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Dear Sara: A Collective.

Dear Sara,

It’s been far too long since we’ve last spoken. I think you finally got married to that guy you fell head over heels with, and now you’re pregnant with your first child. It’s been so long that I’m not even sure where your life is going.

Since we last talked, I’ve started dating the most amazing man, but now I’m scared that I’m falling head over heels like you did. I’m scared I’ll fall so hard I’ll get lost. I’m scared I’ll get lost in the wrong boy, and end up with another broken heart. And when I need my best friend to hug me and tell me I’m not crazy for falling in love, you’re busy being crazy in love.

 

Dear Sara,

I’m not sure why you stopped answering my calls, texts and social media comments. I’m not sure what happened in your life that made you decide I could no longer be a apart of it. But I wasn’t ready to lose my best friend when I needed her the most.

 

Dear Sara,

He met my dad. It wasn’t actually that terrifying, except for the fact that I really, really like this one. I just moved in with him, and we’re already planning our future. Do you remember when you started planning your future with your husband? He could be the one. I’m hoping that I’m not wrong. I’ve tried reaching out again just to pick your brain, because you seem so crazy in love. Truthfully, I’m happy for you. I can only hope to be as happy with someone as you are with your husband. I just wish you’d answer my texts sometime.

 

Dear Sara:

You were the friend I talked to about my boy problems, my life problems, my dreams for the future, but now I don’t have those things because I have him. I have someone I can lean on when I’m having a bad day, or celebrate with when I’m having a good one. I have someone who supports me, loves me, and wants the best for me. Someone who wants me to accomplish all of my goals and who promised to pick me up if I fall (or fail).

I don’t know why you stopped answering me. Maybe your husband is your new best friend, and you didn’t need to talk about boy problems anymore. Maybe you’re so crazy in love, you got lost. I changed my mind – I don’t want to be crazy in love. Not if it means I lose my friends.

 

Dear Sara,

This will be my last letter to you. My last attempt to text you. At one point, I was your maid of honor, but now I’m just a ghost of your past. Well, now this ghost is going to rest in peace. I’m in a good place in my life. I’m sorry you couldn’t be around to see it. Goodbye, for now, or for however long you decide. But I’ve decided I’m moving on.

– G

 

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Writer’s Block

Creativity is a fickle thing.

It sparks in the most inconvenient of times – like when you’re at work, or out with friends, and you don’t have time to jot a note to ignite it again at a later point. It sleeps for weeks, and then suddenly wakes you up in the middle of the night, but not enough to act upon it, and the fire slowly dies quietly once more. But when you finally sit down at your desk, pen in hand – it’s gone, nowhere to be found. Try as you might, you can’t start the flame again.

It’s been a really long time since my creativity sparked, but now I can’t shake it.

I thought I wanted the “adult” job. I thought working hard at a nine-to-five like the average American was what I wanted. Typing at a desk and slowly moving up the corporate ladder. My current job has all but consumed my life, and I thought I’d be happier for it.

The only problem was: my flame was still burning, and it finally engulfed me.

I miss spending long nights sitting at my computer, perfecting my photographs and choosing my favorites, or writing out trails of my thoughts onto paper. Secretly, I’m still dreaming about that editing job at a fashion magazine, or the writing job for a blog, or even the advertising position on Madison Ave.

Part of me wants to take the leap, to chase the things I can’t shake no matter what it takes, but most of me is hesitant. I’m too busy working, or out with friends, to take that kind of leap right now. I’m too busy worrying about what I’ll lose instead of what I’ll gain. I’m too worked up about the people around me who will be affected by it rather than how it will affect the rest of my life.

My life might have writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean I’m not full of dreams and ideas. And the part that wants to leap, it’s just growing louder.

For now, I’ll continue to hesitate, to wonder, to contemplate, until I either jump – or don’t.

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Grateful.

Quick post and then hopefully I’ll catch up on some sleep. (:

I just want to reflect on how blessed I am, because I’ve realized this week I have a lot to be thankful for.

Today, I decided to treat myself and went shopping with a friend at the Orlando Premium Outlets. I didn’t buy much, because I’m not in any position currently to be splurging, but I did buy myself a gorgeous pair of Nike’s that I fell in love with and got for a sweet deal. Shortly after, we stopped to grab a bite to eat, and were busy talking with the folks who were working at the kiosk we ate at. I was so eager to leave and finish our trip that I left without my beloved new sneakers – but noticed my empty hands only moments later. I ran back to the kiosk only to find my bag was gone. Someone snatched my sneakers when no one was paying attention. The employees saw nothing, nor did the other guest who had sat beside us. I called security, but there wasn’t much they could do. I told the manager at Nike what had happened in hopes that maybe she could get me a new pair, but of course, there was nothing she could do either. I cried and cursed at how humanity could be so cruel and life so unforgiving. I paid for a second pair of shoes – I really did need sneakers, and thankfully, they weren’t terribly expensive – and went on my way.

Despite this somewhat traumatic and unnerving experience, I realized how truly blessed I am in my life.

Firstly, I could afford to purchase a new pair of sneakers when mine were stolen. Second, my best friend was there to run after me when I realized I’d forgotten my shoes, hug me when I cried, and explain the situation to the manager at Nike and get me another pair of shoes while I waited for security to meet with me at the kiosk. Lastly, but most importantly, one stupid asshole does not nearly outweigh the amount of kindhearted people I’ve met today. The security officer who walked with me to where I lost my shoes and (futilely) searched the lost and found for me talked to me for 20 minutes about school and work and anything else to help me smile and calm down a bit. Another security officer hugged me, reminded me to count my blessings and thank God for what I had, realize it was a gain more than a loss, and that karma is a bitch. The manager at Nike made sure to keep the same discounts I’d used earlier, even though my coupon was void. The employees at the kiosk we ate at took my number down in case they saw anything, and fist bumped me and told me it would be okay. And my mom and stepdad reminded me I’d only lost a pair of shoes, and not my life. And this was on top of all the amazing people I’ve met this week, new friends I’ve made, and old ones I’ve grown closer to. I’m only $22 shorter, but much richer in love, friendship, and experiences.

So shout-out to the real ones, the people who remind us that humanity still has hope, no matter how bad the world seems sometimes. Thanks for renewing my faith in humanity in a moment when I should appalled at how terrible and heartless some people can be. And quick shout-out to my friends, past co-workers, and family, who support each other when we need it most.

Love you always,

Gabbie

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Growing Confident

Today, for likely the first time in my twenty-three years of living, I looked in the mirror and stared in awe as an amazing, confident, incredibly happy woman stared back at me. I have always had issues with self-confidence, no matter how many times I heard a man call me “beautiful” or how many times my friends envied my physique. And yet there I was, soaking in the radiance of the beautiful figure in the reflection.

I should maybe explain why this shocked me so much.

My life isn’t anywhere near where I had hoped I’d be after graduating from college. Almost a year after graduation, I’ve been laid off from my first job and I’m enrolling in unemployment benefits, because otherwise, I won’t be able to afford rent and groceries. My parents told me it happens to even the best of us. My friends acted like this was nothing serious. “It’s the economy, you’ll find something better,” my parents tell me encouragingly.

But when I found myself unemployed again in less than six months, I had felt like I had failed. I felt like my time spent working for this company had been a waste. I felt like I was back to square one, shortly after graduation – only now I had another random and short-lived experience to add to my resume. I couldn’t figure out what was next, what I wanted with my life, what kind of career I wanted. I felt like my life had all fallen to pieces.

I was a mess, mentally, but I didn’t let anyone know it. When previous co-workers sent their condolences, I laughed and told them all I was just going on Spring Break, that now I could find a better job. I told my family and friends it was a “blessing in disguise” to have all this free time to pursue law school and other passions. But really, all I could think was how disappointed and sad my mom must be, that her baby girl was struggling to succeed after all of her hard work putting me through school, and how disappointed I was in myself.

Maybe I was being a little hard on myself, but there’s really no other way to put it. Our parents and their generation were able to find success with hard work and an education. But our generation has come to realize that after school, the degree isn’t enough. We realized that we had many more to compete with and much harder competition to beat, and there were more graduates than jobs. Yet for some reason, I still graduated with the hope (and slight expectation) that I would love my first job, or that I’d have figured out my life by now, at least.

So being laid off from my first job is not exactly confidence-inspiring. But for some reason, I’m all right. I’m happy with where my life is at the moment. I’m happy and proud of the person I’ve grown into, and excited about the person I have yet to become. I’m suddenly aware of how much more confident I’ve become, and the new things about myself I’m still discovering. For the first time in twenty-three years, I can honestly say that I love myself – and that’s something not many people can say.

For whatever reason, I’m suddenly more confident in myself and my abilities. I’m smart, I work hard, and I’m eager to succeed. I have a family that loves me no matter what happens in my life or what I do wrong. I have a boyfriend and good friends whom offer me endless support and encouragement. And recently, I’m much more confident in my appearance and my personality – and I’m much more outgoing and friendly than I used to be.

Even where I feel my life has been unsuccessful, I know that doesn’t define who I am as a person. I’m proud of the woman I’m growing up to become, and Demi Lovato reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with being confident in yourself, no matter what your reasons are. I’m excited to see what the future brings, and what the woman in the reflection only grow more radiant and beautiful, inside and out, and that’s more a sign of success in my eyes than having a prestigious job with a fat pay check.

I am #confident, I am strong, I am woman – hear me roar.

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The Most Important Question Of Your Life

Read The Most Important Question of Your Life, by Mark Manson.

“I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.”

What are you willing to struggle for?

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Six Months Later…

 

Hello, friends! It’s been a long six months.

In six months, I found a job outside of my field and decided to pursue a career in law. But also in six months, I’ve realized I still don’t know what exactly what I want to do with my life.

This has been a lifelong struggle for me. I spent the first three years of college jumping back and forth with what I wanted to study. Photography, Political Science, and English were all areas I contemplated studying because, while I was genuinely interested in all three, I could never figure out what I wanted to do with it. Journalism became an easy solution because I could combine the three. I could travel to different countries and cover international policy issues with my camera in hand! It’s perfect, I told myself. I dreamed of all the adventures I would have traveling the world, meeting interesting people, taking endless photos and trying to change the world.

Then things got a little real. I started having panic attacks, and my stress level was at an all-time high. I wasn’t sure I could handle the high-pressure job of being a journalist. I wasn’t sure I wanted to ever leave the country, let alone my house. And when I started applying for jobs, I realized that I hardly had any experience because I’d spent more time in college trying to figure things out than actually doing anything to show for it. After graduation, with rent and expenses to pay, I only grew more and more desperate for a solution.

When Plan A seemed to fall through, I started researching what kinds of Plan B careers I could be, at a minimum, content with. I wondered if going back to school would be a good idea. My mom had often offered that I should be a lawyer (I loved an argument, she’d always say half-jokingly), so I decided I’d entertain the idea. The more research I did, the more the idea seemed appealing. I’d certainly get paid more as a lawyer than as a journalist. I do love a good debate, as I often play Devil’s advocate, and I’m very much interested in politics (see above). But in an effort to avoid the same mistake twice, I decided to get a job in the field I was interested in before pursuing it.

So here we are, six months later. When I’m not working at my nine-to-five, professional office desk job, I’m still researching what to do with my life. Someone asked me: if I won the PowerBall, would I still pursue law? I’m trying to answer that question with a valid reason behind it. I still love to write. I’ve watched every campaign debate for 2016 that I could find online. I love photography. I still want to right the wrongs in our justice system. And truthfully, I miss writing about various events for the student newspaper at my college. I am constantly wondering whether I’ll be happier in a position that allows for more creativity, or if I’d mind a job with structure if it was fulfilling.

But mostly, when the anxiety of having it all figured out finally subsides, I remind myself of how blessed I am. I have an amazing boyfriend and group of friends whom all support me. I have a family who is always a phone call away, and loves me no matter how badly I mess up (or how many times I ask for money – sorry, mom!). Every single day I remind myself that I am only 23 years old, and at my age, I’m not supposed to have it figured out. I have so much time and so much room to grow. No matter what direction I’m heading, every is a day step forward.

It’s been a long six months, but I’m learning to embrace the journey.

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Transitions.

You know, graduating from college is rough. And I don’t mean just because of this ridiculous job market we get thrown into. It’s been the toughest part of my life since, you know, college.

OK sure, I get this cool piece of paper that says I’m now educationally qualified to do the job I’ve spent four years studying to do. I have this huge achievement under my belt now, an achievement not everyone is privileged enough to obtain. I don’t have to take classes anymore (although ironically, as stressful as they were, I actually do miss them). I don’t have to agonize over that damn portfolio requirement and wondering if I’ll pass – THANK JESUS I DID – or if I’ll graduate a semester later than I planned.

But now I have to figure out what’s next. I’ve spent my entire life preparing for this exact moment and working to achieve this ultimate goal, and now I’ve achieved it. So what now?

For one, I have to “adult.” And yes, I’m using this term as a verb rather than a noun. It’s not a thing that you just turn into once you turn a certain age or pass a certain checkpoint in your life – it’s a constant process. I have to figure out what kind of job I want and attain said job. I have to start paying my own rent instead of living on campus, and I can’t ask mom and dad to pay my rent. I have to build credit and pay off all those student loans I so eagerly accepted. I have to eat actual food that isn’t pizza or ramen on a daily basis (what does that even mean?!).

But besides figuring out how I’m going to handle all of my new responsibilities, I have to keep reminding myself that I am no longer a “college kid.” I don’t go to sorority chapter meetings every Sunday night anymore. I don’t write for the college paper. I don’t have homework or exams to study for. I actually have to pay for football games, and that’s if I’m not working those  days. Things that once took up all of my time and energy are no longer a part of my life, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

If all of this sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not – though I’m totally salty about not getting to tailgate at every game. But mentally and emotionally, it’s a challenge to realize that my life is on a different path than it once was. I no longer have the same routine I’ve had for the last four years. I no longer know what my future holds – I now have to make that future happen.

Every single day is a process. Every day I have new ideas on what’s next, but then something unexpected happens and I have to re-evaluate my life plans all over again. Every day I wonder what tomorrow will look like. I can’t tell you where I’ll be in 5 years (they keep asking me this in interviews), let alone what’s going to happen tomorrow. So instead of worrying where I’ll be tomorrow, I’m taking this transition one day at a time, one struggle at a time. And every day is new. Every day I am more hopeful than the next. I’m still learning and growing, but now it’s on my own terms – no textbooks or lectures included. And while I know it’ll take time for me to really start my life, I’m more excited than ever to see where it goes.

Blog, Portfolio

Lake Eola

This weekend I visited Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando for the first time, despite the fact that I’ve lived in Orlando for nearly two years. After a few hours of walking around the park, I remembered why I love this city so much. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m struck with wanderlust in my post-gradation blues, but I may have to continue exploring this city a little while longer. Orlando is the only place I’ve ever truly felt at home. And though I may have to travel through other places eventually, I’ve decided to give this one a second chance before I do. Orlando, you’ve caught my heart.

(for more photos, visit flickr.)

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Don’t Get Stuck (A Note-To-Self).

It’s slowly hitting me that I’m officially a college grad.

Not really the whole part where I have a degree, or that I’m done with school – that part was easy to get over. But the fact that I’ve reached that point you spend your whole life planning and waiting for? That had not occurred to me. The part where you now have no excuses to pursue your dreams and passions because you’ve finally passed the milestone into adulthood. Except of course, you still have a million. Even though now you’ve finally overcome the incredible hurdle that is college only so many years later, you’re still asking yourself: What are my dreams, my passions? What do I want to spend the rest of my life doing? Who do I want to become? Where do I wanna go? WHAT, you ask yourself, DO I WANT?

For me, what I’ve always wanted to do was travel, see the world, and share my experience with whomever was willing to listen. Maybe I’d travel and write a book. Maybe I’d travel and become a National Geographic Photographer. Or – trying to be a bit more practical – maybe I’d be a journalist overseas. All of this  is what brought me to study journalism in the first place.

So now that I have a journalism degree, do I qualify to get my dream job traveling? Heck no.

So where do you start? Your dream is to travel, right?
You wanna write about incredible people and cover spectacular cultural events and photograph every invaluable moment.
Where do you start?

One suggestion: Backpacking.

“I think you should go backpacking and take beautiful photos and then do freelance for a bit until you figure it out,” my friend advised. “I feel like travel helps people find themselves and clarifies where their path is.”

But then I need money to go backpacking.
And I need a job to earn the money to go backpacking.
But I need experience to find the job to earn the money to go backpacking.
So we’re right back to going backpacking.

See my dilemma?

Or, ex-nay on the backpacking – go get a real job in the field you studied. Find an entry-level position, doing something a little less exciting, so that you can get enough experience to later pursue your dream job. We all have to start from the bottom and work our way up, they say (my teachers, parents, aunts and uncles have all said this in one way or another – we get it, okay?).

But yet we hear all too often of how many people get stuck at their nine-to-five job that was supposed to help them move up to get their dream job. But now life has had its way with them, and they can’t seem to figure out how to get out of the muck. Or worse, you find a decent enough job where you get content and wrapped up and you allow your passions to fall to the wayside.

But here’s the beauty in all of this, my fellow graduates: You won’t know until you do it. You can be scared for as long as you want, but one way or another you will find your path. Just remember your goals and dreams, and don’t get stuck in the muck of the day-to-day struggle. It’s a reminder we all need – and it’s a reminder I definitely need on a daily basis.