Finding my voice

Finding my voice

When I was in middle school, I internalized a message I felt I was receiving from peers: you’re too much. Too loud, too hyper, too goofy, too talkative, too whatever. I started to feel like people didn’t like me. Like maybe there was something wrong with my personality. Even though I had great friends and family who I knew loved me, I started letting the opinions of a few dictate how I felt about myself.

After eighth grade, I switched from my small private school to a large public school. I remember thinking it was my chance to start over, to have a clean slate. I only knew one person at my new school, so I thought I could “reinvent” myself and become the type of person people liked.

I went into 9th grade craving validation. I became shy, quiet, scared to say much or show much of my personality, in case people didn’t like what they saw. I just wanted to “fit in.” When I look back at that time, I feel sad because I realize I had this wall up, too scared to truly let people get to know me for fear they wouldn’t like me.

When I got to college, I started to come out of my shell a bit as the years went by. I was still scared to share my opinions or show too much of myself. I was a “yes person”, always agreeing to what others said or believed. I was still stuck on the idea of being liked, and those old criticisms from my middle school classmates still rattled around in my head.

Starting this blog my junior year during study abroad was my first real step in being vulnerable and truly being myself. My first post shared a personal story I had never shared before, and it was the first glimmer of the personal nature my blog has now. When I graduated from college, I wrote a post about my post-grad struggles, and received a lot of positive feedback from other people who were feeling the same way. That was my first taste of how sharing your story can positively impact others! I liked that feeling. Maybe sharing my opinions, and taking up space, wasn’t so bad! Maybe those middle schoolers had been wrong.

Over the past few years I’ve seen myself open up even more, and slowly start to talk about topics I never thought I would talk about. I hardly recognize that scared, self-conscious young girl who thought she had to be quiet to be liked. I’ve finally realized that “being liked” is completely out of your control. All you can do is be kind and be yourself, and the people that are meant to be in your life and be supportive will find you! I’ve also realized that not only was I depriving others of getting to know me during the time when I had a wall up, but I was also depriving myself. It is so therapeutic to be vulnerable, to connect with people through storytelling and writing and sharing my truth. It can help others, but I think it actually helps me the most.

This path to self-discovery and finding my voice has been slow and painful at times, and I don’t think the journey ever really ends. I can’t sit here and say I feel 100% confident or 100% comfortable sharing my opinions in every situation, and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t think anyone ever reaches that 100%. What I do know is that I feel more myself today than I have for the past 27 years. I feel happy when I get to share my story through this blog, my podcast, and my Instagram, and my new TikTok account.

If you are someone who is still afraid of opening up, letting others in, or speaking your truth, it’s okay! It takes a lot of time and practice and patience. You’ll get there when you’re ready, just like I did.

What does it really mean to be vulnerable?

What does it really mean to be vulnerable?

Vulnerability is a word you probably hear thrown around a lot, but do you really know what it means? I recently watched Brene Brown‘s Netflix Special, “The Call To Courage”, and it opened my eyes to a new perspective on what it means to be vulnerable. Real vulnerability is achieved when we feel scared but push through the fear and do it anyway. When we feel ashamed about our past, but we choose to talk about it instead of hiding it. When we say “I love you” without knowing for sure if the other person feels the same way.

One of the defining characteristics of vulnerability is the presence of some kind of risk. According to Brene, “Vulnerability is the feeling you get when there’s uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure.” If you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable or scared in your life, you may not be letting yourself be vulnerable often enough, and this can actually have a negative effect on your ability to connect with others and have a fulfilling life!

One of the main misconceptions about vulnerability is that it is a sign of weakness. However, it’s actually the opposite. As Brene says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” It takes a lot of courage to be truly vulnerable, because it usually means making a decision that could lead to failure. Asking for a raise, starting your own business, telling someone you have feelings for them. You don’t really know if you will succeed in any of these moments, and in fact, you are likely to fail. But if you never try, that’s the real failure!

In Brene Brown’s TEDTalk on vulnerability, she says the word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means heart. The original definition of “courage” is: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” I absolutely LOVE that definition! I’d never thought of courage that way before, but it makes total sense. It takes great courage to be authentically you, to let people in to what you’re really thinking and who you really are. To tell your story. That’s vulnerability!

One of the main things that hinders vulnerable is shame. Shame is a feeling we all experience, and the only people who don’t have “no capacity for human empathy or connection” according to Brene. We’re scared to be vulnerable, because we’re ashamed of ourselves, ashamed of our past, of our feelings, of our desires. We’re afraid of being judged, of coming across as weak, of not being liked. But in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to really be seen. We have to harness that courage, push past the fear and shame, and let our voice be heard.

As I wrote about in this post, it’s always been difficult for me to open up to people. This blog has helped me with that immensely, and has been a great source of comfort for me when I need to get things off my chest. Finding my voice and being vulnerable isn’t easy, and I still struggle with wanting to bottle everything up and be the person I think people want me to be. Watching Brene’s special and reading more about her thoughts on vulnerability has been a huge eye-opener for me, and I feel ready to fully embrace my vulnerability moving forward! I know it won’t be easy, but nothing that’s worth it in life ever is.

What does vulnerability mean to you? When was the last time you felt truly vulnerable? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Facing Financial Fears

Facing Financial Fears

I’ve talked about my career change and the positive aspects of working with preschoolers, but I have yet to dive into the most challenging part of making the shift away from a steady 9-5 job: the financial side. Though I’ve covered plenty of personal topics on this blog, something about money feels even more personal. It seems as though money is quite a taboo topic, something we don’t often chat about with friends. We’ll talk about relationships without hesitation, but somehow bringing up money seems too difficult. There’s an element of embarrassment or fear of failure that goes along with finances that is similar, but still distinctly unique, from our feelings about dating or other common topics. I feel scared writing this blog post, but I know it’s a topic I need to talk about more. So here I go!

When I made the leap from working at a large, corporate company, to working at a small, fairly new preschool, I knew the risk I was taking financially. But I don’t think I understood, or wanted to understand, the full extent of what my choice meant. It’s no secret teachers don’t earn as much money as other fields, and I soon learned “childcare workers”, as I’m defined in the preschool world, earn even less than “school-age” educators (kindergarten through high school teachers). To put it candidly — and this makes me so scared to write for some reason, I think I’m afraid of looking weak but I’m saying it anyway— it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a preschool teacher. All of the teachers I work with have multiple side-jobs.

All that is to say, I took a huge financial risk to become a preschool teacher. For the past few months as I adjusted to my new job, I adapted an attitude of avoidance, thinking “it will all work out” in regard to my finances, without developing any sort of plan. My monthly income was cut drastically, and I was scared to confront that reality. I felt intense anxiety whenever I thought about my finances, and my coping mechanism was to just ignore, ignore, ignore. Like a monster under the bed, I was afraid of what I’d find hidden in the dark if I took the time to really examine my newfound financial situation. I knew deep down I’d need to put in a lot of work to figure out how to earn more money and put together a budget, and it made me feel exhausted thinking about it. So I chose a route of avoidance.

With the exception of a few small changes, I continued spending in the same manner I had when I was at my previous job. I saw the number in my checking account decreasing steadily, but I didn’t want to deal with what that meant. I was stubbornly hoping I could continue living the same way I had before, that nothing needed to change, and magically things would all work out. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Finally, slowly, I came to terms with the fact that I needed to stop this denial and start being real with myself. I needed to find alternative forms of income, and I needed to cut back on my expenses each month. Nothing was going to magically work out if I didn’t put in the work myself. I knew I needed a wake-up call, so I made a to-do list and started crossing things off:

  • I found a freelance job writing resumes and cover letters for clients.
  • I started putting feelers out and working more irregular gigs like babysitting, petsitting, and social media management.
  • I took a look at exactly how much I’m earning versus how much I’m spending each month, identifying how much extra money I need per month and areas I can cut back on spending.
  • I started opening up to friends and family about this topic.

The funny thing about avoidance is we know deep down it’s not going to help. Ignoring my finances didn’t magically give me more money, or assuage my anxieties. I still had a nagging voice in my head saying “You need to confront this. You can’t keep this up forever, Shelly!” My savings were still depleting. Those months I spent not paying attention to my spending, blindly hoping I was making enough money to support for my spending habits, I was just prolonging the inevitable. I eventually had to come back to reality and put in the work to get on the right track.

I was right that the work I needed to put in would be tiring. I don’t have everything figured out yet. I still have more work to do to feel confident in my financial situation. I still have the same anxiety about money, and the same embarrassment around talking about it. I don’t know if any of that will ever change, but I know one thing has changed: I’m facing my fears rather than avoiding. I’m taking action rather than remaining passive. I’m talking about this topic rather than bottling it all up. Leaving the world of avoidance and entering the world of action may still bring its fair share of exhaustion and anxiety, but it has also made me feel empowered and given me hope. It may take a while, but I know everything will work out, because I’m finally doing the work.

Do you have fears around money? Do you feel embarrassed or scared or anxious to talk about it? Have you ever made a career change and had to reevaluate your income? Let’s talk about it! I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

5 Lessons My Preschoolers Have Taught Me

5 Lessons My Preschoolers Have Taught Me

When I decided to make a career change to become a preschool teacher, one of my main motivations was the desire to learn something new. After working in Social Media Marketing since college, I felt like I wasn’t growing or learning any new skills, and I knew I was ready for a challenge. Since starting at my preschool in April, I have learned a lot through training courses, attending kids yoga teacher training, and an early childhood education conference. I always enjoyed school, so it’s been nice to be back in classroom-like settings to learn how I can be a better teacher.

As much as I hope I’ve been able to teach my preschoolers a thing or two over the past few months, I think I’ve learned even more from them. There’s a lot we can learn from children, and preschoolers are especially fun to learn from because they are so uninhibited by the world around them. I frequently look at my students and think “wow, I wish I was more like you!”

Here are some of the life lessons I’ve taken away from my last few months as a preschool teacher:

Don’t be afraid to share your emotions openly

Preschoolers have yet to learn about the societal pressures around pretending to be okay when you’re not. How many times have you answered with “fine” or “I’m good, how are you?” when someone asks you how you’re doing? One of my favorite things to witness is a child get upset, and when asked if they are okay, yell “No, I’m NOT OKAY!” There’s something quite refreshing about the idea of being honest with how you are truly feeling in a given moment. I teach my kids to communicate their emotions, and they remind me on a daily basis how important that is.

Forgive quickly and don’t hold grudges

It’s rare, if not impossible, to go through a single day without a fight. If you’ve never witnessed a fight between two tiny humans, it typically involves one or more of the following: Stealing a toy, screaming incoherently, pushing/hitting/pulling hair, immediately running to a teacher to tattle. It’s quite a sight to see! But what’s even better to watch is the post-fight making up, which typically involves one or more of the following: Saying “sorry” and “I forgive you”, hugging, promptly forgetting it ever happened 5 minutes later. If only adults were that quick to forgive and forget! In my experience, holding a grudge only hurts me, and learning to let go and forgive can really set you free.

Be observant and ask questions

Much like a fight, we cannot make it through a day at the preschool without being asked about a million different questions. “Ms. Shelly! Why is so-and-so sad? Ms. Shelly! What are you doing? Ms. Shelly! Why are we doing this?” As adults we tend to get so wrapped up in our own head that we forget to take a look around us and ask questions about what we’re seeing/experiencing. Sometimes the questions get excessive or intrusive, but it’s always entertaining. One of my all-time favorite (read: least favorite) moments was when I kid out of the blue asked me: “Do you have a baby in your belly?” LOL

Ask for, and go after, what you want

I’ve never heard a preschooler add qualifiers like “if it’s not too much trouble” or “if that’s okay” after asking for something they want. They just go for it! Whether it’s asking to be held, or saying they want to play with a toy, they’re straight forward and relentless when going after what they want. I often feel nervous or guilty asking for what I need from someone because I’m constantly worrying about how they will feel. I’m not saying we should all stop thinking of others, but when it comes things that are important to you, why not have the confidence of a toddler and just go for it?

Be yourself and don’t worry about what others think

Multiple times a day I look at one of my kids and think (or sometimes even say out loud) “You are SO WEIRD but I LOVE IT!” Preschoolers are at that innocent age where they don’t yet have an awareness of other people’s perceptions, so they can’t really worry about what others think. One of the things I’ve had to work on over the years is not caring so much about what other people think of me, and I feel inspired every day seeing how my preschoolers are unafraid to be their true, unique, silly selves.

Teaching preschoolers over the past few months has been a joy, and I can’t wait to learn more from them. Let’s all strive to be a bit more like a child sometimes, shall we?

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!

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!

My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

I hope all of my United States friends had a great Thanksgiving! I always take the time around this holiday to reflect on what I’m grateful for, and this year I’m happy to say I am thankful for a lot. It’s easy for me to get caught up in what I’m not happy with in my life, and what I wish was different. Writing this blog post has been a great exercise to remind myself of everything I am grateful for. I would encourage you all to write a gratitude list of your own after you read mine! 

  1. I’m thankful for my family, who supports me, inspires me, and loves me unconditionally. My family is so important to me. I know the holidays can be a stressful time for some people who may not get along well with their family, so I’m feeling grateful to have a family I genuinely love spending time with. 
  2. I’m thankful for my friends, both old and new, who I have shared so many fun memories with this year. My friends inspire me to get out of my comfort zone, open up and talk about my feelings, and just live life to the fullest. I have made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and kept existing friendships thriving this year. Friendships really are one of the most beautiful parts of life. 
  3. I’m thankful for a job that gives me opportunities and luxuries that not everyone has. This year I was able to travel to Costa Rica, Seattle, Laguna Beach, and Orlando. I moved into a house and am able to save my money and feel financially stable. No job is perfect, but there is a lot for me to be thankful for with this one.
  4. I’m thankful for my body. I went to a yoga class this morning for the first time in a while, and was reminded that my body is so strong and gives me so much. It’s easy to get wrapped up in how our body looks, but I was reminded this morning that how we feel is so much more important. 
  5. I’m thankful for my mind. I’ve worked hard over the past couple of years to maintain a healthy mind through therapy. Though mental health is always a work in progress, I feel lucky to be feeling relatively healthy in my mind and soul. 
  6. I’m thankful for the city I call home. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and I feel so lucky to still live here now. Every week there are new events going on, from live concerts, to pop ups like the FOMO Factory, to art installations like the Waller Creek Show
  7. I’m thankful for music. I started teaching myself to play the keyboard this year, and have gotten back into singing as well. Music has always been an important part of my life, and I’m happy I’ve found a way to keep up my passion.
  8. I’m grateful for travel. As I mentioned above, I was able to travel quite a bit this year. I’m so grateful for all of the memories, life lessons, and new friendships that have formed from my trips. I can’t wait to travel even more in 2019!
  9. I’m grateful for myself.  I am often my own harshest critic, but deep down I love myself and am so proud of everything I have accomplished, and the person I have become. I’ve heard people say you should be your own best friend, and this year I have really made that happen.
  10. I’m grateful for this blog, and for each and every person who takes the time to read what I write. A little cheesy, I know, but it’s true! I started this blog on a whim almost five years ago, and I am constantly grateful to have an outlet for my creativity, and people who care about what I have to say. 

What’s on your gratitude list 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!

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

In my last blog post, I wrote about trying to be more vulnerable. I want share my thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics on this blog, in the hopes that some of you can relate. So with that in mind, today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately, which is the idea of feeling left out.

In the spirit of vulnerability, I’m going to start by sharing one of my most vivid childhood memories that deals with feeling excluded. In fourth grade, I had become very close with a girl in my class. We would wear matching outfits to school so we could be “twins”, and were attached at the hip for most of that year. Then suddenly, my friend started spending time with another girl. I noticed the two of them walking to classes together and playing on the playground without me, and I started feeling jealous and hurt. I was worried I was losing my best friend.

I remember one day in particular, we were walking to PE class. I saw my friend and her new bestie walking in front of me. I tried to catch up with them, but they turned around, looked at me, and walked faster to avoid me. Not only did this make me feel even more sad, but it also made me angry. In fact, I still remember exactly how angry it made me feel, and I would argue to this day that is the angriest I have ever felt in my entire life. I was so angry that when we were running laps in PE class a few minutes later, I ran behind Friend Stealer and pushed her down! Or rather, I attempted to push her down. My skinny, weak self only managed to make her stumble.

Moving on to current times, I think social media has only made it easier to feel left out. I recently checked Instagram, only to see some of my friends hanging out without me. Granted, I already had plans that night, but I still got that familiar pit in my stomach when I saw their Stories. Social media makes it so easy to see what other people are doing at all times, so it’s easy to feel left out or get FOMO. When situations like this come up, I notice that my first internal reaction is similar to how I felt in fourth grade. I start to think negative thoughts like, “am I losing my friends? They probably don’t want to hang out with me anymore.”

Now, I want to be clear that deep down, I don’t truly believe those kind of negative thoughts. When I try to take my emotions out of it and just look at the situations logically, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that does not involve people purposefully excluding me. But that’s the thing about emotions, isn’t it? You really have no control over how something makes you feel. The only thing you have control over is how you choose to react. Luckily, as an adult, I have gained the ability to stop myself from outbursts like pushing someone down when they exclude me. I no longer feel the overwhelming anger building up inside me, but I do still feel the sadness.

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When I experience situations where I feel left out, I choose to focus on the positive side of things. I remind myself of all the friends who are making an effort to spend time with me. Instead of letting the negative self-talk consume me, I attempt to change the narrative in my head. I think about all of the fun times I’ve had with friends recently, and remind myself that those fun times aren’t going to end just because a few people hung out without me. Sometimes by just thinking a little more logically about the situation, I’m able to make myself feel a little better.

It’s fascinating to me how, although we undoubtedly mature as we age, we still face many of the same emotional struggles as we did when we were kids. We just learn how to handle them better. Instead of pushing someone down, I’m choosing to get my feelings out in a blog post, and focusing on the positives in life. Yay for being more mature than my fourth grade self!

Do you have any childhood memories of feeling left out? Do you still have moments of feeling that way now? Let me know your experiences in the comments!