I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’ve never done things at the same time as other people. My life has always seemed to march to the beat of its own drum. When I was a teenager and my friends were getting their first boyfriends, I still hadn’t even had my first kiss. I remember feeling embarrassed and confused. “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I so behind?”

Ten plus years later and I still feel that way at times. Now my friends are getting married, getting promotions, going to grad school, buying houses. Meanwhile I’m single, starting over in a completely new career, unsure what the future holds. I often wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Those same fears from my teenage years creep back into my mind. “Why am I so behind?”

I have to constantly remind myself there’s no “right” time to do things, no “correct” timeline for my life. Just because other people are doing things sooner than I am, doesn’t mean I’m behind. When I did finally get my first kiss and my first boyfriend, I remember thinking in hindsight that the timing was perfect. It may not have happened the same way, or at the same time, as my friends, but it happened the way it was supposed to for me and my life. Just like my first kiss and first boyfriend, I know all of the things I want to happen in my life will happen for me in due time. I just have to be patient.

Everyone’s timeline is different, and that’s what makes life so unpredictable and beautiful at the same time. Imagine how boring life would be if you knew exactly what was going to happen to you, and when? Where’s the fun in being able to predict, or control, the timeline of your life? Part of what makes life interesting and exciting is how impossible it is to plan what will happen next!

A year ago, or even six months ago, I never would have guessed where I would be today. I had no idea I would make a huge career change to become a preschool teacher. I didn’t know I would be moving into a condo by myself in an area of town I’ve never lived in before (blog post about my move coming soon!) I may not be getting married or buying a house this year, but I’m sure I will have other big milestones happen that I never would have imagined a few months ago. I’m ready for whatever life wants to throw at me! I’m just along for the ride.

Do you ever feel behind? What do you do to help yourself feel better? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. I’d love to hear how you relate to this topic!

A Career Change From the Heart

A Career Change From the Heart

For the first time in my career, I made a decision with my heart instead of my head. I took a chance. My intention for this year was to have more courage, and this definitely took a hell of a lot of courage. It’s not easy to make a big change, and I’m so proud of myself! I feel as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders, and I want to shout from the rooftops, “I DID IT!”

A little background

I have always been an over-thinker, preoccupied with wondering if I’m doing the “right” thing. I like to feel like I have everything figured out when in reality I rarely do (nobody does). When I was in college I spent every summer interning at a different company because I thought that was what a good college kid did. All of my internships ended up focusing on social media marketing, so I decided that was what I would do when I graduated.

I still remember my last semester of college as if it were yesterday, frantically applying and interviewing for jobs I felt completely qualified for, only to be rejected or “ghosted” by all of them. In hindsight I wonder if that was the universe trying to send me a signal. “Do you really want to go down this career path or do you just think it’s your only choice?” 

I finally got a job about five months after graduating, worked there for a little over a year, decided I hated it, moved on to another job a few months later, decided I hated it and got fired…I see now it was a vicious cycle I needed to break, but it just took me a while to come to terms with that fact. I think deep down I’ve known for years that social media and marketing wasn’t fulfilling me. I didn’t feel challenged or satisfied, and I felt a sense of dread every Sunday when I thought about going back to work the next day.

A discovery period

I knew I was ready for a change and was optimistic that there was a better career fit out there for me, so when I was fired a few months ago, I took the time to do some soul searching. I applied and interviewed for a lot of different types of jobs, from event planning to recruiting. I was waiting for an epiphany to happen, where I would suddenly realize what I was wanted to do. It felt as if it would never come, but then, when I was least expecting it…

BOOM! Suddenly it all became clear. I want to work with kids! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved children. Starting around age 10 I worked as a “Mother’s Helper”, then a Babysitter, then a camp counselor. I’m the type of person who will stop and stare at a cute baby on the street before I notice the cute puppy. Being around children brings me a certain joy, similar to how I feel when I’m outside on a beautiful sunny day. When I thought about working with young children, I felt happy. It felt right.

But I was still scared. Am I crazy? Should I really make this big of a change in my career? CAN I really make this big of a change? Will anyone hire me? What if I don’t like it after all? All of these questions ran through my head over and over again, but I knew I had to give it a try.

And boy did giving it a try pay off! I applied and landed an interview, and then a position as a sub, at a preschool here in Austin. They let me try out subbing for a couple weeks to get a feel for the school and see how I liked it, and to see if they thought I’d be a good fit.

The preschool is unique because it was created with a yoga-type philosophy, focusing on social & emotional development, play, and mindfulness. I really resonated with the mission of the school, having gone to the Austin Waldorf School when I was young, which has very similar values.

A new chapter

As of last week, I am officially an Assistant Teacher at the preschool, working with the youngest group, ages 18 months to 2 years! I’ll be completing trainings over the next few months, and will get the opportunity to do yoga teacher training this summer. I love everyone I work with (kids and other adults) and I’m so glad I took this leap!

I feel happy at work. HAPPY. This weekend I actually felt excited to go back to work on Monday. EXCITED. No more of that familiar Sunday Dread. I feel challenged every day, and no day has been the same. I’m constantly learning and growing and observing. I can already tell the kids are going to teach me just as much as I teach them. I’m just feeling genuinely content with where I am, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

If you’re feeling unhappy at your job, maybe it’s time for a change. Don’t feel stuck just because you have a certain college degree, or you’ve been doing one kind of job for years. It’s never too late to change course. What do you love to do? What skills do you have? When you close your eyes, what job can you imagine yourself truly enjoying? I promise you have more possibilities than you might think. You just have to be brave!

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!

My 2019 Intention

My 2019 Intention

I know, I know, I’m a little late on the New Year post, as we’re already a month into 2019. But I figured better late than never! Today I wanted to share my intention for the year. I like the word intention better than resolution, because for me it feels more tied to an overall message I want to carry with me for the year, versus specific goals that may or may not be achieved.

I recently heard the idea of choosing one word that you want to represent your intention, and I’ve decided my word for 2019 is Courage. I want this to be the year I move past fear to really get the things I want, from my job, to my hobbies, to relationships. I’ve always been a pretty timid and fearful person, even from a young age (just ask my parents) so I want to work on getting out of my comfort zone more this year, and not letting fear get in the way of my happiness.

Over the past month, I’ve already had some great moments of courage. For me it’s about doing small things that scare me on a regular basis. One of those things was opening up about losing my job, which I’ve done in a blog post, on social media, and individually with people in my life. One of my proudest moments so far was sending an email to some of my old coworkers to let them know why I left. This felt big for me because I was scared about being judged, but I pushed past that and did it anyway.

I’ve received great responses from people in regard to these moments of courage. One of my old coworkers told me he hopes he’d be brave enough to send an email like the one I sent. I’ve had friends tell me they are going through something similar at work and it felt good to know they aren’t alone. These positive responses have helped me feel like I’m on the right track with this intention of courage, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me this year!

What is your word or intention for this year? How is it going so far? Comment and let me know!

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

For a little over a year, I had a great job. Or rather, the kind of job that looks great on a resume. When I got the job offer in September of 2017, I thought “I would be stupid not to take this offer!” I was making more money than I ever had before. The job came with more vacation days than I could use in a year, and extra perks like free lunches twice a week. It was the kind of job my friends were jealous of. The catch? I wasn’t happy.

“Nobody likes their job!” That was the most common response people gave me over the past few months when I expressed I had grown unhappy at work. I knew in my gut I wanted to leave, but that response made me feel like I should just suck it up. Like maybe I was overreacting and needed to just grow a thicker skin, because everyone else was in the same boat.

“If everyone is right and nobody likes their job, then I guess it’s just something I need to get used to and stop complaining about. Maybe seeking happiness at work is unrealistic. Will I be any happier at a new job? Maybe I’m the problem, and I’m just not fit to be in a 9 to 5 job! Maybe things will get better if I just try harder and stick it out…”

My inner thoughts over the past few months

I let other people’s opinions and comments about how “nobody likes their job” get to me. I decided that if I worked harder, and tried on a “fake it till you make it” attitude, maybe things would magically get better at work. The problem was, I didn’t feel passionate or satisfied with anything I was doing. I was burning myself out on a job I didn’t love. Before too long this started to reflect in my work. I wasn’t performing as well as I could have. Which only made my satisfaction at work plummet even more.

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I seek approval from others, as well as from myself. I so badly wanted to make this job work, to prove I was competent and capable and good enough. I was terrified of failure, of being judged, of what people would think of me if I didn’t succeed. It took me back to the feeling of being a teenager, scared of making anything less than an A in school. Or a 20-something avoiding sharing the news that my relationship had failed.

This blog provides an outlet for me to be vulnerable and talk about things that are difficult to admit. It forces me to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life. Little by little, I’m ridding myself of the notion that I need to appear perfect to everyone in my life. It’s so freeing to let go of that and just be open and honest. So here goes: I lost my job. I tried to make it work, and I failed.

It was a surreal experience because, like I said above, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t actually want to be there. But my fear of failure and of other people’s judgements was stronger than my desire to leave. The silver lining is that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and changed my perspective on job satisfaction. My opinion is, if you truly are unhappy in your job, don’t ignore that! It’s okay to walk away. Don’t let fear of failure overpower your own happiness. Trying to force yourself to be happy never works. Ignoring those feelings will only backfire, and it will all catch up to you eventually. 

So where am I now? I’m what I like to call “happily unemployed.” I’m taking some time to really think about what I want and need out of my next job. Do I want to continue working in the social media field, or do I want to make a career change? This is the main question I’m asking myself as I assess my options and look for a new job. The main thing I’m feeling right now is excitement for the future. I don’t know where I’ll be a month from now, but I’m ready for a new beginning!

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you didn’t love? Do you agree with the idea that “nobody likes their job”? Let me know in the comments!

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last blog post! I’ve been wanting to write again for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what to write about and I’ve also been very busy so it’s been easy to make excuses as to why I can’t blog. But here I am, and that’s all that matters!

I think this post will be a bit of a stream of consciousness. I like the idea of just sitting down and writing instead of overthinking what I should write about. So apologies if this is all over the place.

The short answer to where I have been these past two months is: working. I started a brand new job the first week in October after taking some time off from work for about three months. It’s crazy that a month and a half has already gone by at my new job! I’ve been loving it so far, from the work I’m doing to the people I’m surrounded by, to the overall culture of the company. I’m still doing social media marketing, so the work feels familiar, but I’m learning a lot of new things and I’m excited for the opportunities to learn even more and grow in this new position. Overall I’m feeling very hopeful for the future of my career, which is something I couldn’t have said a couple months ago.

The more abstract answer to “where have I been” is: working on myself. As I mentioned in my Life Changes post, I have been through a lot of changes in the past few years. What I didn’t mention is that I have also been through a lot of change in the past few months. Starting around May, things started to shift in my life, and at times I felt really out of control. I felt like everything was happening to me, and I will admit I probably played the victim a bit. I kept wondering why. Why was I forced to leave my job? Why did my relationship have to end? So many things happened over the summer and into early fall, and I won’t lie, it was really difficult for me.

I felt like I had two choices: I could either use this time as a growing experience, and try to learn more about myself and figure out how to be happy, or I could wallow in my misfortunes and give up. As you might be able to guess, I chose to be happy. I found my new job, which I feel so lucky to have been offered. I started spending more time with friends and family. And I started working harder by myself and in therapy to become a better version of me.

I wish I could say I had some kind of huge epiphany, or that I have some sage wisdom to share with you about what has changed in these past couple months to make me a happier person, but I don’t. All I know is that I am feeling really confident in who I am right now, and I’m feeling really happy with where my life is. Of course I still get sad and angry and scared like everyone else, but overall I feel that right now I am in a better place than I have been this entire year.

So with that said, I am making a commitment to improve myself even more, by doing things that make me happy. I’ve been working and spending a lot of time with friends, but as a result I have let some of my hobbies and passions fall to the side. I haven’t been blogging, and I haven’t been exercising as much as I’d like to. So I guess I’m using this blog post as a way to promise myself I will try harder to do those things more often. This blog post is a good start, and I am heading over to do some yoga with my mom after this!

Like I said at the beginning, this post was more of a stream of consciousness than anything, so bravo if you’re still with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d love if you would leave me a comment and let me know where you’ve been lately, however you’d like to interpret that question.

How To Navigate Life Changes

How To Navigate Life Changes

Fear of change is pretty much universal. Nobody likes the unknown, and everyone gets comfortable with what they are used to. But inevitably, our life will change whether we like it or not. Some changes are expected, and others are a total shock to us.

I don’t have any data to back this up, but I think our 20’s might be the time with the most change. As a 24-year-old, I feel the last four years have brought the most changes of my life so far. I studied abroad for a semester, graduated from college, got my first full-time job, moved into my own apartment, lost a relationship, left my job, had family structures shift, and lost my relationship again.

Through all of these changes, some good and some bad, I managed to keep my head up and stay relatively positive, using some of the tips I mention in my How To Stay Positive post.  Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways I have been able to navigate change, and I wanted to share some of my tips with you all.

Live In The Moment

As I mentioned above, everyone is afraid of the unknown. It’s easy to worry about the future, especially during times of change when our future seems so unknown to us. It’s also easy to dwell on the past, and wish that we could go back to what we had before. However, neither of these patterns serve to make us any happier. Change happens, and we can’t go back to what our life was like before. We also can’t predict what is around the corner. All we can do is make this day, this moment, the best it can be. Focus on living in the now, and let life take you where it takes you.

Embrace The Change

There is always a silver lining to whatever change you are experiencing. Change can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity to have a fresh start. You are starting a new chapter in your life, and you can take whatever course you want! I was terrified when I left my job, but I also felt a sense of freedom because now I can choose what I want my next step in my career to be. Do I want to continue working in social media? Do I want to give real estate a try? Or do I want to do something completely different? I’m embracing this life change and looking forward to what is to come.

Create Routines

Part of why change is so frightening is that we feel like we can’t control it. Feeling out of control is never fun, so I try to find small things in my life to take charge of, to set up a sense of routine. For example, my mom and I have been taking walks every morning during the week. Starting my day with a walk (and girl talk with my mom) not only helps me feel happier throughout the day, but it also helps me feel like I am in control of at least one portion of my life. Setting small routines like that is a huge help when everything around you seems a bit chaotic.

 

I hope this helped you all, or will be of help in the future when your next life change occurs. Let me know in the comments how you’ve been able to get through big changes in your life!

Dear 2016

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

I want to start out by thanking you. You threw a lot of changes, hardships and surprises my way, but every one of them taught me something and made me stronger. I also want to thank you for all of the beautiful, fun, magical moments you brought to me. If you talk to 2017, tell it to send a few more of those my way this year.

I started out the year pushing myself out of my comfort zone and signing up for an improv class. That decision turned out to be one of the best of the year. Improv brought me a new group of friends, gave me a hobby to focus on once a week, and also taught me countless life lessons. Though I decided to stop improv a few months ago, I will always be grateful for the time I spent with it in 2016.

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You brought one of the biggest changes of my life in March, 2016, moving into my very own apartment and learning to live all by myself for the first time. I remember agonizing over the decision of whether or not I wanted to live alone, but now that it has been about nine months, I am so glad I did. Being by myself has forced me to be more independent, and has also made me to learn how to balance alone time with social time, something I think I have been doing a great job of in the last few months.

2016, you really made me work for things this year. You pushed me to stop being lazy in life, and to go after what I want. This has manifested in many different aspects of my life, from improving my physical and mental health to being happier in my social and work life. I feel much more confident in what I want and what I need to do to get it, and I know I will only continue to be better about this in 2017.

You really tested my ability to stay positive during the last two months of the year, but in doing so, actually taught me to be more optimistic. At times it felt as though the hardship and tragedy was never ending; a breakup, the loss of a childhood friend, changes at work, political strife in our country. Through it all I managed to stay positive, and learned healthy coping mechanisms to get me through the days. I also learned the important lesson that no matter how bad things seem, there is always something to smile about.

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As I write this in the new year, I am so happy with where last year took me. I learned so much about myself and I grew a lot as a person, and I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have been in a while. I have an incredible support system around me, from friends to family to coworkers, and in some cases, these relationships have been strengthened by the tough times I had to face.

So thank you, 2016, for all of the moments that made up this year, good and bad. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring!

– Shelly