and worry less. But we keep pushing on because that is all we know is still the same at 22. 

Why This Year I will Stop Looking for What We All Desire Most

You know when you are trying to recall a name of an actor in your favorite movie or the name of the restaurant you and your girlfriends tried last weekend? You are left snapping your fingers and filling the blank with lots of, “umm” and “why can’t I remember?” Or better yet, when you are looking for an item in your apartment you swear you just saw last week but somehow, you look in every drawer and bookshelf and cant seem to find it. Later, when you walk away from the conversation or you begin looking for a different item, you remember that name of the restaurant or you find the first item mysteriously wedged in a location you never would have thought to look. Somehow, when we take our mind off of it, the answer comes when we least expect it.

That is why this year, I will stop looking for love. Now, I’m not saying that if my perfect prince in shining armor came riding into my life, I would turn him away and say none for you. What I am saying is that I, personally, have spent so much time trying to give my love to others to get love in return. I have tried so hard to fill the “empty space” with someone else when really, I should have been focusing on myself first.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re anything like me, having someone other than yourself to focus on can really be nice sometimes. But if you aren’t taking a two way street, one wrong turn and soon you’ll lose your directionals, seeming to only go one way,  possibly end up at a dead end, and no where to U-turn before you’ve completely lost yourself. Or better yet, you just seem to meet 100 people that can’t seem to hold an intellectual conversation anymore than your cat could. No, I am also not the type of female that is saying, “all men are the same.” Clearly, they’re not. (It’s 2017 anyway, we should really lose that statement).

We, as humans, desire and crave love and attention from someone we hope to, or that we already do, call our own. So, naturally we search for that love. We search to fill that “empty” spot we feel and we search to have someone who will stick by our side and be there for us at the end of every day. That usually means we will try, and try, and try again until we have found someone we think is worthy. But then we constantly feel upset and disappointed when, and if, we fail to find someone who wants to stick around. It can be draining, emotionally and physically (ladies, we have all cried over a boy at one time or another) when we feel like something is wrong with us or that we aren’t good enough for someone.

Which is why, perhaps if we stop looking for love, just like we have stopped looking for that book we lost in our apartment, somehow it will turn up when you least expect it. Because you deserve to wait for the right kind of love. You deserve someone who will want to stick by your side. You deserve someone who wants to love you endlessly. So why look so hard for it? Why drain yourself by feeling like you are coming up short every time a potential connection seems to fail? Why try and fill that “empty space” with someone else? Stop making yourself anxious and stressed trying to find it and focus on making yourself happy. Put yourself first, work hard, and live a balanced life. A loyal and loving partner will come to you in time and you can ride off on your horse into the sunset and live happily ever after. Or maybe just in his Camry out to dinner or something.

Don’t forget to accept the love you deserve. xoxo.

 

Chapter 11 of 12.

November. Ten months down and just two left of 2016. If you’re like me, you’re realizing you still haven’t managed to accomplish your new years resolution you set for yourself but no worries, you can still take a fair stab at it. If you’re also like me, you may be making jokes that your “2016 will be the best year so far” motto no longer seems to have a fair shot at success this late in the game. However, is that really the case? Maybe it’s best to think of our lives as stories, each month a chapter, each year a book.
Think of this as a high school English class, where your teacher made you make notes and bullet points about the important highlights in the each chapter. If you did that for yourself, for your own chapters, what would you be able to take away from this year? We get so overwhelmed looking at things in a larger scale, sometimes we forget some of the little things that happened or the positives we can take away from a situation. Not every month or chapter has been monumental so far but with only one left, here’s what I can tell you about this year’s book.

Chapter 1- Happy new year
Changes can happen with something as simple as a change in scenery. Change isn’t always easy but sometimes, it is necessary. If that change does not add a positive value to your life, perhaps it wasn’t a change worth making.

Chapter 2- New responsibilities can be exhausting
Keep pushing, keep fighting, keep making positive changes to your life that will help you grow and sustain. You will be tired, you will be sore, you will probably cry. But you will get through it. You will manage and you will persevere. Do not give up yet.

Chapter 3- New adventures
Nothing in life is meant to stay stagnant. Your location, your hair style, your job title, your state of residency. The day you try and remain as such is the day where you have given up on your journey through life.

Chapter 4-Hold on to those you cherish most
You will learn that people may walk in and out of your life all the time but there are very few who chose to stay. Do not take that for granted. Tell them you love them, appreciate who they are and what they have brought to your life. With how fast life goes, we often forget to remind those close to us how much they mean to us but find the time to do so.

Chapter 5- It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later
Life may pull those that are close to you away for some time. You may have to take different paths and carry out different journeys through life. You may become busy and not realize in fact it has been two years since you were last reunited with your best friend but if it is meant to be, it will always find it’s way. Times will come where your paths will cross and you will see each other again.

Chapter 6- You are not alone
In our biggest times of change and struggle, it is important to remember who is there for us and who keeps us grounded. Often times, simply venting to someone and having someone be a listening ear but someone who can also remind you of all the good you have in your life can be the most important thing to have. Keep those people close.

Chapter 7- Growing up happens quicker for some than others
You move away from home and are now stuck paying bills, rent, cleaning up after yourself, maintaining a work schedule, and the whole 9 yards that comes along with “adulting” and corporate America. You are quickly forced to become a very mature and well composed 21 year old. It is not easy, but sometimes people recognize and commend your composure.

Chapter 8- Change is good
Sometimes chapters can be cliff hangers. Sometimes we feel like we have no direction, no plan, no guidelines. However, you may soon find that you feel accomplished in the person you’ve become, the challenges you are taking on. You may not feel like you have the desired outcome yet but that’s okay. There is no reason to stop fighting for there to be more good in your life.

Chapter 9- Adventures revive the soul
No matter how big or small; whether it is climbing a new hiking trail to a view that may be right around the corner from you or it is hiking the trails in a small town of a different country. If and when you can, get out and take an adventure, no matter where. It keeps your mind fresh and clear and always reminds you of the good in your life.

Chapter 10- Just when you think you had things figured out
There are always going to be bumps in the road. No matter how big or small, there are always going to be parts of life that challenge you and stress you out. One day, you will be able to look back on the situations and realize that they made you stronger.

Chapter 11- Never stop wanting more
The day you stop wanting to grow emotionally, physically and mentally is the day you have become satisfied with an end point to life. Key concept: there is no end point. You should never stop wanting more adventures, more out of your job, more satisfaction out of your work, more education, more family time, more to live in every way.

Chapter 11 of 12. What does your story say this year? What can you take away from it all? Always find a way to look at the positives, no matter what you’ve been through.

xox.

 

 

Why It’s Not So Bad Being Single

You’re the person that looks around and sees all their friends in relationships (or getting married and having babies). You’re the one who’s never felt like they’ve found the love that everyone talks about falling in. We, as humans, crave love, admiration, and affection so it’s natural that we all secretly want to find love. We spend so much time searching for just that and we get very dissapointed when we continuously fall out of potential love. 

I was never the girl in high school who dated lots of boys and I really only count myself as being in one serious relationship throughout my life. On top of that, I’ve fallen out of many potential relationships and if you’re like me, you start to question why it seems like you always fall into second place. You want to be “relationship goals” with your “better half” and take cute beach pictures, send lovey texts, and have late night phone calls. 

While that all seems lovely, here’s why being the girl that’s single is not so bad. 

You don’t have to share your food

Okay, so maybe not everyone is concerned about this one but I know that I most certainly don’t always want to share. 

You’ve learned to be independent 

Being single sometimes means that you learn not to be dependent on anyone for your happiness. That doesn’t mean your girlfriends don’t bring a good time but you are already okay with the fact that you’ve been a one-man show. 

You’ve learned to love yourself

Being single also means that you have spent so much time working on yourself that you know your value of self-love. You don’t need someone else to show you that you should love yourself. 

You’re able to learn what you like/dislike 

Let’s be honest, being the friend that’s always 3rd wheeling, you’ve seen a lot of your friends go through relationships. You’re able to take away things from their relationships that you know you like or dislike about them. Even something as simple as making a decision on what clothes you like because you like them and not because your significant other doesn’t approve of them. 

You know the type of significant other you’re looking for 

You’ve had time to grow 

Whether that’s anything from the changes you’ve been able to make as an individual or its expanding your cooking skills (the way I found out I’m actually a pretty great cook). 

You’ve learned it’s okay to feel needy 

Because you’ve spent so much time alone, you know that when you’re feeling a little needy, it’s probably just your social interaction side wanting to come out and play. You’re strong but it’s okay to know you don’t always have to be. 

You’ve learned not to settle

You’ve been through the relationships that have strengths and weaknesses and you learn when things really irked you. Why would you want to settle for anymore BS? 

You’ve held in so much love, you have so much to give when the time is right 

Enough said. The next person you fall for will be lucky to have you because of all the above as well as the fact that we love to love. Holding that in for long bouts can create an abundance to give out that someone will be fortunate enough to get all of. 

This is also why you shouldn’t be afraid to love the one who’s been single for so long. Even though they may not want to share their fries with you at dinner. 

Xoxo. 

Your 20s Are Supposed to Be The Prime of Your Life

A lot of people will talk about post-grad depression, the anxiety of graduation, and the weariness of what comes next. Typically that’s because we college students are thought of as lazy and unorganized and people don’t take us all seriously once we enter the real life adult world. But, are we all like that? For some of us who function better under a busy schedule, following to-do lists, and even an hour-by-hour day, we are left a little confused once we graduate. Going back to my thought of none of our diplomas coming with instructions, we are left to fill our days with meaningful tasks and jobs yet again.
Every person functions best under a different environment, some under less pressure, some with more. So, those of you who function under less, congratulations, you must feel really relaxed now that your diploma has arrived in the mail. For myself, I have received my expensive piece of paper, stored it away, moved into my new apartment, started a new job, and have begun studying again. Somehow, something in my life is still missing. I wake up in the morning to no one but myself and my cat, my thoughts, and the next cycle of 24 hours that the day brings. But is it wrong that I don’t know what my purpose is yet? Is it wrong that I wake up felling that something is just missing from my days? Should I not be taking this down time for granted because, as everyone says, it’s all downhill from here?

They say your 20’s are your selfish years. I actually found a quote by Ann Brashares that describes exactly how I feel by explaining, “I look back on my 20s. It’s supposed to be the prime of your life, the most vital, the most beautiful. But you’re making your critical decisions and sometimes your most critical mistakes.” So, that’s the answer. That it’s okay not to have one. It’s hard, it’s stressful not having a plan, not having a new school year to go into, to not have the next chapter that is completely planned and I know what is supposed to be happening. Do you go back to school? Do you vacation? Do you move to a new city? Do you follow a childhood dream? It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to know how to make the most out of your days when you are a person who likes to have plans, who functions best under plans. For those of you who get anxiety when you are too stressed, maybe you can feel relief that there are people like me who get too much anxiety from having too much time on my hands. No, of course I am not supposed to know what the rest of my life holds, but yes, it is absolutely hard knowning just that, that you have no idea where it could take you. They say never think about what you have in a negative way because it could be what someone else is wishing for. But is it wrong to want more for yourself? Is it wrong to want more goals, more happiness, more challenges, more satisfaction? Is it wrong to want to have fulfilling days? Is it wrong to wish for more when you have just gotten to solid ground?

My Diploma Didn’t Come With Instructions

“So now what?” 

You’re 21 or 22 years old. You’ve just graduated with your bachelors degree in your desired field. You’ve studied hard the last 4 years, taken countless numbers of exams, written endless amounts of papers and reports, and have spent your life working towards that next level of education. And that’s just it. You’ve always been a student. Since the day you were born, you spent your first couple of years learning from mom and dad. Then you went to preschool. Of course elementary school was monumental (at the time), middle school, and ending with that high school diploma. Before that was even in your hands, you spent junior and senior year stressing about SAT scores, which colleges you would apply to, and which one you would finally get to call home. Then the viscous cycle started again your freshman year (where you remembered you’re basically back below mealworms on the food chain). Many people will know either going into college, or at least by senior year, if they will need to continue onto a masters program. But what if you aren’t one of those people? What if what you want to do doesn’t necessarily need a masters? Now you’re standing with your bachelors diploma in hand and thinking, “that was my last day as an undergrad….as a student…now what?” 

The problem is, your degree doesn’t come with instructions on it. It doesn’t point you in the next direction, it doesn’t really tell you much at all (unless you’re a KU graduate where they tell you to be patient for the actual degree to even arrive in the mail). You’re left to figure that out on your own. A lot of people end up going to get a masters because they need it to get to the career they want. However, some people go because they fear just this thought, that you are no longer a student, and panic sets in. 

If you’re like me, you probably got asked 132 times what you were doing post grad. I was fortunate enough to say I was employed before I walked the stage. However, there’s nothing that can truly mentally prepare you for the fact that you will no longer be a student affiliated with a school or university. 

Where are you supposed to move; back into your parents or are you supposed to find your a place to call your own? How do you earn money so you have more than what you need to pay your internet bill and drinks at the bar every Saturday night? Is there truly a proper way to write a cover letter? What do you do come August when you’re used to moving back into campus and then you realize that won’t be you this year?

I don’t have the answer for every question. However, I can tell you a couple of things I’ve realized so far. For starters, point blank, adulting is HARD. 

2) It’s going to feel kind of lonely. You just said your goodbyes to all your BFF’s at school when you parted ways and you probably moved back home or are staying in an area away from all those friends. It’s natural to feel lost and lonely when you spent the last 9 months together but don’t forget to call your girlfriends up to get some drinks or meet up for dinner with family. 

3) It’s okay to struggle. Up until this point, our paths were paved out: we always knew what the next year would consist of, which was more school. If you haven’t landed a job yet, it’s okay. Keep options open, keep your head up, and work until you get there. 

4) There is no finish line. The crazy thing about life is that there’s no end point. There’s never a time when you have to stop learning, growing, changing, evolving, exploring, and so on and so forth. You can be somewhere and still have your eyes set on being somewhere else. 

5) Rome wasn’t built in a day. You may realize you need more experience or another degree or more classes to build up the infamous resume and land a career that you really get excited about. That’s okay. Take the time, be patient, but always stay hungry for more. 

I could say more such as the fact that there’s no more 2am pizza runs with your drunk roommate or that there’s no more homecoming or late nights of cramming for exams. There’s no more, “can’t wait for next year” and “next years classes.” I just know that this time is scary. This time is new, this time is unpredictable. However, you are not alone. As many of my fellow graduates are able to admit, post-grad depression is honestly real. No, there is no path that is given to you but that is the beauty; it is up to you to carve your own. There is no right and wrong way to handle your time after college, there is no deadline on when to get a job in your graduated field. 

The crazy thing about life is that it is always changing. We never know what curveballs we will get next and know that being nervous and scared is okay. But don’t forget to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished to get you to where you are. Never stop growing, never stop exploring, never stop wanting more for yourself. Life is unpredictable but trust that time tells all and you will eventually know where you want to be. If you don’t, don’t worry, you’re not at the end. 
Xoxo.