How To Survive Your Twenties

Sometimes, I really wonder just how I have made it this far. How have I conquered so many challenges and not spontaneously combusted in the process? It’s a miracle.

Life is hard. Adult responsibilities are hard. Adult decisions are hard. Work is hard. Sometimes just existing is a feat of strength. Here’s what I have learned in my twenty-seven years on this earth, summed up in five words: whatever happens, you will survive. A new day will come and you will have learned from your experiences and it will get easier. It will inevitably get harder again, but you can handle it. It really is never as bad as it seems at the time, and everything is figureoutable.

20 Ways To Survive Your Twenties

1. Listen to your elders. Learn from them. Use them. Especially your parents- they are your biggest supporters and have your best interests at heart. In a world full of hurt and mistrust, these are the people you can count on. Take their advice, they know what they are talking about.

2. Surround yourself with badass girlfriends. They will be a source of inspiration, validation, comfort, wisdom, and shoulders to cry on. Life is better with people who know you as well as you know yourself.

3. Learn to shake it off. Listen, whatever it is, it’s not that big of a deal. Let it go, and as my girl T Swift always says, shake it off! Laugh, dance, be a goof. If someone doesn’t understand your humor, that’s their problem. You are awesome.

4. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You will spend most of your twenties struggling to figure yourself out. You will change, a lot; your hobbies, your career, your hair and your love interests. Whoever you are, embrace it. Quit resenting yourself for what you are or for what you aren’t, because you’re perfect.

5. Believe in something. Everybody needs something to believe in. Find yours and chase it with all you’ve got.

6. Don’t let the actions of others dictate yours. No matter how somebody treats you, be better. Do not alter your behavior, seek revenge, or become bitter. There is absolutely no justification for acting like a complete jerk, even if you weren’t the one that started it.

7. Own your decisions. When number 6 is too hard, and you screw up, say sorry. No-one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Suck it up, apologize, and learn from it. How’s it feel to be an adult?

8. Make mistakes. Speaking of making mistakes, make them. Use them to figure out what you don’t want. Don’t settle. Be vulnerable. Making mistakes is the only way learn what truly makes you happy. Don’t be boring- be messy and imperfect and self-aware enough to understand that you’re only twenty-something and figuring it all out.

9. Become comfortable with feelings. Feelings are hard. They make you feel uncomfortable, exposed, and scared. They can make you feel angry and sad, brave and elated. Learn to sit in them. Learn to identify them. They will help you to understand yourself. Understanding yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the world.

10. Learn. For God’s sake, learn from your experiences. Don’t stumble through life not taking anything away from every single hardship or incredible triumph. Save the lessons and discard the trash.

11. Throw timelines out the window. Nothing ever happens quite the way you expect it to. Anything that can happen to throw you off of your precious planning most likely will. The good news? Something better is on the way. Everything has perfect timing. It just may not be the timing you had in mind.

12. Do crazy things. Get out of your comfort zone. Act outside of your character (in a good and brave way). Explore new places, travel to new experience new cultures, and meet new people in any way you can. Jump out of a plane. Bungee jump off of a bridge. Be goofy. Be happy. Be extraordinary.

13. Learn to listen. Learning to truly listen is one of the greatest skills you can acquire. It allows you to be compassionate, to understand others better, and to learn new things.

14. It’s not all about you. When hard things happen and people are mean to you, you have to remember that it’s not all about you. Let me repeat: it’s not all about you. People don’t usually do things to you to hurt you or make your life miserable or intentionally cause you pain. People do mean things because it is about them: their issues and insecurities and baggage. Not your problem. You, however, are all about you and you can use that to your advantage. Knowing that it’s not all about you can help you to not take things so personally.

15. Become a fighter. I don’t mean become a physically violent person. Learn to fight for yourself. Learn to own your beliefs. Learn to use your voice. Learn to speak your truth. Fight for your friendships and your relationships and your career. Fight for your first raise and your first house and your first big vacation. Fight to become better and to love every moment of this beautiful life.

17. Work two jobs. Or three.  Nothing teaches you time management, work ethic or humility like the exhaustion of juggling multiple jobs and sacrificing your weekends. It builds character, it makes you better at balancing your priorities, it gets you out of debt. You’re young and you can handle it. Also, work in the restaurant industry at some point so you don’t embarrass yourself every time you go out to eat by being rude or impatient. The world thanks you.

18. Attend a music festival. One of the most joyous activities on earn, doing this will add life to your years. It will be the mental vacation you have been desperately needing. There’s nothing like spending three glorious days immersed in sunshine, live music from your favorite artists, and your best friends by your side to realize what the good stuff is really made of.

19. Don’t date a**holes. This one possesses a slow learning curve and is harder to execute than one would like. Save yourself a few grey hairs and stay far far away from the emotionally crippled and egomaniacal. Hopefully by the time you hit thirty you’ll have experienced enough bad apples to appreciate the nice ones when they come along.

20. Understand that IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER. Time and experience has shown me that life just gets better and better. Each year I feel like I am closer to who and what I am supposed to be, and a little bit further from the hurt and disappointment of yesterday. You’ll learn to bounce back a little bit faster, brush it off a little bit easier, and accept it a little bit faster. Your best days are yet to come

Whoever you are becoming, whatever you are stumbling over, keep on going. You’ll figure it all out. I promise.

xoxo

Sarah

20 Reasons You’re a Twenty-Something Who Gets It

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1. You’re not forcing it. Not that friendship that drains all of your energy, not that gluten free fad everyone seems to be buying into, and certainly not the if-you’re-not-married-by-thirty-you’ll-die-alone slippery slope.

2. You trust your story. Your past gives you an edge, and you rather like it. The good, the bad, and the terrible: those experiences have all been instrumental in creating the person you are today.

3. You learn to just accept it. Accepting something doesn’t mean you have to appreciate it. When you start accepting things instead of fighting them, many more doors open up to you. Hello opportunity.

4. You don’t play the victim. You own your decisions and you don’t point the finger when something goes wrong. Whatever happens, you take it in stride. You may not have caused the problem, but you certainly can be part of the solution.

5. You’re setting goals (and actually achieving them). The sky is the limit, and you’re fearless.

6. You put others first. Even though it’s a challenge. Even though it’s frustrating. Even though it’s exhausting and sometimes you just want to curl up in the fetal position and scream like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum- you do it. Go you.

7. You’re practicing patience. One day at a time. One step at a time. One breath at a time.

8. You learn to let go. You realize that holding onto things that no longer serve you is like dragging around a dead weight. It may hurt, but you move on.

9. Significance isn’t lost on you. You recognize and appreciate your relationships, whether they be with your friends, your family, or a love interest. You’re self-aware enough, and grateful enough, to realize just how good you really have it. You see the meaning in it all.

10. Boundaries are your friend. You’ve learned how to set them and how to enforce them, and damn does it feel good.

11. You aren’t baited by the comparison game. Wishing you had someone else’s life simply sucks the happiness out of yours. You don’t play that game anymore, ’cause you’re too focused on your own goals and well-being.

12. You’re tactful. The importance often isn’t in what you say, it’s how you say it. 

13. It’s not about the money. You can have all the money in the world and be emotionally bankrupt. You care more about what you are doing than about the size of the compensation. You see yourself as an investment.

14. You practice self-care. Those that don’t take care of themselves and find balance quickly burn out. You simply do not have time for a burn out, so you are sure to make time to recharge your emotional, mental and spiritual batteries.

15. You help others. Because only looking out for yourself gets old. Go out and help somebody.

16. You have passions that aren’t work or your significant other. You have to do some things for you and only you. After all, it’s just as important to love yourself by yourself as it is for you to love your career or partner.

17. You’re financially responsible. 401k? Got it. Paying off those school loans or credit card debt? You’re all about that life.

18. You aren’t reckless. Not with your money, your body, or your heart.

19. You’re dedicated. Every successful twenty-something has something to strive towards. You’re focused, know what you’re working towards, and have a pretty good idea of how long it will take you to get there.

20. You recognize that you can always improve. Whether it is at work or at home, you realize that things take effort to be great. Everything can always be worked on or improved. It is always possible to be a better friend, employee, or partner. You are a work in progress, and you love that about yourself.

Dedicated to all of my any-somethings out there who are doing their small part each day to be the best person they can be. I love you all!

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xoxo

Sarah

The Power of Possibility

Driving is my me time. I blast the music and let my mind roam, turning over each and every thought that flutters into it. Rather than trying to quiet the incessant chatter that goes on in the back of my brain throughout the day, my commute to and from work is where I let it all go. I indulge in the inner monologue of my random thoughts, see where they go, and let them play themselves out.

On one such drive home a couple of days ago, I found myself getting caught up in a tornado of chaotic thinking. While there had been calm and peace of mind when leaving the office a few minutes earlier, suddenly I was worried about everything. I was thinking in extremes, blowing things way out of proportion, and I suddenly felt like life was completely out of my control.

Have you ever experienced something like that? A veritable freak-out on as simple a thing as a drive home from work?

At that very moment, when it felt as though things were just so entirely unmanageable, a light bulb went on. It was like a thousand tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces fell into place, forming a complete picture, and I realized that what I was experiencing was completely my own doing.

If I made it, I can stop it.

In that moment, I realized I was giving up all of my power to fear. I was turning my energy over to this fear that I am running out of time- that I am too late in beginning what I’ve started becoming. But, how can I be too late when I only just realized what I want?

Ambition is a tricky thing. It is absolutely necessary in order to achieve success, but it breeds discontent. The cost that I pay for my own ambition is that I am never quite happy with what I have. I work really hard to get to where I want to be, and then instead of celebrating once I get there, I immediately focus on the next step. In the same moment that I accomplish something, I move on from it. To the next goal. To the next big thing.

I am content to be discontent, because in the past that is how I’ve functioned best. Knowing there is something more out there for me to achieve, something resting just outside of my current reach, is how I’ve motivated myself. This is how I’ve challenged myself, how I’ve picked myself up after I’ve fallen, and how I’ve focused my drive.

This strategy presents two major problems. First- in not celebrating my successes I marginalize my achievements. In doing so, I feed into this idea that who I am, all of me at this very moment, is somehow not enough.

Second- I create an overwhelming fear that no matter how hard I work, no matter how much effort I put into creating the changes I want to see in my life, I will never achieve the things I dream of.

Our twenties are an incredibly important phase in our lives. These are the years for us to invest in ourselves, discover our passions, and make major life decisions. The choices that we are making as twenty-somethings will directly affect our future. The options of where we may go are unlimited, the world really is our oyster, but ultimately we must choose what we want and where we want to go.

To summarize: life at this moment consists of an unlimited number of choices that, once made, will shape me into who I am destined to become.

Could there be anything more intimidating?

All that possibility excites me, and it also terrifies me. It makes me want to be better and to do better. I want to make all the right choices, and I want to make them all right now. I have never felt so full of potential, and simultaneously so afraid that I will not live up to it.

That fear will be my undoing. That fear is what will, single-handedly, keep me from achieving all that I am capable of. It will tell me that I am not smart enough, not skilled enough, not creative enough, simply not enough, to do what I want to do. That fear is what will keep me from promotions, from taking necessary risks, and from achieving greatness. It will keep me firmly rooted in my comfort zone.

At its core, my fear is that I will be discovered for what I truly am or called out as a fake. I am scared that I think I am capable of more than I truly am- that I should be more realistic about my limitations. I am terrified of failing, or even worse, never being given the chance to fail at something great because no one deems me worthy of being given the chance to try.

This fear comes from an old story. It is rooted in a past me, a me that no longer exists, a me that I have worked hard to say goodbye to. At twenty-something, at thirty-something, at any-something, we all are capable of overcoming our limitations. We can challenge our fears, change our stories, and become our best selves.

We only need one yes out of a million no’s, only one door to open after running face first into a thousand closed ones, or only one little stroke of luck to fall our way to transform everything.

I need to do less worrying about the small things, and more celebrating. I need to make an effort to recognize my accomplishments, rather than minimalizing them. It minimalizing the achievements, I minimalize myself. I am striving to accept myself, all of me at this very moment, as being enough. I am making an active effort to stop feeding the chaos tornado in my head, and embracing the power of choice. Everything is a choice- it is up to us as to which direction we want to go with it.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be neat and tidy. It certainly won’t be perfect. But, there isn’t time for doubt. There isn’t time to waste our emotions, our potential, our lives on worrying about failing and making the wrong choices. You have to follow your passions, chase your happiness, and embrace the life you are creating.

I am, and will always be, a work in progress. Which is pretty perfect, because I like a challenge.

xoxo

Sarah

Twenty-Something

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This is one of my absolute favorite quotes. I have turned to it when I need something; when life is messy, complicated, and I am not sure of my path or of my decisions. It brings me reassurance, restores my faith, and reminds me to believe that everything is happening just as it should.

Your twenties are your selfish years. They are your time to figure it all out. These are some of the best, yet most trying, years of your life. You are in progress. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Believe it, that everything is happening just as it should, fully and without fear.

Even if it’s a mess. Even if it’s nothing like you pictured. Even if it’s coming together or falling apart, it’s perfect. It’s unique. It’s yours.

Own it. Accept it. Embrace it. Cherish it. One day, you will realize how special it all really is.

xoxo

Sarah

15 Life Lessons from a Customer Service Professional

Customer Service is what I do all day every day. I am a Customer Service Representative for a biotech company, work as a server at one the best steak houses in San Diego, and am a Game Day Representative for the San Diego Chargers.

I specialize in making people happy.

A lot of my days, I feel like this when dealing with a difficult customer…

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But I digress.

Conflict resolution is basically my thang, and I am good at it.

I started working in the restaurant industry all the way back in high school, and continued on while in college and after earning my degree. I have always had a restaurant gig as a side hustle, because it’s basically impossible to make as great of money for so few hours worked in any other capacity. I have been working in fine dining for the past three years, and I have much prefered it to any other restaurant atmosphere I have ever worked in. I started working for the Chargers two football seasons ago, and it really is as awesome and as exciting as it sounds. Sorry if I just made you jealous. My position at the biotech company is my full time deal, and my main focus.

Whew.

My experiences have outfitted me with numerous skills, stories, and lessons learned. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Admittedly, sometimes I get really tired of dealing with people. That’s the honest truth. The general public can be challenging and demanding!

I thought it would be entertaining to share with you, my dear readers, some of the situations I have encountered during my time as a Customer Service Professional (guru, if you like!), and the lessons I have taken away from it. I swear I’m not bitter.

15 Life Lessons Learned in Customer Service Land

  1. It IS my job to anticipate your needs.
  2. It is NOT my job to be your personal punching bag.
  3. In regard to the following questions: Is my steak cooked right? Are you sure? How do you know? YES, I AM ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SURE, YES I KNOW, AND HERE IS WHY: It is my JOB to ensure that your steak has arrived to your table exactly as ordered, following a very specific and detailed process, about which I in no way have time or patience to explain to you without sounding like a complete smart ass and quite possibly losing my job. EAT IT AND BE HAPPY WITH ITS PERFECTION.
  4. Everyone wants to be a VIP (very important guest/person). But this is simply not possible. I am sorry. The good news is, the more money you spend, the closer you will get!
  5. Everyone wants everything for free. This is an absolute truth. This is where I feel it’s important to remind you that I am NOT a magician.
  6. I do not have the ability to give you free EVERYTHING. I can, however, hook you up with some very nice things if you get on my good side and/or play your cards right. I will do anything for a guest I like.
  7. Your opinion for the chef on how you can improve his recipe is not appreciated. No, I will not pass along the message.
  8. We do not spill on you or make mistakes because we want to make you mad, because we are being careless, or because we are secretly out to get you. I would rather spill anything on myself first rather than on you. This situation happened to me when a guest suddenly backed up into me while I was holding a tray of cocktails, and rather than letting it fall on her, I had two full glasses of champagne dump down my front instead. The champagne shower wasn’t as sexy as the rap videos make it out to be. If you were wondering, the guest did not notice this happened and I smelled like a booze hound for the rest of the evening.
  9. If you say you “know the owner”, you definitely don’t know the owner.
  10. Just because I am serving you food does not mean I am uneducated, unmotivated, and not pursuing my career.
  11. If you are cold calling a company, do not expect some smooth talking to get you straight through to the CEO. I see you coming a mile away and will not let this happen. Ever. Also, look up the CEO’s name if you are going to call. Otherwise, I am just embarrassed for you.
  12. It is my job to answer your questions patiently and kindly. It is NOT my job to put up with verbal abuse.
  13. If you lie and say that you are “returning” a phone call to a higher up, wasting both their AND my time when I then try to get in touch with them, it is the ultimate disrespect. There is a moral code to follow for sales calls, and lying isn’t part of it.
  14. Positive feedback and kindness from a customer really are pure gold. A few nice words can go a long way! Thank you to all of you who have ever asked about my day, or how I am doing.
  15. I really DO care about your problems, your happiness, and your satisfaction. These are my top priority, and that is why I do what I do. I genuinely want to help you.

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Have you worked in customer service or the restaurant industry and have any stories you would like to share? I would love to hear them!

xoxo

Sarah

Ambition, Hustling, and Finding Purpose

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One of the most powerful things we can do is to decide what we want. To do this, we must get to know ourselves. What makes us tick? What fulfills us? What do we want our lives to look like in five, ten, or twenty years?

We must take a stand in our beliefs, choose our path, own our choices, and then pray that it all works out as beautifully as we hope it will. Find our purpose and follow it- without fear, regret, or hesitation.

Here is what I know about my purpose: the peak moment of my life will not be the day that I walk down the aisle. My marriage will not define me, and it will not be the bar by which I measure my happiness. Do not get me wrong- that day, when it comes, will be one of earth-shattering happiness. But the most significant moment of my life will not be captured in my wedding photos.

The achievements which will define me, those that will mark the most significant moments of my lifetime, will not be contingent upon my relationship status.

Secure my dream job. Publish my first book. Work with other women; empower them and inspire them. Walk with a self-knowledge, a confidence, and a grace learned through life experiences that have challenged me and strengthened me. Help to make the world a better place. These are what I imagine, and dearly hope, some of my most significant achievements will be.

There will be other moments too. Miracles which I haven’t even begun to consider, dream of, or factor into my schedule. These moments will take my breath away with surprise, and happiness. Some of the most monumental and special things in life are those that you never spot coming.

I am not the woman whose future revolves around planning a family or worrying about her ticking biological clock. It is true that I am in my late twenties, unattached, and want children someday, but today those are merely considerations. They do not give me pause. I am a woman who places greater importance on professional ambition than husband hunting. You see, I want to be truly and wildly authentic in anything and everything that I do, and I want to give all of myself to my work and to my daydreams.

To be honest, I am way too busy hustling. I am too preoccupied with making my dreams into a reality to worry about those things that I, confidently, believe will come into my life at the exact moment they are supposed to. And not a second before.

I spend the majority of any free time I have obsessing over work or writing. Any extra head space immediately gravitates towards pushing myself to achieve my goals- and then when I meet them I am spinning up new ones. I can never sit idly, it must be a constant progression. A new day, a new idea, a new dream, and a new to-do list to help get me to where I am going.

Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Try some more. Succeed. Repeat the process.

Do I experience doubt about my choices? Absolutely. I worry that I perhaps I should be more concerned about the lack of a husband or a boyfriend or my aging eggs. I hold immense respect for those women who are my age and already have established a family. Stay at home moms are incredible, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs imaginable. I applaud them and all that they do for their families. I know, without a doubt, that I could not do what they do.

However…engagement rings, wedding bells and babies? They don’t get my blood pumping. Career advancement, networking and writing? Now you have my attention. I am not saying I don’t sometimes fantasize about the ring, the dress, and the children. I do. But these things don’t ignite a fire within me, and they are not my passion. I am not chasing them fervently like I am chasing my career ambitions.

Should I have a daughter someday, I want her to be capable of putting herself first, fiercely and unapologetically. I want her to find her happiness in whatever capacity she chooses, with the freedom to chase her purpose in life without doubt. I want her to understand that choosing career over family, or vice versa, does not make her cold, power hungry, or self-seeking. Her dreams will be her own, to be realized without judgement. 

If I cannot show her this behavior through my own actions, how could I ever hope that she would be able to carry it out for herself?

I am twenty-seven and just getting started. I am just beginning to develop and realize my own purpose. I have a lot of life to live, a lot of lessons to learn, and much to discover in the process. I am making the best choices I can for myself and embracing these decisions wholeheartedly, and I cannot wait to see where it all takes me.

If you would like to learn a little bit more about me, my choice in career, and what makes me tick, you can read my guest post on 20Somethings Blog here.

 xoxo

Sarah

On Bouncing Back

We all go through it. The bad days, the crummy moods, the hard times. It’s normal and a part of life. After all, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. However, the fact that it’s normal doesn’t make it any less sucky while you’re going through it!

Confession: I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. And while I am aware this is a normal thing, I don’t like it. Not one bit. The best thing I can do for myself when I notice I am feeling down is to get into action so that I can speed up the bouncing back process. Here are some things that help me when I’m going through it, all of it, and I hope that they help you too.

Plan A Trip

What’s more exciting than the thought of an adventure? Umm…nothing! Planning a trip will give you something to look forward to, which is a natural mood enhancer. I am taking my own advice and am planning a trip for Thanksgiving weekend to visit my best friend, and it has been a great way for me to get out of my own head and think positively. She’s my person, and I cannot wait to be reunited. 🙂

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Request Reinforcement

Speaking of best friends, times like these are the perfect opportunity to let them do what they do best- show up for you. Talk about how you are feeling with them. Allow them to support you. Allow yourself to be cared for. When you are feeling less than stellar, they will be the champions for your cause and reinforce that superstar that you really are. Plus, they are the surest ones to make you laugh when you need it the most.

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Binge Watch Your Favorite Shows

Go ahead, re-watch all nine seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. We’ve all been there. Technically, you don’t even need to be in a slump to do this, because it can just feel so damn good to lay around and be endlessly entertained by your favorite plot lines and characters. That’s what they are there for, to make you feel better.  

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Treat Yo’Self

Go shopping. Get your nails done. Eat a tub of ice cream for dinner. Not that I’ve done that recently or anything. Sleep in. Take a day off. Whatever it is that brings you a little bit of enjoyment and comfort, do it! Be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it, even for a second. A little splurging is well deserved.

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Be Patient

It takes time to bounce back. It is important to remember to be kind to yourself during the process, and to allow yourself room to experience the emotions you are feeling. There is no set amount of time for how long it will take you to get over something, so just be patient and have faith. It will happen.

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Whatever it is that you are experiencing, it is completely and 100% true that this too shall pass. Before you know it, you will be back to your old bouncy self. I promise.

What do you do to brighten your mood when you are feeling down?

xoxo

Sarah

 *All photos are via Pinterest

Scratch That

When deciding on the content I share within this blog, sometimes it is difficult for me to make the judgment call as to what I disclose regarding my relationships. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand I created Twenty-Everything as a platform to share my journey and experiences as twenty-something figuring it all out, and for me at this point in my life that also involves dating. However, on the other hand, when things don’t go well in a current relationship, do I leave it alone or share it with my readers? How much do I expose?

The thing is…I promised myself that Twenty-Everything would be my safe place. I designed it to be a space in which I can be open and honest about who I am and what I am going through. It is my place to chronicle the triumphs, the tribulations, the breakthroughs, and the lessons learned. A place where I can be authentically and unapologetically me.

If I didn’t share about the breakups as well, I wouldn’t be staying true to the promise I made.

So, scratch that.

The story goes like this: after over two and half years of being single, I met somebody. I’ve dated since my last serious relationship, but nothing significant. During that time I hadn’t been emotionally ready, able to fully commit, and hadn’t even wanted to call any guy my boyfriend- but this was different. There were butterflies, and excitement, and hope, and feelings. So many feelings. The feelings were scary and amazing at the same time. He and I were open and honest in our communication, which felt wonderful and healthy. We discussed that a relationship was something we both wanted to pursue. I thought- wow, so this is what people mean when they say that when you meet the right person, you will just know.

So, we put a title on it. I was happy. I felt confident in the decision. I put faith in my feelings, my relationship, and in trying something new.

Too soon, my relationship was deteriorating in front of my very eyes. He wasn’t calling. He wasn’t texting. He was cancelling dates. Most importantly, he was breaking promises that he had made to me.  All of a sudden, where so much fulfillment had been before, I was left wanting. My needs weren’t being met. My boundaries weren’t being respected. My feelings weren’t being taken care of. And I was no longer happy.

So, scratch that.

The disbelief then follows. And anger. And sadness. And shame. Did I do something wrong? How did this happen?

I say it to myself all of the time: even the best laid plans, set with the best intentions, will go awry.

The truth is, I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t rush it. I was careful in my consideration of each step. I was open about my feelings. He and I made these decisions together, as partners and equals. I am not responsible for the fact that he wasn’t able to give what he originally thought he could to our relationship, and I respect him for admitting that. The truth of it is, simply, that we had to call it quits. And that feels a lot like failure.

Faced with this, I have two options. I can wallow in self-pity, or I can grow from it.

I choose growth. I choose to learn. I choose to let this empower me, not to drown me. I refuse to let this feed into my insecurities. I embrace it for what it was, an adventure. I was brave. So, so brave. I said yes to a new experience. I said yes to taking a leap of faith. I said yes to daring greatly.

I am incredibly proud that I let myself be vulnerable. I showed up emotionally. I was open, and honest, and did my best to set my fears aside. I embraced the possibility of something new with an unknown ending. I didn’t let the hurt from past relationships contaminate my new one. I trusted. I practiced patience. Most significantly, I allowed my heart to open up again. That is monumental for me.

This is progress. This is me living life to fullest. This is me taking chances, embracing the vulnerability, and sharing it all along the way. This is me developing into the woman I am meant to become.

For that, I am grateful beyond measure.

A heartfelt thank you to all of my friends and family that support me, day in and day out, and to my readers for allowing me to be just a little more fearless with every post I create. I couldn’t do it without you.

xoxo

Sarah

*Top photo via Pinterest

Gratitude Check

Some days, it feels like everything is in sync. You wake up on the right side of the bed, there’s no traffic on the way to work, your morning coffee tastes extra delicious, and it feels like, well, a Friday.

Some days are more challenging. Some days it seems like nothing is going right, like the world is off kilter, and you wonder what the purpose of it all is. You lament at why you work so hard to be disappointed, time and time again.

We all know that being vulnerable is uncomfortable. We all know that we must hold out hope. We all have to believe that the trying times will eventually pass, and when they do we will be rewarded with joys beyond our wildest imagination. We just have to keep moving forward. We have to keep working on ourselves and developing our story, dusting ourselves off when we fall and looking at mistakes as learning opportunities.

I was told once that I should be grateful for everything. No matter what. I had a hard time swallowing that piece of wisdom, because I used to think that being grateful meant appreciating it.

I used to be scared. I was scared of being grateful for the horrible things, like that meant I was weak and actively inviting more of them into my life. I thought I had to be tough, to build walls around myself and my heart like layers of protection so that no-one would be able to hurt me again. The thought of revealing my insecurities and vulnerabilities to people that might hurt me made me squirm with discomfort. However, this got me nowhere. No progress, no improvement, just stuck and running in place.

What I have learned about living in a state of gratitude is this: grateful doesn’t have to equal appreciative. You don’t have to appreciate the bad days, the hard days, and the worst days or the horrible experiences, the trauma, and the pain. Being grateful doesn’t mean you are agreeing with it or welcoming it, it just means you are refusing to let it get the best of you.

Because let’s face it, when we are really going through the worst of it, we find it almost impossible to be grateful for it all. It’s hard to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel when we are surrounded by darkness. It’s hard to do a gratitude check when all we want to do is give up.

Practice makes perfect. Like everything else, it takes time to change habits and to alter behaviors you have defaulted to for years. It takes energy to be mindful of the good things, and to be aware of the tiny miracles that happen every single day.

Learning to open up came hand in hand with embracing gratitude. The two coaxed each other along. As I got better at giving thanks, and focusing on the good, the pieces about me that I thought of as broken began to mend. I was able to be more open, more honest, and more authentic in every area of my life. Those silly suggestions, like making gratitude lists and living in the moment, became easier and easier to incorporate into my daily routine.

Because the miracles really do happen. An ordinary day can become something extraordinary, an unexpected introduction can lead to a life-changing opportunity, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

It can take a long time to appreciate what a painful lesson has taught you and, in turn, what it has given you. Days, weeks, and years may pass before you can understand the true meaning of choosing to walk through one door instead of the other. Life is a serious of choices, chances, and opportunities. We can only live it forward, learn from it when it knocks us down, appreciate when it brings us joy, and always remember to be kind to ourselves in the process.

Thankful

 Appreciate the Fridays, the moments, and the miracles. Remember to breathe, to reflect, and to give thanks- because we have today.

xoxo

Sarah

*Top photo via Pinterest.

On Taking the Bus

Source: SD MTS Website

In October of last year, I sold my car and began the adventure of taking public transportation. It was an experience that humbled me, challenged me, taught me patience, and at other times completely broke me down. Some days, I did not think I could stomach commuting two hours each way, to and from work, one minute longer.

I fought back tears, foul moods, and a complete lack of personal space on a daily basis. I learned to accept that it would take me an inordinate amount of time to get just about anywhere. And finally, I embraced getting lost; in an array of books, Pandora radio, and the inspiration to write.

I experienced an awful lot, about the crazy thing that is human behavior and being immersed into a new world. While devoid of the means of my own personal vehicle, I started collecting tidbits and memories of my travels. Here is what I learned:

Some people don’t bathe as often as they should.

It is absolutely baffling how a person’s own staggering body odor doesn’t offend them. The rest of the bus is certainly affected. Like really, how do you deal with your own stench all day?

Everybody, regardless of age/social status/gender/race, will give up their seat for someone in need; such as an elderly or handicapped person.

This, for a brief period of time, makes you forget all of the other horrors of riding the bus. Enjoy the moment, but don’t let your guard down.

People are oblivious to social cues.

Never forget your headphones. 9 times out of 10, people will ignore your headphones and talk your ear off anyway.

It is a game of strategy.

You have to know, through the course of the route you are taking, who will be sitting where. Forget just taking a seat, you have to strategize. Sit too near the front, you may have to stand for the aforementioned elderly or disabled person. Then you are standing the rest of the way with people’s armpits in your face. Sit too close to the back, and it’s like you’ve been transported to the Wild Wild West. Since the back is furthest from the bus driver’s watching eye, it is a breeding ground for mischief. Complete anarchy. Winning move: sit close to the middle of the bus with your purse or bag on the seat by the window. This way no-one can grab or sit on your purse, and you can slide over to make room for a suitable bus mate (should you spot one). Suitable bus mates are like unicorns; rare, magical, and their existence has yet to be proven.

Do not, under any circumstance, make eye contact.

Eye contact is a sign that you want to communicate. Trust me, you DO NOT want to communicate.

On the bus schedule:

Buses run every 15-30 minutes, give or take 10 minutes. Except on the day you are running 2 minutes late, on that day the bus WILL leave on time.

Assume no-one is of sound mind.

This is for your own good. Safety first. Trust only yourself.

In order of riding comfort, the San Diego Transit System is ranked as follows:

Coaster or Amtrak > Trolley > Bus

In all seriousness, being dependent on public transportation taught me many valuable lessons that I will not soon forget. I encourage anyone to embrace a challenge of this size any time it is presented, because it will help shape you into a better person.

xoxo

Sarah

*Photo courtesy of Bus Ride.