Expectations

Hello! I’m happy to report that I have survived the busiest months ever! Somehow, the end of June into beginning of August was when All The Things™ happened, and big part of making sure I survived was prioritizing the small amount of free time I had to take care of myself. This meant not feeling bad about falling behind on an arbitrary blog schedule I created for myself. I definitely stand by the fact that even though I’ve had all these ideas of stuff to write, I decided to get some sleep instead.

So what have I been up to these last two months? Well, after wrapping up a successful pride month, there were birthdays to celebrate, concerts to dance at, a four day work conference to prepare for and attend, and I moved out for the very first time.

Like I said. ALL. THE. THINGS.

But for real, being busy is my favorite, so being busy with all these incredible events in my life made for such an exciting way to spend my summer. And the fact that my yearly family vacation on the beach fell exactly at the end of my busy months didn’t hurt, either. It made the reward that much sweeter.

It’s sort of been a little too perfect. Spending time and energy on projects I was excited about, practicing self care to handle my busy schedule, and then getting to relax and refresh on the beach for a week. It’s left me feeling completely recharged and motivated. Sort of like New Year’s. Plus, when I realized that I moved into a new apartment at the very middle of the year – the beginning of July – it was a perfect opportunity to hit a reset button. On my resolutions, intentions, and general plans for working toward my goals.

So what now?

As an overly enthusiastic and creative person, it’s tough to navigate all of the ideas and aspirations I have for myself. I get so amped about a project I want to start, and then I have 10 other projects I want to work on, and then I get so overwhelmed that I don’t choose anything and instead just watch Netflix.

I see so much stuff online discussing what to do when you’re lacking motivation and want to get started on something. Or how to keep the momentum going once you’ve found it. But what about when you have the drive but aren’t sure where to direct it?

As I will tell anyone who will listen, Leslie Knope and I are undeniably the same person. There’s a particular quote that comes to mind when I think about our similar levels of enthusiasm, motivation, and stamina:

“I’m going to work until I’m 100, then cut back to four days a week. I’m already bored thinking about that fifth day. Oh, well, maybe I’ll go to law school!”

Right, so that’s how I feel most of the time. When I have a day off, if I’m not crossing something off my to-do list, I feel unproductive. Sure, I’ll take some time at the end of a busy work day to hang out with friends or watch YouTube videos and eat some ice cream. But there’s always this lingering judgement in back of my mind that is trying to convince me to step it up. When was the last time I wrote something? Should I be focusing more on a side hustle? Why didn’t I go for a run before dinner? I always want to be working, improving, and feeling as fulfilled as possible. But there’s certainly a difference between being fulfilled and being completely stuffed.

There’s another quote from Parks and Rec that I’ve been considering lately that I think will serve me better than my usual Leslie Knope energy levels.

Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

Much like the goal I had set for myself to write a new blog post every month, my motivation often comes from my own personal expectations. While there is certainly a benefit of purpose that comes along with setting a goal, it’s important to remember to keep a balance. Once you start setting too many goals without the proper resources to complete them, you’ll likely end up more frustrated than satisfied. It’s absolutely important to work hard to achieve what you want, but not at the price of compromising your true and full potential.

So maybe right now, instead of using my newly renewed energy and motivation to figure out how many projects I can work on, I can pick the one I’m most excited about and see where that takes me. Maybe after a few weeks I’ll want to shift my focus onto a different project for a while. Or maybe I’ll find time to take smaller and more meaningful steps forward in the areas I can handle. While it may take more effort and discipline, I think I can stand to be a little more flexible. I can whole ass one project at a time and move on when it feels right. That way, I can feel productive and creative while still having time to watch Parks and Rec. Again.

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Speak Now

For the majority of my time as a student, I would not voluntarily speak in class. I rarely raised my hand, unless I was 100% sure of the answer and there was no chance of embarrassment. If a teacher ever called on me without warning, my very pale face would instantly flush bright red. When we were reading out loud, I would count the students ahead of me so I could practice the paragraph that I’d have to read on my turn. Anything I could do to minimize any sort of spontaneous speaking was crucial.

I was required to take a public speaking class my first year of college, which you could imagine was my version of hell. Our professor gave us a questionnaire at the beginning of the semester to gauge our comfort levels with speaking in front of people, and she said if anyone’s answers showed high enough levels of anxiety, they would be allowed to drop the class and find an alternative GE requirement. So you know I was all about bombing this questionnaire. But no luck. Turns out I had totally normal fears about public speaking, or at least that’s the lie my professor told me. Whenever we had to present and my professor asked for volunteers to go first, I couldn’t raise my hand quick enough. I was Katniss levels of desperate because I needed to get it over with as soon as possible; I couldn’t have the uncertainty of when I would be speaking looming over me for the entire class. I managed to survive the course, but there was no part of me that felt more comfortable with public speaking when that semester was over.

The following year I declared an English major, and what I didn’t know – but admittedly should have anticipated – is that meant a lot of class discussions. Cue the daily panic. It didn’t help that I had absolutely no idea how to prepare for a discussion on a book I couldn’t even follow. The language was weird and confusing and I could not figure out how anyone actually knew what was going on. I couldn’t even fake it half the time. I found myself Googling “how not to turn red from embarrassment.”

This fear of speaking wasn’t limited to school. The thought of talking on the phone was – and in a lot of ways, still is – the most stressful thing in the world. Ordering take out required a full script on my end. I avoided talking to retail workers at all costs. I didn’t go to the dining hall my entire first semester of college because I didn’t know how use my meal plan and didn’t know how to ask without sounding dumb. I never ate lunch at my first internship because I didn’t know the break policy, and once again, I was too afraid to ask. The thought of asking someone for any sort of help or clarification was crippling; I can’t even begin to guess the amount of experiences I missed out on because of this single fear.

I’ll admit that it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I started to work on making a difference. The fact that I was back in therapy and starting medication obviously had an impact on my development in these situations, but at that time, I had also changed my major to something I was actually interested in. I found myself raising my hand to share opinions with my classmates. I had a moment of epiphany when it came to asking employees questions or talking to someone on the phone: I shouldn’t feel weird about asking questions from someone whose literal job it was to help me. Which was also something I could apply to school. I needed to own the fact that I didn’t have the answers for everything.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who uses a vocabulary word or makes a reference that you don’t understand, but you let them carry on as if you did? I was the queen of this for the longest time. I thought that if I stopped to say “I don’t know what that word means,” or “I don’t know who that person is,” I would sound dumb. Notice a pattern? I eventually came to realize that not knowing and trying to continue on with the conversation probably made me sound even dumber, and obviously a lot less genuine. If you have to fake understanding, it’s a lot more work to maintain that facade than to admit you’re unsure.

Looking back on all of this now, it’s wonder I managed to get hired at jobs or get decent grades. I managed. I coasted. But I didn’t quite thrive. And to be completely honest, I don’t even know if I could pinpoint exactly what I was afraid of. Was it embarrassment, judgment, magnifying insecurities, failure? Probably all of the above.

I discovered a big part of finding my voice included listening. You would assume that listening was something I’ve done plenty of because I wasn’t speaking. But the truth is when I wasn’t speaking, I was still only listening to myself. There would be a million thoughts racing through my head, ranging from what I would say if I had the nerve, to how I could possibly recover from a potentially wrong answer. It’s true when people say that you shouldn’t care what people think about you, because odds are, they are too preoccupied about themselves.

So with the minor adjustments of owning my uncertainties and being a more active listener, I started to notice some changes. It was a slow process, but eventually, I found myself craving those moments when I could engage. By absorbing more of what was going on around me and opening myself up to the ideas and opinions of others, I got more comfortable with not only responding to people’s thoughts, but also challenging them. It was miraculous to me that my initial worry about admitting I didn’t know something had turned into a tool I could use to learn more. I was asking questions of everybody – professors and classmates, whoever was on the phone helping me schedule a doctor’s appointment, or even friends when we needed to solve a problem. Not only does asking question help you learn and communicate better, but it also takes the pressure off you to take the lead. It’s honestly a win-win.

Starting this blog over two years ago was the perfect example of taking a step toward overcoming my fears. I had wanted to start my blog for a while, but I was constantly asking myself “Would anyone read it? Will they care? Will my content be good enough to keep people interested?” Self doubt has a way of seeping into our most precious aspects in life, and it’s difficult to ignore. Even as I sit here writing this, there’s a part of me that wonders if it’s worth posting. It’s a constant practice that I encourage everyone to engage in, because without it, there’s no growth. It’s still slightly shocking to me that I’ve made so many strides in this area of my life – enough strides that I feel confident in telling others to follow my lead. I’m sure there are plenty folks out there who can relate to these fears, and it’s definitely going to take some time to work them out. At the end of the day, when it comes to finding your voice, my biggest piece of advice is this: when in doubt…accept that you’re in doubt. It’s a much easier way to find clarity.

23 Things About Being 23

Happy Birthday to me!

I often find that reflecting when my birthday comes around is just as cathartic as the new year, so of course I’d love to share it with y’all. I made a list of things that I’ve either learned, accomplished, or experienced as a 23-year old, as well as what some of my related ambitions are for the upcoming year. There are so many folks who dwell on their age, and get too concerned with what is supposed to be associated with that number and how and when those things are going to happen. But for me, every year has presented itself with new challenges and triumphs, and regardless of how old you are, there’s always room to learn more. Plus, I’m actually still a child in the grand scheme of things, so I’m looking forward to all of the years I still have to learn even more. So here we go: 23 things about being 23.

  1. You’re constantly inspired by people who are younger than you. Work as closely with them as you can. Whether that’s as a mentor, as an ally, or an involved activist, their vision of the future is certain to give you hope. Stay inspired, listen, and help however you can.
  2. You realize you need to start balancing your love/hate relationship with social media. You’ve done a great job learning to put the phone down and spend less time refreshing the same apps over and over again. Let’s keep doing that and really consider where you want to focus your energy and attention.
  3. There’s a family health scare that forces you to regroup in a lot of ways. It helps you further understand just how far you’ve come in the past few years, and that’s good. But it also gets you thinking about how nothing is permanent, which isn’t as good in the moment, but you’ll keep growing from it.
  4. You tried to start writing another book. It didn’t go well. You gave yourself a challenge to write the roughest draft possible in the month of November and it wasn’t right for you. When you’re ready, and in your own time, take a look at those pages you did manage to write and see what it inspires you to do next. Just make sure you keep writing.
  5. You turn into an actual grandma with back and hip pain. This means you can’t run, so you need to find other outlets for stress relief. It’s really, really difficult, because there are so few things that satisfy you the way running does. Still navigating this one. Stay tuned.
  6. You’re very aware when you’re the only queer person in a room. This isn’t going to go away, probably ever, but there’s definitely steps you can take to make it happen less often. Continue looking for your queer spaces.
  7. Bullet journaling has changed your life.
  8. You’re very confident in the fact that you don’t miss college like everyone said you would.
  9. You also don’t like drinking alcohol like everyone said you would. And that’s okay. It’s another part of who you are that you shouldn’t feel pressured to change.
  10. You accept that you have very strong Ravenclaw tendencies. You’re still very much a loud and proud Hufflepuff, it’s just that now you have a better understanding of what it means to have a little bit of all the house values inside you, and you’re figuring out which ones you treasure the most. But also…go badgers.
  11. You leave the East coast for the very first time. The West coast isn’t exactly your jam, but you get excited to visit again, and hope to visit even more places you’ve never been. Maybe you’ll even get to leave the country.
  12. You fall even more in love with New York, and learn that it’s going to take a lot for you to leave.
  13. Self care is more important now than it’s ever been. You’ve got a great new mantra: Resist. Recharge. Repeat. There are times when it feels impossible to get back up after getting knocked down. But you have gotten up. Every. Single. Time. Pay attention to your successes, because the fight is far from over. Don’t push yourself, but make sure you’re not standing still for too long.
  14. You meet a number of people who inspire you. For so long you’ve clung to the “don’t meet your heroes” mentality, and you’re starting to let that go in the communities you feel safest. You’ve got some great heroes. They love you. Really, they told you so. That’s pretty cool.
  15. Being an adult with an adult job suits you well. You are discovering what your strengths are, what you’re most passionate about, and you’re doing all you can to keep busy and fulfilled. If you want to keep doing all the things, that’s great. If not, that’s great, too. Either way, you’ve got plenty of time.
  16. Meditation is one of the most crucial tools you’ve collected in your life, and you get your 8th tattoo to keep yourself in check. In check with self love, self care, remaining present, working hard, and spreading kindness.
  17. You participate in your first ever protest. It’s scary and thrilling and empowering. You’re inspired to keep discovering new ways to make a dent. Don’t worry about its size – focus on its impact.
  18. You have to adjust your medication for the first time since you’ve started taking it. It’s still something you’re working on. And you’ll likely be working on it for a really long time, so try your best to be patient.
  19. You see Hedwig for the 8th and final time. It’s still your favorite show.
  20. You go to a nutritionist to figure out why you’re so damn hungry all the time. Surprise! You gotta eat more veggies. You’re never going to be the healthiest eater, but you’re becoming more mindful. And you’re still hungry. Another work in progress.
  21. You went on a first date. Not a second. And you’d really like there to be a second at some point. Sooner rather than later.
  22. You’ve started sharing more of your writing with the world and it’s definitely something you want to do more. Turns out, finding a literary agent and getting your book published isn’t the only way to do that. (But that would be really cool, too.)
  23. Resolutions are out. Intentions are in. You write them down and hang them on your wall and doodle about them in your bullet journal and remind yourself every day that you’re working with something, not for something.

Thanks to those who have joined me on my journey so far. I’m excited to see where this upcoming year takes us!

Do The Work

Of course I’m writing a “get ready for 2018” post. For those of you who didn’t already guess this was going to happen…hi, my name is Jessica, and thank you for reading my stuff for the very first time.

This past year, my main mantra was “be present”. I’m approaching the two year mark of when I first started practicing meditation, and focusing on the present is one of the main skills you are encouraged to work on in your practice. And during a year that was so unpredictable, I found it much more rewarding to devote my attention to the present moment and take things one day at a time rather than try to guess what would be happening in the future.

The first step in starting this new practice was recognizing the difference between a goal and an intention. While a goal is more likely to be something you can cross off your list, an intention is the manner in which you get these things done. Someone once described an intention to me as the compass you use on your way toward your goal. This doesn’t necessarily mean there are foolproof methods to getting where you want to be, but intentions can be reminders of how we want to show up in every moment that gets us closer to our goal, or even more simply, whenever we need some guidance.

So I made small changes over the past year to allow myself to place my mind in the present more regularly. I tried not to live through the screen of my phone to capture every moment so I could share in on my Instagram story. (Although, I often have really great Instagram stories. Do you follow me on Instagram? You should follow me on Instagram.) I didn’t completely shut out social media, but I made a conscious effort to remove any expectations from my mind and rather look at the moments of my life for what they truly were, and finding enjoyment in that. It was, and still is, a super difficult task. It’s something I’m going to be working on my entire life.

For 2018, I’m still very focused on the importance of pausing to recenter myself and experience the truth of the moment. But after the year we’ve all just endured, it’s safe to say we might not always want to accept the truth of the moment, because it’s likely to be some sort of garbage. And while you don’t necessarily need to equate being present with being happy, it sure would be great for those two things to line up, right?

So I’m shifting my focus a bit for the upcoming year. In the meditation class I took on New Year’s Eve, we took some time to contemplate the intention of discipline. This has been one of my go-to intentions when I’m frustrated about not getting something accomplished, but it has also been difficult to digest because of the harsh connotation that comes with the word discipline. There’s an association with punishment and being hard on yourself, which definitely isn’t something any of us want to do voluntarily. I’ve often tried to soften the idea of this intention by reframing it as “gentle discipline”, but more often than not, that just leads to an easier way out when facing potentially uncomfortable limits.

In class that day, our meditation instructor made an important distinction about the intention of discipline that struck me, and I had one of those great moments when things all came together like pieces of a puzzle that I didn’t even know I needed to assemble.

Discipline doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is met with discomfort. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re doing something wrong that needs to be fixed. Instead, we can consider discipline as a means to getting closer to your goal, or closer to something that makes you happy, that makes you both satisfied and accomplished. For example, not all of us may enjoy going to the gym, but when we finally get there and finish a workout, we’re likely to delight in our ability to have done the thing, despite the struggle. So rather than saying “I need to go to the gym or else I will fail at completing this goal I set for myself,” you can shift that thinking to say “I need to go to the gym because I want to feel the satisfaction of following through with my plan and come out on the other side successful. Plus, endorphins make you happy and hell yeah, I want to be happy.” It’s easier said than done, but it’s a practice. It’s an intention. It might not always work the way you want it to, but making the effort is half the battle. Some might even argue making the effort is the entire battle. I’ll leave that up to you.

Last year I saw the show Prince of Broadway, a revue that showcased the work of Broadway producer Hal Prince. (This is relevant, I promise). After sharing highlights from Prince’s career and all he has accomplished, there was a final song called “Do The Work” about reminding yourself that while there is definitely a great deal of luck associated with success, in order to get to that point, you have to – you guessed it – do the work. I still think about that song when I want to be inspired, and when presented with this new perspective on the intention of discipline, everything seemed to click together. Now if they would just release that cast recording…

So without further ado, let’s gear up for another year that is bound to be difficult and unpredictable at times. But if we do the work, perhaps we can make it something worth celebrating. I’m rooting for you.

Aim and Ignite

It’s back to school! (But not for me. Thank god.)

When I was in undergrad, so much of my time was spent stressing about what my major would be. First I tried English, making the decision based on nothing other than the fact that I enjoyed reading and writing. But I eventually came to the conclusion that literature wasn’t the right course of study for me, and instead, I wanted my time and energy to be spent on a subject that interested me, challenged me, and invigorated me. Based on my years of crossing things off my list and exploring new topics in college, I finally chose to major in Gender Studies.

There are plenty of people who don’t even know what that means. Or if they do, their first thought is likely “what do you do with that?” But I had never intended to go to college for the sole purpose of establishing my career (sorry, Mom and Dad). I was always so intimidated by my peers who knew the exact job they wanted, even though they were only 18 years old. I didn’t even know which Taylor Swift era I identified with the most – how was I supposed to know what I wanted to do for approximately the rest of my life? So instead of stressing myself out by trying to figure it out, I was simply going to learn as much as I could. And in my opinion, Gender Studies was the perfect way to do that.

Basically, Gender Studies explores the ways that gender significantly affects the different aspects of our lives. Though the premise is simple, the actual experience was one of the most challenging and rewarding I could have ever asked for. My curriculum consisted of classes in all kinds of subjects, like communications, English, politics, and even science. If you think there’s no way to consider gender in some of these subjects…that’s where the challenge of my major came in. Sure, there were a lot of times when I had to make a stretch or two to make a connection, but for the most part, I was forced to really think. I was forced to figure out new ways to think about the world around me. I was forced to think about possible answers to difficult questions. I was constantly questioning the dynamics I had been so familiar with my entire life. It was a really cool experience, and I totally encourage everyone in college to take at least one gender studies class if you can. It will challenge you in ways you never thought you even wanted to be challenged in the first place.

But despite the long rant, this isn’t me preaching that my major was the best major in the world. I don’t necessarily think everyone should study something in undergrad that simply sounds interesting and you hope will eventually turn into something more profound. But I do think it’s ultimately important to study what interests you. I think this idea of freeform thinking and exploration of difficult questions can be argued for any major you choose in college. You’re exposed to all of these new experiences in such a short period of time. It’s natural to constantly be questioning things and changing the way you view the world.

My major taught me how to think, how to appreciate and recognize my privileges, and how to always keep things interesting. But that wasn’t just because there was a magic spell put on me once I discovered the wonders of Gender Studies. It’s because I was able to fully immerse myself in the subject that was interesting to me, that I was personally invested in, and that I truly felt would help me learn what was most important to me. And after taking ownership of that, I felt like I left undergrad with the ability to make decisions for myself that I could be genuinely proud of, and truly happy about. From putting in the work and exposing myself to experiences that both scared and invigorated me, I learned to trust myself more and give in to the excitement of learning for the sake of learning. So whether you’re actually still in undergrad or you just love me enough to read all of my blog posts, I hope you can take away the inspiration of doing what drives you to be your best self. And keep learning.

(Whoa….wait….this entire post was SO Ravenclaw of me…….BRB taking a new sorting test)

Ending the Stigma on Mental Illness

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? I’m particularly inclined to share about this for two reasons. One, mental health is one of those topics that has somehow become shameful and taboo – hence the need for a month dedicated to awareness. And two, like so many others, it’s something that I personally deal with every day of my life.

Not only has the stigma around mental illness made me hesitant to blog about it before, but there’s an entire other layer that feels odd to me. As I become more familiar with the conversation surrounding mental illness, I find that people tend to associate it with being weak, needy, and attention seeking. I think some of that comes from the blurry lines that exist between clinically diagnosed mental illnesses and very strong emotions. People get anxious and people get depressed, and these feelings are completely valid no matter where they fall in the scale of intensity.

So maybe people struggle with how to react with more serious cases because measuring one’s mental health is a very personal thing. It’s usually between you and a doctor, or therapist, or both. But these diagnosis are invisible to the human eye. And there are so many invisible illnesses that people are forced to personally validate everyday because of the assumed perceptions of what it means to be ill or differently abled. And that’s why having a month to shed light on mental illness is so important for us who struggle without outward signs of pain.

A lot of the time, we don’t see visible signs of mental illness the way we do with other health problems, but it took me a long time to realize that that doesn’t mean it don’t deserve the same amount of attention. In my personal experience, it took me a long time to accept that my anxiety and depression was indeed something to be diagnosed and treated. As anybody who has ever met me knows, I am an extremely passionate person. So when I started noticing particularly heightened feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, and the like, I assumed it was all due to the fact that I very rarely experience “casual” emotions. I feel things very intensely, so I never assumed anything out of the ordinary when I would get chest pains during moments of uncertainty or lengthy periods of unhappiness after a bad day. Sure, these are symptoms that could happen to anybody – but when the triggers started becoming a little less predictable and a lot more frequent, I started wondering if there was anything I could do about it.

I am very open about my struggle with anxiety and depression, but for a while, it was hard for me to talk about. I live such a privileged life with amazing opportunities and am completely supported by incredible family and friends; for a while, all I could think about was how outsiders might not believe me when I said I had a mental illness. But then I thought about it this way: if I had a problem with my heart, or my leg, or my back, I would take medicine for it – so why wouldn’t I do the same thing for the chemical imbalances that were happening in my brain? Once that idea became clear, I decided to use it as an opportunity to speak out. I want people to know how comfortable I am with talking about my experiences with mental health because we all deserve to feel safe and comfortable about the things that make us who we are. I don’t think my mental illness defines me, but it’s definitely a big part of my life. You may not be able to see it, but plenty of people can certainly feel it, and that should be valid enough.

But remember, being comfortable with opening up takes time. If you’re struggling with figuring out your journey and aren’t sure where to go from here, hopefully one of these resources can point you on the right path ❤

Resources:

7 Cups of Tea – A website that allows you to speak anonymously with a trained active listener.

American Psychological Association – A resource for finding mental health care in your area.

Katie Morton – A licensed therapist YouTuber dedicated to discussing mental health and erasing stigma.

National Alliance on Mental Health – A resource guide for when you need help paying for medication

Revival

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for over a year! Let’s chat about then vs. now.

There were a lot of reasons I finally decided to take the plunge and publish that first post January of 2016, but in all honesty, I had no idea what this blog was going to become over time. My only thoughts were I like to write, I like to share my opinions, and I liked participating in bigger conversations. And this has definitely been the perfect outlet for me to do all three of those things. I’ve written posts about my favorite pop culture topics, commentary on social discourse, given dubious advice, and shared genuine reflections on my life as a young adult. In trying to brainstorm some new ideas for a blog post – considering it’s been well over two months since my last post, yay for consistency! – I figured it might be worth it to take a step back and reevaluate my purpose for this platform. Am I still posting for the same reasons? If not, what are my new motivations and challenges? Is anyone really reading this stuff? Will I ever write that post about why Ben & Leslie are the greatest TV couple to ever exist in the history of network television?

I have a strong feeling that the last one is a solid yes.

One of my biggest hesitations to start my blog was the fact that I never wanted to restrict myself to a schedule. Writing posts was (and still is) the most enjoyable for me when the inspiration was fresh and I felt passionate enough to share my thoughts. Unfortunately, I don’t have very much control over when these moments of inspiration happen – as I’m sure most writers can attest to, harnessing this motivation and discipline to write is one of the most difficult parts of putting words on paper. And while I was able to maintain a semi-regular schedule of posts for a while, these last few months had me getting a little worried. Was it worth it to write something half-assed for the sake of adding content? Or should I wait even longer for the new idea to strike, even if it meant my blog would remain silent for a number of months? I couldn’t really decide, but I always leaned toward the latter. That’s just how I tended to operate. Either I was passionate about doing something or I had very little interest to do it at all.

If you look back to the last post that was published on my blog, you will see another aspect of why I’ve been silent on this platform. The frustrations of the world around me have taken a pretty big toll on my mental health, and over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with a nasty bout of depression. This doesn’t quite mean I’ve been having trouble getting out of bed or that I hate the world around me; mental illness is a lot more complex than that. With everything that has been going on with society as a whole, plus my own personal obstacles I was working through, I found very little interest in a lot of stuff that I would often rely on for support. Any time I had the tiniest speck of an idea for a blog post, the drive to run to my computer and open a new document quickly dissolved, leaving me with tons of unfinished ideas and half-hearted brainstorm sessions.

And while it might have been that nobody gave a shit that I hadn’t posted anything in a while, I gave a shit. And I still do.

So maybe my blog will continue to be a place for me to share stories and ideas with you all, and maybe I won’t post as frequently as I’d like. Or maybe this post will spark a resurgence in my passion for blogging and I’ll pump out a bunch of different posts in the next few weeks. I’ve decided that I’m up for any outcome. Like all of my social media platforms, I like to think of this blog as a more polished representation of me; these posts are the thoughts and ideas and feelings and other things I want to share but may not be able to put into words face-to-face. Instead, I take the time to type them out and organize them and put in some silly jokes or fancy words to get my point across. But that’s also the nature of who I am – I’m a planner, I’m a thinker, and sometimes, I can be a bit of an overachiever. And for now, that seems to be working out just fine, so I think I’ll keep it up. Until it’s time for a nap.

The Beauty of Bullet Journals

Here’s a list of things I love more than most people:

  • Dogs
  • Bread
  • Lists

SEE WHAT I DID THERE? 😉

I’m notorious for having multiple notebooks, post-its, written on hands, etc. to keep track of my life. But as you can probably guess, not having one go-to place for my lists made it even more difficult to stay organized, leading to dumb stress and somehow even more lists. Then I was introduced to the idea of bullet journals and, no exaggeration, my life was changed.

A bullet journal is a to do list, planner, and diary all in one. Rather than just simply writing down events, reminders, and random thoughts in a notebook, a bullet journal gives you the opportunity to be creative in an incredibly organized way. (I’m not going to take the time to explain the particulars about bullet journals because Buzzfeed already did that – it’s the most comprehensive look at bullet journals I could find and it definitely encouraged me to take the final plunge and start one. Thanks, Rachel!)

Some people may see a bullet journal and think “that looks like too much work” or “I’m not artistic enough for that”. Trust me, I would agree with if either of those things were true; the way to make your bullet journal work to its greatest potential is to throw away any expectations. At first, all I could think of were the pretty Instagram photos I would take and all the different colored pens I could carry around with me. But when I sat down to put everything together, I realized that all I wanted was to keep track of things in a productive way.

The aesthetic of a bullet journal is definitely appealing, but it doesn’t magically happen, and it’s not really necessary. You can find endless Pinterest pages of handwriting tips and decorative layouts, which actually do look really great, but I know that if I tried any of these things, I would get frustrated when it didn’t turn out how I expected. So my main advice with a bullet journal is to make it your own. If you start your journal and change your mind along the way and decide you want to spend more time making it look “Instagram-able”, GO FOR IT! There are so many choices for this journal, all with the same overall outcomes: organization and productivity.

Most bullet journals start with tracking monthly, weekly, or daily scheduling, including things that need to get done, events, birthdays, or notes that you want to jot down throughout the day. In addition to these daily to-do type lists, lots of people like to use their journals to keep track of other stuff, like what TV shows are on your binge radar, how many times you go to the gym, or even hobbies and moods. My personal choices are keeping track of my monthly finances, great quotes I come across, and daily gratitude. But as I said, there is no “correct” way to choose these lists, and they don’t need to be the same throughout the span of your journaling! Choices!!!!

Here are some cute photos of my journal! Are any of y’all planning on starting one? Let me know and we can share ideas!