Life is Getting Pretty Lonely, and That’s Okay

Hi friends, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve actually posted a blog… Writing all day at work makes it so difficult to want to come home and write more. But today was kind of rough, and I feel like being vulnerable is the best thing I can do for myself right now. So, here it is.

Last week, Josh moved out and went back home after a couple of pretty shitty events turned his (and my) life upside down. To top it off, we had some serious conversations about where our relationship was heading. For the longest time, we’ve been planning on being engaged by the end of the year (our 5 year anniversary would’ve been on NYE), but now…that most likely won’t be happening.

I think the hardest part about dating someone when you’re literally growing up with them is that people change. And they’re supposed to. There’s nothing wrong with growth. What gets tricky is when love gets in the middle of that change, and you’re both no longer the same people you were when you were living carefree in a shitty dorm room with minimal responsibilities.

The thing is, I started dating Josh when I was 18. I had just gotten out of a serious relationship/dating someone off and on for all of high school, and I was “single” for like only three months before I jumped into a relationship with Josh. And I isolated myself. From my college roommate (which I regret so much), from making girlfriends, and making decisions that would literally change the course of my life just so we could be together (*cough cough* why I’m in Kentucky in the first place…). My life has revolved around him. My entire life is centered on making sure everyone around me is happy.

When Josh decided he wanted to stay in BG for another year for his job because he loved it so much, I begrudgingly agreed because, well, financially it was just a lot more feasible. But then things changed, and he wouldn’t be working at that “fabulous” job anymore. And now, he got to go home–to his family, to the place he loves.

And I’m stuck here.

As much as I’m angry, I’m excited to get to live on my own. One of the things Josh and I always argued about was that I always made X sacrifices for him, and it was honestly starting to make me really bitter. And as much as I’m lonely, I can only hope that this time by myself will make me come to terms with what I really want for my life, and not what my boyfriend/family/friends think I should be doing.

I’m not someone who handles being alone well, but I’m trying. I keep reminding myself that if you’re not being challenged, you’re not changing. I so desperately want and need to make some changes in my life, and as difficult as the last few weeks have been, I literally have no choice but to take control of my  life and just do whatever sets my fucking heart on fire.

Leaving people behind is never easy, but I’m finally trying to put myself first and it feels amazingly bittersweet.

So, cheers to new beginnings, as hard as they may be.

Thanks for letting me share, y’all.



3 Affordable Products That Helped Me Grow Out My Bleached Hair


The first time I ever got highlights in my hair I was seven years old. Seven. I’ve been bleaching my hair for nearly 16 years (give or take my scene queen wannabe days, but I was still coloring my hair black every six weeks nevertheless… LOL sry mom). If you color your hair, but especially if you bleach your hair regularly, you know how damaging it can be. I’ve tried everything from $300+ keratin treatments to name-brand sprays and hair masks, but nothing’s helped, and it’s certainly been discouraging for my wallet.

So, I got fed up and resorted to the only thing I thought would work: cutting off all of my hair. Well, not all of it but pretty close. My hair was so dead that I opted to get a “lob” which actually turned into a short af bob (hate when that happens). It was cute, but nothing compared to my long, luscious wavy locks that I had in high school. I was desperate for my hair to grow back, but again, nothing helped. Not even biotin (!!!).

I continued to bleach my hair because I’m most comfortable as a blonde. But I needed to find something that would keep my hair healthy and my wallet happy. Here’s what I found worked for me and what I sincerely hope will work for you!

Vital Protein’s Collagen Protein Peptides ($43)

I plan to write an entire blog post on this stuff because it’s just that good. I started taking Vital Protein’s Collage Protein Peptides about six months ago and the results that I’ve seen in my hair have been ridiiiiiiculous. My hairstylist couldn’t believe how much my hair had grown since the last time I saw her, and I owe it largely to this stuff. I put two scoops in my coffee every morning and viola, shiny, strong hair. Get you some, for real. It’s less than $40/month for a subscription and worth every. single. penny.

L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm ($5.99)

I got this product in an Influenster PR package. I was super hesitant to use it because it feels like a really thick conditioner and my hair usually gets extremely oily, but OH MY GOSH. Within a week, my hair was so much softer, and there were noticeable differences when I wore my hair natural (aka softer hair = less frizz…thank you LAWD, amirite!?). This L’Oreal product is so affordable, will last you at least three months (I use about a quarter size dollop on the ends of my hair every day). Try it out! You will not regret it.

Mane ‘n Tail Original Shampoo ($6.19 for 32oz)

I’m sure you’ve heard about Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo before and thought, “Does that really work?” I think it does. It’s made with collagen, so it helps your hair look stronger and shinier. And combined with the products listed above, I’ve used nothing but Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo for the last year. My hair seriously hasn’t looked healthier, stronger, and longer than it has in YEARS.

Try these three products together for a month and see if you have the same results, because I would bet that you will. For less than $65 (which is, let’s face it, almost half of what it costs to get a full set of foils), you can keep your hair protected in between bleaches! Maintaining blonde hair is no small task, but if you can save money on products that will keep your hair strong and not looking fried, why not try them!?

As for me, I’ll be embracing my natural beach waves for as long as possible, and I will never take them for granted ever again. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the growth I’ve had (I can almost get a high pony without bobby pins woohoo). If you try any of these products, please let me know! I’d love to hear how they work for you. Have more questions about hair? Let me know! I’d be happy to help. 🙂

What are your favorite hair products?!




4 Tips for Packing for Your First Conference

Last week, I flew out to Vancouver, Canada for the Unbounce Call To Action conference and was there for four days! Because I just recently started working in marketing, I was so excited for the opportunity to go and learn alongside my coworkers about the industry (and I was extra excited about going to Canada for the first time!!!) Every time I travel, though, I tend to overpack. Bad. Since I was limited to only a carry on, this was even more overwhelming. I figured that this would be a good opportunity to share some of the tips that help me get organized and narrow down my traveling essentials. Here’s my 4 tips for packing for your first conference when you’re dealing with limited space.

Packing Tip #1: Make a list and lay everything out

Packing for Your First ConferenceI’m a visual person, so checking things off a list and being able to visualize everything on the floor helps me so much (and reduces my travel anxiety!). I start my lists by planning my outfits for each day (shirt, pants, underwear, bra, shoes). Next, I list the accessories I’ll need to bring (purses, jewelry, etc.). When I’m traveling with just a carry on, I use a tote bag so I can fit my work laptop, charger, notepad, headphones, etc. and will later use it has my bag for the conference. Then, I’ll list what needs to go inside of my tote bag. Finally, I list out what beauty products I’ll need to bring and make sure that I have the products in travel sizes.

Packing Tip #2: Try on your outfits (comfort is key!!!)

Checking the dress code for any conference is super important. Many conferences require business casual or business professional attire, but luckily, the conference I attended was more casual, so I had a bit more flexibility for comfort. When I’m putting together my outfits, though, I always ask myself things like: “Will I be able to sit in these pants all day comfortably?” “Can I walk or stand in these shoes for long periods of time?” “Will I be adjusting my bra straps all day with this top?” It can be so tempting to wear brand new flats or heels, or a top that looks super cute but requires you to adjust the straps all day, so keep in mind: if they’re going to be uncomfortable, don’t bring them.

Packing Tip #3: Limit yourself to only the essential beauty products

Packing makeup is always my weakness. Although I use the same products every. single. day., I still find myself wanting to pack every nude lipstick I own, five shades of foundation (just incase I tan sitting in the window seat ya know), and every eye shadow palette I’ve ever purchased at Ulta. So, I check myself. I’m not going to prom; I’m not going to dinners that require extra glam. My daily, “natural” makeup routine is all that I need. Pro tip: I try to limit myself to a small cosmetics bag. If it doesn’t all fit in there, I need to consolidate more.

Packing Tip #4: Do NOT get caught up in the “What if” scenarios

If you’re like me, you probably over analyze every travel scenario possible. What if there’s a storm? Should I pack an umbrella and a rain coat? What if I have a layover? Do I need to pack another outfit? What if we go to a nice dinner? I might hate what I packed…Should I bring five backup dresses just in case?

Stop. Don’t listen to these thoughts. If you’ve made a list of the absolute essentials for your trip, you’ll be fine. If you have a layover? You can re-wear an outfit or wash an outfit at a hotel. If there’s a storm, you can grab an umbrella there. Worried about hating what you packed? That’s why you try it on before you go.

Packing for any trip is stressful, but when it’s your first work conference, it can be that much more overwhelming. I hope that by following each packing tip you’ll be able to consolidate what you really need, feel confident in what you’ve packed, and have a successful trip! What’s your favorite packing tip?!

Here’s what I packed:

[foogallery id=”1686″]

One Year Later…Who Rescued Who?

Wow—where to even start with this post?

That it’s been a whole year since Josh and I adopted Fitz is overwhelming in itself. To think about the place I was in that made me want to adopt a dog in the first place, and seeing the place I’m in now brings tears to my eyes.

It’s crazy for me to think about being thankful for the circumstances that led to me and Josh adopting Fitz. The pain, loss, and desperate need to fill a void that I was going through was getting to be unbearable, but Fitz has helped me heal.

Rescuing Fitz has made me feel whole. It’s given me a purpose and something to wake up for every day. And when I look into his eyes, I know that he can tell that I’ve both been through hell and back, because he has too. Fitz knows no personal space, but that’s okay. When you have a tendency to push people away like I do, having a cuddly, 60-pound dog sit on your chest will make you accept love and compassion whether you want to or not. And that’s exactly what I needed.

When we adopted Fitz, he was emaciated and on the verge of being euthanized. It pained me to think about what he had been through. But the second he jumped into my car, I knew he wasn’t thinking about that. He wasn’t thinking about his past; he was thinking about his future. He was trusting. He welcomed us into his heart and loved us without reservation. And that’s exactly what I needed.

This is the greatest lesson I’ve learned from him over the last year: to trust others, to be more accepting and compassionate, and to let others back into my heart. It’s so easy to feel jaded by the people that have wronged you or to feel that God has wronged you or put you through unfair circumstances, but the Mercy and Grace that I’ve witnessed through my rescue pup’s eyes has made me softer and more open to the idea that there is good in the world. And that’s exactly what I needed.

When I slip back into thoughts about what I went through before we adopted Fitz, I try to remember the excitement Fitz felt when we took him home. A fresh start, a new beginning. Just what I needed.

Fitz was my new beginning at happiness, & I couldn’t love him more for it.

Happy One Year, Sweet Fitzgerald. We love you!


This morning a dear friend of mine texted me an inspirational quote, as she usually does most mornings,  that really made me stop and reflect. It read: “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” Wow. 

If you’ve been following along with my posts over the last year, you’d know that I’ve been living through quite the roller coaster. The past few months have been rough. Realllllly rough. I’ve contemplated dropping out of grad school, moving back home to Florida, and whether or not I’m doing what I’m truly passionate about. I’ve been harder on myself in the last four months than I probably have my entire life. It’s sucked.

But things are finally starting to look up.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my Insta stories the other day chronicling my “traumatic” interview. (If you missed my overly dramatic, way-too-long Insta story, here’s a quick recap: the weather was cold and rainy #badhairdayaf; rushing to get to the highway, I realized I forgot my phone; I made it to the interview location just at the scheduled meeting time only to realize it was the wrong location; and I ended up being 30 minutes late.) Luckily enough, though, I got a second interview with the CEO. It went really well, and the company and position seemed honestly too good to be true. I couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity to be in a position that allowed me to use both of my degrees and be creative.

Well, yesterday I was offered the job! And while I was fairly confident I would get it, I couldn’t help but let out a “woohoo!” when the offer was presented to me (I’m so lame, ugh). Part of me is so relieved that I don’t have to search for a job any more; I can focus solely on finishing my Master’s and teaching for the rest of the semester. But mostly, I’m just filled to the brim with gratitude. That this job literally fell into my lap without me seeking it out; that I found a company that seems to really value its employees and does whatever they can to help them succeed; that I won’t just be a number at some big corporation; that everything I’ve gone through in the past year wasn’t in vain; that my God is so, so faithful.

Over the next few weeks, I will begin working part-time until I graduate in May.  I will also be studying for my comprehensive oral exam, teaching two classes, and taking two of my own classes. I am so excited for the future I could cry (which could be because I’m partially overwhelmed already), but I know that God’s plan for my life is beyond anything I could ever imagine for myself, and for that, I know I can handle anything that is thrown my way.

Lastly, I really want to thank all of my family and friends who have given me words of wisdom and encouragement throughout the hiring process, throughout school, and throughout life. Without each of you, I am certain I would not be where I am today. And if you could remember from time to time, I would so appreciate it if you would keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin my career in Marketing!!!

XO —





10 Gifts Under $35 You Need to Buy Your Twenty-Something Gal Pals for the Holidays

Y’all!!! It’s finally Thanksgiving break for me, and I cannot wait to stuff my face with all the food, spend some much needed quality time with my family, and SHOP!

But if you’re anything like me, buying your girlfriends gifts for the holidays can be freaking stressful. As a graduate assistant who has no other source of income other than my modest stipend, buying gifts for anyone is quite challenging. I also think it’s pretty hard to buy gifts for your twenty-something girlfriends when everyone is at such different stages in their lives. I have besties who are still in college, some who just graduated and are starting their careers and/or are moving in with their boyfriends (so excited for you Ayla and Kris!!!), and others who are off getting married and having babies (wuuuut). So, I’ve complied a list of ten gifts that I think would be perfect for your twenty-something-year-old besties, and they are all under $35!!!

  • Buxom Plump and Contour Lip Trio | $20 What girl doesn’t love a good lip color? I’m obsessed with Buxom products, but they’re quite expensive (a typical full tube of lipgloss is $20). This trio is the perfect color for the fall, can be worn every day, and literally lasts forever.
  • Baublebar Criselda Ball Shoulder Duster Earrings | $29 I die over these ball shoulder duster earrings and have quite a few pairs. I’ve linked Baublebar earrings, but you can also get a similar pair of them here ($13). They’re perfect for your girlfriends who love dressing up / adding fun touches to their outfits.
  • Tarte’s Maneater Mischief Eye Set | $22 I’ve used Tarte’s Maneater mascara and eyeliner for months and absolutely love them. This gift is perfect for your makeup-obsessed girlfriends, especially those who love a killer winged eyeliner.
  • 4pc Cheers Stemless Wine Glasses | $10 This gift is a steal!! This set of four stemless wine glasses is perfect for your  wine-lovin’ gal pals who just moved into their own place! Oooooor just your wine-lovin’ besties.
  • Single Image Frame Marble Finish Black & White | $15 I love anything marble, and this frame could go with anything! I think it’s so special giving friends a cute picture of you and them, especially if you’re like me and don’t get to see you friends very often. The more personalized the gift, the better!
  •  Gilligan & O’Malley Pajama Set | $20 Y’ALL!! If you don’t buy these for your bestie, at least buy them for yourself. These are the most comfortable pajamas I’ve ever worn in my life! Don’t get me wrong, I still love sleeping in bae’s t-shirts, but these pajamas are liiiiiiife. Seriously. They’re the softest and would make such a great gift! (Also, does wearing pajamas now mean I’m/we’re #adulting??)
  • Becca Lit-From-Within Kit | $20 Get ya girls this highlighter kit and their Christmas tree won’t be the only thing getting lit this year haha. This Becca highlighter is hands down my favorite and is so pigmented. It’s also a travel size (which is what I currently own), and I think it’s the perfect size. It’ll seriously last you forever.
  • She Believed She Could, So She Did MantraBand | $35 This is one of my favorite sayings, and I think it would be such a sweet gift for your bestie, especially those who are just starting their careers or are just about to graduate!
  • Prosecco Pong | $25 This is such a fun gift for your girlfriends who love to drink / play drinking games! It would also be a perfect for a girls night over the holiday break.
  • Monogrammed Porcelain Mug | $5  I love giving mugs for presents, and the monogram adds such a sweet touch. Pairing this with some of your friend’s favorite coffee blends, giving them one of your favorite blends to try, or even adding a special holiday blend is a great, affordable option for a more personal gift.

I’m so obsessed with all of these products and hope you’ve found them helpful! I’ll be posting more gift guides on the blog soon, and you’ll be able to locate/shop them all under the “Holiday” tab on my home page. Happy shoppin’!



Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So Freakin’ Done with Grad School

For those of you who aren’t keeping up with my blog or haven’t had the chance to read some of my most recent posts, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my grad program over the last year. After this summer, I was ready to drop out, but decided I just needed to finish. However, here I am with three weeks left in the semester, and I still can’t help but to feel like I’m wasting my time.

 I’ve also been MIA on my blog for a few weeks, and I really get frustrated at myself for not keeping up with it because, honestly, it’s really the only thing I enjoy doing. BUT my other “responsibilities” keep getting in the way: I have to keep up with my school work, plan lessons for the classes I’m teaching, and grade grade grade all of the freakin’ time. And on top of all this, I’ve also been battling severe anxiety and depression.

Because of this, I sought out therapy to work through my mental health issues and to help myself find clarity about whether or not I should drop out. I’ve been dealing with this internal conflict all semester, and it hit me a few weeks ago that the program I’m in isn’t going to help me be the best version of myself, give me any skills that I’ll need to be successful in the career(s) I’m interested in pursuing, and just doesn’t seem to be fulfilling in any way. And coming to this realization seemed to be making my depression even worse.

I mentioned to my therapist last week that I feel like I’m wasting my time in this program, and that I should just drop out now (even though I only have two classes left…) to get on with starting my life / career. I told her I thought being in the program was making my depression even more difficult to cope with, and I didn’t think there was anything I could possibly get out of the program by finishing it. This is the advice she gave me:

  1. Thinking that your wasting your time is wasting your time.
  2. No matter where you’re at in life, always try to find some purpose in what you’re doing.
  3. If you’re not putting 110% into what you’re doing, you’re always going to feel like you aren’t getting anything out of it.
  4. If you feel like you are wasting your time, what can you do about the situation?

Hearing this, I was honestly floored. I sat in her office, contemplative about what was I doing to make the situation better for myself. I knew I was under contract to teach for another semester, had already taken out student loans, and didn’t want to regret any decision that I would make, but I also knew that I laid in bed most weekends throwing pity parties for myself because I hated that this is what my life had come to.

I quickly realized that I was half-assing all of my assignments, put minimal effort into planning my lessons for my students, skipped classes more than I had my entire life (and if you know me personally, you know this is a huge deal), and wasn’t giving 100% in my relationship with Josh. I was living every aspect of my life in mediocrity, and I needed to stop. But how?

It’s not as easy as it seems to stop thinking that you’re wasting time when you’re truly unhappy in a situation, but until you’re giving 110% effort to at least try to get something out of whatever you’re doing, that feeling won’t change. I don’t want to look back on my time in grad school five years from now and feel regret, but I also don’t want to feel bitterness if I continue the program and still feel unfulfilled.

As the semester comes to an end, I have a lot of reflecting to do. If I do continue, what can I do next semester that will ensure that I make the most out of my classes? But also, how will I be able to utilize a degree in English in a way that will help me reach my goals after graduation? I need to ask myself why did I even decide to get this degree?

I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the mindset that we’re wasting time when we’re at a place of uncertainty in our lives. However, it’s what we do about it—what actions we take and the positive mindset we create for ourselves—that is the only way to overcome this negative thought process. I truly believe that there is always a rhyme or reason behind where we’re at in our lives, and although it isn’t always clear, there is always something that we can learn from it. I’m still searching for that purpose, but I am trying to start giving 110% in all areas of my life (which means more blogging and doing more that makes me happy!!!) in attempt to find it.

What are some ways that you overcame feelings of uncertainty or feeling like you were wasting time? Let me know in the comments below!



*S/o to Blackbear ft. Gucci Mane’s “Do Re Mi” for the inspo for the blog title!! I’m obsessed lol.

Let’s Talk About Therapy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Today is World Mental Health Day, so I want to get real with you.

A few days ago, I shared on my Instagram (@ashburgett) that this summer was really rough for me. I experienced one of the most traumatic life events that I wouldn’t wish on anyone (although I know it happens all the time), and I had trouble processing that experience. I was working 50-60 hour weeks while going through it too, so I never gave myself time to cope with the emotions I was dealing with. I put on a front like I always do when I go through something difficult, told myself to put my big girl panties on, and tried my best to suck it up and put a smile on my face every day.

This was so detrimental to my mental health.

Because I’ve always been commended on how “put together” I am, how ambitious I am, or how much I’ve achieved, I try my best not to be vulnerable around others and never really open up about what I’m going through. IMG_3168I’ve created a wall to block out emotions that are hard and unpleasant. I never want to deal with those feelings because I’m literally terrified of being “weak”.

I also shared on Instagram that rescuing Fitz, my adorable lab/retriever mix, has really allowed me to start healing. And it really has. He’s a total sweetheart, cuddles his mama all the time, gives me something to nurture, and showers me with the all affection that a girl could want (J does this too lol). However, what’s really started getting me over the hump of what’s easily the worst season of anxiety and depression I’ve ever gone through is seeking professional help.

I’ve always been apprehensive about seeking out a therapist/counselor/psychologist for my depression. I think this is mainly because I’ve always prided myself on being able to work through my problems myself or talking myself out of thinking that I’m really in that much pain, but I also think I’ve always been worried about the stigma associated with seeing a therapist. I don’t want people to see me as weak or think that I’m “crazy” or “psychotic”. I want so badly to be that strong, ambitious, put-together girl that I’ve always been told I am.

But the truth is, I’m pretty fucked up. I have a lot of problems: I’m insecure as hell, I always fall into seeing things through “the glass is half empty” lens, and I genuinely feel like I’m always bitter about something. My life has never been sunshine and rainbows; it’s messy and uncertain. I’m constantly worried about money, but I still seem to spend so much on frivolous things. I care way too much about what others think about me, and I’m always thinking about the “what ifs”. I’ve created this wall that doesn’t allow me to be vulnerable with others, and makes me not give a shit about making new friendships. I’ve put myself on this downward, self-hating spiral that I can’t seem to get out of.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 12.39.09 PMAnd while recognizing all of this about myself hasn’t been the easiest, it’s forced me to really think about my life and how I need to make some changes. Recently, my therapist had me diagram my inner self. I split myself into the “good” and the “bad” and was able to identify which qualities affected the way I thought and acted. I can now go back to that diagram and check myself when I start feeling insecure or when I start feeling bitter and ask myself “Why do I care what people are thinking about me?” or “Focus on all the positive things that came from doing this or doing that”.

I want to implore you all to seek out a therapist/counselor/psychologist. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about going to therapy is that you have to “have problems” or be depressed to talk to a psychologist, but you don’t. Some sessions I just talk about what’s been going well in my life and that things are going smoothly. Other times I do have problems (whether they’re trivial matters or something more serious) that I need to work through. Either way, talking to a third-party about what’s going on in your life is so, so helpful (especially while you’re in college and have so much going on!!!).

I also want to note that most colleges and universities usually offer free clinical services. I grew up with either not-so-great health insurance or no health insurance at all, so I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with a counselor when I went through some of my “underlying issues” as my therapist would say. I also never took advantage of the counseling services my undergrad offered when I really should have, and it’s one of my biggest regrets. So, try it out! Make an appointment and just talk to someone. We’re all works-in-progress, and you’ll learn so much about yourself, trust me.

What are some of the experiences you’ve had with therapy? Let me know in the comments below or via email! I’d love to hear from all of you.



I want to thank my very best friends for being there for me through all of this chaos, and for pushing me to talk to a professional. I am truly so lucky to have such great people in my life.
To learn more about World Mental Health Day (October 10th), visit the World Health Organization website.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is: 1-800-273-8255.




Putting Down Roots

Over the last few years, I’ve struggled with the idea of putting down roots. When will it happen? Where will I eventually settle? Am I wasting away my life moving all around or am I gaining experience?

I moved to South Carolina for undergrad and each summer I would move to a different city with my boyfriend and work your typical minimum wage summer job. We moved in with his grandma in Myrtle Beach one summer, then we went back to my home in Orlando to take classes the following summer, and finally after graduation, we moved back in with his mom for a few months in Wilmington.

Now, we’ve been living in Bowling Green, KY for the last year and have finally had the opportunity to start building our own home together. However, it’s really not our home: it’s a college apartment that’s fully furnished with things that aren’t ours. Sure, I can decorate it all I want. But it’s still hard to make it really feel like ours.

I feel like this has been our living situation for the last five years: dorm rooms, our families’ homes, and college “apartment-style” housing. We’re always moving, never staying. We can’t put down roots because we always get up and leave.

And while I genuinely feel like home is wherever I’m with Josh (and now Fitz), I think for me the most difficult part of this never-ending cycle of moving is forming relationships with other people. It’s really challenging for me to create relationships with people that I know I most likely won’t see again; I struggled with this in high school, in undergrad, and now in graduate school. I’ve always had a tight circle of friends that knew my innermost secrets, and I never felt the need to go beyond that.

It’s also often hard for me to find a reason to network professionally when I move to a new place. Josh is always encouraging me to go out into the community to meet people (especially some of the people he works with or coaches), but I don’t. I always talk myself out of it, or if I do meet someone that could potentially be a good networking opportunity, I usually don’t follow up.

I think this is one of my greatest pitfalls. I’ve been so caught up in the idea that the place I’m currently living isn’t permanent and that the relationships I form don’t really matter. I’ve been slowly growing out of this mindset, but I sometimes catch myself drifting back into my old ways. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea to be cautious when establishing new friendships, but I think relying on my “clique” as the only relationships I’ll ever need to form is really unhealthy.

I’ve started to realize that it isn’t about putting down roots. I’m only twenty-two and I have a lifetime ahead of me to grow and move around. I don’t have to settle yet; I can wander wherever my heart desires. I think what I’ve finally learned is that I don’t have to put down roots, I just need to plant seeds. I need to create relationships with people with the understanding that they could be some of the greatest bonds I’ve ever formed or they might not last at all. Both of which are okay. I need to be more vulnerable. I need to network. I need to put myself out there. I need to stop worrying about “settling” and enjoy the present.

It’s so easy to get caught up in societial pressures and pressure from family: When are you getting married? Where are you going to live when you graduate? Are you going back to Florida or are you going to the Carolinas? What are your career plans? What’s your five-year plan look like?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But I’m going to do my best to plant seeds and watch them grow. As cliche as this sounds, I know nothing is ever guaranteed in this life, so why not just take chances on people?

Have you ever experienced a similar feeling when you moved? How do you or did you try to overcome it? Let me know in the comments below or via email!

Why I’m (Still) So Obsessed With My Study Abroad Experience

On September 5, 2015, I got on a plane to study abroad for the semester in Shanghai, China. Prior to this, I had only traveled outside of the US once and that was to the Bahamas on a cruise (which, let’s be honest, to a Floridian that’s basically the equivalent of going to your next-door neighbor’s). So, needless to say, I had very limited worldview.

I knew Shanghai was one of the most populated cities in the world. However, I didn’t anticipate feeling too much culture shock, given Shanghai’s status as a huge international hub for finance and trade and its equally large international population. But, I quickly learned that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Longji Rice Terraces, Guilin

While Shanghai is full of wealthy citizens and expats, it is also ridden with extreme poverty: pollution floods the streets, and it’s especially hard to take a full breath of air without a mask during the fall/winter due to the intense levels of smog. People work at least 14-hour days (mostly labor intensive jobs) and still struggle to make ends meet.

Of course I’ve witnessed poverty and pollution in the US before, but nothing like this. And, of course, I did have an idea about the extreme poverty and pollution in China, but it never really seemed tangible. Studying abroad makes you see things in a new perspective. Being an outsider looking in was surreal; it really makes you think about how privileged you are to be living as a visitor in a country solely to study.

Essentially, my American privilege slapped me in the face—I was so appalled by my ignorance and it was a much needed reality check. It’s so easy to share a post on Facebook or Twitter to raise awareness or express your abhorrence for problems going on in the world; however, when do you actually do something about such problems?

The Great Wall of China, Beijing

At what point do you go beyond “Wow, that looks really shitty…I’d hate to live/be there” and actually put yourself in someone else’s shoes, or better yet, figure out ways you can make a difference? We make a mockery out of these problems by using hashtags like #firstworldproblems, but do we ever really stop to do anything about the very real #thirdworldproblems?! Poverty, access to education, human trafficking, pollution, as well as so many other issues are rampant in Chinese society (and many other developing countries). So ask yourself this: How do we live in a world that makes it so easy to distance ourselves from such real issues going on in developing countries?

I could say that studying abroad was thrilling: I got to live as an expat, traveled whenever and wherever I wanted, was treated like a VIP at clubs (thanks to promoters and my “foreign”/Western appearance), and never worried about spending too much money (I could live on $3USD/day). And while all of those things are most certainly true (and extremely shallow), I’ll say this: studying abroad made me come to terms with my severe ignorance of global issues and cultural differences. It made me realize that my dreams aren’t big enough, and that I need to think more globally, as opposed to stressing over the blatantly trivial matters that so often consume my thoughts.

And while many students think studying abroad is just going overseas to party and travel (which, to be fair, I definitely did my fair share of), it’s so much more than that. Although all study abroad experiences are different, no matter which country/countries you study abroad in, you’ll leave with a more global perspective and a real awareness about what the hell is actually going on in the world. I’m certainly still ignorant on a lot of issues, but my experience abroad has forced me to think outside of my protected, privileged, first-world bubble, and has made me more passionate about human rights issues than ever before. And this is exactly why over a year later I’m still so obsessed with it.

*My study abroad program was through International Studies Abroad (ISA)

*I received the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to apply toward my program costs. If you receive the Federal Pell Grant and want to study abroad definitely apply!

*I had the chance to visit the Shanghai Marriage Market for my Chinese Culture & Society class, and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences that I had while living in Shanghai. Watch this video to learn more about the “Leftover Women” and many of the other stigmas women face in contemporary China: SK-II: Marriage Market Takeover.