On Reflection: 2010 to 2020

 

As I write this, at the end of November 2019, I’m cooking my internal organs with a 101 fever, desperate for all of this flu to leave my body, and distracting myself with any tedious task I can (that doesn’t involve moving my pounding, migraine-filled head). About two hours ago I settled on the task of updating my resume. About 30 minutes ago I gave it a final look over. About 24 minutes ago I started to tear up.

Maybe it’s the cold medicine giving me a deluded sense of achievement, but I think it’s the radical feeling of true accomplishment that’s responsible for these waves of emotion.

I started this decade in high school. 2010 feels a lot further away than ten years, but maybe that’s because when each step is crossing a milestone the distance doesn’t just feel further, it really is. I was naïve at 16 years old, in 2010. I hadn’t applied to college, taken the SAT, or even started studying for it (in complete honesty I never studied for it). I hadn’t had my first boyfriend, hadn’t failed my first test, hadn’t lived away from home for longer than a week. I was sheltered and naïve to the fact that I was scared to live outside of the box I had drawn around my self.

By 2011, I was thrust into more “new” than I had experienced before. I went from living in a very red county to a very blue campus. I entered college with viewpoints I now cringe at. Those four years turned my life and beliefs 180 degrees. I went in a Republican, Christian, who truly believed that because we were all equal under the law that we were all equal in society. I graduated as a Liberal, Agnostic, who has a deep appreciation for the intersectional, social justice movement. But that rebirth, painful at is it was, was necessary. I sat in many a philosophy class as the representation for the dissent. I pushed my peers hard on their beliefs, much to their chagrin, out of curiosity. I don’t like to be wrong, but I appreciate it. If someone wants to tell me I’m wrong I won’t take it, but if they want to show me, I’ll welcome it. Philosophy was a class of ‘show me’ and ‘prove it’ to me, which is why I fell in love with the field.

Graduating in 2015 put me halfway through the decade but at square one of where I wanted to go. I ended up have a string of part-time jobs that, while I hated them at the time, I wouldn’t change for anything. Looking back they are the times I should have been more ambitious about all my hobbies. I should have focused on the present instead of the future. I had this idea, largely societally-influenced, that my life hadn’t truly started because I didn’t have a full-time job.  Imagining a scenario where I used that time to explore what I could be, who knows where I would be now. The majority of my part-time positions were in the customer service or food service industry, providing me with indispensable patience that has served me daily. The best part of 2015 was my introduction to the world of digital marketing. It provided me with the foundation of working in a small business, start-up atmosphere, how to maneuver in the digital space, what branding was and how to wield it powerfully and efficiently.

Those are the skills that got me my first full-time job in 2017, after 18 months of job-hunting. They are also the skills that carried the blog in its first year, 2018, when I needed a creative outlet.

Starting the blog in 2018 is the highlight of the decade for me. Finally stepping into something with two feet was a bold statement about who I am and where I want to go. I found out fairly quickly that a nine to five desk job is not a productive atmosphere for me and have used the blog as a creative outlet ever since. There is a large duality about how I look at the blog. It’s both a playful, sandbox mentality and a serious entrepreneurial outlook. I try all kinds of things on here, stretch myself, do and talk about what makes me happy and motivates me. Meanwhile, I work very hard to maintain a brand image that is respectable. I heavily vet brands that I work with, I track finances, metrics, and contracts meticulously. I see a lot of my parents in this approach. The playfulness of my dad, always expansive and looking for new projects, passions, and adventures balanced with the steadying nature of my mom. Much like their 35 year marriage (in 2020) it’s working beautifully and harmoniously.

The final year of the decade was the toughest of my life. At the end of 2018, we learned about several terminal illnesses in the family and over the course of nine months in 2019 we lost my uncle, grandmother, and grandfather. Experiencing so much difficulty pushed me to incredible introspection. It’s easy to feel guilty when being away from family during difficult moments, especially when loyalty is as important to you as it is to me, however, as my aunt reminded me: you have to live your life. You cannot rush or hold back your life for your family, it’s not what they want for you and it doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run. My growth this year, and in many ways this decade, can best be exemplified by my decision to renew my NYC lease and remain in the city I love. I highly considered returning to DC for proximity to my family, but made the decision to continue living in a place that I love and that makes me happy. It’s a selfish action that I’m proud of.

The beauty of life’s ebbs and flows really showed itself in the final week of the year. One week after losing my grandfather, my sister in law welcomed a new baby into the family. My first niece, my parents’ first grandchild, and a very special little person.

Welcome, little Kendall Joanna.

Welcome, 2020.

 

On Why: You should make a resolution every day

It’s February 1st, how’s your NYE resolution going?

Every year, right after the ball drops, the same question ripples through the room “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” I’ve found, in my own experience, the practice of setting NYE resolutions to be a futile effort. They are always either unrealistic, too ambitious, or simply not aligned with my greater goals. I’ve had all the typical goals: get in shape, eat healthier, spend more time with family, etc but if any progress is made on them it happens in the first 1-2 months of the year, in a minimal way, and then stops, D. O. A.

And I’m not the only one who has this experience. While a change for the better is an excellent idea, the reality is that of everyone who sets an NYE resolution about 88% will fail. Of that 88% more than 23% admit to forgetting their NYE goals. How is that a positive strategy for change? You’ll even hear of people who put off changes they want to make in December, as they plan for a January execution.

NYE Resolutions have never worked for me and for the first time on January 1, 2018 I didn’t set one. An experimental year of making changes when and where I wanted to, and not feeling like a failure because my path changed over the course of 365 days. In some ways, I did make a small, underlying resolution: no expectations.

I left the question of “What will the next year bring?” completely open-ended. Granted I’ve always been a goal-setter and I even wrote a post back in April about what my plans were, but I wanted to be sure that 2018 was not about completing a checklist or brushing off missed goals. My favorite part of that Spring piece is a simple sentence that has become my mantra:

Someday isn’t coming.

Now before I start to sound like a massive pessimist (if I haven’t already) please know that the meaning behind Someday isn’t coming isn’t meant to be negative, it’s meant to be motivating. It’s the idea that Someday is so abstract that basing your life on it is the worst thing you can do. I think that NYE resolutions reinforce that Someday is coming. And that if you fail “There’s always next year”.

But where is the sense of urgency?

This is YOUR life.

Why are you waiting?

Having a “no expectations” year is what led me to take every opportunity in stride and continually shift and evolve my goals & plans. I started a blog, I worked out more days this year than any year since leaving school, I traveled more, I paid off $9,000 in credit card debt, I grew in my relationships. I am closer now to achieving some MASSIVE goals that I have had for 5+ years than I ever was when those same goals were on my NYE resolutions list.

So why would an NYE resolution have worked against me and my current achievements? Because I never once felt like a failure, even when I “failed”. I pushed myself far outside of my comfort zone because I hadn’t predetermined how far I was willing to push myself. And I didn’t have abstract resolutions like “be more outgoing” or “grow self-confidence” which allowed me to hone in on specific goals I’ve had for years. In short, it allowed me to focus on my “bucket list” instead of a “to do list”.

I’ve wanted to grow my self-confidence for years and 2018 was the first time I felt that little ping that later erupted into the buzzing aura of confidence that surrounds me every day. Starting a blog was one of the scariest things for me because I was so incredibly paranoid about what other people would say or think of me. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that any time I had previously tried to blog I wasn’t writing what I wanted to, I was writing what I thought others would want to read.

Now I truly feel like I have a blog that is my on and reflects me through and through. I’m not just out here mimicking what I’ve seen work for other bloggers. I don’t want to be a carbon copy of every other “girl with a blog”. I wouldn’t have even taken a mild step toward the direction of starting a blog if I hadn’t set a zero expectations precedent for myself at the start of 2018.

And now look where we are!

Every month, week, day, I’m finding new things that I want to do and acting on those motivations. There’s no waiting for a Monday start, a “fresh” month, or a new year to jump start. If I want to do something I’m starting now. Having a year outside of the standardized goal-setting of NYE resolutions allowed me to start my own clock, whenever I want.

Instead of looking forward in 2019 as a tool to fix your life and make the changes you want, look in the mirror. You are the one in charge. You are the one who decides when and where. If it’s day 32 of the year and you’ve “messed up” your NYE resolution shake it off and start again now. Not next year, not next month, not next week, not even tomorrow.

Start now and get away from the mindset that you’ve “failed” at all because you, my friend, are shiny, evolving, and able.

Four Looks for NYE That DON’T Require Sequins

It’s almost NYE which means you’re probably being bombarded with blog posts called “101 Ways to Shine In The New Year!”, all of which revolve around dressing like a disco ball. Sparkling is great, but if you’re like me you’ve blown plenty of $ on a sequin top or dress that you wore once and then sat in your closet for months. This NYE let’s leave the sparkling to the Time Square Ball and invest in a few more double-duty pieces that can help you stand out on NYE and every day for the next 3-6-5.

Here are few of my [non-sparkly] favorites for the new year!

 

SILK SLIP DRESSES

 

VELVET SKIRTS

 

SILK BUTTON-DOWNS

 

SKIRTS WITH FRINGE