Lessons Learned from Cinderella

cinderella

“Be kind, and have courage.”

Last month, Cinderella captivated the hearts and minds of moviegoers across the country. A bestseller in the box office, Cinderella proved that the goodness and purity of heart seen in age old fairytales never go out of style. I walked out of the theater feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I felt motivated to face the giants in my own life, to keep trying when circumstances around me seem bleak, and to hold onto my smile even when life doesn’t play fair.

Ella, the main character, is born into a seemingly picture perfect life. The safe haven of her home is held up by the pillars of love, consistency and safety that her mom and dad provide, but Ella’s world is shaken when an unexpected illness suddenly takes the life of her mother. On her death bed, her mother gives her a last bit of wisdom, words that will stick with Ella the rest of her life and drive the plot of the movie: “A great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer…..Be kind, and have courage.”

So simple and concise, yet powerful: Be kind, and have courage. Ella did not know it at the time, but these words would carry her through some of the most trying times of her life, her father’s marriage to a gold digging woman, the death of her father, and the mental and emotional abuse of her stepmother and stepsisters.  In the end, Cinderella is able to rise above the circumstances surrounding her because of the faith she chooses to hold onto.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be kind, and have courage.”

I know it sounds silly and super simplistic, but today’s advice for us twentysomethings is based on a fairytale. Fairytales, after all, do have important lessons we can all use some reminding of. The decade known as the twenties is full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows. We make a lot of mistakes and go through a lot of challenges during this period of our lives, but I believe if we can learn to get back up as much as we are knocked down, we would master the art of life. Because that is what life is all about: getting back up!

What does it take to get back up after a rough season of your life? Courage. What does it take to not grow angry, bitter or hardened? Kindness. What does it take to hold onto the childlike awe and wonder of the kid in you that used to believe in the magic of fairytales? Courage. What does it take to forgive when people treat you in an unfair manner or when the hand dealt to you isn’t fair? Kindness.

So have  courage and be kind. It will see you through a lot of the troubles that your twenties and life, in general, will bring your way. Be encouraged!

-Stephkt

Advertisements

Staying Consistent Even When it Sucks

Consistency. I have been pretty bad about this lately. With this blog, with my work ethic, with keeping a positive attitude, with pretty much just about everything. What’s the phrase that Dory from Finding Nemo made so famous? Oh, yes. “Just keep swimming.” Well, that is what I am here to tell you and to remind myself, as well. Keep swimming.

A few synonyms for consistency are: regularity, constancy, routine, recurrence, steadiness, invariability, clockwork, predictability. In what areas of your life can you stay constant? Is there something important that you have slacked on in your routine? Is there a commitment or an area that you chose to make a priority where you no longer have kept constancy?

One thing you hear thirty somethings say a lot is that the twenties are more about the baby steps rather than the giant leaps. The twenties are all about the behind the scenes work rather than the big show. I don’t think I quite understood this until I walked through it.

dory

The twenties are rough! It takes a lot of work, pushing through the day to day grind, showing up every day when you often see little or no progress or promotion in sight. The twenties are anything but glamorous. Let’s be honest, the twenties sometimes just suck. More candidly, what I said to a friend lately was that “The twenties are for the birds.”

In the midst of my weariness and cynicism, I have been able to find the good in this rough patch known as the twenties: the growing. While I sometimes hate it and find it rather uncomfortable. the twenties are a painfully, beautiful moment in time where you have the chance to blossom. It is said that by the time a person is 18 years old, their major ways of thinking and viewing the world have been developed. The twenties, then, must be a time for picking out those thought processes, habits, and ways of doing things and evaluating them. The twenties must be the time in between, not only where you get older, but when you choose to mature.

So stay consistent. Right where you are. In that job. In that relationship. In that position. Stay faithful and when the going gets rough and you want to quit (because you will), just remember little Dory singing, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Because it’s in the consistency and the faithfulness that you grow and mature. It’s there that you become a better you.

– Stephkt

The Longest Winter

winter

Peaking out from my window, all I see is white. Layers and layers of white. As a fresh layer of powder covers the remnants of yesterday’s snowfall, all I can think to myself is whether or not the snow will ever end. The groundhog must have seen it’s shadow. Either that, or this must be the longest winter known to mankind.

Life can get to feeling like that sometimes, too. When the sun doesn’t seem to come out for days or months in your corner of the world, and the winter season just doesn’t seem to pass. When you’re in a place, where you are desperate to see the first sign of life and growth, but all you see is frozen, dead and infertile land.

The twenties are full of winter seasons. When you’ve worked so hard and tried and done everything you know to do, yet and still, NOTHING seems to be happening in one area of your life or another.  There’s no bud that shows promise for something new, for growth, for change. It can feel like winter will never pass.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“This too shall pass.”

Here’s the foolproof, 100% guaranteed, sure thing about seasons: they end. Winter will end. And if you are in what seems like an impossible season of your life right now, it will end. Sunny days are in your future forecast.

Saying all this to say: Keep going! Keep going! Keep going! Don’t stop. I’m not sure what area of your life you may be in a winter season in, whether it be career, dating or family/friend relationships, but I want to encourage you to keep trying. If you have a dream or a goal that you are working toward and the journey to getting there has seemed nearly impossible, keep going. Keep putting in the work. Keep staying faithful. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You know the cool thing that comes with winter? Snow days. Snow days are great for quiet. So if you are in a winter season of your life right now, maybe it’s time to reframe your perspective on what this time of your life is all about. Maybe you’re in need of a little rest and relaxation, and for that matter recuperation. I know, as twentysomethings, we want nothing more than to go, go, go! But sometimes in life there are quiet seasons. And that’s okay.

Don’t be discourage by the snow falling outside. Breathe. Take it in. Take this time for what it is: a time to rest. But keep believing that a time will come when the sun breaks through the clouds, the snow melts and the winter season ends. Give it time. You’ll be ready to bloom in no time.

– Stephkt

2014: Leave it to the Breeze

hopefulI was sitting with a friend for coffee a few weeks ago (because, of course, that is what twenty something year olds do in their free time). Amidst all the holiday jitters of upcoming travel, seeing family and friends, gifts to be bought and things to get done, we started reflecting about this past year.

2014, oh what a year it has been! Full of adventures, new things, new people and many, many lessons learned. As my friend and I sat over our chai, taking in all of 2014 for what it’s been, we started talking about what we’ve learned.

The biggest lesson this year has taught me is to let things go. Whether it be friendships that just no longer fit anymore, past relationships, career struggles, mistakes made or even my pride, I have learned and am still learning the power of the statement, “Let it go!”

Feel free to bust into the Disney anthem at any point in time while reading this. Let it go. How poignantly simple those words are! Let it go. Yet and still, it is not always the easiest thing to do. Let it go. Something about the human brain (at least mine I know for sure), but it likes to hold onto things and people.Let it go. It is something this past year has taught me again and again. Let it go. I can look back on this last year with a smile, knowing that I have learned to let go.

Twenty Something (Advice for Anybody):

There is beauty in knowing when to hold on, just as there is freedom in knowing when to set something free and leave it to the breeze.

Looking over my resolutions from January, I can certainly say that 2014 did not go exactly as I planned. I’ve seen friendships come and go, my career plans get put on pause, and some unexpected surprises, like my brother moving in with me for six months. But that’s life folks! It doesn’t always go as planned. It rarely ever does.

In the midst of all the chaos and the ebbs and flows, there has been so much good. Let’s not forget the good. Here’s some of my 2014 highs: I got to travel to Europe for the first time and survived a 12 hour flight! I ziplined, sampled wines, and traveled to four new states. While I may have lost friendships and had to learn to let some people go, I also gained a close friendship with an old friend, who I am so grateful for! A true friend is worth their weight in gold! I’ve gotten to do more work in the magazine industry from freelancing, to helping out at photoshoots and writing/editing.

It’s been a good year. As we step into the new year, I hope you too can look back on all the good 2014 brought you. For the more painful parts of your 2014, I hope you can take lessons from mistakes made and learn to let go. Holding onto old things just weighs you down. Trust me, I know! Don’t carry that weight in to 2015. Learn to let things go. Show yourself some grace and leave it to the breeze. You’ll be glad you did!

P.S. If you are tired of hearing the overplayed version of Let it Go from Frozen, then try out James Bay’s Let It Go. You can thank me later!

Happy New Year!

-Stephkt

Color Outside the Lines

colorpencils

Crash and burns, falling outs, mishaps, mistakes, failures…..

The twenties are  full of them. If this decade could be nicknamed anything, then I’d name it trial and error. You think when you are a kid that by your twenties you’ll have everything figured out. WRONG!!! So miserably, terribly and wholeheartedly wrong.

In your twenties (and for a matter of fact, every chapter of your life), you are bound to fail at something. Maybe you got that degree but didn’t land your dream job right after college. Or maybe you never finished college. Maybe your love life is a mess and that relationship you thought would be always and forever suddenly ended. Maybe you had to unexpectedly move back in with mom and dad. Maybe you set a personal goal for your twenties that you failed to reach. Maybe you dropped the ball and have more mess ups than you can count. If so, welcome to your twenties.

Here’s what I’ve been learning: Mistakes are bound to happen, but whether or not you rebound from them, that is up to you.

Thinking about my own mishaps and blunders in the first half of my twenties, sometimes I cringe from embarrassment and other times from pure horror. But then I stop and think, maybe there are lessons to be learned from them. Maybe these mistakes are all a part of a masterful painting called my life, where the mishaps blend so gracefully into the strokes that make the masterpiece.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
“No one ever discovered anything new by coloring inside the lines.”

Thomas Vasquez

Something else I’ve been learning: Don’t last your past failures stop you. Whether your mistakes pertain to career, relationships, or personal goals, don’t let them stop you. The twenties are all about learning. So keep learning. Keep trying. Keep going. Keep making mistakes and keep learning from them. That, my friend, is what we call progress. Otherwise, you will just be living in fear.

Writing this blog every week for me is a constant “putting my foot in front of the other” thing. In the early days, there were definitely a number of posts that weren’t so good and that I would deem as mistakes. Sometimes I wonder if people are even reading. What if no one cares what I have to say? But I write anyway. It’s an act of faith, to keep trying and doing something I am passionate about despite any shortcomings thus far.

Forward motion. Growth. That is probably the best thing we can ask for in our twenties. So you had your heart broken once upon a time. Say yes to that date anyway. Ask that girl out for coffee anyway. Didn’t get the job you imagined? Get some more experience and apply again. Or better yet, apply to another position you are just as passionate about and qualified for. To be great, you must first dare to make mistakes and blunders.

I am sure Picasso colored outside the lines a few times as a kid before he ever mastered his art. Do the same. Make mistakes and learn. Try again.

-Stephkt

Coming of Age Revelations

My brother moved out this week. Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at noon to be exact. Not that I was counting the days or the hours or anything.

To give you a little more back story, my brother is three years older than me. I am 24 and he is 27. We both had officially left the nest and then unofficially moved back in. After college, I moved north for a magazine internship. My brother is, by my definition, the modern day version of the Temptations’ hit song Papa Was a Rolling Stone. My brother does music and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue that dream several years ago.

A little life, a little stumbling and a lot of growing pains, we both ended up living back at our parents’ home AT THE SAME TIME, for five whole months. Any little sister in the world out there can understand my sentiments…five months of living with my older brother. To be painstakingly honest, I wasn’t ecstatic when I found out the living situation.

childhooddreams

Back when my brother and I didn’t mind being roomies

I love my brother. Don’t get me wrong, but the idea of living with the twenty something year old version of him is horrifying. My brother is messy and loud and messy…..really messy. Did I say messy? We are two very different people, two people who should not be roommates. He is in his twenties now, a man by most’s definition. So when he has girls over to the house (like most twenty something year old men do), I really have to keep my mouth shut, regardless of the ungodly hour it may be. Regardless of how uncomfortable it may be and that it requires me to wear real clothes when walking around the house, I have to accept that this is what comes with living with my brother.

Again, I repeat, I love my brother. But the last five months have shown me this: When you grow up, you change and some things you just can’t go back to, and me and my brother living under the same roof is definitely one. That’s the thing about growing up, you are becoming more of who you are on your journey. Along the way, you might find that those old pair of shoes you used to wear for the road (i.e. old ways of thinking, old friends, old habits) just doesn’t quite fit the same anymore. And that’s perfectly okay. We are all changing and growing in our twenties. It’s best to not try to hold onto what used to be but to keep embracing the change.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing.” Jarod Kintz

Here are some other coming of age revelations that I have had as of late. Hopefully, you will find some that you can relate to or at least that make you laugh:

1- Telling the police officer that the reason you were speeding was because you were really into the song playing doesn’t get you out of a ticket

2- If you don’t do your laundry, pay your bills, clean the dishes, and bathe yourself…..it won’t get done. Period. (Mom isn’t there to save the day.)

3- There’s no such thing as too much savings.

4-  Spending your hard earned money doesn’t get easier. It used to be so much more fun when it wasn’t yours.

5- Some friends who were there for your club, partying, dancing college days won’t be with you for the long haul. And that is a good thing.

6- The “real world” can still be fun if you are determined to make it that way. Just be sure to take lots of naps!

7- If you have a dream, you and only you can make it happen. So don’t give up on it. Fairytales are not just for the Disney movies.

8- No matter how old you get, you will atleast always be a child in your parents’ eyes (but not, I repeat not, in a federal court of law)

9- Dating is so much simpler in elementary, where all you did was check yes or no on a little note passed to you in class.

10- Change is inevitable. So learn to embrace it.

-Stephkt

I Stole A Dress!

Okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but kind of.

Here’s the story: So my summer in New York, myself and another intern came up with a project for all the interns. We wanted to put together an online blog where we got to tell our experience to readers. Great idea! Even better, the editors liked it! We were set to go. We rounded up all the interns in the office, got their stories, edited them and met with the online team (very grown up, if I do say so myself).

Last, but certainly not least, it was photo time. We needed images of ourselves to go along with our project. I ransacked my closet looking for the perfect outfit. A girl needs to look good, right? Well, out of the 50 or so dresses I own, I couldn’t find anything to wear. I wanted to look mature in my New York state of mind. After all, thousands of online readers were going to see this, but more importantly, people back home would see it. When I say “people back home,” I mean person back home. A guy. There was a guy back in Oklahoma still pulling on my 20-year-old heart strings and I needed to catch his attention.

Well, what caught my attention was a red dress that one of my roommates had bought several weeks before. We all agreed, as an apartment, how great she looked in it. I had in my mind that if I was to win this guy back, I had to look killer in this online photo. Not only did I need to look great, I needed THAT dress.

reddress

So I asked. I knew the dress was new so she might be a little hesitant, but she had worn it already, once or twice. Maybe she’d throw me a bone. Also, out of the four of the roommates, I was the second most responsible, after her. We let each other borrow things. We exchanged flat irons and shoes from time to time. This was my thought process as to why it would be okay to borrow the dress.

Imagine my disappointment, when I asked my roommate and she hesitated. Let’s be honest, it was basically a no, but I only heard “I’m not really sure about that.” I think I may have said, I’ll check again with you in the morning and see how you feel. Well, the next morning came, and my roommate wasn’t awake when it was time for me to leave. I waited to ask her, but I had to go (or I may have left early to miss her). So I took the dress and brought an extra change of clothes. Fast forward about 30 minutes later, my roommate was awake and was fully aware of the missing dress.

roommatedramaAs I sat at my desk, reading her reprimanding messages, I felt so guilty. I wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere. I apologized profusely and told her I would go change right away. What had brought me to this? Why had I twisted a series of events in my head to tell myself that something that was clearly wrong was right? I felt terrible.

I brought the dress home later and was so embarrassed that I couldn’t say anything to her. After a few days of awkward silence, when the tension had reached its peak, she eventually confronted me about it. In my embarrassment, I listened, shook my head and agreed with her as she said “I don’t want this to turn into a bigger deal than it needs to be.”

Fast forward two years later, I am glad to say that I have matured since then. In summer 2011, I wasn’t able to be honest about my real motives. I had convinced myself that I really liked the dress and just wanted to look nice. The truth is, I took it to impress a guy. Lesson learned: Never work so hard to impress someone else that you end up doing something outside of your character.

roomiesroomies! My roommates and I pre-Dress Debacle 2011

My old roommate and I still talk from time to time via text, but I cannot say that the friendship is exactly the same. Every time we do talk, in the back of my head, I am thinking, “She hates me! She thinks I am the worst person alive!!” I just recently came to the realization as to why I really took the dress and was able to own my insecurities. I randomly decided to share my “Oprah aha moment” with my old roommate in a text message a few weeks ago. Another lesson learned: Bringing up old wounds (especially for which you have already apologized) probably isn’t the best idea. It’s okay to stop apologizing.

Here’s also what I learned: It is possible that my roommate may never forgive me. It is very possible that my reputation and character in her eyes is forever a little tarnished. I get it. Yes, I screwed up. I made a mistake. I chose to do something that was wrong, knowing that it was wrong and did it anyway. I disregarded someone’s property and boundaries. I messed up. But am I terrible person? No.

While my roommate may have long been over the dress debacle of 2011 and me bringing it up two years later was awkward, I have held onto it all this time. I now know that there is something more important than getting people to forgive me and that is learning to forgive myself.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou

I am 22 years old. I have made a lot of dumb choices, and the truth is, I am probably going to make a few more in this lifetime. No matter how embarrassing, awkward and messy they may be, mistakes are necessary to help us learn. The dress debacle of 2011 was a wake up call. 20-year-old Stephanie had some growing to do. I needed to get to the root of why I was chasing some guy and so eager for his attention that I would hurt a friend. Here’s my truth: I took someone’s dress to impress a guy. Here’s the catch: HE PROBABLY NEVER SAW THE PICTURE! (Joke is on me!) And even if he did, it wasn’t worth it.

I messed up. I own that and, as I type these words, I am laughing at my bad choice and cringing with embarrassment. We all make mistakes. The only way to grow is to face them head on. Own your mistakes, every last ounce of them. Say, “Yes, I did that. I made that bad choice. I hurt that person. I told a lie.” Then, you can start digging a little deeper as to why you made that choice in the first place. You will find that the answer isn’t because you’re a dumb or bad person.

Don’t walk around for two years, carrying the shame of a bad choice. We’ve all been there. Show yourself a little forgiveness and grace. After you have messed up, realized your mistake and said your most sincere apologies to those involved, forgive yourself. Stop apologizing. Move forward. And now that you know better, do better.

P.S. Apparently, taking someone else’s clothes to impress a guy isn’t new. Watch this clip from one of my favorite shows: The Cosby Show.

-Stephkt