Summer Ground Rules

summer-birds-end

This summer, I’m not going on any big trips. I’m not starting any  new, hugely time consuming jobs. I’m not planning anything big at all, really. The current plan? Get myself more on track.

I’m turning 25 in July, and I came to the realization that I’m not where I would have liked to be for my impending age. I’m still in University, I’m not saving up to move out, I’m not dating anyone seriously to consider a long-term life with, I’m not working a career job… I don’t even have my driver’s license yet.

I’m not saying that I regret anything- I’ve done a lot of things, too. I’ve traveled to almost a dozen countries, spent two years working with a charity organization and raising almost $80,000 for charities around the world, continued to work as editor-in-chief for a music magazine that is slowly becoming more successful, I’ve managed over 30 people at once in my spare time, and I’ve gotten myself halfway through a Bachelor’s degree in business.

But at 25, I just wish I had found a way to procrastinate less, watch less TV, and spend less money. I wish I had found a way to start putting more money away for my future, or work on those pesky, annoying tasks that adults have to do (like, get a license). I’m turning 25 and I feel like I’m perpetually stuck at the age of 16. I’m so happy and proud of myself for all of my accomplishments, but I also feel like I’ve spent so much time working on some projects, that others get conveniently forgotten.

This summer, in an attempt to avoid the “quarter-life crisis” that I’ve half-joked is coming my way, I’m setting myself some ground rules, and some goals (those will come soon enough). Five rules that I’d like to remind myself of every single day, as I continue to work on myself  and hopefully accomplish a few things that bring me closer to a happier place in my life.

The Rules

1. Set an alarm 5 days a week.
I let sleep steal so many hours from me, and make me far too unproductive. I spent so much of my time in the last 6 months or so living on a lack of sleep, that I’ve spoiled myself with 9-10 hour nights’ of sleep lately. Whatever it takes, even if I need to get to bed a bit earlier, I want to be up earlier than 1o or 11, even on some of my days off.

2. Always make the tough choice.
I want to apply this to all areas of my life. Whether the choice is between chips or an apple; paying off a bill or going out for dinner; accomplishing an annoying task or watching TV, I want to make the decisions that make me a better person in the long-term, not just make me feel good in that instant.

3. Make the time. 
I often convince myself that certain things don’t get done because I didn’t have time for it, and “at least I got those other things done”. But the truth is, those other things aren’t always important. I want to make the time to do the things that are more important, and that I’ve somehow pushed back and forgotten about.

4. Do things for me. 
I have found myself so often very close to burning out, or being so over the edge of that cliff that I stop caring. I think about others a lot more than I think about myself, and I will always prioritize work that affects others before I take any time for me. In an attempt to avoid a burn out, I want to do more things for me. It’s important to make time for important things, but it’s also important to take an hour to read, or enjoy the nice day!

5. Take chances. 
I’ve been learning a thing or two about failure, these last few months, and it hasn’t been easy. But I imagine it’s good for me, and in the long-run I’ll see some great lessons come from it. The thing with failure, is it finds a way to inflict fear and self-doubt in you. I want to keep taking chances on myself, no matter how much I may grow to doubt a certain ability or another. New opportunities will never come if I don’t at least put myself out there and give things a try.

Excuses, Fitness, Discomfort, and How They All Fit Together

Yesterday

Anyone who has ever decided that THIS YEAR would be the year to get fit, eat better, and exercise more, knows that is much easier said than done. I’m no exception to this rule. I have promised myself, month after month, year after year, that NOW was the time to change my lifestyle, and THIS TIME I would do it right.

Yet, here I am in 2013, with several health and fitness related goals, none of which I have started or seem to have any willpower to get to, one month into the year.

Why is that? 

The truth includes two things. A lot of excuses, and a lot of hating how uncomfortable the whole process of CHANGING can be. Really, those two things are very much alike, but there you have it. Every day when I wake up, there’s another excuse in my mind as to why today is NOT the day I’ll be exercising, or eating better, or finding the time to cook some healthy meals.

Linda linked me to an amazing article in my post last week about writing. The piece is called ‘Discomfort‘ and I strongly urge you to go read it, because it is absolutely fantastic. The writer discusses how we all need to learn to be comfortable with discomfort; a notion I’ve come to embrace in many aspects of my life, although it is lacking in many others (like, being healthy for example).

Some points of the article stayed with me more than others, most likely because these are the parts of my life I’ve truly been wanting to focus on- namely, living a healthier lifestyle. Why is it so difficult for me to pick up, say, an apple, instead of reaching for a second cup of coffee?

Think about this: many people don’t eat vegetables because they don’t like the taste. We’re not talking about soul-wrenching pain here, not Guantanamo torture, but a taste that’s just not something you’re used to. And so they eat what they already like, which is sweets and fried stuff and meats and cheeses and salty things and lots of processed flour.

The simple act of learning to get used to something that tastes different — not really that hard in the grand scheme of life — makes people unhealthy, often overweight.”

And this is exactly the problem, isn’t it? Embracing discomfort in my life doesn’t just mean taking more chances in my everyday life, or focusing more on my writing. It’s about the parts of my life that I’m less apt to pay attention to, like my diet, which can so easily go out the window when I’m stressed  and have a million other things to worry about. I don’t want to worry about getting into some kind of new routine- I just want to enjoy the food that I enjoy, and I don’t want to feel guilty about it. Because I’m busy, after all.

Can we just take a step back for a second, and think of how little this makes sense? It’s like I turn into an ostrich when I’m too stressed; I stick my head in the ground and pretend that certain aspects of my life don’t exist, don’t need to be thought about.

I hate when I do it, but I am great at avoiding. I have avoided exercising so far in 2013 because it’s been too inconvenient. I have avoided cutting my daily crappy-food intake because it’s available, it’s easy, and I’m too busy. It’s just too uncomfortable to have to think of more than necessary.

I want to change this way of thinking. I want to spend more time in a zone of discomfort, even if I hate it almost as much as I hate avoiding these things, because at least this way I am doing something that is good for myself in the process.

I’ll start off small, but my hope is to start crossing off those healthy habit goals from my 2013 resolutions very soon. It’s time to get my head out of the ground, and into some good, healthy living habits. The article even states to ‘start small’. Starting somewhere is better than not doing it at all.

Will you join me in a little healthy discomfort? 

Fall Goals

I’m in love with my new Community-inspired mug. & Fall REQUIRES a good coffee mug!

My life has been on fast forward these last few months. I took a (huge) break from goals while I traveled & then without even realizing it this month of September. I’ve been keeping ridiculously busy, though (if you hadn’t noticed?!) and sometimes I’m surprised at how well I’ve been able to keep up my blogging schedule. Of course that means other things have been given up for my writing, which makes me sad, but that’s just the way things go for now. When/if I feel a little bit less inspired, I’ll turn back to those other hobbies of mine that have taken a backseat. (I miss you, reading!)

Now that Fall is officially in full swing- not just a bit of a chill in the morning, it’s boot & leather jacket weather in Montreal- and my “vacation season” is over, it’s time to really shift my focus and get my head in a good place for the rest of my school semester. I’m more motivated to NOT procrastinate than I’ve ever been, and I want to keep up that momentum. I want to get back to goal setting in a moderate way that allows me to keep track of all the things I need to do on a daily basis, but also allows me some free time to continue to do the things I love.

This post was inspired by Dana who wrote something very similar here

- Take more walks

I miss the feeling I had this summer of being active every single day while I traveled. I miss walking and exercising, and I don’t want to get out of shape because the weather is cooler. More walks in my neighborhood & maybe some day trips to pretty hiking and walking trails nearby on weekends would be awesome. Especially on those days when I miss traveling most!

- Learn the art of a good to-do list

I love writing To-Do lists, I always have. I’m so busy with three jobs AND school, though, that I want to find a good way of writing my lists out for the week so I really don’t forget to do anything. Organization is going to be SO key this semester!

-Find a schedule that works

Again, I have so much going on, I can’t be spending full days focusing too much on one thing and not on another. Things will get left behind and stress will be had in excess amounts. I want to create some sort of schedule that allows room to work a little bit on everything I need to do in a given week.

- Don’t procrastinate it & find stress-free ME time

I don’t want to spend my days off stressing about work that hasn’t been done. I want my schedule to reflect a good balance in my life that allows me time to sit for a few hours and read, or write, or do whatever that makes me happy. Without this, I will not survive until winter! I know this will be hard for me because I’m always feeling guilty that SOMETHING isn’t done.

- Take vitamins

‘Tis the flu season, and I do NOT want it! I just BARELY managed to squirm out of getting an awful cold early last week. I don’t think I’ll be so lucky for the rest of the Fall season if I’m not taking something. Between stress and my boat loads of work, the extra little immune booster won’t hurt at all.

- Make time for the little happy moments

Cue the months that bring my mood WAY down. No more travel? Tons of homework and exams? I don’t want to let these things get me down. I want to enjoy the little things that I love about Fall, rather than all the reasons that it can often make me sad. Pumpkin spice lattes, warm blankets, a few extra cozy minutes in bed & all those moments that make this season pretty awesome!

I think this is a pretty good start! I can’t remember anything else that I absolutely WANT to accomplish other than the obvious ‘get good grades’ and keep up in all areas of my life. Let’s see how this season goes!

Do you have any goals for the fall?

Good for the Soul

Since being home from Europe, I’ve kind of been testing myself.

I mean, not REALLY testing myself. But, for example, instead of lazily standing on the escalator because it seems too long (or because I have like 3 of them to take) I’ll suck it up and think to myself: “girl, you climbed like a million stairs in Cinque Terre, it was about a hundred degrees, and you felt more amazing than ever before. You got this.”

It may seem silly, but it’s these kinds of little moments that make me love my travel experiences even more. Staying in one city for too long makes me un-motivated, bored, sad. I love to be up and moving when I’m halfway across the world. I love coming home and feeling like I was so entirely independent from everyone else in this world and did things that I would have NEVER done in the comfort of my own home.

Backpacking through Europe was good for me. REALLY good for me. It’s not just the traveling part, or the being in Europe part. It’s really the combination of everything at once. Backpacking through Europe in general was good for my soul. I spent the last few months at home being lazy; nothing interested me the way it should have. I’d given up on so many of the things I felt passionate about. Even my trip to Brazil, which was good for my HEART wasn’t good for my soul the way Europe was.

I never want this energized feeling to go away, but I know that it might eventually- and may only truly come back the next time I get on a plane. It’s just so important for me to write about it now that I still feel like that more toughened up version of myself. It reminds me that I’m capable of all these things that I don’t push myself to do at home. I don’t push myself to exercise enough because “I have too much going on” when in reality I’m just too lazy to put that Jillian Michaels DVD in. I sit in front of my computer letting the internet take over my brain for too many hours when I know there is a list longer than life itself of things that I need to do.

Since coming home, I have been infinitely more productive. Those 14-16 hour days I was putting in while I was in Europe? They’re paying off. Of course I still need a couple hours to myself to just BE, but this semester is pulling me in so many different directions that I’m grateful to have experienced the complete (exhaustive) insanity of Europe beforehand. It felt like a test, and so far I feel like I’m passing with flying colors. I’m doing all these things I set out to do before the summer began, but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve all at once.

Three jobs on top of full-time school? I’m learning to work them all into each of my days.

Getting in shape and keeping it up? I need to work on it, but I KNOW I can do it.

Turning off the internet because there is more to my life than Twitter? No problem.

Yes, Europe was definitely good for me. It not only reminded me of my priorities; it reminded me that I’m a lot tougher than I give myself credit for.

Today is just a little reminder to myself of these things.

I got this. 

Friday Links (to Love)

I love when all the flowers bloom at home! 

First off, I’ve purchased an official site re-direct from my old blog to this one. I realized that in all my pages, I have links set up to my old blog & that just makes no sense! So all is re-directed here for the moment until I have the time and patience to fix it all up :)

It’s been a looooong time since I shared my favorite things going on around the internet & with so many amazing sponsors in my sidebar (have you said hello to them recently?) I thought it would be a great time to share some links that are worth checking out for your weekend.

– Back in April I had the chance to interview 2 of the guys from the band Of Monsters and Men. They were awesome, hilarious, and basically I loved chatting with the. You can check out the interview on CONFRONT Magazine here.

– Liz is having an AMAZING 4-part giveaway on her blog which includes gift cards, blog designs & jewelry from her store! Go enter now!

– Lauren DeStefano, author of the Chemical Garden trilogy, wrote this amazing post on her blog called ‘The Writing Affliction

– I love Megan’s bucket list and I especially love that the page on her blog is called ‘Someday’

– Thank you to Naomi for introducing me to these two extremely talented (and young!) girls in the video below. Loooove this cover so, so much.

-I’ve done a few guest posts recently, check out my favorite vacation reads, some musical favorites, & my ideal day in the life!

– Are you participating in Jessica’s weekly Book Chat yet? You really should be if you’re an avid reader. The prompts are fun & you get to know a bunch of other great book reading bloggers too! :)

– I wish I had the guts to write Letters to My Future Husband the way Erin has been doing lately. Not just romantic & awesome to look back on, but a great way to figure out what you’re really looking for in a relationship.

– Amy’s post on dealing with food cravings was a great inspiration to me recently

– I am currently in LOVE with the song Lost and Found by Katie Herzig. It was in the season finale of Cougar Town and couldn’t have been a better fit for the final scene. SO GOOD!!

– Kristin’s blog about her work with children in India is an inspiration to me every day. I loved her recent post about returning to her kids in the slums after having to return home to renew her visa. She does some amazing work, you guys.

– Check out Mr. King Squid, an indie t-shirt company started by one of my friends right here in Montreal! The work that her & her boyfriend do is inspired by Japanese art and they have a ton of great things over there.

– Finally, if you’d like some new blogs for summer reading, go say hello to one, two, and three!

That’s all I’ve got for today. Have a great weekend! 

A Childhood Dream

Before getting started I just want to let you know that if you’re still receiving these posts through my old feed, it’s only temporary! I set it up that way for now, but eventually that link just won’t work anymore. I’ve received a few comments saying you’re still receiving my posts in your current feed but if you COULD take a second to re-subscribe to me via www.melissalivinglife.com I would REALLY appreciate it! :) 

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I think it’s safe to say that we all have dreams for our future that follow us from our childhood. Growing up, I wanted to be many different things. The one that always stuck, though, was being a writer.

As a teenager, I wasn’t into going out, getting drunk, or other random things like that. I mean, I went out with friends all the time, but I wasn’t exactly doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. It genuinely NEVER appealed to me. Instead, I spent a ridiculous amount of time at home writing. I think I used to write more as a teenager than I would read.

I actually wrote a book, numerous short pieces, and started two other random novels. None of them are very good, but it was all this time that I actually sat in front of my computer and just wrote. I blogged and I wrote fiction and it was incredibly fulfilling as a pass-time.

Then I got older, life got in the way, and I stopped writing. I spent a lot more time delving into other writers’ stories; I read more in a year now than I ever did in high school. But I don’t use my spare time to write anywhere but here.

For the last couple years I’ve been wanting to get back into writing. Something- I don’t know what- has held me back. Every time I sit at my computer to try and brainstorm what I’d like out of a fictional story, I come up completely blank. At first, I thought maybe I was lacking inspiration & it would come to me… But it hasn’t. I read all these AMAZING novels that make me stop and think “I want to write like this” but anything I think up falls short of my own personal expectations. 

Maybe I’m just being hard on myself. What started off as a childhood dream of writing books like the ones I always loved to read has turned into a problem for me. I want to write and I want it to be something unbelievable. I’m so hard on myself though. I worry about what others will think if it’s something other than just my random ramblings (have you gotten this far? I’m impressed!)

I know I just need to sit down and decide what I want to do. I think I’m lacking the tools to start being creative. I used to be SO imaginative and thoughtful, and I had hoped that with age I would be able to use my bad quality teenager writing as a starting point for something greater.

One of the goals on my 23 Before 23 list (which ends in SIX weeks. WHAT?!) was to write a book. Originally I really wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, but with school I just couldn’t manage it. I have six weeks left to at least START this goal. I have all these summer months to spend my free time doing things I love and I really want to take advantage.

If a dream can follow me from my childhood up until today, I at least owe it to myself to give it my best shot, right? 

Living Life

For the last couple weeks I’ve been trying to decide on a domain name for my blog. It hasn’t been easy because, I’ll be honest, I’m not creative whatsoever with names. I’m still really attached to my blog name ‘Press Play’ because to me, it’s about more than just the literal meaning that it can sometimes come off as… But there was no domain available that involved it- and besides, I worry I might grow it out soon enough. I wanted a domain name that reflected  ME right now, but that was still simple enough that I could keep my current blog name without too much confusion. Not only did I SERIOUSLY outgrow my WordPress.org blog name, but I really wanted to take the leap to a domain after writing on a regular WordPress blog for so many years.

So if you’re reading this, chances are it’s on my new blog www.melissalivinglife.com. It is the most simple, direct thing I could think of and it really stuck with me. If you’re subscribed to my blog through a reader or by e-mail, I would LOVE for you to re-subscribe to me under my new domain name! This change just means I’m trying to get more serious about my writing, and I hope that you’ll want to follow along with me.

The post below was inspired by my blog domain choice. It mostly explains where I am in my life now & why I chose to move ahead in my writing with this new space. Oh, and stay tuned! There is most DEFINITELY going to be an entire professional blog re-design in the next month or two. I can’t wait!

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Growing up, I didn’t know how to take chances on myself. I had dreams of course, but I didn’t know how to make them into a reality. Or rather, I knew what I needed to make them happen, but I wasn’t taking the right steps to achieve what I wanted.

Basically I was slowly figuring out what I needed in my life to be happy but I was too lazy to achieve those goals. Which is crazy, because why would I purposely restrict myself from doing something that would ultimately allow me to feel better about myself and more fulfilled in my life?

At almost 23 years old, I’m learning to live happily. I’m taking the simple mentality of “live life” and attempting to apply it in everything I do.

There are a few things that have happened recently that sparked this realization in my mind. I realized on a personal level that I’ve been working incredibly hard lately and have been achieving results that I didn’t know were possible. I got the grades I needed to go into a program in school that I thought would be impossible for me for a long time- even some people close to me would say “but…why?” as I worked miserably hard to get in. Because I wanted to, of course. Last year, I became infatuated with the idea of traveling overseas in a big way. I told myself that there was no way I could do it again after last summer because of money; I was falling in love with the idea of far away countries but not sure I would ever have the chance to visit them. Yet last week, I took a leap and booked another big, three week trip. The exact kind my heart was asking for. Finally, last month I took a chance on myself and applied for an unpaid position in a charity organization at school because it was the kind of experience that I wanted to be a part of- and I got it.

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These all seem like little things, maybe, but to me they’re BIG steps. I was never the girl who was DOING things. I was trying to make the people around me happy and I was living a life that I THOUGHT fit what I should be doing… Not what I necessarily WANTED or what was good for me.

I’ve received a surprising number of e-mails (and I love it!) telling me how happy, jealous, proud or excited people were about me booking another trip. A few weeks ago at work when people started asking what I was up to this summer I would answer “Oh, I’m either going here or here or here”… and I would get blank stares followed by “how can you talk about big trips like it’s the most obvious thing to be doing? That’s so expensive!” Yes, it’s expensive- but I’m 22 years old and I’m living life. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing? Aren’t I supposed to be taking chances on myself, seeing the world, and learning who I am as an independent individual?

It seemed so obvious to me until I began to reflect on all the things I’ve accomplished with my goals over the last couple years. This isn’t something that everyone knows how to do. I’ve been SO fortunate to have family & friends (both on the blog and not) that were a step ahead of me and taught me through their words what it meant to live life on my own terms- that I SHOULD be living life on my own terms. 

Your dreams, no matter how big or small, are possible to achieve. The moments in life that make you happy deserve special attention; whether that means living near home and seeing family all the time, or packing a bag and seeing the world until you miss your bed too much to stay away. The things you want MATTER and every single day I’m learning that it’s worth it to make these dreams a reality. SO worth it.

Choices, Regrets & What If’s

I often wonder to myself how the decisions I make each day affect my future.

I also often wonder how the decisions my friends & family make affect me- yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day that follows.

Sometimes, I see the way my life is playing out and I try to rewind and figure out which past moment has led to the present one I am facing. If I had decided to go straight to University after College, would I have pursued a degree that I didn’t believe in? Or would I have eventually found my way and be currently nearing my graduation? Had I not taken two years off, I could be free from classes and homework, free to follow a career path and to stop wondering how to live my life around my priorities.

But. 

If I hadn’t taken two years off school, would I be the me of today? Maybe, although I still don’t quite see it, I discovered a part of me in that time off that allowed me to become the person writing this post. It was in my time off school that I learned independence; I traveled without family for the first time, I overcame my terrible nervousness around strangers & began writing for a magazine, interviewing musicians from around the world. Maybe these opportunities would have passed me by, had I stayed in school. I’ll never know.

That’s the thing about regrets. Having them means believing that choosing the different path would have led you down the better road. Is that really the truth, though? From time to time, I begin to regret certain decisions I have made (like taking time off school, which I now pay for, or sillier things like not giving certain guys a chance instead of just flat out saying no). I hate the idea of regrets, but I’m human and I have them. I know that my choices in life define the person I become, but why is it that this current person that I am regrets decisions that led to arriving to this place? Shouldn’t all parts of me agree with my choices?

I believe that to a certain extent, I am a product of my environment. And yet every day I find that I am fighting my surroundings in order to discover my true self. I don’t want to follow trends, do something with my life because it SEEMS right, or say yes to someone because society dictates that I’m supposed to. I want to continue making decisions that feel intuitively right in that moment and I want to continue looking back and learning from the choices that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Or maybe they did. I’ll never know.

So today, I’m taking a step back from my choices, my regrets and my what if’s.

I want to take a breath, and accept that the decisions of my past will stick with me until I’m no longer here, and regardless of whether I am okay or not with that, it is the truth. So I want to BE okay with them. I may not understand why I don’t agree with some of my past choices, but I truly, sincerely, and honestly believe that I made them in that moment for the benefit of me today, tomorrow, and every other day that comes after.

This applies to every part of my life; whether it’s taking too long to forgive someone, not saying the right words to a loved one when the time was right, choosing my freedom for a little while over a more responsible choice, or even saying no when later I wish I’d meant yes.

I am okay about having what if’s in my life. It might mean that I have more opportunity to regret, but it means I have more space to learn and to grow as a person. And tomorrow when I wake up, I WILL be better for it.

 

Inspiration from around the world

Last week I wrote a post called “If you don’t succeed, try & try again” because I was feeling kind of hopeless about figuring out what I’m supposed to be doing in my life. The great thing about blogging stories about my successes and my failures is that I am always sincerely amazed at the responses I get. I say this all the time, but I do try more than anything to write for ME; I am just so grateful when YOU take the time to write a comment of understanding.

Because in the end, we’re all endlessly looking for the THING we are meant to do. 

As much as I am happy with my life right now, I am always yearning for something more. On the day that I wrote that post, I had worried myself into believing that wanting more meant I was unhappy. I was reminded thirteen times that wasn’t the case.

I love all the comments I receive. I really do. But sometimes, I’ll receive a particular one that really sticks with me. I often try to reply to comments on my blog, but every once in a while I like to send out e-mail responses. It’s more than just letting new readers know that I love having them around; I love sending out those e-mails because it means making a longer lasting connection with someone who took the time to reach out to me when I was doubting myself.

Today, I want to share a comment that I received on that post that turned into a series of e-mails and, I think, a new (long distance) friendship.

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Here’s the comment: 

Hey Melissa,

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and even if it’s not that much and that we only read and learn about what you agree to share with us, I can tell this one thing, you’re worth it. Otherwise, why would people come and visit your page again and again? I can tell I’m inspired by your life goals, the life lessons you sometimes talk about here and I also can feel how passionate about some topics you are.

I don’t blame you for doubting, I’m a 23 years old girl dreading the same things as you do, sharing the same dreams and obsessions as you do (Harry Potter forever^^). I’ll just tell you this, you go girl, the world is waiting for you.

(Sorry if there are any English mistakes… I’m French)

Yep, even in Paris you’re famous ;)

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Here is part of the e-mail I sent her soon after receiving the above comment: 

I don’t always send out e-mails to people who comment on my posts, but I just HAD to after reading yours today. I had literally just had (another) bad morning even though I was trying so hard to have a really great day, and I was really beginning to get frustrated with the whole world. And literally as soon as I’m about to call it a day and just give up until tomorrow, I get your comment. I’m not even sure I can explain to you how much I smiled! I’m so glad you’ve been reading and following along on my blog, especially all the way from Paris- how cool!! 

I’ve always said that I write just for myself, but sometimes I get comments like yours that just make it all worthwhile on the days that feel extra crappy. So I just wanted to send you a quick e-mail to say THANK YOU for totally making me smile today! I really needed it :)
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I wasn’t even expecting a reply back to my e-mail. I just wanted to let her know that I sincerely appreciated her taking a second to leave me a comment. Instead, I received a response detailing the reasons she loves reading my blog.

And to top it all off? In her own words, “a photo of Paris taken two days ago, to give you a little inspiration back“.
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I love the photo. It’s a picture that one of her friends spontaneously captured. It’s no secret around here that I love to travel and I love seeing pieces of the world. There is no way that I would keep such a pretty picture all to myself; I want to share her friend’s image in the hopes of sending everyone else a little inspiration from another part of the world.

You can check out Alice’s gorgeous work on her website Alice’s Wonderland, too!

It may have only been a couple e-mails and a photo from across the ocean, but Iwas definitely re-inspired, not to mention reminded that the world isn’t as terrible and hopeless as it sometimes seems. There’s a reason I’m always dreaming of bigger and better things!

Have you ever received a comment, e-mail or even a photo from someone that inspired you or made you smile?

If you don’t succeed, try & try again.

I think one of the reasons I’m constantly doubting myself is because I feel like I’m always trying too hard. Some people have the ability to be amazing at anything they set their mind to, and yet when I pour my heart & soul into something I don’t often get the results I’d hoped for.

And so, I’m constantly doubting myself. 

I’ve applied for so many internship positions over the last couple years; so many writing gigs, promotions internships, and other various random little things that I’ve found. I’ve so rarely gotten the jobs I set my sights on, it often makes me wonder if my talent is all in my head. How do you convey to someone that you KNOW you’re right for the job, even though you don’t have all the experience of someone who’s 10 years older?

I’m a very passionate person. 

Sometimes, I wonder if this is my biggest downfall. When I decide that there is something I want to do, I put so MUCH into trying to achieve it. So why do I so rarely succeed?

These are the kinds of things I worry about for the future. When I’m done school, will anyone be willing to take a chance on me? The jobs that I have in mind aren’t the most ridiculous, high-end, or high-paying jobs out there. But they still require skill and ability. I know I can do it, but what if no one else believes in me? What if they believe in someone else more?

I often feel like everything I’m doing is for nothing. 

I’m putting all this time, money, effort and attention into school and into jobs that don’t pay, but what if that just isn’t enough? Is there something else I need to be doing? The future is so uncertain, and that’s scary. I want to have opportunities. I want to make enough money to be financially stable; to move out, travel, be independent from family & to be able to start my OWN family.

One day, I hope I find at least SOME thing that makes my uncertainties less uncertain. I hope someone takes a chance on me. Even if it’s in a place that’s not *exactly* what I want- if I can even start getting closer towards one of my goals, I’ll feel like I’ve got a fighting chance in the world.

I’m not done trying yet, though. 

I’ve learned that I love getting out of my comfort zone. I try and try again, because I still feel like somewhere down the line, it will mean success. Someone WILL notice that I’m right for what I want to do. The things I’m working on today that I don’t necessarily love? They’ll pay off later on and I’ll be able to wake up every single morning happy.

I still have hope, and because of it, I’ll keep trying to be who I want to be.