How to Survive Your Freshman Year of Life

I remember Freshman orientation for High School and for College, and yet in the past few months, I seemed to have missed the orientation for life.

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts last week (Thick & Thin) and the host finally coined a term for this weird in between stage I (and many others) are experiencing as the freshman year of life.

We may not be carrying our lanyards around our necks (although I gracefully skipped that stage of college), but it feels like people can still spot us from a mile away. I’ve had so many instances since graduating where I’ve been condescended and talked down to, something I never felt the last few years in school.

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Senior: Thriving

I left college in the best possible way: thriving but ready for the next thing.

However, no one tells you how hard it is to leave your established community after 4 years of carefully building it. By the end of college, I served a role in the organizations I was involved in, I was known as a genuine and unapologetic person, I was fabulous, and I was making new friends till the very end.

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Freshman: Not Thriving

I sure as hell didn’t start out like that though.

I started college with a group of hall mates that dwindled as the years went on, I made questionable fashion and hair color choices, I couldn’t take a selfie to save my life, and I was really hesitant to be myself in fear of judgement.

Just like I was figuring it out 4 years ago, I’m doing the same now, just on a different, much larger campus.

My freshman year of life consists of a volunteer internship opportunity. I just happen to be volunteering for myself to pay off student loans and for a move to NYC in a year. Housing is provided (via my parents) and I haven’t made many friends yet. I sure as hell feel like a freshman.

Since we didn’t get handy dandy survival guides upon graduation, here are 5 Ways to Survive your Freshman Year of Life:

1 . Keep In touch with your Genuine Friends

It doesn’t matter if your friends went straight to grad school, volunteering, or full time jobs, they all left their support systems when they graduated too. Who are the ones you really want to stay in contact with, who you’re willing to make an effort for, and who’s willing to make an effort for you.

Text them just cause, send cards, set up friend dates, and let people know you’re there even if you’re not close. We all need that support right now.

2 . Learn to be ok with being Alone

Life is terribly lonely turns out, like never before in my life have I understood why relationships could be so great. But we can’t make our comfort contingent on someone else, so it’s time to be ok with yourself.

Finds things to do alone that bring you joy, write down all the things you love about yourself, make up positive self-affirming mantras. Knowing and being content with yourself makes a lot of other things easier.

3 . Get a Library card

Be gone the days of all nighters (except for my grad school babes I’m sorry and I luv u) but libraries can still serve a major role in our lives. To cut down on the spending of money we don’t have, use a library card for books, movies, music. Libraries often have free events and other perks like free language softwares. Save money and keep being an intellectual.

4 . Pick small goals and run with them

I see this time as an opportunity to improve and change my lifestyle since moving into a different kind of schedule. I want to run my blog, exercise more, eat healthy, read more, learn a language, find a side hustle, and on and on and on.

As if this new time isn’t already overwhelming, there’s no reason to make our lives more stressful than they need to be.

So instead of forcing this large to do list on myself say I pick a few things like: aim to drink 4 full bottles of water a day and read a book a month. All manageable and simple enough to implement into my life. Good behavior will encourage and inspire other good behaviors.

5 . Find your passion project

You’re reading mine, so I guess I’m doing something right. Our first year out isn’t always going to be our first choice of what we could be doing, so keep the faith and have something you do in your downtime that helps fulfill your joy and purpose.

I get that from my blog, maybe you could try other crafts, writing, exercise, slam poetry: whatever floats your boat. The idea is to always have something that can keep you going even when everything else is hard.

The first year of anything is filled with awkward moments, lessons learned, and questionable choices but it’s all necessary for us to keep growing into the the kick ass person we are. Stay strong babes and power through, we’ve been around the freshman block before and we can do it again.

x

Lillie

The Definition of Life

If you look up the definition of life on Merriam-Webster, you get a lot of answers. It explains it in terms of the body before death and in terms of half life for subatomic particles. A few, in particular stood out to me:

6: a way or manner of living

10: spirit, animation

17: one providing interest and vigor

These definitions got me thinking, if life is the period between birth and death and if we are unsure of our capabilities post death, shouldn’t we be making the most of this existence that’s described as interesting, spirited, and vigorous?

The real question, I wonder, is why aren’t we?

My expensive college degree in sociology helps us point towards society and culture as a culprit. On one hand, those two things enrich and extend our lives but on the other hand, it limits us through other people, judgement, and perceived fear.

We generally think to “spice up our lives” we need to constantly be doing new, exciting things, but it’s easy to hit a wall on where to even begin. Maybe our first thought is skydiving or something equally as radical that is suppose to liven our lives.

Personally, I don’t give a damn about skydiving.

What we actually need to do is to stop looking for external forces to change us and focus our efforts on living this life.

Change will come naturally, you going out of your way to find it doesn’t need to be the catalyst.

I know it doesn’t feel like it, but we have everything we need in this moment to live the lives we are meant to be living. It’s not about endless to do lists and self help books that we expect to give us the answers; seldom do we ever reflect and think and choose for ourselves.

It comes down to asking ourselves questions, answering them for ourselves, and making choices.

This doesn’t exclude guidance, love, and support that we receive from others, it just means the change we seek is found within ourselves, not other people.

Somehow, we believe everyone else is so painfully put together that someone else must know how to “life” better than you do. Spoiler alert: they don’t.

The only reason those people are where they are is because they made choices.

You can too.

It’s the blind leading the blind out here; so if everyone is, at the core, as clueless as you feel you are, why not just lead yourself? You’ll make mistakes, but at least they will be your mistakes.

But here’s another secret, you’re not as hopeless or as clueless as you think you are. Like I said before baby doll, you have all the answers, you just need to be asking the questions.

So what to ask? It’s a start, but ask yourself how you want to live this life with spirit and vigor. My alma mater would ask how would you live a life of significance?

Ask for what you want. The important thing is to be brave enough to answer and braver to choose.

If life is the manner in which you live, you get to choose your life.

We are often so afraid to answer ourselves truthfully and even more so when it comes to making a decision, this is where our society and culture get’s the best of us and we let what others think and what is perceived as practical get in our way.

I hate to tell you to get over yourself, but yeah… you’re going to need to get over yourself. If it makes you feel better, so do I.

It’s a process, babes.

But committing ourselves to living authentically, committing to answering our own questions, and committing to just commit to ourselves will lead us through this beautiful and spirited existence, not wasting a moment of it.

You are brave. You are strong. You have the power to make your own choices and create the life you want to be living. Go forth my loves and make the choice to make it happen.

x

Lillie

Self Care that’s Worth a Damn

The notion of self care has had a capitalist take over in recent years.

On one hand, it’s great that people are talking about mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself. My issue lies in the branding of self care. It’s the new “treat yo’ self” as if self care is something that is a treat that you afford to spend some money on because you’re investing in yourself.

What is also true is that we collectively procrastinate with self care, putting it off for when we have a large chunk of time to devote to it – which tbh rarely happens.

I love a good face mask and bath bomb as much as the next person, but being kind to yourself and living a healthy lifestyle should be a given. Cause you’re worth it bb.

Here are 8 easy self care activities you can add to your routine that will actually give you the self care you need:

1. 10 Minute Clean-Up

If your space is a mess, odds are so are you thoughts. Ignoring it doesn’t fix shit. The concept is simple, set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes and start picking up. Doing it early in the morning will help you start your day on a productive foot and help you feel accomplished.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset2. Add Some Fresh Flowers to Your Life

When you feel a little dead inside, the best first step is to add life to the outside and fresh flowers give that pick-me-up. Fake flowers will not do.

For cheap flowers, check out the discounted bouquets at grocery stores. I’ve your #blessed to live near a Trader Joe’s, they have them pretty cheap. You can also look into local farmers markets or see if there are any flower picking fields in your area.

It’ll bring life into your space and making your own arrangements can be therapeutic.

3. Morning Stretches

This one is easy, but doing some simple stretching gets your blood flowing right after you get out of bed. It’ll wake you up and help prepare your body for the day.

22F20AFA-77DC-44F8-B2C5-5B1A5A593330.JPEG4. Wash Your Sheets

Sometimes we spend more time in our beds than we probably should or don’t spend as much time as we’d like. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a clean and fresh place to sleep.

You’ll sleep better and feel more comforted and refreshed. Also washing your pillow cases is good for your skin.

5. Do something Nice for someone else

I’ve never volunteered or given a gift and thought “Wow, I still feel garbage.” Maybe while you’re fixing up a bouquet for yourself, make a smaller one for your mom, grandma, or friend.

Find opportunities to volunteer with a cause that means something to you. Giving a little gives you a lot in return.

img_8195.jpeg6. Set Phone Reminders

Sometimes we get so busy and overwhelmed that we forget to handle the basic necessities. For me, I have a silent reminder to drink water throughout the day.

Setting them for taking medication or even just to take a breath will help you when you forget to help yourself.

7. Practice Gratitude

Stop reading this for a moment and list 3 things that you are grateful for at this moment. For me currently, I’m grateful for my ability to seek out the best for myself, almond milk, and my supportive parents.

The more we focus on the positives in our life, the sooner our entire mentality changes. Set a reminder on your phone and do this daily, even if it’s just 1 thing a day.

8. Change the way you speak

Namely about yourself and about the things you want to accomplish. The way we frame situations with our language tells a lot about how much faith and trust we have in ourselves and others. Instead of writing down goals as “I want to do…” say “ I am currently working on…” You are amazing. You are talented. You are currently developing yourself.

The more present we are with our language about ourselves, the quicker our goals manifest.

Take care of yourself, love your self, do a damn face mask, but never underestimate how small acts can make a big impact on your mental health and happiness.

x

Lillie

Thrift Shopping: 101

The first thing you need to know to successfully thrift shop is that price does not equal value.

Recently, I bought 2 new pair of pants at a Goodwill in New Mexico. They were priced $8 each which, tbh, is pricey for me at a Goodwill, but both pairs had never been worn because the store tags were still on them, priced at $49.95 each. Needless to say, I got $100 worth of pants for $16 bucks.

The whole point of shopping at a thrift store is to not look like you shop at a thrift store. But I’ll sure as hell tell you what I paid for an entire outfit because I’m proud and I love leaving the little bbs SHOOK.

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Stunning, iconic layout all thrifted. Can you tell I have a personal style?

I’m constantly asked how I’m able to construct the majority of my wardrobe in such a thrifty way and still look like a bad bitch. I have to say, it is a lifestyle: I was raised to do this (Thanks Mel.)

I grew up having a different understanding of how you place value on consumer goods. Why would I spend more money at a department store when I knew I could fulfill the same need cheaper at a thrift store.

You can say that retail shopping is easier and it is in a lot of ways. If you need to go buy something, you have the assurance that it’s probably there. You have a large selection of similar things, possibly a range of sizes, but you pay for this. You’re paying for an experience of a store, the feeling of buying something completely new. Not that I don’t shop from at a “real store” from time to time: it’s just never my first place I look for clothes.

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Scored this vintage beauty for $3 at Goodwill

Thrifting pieces for your wardrobe is not such an easy process but it’s an incredibly rewarding one. It takes time, patience, and a good eye but it’s how I get an outfit that’s under $20 and leaves everyone gagging.

In some ways, it’s hard for me to explain something that’s as instinctual as breathing; but here are my top 3 tips to start you on the gorgeous journey of being a thrift queen/ king/ royal:

Watch out for quality

I have a hard and fast rule that I do not buy Wal-Mart brand clothes at Goodwill.  You can generally tell off the bat what’s a low quality garment just by feeling because of fabric quality. Thrifting is about getting the most for less. Watch out for holes, tears, piling, and stains on clothes. Sometimes you can fix them, most times you can’t. Stains: No. Piling: depends on how bad it is, generally pass cause it can indicates a lower quality fabric. Holes and tears: case by case, but you can often fix a hole, just depends on how bad it is. You’re smart, use your best judgement.

Manifest what you want to find

This is real as hell. I can’t tell you how many times I went in looking for something specific and I found it. Have an idea of what, your personal style, or different trends you want to emulate. It helps narrow your search and makes a thrift store more manageable. For me, I like a specific color palette so I only need to look at the colors and sizes that apply to me. Or if I’m looking for certain kinds of accessory, I spend extra time in those areas. Knowing what you want helps your eye find it.

Have fun with it

The rules are different when it comes to a thrift shop verse a retail store, it’s a hell of a lot more fun. Don’t be pressured to only shop in one section, check out the men’s wear (they have the best button ups and thick sweaters) and try on a range of sizes. Thrifting forces you to be creative and learn how to put individual pieces together. It’s something you get better at the more you thrift, but it enables you to have a style that’s completely unique to you.

Go forth my fashionable thrifting babes, share your finds, save the environment, and look fabulous doing it.

x,

Lillie

Living with Discontent

Today is the day I have everything figured out. At least, it was supposed to be.

It’s been 4 months since I’ve graduated college and this transitional stage has left me feeling like I belong nowhere and everywhere all at the same time.

What I’ve found is that everyone loves to give sage advice on your life when you’re having an existential crisis. It’s exhausting having everyone tell me, “You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing”, “You’ll be just fine, everything works out”, and ”Enjoy this time, you have the rest of your life to work.” Like Jesus Christ, I’m an intelligent kid and I’m well aware of these “truths,” but it doesn’t make me less content with my current status change from student to unemployed.

9BE87DF7-C9D3-4FE7-B52B-8E7975BD676B.JPEGDuring my summer of traveling, I thought I would have some grand epiphany on the Great Wall of China about my future career path, home, and lifestyle. I set myself up with a deadline that after my travels, I would know what my next steps where going to be.

Hence today, as I have just gotten back from my cross country road trip and, therefore, is the first day of the great unknown of what’s to come.

I’ve always been someone who stays busy and involved, knowing the general outline of my weeks, months, and years. College gave me the structure for my life and now that I am left with no structure or clear paths, this freedom can often feel more restricting than liberating.

Understand, however, that this crisis is not a panic and that my feelings are not stress as much as discontent.

I’m very uncomfortable right now.

And that is ok. Because I am also happy and have given myself time to experience the world, try new things, and live freely for the first time.

I initially thought I’d gain this perspective once I found my first full time job and moved to a new city. However, wanting to have my shit together is not an excuse to put my life on hold, making my happiness conditional.Processed with VSCO with q8 preset

These timelines we construct for ourselves are often fueled by other’s fears and expectations. What is sensible? What is practical? What the right move is for one is not always the right move for others. It is much easier to make a safe choice then revel in the discontent of the unknown, waiting. Don’t let these safe choices look more desirable than your actual happiness.

My next steps are something I think a lot about and that gives me a decent amount of anxiety, but I also know that actively pursuing things I enjoy and living my life authentically will lead me to the places I should be.

It’s a beautiful practice of patience and faith in your own intuition, but I am learning to just “be” in the discomfort, working with it and not against it.

x,

Lillie

How to: Utilize a Mental Health Journal

A crucial part of any girl’s life growing up during the early-mid 2000’s was the iconic secret diary. Probably pink, probably fuzzy, and definitely lacking in any real security measures to protect your sacred crushes from your older siblings.

CF59E4F1-7EEA-4322-91DE-D4E786B7FD6D.JPEGI was dead set as a 9 year old to keep a consistent, daily log of the goings on in my life. Tragically, it would only last for a few days until I had to face the fact that my life truly wasn’t very interesting.

This happened probably 10-15 times growing up: I’d find a cute notebook at Claire’s or the Scholastic book fair and making the assumption that any good journal/diary had to be an account of my every day to day life. Get bored and abandon another journal with only a few used pages

It wasn’t until December 31st of 2016 when I resolved to keep a notebook for an entire year. I picked one up at TJ Maxx (upgrade from Claire’s obvi) and told myself I’d fill this notebook up completely.

I didn’t care how often I wrote in it, what I wrote in it, or anything else that I did: but I just had to use it when I needed it. I’ve kept up with it since then and no matter the frequency in which I use it, the journal is still a great resource for me and my mental health.

The biggest purpose of a mental health journal is to have a place to unload thoughts that are negative or positive, work through and collect your thoughts, and to free up mental energy so these thoughts don’t consume you.

It’s a practice that has been crucial through my struggles with mental health and I feel like everyone (journaling and cute notebooks are not gender exclusive) can benefit from having an outlet that isn’t another person, a completely judgement free zone.

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If you’re feeling lost on where start, here are my top 3 suggestions in setting up and utilizing a journal:

1. Take the Pressure Off

Once I let go of the arbitrary expectations I had for myself with using a journal (frequency, readability, sentence structure), I was finally able to make it work for me.

Maybe you work better on a schedule, so set reminders in your phone at the end of a week or month to make sure you take some time to unload your thoughts. Or j.ust pick it up when you feel like writing

Your journal doesn’t need to only be for bad mental health days, use it to document good days and positive thoughts as well. Do what feels natural to you, it’s just you and a piece of paper: no one’s judging you.

2. Word Vomit

Get that shit out. Just start writing.

If you’re having a hard time getting started, begin writing a stream of consciousness and let that guide you. Journaling is a lot about intuition and doing what feels right, so get some words on a page and start from there.

You’re not here for a Pulitzer Prize. If you’ve got thoughts (negative or positive), get them out of your head and on to paper.

3. Make it #Cute

I found it much more enjoyable using a journal when I made it more personalized to myself.

My favorite thing to do is glue nice notes and cards from people as a way to remind myself of the love people share with me. I’ll also go through the pages and decorate them with stickers and colorful tape to make the pages cute, inspiring, or just more visually interesting.

It’ll help keep you most interested in writing if you have something to look at other that your own hand writing.

 I also live for #aesthetics (I’m a libra, what can I say)

Here are some things you can add to your journal to make it more personal to you:

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♥ pictures ♥

♥ notes from loved ones ♥

♥ quotes that speak to you ♥

♥ ticket stubs ♥

♥ art you find interesting ♥

♥ different color pens ♥

♥ Washi tape ♥

♥ stickers ♥

 

Go forth, my loves, and make beautiful spaces to organize thoughts that aren’t always as beautiful. You’re a work in progress and a journal is the space you map out the blue prints and make something extraordinary.

x,

Lillie

For resources on mental health; please visit Top 25 HelpLine Resources for a great list of different hotlines and services you can access and share with others.

Crisis Hotline Number: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Hotline Online Chat

If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, please call 911 or your area’s emergency services. 

Welcome to: South Portland, ME

If Portland is a hipster older sister known for her great style and taste, South Portland is her younger sister on the verge of her major glow up.

I first heard of Portland, Maine a few years ago when I was looking at going to an art school there, but cold winters and colder out of state school price tags kept me in Virginia.

Needing a break from our yearly South Carolina beach trip, this would be the year of my family’s long discussed New England road-trip.

I was highly anticipating a visit to the place that could have been my past 4 years in some alternate reality.

So we booked an Airbnb in South Portland, just over the bridge from Portland Portland, packed up the car, and got the hell out of dodge.

What I didn’t know, however, was how this little town was going to be the most underrated part of the trip and I’m going to tell you the hell why:

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Next on my to do list: Install inside hammock

Airbnb’s are kind of exciting cause you’re never really sure what you’re going to get until you’re there. Our precious downstairs apartment situated in a #cuteAF neighborhood just happened to have a screened in side porch with a hammock. It was as heavenly and relaxing as it was instagramable.  It made for the perfect place to enjoy a bowl of Maine blueberries and think about absolutely nothing at all.

 

Our Airbnb also happened to be walking distance from the best bagels and cream cheese I’ve ever had. This location of Scratch Bakery is set up as a grab and go store with a gorgeous selection of pastries and baked goods (the Morning Glory muffins are also superb.) I could write love songs about the Maine sea salt bagel and herbed cream cheese. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

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Scratch Baking Co.
416 Preble St, South Portland, ME 04106
Mon-Fri 6am-6pm
Sat 7am-6pm
Sun 7am-12pm

Chewy and savory, the bagel itself is to die for. It doesn’t have the same density as a traditional bagel would, but this airy quality allows for a more powerful flavor. When paired with the herbed cream cheese, you’ll question if you’ll ever be able to touch another bagel and cream cheese again. Strong hints of dill with possibly oregano and a few other herbs, the cream cheese was good enough to eat by itself.

I have tears in my eye just thinking of this. Pairs great with a lemon Pellagrino soda, BTW.

One afternoon, as we scoped out the area, we stumbled upon the precious Willard Beach. It was my first glance at a real Maine Coastline and it did not disappoint.  As soon as I saw the seascape with the boats docked out in the water, an overwhelming wave of understanding washed over me as to why people come here to make art and to write books. If scenery isn’t your thing, I think the hoards of dogs running around in the evening will warm your cold heart.

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Willard Beach
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Bug Lighthouse
S Portland Greenbelt Pathway, South Portland, ME 04106

South Portland was able to give me my first taste of New England history at the Bug Lighthouse. Precious and petite, the outlook gives you the best view of the City of Portland just across the water. It’s free to visit and makes a great area for photos. Next to the lighthouse, you’ll find a large, metal structure commemorating the area’s ship building history at the Liberty Ship Memorial. I always love learning about history on my travels and this location is perfect to get #educated about ship building in Portland during the first and second World Wars.

 

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Red’s Dairy Freeze
167 Cottage Rd
South Portland, Maine 04106
11am-9:30pm

Best way to round out the day after being an #intellectual is a soft serve at Red’s Dairy Freeze. It’s located in a big, red and white barn right up against Cottage Rd. where there’s always a quick moving line (the locals know whats up – it was voted best soft serve in the state.) Tragically, I couldn’t try their famous, homemade strawberry soft serve made from local strawberries (sells out quick if they have it) – but you need to have one for me. I opted for a simple vanilla with a crunch coat and the soft serve was perfectly creamy. Simple, satisfying, and aesthetically pleasing.

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portlandmuseum.org
Summer Hours (till October 31st)
Sat-Wed 10am to 6pm
Thur-Fri 10am to 8pm
Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors (65+), $10 student with ID, free for 21 and under. Free Friday 4pm-8pm

You obviously can’t go to South Portland without going to Portland itself.

Having studied art for about half of college, I always try to hit the local art museums and the Portland Museum of Art did not disappoint. It’s free for anyone 21 or younger, so I highly recommend taking advantage of that (just bring an ID.) It’s not overwhelmingly large, allowing you to enjoy all the pieces in their collection on display. It had a great range of art to suit anyones taste. There were also a handful of pieces I remember specifically learning about in my classes and that’s always a worth while feeling to experience.

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Standard Baking Co.
75 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
Mon-Fri 7am-6pm
Sat-Sun 7am-5pm

My second recommendation would be to check out the baked goods at Standard Baking Co. They were voted to have some of the best croissants in America. Me being the wannabe Parisian that I am, I can attest they were marvelous. Although, what I also recommend you try are the cinnamon sticky buns. They’re made from the same dough as the croissants and are simply the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. They make me want to curl up with a hot tea in one hand, sticky bun in the other, and watch snow fall on the bay. Maine af.

My last honorable mention would be to check out the shops on Commercial St. Plenty of cute stores, specialty shops, and places to eat. I recommend stopping in Le Roux Kitchen to check out the specialty foods and try the vast selection of balsamic vinaigrettes.

Portland, Maine was such a beautiful, surprising, and inspiring area with incredibly nice people with Clinton/Kaine signs still in their yards. Laid back vibe with plenty to do, I give Portland/South Portland a 10/10 would recommend.

x,

Lillie