may.

And just like that, I’m done.

When I say done, I mean primarily done with school. Exams have come and gone and BOY am I so thankful for that. This year kicked my ass (in a great way) and I’m ready for a new perspective, especially this summer.

I’m now toggling between life at home and packing up an apartment and it’s been pretty fun so far.

You don’t really realize how stressed you’ve been until all of it is lifted almost entirely at once. Sure, it hasn’t completely gone away, and there are a new genre of stressors to worry about (all the prep for going out of the country, etc.), but for some reason these are *insanely* preferable that those of academia.

read/reading // Finishing Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey, one of my all time faves. For a time that requires energized focus now more than ever, this book is getting me back on track.

writing // down my packing list. And trying to come up with a reasonable plan for what this space will hold in the coming months.

learning // that it isn’t going to be 100% all the time. You can’t be on all the time, you can’t be hot *all the time*, you can’t expect perfection. Sure, there are spikes of highs and lows, but what’s important is to be ever cognizant of where you are and how you’ll connect your current step to the next, and how you can do the best you can with what ya have (:

doing / working on //

  • packing! [my life up at school and bringing it back home, then from home for abroad]
  • doing design for an upcoming conference in October about teaching learning technologies!
  • PACKING for my STUDY ABROAD IN IRELAND THIS YEAR!! 😁😁😁🎉🍀
  • Going outside more and trying to be healthy
  • shaping up my portfolio
  • Recording instrumentation and vocals for the first time ever in studio for a university project [!!] I was able to work with such talented, committed people and I am so proud of the work they put forth and how it turned out!

eating // too much gelato [can’t complain!] Not enough actually healthy things. Can’t wait to get back into the flow of things before I ship out, cuz we all know that Europe may not put on the Euros but will put on the pounds *weak laughter*

drinking // yikes  Not enough water! Again! Wow! Surprise!, Peach (and lime) daiquiris, milk, and my favorite local mochas (((:

listening // to a whole host of things! Please see below: [*Disclaimer: I put the new Taylor/Brendon song on here almost ironically, let me know what y’all think, but it’s just too gosh darn catchy and I don’t know what to do now that it’s in my consciousness]

being inspired // by the weather, the art my friends are creating, and travel blogs [!!!]. Also by the athletic/fitness ventures of some of my people ^_^

laughing // at the weirdest videos I used to make as a kid.. just last night my best friend and I found some really OLD shit that I had created [for school and otherwise] and WOW what a trip down memory lane HAH.

thinking // that “life is far too simple to be complicated”. So I’m thinking that I need to simplify more. De-clutter. Drink more water. Eat less complicated things. Spend less time on social media. Not let people unworthy of your time live rent-free in one’s head. The usual. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

trying // get down to it! To re-align the goals, and focus on the positives ahead. There is so *so* much bounty right in front of me! Why let the past creep up all obnoxious-like if it’s just gonna be is detrimental to growth, to seeing the bigger and better that is the here and now [huh crazy]? And with a whole summer program and senior year ahead??

Come on Lily, get your head out of your ass.

We ain’t got time for that.

There’s a line straight out of the Compline prayer that has traversed my lips countless times:

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

It’s like John Lennon stepped into the book of common prayer y’all and slapped some sense into the evening meditation, whispering words of wisdom:

We’ve been there. We know what we know. We saw the warning signs.

We know the patterns that will likely follow (sending prayers in advance), where the line of tolerance is, where facades of character broke down, what better looks like, and the better that lies ahead, and what we need to get *done*.

Letting it be is peace.

Letting it be is freedom.

hoping // to have the time and patience to amend my taxes, finish some leftover coursework, get some more time in outside running, get back into a blogging regimen and spend more time in the sunshine (:

loving // this somewhat consistent warm weather, the absence of academic deadlines [!!!] I’ve been able to run a lot lately and it feels. So. Good!!

praying // for my friends and family, for those who are in transition right now, for those going through a tough time, for safety as I embark on these next few weeks, for patience, for those watching, for motivation and a renewed sense of purpose, for tact, and for resilience.

Here we go, May. 

Damn, I’m excited.

xx

imposter.

It feels fake.

It’s funny— I just watched the respective parts of the Tati/James Charles stuff and it left me mentally and emotionally exhausted on their behalf.

And I just got to thinking about loyalty, respect, reputations, expectations, kindness, etc.

More importantly I got to thinking about what I want for myself in all of that.

I was lucky to have left my phone at home all of yesterday while I enjoyed Mother’s Day with my favourite people. There was a lot of clarity, heightened sensation, and just an overall sense of calm I hadn’t felt in a while.

Stark contrast with this morning, which featured me basking over my feed of my personal grids, featuring highlights and moments I’ve captured since the fall and beyond.

I look at past photos centralized around scapes, food, people and animals

And compare what was, with what seems to be, and what is

And it makes me disappointed.

To know that I felt like I was compensating

For not “being enough”

For not “offering enough”

For not “having enough value to pursue”

For not being the sweet end of some transactional deal and feeling a pressure to be “okay” with transgressions towards me that I know will probably just repeat themselves down the line, toward someone else.

And so my posts, I feel, have gravitated towards myself, my appearance, etc.

Vain, self-centered, overfiltered, disgusting. You can’t win.

Part of it, I tell myself, is that I went so long neglecting myself for others, and only now am I emerging from behind the camera.

Part of it, I partially want to admit, is part of an unabashed, grand, flex-scheme, like something out of Legally Blonde.

Part of it, I inwardly fear, is that I have taken on a new obsession with a desire to “prove myself” [something I very clearly do not have to do but feel like defaulting to anyways].

But all of it—I know—is all wrapped up in a burning desire to move forward, full force, full speed ahead.

I feel it tug on my conscience every day.

Why, oh why, am I so wrapped up in a mess of square by squares that do nothing but enable FOMO, provoke comparison, and steal joy, all wrapped in hits of serotonin and a need to feel seen?

Great question.

It’s social media not antisocial media.

And yet, sometimes I feel like it’s nothing but the latter.

…But.

When I re-examine, once I’ve dropped my temporary, overt pessimism, I see a host of memories, a collage of moments so near as dear to me that having them all in one place to peruse through from time to time fills me with so much love for the things and people and memories I’ve been able to accumulate in my time here, none of which are forced into an aesthetic “theme”— rather, raging with vibrancy and color, to mirror how I perceive them.

And I want to hold on to that.

But the other thoughts loom, still.

I guess it’s just a matter of finding a balance of the two.

hunger.

When I was a kid I love love LOVED the first day of school.

Everything felt new, it was a time to start over, and, believe it or not, indulge in being able to learn after my brain felt like it had conked out over the summer. I loved learning.

The last few years of high school, however, I did not feel this excitement. Especially my senior year. I remember waking up and thinking “do I have to…?” I felt lost in the day to day grueling hours under artificially lit rooms, like I was roaming around on auto pilot sitting for this AP exam, that SAT, that quiz, etc.

I know many people look back at their last year through rosy lenses thinking about all of the fun and seemingly unbeatable memories… While I can’t deny there were some awesome highlights, the majority of that year for me was like a “okay, let’s get this done with so we can move on” kind of thing. I was fed up with the sphere I’d been stuck in for 12+ years and just wanted to break out.

Looking back on it now, I suspect a lot of these feelings were closely intertwined with some depressive symptoms, mixed with all of the stress and unnecessary (at times) pressures that existed within my school/home environment.

All that aside… I feel things changing.

I can feel excitement creeping in, leaking into my life slowly as I realize that in a little over a month I will be back, in my own space, at home, embarking on a course study I’ve been waiting ALL TWO YEARS to be able to do. A course study that keeps me up at night, that nags at me from a distant corner of my brain during the work day, constantly provoking me to push forward, to think forward, to aim higher than I know I have in the past.

And so here I am, still awake at this hella late hour, trying but failing to sleep because I’m just thinking about everything. EVARYTHING.

It feels as if I’m finally able to take the reins I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time… and it feels ah-MAZING. (:

xx

risking it.

I’m not a fan of risk.

Not the “ooh I’m gonna run across this log on our nature walk across the stream and Snapchat it all but what if I fall and drop my phone” risk.

Nah, I’m taking about the heart-stopping, heart-shattering, sometimes paralyzing risk. The kind that puts you at a crossroads, the kind that gives you that little annoying pop-up dialogue box that reads: “are you sure you want to do this?” The kind that you know, with every fiber in your being, that whatever you decide to do about it, something, *something* will be inevitably changed forever.

Yeah, I don’t like that. Nor do I like confronting those things.

This past Sunday, I took a risk [albeit tiny]. I went to church on basically no sleep the night before because I thought “why not?” The worst that could happen? I have a bunch of awkward conversations with a bunch of parishioners I don’t know [because I’ve been away for so long and one keeps right on a’moving], I fall asleep, I get frustrated by church politics, etc.

Funny thing, our priest actually ended up giving a sermon about risk. How, in some cases, something had to give and in the realm of self-growth, we should be failing at least 50% is the time. How, specifically in the readings we had that day, Jesus took a risk, to do “work” [working a miracle on a guy’s withered hand] on the sabbath in front of a bunch of supposedly respected, straight-arrow priests, which ultimately resulted in tipping these antagonistic officials off that he was the Son of God, the king of the Jews, The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, etc. Basically disclosing himself as that guy whose face was essentially on a lot of people’s “wanted” signs.

[Not to get all bible-y on you here.] Point being, he found himself facing a risky situation on the Sabbath [sound familiar? LOL not like I’m trying to compare myself to Jesus.] And he took it. He took that risk. If it meant revealing himself to the law and the politicians and the skeptics and his critics in the name of an act of kindness and love, it was worth it. In the name of encouraging reflection, self growth, respect, and humility, it was worth it.

My risks didn’t stop on Sunday morning. Oh no no no. I barreled right down an avenue of risk [because why not], and decided to take some hops towards my uncertainties, my goals, and most importantly, my self growth.

I went with my best friend to see a car for myself [one that I liked and was reasonably priced…!!!] and even though it wasn’t all I’d thought it would be, I did that. I test drove it, I handled the questioning and the research and the price heckling [which turned out not necessary as I didn’t buy but whatever]. I did that.

I kickstarted my own domains for my respective blog/site, with links that so blatantly sit on my now-naked Instagram [I have to be public if I’ve any shot at becoming a Bangs ambassador, more on that later!] and have begun outlining a plan to start *hopefully* creating content on a more steady, consistent basis. I made that happen.

I took the leap and purchased all of my Adobe CC software subscriptions early [I’d need it anyway for school so it’s cool] and started playing with them, one by one to get used to how they work [it’s like learning a while different language, there’s so many tools and ways to use the tools and print/new file specifications and AHHHHHH! Hence the self-help books I mentioned in my previous post!!]

And I finally pulled my thoughts and realizations together regarding some aspects of my personal life recently— I did my best to de-clutter my living space and clean off things, clean out things, keep what I needed…

The things/influences/people I realized I didn’t need? The things/influences/people that I just had for the sake of having them, to lean on at my whim when times got less than manageable? I decided to let them go.

I won’t [and shouldn’t] be holding onto them/keeping them around, even if it’s in the background. Sometimes even when something is in the background it still has a subconscious hold on you that you can’t do anything about until you pull it forward into the light, and scrutinize it there until you know what you’re going to do about it.

And some of these things sound small, but have grown to monstrous proportions in my head, so much so that I’ve been putting them off for so long.

I’ve always loved Eleanor Roosevelt’s words:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” I mean, what better way to check up on your comfort zone than that?

Some of these items were pretty low-risk. Some, I’d put on a level medium. Others, tall [but necessary and game-changing] gambles.

I’d like to think I’m on my way towards making risk more of my friend than a mortal enemy I just hide under a table from. And I know that it also just takes time. Here’s to failing 50% of that time in the meantime, in the name of self-growth.

xx

hello, june

I completely missed May. But it’s fine. May was a mess.

But now it’s June. June is full of newness in my book. I can’t wait to get started.

read/reading // flipping through self help books on the following:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign

And to have a real book in there that I’m *trying* to make progress through:

Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom by Henry Emmons, MD, and David Alter, PhD.

Oh, and the Bible. Lol.

writing // THIS post [god bless] and also about trying to rejuvenate, productivity, and staying true to myself and my content [even amongst social media turmoil >.<

learning // Adobe Creative Cloud!! 😀 [I am SO so happy about this.], how to best combine my soft skills with my hard skills, more design related things, and how to make Instagram do my bidding.

doing / working on // 

  • all of the babysitting!
  • crafting! [insert image]
  • OBTAINING DOMAINS [whaaaa???!!! yep, you guessed it– I’m now the proud mom of not one, but TWO new domains, my beloved strictlystephanie.com and stephaniewscribbles.com!
  • cleaning out my life before I move back to school!
  • working
  • running

eating // cereal, oatmeal, pasta, doughnuts, more unhealthy things, sourpatch kids, pork

drinking // water [!] coffee/lattes, adult juice

listening // to THESE RAD TUNES for JUNE! – some new, like Panic! has new songs out! But other stuff I’m re-discovering [:

laughing // at how much coffee I’ve had today

thinking // about all of the possibilities that lie before me. I literally can’t get that one song from The Greatest Showman out of my head either, the “every night I lie in bed // the brightest colors fill my head // a million dreams are keeping me awake”…. and like, it’s super cheesy but I’m trying to think about how what I’m doing fits in with where I am right now and what I’ll be pursuing this fall and I’m so. flipping. excited. [Better than sitting around at my own pity party, eh?] [;

trying // to stay positive. I will find a car that I like that is reasonably priced. I will find a car that I like that is reasonably priced. I will. Find a car. That I like. That is also reasonably priced. This whole thing is f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-n-g. [For those of you who do not know, I am on the quest of my life to find a new [used] car that won’t break the bank. My heart is set on a Volvo wagon, because I’m mildly in love with the aesthetic, there’s a shit ton of space in the back for ALL of my things, and they’re built like tanks. Fingers crossed and prayer hands folded.

hoping // …that I can find a car that I like that is reasonably priced  that I can plan out my goals in a more organized matter. I’m a bit of a hot mess right now.

loving // the recent weather [70 degrees and sunny?! After like, 2 weeks straight of rain?? *gasp*], my personal progress with this blog/other website. OH, and the fact that I just got FALL OUT BOY TIX FOR SEPTEMBER ♥ ♥ ♥ *joyful tear*

praying // for patience, understanding, focus, the motivation to sit my ass down and get real with myself and my summer goals. Oh, and that the Caps take home the cup. [;

My countdown informs me that there’s only 54 days until I move back to school.

xx

//re-boot: how to be *actually* productive

I did it. I can’t deny it.

I think I actually hit rock bottom a day ago.

In one of my last posts I talked about how run-down I felt. I had no energy, I felt disgusting [just in time for #nationaldoughnutday, lol], and I was mentally exhausted. The next morning, I realized something had to change. So I set out on a mission to re-fuel, re-energize, and re-orient myself for the day, taking in all of the “productivity” hacks I’ve collected throughout the years and just try to set out and do what I needed to do.

One of my all-time favourite books, The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey [I can’t praise this book highly enough], notes that productivity is not a measure of how we can get the most done, but rather, how much we can get done that we actually set out to do in the first place. 

So I made a list.

I had to babysit that day, so that would take up a fair amount of my time. But while the amazing baby was sleeping, I sat down and pressed “go” on a bunch of buttons I’d been waiting around to push.

I know there’s TONS of productivity tips out there– it’s almost overwhelming, and sometimes it’s almost too easy to get lost in just reading about all this productivity instead of actually doing something about it! So. Without further ado, these, I find, are my favourite tips that I’ve been able to put into practice successfully, and will continue to do today because boyyyy do I have a lot of work to catch up on!

//MAKE A LIST. A realistic one. Before you set out to do what you wanna do, make a list. From what I’ve read, it’s recommended that you only have 5 things on the list– this is so you don’t get overwhelmed by a list that’s longer than your arm. It’s okay to take baby steps. Remember, productivity is all about getting done what you set out to do. And checking off 5 reasonable tasks is a whole lot easier than attempting 10 bigger ones. That being said, if you finish all 5, make another 5-item list, and keep chuggin, man!

// TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Or at least put it on “Do Not Disturb”. I like to put mine off, or on do not disturb across the room from me, so I’m not tempted. All that buzzing and notification noise for who last liked my Instagram post is just going to derail the productivity train.

//GET COMFORTABLE. This includes settling into a comfortable chair, bed, etc. Also do not forget the importance of good posture and hand position [especially when your work often involves your hands slaving over a keyboard, like mine does!] It’s a lot easier to focus once you know you’re physically well taken care of and you’ll be able to stay at it a lot easier.

//DRINK WATER. All day, preferably. Have it next to you and sip often. Your brain needs it to function. As I type, I’m drinking coffee. You can also drink coffee, don’t get me wrong! I am a coffee lover from way back but always make sure to sandwich the coffee break with a water break!

//SLEEP. I feel a bit like a hypocrite because I only JUST got my sleep back on schedule. I’ve been trying to go to bed between 11:30pm and 12am and wake up at 8:30AM so I know I’ve gotten my 8 hours. Honestly though, it’s such an overlooked part of productivity and general wellness. I used to be that person who bragged about “I was up til 4am finishing this blah blah blah”. Yeah, well I also conveniently forgot to include the part about being so sluggish and down-and-out the next day…

 //MUSIC. This one’s a bit of a hit-or-miss for me– some days I’m feeling it, sometimes I’m not. But when I AM FEELING IT NOW MR. KRABS   am feeling it, I try to stick to something that I can have passively play in the background. Unfortunately, this rules out discovery playlists on Spotify, unfamiliar songs, and stuff that’s super lyric-heavy. I can do classical music [that’s gotten me through MANY finals studying sessions!] and I can do some music with lyrics as long as it’s stuff I’m familiar with and can kind of tune out easily. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of active listening, especially because I love being mindful about what is going into my ears but sometimes I just need noise. And, if music’s not your thing, no problem! There’s this nifty site called “Coffitivity” that literally just lets you play background noises/buzz from inside a coffee shop. Pretty awesome, right?

//EXERCISE! The first thing I did when I woke up besides getting dressed? I went for a run. After being almost a week out of commission I decided I needed to be active and pronto. I finished about 3.11 miles and felt deliciously sore afterwards, and didn’t feel my usual afternoon-sluggishness later! It’s really true what they say, that baffling mystery about how exercising actually gives you more energy. Weird. Gonna keep doing this one, even if I only go for a brisk walk or do some pushups in my room. Anything that gets the blood pumping is worth it.

//TAKE BREAKS. Oof, I’m low-key the worst at this one because I: A) forget to plan breaks into my work regimen OR B) take my breaks for faaaaaaaaaarrr too long lol this post was supposed to happen during a break and it’s taking me a bit longer than expected but it’s fine cuz this is truth that needs to be SPOKEN amirite? But honestly, it’s a lot easier to sit down and focus your mind when you know you’ve got a break coming up wherein you can satisfy your cravings. My breaks include eating sourpatch, doing personal things [like blogging or educating myself on the importance of SEO, taking a sketch/design break, getting a real food snack, a nap, stretching, etc.] ALSO IMPORTANT: give your hands a break. Right now, I can feel my left wrist is a bit tense from typing this post so intensely! Be kind to your hands and give them a break as well when you take a break.

It’s hard because I’m really stubborn and often have to try things before I realize their value, but these are the things that I find help me the most and my productivity throughout my work day, and I hope they do the same for you! I challenge you to try at least one of these [the water one is definitely probably my recommendation (; ] today and see what happens. Or you could also take a break and go order The Productivity Project off Amazon for like, $12. 

Happy productive-ing!

xx

// losing *power*

I tried to do work.

But my work involves a computer and the internet and so when the whole house exhaled with that depressing bzzhhhhuurrr sound that mainly only happens in the movies when a monster is on the loose or something, I was a bit disappointed.

But it was fine.

Being cut off from all that, I sat down with myself and realized “……oh wow.”

I had recently watched a video from one of my favourite vloggers/YouTubers and this one really spoke to me.

Financially? I feel stressed because the one paying my tuition/bills/etc. is me, myself and I. I’ve worked 2 jobs in addition to going to school full time to help offset this, and will be continuing to do so, adding on a TA position this fall. We’ll see how this goes. I’m also

Mentally? I feel exhausted, because I know there’s only so many hours in the day and sometimes I just spend them on the wrong things, or doing something the hard way when there’s an easier way that I didn’t see coming. This blog series has also [not gonna lie] started to cause me stress, as I felt pressure to kind of document *e v a r y t h i n g* and I know that that’s just not realistic. [In case you’ve noticed I’ve removed the day counts from the post titles and such– dream big, then realistically downsize, right?]

Physically? Oh lordy I’m so behind. I think it’s been 2 weeks since I last worked out, my eating habits may have hit rock bottom, and I haven’t been sleeping as well as I should be, I know for sure. I should probably shower after I finish this post.

BUT ANYWAYS.

What I set out to say is that the lack of power gave me a bit of quiet time. I looked at what’s flowing in [and what’s flooding out *sob*] and then sat down to try to make a realistic budget. This also included me obtaining two new *pretty awesome* financial apps, one is called PocketGuard and the other is Mint. Between trying to scrape up funds for the summer and tuition ALL in the midst of a new [used] car hunt, it’s been driving me crazy. But it was a really good time to just sit down and think on this for a bit, a nice bit of a reality check.

Later, I went on a bit of an outing with one of my friends here and she had a bunch of clothes and stuff that she didn’t need anymore, so we took it to the local Plato’s Closet with hopes to sell it to the store. I love and hate that store. I love it because it’s such a cute selection of clothes at EXTREMELY discounted prices. I hate it also because…it’s such a cute selection of clothes at extremely discounted prices and I could do some serious damage. Luckily, they had a sale going, buy one dress get one for $1 and I walked out of there with 4 dress/things for under $20. A STEAL. It really is one of my guilty pleasures. >.<

But it also made me realize that I honestly will never buy new clothes [for the most part, anyways.] Thrifting for me is so much more fun, at a fraction of the price.

A lot of the grievances against include statements like: “ew, but that’s someone’s old clothes. They’ve like, worn that before,” the disdain oozing out through their words like the clothing is diseased.

People, I own a washer and a drying machine for a reason.

But anyways.

That being said, between scoring this awesome deal [hopefully not completely nullifying my budget in one fell swoop] and taking the time to reflect upon everything, I was able to kind of re-gain that lost power. For me, I know it has to be in my head. The positivity, the hope, the willpower– I have to be mentally psyched to move forward, and I hope I can continue to do so.

xx

a reality check brought to you by the universe

It was about 3pm.

I had been up since 6:30am, miraculously I beat my alarm awake.

I had a final exam at 8am [I spilled coffee EVERYwhere at my seat upon walking in but walked out confident that I had ACED that little bugger of an exam] and had my next one at 1pm [I tripped up the stairs with the rest of my coffee to that one] and felt utterly miserable taking it [both of these had been writing intensive exams, I wrote a total of 4 essays so my hand was DEAD].

So when I was out, done, fed up, and waiting exhausted at the stoplight on my way home [my coffee thermos was now officially empty, no more accidents for me, hopefully] I almost didn’t register as the girl next to me started talking in my direction.

“Lovely weather, isn’t it?”

“Yes, honestly it is.” I wasn’t sure she was talking to me but I answered her nonetheless, taking a moment to look around at the pear and cherry blossoms making their way across the intersection caught in mini-wind gusts.

“You heading home?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m exhausted and I haven’t eaten since 7am. I had two brutal exams today.” I was still angry that they had us take these on a Saturday.

“Oh man,” she said. “I’m a senior and I just got done with stuff too– I can’t believe I’m graduating next week.”

I told her she was lucky, that relaxing must be nice, and that I wish I were graduating so that I didn’t have to take anymore exams.

“What’s your major?”

“Media arts and design and German. What about you?”

“Oh, that’s cool! I’m a math major. Minor in English, though. I’m Katie, by the way.”

I told her it was a good convo of logic and art and was about to politely end the conversation, eyeing the light about to change, when she sprang this question on me:

“What are your aspirations in life?”

I paused, partially because I was trying to make sure I heard her right. But what the heck.

“To be happy,” I said after a few seconds. “And to make some sort of a difference, if I can.”

“That’s a pretty good aspiration,” she said.

At this moment the pedestrian man lit up, telling us to walk. We split at the middle of the intersection.

“Well, have a nice life,” she said, turning to walk the other way.

“Thanks, you too– and best of luck with graduation!”

I thought about how I would probably never see her again.

I thought about how I had answered her sudden question, and what that meant for me in terms of how I was going to proceed, that moment forward.

I thought about how cool it was, that the universe had granted me that moment, a brief, subtle reality check that forced me to think about all the ways I was hitting the walls between me and my own happiness.

My eyes followed her posture, her confident strides as she diminished down the sidewalk. Smiling, I followed suit back to my apartment.

xx

Honesty Hour: Free of Filter

Hi guys. So I’m thinking I may do this feature… just because let’s be real, the world does need more honesty.  I’m… feeling that more than ever.
A few minutes ago I watched this video of a makeup tutorial… but it was so much more than that.  I personally am not much for makeup tutorials, mostly because I don’t have time for such extensive makeup in my daily life… nor do I find it that interesting to watch other people do it… but this one was different.  (I’ll give a shout-out to VICKYLOGAN, you can check out her YouTube channel here) The vlogger, Vicky, touched on a ton of topics during a “get ready with me” vid, (which you can watch here) But I just got to thinking about some of the things she said about confidence, society’s expectations, loving yourself, and imperfections. She starts the video tutorial with no make up on at all and I have to say… I appreciated that so much.  To see someone in their natural beauty, to see that not all people are somehow china dolls all the time, to see that someone is comfortable in their skin and that they only pop into another one out of personal preference and not pressure or obligation….. It was inspiring.
And she’s totally right about the fact that our imperfections make us…well, us. And that “perfect” isn’t, and should never be, a standard.
So where am I going with this?
To be honest (ha, get it? Cuz it’s honesty hour) I don’t really know. All I can say is that I have felt myself… get caught up in all of it.  It’s so easy to just hop on Snapchat, or Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, see the filtered snapshots of the seemingly perfect lives of others and just feel really, really down about yourself. Or, to just go out there and make you want to be like someone else, or someone you’re not. And, once you do feel that push to go out and completely change yourself… once you have, maybe, what you feel like has been “for the better”.. You can’t help but blast it out there for others to see.  The pictures flow, freely, leaking out to all the platforms screaming “hey! I’m normal!” or “hey! I’m cool!” or “hey I look good!” “wow I’m stylish” “wow I’m this” “I’m healthy” “I’m happy” “I’m in love”…
It all builds up.  To the point where it’s a bit much.  It’s hard to know what any followers think… They’re judging only on pictures.  Your analysis becomes geared towards likes, follows, and favorites. And your perceptions of reality are, well, filtered.
Why is social media such a monster sometimes? Does anyone else feel like it has robbed their soul in one way or another?
I do.
I have to admit, I love Instagram.  The pictures are so pretty and I like how they’re perfect squares and how the feed can be so colorful sometimes… But what I don’t like is that it’s so unrealistic at times. There’s a level of superficiality that comes out and just takes hold and makes it reaaaally easy to compare yourself to other people…

I used to hate “selfies” with a passion… (Just the word makes me cringe…still..) My first reaction is that it was kind of a vain thing to do.  But what do I say now when I post them myself? And even more, when the filters are just piled on?

I compare my older pictures with some from now… they’re different.

And somehow, in one way or another, they’re tailored to other people.  Which shouldn’t be the case.
Why do people seek perfection? Call it artsy or whatever with all the filters (though I can’t judge because I love filters because they can twist a photo so many different ways) but life isn’t… filtered.
And I think you can eventually become addicted. Not just to the platforms, but the content and the content posted to said platform.

I say this, because I think I am.

As much as I don’t wanna be like “oh, I’m addicted I need to stop…” When it gets in the way of my productivity or when it just starts to change your views on things just a bit… it’s a bit much.

That being said… while I don’t wanna take a hard-core hiatus (though that’d probably be a good idea with all of my unproductive-ness as of late) I do want to try something.
Similar to my waaaaaaay long ago post about going “Unmasked” for 3 weeks or so, I’m gonna go unfiltered.  All posts, no matter where, will be free of a filter  Just to gain an appreciation those things that do not need a filter.  Friends, family, nature, and importantly, yourself.
Like Vicky says, everyone has something or some things they don’t like about themselves.  But the crucial part is learning to live with them, embracing them and being aware of them. Because like she says

“…All of that [makeup, clothes hair, imperfections etc.]… at the end of the day, it don’t matter because we all go to sleep in the dark. …Well, most of us– some of us use night-lights…. But when it’s dark and no body sees you… Do you love you?” ~Vicky

She’s very funny and down to earth, I highly recommend her channel.

So, my friends! Head out into this filtered world and just rip the filter off.  Love you, what is raw, what is real, what is most important to you… And I shall do the same. Again, I’m not hating on filters or anything, I just… sometimes I wanna view the world without one for a while.  To keep it in check.

And you’re invited, too! Feel absolutely free to follow me on my unfiltered journey and join me in my #freeoffilter endeavors: @stephaniesaysxo on Instagram & Twitter.

Love always,
Steph xoxo