Thoughtful Thursday: Passion & Careers

A few weeks ago, my team went out to lunch with an executive at our company. It was very informal and allowed us to openly discuss our department and the different projects we work on. First thing she asked us? Tell her one thing about ourselves that she doesn’t already know. I told her about my interesting experience interning in the fashion department of a magazine. It was a nice change of pace talking about things outside of our industry. It also created a bond with this executive in a very quick and unexpected way. Like, who knew that this woman was also obsessed with the show Awkward on MTV (aka the show that continually cracked me up throughout high school and college!). It was so refreshing to talk about things other than work, and it was the perfect mental break midway through the work day.

Not going to lie, having lunch together at Barneys was pretty cool!

Not going to lie, having lunch together at Barneys was pretty cool!

I think the most memorable aspect of this lunch was the amount of passion this woman has. She is truly bursting at the seams with drive, She regularly attends countless conferences and lectures outside of work. She takes digital design classes for fun. Annually she speaks in front of hundreds of college students. She brings the most unique ideas to the table and is constantly trying to push the envelope. It is an infectious quality she has, one that makes me want to work even harder towards my goals.

I think we were all pretty starstruck by her energy and enthusiasm, and couldn’t help but ask how she stays so motivated. She said that it lies in the escape of the everyday. We need to get outside the office and outside our industry, to see what else is out there. We spend so much time focused specifically on our company, that we are missing out on all the incredible projects other companies and industries are working on. Volunteer, read a book, attend a conference on a topic completely unrelated to your department but something you’ve always been fascinated by.

She explained that some of her best ideas have come from experiences you never would have guessed could be beneficial. Getting outside of the things we are hyper focused on during our 9-5 is the best way to embrace creativity and find a little more work life balance. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. So by not trying new things and reading different articles, you are limiting yourself to an endless stream of sameness.

The thing I admired most about this woman?

She brings ideas to every meeting and 9 times out of 10 she is shot down, but she never let’s that discourage her. She is hands down one of the most driven people I have had the pleasure to meet since joining the working world.

As we were talking, she told us the most memorable piece of advice she has ever received. Years ago her boss at an advertising agency told her, “I may not be famous, but every morning when I look in the mirror I can be proud of the person I see.” That struck such a cord with me. I feel like in this generation, if you aren’t a millionaire or entrepreneurial success by 25 you are considered a failure. Well maybe not a failure, but there is this constant pressure to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Lena Dunham etc. And oftentimes that can be a very discouraging measure of success, making us “millennials” feel like failures in our mid twenties for having not accomplished as much. This piece of advice reminded me that at the end of the day, I want to always be able to look in the mirror and smile at what I have accomplished and what I am working towards. I may not be famous, but I can be proud of who I am and the work I’ve done.

All in all it was a wonderful lunch. It was nice to escape the office for an hour, as I am guilty of eating my lunch at my desk while still responding to emails. This was the perfect reminder of the  importance of actually taking a lunch break. When I got back to my cubicle I felt completely refreshed and focused. It was clearly not just the lunch break, but the people sitting around the table that impacted me. There is just something about sitting with a passionate person. Their energy and drive is overwhelming and provides encouragement in a way that is hard to describe.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Having vs. Making Time

its_not_about_having_time_it_s_about_making_time

I came across this post on Pinterest the other day and could not help but stop and reread it over and over again. This pretty much sums up something that has been swirling around in my head as of late. I’ve mentioned before that moving to Manhattan and starting a new job has come with its challenges, including making friends. That being said, I have made some pretty wonderful friends at work and I am slowly making more in the other different activities I am getting involved in. Meeting new people reminds me of endless rounds of sorority recruitment, exhausting but amazing when you truly connect with someone! Although I am actively trying to meet new people, I want to make sure I never stop making time for my friends.

The “busy” syndrome is nothing new, and I will admit that I have succumbed to it many times before (mostly in college) but I tried to always make time for the people I care about. The difference now is that instead of huge exams or 20+ page papers taking up my time, it is long days at the office that make me want to just crawl into bed and sleep. There have been a few moments in the last few months where I considered cancelling my plans and just heading home. I was usually just exhausted from the day and the idea of extending it did not sound even remotely appealing. However, I have tried to remind myself to keep saying “yes” to opportunities. I try and push away those frantic “I’m so busy” or “I’m so tired from being so busy” thoughts, because frankly they aren’t entirely true. I think sometimes I just allow myself to get caught up in the idea of being “busy.” Sometimes I wonder if being “busy” is just a mask for avoiding problems or appearing perfect. I know that I am WAY more productive when I am busy, but sometimes I allow my stresses to take over and use my so called busyness as an excuse. It is a cycle that I am constantly working to try and break.

So instead of cancelling, I take a deep breath and decide to go to the event/drinks/meetings etc. as planned. Every. Single. Time. I went to these events, I was glad I did. It wasn’t an earth shattering experience like an incredible concert or a celebrity filled gala, but instead simply connecting with people. I head back home exhausted in a fulfilled way, rather than one filled with frantic energy. When I walk home, I am always happy that I made time for those moments.

Looking at our current culture, it is clear that the “I’m so busy” theme is here to stay. I know that we are all guilty of this phrase. As a result, this concept has made me reflect on many of my friendships. We are all attempting to make sense of this path after college, one that does not have any set rules or grades. Everyone is off on their own adventure, trying to figure out who they want to be and where they want to go next. As a result, many of my friendships have certainly shifted. It has been interesting to see the people who are willing to make the time for me, and vice versa. At the end of the day,  I know that my closest friends and I choose to make what time we have work. It may take a few weeks between Skype dates of lengthy chats over drinks, but when we find the time it is always worth it.

I hope that you remember to make time for the people you care about, because we are all “busy.” But putting away that word for the evening and spending time together makes you forget about everything on your running to do list. At the end of the day, we all have “no time” so it means that much more when we choose to spend it with the people we care about most.

Sunshine Blogger Award

Last Monday my day was brightened in the blogging world! Sam from Social by Sam nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. In all honesty, I had never heard of this award previously but was so happy to find out more about it! For those who also haven’t heard of it, the Sunshine Blogger Award basically does what it sounds like, shares the sunshine! Bloggers pass around the award as a way to give updates on ourselves and ask silly and random questions! The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are you thank your nominator, answer their questions, pick 3 new nominees, and ask them the same number of questions!

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So thank you Sam for the nomination! Here go my answers to the questions she asked me!

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started All Shook Up as a creative outlet to fill my time while I was unemployed, living at home, and searching for a job after I graduated in May 2014. I was an English major in college so this blog allows me to do what I love, read and write! Although I found a job last September (my one year anniversary at my job was just last week!) I have continued blogging because it has been a fun hobby to do outside the office.

2. Who is your pop culture role model and why?

This is a tough question, as I don’t think I typically look up to celebrities as “role models” per se. However, recently I have been reading more and more articles about one of my favorite celebrities, Lauren Conrad. I think Lauren is actually an incredible role model. She went from an MTV Reality Show Princess to Fashion Designer and Lifestyle Icon. She proved that the nice girl can finish first, with a little hard work and kindness! Lauren is relatable in a way that is unlike most other celebrities. Also, who can forget her infamous response to the question, “What’s your favorite position?” “CEO.” Lauren Conrad is a pop culture role model that I think every girl should take notes from!

3. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in the last year?

This year has been filled to the brim with challenges but one of the biggest ones has been a health concern. I have been trying to track down a solution to my problem for months and I think I am finally in the hands of the right doctors. I think the biggest challenge has been trusting my gut that something wasn’t right, both with my health and that the original doctor I was seeing was wrong. The last few months have been filled with frustration and challenges I never imagined I would be facing my first year out of college. That being said, I am incredibly thankful to my family for their unending support. I know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

4. What’s something you’re really excited about?

I think in the short term I am REALLY excited about my cousin Lori’s wedding next week. She is marrying a truly wonderful man. I swear they are perfect for one another. It will be such a fun weekend with my family celebrating this union. I also cannot wait to meet my cousin Michelle’s daughter Julia. I was at Michelle’s Baby Shower last summer, but haven’t met the little cutie pie in person yet!

In the long term, this might sound weird but I am really excited about the months to come in New York City. I love the security that I feel, whereas before everything was so up in the air (job, apartment, friends, etc.) I am in a new apartment which I will be in until at least August 2016 and I am at a job where a lot of exciting changes are up ahead. I think I am most excited about feeling less like I am in a constant shuffle. A lot of the questions I had last summer in the months following graduation, I finally have answers to! I definitely do not have all the answers because I am always on to the next, but I think it is crazy to think about one year ago and reflect on all the changes. I always try to keep in mind that some of the best days of my life are yet to come. Isn’t that a crazy wonderful thought?!

5. Where’s the next spot you’ll travel to given the opportunity?

This is a tough one because I am constantly adding new places to my list of dream travel destinations. I think Paris will always top the list though. I studied French throughout middle school, high school, and briefly in college. I originally wanted to study abroad in Paris, but my school did not have a program in my preferred city (not that I regret studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, it was the most AMAZING experience!). That being said, I think Paris will always hold a special place in my heart.

Okay now it’s my turn! My nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  • Why Knot – Allie is also young grad, who is starting her next adventure at grad school in Oregon. I stumbled upon her blog randomly and have kept coming back ever since. I love reading about other recent graduates who are navigating the “real world.”
  • The Lilac Press – I found The Lilac Press after she commented on one of my posts and was immediately taken with her site. I am always so impressed by the amount of unique and interesting content she creates. A great read for fashion, lifestyle, and simply beautiful images!
  • The Preppy Scientist – Because you can never read too many preppy blogs! I started following Shontal’s blog pretty quickly after I started All Shook Up. I love her fashion picks and her interesting finds! It is a blog that always keeps me enticed with refreshing new content.

My questions for the nominees, if they choose to participate, are:

  1. What is one thing you wish you knew about blogging before you started?
  2. What is your go to look when you have no idea what to wear?
  3. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
  4. Where do you see yourself one year from now?
  5. What is a random fact about yourself that your readers don’t know?

I love posts like this that spread a little sunshine! I hope my answers to Sam’s questions gave you a different peek into my world as of late. I cannot wait to see if my nominees accept this award and nominate their own sunshine bloggers!

Thoughtful Thursday: My Beginning. Your Middle.

IMG_2259If you follow the blog The College Prepster, you must have heard the big news…Carly left New York City. Why is it that all my favorite bloggers are leaving this city within months after I call it home?! (*cough* Mackenzie, Jess, & Hallie *cough*)

Two weeks ago, to announce the move, Carly wrote a post reflecting on her experience in Manhattan over the last few years. This post was unlike her usual ones, and I was immediately taken with it. I loved that she delved into the different aspects of her life over the past three years in New York City. I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I read about her experiences and felt a sense of relief that she was where I am now only a few years ago. A quote also popped into my mind, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” by Jon Acuff. Sometimes I get caught up in the comparison game and forget that many of the people I admire or wish I was more like, were exactly where I am now only a few years ago. Carly delved into different aspects of her life over the last three years, friendships, stress, self care, happiness, business, money, and love. I thought it was an interesting way to breakdown her experiences, and it made me reflect on my own so far in the Big Apple.

Friends

I have always classified myself as a fiercely independent person, but I think living on your own (albeit I have been in my studio apartment only two weeks!) in a city where you only know a handful of people changes you in a way like nothing else can. As they say, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” I have definitely had a more difficult time making friends since I moved to New York. However, one of my closest friends in the world is moving to New York, and my friends living all over the country constantly want to come visit. When it comes to new friendships, I am trying to remember to say yes to every opportunity! I also have a couple of exciting things in the future which will bring new people and experiences into my life.

Stress

It is clear that Carly had an overwhelming amount of stress balancing her blog and a full time job when she first moved to New York. I haven’t experienced that level of stress yet, as this blog is still just a fun creative hobby I do on the side. That being said, I am learning how to manage the stress from my job and the pressure I put on myself. It is an ongoing process that I have not mastered by any means. However, because of physical therapy (from an injury a few months ago) I have learned how to truly relax my muscles and how to reduce physical stress. It is amazing how simple differences in posture and an understanding of your body can eliminate unnecessary stress in your life. Stress comes in all forms, and I am constantly learning new ways manage mine.

Self

This last year has been filled to the brim with changes, and I have responded to these changes in a variety of ways. When I received my first job offer, I was excited but deep down I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me, and I called both of my parents. My dad reassured me that it was the right decision not to take the job and the second I hung up I cried on our front steps, terrified nothing better would come along. I think this period in my life is the one time that I can be completely selfish and focus on my goals. While that sounds…well… selfish, this is the first time in my life that I am free of major responsibility. I want to make sure I take every opportunity and not be afraid of what I want. After all, this is MY life, and only I have the power to make it everything I hope for and nothing like I expected.

Money

I definitely know the importance of money and have focused on it immensely since moving to New York. Like Carly, financial independence and growth is something I personally value. I have always been a saver, even when I was little. These days, I find myself saving not only my money, but my vacation days at work “just in case” (which I may need to stop doing so I can plan more fun trips!). When I moved to this city in February, I knew that I wanted to continue saving (just as I had while living at home and commuting to my job). As a result, I have saved quite a good bit of money, which allowed me to move into my new studio apartment with less financial worry. Although my new apartment is definitely more expensive, having my own space is worth the extra money in rent each month. That being said, it was an incredibly empowering moment telling my parents how much I have saved since I moved here and that I didn’t need them to foot the bill in any way shape or form. I love the fact that I pay for almost all of my expenses (I am still on the family cell phone plan and health care plan). It feels incredibly empowering to support myself.

That being said, it was refreshing to hear that it is okay to start out in this city eating eggs on toast or pasta for dinner most nights like Carly did. Although I have saved a solid amount since moving here, it is very expensive to live in New York so I am constantly trying to find ways to save a few bucks. A cab is definitely a luxury in my life and I have come to rely on the subway more than I ever thought I would. I am working on my cooking skills, because it truly saves money and has become a strangely relaxing way to unwind from the work day. Although, I wish I could indulge in weekly boxes of macaroons and bundles of sunflowers, right now I cannot justify spending that money. Luckily, I am always finding new creative ways to save, without sacrificing on experiences.

Happiness

This past year has tested in me in so many ways that I never in a million years would have expected. It has pushed me to the breaking point a few times, but I think at the end of the day I can say without a doubt in my mind that I am happy. I am happy that I graduated ready for the next adventure. I am happy that I worked hard at finding the right career fit for me. I am happy that I moved out of my parents home only a few months after landing my job. I am happy that I am afraid sometimes, it proves that this life is still exciting and new, exactly what I was looking for when I left Bucknell. I am so excited for what is to come, and I am continuing to focus on happiness above all else. I have learned that some friendships are not meant to last a lifetime, and that it is okay to move on. I have learned again and again that it is okay to be sad sometimes, life is not always rainbows and butterflies. But it is in those low moments that we learn who we are and what makes us truly happy. This is my life, and I have the right to edit it frequently and ruthlessly, afterall it is my masterpiece. I have no one else to report to, but myself. That again may sound selfish, but I think that happiness is worth it to make changes accordingly.

Business

I am just at the start of my career, (almost exactly one year into my first “real world” job to be exact!). It has been quite an experience and I have learned about an industry I never in a million years thought I would end up in! I have a manager and mentor who has shown me how to be a strong, poised, and respected woman in a corporation. I have learned how to let my work speak for itself and to never let my age or inexperience keep me from voicing an opinion when the opportunity presents itself. I love working at The Estee Lauder Companies and I am so excited to see what the future brings!

Love

Okay, so this category is definitely not my strong suit. I have never been very good at dating and relationships. When it comes to my friends and their relationship problems I give great advice, but somehow never seem to take my own. I choose the boys that I see a spark of good in, but who ultimately end up hurting me. This is a pattern I have started to pick up on, (hindsight is 20 20), but it is one that I need to break. I don’t have any regrets, but I know that I need to let my walls down a little bit. I am a very guarded person for reasons I probably cannot even fully justify. Being afraid of love is not any way to live, and I am trying to be more open to the opportunity of falling in love. Like Carly, I think I continually put love at the bottom of the list. Dating is fine but hasn’t really been a priority since moving here. Recent moments the last few weeks have reminded me to pay attention and be open to the possibility of love. Similar to new friendships, I am trying to remember to be open to every and all experiences no matter how outside my comfort zone. That being said, unlike many millennials and Facebook friends of mine, I am not ready for marriage and kids any time soon. But I don’t want to look back eight years from now when I am thirty and kick myself for not going out with that handsome stranger or random encounter on the subway. Regret is the most painful feeling and I don’t want to ever allow myself to miss out on something that has the potential to change my life.

Reading Carly’s manifesto about moving out of New York truly allowed me to reflect on my own experiences here and what is to come. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to live the “perfect” NYC life or the one that my friends and family think I live. I have found myself comparing my life to that of my favorite bloggers and friends from school. This is a trap. I repeat, this is a trap that is tricky to snap out of. Instagram is not real life. I am guilty of this, and I have written on this topic in the past. Carly’s post showed me that at one point in time the blogger I admire most faced the same experiences, problems, and emotions that I am now.

I need to continually remind myself that I am at the beginning of my journey. I feel like I am a part of that “next crop of starry-eyed kid-adults moving into tiny apartments scattered around trendy and up and coming neighborhoods”. Even though I moved here in February, I am finally starting to feel like my feet are back on the ground and I am less overwhelmed or nervous about this city. It seems backwards I know, but its true.

New York City is exciting and terrifying at first, but I am letting the fears subside and giving into the adventure more and more every day. I find myself feeling increasingly comfortable with the life I am creating here. I finally have my own space (more on this in future posts I promise), one that is all mine. I seem to have a handle on my amazing job and am excited about the changes to come. I have goals (for this blog and more!) that I am actively working towards. And I am trying to remind myself to say yes to every opportunity, no matter how tired or sore I am from the day. I want to always push myself outside my comfort zone because that it where the real adventures happen. This is my clean slate, and I always try to keep in mind to fill it to the brim with amazing experiences. From walking through Central Park for the first time and discovering Sheep Meadow (its unbelievably breathtaking that first time!) to sobbing on the subway and all the way home to my apartment, this next chapter has had a variety of moments to say the least. I know that this life is filled with ups and downs, but that I can handle whatever is thrown my way. Instead of getting caught up in the comparison game, I want to just focus on living my life to the fullest. I am already starting to see promising changes in my life, even in the last few weeks. I have so much to look forward to and so many exciting opportunities ahead.

This is only my beginning.

Thoughtful Thursday – Strength

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Yesterday, my morning started off like any other day at the office, but the energy quickly shifted. A work colleague sat our entire team down and told us about a struggle she been dealing with throughout the summer. An important person in her life is undergoing a serious medical diagnosis and the next few months will be incredibly difficult.

We were all completely stunned.

This is someone that I constantly call to ask questions or just for some advice. And she always without fail, lends a hand and helps me (and our team!) out. She is patient, organized, selfless, and a genuinely nice person. I think what shocked me the most (besides the truly upsetting circumstances of this diagnosis) is that this has been happening in her life for months, and none of us had a clue. It reminded me of the quote that I think we all know by now, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” While I truly love this quote and use it as a helpful reminder for myself, the one I picked today I think highlights this idea even further.

When I stop to really think about some of the kindest people I have known, they are often the ones fighting the hardest battles. They are the ones who give selflessly to their friends and family. The ones who never ask for anything in return. They are also the ones who are often fighting a battle you may never know even exists in their lives. I admire this strength, a strength that may go undetected by others, but that is never lacking.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my own problems, both big and small, that I lose perspective. This conversation as a team reminded me to count my blessings but to also be there for some of the strongest people I know. They are the ones who will never ask for help, but are the ones who likely need support the most. I know that our colleague will win this battle, but in the meantime we will be there for her. Sending meals, writing thoughtful emails, and just reaching out if she wants to chat, our team is ready to be there for her in any way that she needs!

I hope that this Thoughtful Thursday quote inspires you to reach out to your loved ones. Sometimes the problem with being strong is that no one knows you need a hand. So reach out to the people you care about and remind them that you are always there for them, for all things, both big and small!

Thoughtful Thursday: Change is the only constant

When I first started All Shook Up I had a weekly segment called Wordy Wednesday. It highlighted my love of quotes and allowed me to reflect on what was happening in my life at that time. Although I loved this weekly post, it sorta fell to the wayside. As a result I have decided to modify my original segment slightly. Moving forward, I want to start a series titled Thoughtful Thursday. This will ensure that I can include lots of other unique content, as well as a favorite new quote!

the only constant is change - Isaac Asimov took me most of my life to understand and accept this truth

This is a quote that rang true for me last week. After 4th of July weekend with my family, I realized how much all the cousins and I have grown up. We used to be silly little kids who played the color game in a Boca Raton pool for hours on end and tell countless dumb jokes in the hot tub. It was strange to see how much has changed and yet so many things remained the same between us all. It was a necessary weekend to reconnect with one another, and allowed me to escape the Manhattan heat. As I was driving home from PA to NJ (then back on a train to the city) I started to think about how comfortable things in my life felt. My family is doing really well, my job has been wonderful, and I am slowly but surely adapting to life in NYC. I was excited to return back to my office, refreshed and ready for the many projects up ahead.

Then Monday happened.

Our team received some incredibly surprising news Monday morning. Something that none of us saw coming and that will definitely impact us in the months to come. My manager has decided to take a new path and will be leaving in a matter of weeks. I was completely stunned when I heard the news and tried not to get emotional about the changes. Over the last nine months I have become increasingly comfortable in my role with my team. I love going into work every day and although it doesn’t necessary “scare” or intimidate me like it used to, there is always something new and exciting to learn. When I heard this news I was immediately worried that all the progress I had made would be pushed to the wayside and I would be reverted back to the assistant I was back in September. I have been repeatedly reassured that my team is going to lean on each other for support and make sure the changes up ahead happen seamlessly. It is hard to accept that a mentor who I have admired for the last ten months will not be there every morning. However, after I let the news digest a little, this quote popped into my head.

“Change is the only constant”

Throughout my life, whenever I became far too comfortable with the routine in my life, something out of nowhere changed everything. This is almost always for the best and brings on new exciting things. Although my manager will no longer be my manager in a few short weeks, I know that she will always be my mentor. I am so thankful for her leadership, patience, and her willingness to teach me. From her, I have not only learned about my company and digital marketing, but also how to be a strong female leader in a corporate environment. I cannot imagine a better first manager in the “real world.”

That being said, I know that this change happened for a reason and that it is a necessary reminder for me to focus on my career trajectory. Obviously I cannot remain in my current role forever (and I want to move up the career ladder) but this change in her career path reminded me of my own. I want to always keep in mind the larger picture, where I see myself, and what I hope to gain and learn along the way. Change is often jarring at first, but it is the helpful reminder to force yourself out of a routine. Although I don’t know what the future holds, I am excited to see what happens in the months to come!

Let it out

I truly believe that there is nothing more therapeutic than a good cry.

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There is something to be said for finally releasing all those emotions, the hurt, the anger, the anxiety, and just letting them wash over you. This is not exactly a practice that I widely advertise, or one that you will see on social media anytime soon. However, it is one that I am trying to be more open and honest about in the hopes that it will bring a little reality to the pressures we put on ourselves.

Over the years I have realized that I put such an immense amount of pressure on being “perfect” or seemingly having it “all figured out” (a phrase I should seriously remove from my vocabulary). I have touched on this topic of perfection before, but last week really forced me to delve a little deeper.

Life lately has been an absolute whirlwind. From taking on more responsibility at work and several huge projects, to my friend Tara coming to visit me in the Big Apple, it has been busy to say the least. Honestly I haven’t had a moment to breathe. As I sat on my bed watching the clock tick to 1:01am last Wednesday morning, I realized how close I was to running on empty. I knew that sleep is exactly what I needed…and yet I started to jot down thoughts on WordPress in the best way I know how. It was a wonderful couple of days last week but they certainly took a toll. There is nothing like having a close friend come to visit and to just chat about life. My friendship with Tara is one that I value more than words could say, and that weekend reunion was long overdue.

While Tara was here we decided to see the movie Inside Out. I cannot recommend this movie enough, (don’t worry, no spoilers here!), and I think it is a must see, especially for those fellow post grads out there questioning themselves! Watching the main character Riley’s different emotions (aka Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, and Lewis Black) was like a mirror reflecting the emotions that Tara and I have both faced lately. Isn’t it strange how the books you are reading or the movies you are watching reflect what is happening in your life?! This movie was no exception. The character Sadness especially, had some of the most poignant lines, and I often could not help but nod my head in agreement.

Whenever I stop to really think for a moment, I am still shocked at where I am in comparison to where I was simply a year ago, so much has changed. However, that doesn’t stop me from questioning where I am and where I hope to be one day. This typically manifests in some sort of stress or anxiety that makes me overthink and tests my patience. All these changes, frustration, anxiety, and pressure have sometimes resulted in an overwhelming mountain of emotions.

Last Tuesday I had a pretty tough day. You may be thinking work related…but nope, it was personal and dealt with problems I have been trying to find a solution to for months. It knocked me down and all I could do was head back to my office, pull myself together, and put on a smile. This is something I have learned to excel at over the years; I am a Scorpio after all. I am a master at acting like everything is okay, you may think you know how I am feeling but chances are you’re wrong. As I was walking home from this very long day I called my mom and told her that I just felt like I needed a good cry. She of course asked, “wait why?” and I couldn’t exactly explain it, but for whatever reason I have found that simply crying can be the best way to feel better. It is the wave of emotion followed by that first deep breath of relief that somehow washes away all those thoughts. It is a practice that I have implemented time and time again over the years, especially when I put a lot of pressure on myself.

I think many of my friends (and myself included) have been putting on the smile and happy exterior, and simply burying these different emotions we’ve faced over the last year. This is probably because we are at the most uncomfortable time in our lives to date. We have so many paths open to us and yet we stay stuck at the crossroads overwhelmed by the possibilities. I have watched many friends, some who I never would have expected to, crumble under the pressure. This is NOT a bad thing, but shows that we need to allow ourselves to express all the different emotions and thoughts we are having instead of burying them. It is this attempt to act like everything is fine, that eventually leads to a buildup that becomes tougher to come back down from. This is a practice that I have watched time and time again because we have to make it seem like things are okay. Instagram especially frustrates me sometimes because it is this endless feed of “reality” that actually took the person 15 minutes to perfectly set up for the casual shot. I am guilty of this too, and am actively trying to be more real.

If there is one thing I have learned in the last few years, it is that it is okay to be scared, happy, sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, and any other emotion you can think of.

It is okay! I promise you.

I think the problems come in when we force ourselves to act happy when deep down we aren’t even feeling slightly smiley. Life is not easy, and the last year has tested me in ways I never would have imagined. However, that being said, I have surrounded myself with an incredible support system. I am thankful for my family and friends who are always there for me, and I for them. I think we all need to remember that it is okay to not always be happy; the key though, is not letting that sadness or anxiety take over our lives.

So for those who are trying to put on a brave face, it is okay to simply go home and cry for as long as you need. Let it out and you will be amazed at how much better you feel. It is okay not to have the answer and it is okay to feel stuck and confused. This is our time to be asking these questions, because one day we will look back and laugh at the questions, because by then we will know the answers.