The moment

I don’t have a specific answer for the exact moment I knew. Love stories rarely do. It’s more of a compilation of small moments that roll in your head like an old movie one day, and then you know. And oh, are they sweet memories. Since I’m all caught up in being thankful that God sent me such a loving man, I thought I’d share a few of these moments (but honestly,I’m keeping some of the best to myself). Joel and I are fairly private people, so these are stories that very few people have heard. But if one day my grandchildren are visiting me and want to know our story, I’d like to tell them myself. But if that isn’t possible, I guess my writings are the next best thing.

I’ve known for twelve years that there was one very special little girl that would have to approve of my future husband. My parents of course would have their say in the matter, but Mac would have a very influential part as well. It became very apparent to me several years ago that I was setting an example for her, and I better set a good one. Even though I’d known him my entire life, I didn’t introduce Joel to Mac until my sophomore year in college. He’d heard all my stories, seen pictures and watched me spend every dime that I could spoiling her. And when I finally introduced him to her, that’s when I knew. You expect your S.O. to pay attention to your family, get along, find mutual topics of interest to talk about. But it’s much different when the stakes are higher, and little eyes are watching. But Joel understood my investment in Mac, and he took that seriously. And he didn’t stop with his relationship with Mac. He took the stakes and planted my entire family within them. When Mac would cuddle up on the couch with me, he’d let Anna Lois curl up with him. He’d joke with Hannah about Disney movies, and be a boy with Cam. He’d teach Matt all the computer things and truly invested in the little eyes around me. He loved and still loves them. The girls have always ran and jumped to hug me when I arrive, but when they started running for him too, that’ll make the Grinch’s heart grow 20 sizes.

When I was staying visiting my grandmother on Wednesdays during my freshman and sophomore years, Joel would come with me, even if he was just sitting on the couch watching my grandfather catch a few minutes of sleep. Sometimes, he’d sit back there with me while we heehawed over Big Bang Theory or I Love Lucy re-runs or chatted about some memories. He would politely excuse himself when we needed to care for her, and one time, he left the room to go get Poppy for medicine or something, and she looked at me and asked if it was serious. I smiled and said yes. And she smiled back. Poppy came back a few minutes later, we took care of her and her medical needs. She looked as he was walking out and said, “I found a good one when I married him.” She joked and said he meant it when he said in sickness and in health (but he really did). We had a good laugh, but I’ve replayed those moments in my head a million times since her death. I think we rarely realize how much of an impact some moments are until after they happen.  I am grateful Joel got to meet her, and she him. My heart breaks when I remember that there will be an empty seat at my wedding, but wow am I grateful for that moment.

giphy (9).gifI’ve never been the type of girl to need a boyfriend. And even when I had one, it seemed more like a close friendship. It takes a while to break down the emotional walls that people like me put up. While Joel and I were separated, I made friends that have made more of an impact on my life in the year they’ve been around than some people have made in 22 years. When we got back together, my friends were skeptical. They’d seen the heartbreak and knew the story. After we’d been back together for a few months, I visited the girls, and we went out and about the city. We were laughing and having the best time of our life, and I didn’t wish Joel was there with us (he’d kill the girl vibe), but I wished he could’ve seen us and me in that moment. We were so happy and having so much fun just being us, and I loved it.

There are numerous other moments where I knew Joel would be the man I’d marry, but some of my favorites are the moments we share on a daily basis. He vacuums the carpet in the same direction on days that he knows I’m going to be anxious. He’ll make me coffee in my Kate Spade mug so that I have a cup for class or where ever I’m heading. He dances me around the living room when songs come of Spotify to see if that’s going to be our first dance (we haven’t found it yet, but honestly I hope we don’t find it until after the wedding. This is too much fun!)

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This whole story that’s probably making all the single ladies sick is: there is no one way to happiness. I can write a book about how to marry your childhood/high school/college sweetheart, but likely that’s only going to help me remember how our story rolled out. It’s not going to help the next 3 and 5-year-old that come along growing up side by side. Every single story is unique and made up of so many little moments that it’s hard to explain or even share in a small conversation. Someone may learn from one part of our story, but it’s not a road map. And even if it were, we’re only a few miles in and we don’t know how to read it anyways. #Millennials

What’s funny to me is every love story or fairy tale we heard as children stopped at the wedding. How messed up is that? I’m hoping that’s when the story gets good! I know our story has only had more adventure and fun (and honestly some scary big decisions) since the engagement, I can only imagine after we’re married.

giphy (7).gifSome of my girl friends have started a book club. We read some serious how-to- get your life together books and some celebrity humor books. One we’re reading right now is a relationship book. I jokingly sent Joel a clip of it last week where it said to remember that through all the bad dates, fights and break ups, whoever gets to lock you down is [expletive] incredibly lucky and all the crap you’ve been through to find each other will be worth it. “There is no one out there like you and you are amazing. So even if you have days/weeks/months where you’re feeling discouraged or lonely, make like Dory from that movie where she has Alzheimer’s and just keep swimming.” I sent it jokingly, and he replied “I’m pretty sure that road goes both ways.”

So that’s what I’m talking about people. That’s what this whole rant about love stories and moments is about. Your story won’t be the same as mine. And I hope you think that yours is better. I hope you love yours 100 times better than mine. And it’s OK to favor your own love story (hell, I think you should favor your own!). I’m watching so many of my friends get married or fall in love, and each story is filled with different love and different heart aches, but that doesn’t make one better than another. I’ve cried at so many wedding videos, but that doesn’t mean I want mine to be identical. I love my wedding dress a lot more than the ones all my friends have worn, but the dress they wore was unique and beautiful on them. It’s literally made to mold their body and its perfect. Mine will be perfect on me, just like my relationship and our story is perfect for me.

So, there was not single moment. But there were a whole lot of moments. And I hope there are so many more that I can’t even begin to remember them all.

Permission to Make a Decision for Yourself

I think those four years of college are some of the most exciting and most confusing years of a young person’s life. I think the major part that I struggled with was determining what decisions were mine to make and what decisions I should consult my parents, advisers or mentors for. I remember multiple times calling and asking my mom about something and her answer was legitimately, you’re an adult, you don’t  need my permission. Wow. To not need someone’s OK to do something… weird. It’s still weird for me.

I’ve been wanting a dog for myself since I moved to college. I desperately missed my pup Chipper and the comfort a dog provides when you’re at your very worst. I did all the research. I found multiple breeds that wouldn’t bother my allergies and that were fit to live in an apartment. I’m a research-based person – very much like my dad, for better or worse. Research is part of my job, and I love it. Finding and determining the perfect fit or finding the spot that needs to be fixed… it’s a rush. But there are some things research can’t determine.

So I asked my fiance. I asked him over and over to the point that he too wanted a dog. So then I asked my mom. And she again said she couldn’t make the decision for me, but if she were me, she would wait.

But there are some things that mentors, advisers and parents can not advise.

And that’s where our “gut” comes in: what feels inherently right to us?

And we have to trust that is the right thing. We have to believe that beyond research and beyond advise that we will truly know what is right for us.

And that’s where I was. I think that sometimes stubbornness gets the blame when our gut should get the credit.

I think that is why I struggle so much when someone tries to tell me what I will or won’t like. When someone takes away my ability to decide for myself, to allow my body to decide for itself. I think there is something about the rush of a moment, and I think too often we allow someone else to take that moment away from us because it’s not what they think we’ll want or like.

I am the only person that knows my brain and my body. My doctor knows the way I react to certain medications. My mom knows the way I react when I’m hungry. My dad knows the way I react to his constant badgering. My fiance knows the way I react when he pokes me in the side. But I am the only one that knows the way my brain reacts and the way my body feels when something is or is not right for me.

Sometimes, we have to trust that we know ourselves better than anyone else. And sometimes we have to ditch the research, go against the advice of everyone else, and do what feels right for us.

I was so adamant about getting to New York because everyone told me I would hate it. Those decisions are decisions only I can make. Others can assume, they can try to think for me and you, but those are decisions only I can make for myself. We get so used to people asking for advice that sometimes we project it on them without them asking. That’s when things get messy. We assume that they want and need our advice. We assume that they want all the research and knowledge they can get.

But too much research and too much knowledge can be a bad thing…

And sometimes we need to learn when it is time to just shut up. To learn the time when our opinions, our advice and our research is unwarranted. When it’s a personal matter, and we are not included. When we don’t fully know the situation. When we can’t fully know the situation. Despite how we think we can help, we need to learn when our friends are no longer children, and when it is time to say you don’t need my permission; you don’t need my advice. 

Sometimes, we just need to say whatever is right for you is the right thing to do… even if we don’t agree. Because puppies are right for some people. New York is right for others. And some people just need to make a decision for themselves free from the burden of our opinions.

New Relationship Status:

I’ve had a lot of friends ask since Joel proposed how did I know.  I’ve known Joel my entire life, so there are a lot of shared secrets and personal moments that have tied our lives together. Many of which include many of our mutual friends. But what these friends really mean in this question is how did you know, despite everything you’ve been through, that he was the one. Because the people asking aren’t the ones that have been active around our relationship for the past 6 years. Because the people really close that saw, they knew.

But this post isn’t going to tell you when I knew I’d marry Joel. This post is rather a giant disclaimer that everything you see on my Facebook is a lie. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but still partially true. We live in this digital world where everything looks perfect, and we don’t really know each other anymore. We see updates on Facebook and Instagram and maybe a blog post or two, but unless you spend extracurricular time with a couple, you don’t really see the inter-workings behind their relationship anymore.

So, I’m just being honest and upfront about this on my blog, because I don’t want you to read anything on my blog and think that I have this perfect life or relationship that is some fairy tale. I can’t live up to those expectations, our relationship can’t live up to those expectations. Our relationship is flawed in many ways, but we love each other. And through the many events – fortunate and unfortunate – that we have been through since our first date back in 2010, we still have decided to take on the daunting task of cohabitation for life.

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Note: This is not how I feel about living with a boy. This is how I feel about living with anyone.

I’d like to point out that our story did not come without bumps, curves or straight up do not enter caution tape. We all like to refer to relationships as “roller coasters” but we forget that roller coasters take months to design and build. Then they go through a series of tests to ensure it is built to proper safety codes and what not. Then, once riders are allowed on the roller coaster, it is not without its faults.

Sometimes it rides seamlessly and is full of fun and adventure.

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 Sometimes it stops right on its tracks then keeps moving.

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 Sometimes you have to stay on the ride even though your seat belt isn’t working because its going full speed.

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And, sometimes the riders even have to get off for it to be repaired.

Honestly, roller coasters aren’t the best metaphor for relationships, but I’m not that great at coming up with metaphors. So this is what I’ll tell you about what I know thus far:

Relationships come with disagreements. They come with laughter, fun, adventure, and occasionally knock-down, drag-out fights. And mine and Joel’s relationship is not an exception to any of those conditions. There are things about Joel that make me absolutely crazy, and if you stick around long enough at the wedding or reception, you’ll probably see me roll my eyes at him once or twice. But the thing is, if Joel was some perfect guy, he wouldn’t be perfect for me because I’m not perfect. But we’ve chosen to somehow find our way imperfectly through this world together and neither of us know how to read a map. We’re going to get things wrong, and you may or may not hear about it. But sometimes, we’ll get things right too.

My point is, we didn’t get here by having a perfect relationship all the time. He keeps fresh flowers on my desk now, but I can tell you that was not the case back in 2010. We’ve grown up a lot in the past 6 years. Thankfully, he’s matured slightly since these days:giphy (4).gif

I’m confident that we’ll make it past the 72 day marriage expectation that Kim K has set for our generation. So, at the 72 day mark, we will celebrate because we’ll be more successful than Kim Kardashian.

But whether our marriage rolls out on national television (#dream) or in the privacy of our new two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta that I get to decorate before he moves in (#winning), I can tell you one thing: it won’t be perfect, but we’re gonna love each other through it all.

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Changes are a-coming!

giphy (10).gifI’ve had a lot of changes in the past few months, which may begin to explain my absence on this blog. I’ve accepted a full-time job, I’m graduating with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I’m moving to a new city and I’m getting married! So with all of these new changes, I’d like to make a change to my blog. A lot of my posts have been lessons learned or hopefully a little advice from someone who has made those mistakes. But now that I’m taking on several new roles, I want my blog to have distinct purposes.

giphy (12).gifI want to be able to update my friends and family about all of the little details and lessons happening in my life as a soon-to-be YoPro, Fiance-status to wife-status (with wedding planning in between), and of course everything that comes to living in a new city. I’d also like to have a little fun with some hobbies too. I’m about to be living alone which means re-learning how to cook for one, learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while working a desk job and learning how to take care of myself – laundry, bills, sickness and all! They won’t be how-tos but more of a Julie -and-Julia story of failures and hopefully successes. Lastly, I’d like to have a book-club section. I love reading, and now that I won’t be reading text books (and a few of my friends in college have decided a book club is the best way to keep in contact), I’m hoping to document my favorite books, quotes and even those that I hate and why.

So here’s to an honest blog that’s going to keep you up-to-date on a young 20-something lady that’s doing everything at once (and trying to blog about it at the same time!).

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Learning to Lead Selflessly

As a senior student in leadership positions in different organizations, characteristics of a true leader have been on my mind. Am I being the leader I need to be? Am I instilling in my “followers” what they need? Am I providing what education I can? Am I giving them good advice? Am I doing everything I can to be the best leader I can be?

Forbes will tell you that leadership requires honesty, delegation, communication, confidence, commitment, creativity, intuition, positive attitudes and the ability to inspire. The Huffington Post‘s list will repeat some of the same characteristics, with an added few: ability to listen, integrity, humility, empathy, inspiration and the ability to lead by example.

I’ve been both a leader and a follower. I’ve been led by both great and not-so-great leaders, and I’ve no-doubt been both a great and not-so-great leader. Leadership is absolutely a learned skill. Many times, leaders want to lead by example, but by leading by example, they do all the work. Other times, leaders want to delegate work then sit back and watch everyone else.

Leadership requires a keen balance: walking a thin line between leader, dictator and sole member. But I think all of these issues can be solved through one characteristic: selflessness.

Too many take the title of “leader” to build their resume or brown-nose their way to the top. Too many times their objective as a leader is not to help or serve their organization as a whole, but to help themselves as a part. I am absolutely at fault for this myself. I have taken a position thinking, “Wow, this is going to look great on my resume.” Leaders like to be easy to spot. These leaders are inauthentic. They often push out other members who are willing and wishing to get involved. They take glamorous positions: the ones that mean their name will be posted for all to see. They don’t work behind-the-scenes.

So how do we learn to be a selfless leader when we, as human beings, are inherently selfish? I think the Huffington Post hit the nail on the head. Humility.

Anyone who achieves success, big or small, should be celebrated. I am a believer in being proud of your accomplishments and letting others know, however being proud and being arrogant are two different things. Remember you, too, were once someone working your way from the ground up.

We all started at the bottom in one way or another. Other people taught us, mentored us and made us into the people we are today. We cannot by any circumstance say that we made it to a leadership position all by ourselves. We did not “pull ourselves up from our bootstraps” without any help. And that’s important to remember.

I’ve had three different opportunities in the past few months to go to events or be in leadership positions that I have turned down. One reason? I’ve been there before. Not that I couldn’t learn more by attending again, but I knew that if I went, I took a spot at a table that someone inexperienced would’ve valued more. I made contacts and loved the experience previously and was disappointed not to go again, but I didn’t want to take that opportunity from someone else.

I’ve also given up leadership positions. I already had a lot on my plate, so I didn’t want to commit to another position that wouldn’t have received an adequate amount of my time. I knew two other members that had less experience than me, but had expressed sincere excitement for the position. My resume is not full, but as a leader, we have to know when to step back and let someone else take on a new role. As some point in time, we have to know when to stop being the leader and just mentor (or perhaps become a follower again).

I’ve learned a lot from my leadership positions, but I know I learn a lot more from my followers than I do from myself. I also know that I learn a lot when I let someone else do the teaching every once in a while. It’s great to have a full resume, and it’s great to be in every organization and actively participating… but it’s also great when you give someone else the opportunities that you’ve been extended.

Some people are born with leadership abilities, but not every natural-born leader is instilled with humility and selflessness. In fact, I’d say those are learned skills that take a lifetime to perfect.

 

*Thank you Katie Gatti for the edits and support on this topic. Check out her blog “Blonde with a Blog“!

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Sweet Home… Alabama.

New York has given me a run for my money on my last full day here. Between the bottoms of my feet being literally bruised to my debit card no longer working, I’d say Alabama is surely calling my name.

It’s been such a blessing to live out a dream and to be able to explore completely alone. For the first time, I took off to a place that I didn’t know without a single person to fall back on. I knew of people in the city, but there was no family, no close friends, and no one I was truly comfortable calling at 1 a.m. when something was wrong. It was me and the streets of New York.

So me and my Kate Spade personality hit the streets and discovered a lot. But I think I discovered more about myself than I did about this city. I know the streets. I can get pretty much anywhere without a map (with the exception of below Houston street because those are a bit tricky). I can even navigate Brooklyn pretty easily, and the subway is just another car.

But I learned a lot about myself. I truly “dated myself” for an entire summer. When I wanted Italian, I had Italian. When I wanted to see a movie, I went to the movies. Pedicures, food, wine, dinner, more food, dessert, shows, walks, runs, and even just laying in the park. I did what I wanted to without worrying about anyone else. It wasn’t selfish… it was truly a learning experience!

I learned my way through my fellowship, finding out all the right and wrong ways to do everything. Delivering mailers still proved to be the most difficult task because 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning and a giant box is difficult to stomp around NYC.

As much as I missed my friends and family, I didn’t yearn to see them. I set out to spend 3 months mostly by myself, and that’s what I did. I didn’t worry about making friends, although I did come out with some great ones. I didn’t set out to meet anyone famous, although I did see Usher and Kathie Lee Gifford and Penn and Teller. I didn’t set out to do so many things, but along the way, I found them. I am grateful for those that visited, mostly because I really missed human contact… especially hugs. 

But on my last full day despite all the chaos that ensued, I visited the 9/11 memorial fountains again at sunset. I was reminded once again how blessed I am to be alive and to be free. How blessed I am to be able to spend a summer wherever I please. How blessed I am to live in a country where I get to choose a career I love. How blessed I am to live somewhere I get to change my dreams, find my dreams and live my dreams. How blessed I am to have people supporting my every step, no matter how sketchy, unclear or hazardous that road may be. And how blessed I am to have so many people waiting on my return.

It’s a bittersweet goodbye. It’s like dark chocolate with sea salt really. Just enough bitter bite to cancel out the sweetness, with a surprise a salt to top it all off. (I love dark chocolate with sea salt… hint, hint). Ultimately, this summer has been everything and then some. And I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned. But first, I need to find my way back home where I will hopefully let my feet rest a bit before hitting the books for one more year!

Thanks for reading and for following my journey in the city. Who knows where I’m heading off to next!

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11 Reasons Why Girls Weekends Are The Best Weekends


My friend Kelsey made the 2 hour plane ride from Atlanta to NYC to see me for, get this, approximately 42 hours. Yes, you read the correctly. Less than 2 full days. But man, did we make the most of it! After a perfect girls weekend, you’ll realize exactly how comforting being reunited with your person after 9 weeks apart, and quickly vow that you are never, ever going to do that again.

So to capitalize and reinforce on exactly how perfect this weekend was, I want to tell you 11 reasons why girls weekends are the best weekends.

1. She’ll get in at midnight, change into going-out clothes, and find the closest decent bar to talk over the latest and greatest from since the last time you saw each other. And, she’ll order the same drink as you because you’re basically the same person living in two different cities.

2. After a couple drinks, you’ll both realize that it’s 2:30 a.m. and you’ve worked 45 hour weeks and are exhausted. Then you’ll proceed to the closest open pizza shop, order two unreasonably large slices of pizza, walk home and indulge. You’ll finally fall asleep around 3:30 after laughing about the fact that at 3 a.m. you were both pigging out on bacon-covered pizza in bed. No. Regrets.

3. She’ll wake up the next morning feeling just as sleep-deprived and dehydrated as you, and while you’re sipping on Strawberry Lemonade Sparking Ice water, you’ll look over as she’ll is sipping on whatever she finds in your fridge… including a cranberita. No, it’s not 9 a.m. (yes, it was).

4. Once you feel refreshed and showered, you’ll realize not only do you have identical black Kate Spade bags, but you also have matching Zara dresses. Not to mention you each have multiples of the same dress in different colors. Twinsies isn’t even the word.

5. While putting on the makeup you’re going to sweat off in the summer heat, you’ll spend an hour trying to find the perfect brunch place. You’ll make a reservation only to have to push back said reservation because you needed an extra 15 minutes of beauty sleep after your hair is fixed… which means you had to fix it again.

6. You’ll finally head to brunch and you’ll pass the place 4 times before realizing they don’t have a sign. When you sit down and the waiter approaches the table, you’ll both realize at approximately the exact same time that it is now noon and neither of you have had a cup of coffee. Then you’ll be equally as annoyed when the waiter brings your scones and cocktail before the cup of coffee. You’ll laugh about it once you down the first cup and ask for more, but before then there was nothing to be laughed about.

7. After spending 2.5 hours at brunch, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and spend the next 2.5 hours doing exactly what you both know how to do best: retail therapy. You’ll also stop in the middle of retail therapy being equally as frustrated, thirsty and downright hot, and you’ll go to the closest McDonald”s (even if that is on the edge of Chinatown). While walking the streets, your dresses will be caught in the wind/from the subway vents in some not-glamorous Marilyn Monroe way and she’ll yell, “Well, I just showed the world my butt.” Only for it to happen again and she’ll yell “Oh there it is again!” Subsequently, you’ll almost drop your Sbarro pasta laughing so hard.

8. While eating your Sbarro pasta and getting ready, you’ll drink Sparkling Peach Moscoto out of Tervis Tumblrs while laughing about lyrics. Like why is he talking about cheating on his girlfriend? No, it’s okay because at the end of the night he’s gonna stay true. Ooo I’m gonna stay true…. You know we’re talking bodies, you gotta perfect one…Cause baby now we’ve got bad blood. I hate this song next. 

9. The night will take you to some random bar that you’ll enjoy the drinks, but the crowd won’t be your style. You’ll try another but decide it’s late and you’re both really looking forward to tomorrow’s brunch. So you resign and leave, only to get home and eat left over Sbarro and eggs-over-easy while discussing tomorrow’s brunch plans. One of you will fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, and then you’ll both be out like a light soon after.

10. The alarm will sound at 9:30. Snooze. 9:45. Snooze. 10:00. Snooze. 10:15. Snooze. 10:30. UGHH the brunch line is going to be sooooo long. You’ll throw on your dresses, pull your hair up and head out the door. Brunch will be everything and more. You’ll spend 2 hours talking about how great the past 24 hours have been and how much you desperately want to be in the same city like old times. A.k.a. 2 months ago.

11. After a day of relaxation, manicures and straight-up girl talk — including deciding that when one of you gets married, you’ll have to buy a house with spare bedrooms because the other is definitely moving in—you’ll return to your apartment where you’ll lay in bed sulking because she has to pack her bags. You’ll proceed to order delivery and only leave your apartment to call her a cab. You’ll hug goodbye and quickly remember, you’ve already made plans for the day after you return home (Oops, sorry mom and dad.)

In the end, you know that technically you can live without each other… But that life would include a substantial amount of money because you can’t afford a therapist as good as her. You’re willing to go through great lengths to see each other, if only for 2 days, and no matter how long, it will never be long enough for all the laughs to be had. There’s nothing quite like that semester you spent together becoming the closest friends in a small amount of time, but that’s what makes this friendship unique. This isn’t the high school best friend you promised nothing would ever change. This is a realistic friendship that you openly admit everything is changing. You just now know that it’s worth blowing a two-week’s paycheck in 42 hours just so you can see your person. The only thing that would have made this weekend better is if that third girlfriend could have made the trip. (Missed you Brittany!)

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12 Things I’ve Learned About Life From Living Alone in the City

So I’m halfway through my second week at my internship, and I’m telling you right now… it is flying by. Just so everyone knows: I’m absolutely loving it. The people I work with are truly amazing, and I’m learning so much. But I do miss all my friends and family back home. This blog post was inspired by multiple conversations I had today with friends about “how it’s going.” And well, I just want to be really honest here.

1. I love the freedom of walking anywhere I please. Eating anywhere I please. I love doing things solely because I want to and because I can. Being alone but not lonely is a strange feeling, and I really like it. I’m not only exploring a city, but I’m learning about myself. What I do and do not like – free from any bias, persuasion or persecution. And that, I’ve got to say, feels so good. There’s a joy that comes from allowing yourself to eat a bowl of gelato before dinner or buying fresh flowers for yourself. How beautiful are a bunch of hydrangeas on my desk! Small bits of joy can really change your whole perspective.

2. I am not responsible for the joy of others. This is one I’ve always, always, always struggled with, and I did not realize the impact until I moved here. Do you ever stop to wonder how much joy we lose because we spend it worrying about things out of our control? Like trying to constantly please picky eaters when there is a delicious smelling Thai place around the corner. Or when you have your friends from two friend groups going out on the same night so you bring them all together…and you’re constantly going back and forth to be sure both friend groups are pleased. Some people have a mission to not be pleased or show joy in life… and it’s not my job to fight that.

3. These shoes are not made for walking. If you are visiting me this summer or planning a trip to the big city, take this one tip from me. Purchase a pair of Chacos (preferably a pair with single straps as the double or triple straps tend to wear blisters) and get them fitted properly to your foot. Then wear them your entire trip. If you absolutely must bring that pair of Michael Kors heels (as I did), put them in your bag and wear your Chacos until you arrive at work, the play, dinner or wherever. Your feet will thank me.

4. There is a infinite amount of wonder lost in the word no. And I get to make the choice to discover that wonder or lose it. I’ll write more on this one later.

5. No amount of phone calls, texts or facetime calls can make up for my family and friends. I miss hugs so much. You do not realize how many hugs you get on a daily basis in the south until you haven’t had a hug in 2 weeks…

6. The 3 years I’ve spent in college prepared me for what to expect at work. My internship has taught me that you cannot expect anything because there truly is not something I do on a daily basis – with the exception of media lists. That’s everyday.

7. Half of the people in my life want me to live in Alabama. The other half don’t care enough to care. But everyone wants to know my decision. And I haven’t made that decision yet. I love Alabama. I love New York. I love above 10 cities across the U.S., and I don’t know where I will be this time next year. And that’s the only answer I can give you. But when I do make that decision, I will make it based on what I feel is best for me based on what I need at that point in my life (aka job and life).

8. Photos are meant to capture moments you’re afraid of losing. Photos are not meant to capture every moment of every day. Selfie sticks are everywhere here. There’s probably one selfie stick to every three people, and that’s not an exaggeration. Coming from a photographer, please listen to this one lesson if you don’t listen to anything else. You miss so much when you sit behind the lens (or try to be in front of it – selfie) For instance, think of the last concert you went to… how many people spent the entire concert recording the concert (not exactly legal, btw)? Now imagine how many people missed little cues from the artists (for instance, John Mayer changed the lyrics to one of his songs to include the city where he was playing “It’s been a long night in New York City, It’s been a long night in Nashville too” —the lyric is actually “Baton Rouge, too”). Imagine how much you actually miss when you’re too focused on focusing the camera. But also imagine how much you actually experience when you stop focusing on trying to remember that moment forever and you just focus on remembering that moment right then and there? Keep calm and put the selfie stick away. Enjoy the moment.

9. There are very few things in this world that I can control. This one will never be easy for me. I am high-strung. I can’t change it. People are going to either love or hate my high strung nature. I can’t change that either. People are either going to love or hate my choices. I can’t change that. People are either going to love or hate my hair, the way I dress, the way I talk, the way I live my life, what job I have, who I choose to date or marry, where I choose to live, what house (or apartment!) I choose to live in, what car I drive (or subway I take to work). I have to pick my battles, and I’m choosing to love the choices that I can make and the things I can (and even cannot!) control.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past two weeks it’s that I’ve let a whole lot keep me from enjoying life to its fullest extent. Expectations, worry, doubt, fear, stereotypes, whatever it may be. And that’s not fair to me because even though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my college years, I haven’t really felt the weight of it all until now because it’s been lifted. There’s an energy here that’s different than any feeling I’ve had before. It’s like the high you get from achievement except different because it’s not a high. It’s an energy. It’s like the first time you realized your parents expect you to make mistakes, and somehow all of a sudden, everything seems a lot less scary.

Whether I chose to return to the city or choose somewhere else in the continental U.S. or abroad or wherever, I will be forever grateful of the time I spent learning about myself. There’s something about losing the comfort of being surrounded by people you know that makes you learn a lot about yourself. And that is quite invigorating.

NYC

Internships, Timing and the Big City!

Tomorrow is moving day. Yes, that’s right. This southern girl has her belongings (included my Keurig) packed into 4 suitcases that will be heading to New York City tomorrow morning. Wow. It’s a dream coming true for me. Living in the city I fell in love with several summers ago. But, before I can start telling you about this incredible journey I’m about to embark on, I think it’s best to start with how I got there. No, I’m not about to tell you my resume. I’m about to tell you the journey of internship applications and interviews… and more so about perfect timing. Because trust me, everything is all about timing. 

Courtesy of Josh Liba (Flickr)

Courtesy of Josh Liba (Flickr)

Internship Season:

82 Applications.

82 Cover letters.

82 Resumes.

26 Interviews

17 companies.

1 Offer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:20 p.m. I got the call. I was in class, and I couldn’t focus on anything. They had emailed me saying I’d get a call any minute. I was sick at my stomach. My phone rang, and I literally ran out of class. I got the internship at the company that started my journey in public relations… and I got it at their headquarter location —  New York City. I cried. I laughed. I smiled so hard my head hurt.

Multiple times I wanted to give up. I wanted to say I had already had an internship last year. That I didn’t really necessarily need one. But I didn’t. I stuck to it. And I prayed. The week I received my offer I was MIA from everything except my classes. I didn’t sleep in past 5 a.m., and was never in bed before 1 a.m. After I received my offer, I told my mom, my advisor, my friends that were located in our office (AKA The Tank) and my grandfather. Then, I went home and slept until dinner time.

I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I ever really pleaded with God. I prayed to the point that I may be able to somewhat grasp the idea of how hard Jesus prayed before He was crucified. But I know I am nowhere close. Note: I am not saying my prayer for an internship is anywhere near the same realm as praying not to die for the entire world’s sins. At all. I literally pleaded and cried in prayer.  I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted a prayer to be answered that bad.

I was frustrated. I was mad. I was upset. I was tired. I had done everything right, but everything was going wrong. I had applied to 82 locations, and I had not received a single offer. I almost started applying again. But it didn’t feel right. You can ask my friends. I was a zombie that week. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And if I did, I was close to tears. How could all of my hard work not result in an internship at all?

But, things worked out exactly how they were supposed to and when they were supposed to. I didn’t get any of those other internships because I would have had to accept the internship before I had my last interview for NYC. I had prayed that if I was supposed to get this one that I wouldn’t get the others. That prayer was answered, but that was harder to live with than I thought it would be. A lot of things had to fall perfectly in place for this internship, and they did. I hadn’t accepted any other internships (which would have meant I would have had to turn down my dream internship— imagine that heartbreaker). I had people willing to speak on my behalf of what ever I do know about my industry. My parents were willing to move me to NYC (and pay for me to live there!) for the summer. My schedule fell perfectly to where I would get back exactly 5 days before classes started. My grandfather allowed me to move in with him for my last year so I didn’t have to worry about moving into an apartment when I got back (and saved a good amount of cha-ching there, too).  I have no question about how everything fell perfectly into place. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to live out a dream so early in my career. So, see ya Alabama! I’m heading to the City!

Side Note: For the next two and a half months, this blog will cover my adventures in the city, the entertaining family vacation that will start it off tomorrow (Oh yes, Ray-man is heading to the city for the first time…), the lessons learned, and any misconceptions about living in NYC. I’m hoping to post once a week, but I only have 2.5 months, and I’ll be working full time so some lessons will be put on the back-burner until August. Thanks for reading! 

P.S. Good luck to all my friends on their upcoming first days! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures as well! 

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We’re 21 and 22, and We Still Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Last week, I talked to my brother on the phone for an hour. Most of you won’t find this particular fact interesting at all… unless you know me and my brother. We’ve always had this odd relationship. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s not the typically brother and sister relationship. We’re 22 months apart, meaning all of his prospective girlfriends where my best friends, and all of my prospective boyfriends were his. Kind of created a bit of a jumbled mess in high school… but we’re past that now.

I’m Type A, he’s not. But we’re both extremely competitive, which is sort of a problem when you’re so close in age. My competition was him, and his—me. We have completely different plans for our lives. Other than parents, competition and our love of talking about absolutely nothing, we don’t have a ton in common. We’ve never really been the type to just hang together all the time. We hang out whenever we are buying the ‘rent’s birthday/Christmas presents and whenever we’re stuck at holiday parties together. I was thrilled when he decided to go to Alabama (except for the fact that he did, in fact, copy my decision), but when he came home that first weekend I bawled like a baby—and everyone at the football game that night can tell you that. He and his friends would rather do weird guy stuff while me and my friends watch Friends. He cheats at card games, while I’d rather play fair (you know you do).

He’s weirdly identical to dad, except I am too. But we’re not identical to each other. I look like mom and he acts like mom. I do too, but not as much as him. He can talk forever about stocks and all that fun stuff, while I’d much rather tell you about my newest plans. He knows that when I get stressed out, I’m likely to stop eating, stop sleeping, work like a maniac, call mom in tears and still manage to online shop. He on the other hand will find every way in the world to procrastinate and then somehow finish on time. He likes Alabama, and he loves Ardmore. I, on the other hand, am seeking to start my career elsewhere, particularly a large city on the opposite side of the country, but I digress… He wants a house and a car, but I’d rather have a cute apartment garden and call it a day. I don’t care for yard work but he jams on the lawnmower.

Now, we’re both single, beginning our careers/just finishing school, and we have no freaking clue who we are. I know that I am Kaitlin, and he is Kyler and that we are co-existing on this earth at the same time for some reason. So the other night, I called home to talk to my mom, and she wasn’t there. Normally, I’d settle for dad (if you knew my dad, you would understand why talking on the phone with him is settling. He doesn’t quite understand how to, you know, hold a conversation). But dad was with mom on one of their “dates.”

So, I talked to Kyler. (Which isn’t settling but he’s normally busy and probably isn’t interested in my complaints of the day) Kyler and I don’t talk about normal brother-sistery things. We never have, and I don’t think we ever will. But when I called the other day and he was the one of the other line, we talked about life. Particularly, my life because I was the one who called and if I call, I usually have something on my mind. So I spilled my guts, and he listened. Then we hung up and he went to the gym. Two days later, he calls me and he spills his guts. I listened and then I went to bed.

But his exchange was a little different than mine because he thanked me for being an example for him. Yeah, that threw me for a curve ball too. He’s my older brother. So, my response was number one to thank him for thanking me because let’s be honest, it’s nice when you hear something like that. Then my other response was, “I don’t have it all together.” Then, we had an hour conversation (if not longer) about how all our lives, we’ve thought we were expected to have it all together by 22. To have the job, not relying on mom and dad for money, have a long-term relationship (if not engaged or married already) and etc.

No, our parents did not lay the ground work for this. I’m pretty positive mom and dad have told us you will not have it all together, so stop freaking out when you realize you’re wrong (or in the words equivalent to that). With the evolution of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we see the best of everyone. I don’t put a picture on Instagram without first thinking, I really love today’s outfit or look how artsy my cup of coffee looks. When I post on Facebook, it’s to share the next big thing that’s happening in my life. When I post on Twitter, it’s the day’s thoughts (the good or funny ones of course). But we don’t publicize the struggles. I don’t post on Instagram when my hair is looking especially bad or I’m feeling a sweatpants day because those skinny jeans are just too difficult to deal with. I don’t post on Facebook when my paper ended up getting a grade lower than I wanted or when mom is right again when I really, really don’t want her to be. Twitter is about as honest as it gets on social media, but even there you’ll only see “I’m having a really bad day” or “#KaitlinProbs.”

So basically, my brother and I came to the conclusion that at 21/22, we thought we’d have a lot of this stuff figured out. And we don’t. And that’s kind of disappointing. We thought we’d already be through all this “struggling to survive” and we’d be hitting the good part where you know stuff and aren’t just guessing. But really, we’re just at the beginning of the trial and error stage and that’s an exhausting thought. I’m 21 and he’s 22, and we don’t have it all together.

We still don’t know how to budget, and I don’t know how to file my own taxes. My keys still fall behind the counter. The gym is still too far away from my bed, and I still don’t know how to drive (honestly). And if I had any clue how to fill out medical forms properly, I wouldn’t be the girl in the doctor’s office calling my mom. I don’t understand why somedays my body can work on just 4 hours of sleep, but when I get a full-night’s rest I’m groggy all day. I don’t know how to cook bacon without getting popped by hot grease, and I don’t understand apartment leases or why some don’t come with washers and dryers. I have hundreds of photos I keep meaning to get printed that are 5 years old. Why do my fruit smoothies contain 400 calories and a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin only has 250? I don’t know where Mr. Right is, but I hope he stays away long enough for me to put pictures of my friends and family in these frames instead of the creepy photos that come in them and long enough for me to learn how to get important work done without my carpet being combed in the same direction (weird, I know. Don’t judge me).

Why do I have emails about life insurance and 401k plans when I can barely afford to feed myself and put gas in my car? Why is the healthy stuff so expensive and the unhealthy stuff so tasty? Why can’t my dog live with me in my apartment and why can’t he be a normal dog that doesn’t eat doors and household furnishings? And oh my gosh, does the list go on!

Some days I really think my 10 year old cousin knows more about life than I do. But the good news is, we both know a lot now that we didn’t know 5 years ago or even just a month ago. We’re learning, and the really good news is: we’re learning at a rapid pace! I think that’s where we all get confused. We see these people that have everything together, but really they’re just putting pieces to the puzzle together and we can only see that one piece. If I had a clue why we had to wonder around this world trying to figure out life instead of having an owner’s manual, I’d be a millionaire and could pay someone to cook my bacon. But what fun would that be? To know it all? Let me tell you some of the fondest memories I have with friends are when things went wrong.

So the point of this blog is to A.) say thank you to my brother for helping me realize life isn’t about having it all together. B.) point out that he is, in fact, the best oldest brother and all of you should be jealous—hehe. And finally, C.) note that one day I will in fact know how to do the previous things listed (except maybe for the chocolate chocolate chip muffin thing…I’d rather keep thinking it’s healthier). So have fun not having your life together (and maybe post about it) because isn’t life really fun when you aren’t perfect?