Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Let's Talk: Trying to Figure it All Out in Your 20's

I’ve always felt like my life has been incredibly stable and normal. I’ve never had a pet die. All my grandparents are still alive. I don’t know anyone with a life-threatening illness. I’ve never been through a super bad break-up. I've always felt loved and supported. But then my parents got divorced.

I’ve told a grand total of three people about it: my best friend, my boyfriend, and my therapist. So, for all my friends out there reading this post I’m sorry I couldn’t get the words to tell you myself before you found out reading this lousy blog post. I've found it incredibly hard to tell people, I often can't even get the word divorce out and I definitely can't get it out without full-on sobbing. So, there it is. 

My parents told me on my last day of class of junior year a couple hours after I got home for my cousin’s wedding. They told me not to talk about it at the wedding in fear of ruining my cousin’s big day. So, I kept it in. When we got home, I headed back to school to finish off my finals and go to the beach with my friends. These were some of my very last moments with my senior friends, so I kept it in not wanting to be a downer and wanting to enjoy some of my last memories with them. But the problem is I got used to keeping it in, keeping up this fa├žade that everything was okay. When clearly it wasn’t. And anyone who’s ever faked to be happy before knows you can only keep it up for so long before you crack.   

At the time only one person knew about it, my boyfriend, so I clung to him whenever I would get sad or upset. I went to visit him during one of the most difficult weeks, the week my dad moved out. I cried to him almost every night and he helped me through some of my very first feelings of anxiety. Thank goodness for him, he loved, supported, and encouraged me through everything and still does.

But I got tired. I got tired of running and hiding and breaking down and growing distant from my friends because I didn’t know how to even be myself around them anymore. I got anxious, really anxious. I would be nauseous every day, I’d cry a lot, and overthink and catastrophize everything. Everything in my life felt like it was falling apart, and I had no idea how to put it back together. 

I entered a spiral that every time I tried to climb back out of would leave me getting further down. I so badly wanted to fix myself, but I could just never quite get there. I'd heard about how impactful divorce was on other people's lives, but I thought for me it'd be different. I could handle it, but boy was I wrong. As a result, I always had it in the back of my mind that I should talk to a therapist. But it scared the life out of me to have to pick up the phone and call. I knew as soon as I did that my guard would be down. I would have to open up to another person, other people would start to find out and it’d be almost like admitting defeat. 

But then I looked at myself and I said if any of my friends were in the same position as me would I want them to do what I was doing? Would I be ashamed of them going to see a therapist? No freaking way. It wasn’t defeat, it was a victory for me to do what was right for myself and get the help I needed. And that’s when I picked up the phone.  

Part of me never thought I’d write this post, part of me always thought I’d be too scared. But I realized that’s exactly why I should. I think part of my healing is confronting difficult things not running from them. I could keep living my life with my walls up and this pretty facade or I could be real about it. And maybe for you it's not your parent's divorce, maybe it's heartbreak or death or fear of the future. It doesn't matter. Life is difficult and we should talk about that. Mental health is important, and we should talk about that. Things aren’t always easy, but we should still talk about them. 

My life may look picture perfect on Instagram, but I promise you it's not :)
Ashley
instagram: @welldressedash
pinterest: welldressedash

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The After Graduation Question

I’m sure I’m not the only one headed to visit family this Fourth of July holiday, and while I am so excited for the nice break from reality one thing I’m not excited about is the after graduation question. I know as an incoming college senior, the question on every extended family member and family friend’s mind is “what’s your after graduation plan”. I don’t blame them because the same question is on my mind multiple times a day. And while I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what I’d like to do I absolutely hate being asked this question. I know the question has no ill intentions but it always makes me feel like I’m behind or I’m missing something. Like at 21 your already supposed to have it all perfectly figured out. Because if not suddenly someone’s asking why you gave up on your 6th-grade dream of being a lawyer and someone else is grilling you for not knowing exactly what suburb of Charlotte you’d want to live in. 

I feel like I get the most slack because I don’t want to go to graduate school. I feel like when you’re planning on going to grad school it’s okay to not have it figured out because you have to worry about getting in or not to schools. But when you're trying to get a job, people act like it’s like a whole other ball game. Despite the fact that the application process to jobs is just as unpredictable as grad school admission somehow you’re supposed to know exactly what city you're going to live in and what job you are going to get. Yeah, man wouldn't that be nice to know. I can talk about the areas I’m interested in and the cities I’d love to live in all day long but people don’t really want to hear that. They want a concrete answer so they can report back to their friends and family and say Ashley is planning on doing x job in y city. They want the simple and easy, but there isn’t always a simple and easy answer. And that's okay.

What matters is not that you have it figured out but that you are figuring it out. That you are making a conscious effort to think about different jobs, try new things, research areas you may want to live, learn and experience life. At the end of the day, that’s what really counts. I’m glad I haven’t limited myself to one city or one type of job after graduation. I like that I get to explore my options and find what I think will be the best fit instead of getting my heart set on one particular thing. So imperfectly answer the after graduation question with pride and confidence because you’re not supposed to have it figured out at 21 years old. 

Ashley
instagram: @welldressedash
pinterest: welldressedash



Saturday, June 29, 2019

My Trial Run on Adulthood

If I’ve learned one thing it’s that the real world is tough: you’re working 40 hours a week, commuting 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back, trying to cook your own food so you don’t eat out every night, running to the grocery store so you don’t run out of your favorite foods, doing your laundry and your dishes, and maybe if you still have some energy left you go and lounge by the pool or enjoy a glass of wine. I’ve taken to calling this summer a trial run for the real world because honestly, that’s what it feels like it is. And let me tell you boy am I happy when my head hits the pillow every night. 

For those of you who don’t know, this summer I’m interning at Emerald Creek Capital as their marketing intern at their West Palm Beach office. Pretty much my entire family outside of my immediate family lives in South Florida so that’s part of the reason why I chose to come down here for the summer. It’s been great spending lots of time with them, plus obviously, the beach! My grandparents stay up at the lake in Georgia for the summer so they offered to let me live in their house. Living here alone has really made me feel like such an adult, and despite it all, I’ve been really enjoying it. So I thought it would be fun to share a little update on how things are going.

The main thing I was worried about was cooking; when I got here I was on the cooking level where I couldn’t make a grilled cheese and burned a metal pan. But I knew I wanted to save money this summer and one of the best ways to do that was to be able to cook for myself. So I put my mind to it and at first, I really enjoyed cooking, it was fun to experiment with different recipes and ingredients but eventually, the novelty wore off. The last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was to cook an elaborate dinner for just myself. As a result, I’ve taken to eating a lot of pasta and grilled chicken during the week and try out more elaborate things on the weekend. Two weekends ago I made homemade pasta sauce and it was delicious. It’s so satisfying to try out a new recipe and see that it actually turned out pretty good!

I was also worried about working full-time. It seemed like a lot of time to stay focused every day and like just a long time, in general, to spend sitting in an office. But I’ve found it actually passes by fast. I’ve been really enjoying my internship, it’s not the most interesting of work, a lot of typing in excel. But my boss includes me on a lot of things, so I’m learning a lot. Plus the excitement of the nice paycheck every two is a pretty good motivator as well. Like I’ve said I’ve been trying to save a lot this summer, I created a budget and am trying to be more cognizant of my spending. I’ve learned that I’m a big impulse buyer. I’ll end up spending money on all these little things that I don’t really need, and they add up quickly!

Overall, I absolutely love living on my own. I think it’s freeing to be completely in charge of exactly what you are going to do. No one’s going to tell you to eat dinner or clean the dishes. It’s your responsibility. And I think it’s done a lot for me feeling more confident and decisive. Plus I feel like it’s a summer focused on me, it’s everything exactly the way I want to do it. I was worried a lot about being lonely or bored, but I find I never feel that way. I’m with people all day at work and I have a lot of family in the area so that helps, but even if not someone I love is only a call or facetime away. And when I want to just turn everyone off and enjoy time on my own I can do that too. 

Plus, the next few weeks are full of excitement so I have lots to look forward to. Next Wednesday, I’m headed up to Georgia to the lake for the 4th of July. I’ll be there for a week and then the next weekend my boyfriend is coming down to visit and the week after that I’m headed to Orlando to see some friends from Wake. So even though I'm adulting, there is definitely no shortage of fun this summer! 

Ashley
instagram: @welldressedash
pinterest: welldressedash



Friday, June 21, 2019

Learning to Live

If someone asked me to describe myself, I think one of the first words that would pop into my head is organized. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with being organized, frankly, I think being organized has saved me on numerous occasions. You know like when you look at your planner and remember that thing you almost forgot or the fact that you know exactly where something is when you need to find it. But is organized really the first word that should come to my head when I’m asked to describe myself? How about creative or ambitious or caring? I find that I like to be organized because I like to be planned. I frequently find myself thinking about the distant future and I’m not talking about next month or even next year but years down the line. The inability to control this very distant future often times leads me to panic and freak out. And if I’m being completely frank there’s no reason I need to be worrying about these different things, because at this point they’re so utterly out of my control. Yes, I can do things to help prepare myself for a job or a family, but I definitely don’t need to obsess over it.

The thing I hate the absolute most is that I can’t write out the next 5 years of my life into my planner. I can’t predict what I’ll be doing at this time 3 years from now. I don’t know where I’ll be living or what job I’ll have, and for a long time that freaked me out. But I’m starting to realize that not knowing is okay. And as a result, I’ve been working on learning to live, to enjoy the present moment, and think less about the future. This is so hard for me and I still find myself on occasion obsessing about getting things perfectly planned out but I just have to tell myself to let it go, and to embrace the present moment.

One way I’ve been trying to do this is to live in the moment, in the past, I used to have a daily planner I used obsessively. I would plan every hour of every day trying to make the most of every second. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a good way to get things done, I would stick to the schedule and finish what I needed to. I was efficient and timely but it also made my days feel very rigid and often times I would say no to things simply because they didn’t fit in my predetermined schedule. So this year I bought myself a weekly planner, still plenty of room to keep track of what’s going on but not so strict and scheduled. I can say yes to hanging on the quad with friends or staying at lunch for a little longer, knowing I can make up the lost time later.

Life isn’t about checking boxes. It’s not about having everything perfectly scheduled and planned out. It’s about living and exploring. It’s about experiences and people. It’s about learning and growing. Life has so much to offer when you stop letting it pass by and instead start living it.

So start living!
Ashley
instagram: @welldressedash
pinterest: welldressedash


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Welcome to My Well Dressed Life

If you’ve been a loyal follower of My Well Dressed Life, then I guess things are looking a little different around here. If you’re brand new then welcome! Years ago, when I originally came up with the idea for my blog I wanted it to be everything preppy and centered around fashion, but as I got started with it I realized as much as I love fashion, fashion isn’t what I love writing about. I felt constrained to write what I felt was representative of my blog and it's "brand".  And as time went on, I realized I loved writing lifestyle posts about my experiences and my struggles, while these didn’t necessarily fit the brand I had come up with in my head they were fun to write and people enjoyed and engaged with them. So I decided to start fresh this summer with a completely new rebrand that would make My Well Dressed Life into exactly what I wanted it to be (and hopefully you all will love). A place to read about living, learning, exploring, and being. Following my inability to cook, the ins and outs of college life, the occasional exciting trip, the struggles of being twenty-something and everything in between. It’s not a place to be perfect, it’s a place to be perfectly imperfect, to enjoy every moment, and to embrace the life we are all so lucky to live.

So I hope you all will follow along!
Ashley