Begin Again

Begin-again

“Blood shot eyes, bruised knees, sweaty forehead, she wipes her brow and presses on. Past the obstacles. Past the hurts. Past the failed relationships and friendships. Past her own mistakes. She dusts herself off and decides to keep going.”

My life has looked a lot like this lately. A lot of having to choose whether or not I will press onward or allow the circumstances around me, in this current (temporary) season to define me and my future. Life has required a lot of, as so eloquently put in Taylor Swift’s hit song, shaking it off. (Sorry, TSwift will be referenced again in this post but there’s a purpose, so keep reading.)

Life is like that sometimes– rough. Just plain, old hard. There’s no pretty or eloquent way to word it. Life can be hard sometimes and I think in your twenties you are rudely awakened to this harsh reality, on a weekly if not daily basis. To be honest, a lot of things, including blogging have been difficult lately. Because when life is rough, it is almost innate for me to want to run away or crawl in a ball in the corner where no one can see me. Continuing to write through what has been one of the hardest years of my personal and professional life, has felt nearly impossible.

But here’s what I have been realizing, it’s the hard stuff that makes us strong, wise, better. Like gold being refined in fire or a diamond being cut, drilled and polished, sometimes to get where you are going and to see the end result, you’ve got to go through hard things. I think the trick is whether or not you allow the things you go through to define you. Whether it’s financial woes, work stress, a heartbreak, a loss of a loved one, an illness, whatever unexpected turn life has taken for you, it is your decision whether or not that thing defines who you are and who you will become.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

Baby steps they may be, but baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Here’s my advice and one word to keep in mind through hard seasons: RESET. According to Webster, reset means to set again or to adjust or change the reading. I want to challenge all my fellow twenty somethings reading this, that when life is crappy, reset. Hit reset in your mind. Begin again.

So you lost your job or that friendship fell out or that guy broke your heart….allow yourself to feel how you feel. Be angry. Be sad. Be disappointed. Be real about it, but don’t stay there. Take some time to yourself, gather your thoughts, reevaluate and take from it what you can. Learn. Then, begin again. Dust yourself off and begin putting one foot in front of the other. Baby steps they may be, but baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

One last thing before you go, here’s an awesome video of encouragement along the lines of beginning again by none other than Taylor Swift. Enjoy!

-Stephkt

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Hold On to Let Go

LettingGo

If you’ve listened to the radio the last few months, you might guess that the title for today’s blog comes from the Top 40 hit, Lean On (by Major Lazer and DJ Snake). The song, with an eclectic mix of reggae, pop and electric, repeats the line “We would only hold on to let go.” This message has been etched into my head: That sometimes, even though all we want is security, the best thing we can do is hold on to the idea of letting go.

In the last few months, I have seen a lot of change in my life. From moving out of my parents’ home, to watching my closest friendship grow apart, to dating a guy to back to being single, change has been happening all around me.There have been a number of days where I wanted to stay in bed with the pillows over my head (and let’s be honest, I definitely had those days).

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you try to hold on to everything from seasons past, you’ll never see the beauty of today.”

Change will do that to the best of us. It’ll leave you scared, cringing in pain or running frantically in the opposite direction. I think what I have been realizing is that change, although painful at times, is necessary. If I try to hold on to everything and everyone from seasons past, I’ll never see the beauty of now, of today, of this moment. Everything and everyone isn’t meant to travel along with us into our futures. Although painful at times, letting go is a necessary part of life.

My godmom gave me a pep talk a few weeks ago, and she told me, “Stephanie, if someone is for you, they will be a part of your life.” What a relief that was to hear. I won’t have to beg, plead, force or finagle a person or a thing into my life. If it is meant to be, it will be. Sometimes you just have to let go. Whether it means forgiving someone, quitting a job, moving away, sometimes letting go takes more strength than holding on.

So for all my twenty something readers, maybe there are things that you can let go of. As fall steadily approaches and the new school year begins for so many, it may just be the perfect time to let go of something or someone. As you let go and release whatever you’ve been holding on to, it’ll be amazing to see what new things you make room for: adventure, growth, love, independence. The ball is in your court. Here’s to letting go!

-Stephkt

Fork in the Road

Everywhere I look lately, it seems that change is all I see. A close friend is getting married and looking at buying her first home. Other people I know are leaving jobs and transitioning into new ones. Some friends are recent college graduates and are in the midst of figuring out their next steps out into the real world.

forkintheroad2

Change. Sometimes the word change rings with a sweet resound and sometimes it reverberates with echoes of panic. The one thing that is constant in life is change.

If there were an ongoing theme for the twenties, then it’d be change. Every corner, every new season, every turned page, every fork in the road, a change is inevitable. I am learning to embrace it. Though scary at times, I am learning to embrace the change as it comes.

I recently moved into my own apartment and helped my parents move out of the house they have lived in for 9 years. The transition was weird and slightly difficult, but I believe it was well worth it. My parents’ apartment is much smaller than their house, but I know they are happier there and things are easier on them. I really like my apartment too! The change has been weird but good.

Change can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be bad. I think it’s all about perspective. Change is necessary for growth. It also helps heal a broken heart, rekindle old dreams, bring new perspective. The possibilities are endless. You have to embrace the change to see all the beauty that it can bring.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi Berra

Throughout your entire life, especially in your twenties, change will be present. I would encourage you to not fight it or run from it but to welcome it with open arms. Change can be a beautiful thing.

-Stephkt

Right Now

Change

Change. That’s what my life has looked a lot like lately. Everywhere I turn, all I see is change and to be honest I haven’t always dealt with it the best.There’s been so much change lately I haven’t written in a month! That’s nuts!

Earlier this month, my parents left the house we have lived at for the last 9 years. I am crashing at a friend’s apartment for the next few months. My closest friendship ended recently. I am looking at moving out of state in a few months to pursue my writing career. Change.

The twenties are all about change. Around every corner, every turn, every side road, it seems there is a change awaiting. How do you keep your head together during the change? How do you manage to keep your footing when the ground beneath your seems to be shaking? When the life you’ve known for so long seems to be coming undone, what do you hold on to?

I cannot pretend that I have all the answers to this. As I am still very much figuring out the tumultuous twenties, I think I am starting to realize the best way to handle change is to focus on right now. Instead of worrying about what will happen or being afraid of letting go of what used to be, focus on now. Enjoy now because right now is all we’ve got.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“We’ll never be as young as we are right now. We’ll never see the world like we do right now. So take in what’s around you. Take a shot. Give it all you’ve got.”

Don’t get stuck looking back at what was. If you’re always looking forward or always looking back, how can you enjoy right now? Take in what’s around you. Let go a little. Enjoy the ride you are on now. You can navigate the change just ahead.

-Stephkt

The Beauty and Burden

Remember when you were in middle school and went through that phase of crazy hair, braces and acne? In the grand scheme of your life, the twenties look a lot like those years when you were growing out of childhood and slowly emerging to the world through the grit and grim of puberty.

THE TWENTIES, a.k.a. the awkward years

growingpains2

Maybe a little elaboration will help you see my point. The twenties is the time when you are becoming an actual adult. You know like…..pay your own bills, buy groceries and cook meals all on your own. The first few years of this decade of your life are most likely spent in college, where you are not quite an adult, still living off the perks of financial support from parents. Then, you graduate and are thrown out into the real world to fend for yourself. You struggle to swim on your own for awhile, but eventually you find a way to keep your head above the water. Career, dating, relationships, friends, family, locale…..everything is constantly changing and the ball is in your court. Decisions are yours to make and you’re constantly having to learn how to deal best with the hand you have been dealt.

The twenties can be described best in two words: disastrously delightful.

The dichotomy of the two words are perfect for what comprises the twenties: a lot of mistakes made, unforgettable experiences, lessons learned, new opportunities, broken hearts, beautiful places, uncomfortable changes, interesting people, and growth. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly. That’s what the twenties are all about.

The other day I caught myself wishing for what’s next, a more certain season, where I had it together more often, made more money, was more established, lived in a city that I loved and the list goes on and on. I was wishing for a different season when life was easier. I quickly realized that the twenties, although not perfect, has a beauty of it’s own. In the midst of all it’s ups and downs, all the pitfalls, all the cuts and bruises, the twenties brings a lot of good too. If anything, it brings growth.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.”  Shauna Niequist

Every season will have it’s beauty and burden attached to it. It would be a shame to miss out on all the beauty that the time in your twenties has to offer just because it doesn’t look like what you thought it would. I’d much rather look back on these years of my life and remember making the most of them, rather than being stressed out over bills, worried about my dating life and always waiting on what’s next for my career.

So you’re in your twenties and it gets pretty awkward at times. Welcome to a wonderful season of growth and growing pains. There’s beauty here, only if you’d open you’re eyes to see it.

– 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