Be A Sponge

The twenties are all about transition. If I could give my teenage self some advice, I’d tell her to be ready for some big change in the decade ahead. From college, new cities, new jobs, travel and new friends, I have come to understand that the uncertainty of the twenties is not something to fear, but rather something to embrace.

Last year, I lived in Minnesota while I was working at a magazine there. I had one friend, my roommate and childhood best friend. Other than that, I knew no one. It was all new to me. It was out of my comfort zone. It was hard. After my temp job at the magazine job ended, I faced more uncertainty, the question of whether I should return home or embark on a new journey in another new city. I chose the first option, and returning home was probably just as hard, if not harder, than leaving for a new city.

teacher3

I didn’t have a set plan. Things weren’t going exactly how I imagined they would in my post grad years. I was being forced to remain flexible, and as a very type A person, this was not something I readily embraced. I came home under the mindset that this would be a short few months of transition. My idea was that I would save up, build my writing portfolio and get ready for whatever was next! I remember telling myself that I would solely focus on work and my next step and not on people. I would purposely avoid connecting with old friends and making new ones.

You see, I did not want to start putting down roots and building connections in a city that I knew I wouldn’t be in forever. The truth is that I was afraid. I was afraid of building friendships and connections with people and then having to leave again. In my 23 years of life, I have lived in four different states. I would be lying if I were to say it hasn’t been hard saying goodbye to people, not knowing when you will see them again. I did not want to have to do that again. I did not want to connect with people and invest myself, only to have to cut ties after a short while. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was doing myself a great disservice.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Regard everything that happens to you on your journey as a clue, and accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher.” Elizabeth Gilbert

Here’s the thing: Change is going to happen. You are going to be hit with curve balls, especially in your twenties. Don’t allow fear to stop you from learning from and connecting with all the beautiful people and experiences available to you. I have been back home for almost a year now, and what a year has it been! I have made so many new friends and connected with old ones. I have found mentors and gotten advice from old colleagues and teachers. I am so grateful for the time that I’ve had here. If my time to leave comes in a few months or another year, I can say that I won’t regret my time here. I grew. I learned. Most importantly, I embraced people and allowed them to embrace me.

Wherever you are, it is so important to soak in every opportunity, experience and person that comes your way. Time is valuable. It is also limited. Don’t hold back out of fear. Don’t be so focused on your next step that you forget to enjoy today. My time home has helped me grow as much as my times away from home in college and after graduation. The people I have invested in have also invested in me. They have helped me grow.

Had I stuck to my plan of avoiding people and only focusing on my job hunt, I would have missed out on so many opportunities. I was reminded of this last night, as I sat over dinner with a friend who is moving back home to San Antonio this week. I have probably only known this person for 6 months or so, but he has definitely left a positive impact on my life. I wouldn’t change having met him or learning from him simply because he is leaving. I appreciate the time I have had with him, and if anything, I see him as a teacher.

IMG_20140718_224710A goodbye to a good friend

I want to see everyone who comes into my life that way. I want to ask myself, “What has this person come to teach me?” I want to be a sponge, who is always learning, growing, changing and becoming better. You cannot grow if you are fearful. Fear will only impede your growth and hold you back. Embrace your now and embrace all the beautiful people who are a part it. They have come to teach you something.

-Stephkt

Hope for a Bad Day

hopeful
Do you ever have days that are just terrible?! Days that are so awful, you can’t even find the words. I had a day like this just last week. I got my first speeding ticket. Then, I was late to work and ended up having to stay late to finish up some work. On top of that, I had six mosquito bites. Count ‘em! Six! I don’t know about you, but when I get bit by mosquitoes, my skin gets really red and the bites get so huge, it looks like I have a skin eating virus, only heard of in foreign countries. To add fire to the flame, a coworker and I seemed to be butting heads. All in all, it was a day I’d like to forget.

My bad day could have been a lot worse. That’s the thing about bad days, they can always be worse. As I was sitting in my car on the side of the highway waiting for the officer to write my ticket, for some strange reason I wasn’t freaking out. Even when I showed up to work, I was surprisingly calm. Before I clocked in, I said a quick prayer, calmed my anxieties and remembered that a bad day is not the end of the world.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Take a deep breath, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

It wasn’t some magical moment. My bad day wasn’t erased, but I could feel my anxiety and worry starting to lift. The problems were all still there. The $150 ticket was still in my purse. The tension between my coworker and I was still there. The mosquito bites were still burning (badly, might I add). The work for the day was still piling up, but I had peace.

Here’s the thing about life: There will be good days and bad days. There will be moments when we succeed and moments when we fail. There will be victories and setbacks. There will be laughter and mourning. My faith gives me so much hope for the bad days. Through it all, I understand that peace of mind is something I can choose to have or choose to give away. I can always choose to hope. Even in a hurricane. Even in loss. Even in suffering. Even in death. Even on my worst day.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

I was quite surprised that I was able to handle my day without any tears or breakdowns. No bad words were said either! So when bad  things happen to me or when I mess up, I have learned and am still learning to choose to hope. Whatever it is, whatever comes my way, I can always choose peace. I am not gonna lie, of course I do not want to pay a $150 ticket! However, when I prayed that prayer at work and chose to no longer dwell on everything going wrong, I was resetting my focus, I was taking my eyes off all the bad around me and choosing to fix my eyes on the good.

Maybe you are having a bad day, week, month or even year. Maybe your bad day is a lot worse than a speeding ticket and being late to work. You might be dealing with an illness, the loss of a loved one, or a broken heart. Whatever you are walking through today, know this: There is always hope. You can choose to hope. While you cannot always choose the hand you are dealt in life, you can choose how you will respond. Choose to hope even on a bad day.

-Stephkt

The Long Way Home

adventureHave you ever just gotten in your car and just gone? No particular destination in mind, but just went? That’s what my best friend and I did this past weekend and can I just say it was some of the most fun I have had in a long time!

One thing on my bucket list is to travel to all 50 states. When I say travel, I mean actually do something in each state, rather than just passing through. While I am living in Oklahoma I figure it is important that I get a chance to go to all its bordering states.

This past weekend’s destination: Arkansas. I know what you are thinking, “Arkansas?!?” Yes, you read right. We went to Arkansas, the natural state. I was happy to find that Arkansas has a lot of untapped beauty. From the mountains and the big blue skies and the serene rivers, Arkansas provided a beautiful backdrop for our road trip.

We traveled to the Ozark Mountains and Eureka Springs and boy, did it not disappoint. There was horse back riding, mini golf, a couple of wineries, caves, and we even got to see a couple of people skydive! The mountains were beautiful. The trip was full of laughter, singing along to some of our favorite European artists (Great Britain seemed to be our theme for some reason) and lots of crazy driving (that was my fault).

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Take the long way home.”

 As we were driving up the steep curves of the Ozark Mountains, I turned to my friend and said, “Are moments like these amazing?! There’s so many beautiful things to see and do. Someday we won’t be able to do this, just pack our bags and go! I want to enjoy it while I can.” She nodded her headed in agreement and smiled.

Life is short. Sorry to tell it like it is, but this life is here today and gone tomorrow. I want to live to the fullest. I want a life full of random road trips with my best friend and traveling to places I have never been or heard of. I want to go to countries where I don’t speak the language. I want to do things that push me and force me to step outside of my comfort zone. I don’t want to just exist. I want to live and live well.

It seems like in our twenties, we are always looking for balance in this new season of life. We look for stability in career and relationship. We are looking for our new normal.  While finding that is good and dandy, I think we should be careful in settling for just normal. I don’t know about you, but normal isn’t good enough for me. I want adventure! I will have time for normal when I am married and a mom someday, and even then I want to find the fun in that season. The twenties should be about stepping outside of the box and doing things that you weren’t able to do in adolescence and that you probably won’t want to do when you’re older. It should be about challenging yourself to do more than you ever thought possible.

Color outside the lines a little. You can do that. And by all means, when you are on a journey, remember to take the long way home. Seek adventure and you will find it. Guaranteed, you will have some great stories to tell your grandkids someday!

Here are some photos from the trip!

OzarkMountains IMG_6195 IMG_6070 IMG_4790-Stephkt