26 Lessons I Learned This Year

26 Lessons I Learned This Year

Last year on my 25th birthday, I wrote a post called 25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but I’m back with a similar post in honor of my 26th birthday. This time I thought I’d share lessons I learned this past year specifically. It was a year of a lot of change and personal growth, so I found it surprisingly easy to come up with 26 lessons I wanted to share with you all.

So, in no particular order, here are 26 things I learned this year:

  1. I learned to embrace all parts of myself, especially the parts I try to hide, suppress, or deny. In Jungian psychology, there’s something called the “shadow”, which essentially refers to the things we don’t like about ourselves. Those personality traits we wish we didn’t have. This year I’ve finally learned to embrace my shadows and listen to the gifts they are trying to give me.
  2. I learned that putting myself first is not selfish. I finally started looking out for my own best interests, and standing up for myself.
  3. I learned I need to take responsibility for my own happiness. I can complain all I want, and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way, but at the end of the day I am the only person who has control over how I’m feeling.
  4. I learned that not doing something for fear of failure feels much worse than trying and failing. I had my fair share of “failures” this year, but I also had a lot of moments of courage that paid off. I always regret non-action more than I regret trying and failing.
  5. I learned everyone has a different timeline for their life. My life might not follow the exact same path, or timeline, as my friends. And that’s okay. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I will get everything I want in life exactly when I am meant to.
  6. I learned that every year will bring new friendships. I always like thinking about the people who helped me celebrate my birthday this year, versus last year. Each year brings so many amazing new friends into my life.
  7. I learned forgiving others and forgiving yourself can set you free. Holding grudges causes so much stress, and really weighs me down. This year I finally learned how to let go of the past, from things others have done wrong to things I have done wrong.
  8. I learned to use my voice to stand up for what I believe in, and share my opinions. I spent so many years feeling afraid to be vulnerable and talk about how I really feel. This year I finally realized people want to hear what I have to say.
  9. I learned there’s always someone else going through something similar. Talking about what I’m going through (on this blog, social media, or in person) can help others feel less alone.
  10. I learned therapy and life coaching only gets me so far if I don’t make the effort to help myself. I’m unashamed to say I’ve utilized therapy and coaching this year, and both have helped me a lot. But they are certainly not a cure. I have to find ways to help myself.
  11. I learned feeling better on a daily basis is as simple as doing more of what makes me feel good, and less of what makes me feel bad. One of the ways I’ve started helping myself is by doing more “self-care” which just means doing more of what lifts me up, and less of what brings me down.
  12. I learned most things in life aren’t black and white, and most situations and people are way more complicated than they seem. I changed my perspective on a lot of topics this year by being more open-minded and realizing not everything is as simple as it seems.
  13. I learned that a simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way. There were plenty of times this year where I messed up and was worried I couldn’t fix it. But in my experience, just saying sorry was the key, and people are more forgiving than I expected.
  14. I learned past traumas will follow me until I stop avoiding or suppressing the memories. I finally started acknowledging, and more importantly, talking about past experiences I hadn’t been ready to confront in the past. It really helped to stop bottling it up.
  15. I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable. People really appreciated it when I opened up more this year and wasn’t afraid to be emotional or talk about difficult topics.
  16. I learned I can’t predict or plan how my life will go. I have to just live in the moment. I’ve always been a planner, and I hate not knowing what’s going to happen in my life. But I took a step back this year and learned to appreciate the unknown.
  17. I learned my intuition is almost always right, and I need to listen when that inner voice is telling me something. I’m the queen of second guessing myself, but this year I started to get the hang of trusting myself more and not ignoring my gut feeling.
  18. I learned some of the best memories will be the simple moments. This year was filled with game nights, deep conversations at coffee shops, going on walks with my mom, weekly dinners with my dad, happy hours with friends. The simple times are the moments that stay in my mind.
  19. I learned it’s okay to ask for help. I’m the type of person who always wants to figure things out for myself, and I always feel hesitant to admit I need help. I’m finally starting to break that habit.
  20. I learned not every job will be the right fit, and I deserve to find a job that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. Job satisfaction is something I’m still striving for, and this year made me realize I need to make it a priority.
  21. I learned it’s okay to be single. I was single this entire year, and I learned a lot about myself and finally got to a point of seeing the benefits of being alone.
  22. I learned I want to see as much of the world as I can. Travel is such a passion for me, and I’m glad I made an effort to travel more last year. I intend to do the same in 2019!
  23. I learned being my own worst critic doesn’t do me any good. Beating myself up always makes things worse. I might as well be my own biggest supporter!
  24. I learned exercising and eating healthier really does make me feel better. It seems obvious, but I spent a long time avoiding it and finally started embracing a healthier life towards the end of 2018.
  25. I learned everyone else is just as confused and scared as I am. Whatever I’m feeling at any given time, there are countless others feeling the same way. We’re all just doing the best we can!
  26. I learned a year goes by just like that, so I can’t waste a single day. Here’s to the best year yet!

Which lesson(s) do you relate to the most? What are some lessons you learned this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

It’s been a while since my last blogger interview, but this one was definitely worth the wait! I’m excited to introduce you all to Cami Fannin of Cami Like a Tank Top. Cami and I actually met in our sorority in college, and we also both majored in Strategic Communication. I was always impressed by how kind (skip to her answer for question 10 if you don’t believe me) and smart Cami was, and I’ve enjoyed following her blog and Instagram account over the past year.

I was excited to hear her perspective on things, because I find all of her content to be extremely inspirational! I think you all will agree when you read this interview. Cami talks honestly about how she manages to stay true to herself and create genuine content, and has great advice for anyone starting out in the blogging world.

So without further adieu, let’s dive into the interview!

  1. To start things off, can you share one “fun fact” most people don’t know about you?

I’m awful at fun facts – can that be it? HAHA! I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that I was once trained in flying trapeze and wanted to join the circus for a while! I’ve also never broken a bone, except for my right pinky toe twice.

  1. I’d love to hear the origin story of Cami Like A Tank Top. What inspired you to start a blog and second Instagram? Did you have a specific goal in mind? Did you have any fears going into it?

I’ve always been a creative writer and stylist in a sense. I used to want to become a fashion magazine editor or fashion buyer, so I played around with many different blogs over my lifetime. I actually recently found my very first blog I wrote with my friend in middle school, so if you want a good laugh check it out here: http://couturecrazed.blogspot.com/.

I stopped blogging my senior year of college because I just didn’t have the time or direction to turn it into something of worth. A few months later, I was graduating college, getting engaged, turning 21, moving to a new city, and starting my first full time job all at the same time. I couldn’t find articles on the advice I needed, like how to make new friends in a city and how to negotiate your salary. I saw there was a gap between college bloggers and “adult” bloggers who cooked 3 course meals and wore designer clothing. I decided to launch Cami Like a Tank Top last year to provide conversations on how to adult, which incompasess topics on style (focused on affordable items from Target and H&M), wellness, adulting, relationships and more!

In terms of goals, I try not to get too caught up in the “I want to hit X amount of followers” or “collaborate with X brand” type goals. My goal is to just have a creative outlet and foster a community. I want my blog to be like a friend – providing some fun anecdotes and real advice.

I had a million fears! I still do. I actually kept my blog a secret and didn’t tell anyone I knew personally about it for about 6 months because I was embarrassed people were going to judge me or criticize me. I don’t have the largest following (but I do have the best, they are all so amazing!) so I thought people would think I’m stupid for trying something like this and not succeeding quickly. Luckily I’ve found that the blogging community is insanely supportive of everyone regardless of your following, content, etc. We all want each other to succeed in whatever our goals are.

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  1. One of the things I struggle with most is finding time to blog and focus on Instagram, on top of a full time job. Not only do you have a full time job, but you’re also planning a wedding! Do you have any tips for managing your time and staying motivated?

Oh my gosh, if I did then all my problems would be solved! Honestly that has been my biggest struggle. I get very overwhelmed but I just take it day-by-day. I’m sure I could dedicate more time to my blog if I didn’t have a full-time job or a wedding, but my blog was never supposed to be more than a hobby for me. I’m so thankful for what it has become, but I always remind myself at the end of the day, it’s just Instagram. I can control how much time I put into it and I may be a “smaller account” because of that, but life is so so so much more than that app for me right now.

That didn’t really answer your question so for time management I recommend making a schedule and planning out content well in advance. I normally have 1-2 shoot days a month where I just cram in different outfits and shoots to have content for the next few weeks. I also try to write on the weekends or 1-2 nights of the week after work. I also have a schedule for when I post certain series and I have sale trackers to help me plan out sale alert posts. It’s all about being prepared.

Motivation is a different story. I’m actually going through a bit of a re-brand because I found myself constantly uninspired and unmotivated. I thought about deleting my blog, but I realized I just needed to pivot what I was blogging about and I feel so much more inspired. I would suggest taking time away if you are unmotivated and really think about what content you are producing and why. If you can’t answer that, you’re probably forcing whatever you’re doing and if you force it too much, it will cause you unnecessary stress and lower your content quality.

  1. A lot of people struggle with comparing themselves to others, and worrying about not being good enough, especially when we spend so much time on social media. What’s your advice for staying positive and self-confident?

Hi, this is me right now! I think the best thing to remember is that everyone, and I mean everyone, goes through this. It’s hard to see someone’s post or following and not compare it to yours. I just try to remember that what you are seeing is most likely a highly-styled photo that was taken by a photographer and then edited – it’s gorgeous and well-thought out but it’s not representative of real life. It’s a highlight – a carefully crafted highlight. Nothing wrong with that on its own but you can’t compare that photo to what you see in the mirror. Be yourself and just have fun. In particular for social media, if it stops being fun, take a break and/or unfollow that person. I promise you it is the best thing you can do for yourself.

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  1. I’m a huge proponent of women supporting women, and working to lift each other up. Who are some of your idols in the blogging and Instagram community, and why?

There are so many are you kidding me?! I love the entire Instagram community. If I had to choose, I love Lauren of Lake Shore Lady, Kate of Classy and Kate, Wesley of Have a Wesley Day and Katie of Katie’s Bliss. These ladies have so much fun putting together their content and you can see that genuine passion in their photos. I love how they engage with everyone, and even before I started blogging, these ladies would reply to my emails and comments and really cared about the community they were fostering. I definitely look up to them. I also love Lucie Fink because her content is just inspiring in the deepest sense. She reminds me that it is important to constantly learn new things and open up your creativity every day.

  1. What is one piece of advice you’d give someone who wants to start their blogging/Instagram journey?

Really really realllllyyy evaluate why you are doing it, what your goals are and how you plan to get there. I wish I had thought more about this because I probably would’ve saved myself lots of stress. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “Instagram game” and to think you want to be like X when that’s not you. That’s a lesson I’m going through right now. I got so caught up with followers and engagement and collaborations that I really lost my voice. I was posting content that was not genuine to myself and I was basically forcing it to be like every other top blog out there. Now that I’m creating content that is genuine to who I am outside of the blog, I’m having much more fun. I had to remind myself that for me personally, this is supposed to be a fun hobby, not a job.

Blogging takes hard work. It sounds silly at first, but it is hard work and it’s frustrating and there’s a lot of judgement from the outside world. You have to have thick skin and be ready to overcome all of those challenges and more.

Sorry if that’s a little harsh, but I wish someone was as honest with me starting out. With that said, if you really want to do this, go for it! Blogging is such a fun thing to learn and create. When starting one, I also recommend reaching out to people you admire on the platform. I DM’d a lot of amazing women who are now my blogging friends. You never know what could happen.

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  1. What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My fiancé, my family & friends (because friends are basically my family) & a healthy body that loves green juice (I just drank that so it’s top of mind right now!).

  1. We originally met back in college, in our sorority. What is one piece of advice you would give to College Cami?

YES, BOOM BOOM (ADPi’s will understand). I would tell College Cami to stop planning, and just enjoy. I spent all of college preparing for post-college life. I got an internship my freshman year and always had a side job or internship after that. I once had 5 jobs, on top of school. I was obsessed with my future career. Once I met Jake I just focused on graduating and moving in with him and our future relationship. I barely enjoyed senior year because of that. Very rarely in school did I ever just stop and realize where I was at the moment. I didn’t go out very often or do crazy adventures. I was so obsessed with the next step and treated college just as a stepping stone to my future. I would recommend to anyone to just enjoy where you are. Focus on your career, yes, but adult life hits you fast so enjoy being young and irresponsible for a little while.

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

That’s tough but I would say that I most proud of the career I’ve built, and I hope to continue building it. I’ve always wanted to be a C-suite exec or entrepreneur so we will see what happens!

As for blogging, I’m proud of where I am right now and the content I have coming up. I remember feeling so happy when I was accepted into RewardStyle (Like to Know It) and called my mom crying that I was “a real blogger now!” because that’s what I thought it took to be a “real blogger” (spolier alert, that isn’t)! 10K Instagram followers would be my next goal because I think the swipe-up feature is fun.

I’m also proud to have run my first 5K this summer after saying I was going to do it for 5+ years!

  1. I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, what would you choose, and why?

As a funny response, I would say the power to conjure up cookies at any moment. In a more serious sense, I wish I had the power to take away someone’s emotional pain. Like if a girl was crying over a boy, I wish I could hand her a teddy bear and Ben & Jerry’s to make her feel better. Or be able to give super hugs that just heals someone’s heart when they get one.

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I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Cami! You can find her on Instagram @camilikeatanktop and at her blog www.camilikeatanktop.com.

I’d love to get to know you all better. Pick your favorite question from this interview and add your answer in the comments below!

Book Review: Why Not Me?

Book Review: Why Not Me?

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I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last book review! I definitely want to write more this year, I’ve just been really busy lately, and I haven’t had a regular reading schedule for myself. But I finally got around to reading this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts.

Mindy Kaling has been one of my celebrity idols for a while now. From writing and acting in my favorite show of all time, The Office, to creating her own show, The Mindy Project, I have been following Mindy’s career for a long time and have been impressed with everything she’s accomplished. She also happens to be hilarious, and very inspiration when she wants to be. Not to mention she is an amazing writer. Mindy, if you’re reading this, I’m basically in love with you. No big deal.

I read Mindy’s first book and loved it, so I knew I would like this one if it was anything like the first. And it was, in all the best ways, while still bringing fresh topics and jokes to the table. It’s also full of great quotes, both inspirational and comical, so I thought I would try writing this review a bit differently. I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book, along with a bit of context. Hopefully this will give you enough of a sneak peek to make you want to read the book yourself.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t got it, flaunt it. ‘Cause what are we doing here if we’re not flaunting it?” 

This quote is from the chapter Unlikely Leading Lady, where Mindy tackles the topic of body image. She talks candidly about her relationship with her body, and the way the media tends to focus on her appearance since, as she puts it “women who are my size are so rarely seen on TV and film.” She also talks about how, although she has had her fair share of body image issues, in general her brain is filled with more important thoughts than what she weighs or whether or not she should eat dessert.

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“As calm as I might be, still, about once a month, I wake up at 4 a.m. and lie in the dark worrying about the same handful of things.” 

This was from a short chapter at the end of the book, aptly titled 4 a.m. Worries. I liked this quote (and this chapter) because Mindy shared some of the real worries that keep her up at night. It made me feel better to know even someone as successful as Mindy still has fears in life. Some of the fears she listed included: what if I have nothing to say? What if I have too much to say and not enough time? 

“Confidence is like respect. You have to earn it.”

In the final chapter of the book, Mindy explains the connection between hard work and confidence. She states confidence must be earned, just like respect. And it must be earned after a lot of hard work. She fights against the idea shown in many movies and TV shows, that working too much is a bad thing. “I have never, ever, met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them.” 

I loved this quote because I think it is so inherently true, no matter where you live or who you interact with in life. As Mindy mentions, “That’s why the show Intervention is a hit, and everyone loves ‘worrying about’ Amanda Bynes.” People don’t like seeing others succeed, because it reminds them of everything they haven’t been able to do yet. Mindy goes on to say it perfectly: “When you’re winning it makes them feel like they’re losing, or worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me. There were so many other hilarious and inspirational parts of the book, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what they were! Comment below which quote was your favorite, and if you have already read this book or plan to in the future.