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You were able to ditch that annoying man you met at the bar last weekend. You cut off communication with that toxic friend you met in college. You even managed to dump your old boyfriend when you realized you just really, truly deserved better. Way to go, superstar! Half the battle is finding the right community for you, and knowing when to walk away from certain relationships. But I hate to break it to you: there is one relationship in your life you will never be able to escape. No matter how hard you try, she’ll follow you around like a lost puppy dog. And after a night out, she might even smell like one, too.

No, I’m not talking about your mother, or your childhood best friend, or your weird but lovable Aunt Lori. That stinky Pomeranian I’m referring to is you.

If you haven’t already wrestled with this fact, then you’re either delusional or heading for a mid-life crisis. Making peace with who you are is probably one of the most difficult tasks we face, and it’s an ongoing and tiring process. Hell, I’m in my early 20’s and I swear I’ve already had about 3 quarter-life crises! And if you’re not there now, I’m sure you can think back to your years of young adulthood and chuckle with familiarity.

I’m quite frankly in a perpetual state of confusion, but I can say that at least amidst the chaos, I’ve found deep love and respect for myself and my life. And that, above anything else, has carried me through any dark or uncertain time.

Here are ten tips and tricks that will help you uncover, realize, and remember the beauty of your individuality. Because girl, YOU ROCK! Sometimes all you need is a simple reminder (or ten).

1. Set up healthy morning and evening rituals.

I’m not going to lie – I start a lot of my mornings with disheveled hair and a bad attitude. I am not a morning person by any means, as much as I’d like to be. But setting up positive morning and evening rituals is a practice that I’m trying to make a daily habit, because I’ve seen how powerful they can be. Each ritual will be dependent on your personality and lifestyle. For instance, my mother wakes up and reads The Bible every morning over her cup of coffee, and at night, she reads healings and testimonies in bed (she’s a Christian Scientist). Although that’s not my style, she swears by it as a way in which to focus her energy at the start and end of each day.

What I try to do is write a list of 10 things I’m grateful for within an hour or two of waking up. I write each item down in a full sentence or two (no emojis people), and write “Thank You” at the end of each line. In the evenings, I read something that’s life-giving either from bloggers or writers that I admire. Instead of counting sheep, I count my blessings.

2. Treat yourself from time to time.

Some people do this way too often, while others do this way too little. Finding the right balance of “treat yourself” activities is crucial for not only your well-being, but your bank account. If you bury your problems in Louis Vuitton clutches and silk shawls, you’re not doing it right. But if you constantly feel guilty whenever you splurge on anything, then you’re not really rewarding yourself for how wonderful and hardworking you truly are. Personally, I’m fine with spending money on experiences, but have a hard time spending money on material items. Find out what treat gives you the most joy, and give it to yourself when you need it. You deserve it.

3. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about who you are.

Write down a list of the people in your life, and cross out the ones that make you feel like you’re not good enough. Say goodbye to toxic people and welcome those that uplift you with open arms. This isn’t an easy task – I’m attached to a lot of people that probably aren’t the best for me – but if you don’t surround yourself with a community that inspires and celebrates you, you will always be held back from loving yourself. Sure, self-love comes from within first and foremost, but we are social beings and that cannot be ignored. Make sure your social circle is the right one for you.

4. Stand by your own personal goals.

Set goals for yourself and yourself only. I see a lot of couples who have plenty of goals in life, but most of them are dependent on the other person. I also see a lot of single people who are so damn bored with themselves that they are constantly seeking a relationship. Practice your independence by figuring out what you want for yourself. Whether it’s a promotion, a consistent workout regime, or an international trip you want to take, set goals for yourself and your future. Know that half the battle is just deciding you’re going to do it.

5. Dress up (or down) for yourself.

Put on that sexy little black dress and heels, or don’t. Wear what you want to wear and get as fancy or as comfy as you want, but do it for you and you only. Sometimes I like to put on a flow-y dress, big shades, and a floppy hat just to go to the grocery store. I do it for me – because it makes me feel good. It’s just one of my many Carrie Bradshaw moments, and it’s totally awesome.

6.Seek help when you need it.

Whether you were the constant front-row-hand-raiser in grade school or not, decide that you’re going to be now. This is the school of life, sweetheart, and you’ve got to learn how to ask for help when you need it. Whether it’s from a family member, a friend, a therapist, or a significant other, know what your individual limits are and use the strength others can provide when needed. Often times admitting you can’t do something on your own is the best way to love and nourish yourself.7

7. Make your house a home.

I’m the type of person that needs my living space to reflect not only who I am, but the best parts of myself. After a long day, I want to come home and feel at home. I want to be surrounded by art, photography, quotes, even color schemes that make me feel good. Make sure your space feels like your sanctuary. Make sure it’s a place that reminds you who you are when you seem to forget.

8. Do not compare yourself to others.

This is a lot easier said than done. I think it’s especially hard to practice self-care, self-love, and self-compassion in the 21st century because we are all constantly peering into the lives of others through social media. And let’s be honest, we all post the most flattering, most positive, and most exciting parts of our lives online. But you have to keep that in mind when you’re scrolling through your Facebook.

Don’t compare the reality of your life to the Instagram feed of that pretty cheerleader from college. Don’t get jealous over the seemingly flawless bikini shot of that girl on the beach in Malibu. Photoshop and Instagram filters do wonders, but that’s beside the point! Imperfections are beautiful, and so are you.

9. Write yourself daily affirmations.

Every day, write down something that you like about yourself and read it out loud. Make it a mental habit to think consciously about your many virtues, quirks, and successes. There are so many things about you that are meant to be celebrated, and nobody can do it as authentically and honestly as you can.

10. Encourage and uplift others.

I believe that the stead-fast way to happiness is serving others. Don’t go a single day without telling somebody you love how much you appreciate them. Don’t go a single week without writing a note to someone you care about. I send thank you cards and little tokens of gratitude to a different friend or family member every week. Loving others is one of the best ways we can love ourselves, too. Remember that what you give is what you get, so you better make it good.

Learning to love yourself, truly and wholly, is a life-long process. It’s a grueling task – similar to overcoming the mental battle of whether or not you should stay on the couch and watch Sex and the City reruns, or get off your ass and go to the gym. It’s mental torture just thinking about it, but after a good work out, you feel lighter, happier, and more energetic. You just feel better.

So if you’re stick in a rut, going through a break-up, or just need to refocus your life in a positive direction, be your own hero and set up some habits to help you do so. Practice self-love in your daily life and make the decision that you are going to be your own cheerleader. You have all the power you need to build the life of your dreams, because you, my friend, are one brave and authentic and wonderful woman.

Do you have any habits that help you stay grounded and centered in who you are? Do you have any self-care practices that you want to share? Leave all your self-love secrets in the comments below and feel free to tweet me with any further questions or comments!

 

This is some of the most exciting news I’ve had to share in a while. I bought two new furry friends! I’m happy to introduce to you all… OPRAH & GAYLE!

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I’m sure most of you understand the reference, but if not… well… have you been hiding under a rock? Gayle is Oprah’s (you better know who Oprah is) best friend and biggest cheerleader and companion. Back when Oprah was on air, Gayle made many appearances and the two did a lot of traveling together around the world. They’re quintessential “besties” and I just had to name the two guinea pig sisters after those wonderful women.

Before you ask, yes OF COURSE I made an Instagram account for my new furry family members (@ogguineas)! I have a feeling the are going to be the voice of their generation. 😉

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I can legally enter most of the venues within walking distance of my apartment today. Because I am legal! The big 2-1. Able to freely enter the many concerts, bars, and 21+ events that I’m constantly surrounded by in this urban life.

To celebrate my 21 years on this planet, I’m going out to dinner tonight with my family and a few friends. Tomorrow, I’m having my first birthday party in nearly 10 years. Saturday, the 21 run commences! It’s going to be a wild weekend to say the last, so I decided that now is the time to do some thoughtful reflecting before chaos ensues.

I wrote a list of 21 things I’ve learned in my lifetime. I’m a big fan of lists (and schedules, planners, general type A bullshit). So here are some things I’ve learned so far. I stand by my beliefs and exclamations below, but just a disclaimer: the one thing I do know for sure is that I don’t know anything for sure.

  1. Time is my absolute most valuable asset.
  2. Especially in my early twenties, establishing friendships is far more important than dating.
  3. Sadness is just as important and necessary for growth (if not more so) than happiness.
  4. Parents are people, too: fallible, full of insecurities and flaws, and doing their best to make peace with themselves.
  5. The two most important relationships in my life are my relationship with myself, and my relationship with the Infinite.
  6. Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
  7. J.K. Rowling is a genius. (Which is why my 21st birthday part is Harry Potter themed hehe)
  8. The Universe has my back and it works in mysterious ways.
  9. If I sincerely want a relationship to work out, taking time to allow it to grow naturally and authentically gives it the best chance possible to do so.
  10. It’s so vital to call parents, guardians, and those I care about regularly and remind them how valuable they are to me.
  11. Taking time for myself is of utmost importance so that I can learn how to set my own boundaries and learn how to be alone and content.
  12. Doing drugs just simply isn’t worth the risk.
  13. Sharing my story openly and authentically is one of the best ways to build community within myself and with others.
  14. There is immense beauty in vulnerability.
  15. Pride should never get in the way of prayer.
  16. I am Enough.
  17. Owning up to mistakes and living unapologetically in my own skin can work in tandem together.
  18. Not everyone deserves to receive my affection and attention.
  19. The best way to attract good friends is to be one.
  20. I will not go one day without telling somebody I love them.
  21. I will not go one day without telling myself that, too.

So these are the 21 reflections that I know to be true and authentic to my story and my experience thus far. What are some important lessons you’ve learned so far in your lifetime? Reflect and meditate on that. Write them down. Look at them in years to come. You’ll be surprised at how great you are at giving advice, and perhaps the words you write down today will be the very ones you need to read 5, 10, 15 years from now.

And with that, I’m signing off. Cheers to being alive! Cheers to being of age!

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There are those days when I don’t feel like socializing or putting on pants. That’s when I either a) lock myself in my apartment with a Modern Family DVD and thin crust pizza b) put on a skirt, grab a cup of coffee, and suck it up. It’s more often the latter due to the never-ending responsibilities that life hands me (class, work, deadlines, due dates, friendships, internships, family obligations, the list continues on and on and on…), but there have been many moments when I wish I could crawl under my covers for hours at a time and not see the light of day. There have been some moments when I’ve done just that. Because I just. can’t. think. anymore.

I have a brain that works at an impossibly fast rate, bouncing from point A to point B to point F to point Z. It’s a distraction, and often times I have trouble finishing the project I started because I’m thinking about the other 1,000 goals and projects and ideas I have. I have wondered before if I suffer from an attention “disorder”, but I have not been medically diagnosed and I don’t think I’m at the point of needing medication. More than anything, I take it as a personality quirk.

 If you know me personally, you also know that I can talk about a million miles a minute. And although I articulate myself well (thanks to years and years of acting classes and tongue twisters), it goes to show how easily my mind bounces around. Which can be very, very problematic. Sometimes I wonder how I ever get anything done.

So I’ve come up with a list for those bouncy, all-over-the-map, mind-racing-a-million-times-a-minute kind of people. I know you’re out there! I know I’m not alone! And if we can establish some good habits, we may actually finish something before its deadline. *Knock on wood*

When you’re crunched for time, when you have a deadline, or when you just want to be goddamn productive, do this:

Put away your phone.

1. *GASP* I know! It’s crazy to think that the technological extension of our bodies will be gone for any point in time (I mean we practically sleep with Siri), and you don’t even have to put it on silent if you’re expecting an important phone call or text, but put. it. aside. Turn up the volume if necessary, but then place it across the room from you and don’t pick it up unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Find your sanctuary.

2. Find out which kind of atmosphere you’re most productive in. For me, it’s a coffee shop or café. Some people cannot work with any noise whatsoever, but I like being surrounded by hustling and bustling people. It actually helps me focus better than being in a quiet library or in my own home. That’s actually where I am right now to write this post, so find your sweet spot, and go to it.

Find out if you work better together, or alone.

3. Do not hang out with distracting people when trying to get something done. For me, this is primarily a problem when I’m studying or doing homework. There are some friends that I can study with and get a lot done. In fact, I prefer to study with people who are in my same classes because it’s really helpful to have other minds to bounce ideas off of, but if you do not have those kinds of individuals to surround yourself with, then opt for being alone. There have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to study and ended up chatting with my buddy across from me for three hours and then had to stay up ’til 3 am finishing a paper. No bueno.

Give yourself a break.

4. Give yourself breaks and time them. How often and for how long is up to you, but for me, I give myself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes if I’m working on an intense project or paper. I cannot concentrate well after about 30 minutes of pure focus anyway, so giving myself a break to either chat, check my phone, or browse the interweb usually helps me get back on track. But that’s only, only if I set a timer for my breaks. Otherwise those 5 minutes turns into 50…

Say goodbye to Facebook stalking.

5. Temporarily deactivate your Facebook. I don’t find this necessary unless I’m facing a particularly difficult finals week… but for some of you, Facebook is the ultimate tool for procrastination. If you are one of those people, just temporarily deactivate your account and don’t reactivate it until you are free from finals or midterms. Just that action alone will probably save you a lot of time.

Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate.

6. Drink coffee (but not too much). This seems obvious coming from a Seattleite, but seriously… Coffee is my life and it helps me stay energized and focused as long as I don’t overdo it. And if by accident I do, then I end up being far more jittery and don’t get anything done. Be careful… but treat yourself to that double shot vanilla latte!

Reward yourself.

7. And lastly, give yourself goals to achieve and reward yourself when you do. They can be as small as getting yourself a treat after you finish at least half of your term paper, or they can be bigger like buying that extremely cozy sweater you’ve been dying to have if you get an A on your term paper. Either way, set yourself up with a reward system and stick to it. Treat yo’self.

Those are some of my tips and tricks for staying on track and gettin’ shit done. As I enter my junior year of college, this has been something I’ve been thinking about… Along with about a million other things… And I hope it helps you, too! Hey! Kudos to you for finishing this entire blog post without getting distracted. Now get off the internet, and get back to work! But promise you’ll come back and visit me soon. xx.

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I have a campus job that allows me to meet new people, talk about my college experience, and occasionally get homework done or scroll through the interweb. I can’t complain! It’s the perfect part-time gig during college. Lately, I’ve seen lots of new faces around. Usually, this is a rarity. I go to a pretty small university, and most of the faces I see around campus, I’ve seen at least once before. But the new faces actually don’t come as a surprise seeing that it’s the beginning of a new school year and freshmen are swarming in every direction – trying to find class, trying to find friends, trying to fit in. I find myself chuckle with familiarity.

This on-campus job provides me with a lot of opportunity for people watching. My coworkers and I get exposed to a lot of situations and stories, as college life plays out right before our eyes. The confused, excited, and overwhelmed expressions I see planted on the faces of new college students passing by has gotten me thinking about my freshman year – some things I did wrong, some things I did right, and everything in-between. I get a lot of questions about college life from my readers and viewers, so I thought I’d share a list of freshman year “do’s and don’ts” that may help ease the transition a bit.

Do push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If that means joining your school’s improv team, sitting with strangers during lunch, or reaching out to get to know your professors, just do it. This is something I wish I had done a lot more of during my first year of college, and I’m insisting you do it now. The absolute worst thing that could happen by doing this is that you feel slightly awkward or uncomfortable, but more likely than not, this is how you’re going to meet your social circle, this is how you’re going to bond with your favorite professor, this is how you’re going to have an absolute ball during your 4 short years of college.

Don’t isolate yourself by clinging to the first friend group you meet. Most people completely change their social circles throughout the first year or two of school. Don’t attach to the first group of people you meet without leaving wiggle room for new friends and new experiences. If you authentically connect with people, then be grateful for meeting them and nourish the friendships! But make sure you put yourself out there to meet others. Widen your social circle and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people in your classes, on your hall, or in your study groups.

Do go to your professor’s office hours. College is fucking expensive – RIDICULOUSLY expensive. You are paying a lot of money for this slip of paper you’re going to receive at the end of these 4 years, so make sure it’s worth it. Of course you’ll learn a lot in actual classrooms or lecture halls, but I found that some of my most fruitful discussions and lessons have come from going to my professor’s office hours and just chatting with him/her. A lot of the time I go in with specific questions for assignments or tests, yes, but I also try to build a bridge between my professor and I, and get to know them and their story. I know the culture of larger universities may frown upon this, but screw the people who do not see the value and importance of taking advantage of your college experience as much as possible. It’s going to fly by – so make every penny count.

Don’t jump into a relationship your first month of school. I know, I know… There are so many new people! There are cute boys and girls every way you turn, and you want to explore the dating scene and find your college sweetheart. Well, don’t. Focus on your friendships first and foremost when it comes to your social life. Those are far, far, far more important than the cute baseball player that sits next to you in your English 101 class. You don’t want to be the person who gets wrapped up in the first romance you come across because it’s exciting and new. Give yourself time to settle into college and connect with friends, then open yourself up to dating. If you do, however, meet somebody you just can’t pass up (because it definitely happens!), make sure you don’t make them the center of your world. I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes college students of all ages make when they’re young and in love.

Do go to college events. Your university will have some kind of student-led group that plans activities and events on and off campus. You may think you’re too cool for school, and you’d rather hit up that party down the block instead of going to a movie night in one of the dorms, but I’m telling you… These events are often way more fun than you realize, and whatever party you’re going to, it’ll probably be filled with annoying frat boys and shitty drinks. I’m not saying to refrain from the party scene entirely – I’m just saying that it’s important to balance it with college events that will allow you to meet and connect with sober individuals.

Don’t act like somebody you’re not to gain approval from a certain social circle. Every college freshman is confused out of their mind, and is searching for some kind of social interaction to make the transition easier. Everybody’s putting up a front and protecting their egos, and that’s natural and okay. But make sure you’re not doing it so much that you’re losing your identity and bonding with the wrong group of friends for you. I think the best way to avoid this is to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Join clubs, go to sporting events, and reach out to people who you have stuff in common with. Ignore the bitchy girls on your floor that think they’re the hottest things since sliced bread, and make room for the people who will be super impressed by the collection of Harry Potter posters you have plastered on your dorm room wall (this was definitely me my freshman year).

All right.. I’m stepping down from my soapbox. Above all, don’t worry too much about anything. Give yourself time to settle in, call home often to check in, and keep reminding yourself to make the most of your college years. I’m halfway through and I feel like I was in my 1st year orientation last week. I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true, though… College has the potential to be some of the best years of your life. Get ready for one hell of a ride!

If you have any more questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to leave them below or tweet me so we can chat! Best wishes and best of luck to all new college students! xx.