Musings of a Lost Millennial

Strive, Uncategorized

When I first landed my current job, I felt more excited about work than I had in my entire life. I felt that I had actually landed my dream job– the one I had been working for that would bring me ultimate satisfaction and pride in myself. The one that I would walk away from at the end of the day feeling fulfilled because I had changed others’ lives for the better.

What brings me such fulfillment? I’m an academic advisor for undecided students. That may sound pretty lame, but to me it’s all about helping students find their passions so that they can become the people they were destined to be. What is more fulfilling than taking the hand of a lost soul and shining a light down the right path? I spent two grueling years in graduate school working fifty hour weeks and soaking up debt so that I could land this exact job. Yet, here I am only a year later, feeling as though something is missing.

When I first started college, I was one of those lost souls– the undecided students. I knew that English was my favorite subject, and I enjoyed reading, writing, and editing. But what does one do with a major in English? I felt that all I could do was become a starving writer, and who wants that at 18 years old? (Clearly, there are plenty of jobs that come with an English degree, but my 18-year-old self couldn’t comprehend what those might be.)

On I went. I navigated my first semester of college in the same disconnected, fruitless way that most of my students do. I took some gen ed’s that sounded intriguing, but I felt lost in a lot of different ways. I didn’t understand who I was or what I was doing; all I could do was stress about who I was supposed to become. How was I supposed to make a decision that would change my entire life?

Despite my lack of direction, I did have one minor revelation during my first semester of college: I was really good at psychology. When the rest of the class was failing, my professor e-mailed me to ask how I was doing so well. What? I didn’t even go to class. I just read the book, and I liked it. (Reading textbooks is so passe for students these days. Shouldn’t professors be depositing information straight into students’ heads? Why should they need to read? Ugh.)

I went forward with another purposeless semester and decided to claim psychology as a major, solely due to the feeling that I could not wait any longer to make a decision, and I didn’t have any other ideas. Was I happy with this decision? I never actually decided.

When I made my way into the field of academic advising, I felt that I had found my calling in helping students find their own. This really does feel amazing when it works out. Students are often set on certain paths because their parents or friends told them it would be a good idea, and they’d never considered anything else. They just need someone to show them how different life can be.

The truth is I feel like a fraud. How can I tell students to follow their passions without consideration of their future careers when I refused to take that exact advice when I was a student? I completely forsook my passions and skills, and for what? I do have an excellent job that I love most of the time, but I’m missing out on the part of me that’s really me. I’m a listener and an advice-giver, but I’m also an introspective literary nerd.

I’ve become the office grammar-checker because I cannot handle reading anything with more than one error. I’ve become the voice of reason because I’m not afraid to give my opinion, but I also believe in civilized conversations and debates. (Why aren’t people able to disagree without losing their shit?) I’ve also become the social leader because I’m always down for a drink or three, and if I’m going to spend 40 hours a week with these people, I may as well get to know them for who they really are.

My job is great, so why do I feel like something is missing? Is it because I went down the wrong path? Is it stupid to feel this way after just one year in a professional career? Maybe the only issue here is that I’m a millennial who’s never satisfied. I always want more for myself, and I want to be sure that my job is my true passion. Is that sort of thinking a problem with our generation, or is it really the solution?

 

Who Am I, Anyway: Starting Back at Square One

Uncategorized

I’ve always taken pride in my futuristic mindset. I’m focused, I’m driven, and I will do whatever it takes to meet a goal. But, as I sit and write about what my goals are and how I’m working on reaching them, I realize how goddamn boring I am. I don’t enjoy writing that crap, and there’s no way in hell anyone enjoys reading it.

I seem to have this obsession with being well-written and well-read because I can feel myself slipping in these areas. But maybe the reason I’ve become so inarticulate is because I never write, and I never write because I’m so worried about this internet world and what people supposedly want to read about. Where do I come into the equation? I need to write for me– whatever that means. As for reading, maybe the reason I never read is because I keep pushing myself to read the classics, like works by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Sure, they’re important authors for me to know and become familiar with, but let’s be real– I love reading smutty books and fantasy fiction, so when I see a book that I know I’m going to love the shit out of, why the hell am I judging myself?

Where does all of this internal pressure come from? I live in the 21st century. I have no need to read early 19th century authors OR feel like I need to keep up with writing those stupid lists everyone seems so hyped about these days.

The other “hype” is health. All I see on my instagram feed is Whole30 this or vegan that or plant-based such and such, filled with photos of chia algae superfood slosh, and we all pretend it’s what we want to see. Sure, what are we living for if not the health of our own bodies? But who am I kidding? I’m gonna drink a green smoothie one minute, but if I want to down a burger topped with bacon and cheese, I’m gonna fucking savor every last greasy drop. And then I might just get a milkshake. I’m healthy. I go to the gym. I eat well about 70-80% of the time. Why do I feel like the only way I can be on the internet is if I say something about health? No more.

This blog was meant to start as one for balance, but I also feel like I’ve lost track of who I am and what I actually enjoy. Why have I been working so hard to be so much of a “better” version of myself? It’s time to be raw, be real, be me.

I’m a 26-year-old semi-alcoholic academic advisor and bride-to-be. I love my fiance and my sweet baby dog, Tally, I like to hike and work out, and I L-O-V-E wine. I drink it every damn day, and I’ve officially decided to stop feeling so guilty about it.

Blackout

Books, sip, Uncategorized

I recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. and stayed with my best friend and MOH. While I wish I could say that we acted like grownups and spent our time touring responsibly, we inevitably reminisced about our college days by reenacting them. (What are best friends for?)

We spent the first evening starting out slowly with some wine at an Irish pub (so classy) and then drank our way through a few too many gin & tonics, dancing around and taking photos in the bar’s photo booth. The best I can say for myself is that I passed out when we got back to the house, whereas my friend made a booty call to a sexually adventurous Iranian she found on Tinder.

The next day, we guzzled down too many mimosas to count, and then we stumbled our way around the National Mall, giggling about our past escapades. We also took mini champagne bottles to drink as we sat in the grass because mimosas can only lead to straight champagne as the day progresses. We then ended the night drinking our way through a few bottles of wine and munching on hors d’oeuvres by the fire.


In the morning, I was ready to detox so we took the dog for a nice long stroll, and then we hunted for a juice bar. When we passed a cool brunch spot, we teetered a little at the sight of bloody mary’s, convinced ourselves that we were better than that, and we walked a few more blocks to find a healthy juice. When we didn’t immediately find a juice bar, we turned right back around and hit up Sunday brunch because who can drive four hours to get home if they’re hungover and haven’t had a good pick-me-up? Whoops.


Before leaving, my friend lent me a book of hers called Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. Now, I’m usually a reader of the ultra femme classics, like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, so when I saw this book I thought, “What am I going to do with this smutty teenage book about alcoholism?”

I left the book on my nightstand for the next few weeks, but I decided to bring it along for the flight to Tampa for my bachelorette weekend. (What better way to set the tone for the trip?) Then something strange happened. When I was expecting a really light, funny teenage read, I got sucker-punched by the author’s life story. Was this book written about me? Never have I read something where I felt truly connected to the writer, like she was explaining my own life to me.


The writer is a single thirty-something year-old woman who has been drinking with the boys and blacking out since high school. I wish I could say I was better than that, but, alas, I was all about that in high school. I’d skip my meals so I could get drunk faster, and then I’d down the tequila shots like it was nothing. That was the cool thing to do, right? I was hanging out with older guys, and I had to prove that I wasn’t a weak little girl who was going to be vomming after two green apple Smirnoffs. It’s not like I didn’t drink those, but that’s usually just how I got my nights started.

When I hit college and was surrounded by people who had never had a drink before, I was very honestly confused. What did they do in high school? How will they ever survive college? I did my best to fit in with these non-drinkers, but I was still hiding bottles of wine in my dorm room while my poor suite mate was getting her fancy candles confiscated.

When my best friend and I met through a coed service fraternity, we immediately clicked and started having our own little blackout nights together. I had found my soul sister, and there was nothing I loved more than getting wasted together, laughing and dancing the nights away. It didn’t take long before we were singled out as bitchy alcoholics in our organization. Nobody liked us, but we fucking loved ourselves.

As I approach the age of 27, it’s not so cute anymore. I’ve pulled back in that I’m mostly a wine drinker. (Wine is so much more socially acceptable for a working professional.) And yet, I have a really hard time going more than 3 days without red wine. I’m not addicted. I once went 30 days without because I wanted to lose a few pounds that badly. But I absolutely love the flavor. I love the feeling as it slips down my tongue and warms my throat and chest. I love that I feel so relaxed and ready for a night in or out– whatever the mood calls for. When I meet non-drinkers, I feel confused. Why would you not want to drink?

So yes, this Blackout book spoke to me. It said, “you’re not alone.” It also said, “at least you’re in a solid relationship with another drinker instead of fucking everything that moves.” Lastly, reading this book told me to be more honest about who I am. If I’m going to be writing a blog about who I am and what I do, I sure as hell better be raw. I may want to act like drinking wine makes me a classy bitch, but I also take things too far, I sometimes blackout, and I hate staying sober. And you know what? I’m okay with that, for now. Maybe I’ll even write about my bachelorette weekend escapades. If you can handle it.

Bridal Beautification Process

Strive, Uncategorized

All brides want to look beautiful on their wedding day. For many, that means a tight body, freshly trimmed and shiny locks, beautiful baby skin with a warm glow, and so much more. While I’d like to say I’m a unique individual who doesn’t fall into the status quo, this is one area that I’m absolutely obsessed with, just like every other bride-to-be.

Image result for bride working out

(Image Source: Finish First Sports)

Maybe part of this obsession is due to the fact that I have no idea how many people are coming to the wedding. (What’s a RSVP?) Maybe part of it is that I have all of these different images in my head of what the reception should look like without any clue of how it will actually translate on wedding day, and that’s scary. Maybe part of it is that my future groom doesn’t love giving feedback when I ask for advice. Either way, my beauty regime is one thing that I can actually control.

Bridal Beautification, Step One: Whip that booty into shape

I’m doing so-so here. I make it to the gym every day (win!), and I [mostly] eat a very clean diet. I have trimmed down on alcohol, but I’m certainly no angel there. (Who wants to give up wine? No spank you.) And I love to [ch]eat… Once I allow myself just a little taste of something delicious, I become a monster. Example: I hit the gym yesterday morning. I had a very healthy breakfast and packed myself a clean lunch. Then it was interview review time in my office, and my coworker supplied us with a huge box of donuts to get through the grueling process. After groaning in a confused muddle of dread and excitement, I ate two donuts. No regrets. But then I got more and more stressed throughout the day with various wedding details, and I knew I had to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. I had one glass, then I had to go to a service project/ social. (We made fleece blankets for local children.) I had three more glasses of wine, lots of chips and hummus, and two brownies. Ugh.

I’m really good most of the time, but this binging problem is making me nuts. The wedding is 2 months away, and I’ve been gaining a lot of muscle and strength, but it’s time to work on the self-control so I can start trimming down and revealing those freshly toned muscles. Which brings me to my next slim-down endeavor– this weekend I’m trying out a new fad: the infrared body wrap sauna. It raises your core body temperature and burns a tooooon of calories in the process. Other documented benefits include cellulite reduction, pain relief, skin rejuvenation, and detoxification. Now I know this is just a new fad that’s only going to give some temporary benefits, but I might as well try it out. Even if all it does is reduce water weight, it can make me feel a lot better when I slip into my wedding dress.


(Image source: Event Group Weddings)

Bridal Beautification, Step Two: Make that skin glow.

I’ve been ordering HUM Nutrition products for the last few months, and I really love them. I use the Daily Cleanse, Raw Beauty powder, and Runway Ready pills. My skin does seem to be doing a lot better, and my nails have never looked so good. (I have really shitty paper-thin nails that should be on the hands of a preteen boy.) The Daily Cleanse pills help me make up for my binge nights. The Raw Beauty powder provides an easy way for me to get some superfoods and probiotics in everyday. The Runway Ready pills give my skin that extra boost to stay clear and balanced. It’s also made my hair noticeably thicker, allowing me to go longer between trims.

I’ve also purchased an at-home microdermabrasion system so that I don’t have to spend a butt-load of money at the spa every two weeks. I bought the Appollus Diamond Microdermabrasion Machine, and I’m a major fan of this product. It’s got four different heads for varying levels of abrasion and for those hard-to-reach areas, like the creases of your nose. It’s also got a really good suction, and you can see all of the junk it collects from your pores.


(Image source: bridalnbridal.net)

Bridal Beautification, Step Three: Groom isn’t just a title for your man. Get your own self-grooming under control.

This is a new area for me to focus on. I only get my brows waxed when they really start to piss me off, and that can range anywhere between once and twice a year. I knew I needed to get them into tip-top shape, and my makeup artist referred me to the woman I hired as my hair stylist. I knew this had to be a great idea. We click really well; she’s super beautiful and well-maintained, herself. If there’s anyone I should be able to trust with my brows, it’s her.

Nope. After walking out of the salon, I walked around town with some nasty burns around my eyebrows all weekend. This has NEVER happened to me before! Needless to say, I was pretty pissed. Now I really don’t know what to do about these caterpillars just before wedding day.

I’m also going to have my first bikini wax experience before bachelorette weekend so that I can see how my skin reacts to it. Fingers crossed for no burns or any other nasty shit! I really hope this goes well so I can get a full Brazilian just before the wedding. I’m [almost] excited.


(Image source: Everafterguide.com)

Soon-to-be brides take some drastic measures in order to look their best on wedding day. Now that wedding photography has become such a big deal and now that anyone can share your photos on social media, it seems to have multiplied the pressures to look perfect. I know that he loves me for me and that’s what’s most important, but I’d still feel a lot better going through all of this craziness rather than showing up with a bloated belly, flat hair with split ends, and my regular blotchy, oily skin. I’m going to show up looking and feeling fantastic, and all that can do is make the day even better. Then I get to go off and enjoy every minute of my honeymoon because I deserve it =) #worthit

Burgundy Bliss

sip, Uncategorized

I have always had a sincere love for wine. It’s a regular part of my daily life, and each time I take that first sip, it feels like it’s been too long since I’ve had a taste. Sure, there were some childhood years when I reeled from the smell of it, but my love affair had been slowly manifesting since I was in the womb. (Drinking one glass a day while pregnant is so Italiano.)

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking that I can go long periods without wine in order to meet my fitness goals. This worked for a whole month one time, but I’ve never been able to push myself past 2 nights without since then. *Sigh.* And yet, why would I ever give up the elixir of life to be “fit”? What about my mental fitness? When I sip from that glass (okay, two glasses) of burgundy bliss at the end of the day, my whole world slows down, and I feel more able to appreciate all of the hard work I’ve done. I’m able to put my life into perspective and feel good about it.

Hell no, I don’t need wine to get by in life– I can function and be completely happy with everything without it. But if I don’t allow myself little pleasures, I’ve fallen into the American ways of restriction. Wine is what gives me that joie de vivre. I can cut down in any other area, but why skimp on the things that bring me true happiness? We Americans have a problem with obsessing over weightloss and restriction to the point that its mentally unhealthy and only causes further distress, restriction, and weight gain– purely due to increased anxiety.

So, this is to all the ladies out there who think they need to give up wine to be fit and need to be fit to be happy: Be good where you can, but enjoy every sip and every bite of the little indulgences you give to yourself. Sweat, work hard, and then take some long, slow sips at the end of the day. Let every particle overtake your senses, and revel in the fact that you’re a hard-working woman, and you deserve every bit of happiness that you treat yourself to.

 

Breaking Routine to Stay on Track

sip, Uncategorized

When is it safe to decide that a routine can be broken?

I’m a huge proponent of maintaining routines in order to stick to goals and maximize productivity. If we don’t have specific objectives in place in order to meet goals, then we can’t make steady progress, and we certainly can’t attain real results. The surprising fact of the matter, though, is that cheating is 100% necessary.

We’ve all heard of “cheat days.” If you’re an avid gym-goer, cheat days are likely your joie de vivre– they make your entire week, and get you focused for the next week. It’s easy to stick to eating clean and going to the gym during the work week, but if you don’t treat yo’self every once in a while, you’ll soon give up altogether. There are physiological and emotional responses which actually make cheat days more beneficial for you to reach your fitness goals. (See Testosterone Nation for more info.) The most basic synopsis is that if we never change up our routines, our bodies eventually stagnate. Stagnation tends to lead to stress and obsession, causing people to go to drastic measures, like food restriction and excessive exercise to the point of injury. There’s nothing worse than working hard and seeing no results. If we throw things off for a day, it forces our bodies to readjust and continue operating at optimum levels, meaning cheating can actually help you reach your fitness goals.

What’s great about this is that it can be translated into every other facet of our lives. Work bogging you down? Don’t you dare open up those e-mails on the weekend. Are your kids driving you up the wall? Find someone to look after them and have a spa day. Everyone making you crazy? Have a “me” day! Go shopping, get your nails done, watch some movies, and drink a few gigantic glasses of wine. Take a break because you deserve it!

I know that I have got to give myself a cheat day to just forget about all of those personal pressures I put on myself and do whatever the hell I want to do. If I don’t, that need to release pressure is going to creep up at the worst moments. For this reason, Saturday is always my go-to cheat day. Come Sunday, I never give two shits about anything I coulda shoulda woulda done on a Saturday. It’s time to kick my feet up, watch too much TV, drink too much wine, order some pizza, and completely lose myself in the day. Sure, I could get things done on a Saturday and feel pretty good about being productive, but let’s be real– I’m still going to feel a lot better doing whatever the hell I want.

The best thing about this: we can’t help but feel guilty about getting off track, so it really gets us going so we can jump into a productive week. But if all we do is go-go-go, that drive to succeed is going to keep dwindling until we lose control.

So kick up those feet. Drink that drink. Eat that candy bar. Let yourself be a little dumb. You’ll be better for it.

‘Round We Go Again

Books, Uncategorized

Left foot, right foot. Breathe in, breathe out. Go up, go down. Keep moving, but never forward.

Sometimes life can feel like an endless stream- carefully rounding the curves and traversing the jutting stones, paddling to get to your final destination, if only you could just get there. Every time you make progress and move forward, a current knocks you right back to where you began.

Reading “The Secret” has helped this screeching stillness faint to a mere whisper. I see all of the things that I want, and I know my life will get there. The changes are already slowly coming to a reality, even if it’s not always how I originally pictured it. It’s always better, though.

Life is slow. When you want things, it seems slower. If you live in the moment, though, and focus on gratitude, you realize that the place you are now is exactly the place you wanted to be in before. The images and thoughts and decisions you made ultimately shaped every facet of your life. You are exactly who and where you always wanted to be. So imagine the next thing(s) you want, but don’t forget to be thankful for where you are now. Only good vibes– you’ll get there.

Carpe diem

Books, Strive, Uncategorized

One minute, everything is perfect. Your job is going great. You’re eating well. You look sexy as hell. You feel infinite. Each day, you build more and more momentum, and you float up to the next step with each small success. You’re almost at the top, and nothing can knock you down!

Then, the work starts piling up, and the stress slowly creeps up like smoke. It licks at your feet, beckoning you to let it entangle you. Your very passions are insulted, and you sip at wine and start to slip. One minute you’re just doing your job, and the next minute, the tears are forming a small pool on your desk. You skip dinner and drown in wine so you can stop feeling.

You fall into a deep sleep that doesn’t last long enough, and you open your eyes to a soft light spilling into your room. Alas, it’s a brand new day. The pieces can be picked up. You can rise to the surface again. You just have to believe it.

I’m currently reading “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. While the premise is simple, believing in the secret can transform your worldview, affecting the way you respond to situations and molding your future into exactly what you want. Since beginning this book, I’ve felt different about negative experiences that bring me down. I bring all negativity onto myself. It is up to me to focus on everything I want and need and why these things will bring me a more fulfilling life. So far, it’s brought a booked honeymoon, a new home, and multiple thank-you letters from students (which not a single one of my colleagues has received).

These are all turns that my life has taken only in the last week. Life changes dramatically every single day, and it’s up to us to chase it wherever we want it to go. Carpe diem.

 

Whole30

Strive, Uncategorized

I started the Whole30 last Monday, 1/9, and the verdict is still out. I can’t say I’ve been following it with as much precision as they ask you to, but I’ve definitely done my best to come as close to it as possible. Most of the difficulty is due to the fact that I live in a small town and our Kroger has zero variety. And people around here love unhealthy food, so that’s what they stock.

What’s great about this program is that I spend a lot of time looking at ingredients, and I’m doing really well with staying away from processed and packaged foods. It’s forcing me to do big meal prep sessions on Sundays, and that makes for smooth weeks. Wine is my weakness, though, and I must admit I’ve already fallen prey to its burgundy seduction on more than one occasion, already.

Here’s what I ate last week: 1/9 – 1/15

  • Breakfast: Sausage Egg Breakfast Casserole
    • 12 organic free-range eggs
    • 4 links Aidell’s chicken & apple sausage
    • 3 medium potatoes
    • 1 green bell pepper
    • 3 handfuls of  spinach
    • ~ 1/4 cup coconut milk
    • I separated this into 6 servings and was SO satisfied every day! I never got tired of it.
  • Lunch: Mexican Cauliflower Rice Salad
    • Cauliflower Rice (1 whole cauliflower, zucchini, 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp olive oil, fajita seasoning)
    • 1 handful spinach
    • Boneless skinless chicken breast (~6 oz)
    • Grape tomatoes
    • Guacamole
    • Salsa
  • Dinner: Chicken breast w/ veggies (sweet potato, green beans, & Brussels sprouts)

Here’s are photos from the meal prep:

Pros:

  • I feel healthy and alert.
  • I’ve made it to every single workout before heading to work, and I usually feel energized throughout the day.
  • I’m sleeping really well.
  • My brain is working better. I’m able to think clearly and constructively, and that’s something to be happy about on its own.
  • I’m always full.
  • I have zero cravings.
  • I have an excuse for saying no to foods that I know will make me feel  bad. This is usually very difficult for me.

Cons:

  • I’m bloating a lot, starting in the middle of the day, and I’ve yet to figure out what’s causing it. It must be from a certain vegetable I’ve been eating, but I need to keep experimenting on that. I’ve done some research and it’s possible that it’s from eating cauliflower and/or Brussels sprouts. We shall see.
  • My skin isn’t clearing up (but this could be due to wine). C’est la vie.
  • I really like bread, and I just feel weird saying I can’t have any. (Although I can’t say that I miss it, per se.)

Hoping things continue to improve over the next 3 weeks! I’ll continue to update weekly.

 

Welcome to the North

Uncategorized

Layer after layer, I continued to pile on the winter weather gear to shield myself from the heinous 17 degrees waiting for me on the other side of the door. I knew that the second I crossed the threshold, the cold bite would take hold of my skin and refuse to let go. While this would be a novel and jarring experience, I did not feel perturbed. On the contrary, I was absolutely ecstatic.

Once I added the last touch- a fuzzy hat to top my head – I stepped outside and felt the cool air smother my face, but the rest of my body remained warm. I hobbled a few feet and crunched down the porch steps, and my face shivered into a brilliant smile. I went faster, running to the bottom of the hill, squealing with sheer excitement. The snow crunched and slid under my feet as I bolted up and down my driveway. The frostbitten air crept into my clothing and I slowly, reluctantly, went back inside. My smile, though, was there to stay.

I am 26 years old and grew up in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. I’ve just moved to Virginia earlier this year, and, while this was not my first time in the snow, it is my first real winter in a place I call home. Most who are native to colder climates would find me maniacal after reading of my experience, but I am beyond thrilled. I spent the entire weekend cozying up inside with my fiance, my puppy, a warm blanket, and some wine, and it felt like the moment I had been dreaming of for years.

It’s not so easy growing up and settling in after a big move, but I’ve always been ready for the next adventure. This just happens to be the quintessential adventure I’ve been waiting for. What could be more miraculous than living at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains? Without a doubt, I’ll crave the heat sooner or later, but for now I’m doing just fine. Thank you, Virginia.