coffee session: on expectations.

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(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know the drill.  Grab a cup of coffee, listen to some music, and let’s have a chat.  (My side of the conversation is below; feel free to share yours in the comments!)

*sips coffee*

Ohhhh, expectations.  Don’t you just love them?

It’s one thing to have expectations and standards for yourself… and another completely different thing to realize that others have expectations for you.  It doesn’t matter if they’re lower or even equal to yours – it’s still ridiculously daunting.

Because of Recent Events (which, for the time being, will be referred to as simply that), I’ve been feeling especially aware of these things.  We want to do the best we can, and holding ourselves to that – daily – is, more often than not, intimidating.

If anyone else read Do Hard Things religiously in their teens, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  We want to be more than mediocre.  We want to do things with our lives – which often unintentionally translates to “big” things.  (I once read an essay somebody wrote about this, and it’s definitely worth reading if you made the same assumption.) (Don’t feel bad if you did because I did, too, and sometimes doing hard things is working through the daily grind of school or work or unemployment {*waves*} with a cheerful, optimistic spirit.)

*sips coffee*  (Today I have some weird “roasted southern pecan” coffee my dad bought and it’s… interesting.)

Adulting doesn’t help with this.  You start out so excited and ready to conquer the world, and then Real Life hits and you’re left staggering under the pressure.  (This isn’t personally relatable at all.  *nervous laughter*)

So how do we avoid getting daunted by the expectations and standards?  What do we do when they feel too high?

In all honesty… I don’t know.  I’m still working through this myself.

I don’t like disappointing people.  I really don’t.  And all it takes is someone dropping a responsibility or opportunity on me for my confidence to crumble like a poorly-made gluten-free cookie.  (Seriously, if anyone has any gluten-free cookie recipes they can share… please.  I’m dying over here.)

The only answer I’ve come up with is to just… do your best.  (And let God do the rest.)

And that sounds stupidly cliché and I’m insanely sorry, but it’s all I have right now.

So… turning this conversation over to you guys… what have you found to be the best answer to this?  What do you do when you feel like you’ve been given too much and struggle with holding to everyone’s expectations of you?

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currently.

{note: this is an update post on my ridiculously crazy life. all of my creative energy seems to be spent on polishing my novel and, well, you’ll see. i’ll be back with thought-out posts soon, i promise.}

reading: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’m like a third of the way through it, but still feeling “meh” about it because no one told me that it doesn’t have the characters from Illuminae in it. So I’m slightly irritated. Next on the list are Ready Player One, This Savage Song, and Wonder. Oh, and I’m also reading Before You Meet Prince Charming. *sigh* If you follow me on Goodreads, you already know my thoughts on it, but, to sum up, I’m pretty “meh” about this, too. The ideas in this book are so close to truth (and some of them are), but then they’re taken to the extreme. (For instance, did you know that “watching TV is like dating the world”? I quoted that verbatim – you can find it in the book yourself if you don’t believe me.) So yeah. My thoughts on that book will probably take at least one post, so look forward to that at some point when I’m done slogging my way through this book.

watching: Band of Brothers. Oh. My. Gosh. So amazing. It’s now one of my favorite war movies (or mini-series, I guess). I was so emotional on July 4th this year because my siblings and I watched that, and then Hacksaw Ridge, the week before. Talk about feels. I’m also watching a few of Chris Evans’s lesser-known movies, and they’re great! My sibs & I also watched Robin Hood: Men In Tights for the first time the other night (the first in our Mel Brooks marathon), and I loved it! Speaking of marathons, I’m also on a John Hughes kick as well. The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies now, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of his films. I watched Sixteen Candles the other night and marveled at the fact that the director of Spider-Man: Homecoming (another EXCELLENT film, btw; definitely a favorite as well) wanted to give Homecoming a Hughes feel, so the cast had a marathon one day. The result is pretty obvious!

listening: Anything by AJR (esp “Weak” & “Come Hang Out”) and Jon Bellion (esp “Maybe IDK” & “Human”). I’m obsessed with both. I’ve also been on an Idina Menzel kick lately because I saw her in concert on Saturday night and I’m still not over it. She’s amazing, y’all. Towards the end, she sang the beginning of “For Good” without a mic or accompaniment, and it was flawless. Literal queen. If/Then is a current go-to soundtrack if I need something fun to listen to (provided I skip some feelsy songs that make me cry).

writing: The Art of Letting Go, obvs. I’m still working through my beta-readers’ critiques, and it’s actually been going VERY well. The fourth draft (post-critiques) is better than anything I ever thought I could write, and that’s 100% due to my amazing readers who have given me feedback and helped me shape it into something amazing. Someone even went so far as to give me nine pages full of questions to answer, and that’s making the most impact. (You know who you are and I love you.) Also, recent events have gotten me PUMPT for my next novel (Pinterest board to be revealed soon *cue fanfare music*), so I’m pretty psyched about that.

celebrating: OH and I got my first rejection letter the other day, so that was actually pretty great. I got myself some ice cream after I got the email (which was so sweet, btw!). I was a little disappointed, sure, but I was more excited than anything else. After all, an actual agent read the first ten pages of my novel, and if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. (Well, having someone actually ask for the whole thing would be pretty cool, too, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

working: I’ve had some pretty extensive time off my nannying job this month, so I filled it first with going to my grandparents’ house for a week with my cousins (we had a Clue night where we dressed as the characters as we played the game, and it was a highlight of my life). I also did a temp job as a saleswoman that I absolutely fell. in. love. with (and may or may not have applied for a full-time position because I loved it so much), so that was pretty cool. The pay ain’t too shabby, either. Plus, that incredibly adult feeling of being a productive member of society and having a purpose and something worthy to fill the day with was pretty great, too.

acting: Oh and I’m in a play. That’s been the biggest thing that’s happened lately and it’s honestly filling my life with so much joy. It’s a kids play at a local theatre, and one of my best friends is in it, so I went about a month ago to listen to her read and ended up being given a part after someone dropped out. Long story short, tech week starts tonight and we open on Friday. After wanting to be in a play for literally ten years, it’s so amazing to finally have it happen, even if it’s a play for kids. (Which is even better because experience is experience!) I’m bonding with all of these amazing people and it’s been so much fun. I’m already dreading closing night! (My life has revolved around theatre lately and I don’t hate it. Saturday, I went to rehearsal, then came home, took a nap, and then went to see Idina. Then, Sunday, I hung out with friends who were in town before seeing my brother steal the show as the Tin Man in a local production of The Wizard of Oz before bringing another friend home to work on makeup for our show! Like I said, theatre life isn’t too bad.)

So, yeah. All of my creative juices seem to be taken up by this novel and this play. I swear I’ll be back soon with posts more worthy of your time (and less self-focused, GOSH, but I wanted to tell you guys all of these things that didn’t warrant entire posts), but for right now, I’ve gotta go back to writing before leaving for rehearsal early to find some glittery eyeliner and snake tattoos!

on body image.

I was never a clothes shopper. It’s true – ask anyone who knows me.

(I was never a shopper, period, but I did buy books. A backbreaking amount of books, as I learned after moving them all to our new house. #noragrets)

Growing up, I usually just wore whatever my mom got me for Christmas or my birthday. I didn’t have many new clothes, and I couldn’t care less.

In this inability to care less, my appearance suffered. My go-to outfit in my teen years was a t-shirt and jeans, with a skirt if we were going to church. Before our Skirts Phase, that is. Aka The Dark Days. Then, it was t-shirts and skirts. Denim skirts.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to look put-together – I did. It also wasn’t that I didn’t have many clothes to wear – I did. It was just that… I didn’t care.

For a long time, I was uncomfortable in my skin. For most of my teen years, I had an undiagnosed medical issue that caused weight gain. I didn’t know why I didn’t look good in certain things anymore, and, more than anything else, I wanted to cover up. Plus, it’s not like I had anyone to impress. (Moving two states away right when I was supposed to start liking guys made sure of that.)

It was only recently that I started buying clothes that I wanted to wear, with money that I’d earned.

Looking back, the only discernible thing that had changed was my outlook. I stopped viewing my body as an enemy or something that I shouldn’t put too much pride in. God gave me this body, dang it, and I should be happy with it – proud of it, even!

I didn’t start losing weight until I realized this, and accepted my body for what it was – mine.

If you’re struggling with what you look like, please know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there, sometimes.

Today, I was there. I needed clothes for a temp job next month, and I felt all the lies I’d believed about myself come screaming back as I looked at myself in the mirror. But I didn’t let the thoughts take root. Instead, I just left. In another store, I put on a cute outfit and danced to Katy Perry and Ben Rector in the changing room. Needless to say, the thoughts were gone. (Totally because I knew I looked super cute.)

It’s okay to hate your body sometimes. Just please… don’t stay there.

It’s okay to love your body. It’s okay to put clothes on it that are inspired by a style that is uniquely yours. It’s okay to be proud of it. It’s okay to love it. And if you don’t, you’ll get there someday.

I’ve heard that the way to get over a crush is to focus on one of their flaws, until you can’t see why you liked them in the first place. Today, I challenge you to do the opposite. I challenge you to find something about your body that you love. Maybe it’s your nose or your legs or your elbows. It can be big or small – just something that either you love or something that others have complimented. Tomorrow or next week or next month, find something else. Keep doing this until your list reaches from the top of your pretty head to the bottom of your adorable heels (yeah, the same heels that are encircled in yucky dead skin sometimes). Whenever you look in the mirror, repeat these things over and over again. Soon, your perspective will change. If not, keep working at it. And hopefully, you’ll soon realize that you’re a beautiful, unforgettable, unique person made in God’s image, for His glory, because He delights in you.

“it feels like there’s oceans between you and me.”

(title taken from this song, which has been on repeat for the last several months.)

This is just a “hello update I am not dead” post.  Because I am not dead, I’m just without wifi.

(Basically the same thing.  But I digress)

If you’ve been following me on social media or know me in real life, you’ll know that my family (finally) moved into the house we’ve been working on for the last year.  It doesn’t have wifi (and won’t, for reasons too complicated to go into), but my sister and I have our own little apartment (complete with kitchenette and living room space) that I’ve just fallen completely in love with, so I adore it.  It’s beautiful and we haven’t moved in all of our junk yet, but my friends from Virginia came in last night and we’re having most of The Squad over tonight to celebrate my younger sister’s birthday, so it’s finally starting to feel like a home.

I’ve been jumping head-first into the post-college writing life, starting with query letters.  I sent one, then contacted a new author friend whom I met a few weeks ago and asked for her help critiquing it.  I took the past week off to move, but I’m planning on going to Starbucks on Monday to work on it and send it to a few more agencies before the weekend, so that’s exciting.  I’m also planning on starting my next novel in June, so stay tuned for updates on that.

I’ve also traveled some since I last posted.  A few friends in Florida graduated college, so my sisters and I went down there for the weekend and attended, sneaking in visits with other friends in between Starbucks dates, a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and my first trip to Oxford Exchange in Tampa (and I’ll definitely be going back bc books + coffee + food?  UM YES PLEASE).

A few other things have happened – including the preschool graduation of the twins I nanny (so. many. tears.) – but my siblings want to go back home now, so I’d better sign off.  I’ll definitely be back soon, though.  I miss all of you!  Leave a comment telling me what you’ve been up to!

your time has come.

I’ve taken a month off to recuperate from college and am ready to jump headfirst into this whole writer life thing.  That means scheduling time to write my next novel (check), starting to send of query letters for The Art (check – legit the scariest thing I’ve ever done but I’m so ready to keep doing it), and asking for beta readers for the aforementioned (basically finished) novel.

SO!  If you’ve ever wanted to read the novel I’ve been working on for literally the last three years (The Art of Letting Go, if you forgot) now’s your chance.  I need feedback on it so that it can be the best it can be.  Anything and everything will help – inconsistencies, plot holes, places that don’t make sense, basically anything that I didn’t fix in the last three drafts.

The only thing I ask of you is that you’re serious – that you’ll read it and get back to me with your critiques by, say, June 1st.  That’s an entire month.  You can do this.  I believe in you.

Sooooo if you’d like to beta read my novel, comment with a reason why you should and how many (if any) novels you’ve beta read in the past.  (If you haven’t done any, that’s totally fine.)  In a separate comment (which I won’t publish), leave your email address.  I just got a new Gmail specifically for my writing and I’m going to start using that one for blog stuff.

I think I’m going to limit the number of beta readers to five, but I don’t think there will be more than five, so that’ll work out.  (In the event that more than five people want to read it, well, first I’ll keel over in astonishment, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Maybe I’ll take beta readers in waves.  {My life is crazy rn.  We’re moving.  I’m trying to get a job.  Etc, etc, etc.})

THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE & I LOVE YOU ALL.

i now have a college degree.

IMG_6465 (2).jpgWarning: Rambly angst ahead.

I have no words.  I submitted my final paper over a week ago and I’ve been waiting for my final grades before I posted anything.  Well, I got my final grade today, and I still don’t know what to say.

The main drive I had in the last four years of my life is gone.  The massive, stressful weight disappeared this past weekend as my grade slowly trickled in.  I felt it leave as I sunk to the floor and looked up at my friend from Virginia who showed up on my doorstep.  She told me to stop being irrational because of course I’d pass.  And she was right – I did.

And with that main focus leaving, I’m sitting here on my bed, lukewarm cup of coffee in hand, wondering, Well… now what?

I talked to my coach for the last time this past week and we talked about how much had changed over the last four years.  I’ve become a better version of my eighteen-year-old self – not different at all from that wide-eyed, still-trying-to-lose-her-baby-fat teenager.  I’ve got a better taste in music, I’m more confident, my people skills aren’t amazing but so much more apparent, and I’ve gotten a lot better at covering up the midnight-study-sessions-induced bags under my eyes due to my improved makeup skills.  And that’s just the non-academic stuff.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a good taste of my post-grad life this past week.  Instead of writing papers through sleepy eyes, I watched documentaries.  Instead of rushing home from doing errands to see how many distracted hours of school I could get done while simultaneously trying to nanny, I sat on the floor at the library and colored an apple tree with my charges.  Instead of cramming as much study time as I could in the quiet hours while Mom was gone with the littlest two at homeschool PE, I gave her a much-needed packing afternoon and took them myself.

While I’m pretty scared of the future and whether or not I’ll waste this newfound freedom, I’m also incredibly excited.  I hate change but I love new beginnings, and that’s what gets me through the ever-changing chapters of my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to enjoy my first rainy day with no school in sight.

being a college student is…

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{for le blog aesthetic // not mine.}

curling up in places too small for you and closing your eyes for just one more minute.

writing papers at midnight and then being horrified at your incomprehensible “logic” the next morning.

constantly wondering why your coffee cup is empty but not having the motivation to refill it.

spending your hard-earned cash on ice cream because your professors make you cry.

always just wanting to lay down on the floor.

generally wanting to lay down in general because you’ve never been this tired in your life.

worrying about cell phone bills, car insurance, food, budgeting, grades, social life, etc all the time.

finding new study music all. the. time.

in that same vein, finding new tv shows to watch.  (and sometimes they’re disney shows and that’s okay.) (meaning i discovered boy meets world while i was in college and honestly it helped me get through it.)

junk food. so much junk food.

developing weird ways to learn the stuff you’ve gotta learn.  (need to learn the kings and queens of england for your western civ class?  say no more.)

watching your friends get into relationships???  and get engaged???  and get married???  AND HAVE BABIES???

constantly wondering what the crap you’re doing with your life because of the above.  (“oh, that’s right.  i’m getting an education.  which will help me… how?”)

losing motivation.

gaining motivation.

meeting new friends.

saying goodbye to old friends.

setting aside hours a day to psych yourself up for something because adulting is hard.

taking tests.

sobbing in your car because you failed tests.

celebrating with junk food and movies because you passed tests.

being scared about moving on because sweet buttered crumpets, you’ll have to really adult and enter *gulp* The Real World.

moving on, despite whatever happens, because this is your education and DANG IT, you’ll get it done.


i only have a few weeks of school left.  i’m trying to live in these moments – to really relish them, despite the mixed feelings they bring – because i’m such a schoolaholic that i know i’m going to miss them.

today’s my baby sister’s birthday.  she’s four.  i distinctly remember living at a friend’s house while her adoption paperwork was going through, discovering pinterest while trying to figure out this college thing.

i’m totally scared at the prospect of a school-free life.  i’m obviously still going to learn (hello, french lessons), but it’ll be different.

more than that, though, i’m excited.  i’ll have a more flexible schedule, i’ll be able to live without a major stress-inducer in my life, i’ll have more writing time, i’ll be able to get a job without worrying about having enough school time…

saying goodbye is always hard.  but saying hello is such a bright, optimistic new opportunity, and i’m totally ready to see what i’ll greet in the next few months.