Thursday, January 29, 2015

You Don't Belong Everywhere

College has taught me a hundred lessons, over just a few months. It has been some of the saddest, most lonely months of my life, but also some of the most enlightening. I have grown so much. I never expected college to be hard. I excelled in high school. I had great friends, always was at the very top of my class and was supported in every single way. I had no reason to think college would be any different. 

About a week after I moved in, at about two in the morning, it suddenly hit me that I was totally and utterly alone. There was no one within 500 miles that cared whether I was happy or sad or stressed or succeeding. No one. I came to a school where I didn't know a single person and I had no idea how that would feel. 

I put myself out there at every chance I got, almost aggressively so. I joined clubs and sports and organizations and went to events. Eventually, I found my way to a certain sorority. Even though I didn't really connect with any of the girls, the promises of "sisterhood" and "fifty shoulders to cry on" pushed me to join. 

For months, I was a part of this group of girls and went to all the functions and events that I could, hoping to get to that "sisterhood". At the same time, I found myself battling crippling anxiety, more than I could understand or explain, even to my boyfriend H. I would worry for days before any event, that I would say something stupid or reveal that I didn't belong. I got sick on many occasions, just from pure anxiety. Most of the time, I would slip out the back door of the event, crying for no reason other than I was so nervous. I started getting counseling.

After a semester in the sorority, I was "cut", via a very short email. I was told that I was no longer invited to be a sister. I didn't even realize that was an option. I was humiliated. Girls that I thought would become my friends voted me out. That night was the saddest I have been in a very long time. Not because of the sorority or the girls themselves, but because their rejection proved something I always suspected inside me: I don't belong.

It took a long time for me to look back at that with an honest eye. The truth was...I didn't belong with them. I had nothing in common with the girls. I was trying to force myself into being like these girls when I wasn't at all--that's where all the anxiety problems came from. I took my anxiety to mean that I didn't fit in with people and wasn't going to make friends, but in reality, I was anxious because I was exhausted of pretending. 

And I always felt like admitting I didn't belong somewhere would be like giving up, but I realize now that it would have been the honest thing to do. Just because I didn't fit in one place didn't mean I didn't fit in anywhere. As a matter of fact, as soon as I stopped forcing friendships that just weren't meant to be, I started finding real friendships--people that I can see myself being friends with for a long time. 

You don't belong everywhere.

Not everyone will like you.

Some paths aren't for you.

But you do belong somewhere and you do have a path, and it is entirely and wholly perfect for you. 

Please feel free to leave any thoughts or comments on this story. As always, thank you for reading.

This seriously isn't meant to be against the sorority I was in, or any sororities for that matter. I think sororities can be great and I tried to write this in the spirit of honesty, not out of any spite or anger. I felt like this needed to be shared and I hope it is received accordingly.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recent Design / Sprout Blog

Hey y'all! So a little while ago, I took the plunge and officially started offering design services. Since then, I've worked with some awesome blogs + shops on creating an eye-opening brands for their passion projects. 

One of my favorite recent projects is this one, for a soon-coming blog called Sprout. Being a plant lover, I immediately loved the name. The woman behind the blog, Naomi, started gardening as a form of zen to deal with her stress-filled career. 

Sprout is a blog that follows not only her gardening but also her personal growth into holistic health and happiness. In the design, we were inspired by the concept of boldness, imagery of vegetables and gardening and loose brushstrokes. Needless to say, we really connected on this project!

If you'd like to request my help on designing your (blogger) blog or etsy shop or helping you form a brand for your dream, please email me.

Thank you Naomi for letting me help you build your new blog! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Curated Weekly / 11

This week has definitely been one of those that flew by but yet last Friday feels like forever ago! I made an impromptu decision to visit my grandmother (who lives about two hours away) for the weekend. Let me tell you, it was just wonderful. I don't even know how to put my love and respect for that woman into words. I talked a little bit about her here!

We had such a slow weekend together (I can't think of the last time I went a weekend without internet!) that it was a little tough getting back into the groove of school. Funny how just a few relaxing days can make you forget about work! 

I've been working a lot lately on my fitness certification to hopefully teach strength and kickboxing classes. At our gym, I'm being mentored by a current teacher and I'll slowly start taking over her class. This weekend, I'll be leading the warm-up and teaching the basic punches and kicks. I'm so excited that I'm really getting started on it! I can't wait to have my own class. (Side note! PLEASE leave me comments with your favorite workout music! I'm seriously on the hunt for good songs to use.)

And in case you missed them...

I've been listening to a ton of hip-hop/top 20s type music to use in my fitness classes and so when I get a chance, I hide myself in some folk music to balance it out. Arlo Guthrie recently came to campus for a concert and I couldn't make it, but I've been listening to a lot of his music and similar artists to make up for it. Specifically, I'm loving my Pandora stations for Peter, Paul and Mary and The Mamas & the Papas.

But seriously--leave me fitness music recommendations! Anything from currently popular music to 80s is fair game!!

Recently, I saw that an old blogging friend of mine (Lisa Nagel) has been churning out some beautiful, beautiful art. Lisa has inspired me for a very long time--she's the one who first got me using beads to deal with my anxiety. She really is a beautiful soul and her art so reflects that. And of course, I'm a sucker for all things plant and especially cactus related so of course I love these. If only I could decide on one! I also follow Lisa on Instagram and I love seeing little process shots and her mantra "Trust the process."

Cactus No. 2 Canvas Print

Vibrant love notes in paint No. 5 Art Print

Cactus No. 1 Art Print

Last week, my main goal was to get to bed on time so that I could be awake for my early morning classes. I didn't do so hot with this one, but it's all good. I didn't fall asleep in class! :) Here are my goals this week:

1. Get ahead of blogging again. I used to be so on top of blogging and had every post planned and written at least a week ahead of time. And here I am writing this last Thursday night for Friday morning. 

2. Come up with tools and plans to deal with funky days. Whenever I hit some sort of anxiety or stress lately, I just been sort of shutting down for the rest of the day. Yesterday, I started worrying about a decision and after that, it was so hard to get anything done because I was in such a bum mood. 

What are your goals for the week? How do you deal with funky days? What music do you listen to when you work out? (We went all over the place today, topic-wise!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Blogging: Leaving Quality Comments

Commenting on blogs is something I've been thinking quite a bit about lately. I've always considered myself a "lurker"--I read tons of blogs. I probably read 20-30 posts every day but only leave two or three comments a week. That's a really low percentage! 

As a blogger, I love getting comments on posts that I've spent a lot of time on. And to me, the community is a huge part of why I love to blog and while not impossible, it's pretty hard to stay present without leaving comments. It's also tough for me to get to know readers who don't leave comments.

This week, I'm committing to visit the blog (if you have one) of every single person who comments on my blog and leave a comment. So if you've been a silent reader, just leave me a quick comment so we can get connected!

Even if you're someone who comments all the time (good job!), don't forget to make sure you're leaving quality comments. All the time, I'll see a blog post with twenty comments, but they will all just say something like "great post!" or "I agree!" and then a url at the bottom. Let's be honest, that doesn't contribute to the community. Here are a couple tips that I use when I comment:

1. Respond to something in the post. If the blogger takes a stance on anything, it's easy to share your opinion--whether you agree or not! For example, you could comment on this blog post that you know what, you think blog comments are totally pointless and if you have to comment on a blog, it should be as short as boring as possible. So yeah, that could be your response to my post. 

2. Share a similar experience or something from your own life. When I read posts about other college students, it's super easy to leave a comment about a professor or class of mine that is just like theirs or something like that. With a little effort, you can find some common ground.

3. Ask a question. If you're reading a travel post, ask the blogger how they decided on that destination or what their favorite part of the trip was. 

4. Respond to other comments. This is where a well laid out commenting platform like disqus (which I highly recommend) comes in handy. In disqus, if you respond to another commenter, they'll receive a comment and hopefully come back to continue the conversations. Plus, disqus automatically includes your url so that I can come visit you!

 Are you a loyal commenter or habitual lurker (I'm shamefully raising my hand on the second one)? Don't forget--comment on this post (use one of the tips above or just tell me your favorite animal) + I'll come visit your blog! 

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