Let me first start out by acknowledging my absence on here for a few weeks. Y’all, sometimes I just don’t have the brain space to write as I’m so exhausted from my job.  But I’m pushing myself to post more consistently, as I do truly find writing therapeutic! Shout out to all 11 of my e-mail subscribers who I know have been tormented by the lack of posts (Double digits what whaaaaat!). I see you. I appreciate you. (If you’re reading this, subscribe to my blog y’all. I promise I’ll be more present for you!) Anyway, onto the real post…

6 years ago, I packed three suitcases and moved across the coast to start my first chapter as a real adult. The move came 2 days after I graduated from college. It left me little time to say goodbye to my friends, my family and my entire support system as I made the trek to the opposite coast with absolutely zero connections in D.C. At the time, it was probably the craziest and most terrifying feeling to know that I was walking into something so uncertain and leaving everything that was comfortable and familiar to me.

I began my post grad journey so immediately and with such sudden change that it left me little time to process my feelings. I was thrust into a new and scary environment as a Teach For America corps member where I began teaching middle school English at a high needs turn around school in Maryland, right outside D.C.

Returning to D.C. last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how many changes the city had undergone in just the 3.5 years I’ve been gone. New businesses and developments have taken over; some of my favorite restaurants and places no longer exist, and yet some familiar landmarks and places I used to frequent are surrounded by new neighborhood additions.

Going through this city I once called home and seeing how this city has changed so much prompted me to reflect on my own growth and the ways I’ve changed in just a few years. Some of the most formative years in my twenties were spent in D.C. and so there will always be a sense of fondness I will have for this place. Here are the biggest lessons I’ve  learned while navigating through some of my most challenging, yet rewarding years of my life.

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1. Not everyone you meet needs to stay in your life.

At the core of my heart, I am a people pleaser. I’ve never wanted to let others down, try my best to hold onto my word, and generally speaking…want people to like me.  With this, has come an internal battle.  When I was younger, if someone didn’t like me, I’d desperately try and change a piece of who I am in order to fit the idea of what that person would like. This constant shape shifting and blending in to fit in was not truly who I was. Luckily, I recognized this unhealthy habit pretty and I would say that in my first year of living in D.C., is when I consciously put a stop to this idea that everyone I meet I need to be friends with.  I remember having to cut off a relationship with a friend at the time who was extremely toxic to my well-being.  This moment was huge for me because it was a moment I stood up for myself and took action in creating the type of life I wanted to live. Moving into my late twenties, I am now so comfortable in who I am and what I value that if someone I meet does not fit into the vision I have for my own life, I do not feel the need to continue that relationship.  This has lifted this “social burden” of wanting to have to please everyone I meet and I find so much more joy in cultivating authentic relationships with people who value the same things I do.

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2. I do not need to justify the decisions I make in my life to others.

Let’s be real here–so much of today’s society centers around the idea of comparison. Constantly comparing others whether it be looks, career, love and relationships or accomplishments.  I find that when I catch up with old friends, so much of time is spent updating on “what’s going on in your life” that it doesn’t always feel like this authentic conversation on caring about each other, but rather only meeting to get the “juicy updates” on ___________’s life. I have found that true friends stick around through the mud while surface level friends stay around to just keep in the know with what’s going on with you.  My truest friends deeply care about my well-being, celebrate my accomplishments and ask questions that seek to understand –not questions to form judgements about me. And so I say this to cement the understanding I’ve come to, which is that I do not need to justify my life and my decisions to others around me.  Living authentically means doing things that make me happy without having to explain or justify why to others around me.

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3. Personally or professionally, do not settle.

I am a firm believer in advocating for yourself whether it be in a personal or professional setting/relationship.  Personally, I’ve pushed myself to draw a standard for the way I deserve to be treated.  In my romantic relationships, I’ve set specific standards for who I will invest my time with and have held clear to my vision of what I want and desire in my life.  While it’s so easy to fall in the trap of staying with someone for the sake of companionship or because you’re afraid you won’t find anything better, I am proud of the way I have held my ground for what I deserve.  Professionally, I have pushed myself to speak up if I feel uncomfortable or if I feel that my work is not being acknowledged.  In the last 3 years, I’ve negotiated pay and advocated for myself in a way that brought greater respect for the work I put in and the additional hours I spent. Know your worth–personally and professionally.

4. Discomfort means I am growing.

Y’all, if I could count the number of times I’ve asked myself, “Why did I do this again? What did I just sign myself up for? What am I doing here?” I’d be a rich girl who could afford all the velvet booties my heart desires.  But I’ve learned that with each experience that makes me feel a little or a lot out of my comfort zone, is an opportunity for growth.  Moving across the coast with literally 3 suitcases and no understanding of what I was getting into or the city I was moving to, was an extremely humbling experience.  I mean, on my first day of living in D.C., I had the cops called on me because I was trying to go to my friend’s house to drop off a suit case, but got dropped off at the wrong address and attempted to open the door of the wrong house because who knew there was a difference between Southeast and Northwest DC? Like if I have an address, isn’t it all the same? Apparently not.  That’s just one small moment in which I felt incredibly out of place which, in turn, was a growing experience.  Trust and believe there have been so many moments of discomfort while living in two of the craziest cities.  D.C. and NY have taught me a lot about the hustle, grind and being okay with feeling like a fish out of water.

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5. Life is not linear and no matter how well planned you are, you must be okay with letting the wind take you where you are supposed to go.

I say this because I feel like I’ve always been the type of person to be extremely planned. I need to know where I’m going, where my life is headed, who will be in it, etc. I’ve learned that I cannot dictate what life throws at me and I cannot predict what life will bring me. If I’m being honest, I never saw myself living in NY after living in D.C.  It just wasn’t the life I thought I could live.  But God opened a door for me to move to Brooklyn and finding my way here has been the biggest blessing. I’ve met so many incredible humans who I now call my dear friends, found a school I’ve grown tenfold at with children who bless me every day, and truly live an awesome life that I never imagined I would live. I’ve learned to be more okay with uncertainty and while I’d like to say that I have a firm grip on where I’m headed, the truth is, I’m at a point again where I’m not sure where I should be.  Do I stay here in NY and keeping building on the foundation I’ve laid down for the last 4 years? Or do I uproot myself again and move back to CA?  So many life decisions.  I’m learning on the understanding that where I’m supposed to be will be revealed to me, even if I can’t see it now.

Ah, did you make it all the way down here?! Major props to you if you read this entire post, which may be too lengthy, but whatever because it’s my genuine reflection on the last 5 years.  I hope that some of these lessons resonate with you or potentially even help guide you through whatever stage you may be in your life.  I’d love to hear from you any of the lessons that you connect with or a lesson you’ve learned in the last 5 years! Comment below and let’s start a conversation. 🙂

Thank you for reading my sweet friends! Now onto what I’m wearing:

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  1. Target beret; $12.99
  2. Forever 21 ribbed knit sweater; not available anymore 🙁
    1. Another chenille option; $19.99
    2. Tiered bell sleeve option; $35.99
  3. Target red corduroy skirt with studs ; $19.99
  4. Uniqlo jacket from last season (not sold this season)
    1. Faux Shearling option; $49.90
    2. Wool cashmere coat; $129.90
  5. Target over the knee boots from last season
    1. Here are some alternatives from Target!
      1. OTK boot #1 ; $39.99
      2. OTK boot #2; $59.99