In my family, my sister has always been 'the smart one.'
Not taking a dig at myself whatsoever, but the girl is scary smart. Like getting her PhD from Vanderbilt in things I don't even understand type of smart.
It always rolled off of everyone's tongues that she was 'the smart one' in our pack and, trust me, they aren't just being complimentary. She is brilliant - I just proudly shared her first published scientific research on Facebook (with the disclaimer that I don't know what any of it means).
We're both incredibly lucky to have two parents who didn't put any caps on what we were capable of or what we should do with our lives. This is something not everyone has and I realize what a contributing factor it has been to our successes.
The bar is set high in this family and while it's overwhelming, I'm grateful for it. We have always been surrounded by incredible role models - from female executives to entrepreneurs to our dad who decided to go get his Bachelor's degree at 50 (and is currently finishing up his Master's).
I'm not going to wake up one day with the all of the answers in quantitative and chemical biology and I'm okay with that. Because I eventually realized that my sister being the smart one doesn't mean that I'm not smart.
I think at some point in my childhood, I decided that if she was 'the smart one' that meant I had to be something else. Anything else. I tried the funny one, the outgoing one, the athletic one, the compassionate one, the strong one, the leader - to name a few.
Keep in mind that no one in my family ever told me I wasn't smart. Ever! But in my mind, if someone else was the brains of the operation that meant I had to take on a different role.
It wasn't until my early twenties that I realized I never needed to try to be anyone else because there's really no 'one' of anything. There are thousands of Olympic athletes, hundreds of brilliant scientists, millions of strong leaders.
There is enough room for all of us and what you do takes nothing away from the person next to you. So from now on, let's focus less on comparing and more on supporting each other.
Do you have a brilliant sister? Pick her brain on a complicated work project. Is your college roomie a marathon runner? Ask her for tips on self-discipline.
Because no matter where you are in your life, there are things you bring to the table that you can teach others. And there are just as many things that others can teach you too.
Everyone told me college would be 'the best four years of your life,' but to say I didn't have your typical college experience would be putting it lightly.
For so long, I felt this pressure to pretend I was fine. To pretend I wasn't overwhelmed, I didn't just have another breakdown, I had it all together.
I really struggled to appreciate the beauty of my time in undergrad because of how much unexpected adversity I was experiencing - and now I realize that I wasn't alone.
Many of my friends struggled through their own issues, but so few of us spoke up about them. So now, I'm sharing the five things I wish someone had told me in college.
1. You're Not Supposed To Have It All Together
College is your time to learn, to try, to fail. Aside from your classes, of course, there is no better time in your life to fail than in college.
Think for a second about how big our world is and all that it has to offer. There are jobs out there you never even knew existed; the love of your life could be in a city you've never traveled to; your calling may be the one thing you're too scared to try again because you didn't succeed the first time around.
Trust me when I say, failure is a necessary evil - the sooner you accept your failures and all they have to teach you, the happier and more successful you will be.
2. Find Your Niche and Hold On
With so many moments where you feel like you're at your breaking point, finding a safe haven is crucial for your mental health in college. Keep in mind that everyone's outlet looks different and that is okay.
Whether it's playing a club sport, getting a job on campus, mentoring, or even joining Greek life - find a community where you feel you can be entirely, unapologetically, yourself. As long as it's a place that leaves you feeling less stressed, not more.
3. Change Is Not The Enemy
There can be an unbelievable amount of uncertainty in college. Should I change my major? Should I transfer to a different school? Do I need to get an internship? How can I be a full-time student and still make money?
Accepting the revolving door of changes during those four quick years was one of the things I struggled with the most. I remember laying in bed some nights thinking: Once I graduate, have my own place, get a great salary, everything is going to be sooo much easier.
Until your washing machine breaks, your dog gets sick, your car won't start in the dead of winter, and your 9-5 is more stressful than any 5 page paper you've ever written.
While having a routine is important, learn to be flexible. Learn that our world is ever-changing and life isn't about controlling change, it's about being the best version of yourself no matter what is going on around you.
4. Exhaustion Is Not a Badge of Honor
It is okay to just be. You can be a committed college student without being the president of three clubs, raising the most money for your sorority, volunteering on and off campus, working a part-time job, and being a straight-A student.
For so long, I completely burnt myself out trying to do EVERYTHING. It is okay to not have every minute of your day planned. It is okay to rest when your body needs to rest. It is okay to take mental health days. It is okay to not do it all. You don't need to be everything to everyone.
You are enough. What you are doing is enough.
5. You Are Not Alone
Although sometimes we feel deeply alone, we never truly are.
I think about the hardest, most painful, stressful experiences that have ever happened to me and I can see now just how many other people have been through very similar experiences.
It's so easy to isolate yourself when you're overwhelmed or hurting. Saying "no one understands this" or "no one knows what I'm going through" rolls off of the tongue, doesn't it?But if you haven't found someone who understands or knows what you're going through, keep looking.
I promise you, your support system is out there.
I started 2018 in the hospital. It was three days into the new year and instead of focusing on my goals, I found myself getting wheeled off to have my appendix removed.
Luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm and I didn't have to have surgery after all! But even still, starting off the first week of the year in the hospital really killed my motivation.
By the time I recovered my goals were already off track, I was behind at work, and I was majorly stressing about how much this hospital visit would cost me. It was like I did all of that planning for nothing... 2018 was going to be like every other year before it.
So often, we just accept these things as our fate and wait around for something to change, for someone to come rescue us. As your tough love friend, I'm here to tell you that no one else has a greater responsibility to giving you the life you want than you.
There were many times where I thought back to the goals and dreams I had written down ahead of this year, but they seemed completely unobtainable. I felt like I didn't have the time, energy, or motivation to achieve a single one.
Then I did one thing that changed the tone for the remainder of the year: I asked for help.
Instead of hiding what I was struggling with, I started sharing them. Loudly. With my inner circle, on my blog, with new friends, and even to strangers.
I created a sounding board of people I trusted and it instantly felt like the biggest weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I didn't have to carry every burden, I didn't have to save everyone, I didn't have to be strong all of the time. I could fail, I could grow, I could try again, I could learn, I could breathe.
All of a sudden, things started going my way. Doors started opening, opportunities were appearing, happiness was abundant.
There is someone reading this who feels as if every aspect of their life is crumbling right now. You have no control. You're on a losing streak. You can't get your mindset right. You'll never have the perfect life you've always dreamed of.
If you're looking to make 2019 a better year I challenge you to start by doing just one thing: start asking for help.
To the people who have made this my best year yet, there aren't enough words to properly say thank you. You know exactly who you are.
Being interviewed on a podcast has been one of my dreams for a loooong time. This year, I put it on my vision board and promised myself that I would make it happen.
Thank you to Lené Hypolite, host of The Glow Up Podcast, for sharing so many incredible stories of success with actionable steps to help others glow up in their careers, finances, personal lives, and so much more.
It was an honor to share my story on the podcast, I hope you enjoy it!
Disclosure: If you do purchase an item using one of my links I will receive a small commission!
Have you written your Christmas list yet!? This year, I made it really simple by using Google Sheets to put everything I wanted in one place and then share my list with everyone.
All your friends and family have to do is pick what gift they want to get you and then delete it off the list, so no one else gets you the same thing! I liked doing this because I could keep my list organized and include my sizes, colors, and even the links. #TypeAProblems
If you're struggling with what to get the blogger in your life, check out a few of the gifts I'm still raving about:
1. Blue Yeti USB Microphone
My mom got me this mic for my birthday and it's perfect for recording interviews, voiceovers, or podcasts. It was really easy to set up and I love that it plugs right into your laptop.
I used this mic to record my interview on The Glow Up Podcast and Getrude Matshe's Podcast, and the sound quality is incredible. It's on sale on Amazon right now, so grab one of these before they run out!
2. Mic Drop Workshop Public Speaking course
Do you know anyone interested in a future as a paid motivational or keynote speaker? I enrolled in Mic Drop Workshop over the summer, a course focused on getting more women on stage to share their stories.
Check out two of the gigs I've booked since joining:
If this sounds right up your alley, you can sign up here. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!
3. Lap Desk
Whether you're a blogger, you work from home, or you're starting your own business, chances are you spend a lottttt of time on your laptop.
My mom got me this Sofia & Sam lap desk for my birthday and I'm obsessed! The memory foam base is so comfy compared to some of the other lap desks I've used. There's even a component that slides out for a place to put a wireless mouse and your phone.
4. Gratitude notebooks
Has anyone else been doing #Last90Days with Rachel Hollis? This was my first year and it has really helped me focus on what's important by writing down what I'm grateful for every day.
Our family friends gifted me these gratitude journals for my birthday and they're perfect for jotting down alllll the good things in your life. Grab one for you and a friend - they're a steal on Amazon!
5. A puppy
Come on, every blogger wants a puppy... I call our dog, Duke, my assistant, but fair warning: he does sleep on the job a lot.
We adopted Duke from Blues City Animal Rescue in Tennessee, where he was rescued from a kill shelter. If you're serious about adopting your new best friend, take a look at their website!
While I absolutely love all of these gift ideas, you'd definitely win the holidays this year with the puppy just sayin'.
The holidays are meant to be a time for celebration.
College students taking a break after finals, parents enjoying a full home again, professionals sharing their accomplishments, and siblings back to fighting over the best spot on the couch.
But for some people, the holidays aren't all things merry and bright. Although they may be surrounded by family and friends, all they can see is an empty seat at the table.
If you've lost someone in your family, especially if you've lost them recently, the holidays can be an incredibly painful reminder of the people who are no longer here to celebrate with you.
Sometimes, it may even feel like a betrayal to celebrate such a special time of year when there are people who are missing. But this year, let's change our perspective.
You can live through something that rocks your world off its axis. You can survive losing a piece of your heart without losing who you are. More than merely surviving the loss, you can thrive.
- Rachel Hollis, girl wash your face