What I am willing to give up.

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.”  


– Dave Ramsey (by way of Beau)

Normally, I would respond to this quote with a list of the “physical” things I’m going to give up. No more Netflix! No Twitter, Instagram, chips, eating out, etc. I’ve learned, though, that while those types of restrictions are effective at first, they never last. My social media use is not significant enough to be blamed for my stagnancy. Netflix is definitely a time-waster, but again, not detrimentally so. 

The problem is ME.

The number one thing I HAVE to be willing to give up to achieve my goals is my limiting beliefs

I’ve made significant progress this year with my mental well-being. Overall, I have less feelings of guilt and anxiety in my daily life but I know that I still struggle with limiting beliefs. 

These annoying thoughts are why I didn’t pass my last architecture exam, why I stopped pursuing my writing career so soon after starting, and why I give in to most of my unhealthy food cravings.

There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks, but the reason my breaks have been so long is deep down, I don’t believe I’m capable of succeeding. I don’t know when or why this idea burrowed its way into my psyche. It’s silly, really. I’ve proven to myself (twice) that I can pass a test, that I have the discipline to work out consistently and make healthy food choices. I don’t exactly have evidence that I’ll “make it” as a freelance writer, but so the fuck what?

I succeed at everything I put actual effort into, so why would this be any different? Answer: It won’t be. 

My approach moving forward is simple: believe in myself

This will look like constantly challenging myself to do what I say I can’t, consciously stopping myself from literally saying the words “I can’t…”, pushing back against the negative thoughts that pop up, and leaning into my fears.

I’ll enlist help, of course. I’ve got a solid, loving support network in my family and partnership, so why not utilize that? (You read that, Beau? You can push me a little when it seems like I’m not pushing myself enough. I won’t get mad 😉 )

Until next time!

❤ Severn

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Featured image source

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My Self-Love (A List!)

This is what self-love looks like for me:

  • Forgiving myself for mistakes I’ve made, and forgiving others so as not to waste my energy on anger. Forgiveness is a choice you make every day, to acknowledge and honor your hurt feelings/mistake, and then let them go. Life is so much sweeter when you do.
  • Being as nice to myself as I am to my best friends. It’s easy to get caught in negative thought loops, but I’ve been training myself to cut them short in the same manner I use with my friends. After having a few negative thoughts, I say to myself, “Hey. Quit it. Yeah, you fucked up, but move on and do better, you are more than capable.” Or, “You are doing so much better than you give yourself credit for! Own that!” I could go on, but you get the idea.
  • Acknowledging when I need to step my game up, and then doing just that. I think a lot of people view self-love/self-care as just cutting yourself slack, taking bubble baths with a glass of wine, or midday naps. While those types of things are exactly what you need sometimes, they are not the only way to show yourself love. Sometimes, self-love looks like waking up at 5am instead of sleeping in because I have to get a study session in. Sure, being up before the sun in the dead of winter kind of sucks, but future me will benefit from the choices present me makes. That discipline is loving myself enough to push and achieve my goals.
  • Honesty. To sort of piggy back on that last one point of holding yourself accountable… Self-love is being honest with yourself about your feelings, about what you want, about who you are. It’s easier than you think to lie to yourself–Barlow just helped me realize in my last therapy session that I was lying to myself about a relationship in my life for a while. I told myself I was happy, but really I was just lost. Self-awareness and self-love go hand in hand (in my opinion), but they are not one in the same. I’ve always been extremely self-aware, but sometimes my awareness falls short of understanding. I can identify my behaviors, my problems, even my feelings, but I don’t always know the reason behind them. So, self-love is searching for my truths, and being able to own them.

Some simple ones:

  • long showers
  • writing in my journal
  • spending time with my mom
  • spending time alone
  • talking to at least one of my really good friends each week

Aaaaannnnd one silly one for good measure:

  • Wrapping myself up in my blanket like a Severn burrito when it’s really cold outside (or I’m lonely or whatever 🙃)

What does self-love look like for you? Let me know in the comments!

 

I’ve Been Life-Coached

I kind of got life-coached by Beau yesterday. (Yeah, we’re friends again.)

I know it’s been a while y’all, but I’m back, for now, and a little all over the place, which I’m sure you’ll see in this post. This is actually one of the things we talked about–why I haven’t blogged in so long. The answer is the same reason I haven’t moved forward in most any of the other areas in my life:

I’m afraid. 

Of what? Failure, mostly. I’m afraid of failing myself, of letting my family down by not reaching the potential they believe I have. I’m afraid that nobody cares about what I have to say, or about the experiences I’ve had.  I’m afraid that what I say I want to do isn’t actually what I want to do. I’m afraid that if I’m vulnerable on here like I was on my last blog, I’ll hurt somebody again. 

I’m sick of it. 

I’m sick of holding myself back, of dulling my light, and dialing back my feelings for the sake of others. I’m tired of trying to fit myself into this box that I constructed for myself when I was 12 years old. 

Architecture is great, but I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.

I love my family, but I can’t let them continue to influence my decisions or how I feel about where I am in life. 

I want to write, and I can’t let my limiting beliefs stop me from doing that, from doing the one thing that makes me happiest. 

I’ve been in a pretty good place lately, stable, I guess. But, after my conversation with Beau yesterday, I realized just how much I’m suppressing. And it’s scaring me. I’m actually fighting back tears as I write this. 

On a slightly different note:

When Beau and I broke up, I had a feeling our story wasn’t over. I didn’t know what shape any future friendship/relationship would really take, but I knew there would be something. I still love him, I don’t think that’ll ever go away, but what I’m realizing now is more importantly: I still have more to learn from him. I don’t know if he’s learning anything from me, whether it’s about life, himself, or whatever, but he’s helped me.

What we established yesterday was that my fear of failure and everything that comes with it–disappointment, a sense of loss, a hit to my self-confidence–has paralyzed me. I’ve had this thought before, a long time ago, when I was super confused about my life, but it hadn’t occurred to me recently. When Beau said it, it felt like time stopped for a split second. A thud sounded in my head as my happily “stable” mind fell from the tightrope on which it was precariously perched. 

I’m paralyzed. 

My theme for 2017 was self-love. I’ve achieved that. I know I’m hard on myself, but especially after this year, I can honestly say that I love myself. I know that I’m worthy of love, that even though I make mistakes I’m still an amazing person with wonderful qualities. I don’t really need validation from other people (though it’s nice to get it sometimes). I accept myself for who I am while acknowledging that I can be better. I love me as I am, I love me for who I can be. I am enough. 

For 2018, my theme is Level-Up, because that’s what I plan to do in every aspect of life. No more paralysis, but movement. Hopefully forward and upward movement, but I acknowledge that life doesn’t always work that way, and there will be plenty of setbacks as well.  The point is that I’m ready. And I have every intention of gaining more clarity, direction, and overall satisfaction with my life. I plan to flourish. 

Until next time,

❤ Severn

Solid

I am strong, beautiful, and worthy. I am independent, confident, and whole. There is no one who can take these things away from me because they are so ingrained into who I am.

I wasn’t always this way, but that’s okay. It takes time to grow into yourself. Then it takes more time to grow into your next self. I relish in this process. It’s painful sometimes, but it’s necessary. If you reject these changes, you remain stagnant. And if you ask me, that’s unacceptable.

I change from the old me to the new me when I have to, but I always try to settle into the current version as fully as possible. It’s important; I am who I am in this moment for a reason. I have things to learn, people to affect. And I never know when the next change is coming, so I always make the most of these seasons. Or I try to, at least.

I don’t want to be a liquid. I want to be solid.

I refuse to fill the role available. I will make my own role, and you will make the space for me to fit.

MBTI Stories

First of all, know that my minor in college was psychology. I totally nerd out when it comes to psych. How people think, why we are the way we are, what contributes to who we become–all these things are so intriguing to me.

One of my favorite personality identifiers is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I’ve never studied it extensively, but my friend Nebula is obsessed with it. She always pins things on Pinterest about the various types, and I love it. Check out this site for a decently in depth or just a summary of the 16 types. Go here to see what type you are!

I am an INFJ: apparently we’re rare, but maybe that’s a good thing, haha.

 

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We’re awesome, but not everyone can be awesome…

Anyway, the reason I have shared all this random information with you (besides the fact that I’m a nerd) is because Nebula gave me a wonderful idea for a new series on here. Story-based posts where the main character has the traits of one of the 16 personality types.

Tell me Nebula’s mind isn’t golden.

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 Nebula’s brain

So this is the plan (for now):

  • Pick one of the types (tbh I’m gonna do INFJ first because hi)
  • Write a shortish story, a snippet of this character’s life, if you will once a week for 3-4 weeks.
  • Pick a different type.
  • Repeat step 2.

I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I think it will be a really fun challenge, but mostly I just want to understand the MBTI better! The knowledge will help me understand people better. And, honestly, isn’t life just better when you understand those you spend it with? I think so.

Can’t wait! I will tentatively say to look for the first MBTI post next week Friday!

❤ Severn

P.S. I’m not a fan of the lack of diversity in the featured image, but 16 Personalities avatars are kinda cute.

P.P.S. Feel free to join me! How cool would it be if this turns into a writing challenge of sorts? If you end up using this idea on your own blog, please ping back to this post! I would love to read them 🙂

 

September Goals

Hello my lovely readers! Sometimes I strive for things. Here are some of those things for this month. *pleased with self emoji*

Career

  • gain ARE eligibility
    • ARE= Architectural Registration Exam, and I need to become licensed
  • stick to study schedule for ARE tests
    • 5 am wake ups! I’m studying for about 13-15 hours a week, and I do mornings because I typically don’t want to do anything after work.
  • schedule ARE test for mid-October
  • Take more initiative at work
    • I haven’t really figured out what this means yet, but it’s on the list, so I guess I gotta do it.

Personal Development

  • Meatless Wednesdays! Beau is on his way to becoming vegan because he wants to live a healthier lifestyle. I also want to be healthier. Beau and I hang out on Wednesdays (so we don’t go an entire 5 days without seeing each other every week), so this is the perfect excuse for me to make a change to my diet too! (Even if only for one day a week.)
  • Read the bible everyday, even if it’s only one chapter. I have the bible app on my phone, and I get a daily verse, but I think I need to really dive in and let the Word speak to me. I can’t force insight, but the chances of me learning something and becoming closer to God go up the more I seek that knowledge.
  • Read 1 non-fiction (preferably personal-development related) book
  • Work out 3 times a week for at least 45 minutes (dancing and acroyoga count if I can keep my heart rate up).

Financial

  • Save 30% of my income. *fantasizes about getting the keys to my own condo*
  • Learn about stocks.
  • Figure out ONE budgeting system that works for me. This will probably require more than just September, but that’s no reason not to really buckle down and start trying stuff right now.
  • Read 21 Days to a Better Budget, free from this website.
  • Learn about stocks!

I think that’s quite the list to tackle, but I’m up for it! The idea of becoming a better, more true-t0-myself me makes me so excited! And Beau motivates me, too, because he wants it for himself as well! It’s nice to have someone who shares the same headspace as me. (Is that a thing? It is now.)

Adulthood is hard, but I’m learning my way around. 🙂

What are your September Goals?

I’m Important

I normally try to keep the specifics of my problems with people in my life vague when I write them on here. That’s pretty much impossible in this case. Well, maybe it’s not. Let me try harder.

An important person in my life is basically purposefully neglecting me on a day we should be spending together. To be fair, he said we would spend some time together soon after this day, but still.

Sidenote: I can think of two situations this scenario can apply to. Vague enough for me.

How his decision makes me feel:

  • unimportant
  • like an afterthought
  • second-rate
  • neglected
  • like I’m not “worthy” of his time or love

I was very close to crying when he told me.

I told my mom about it–showed her the message, and of course she got upset. As soon as that happened, I was able to calm down. My mother’s anger doesn’t make me happy, but it’s so much easier to be strong for someone else than it is to be strong for myself.

That’s not ideal, but it’s where I am. I calmed her down by listing all the reasons this is actually a good thing. They felt like cheap attempts at neutrality, but they managed to convince her that I wasn’t as hurt as I was. And that made me feel better. Or more in control, at least.

I still haven’t done my therapist research yet, but once I find her I’m going to have a lot to tell her. (My friend Janie is going to refer me to her old therapist who will then refer me to people she thinks will help me!) Hopefully she can help me work through it all. In the meantime, I’m going to try and not let his decision dictate my feelings about myself. There’s also a few things my last therapist, Bristle, taught/told me that I think I would do well to remember:

  • My expectations of him others should be realistic so I don’t get too hurt or surprised (when things like this happen). People are only capable of what they are capable of.
  • My feelings are important. I shouldn’t feel guilty about any of the behavior I’ve exhibited that may have lead to his decision. I was doing what’s best for me, as he is probably also trying to do.
  • It’s okay to feel. Don’t run away from my feelings.

Also, I think if I were to tell her about this occurrence, she would ask me why I didn’t tell him how I felt. I know that I probably should have, but that seems so much more complicated. (This is why I need a therapist.)

Anywho. *Deep Breath*

Wish me luck with quest for a therapist!

-Severn

Book Review || You Are a Badass

In my new-found adulthood I have decided to continue reading self-help books. I want to be the best me I can be, and I am self-aware enough to know that I will need a little help along the way.

I just finished this book:

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And it’s awesome!

Jen Sincero is a success coach, and she has wonderful advice for anyone who wants to start living their life on purpose. Her writing is funny, informative, understandable, and generally pleasant to read. Her advice is good whether you’re trying to make more money, lose weight, start a new business, or figure out how to travel the world.

The book is broken up into five parts, starting with “How you got this way” and ending with “How to kick some ass.” I want to fill you in on everything I’ve learned from this book, but literally each chapter is full of golden nuggets. Instead, I’m going to encourage you to buy it and give you some of my most favorite lessons (a list!).

Your subconscious is a lot stronger than you think.

Most people live life listening to and being guided by their conscious minds. This is the part of you that makes decisions and processes information. The subconscious part, according to Sincero, believes everything, and is led by instincts and feelings. We store a lot more in our subconscious than we know, and those things we store can seriously effect us. For example, if your subconscious believes money is evil (maybe because as a child you saw that money was the cause of all your family’s arguments), no matter how much you say you want it, you will self-sabotage so you don’t get it. Sincero teaches us,

“[W]hen our subconscious beliefs are out of alignment with the things and experiences we want in our conscious minds (and hearts), it creates confusing conflicts between what we’re trying to create and what we’re actually creating [italics mine].”

It’s so easy once you figure out it isn’t hard (Chapter 17).

This chapter reminded me a bit of Wolf of Wall Street–that whole quote about the stories we tell ourselves stopping us from reaching our full potential. Sincero simplifies it to:

“What you choose to focus on becomes your reality [italics mine].”

There are so many people harboring negative stories about themselves. These beliefs are easily identifiable because they start with phrases like “I always/never…” “I suck at…” “I wish…” “I’m trying to…” (as opposed to actually doing). Once you figure out what your stories are, you have to identify what it is you think you’re gaining from them. Is saying you never have time for the gym allowing you to feel comfortable watching TV on your couch for three hours a day? Is saying you can’t make money letting you play the broke victim? Get rid of your stories!  Or better yet, rewrite them.

Sincero’s list for accomplishing this:

  1. List off your old stories that you’ve gotten into the habit of thinking and saying.
  2. Journal about the false rewards you get from them.
  3. Feel into these false rewards, thank them for their help, and decide to let them go.
  4. Take each false reward and write a new, powerful story to replace it with.
  5. Repeat this new story, or affirmation, over and over and over until it becomes your truth.
  6. Behold your awesome new life.

“The people you surround yourself with are excellent mirrors for who you are and how much, or how little, you love yourself.”

This resonated with me so much. I used to say the phrase “I hate people” every single day. Obviously it’s everyone else with the problem, right? *rolls eyes* Sincero points out that whenever we are bothered or annoyed with another person, it is because we see something of ourselves in them. For example, in church yesterday there was this woman behind me who was super into everything. She was praying loudly with the priest, singing at the top of her lungs, and generally grating on my nerves. I was trying not to be a jerk about it (because I was in church and I had just read this part of the book), so I took a step back.

“Start noticing the things that drive you nuts about other people, and, instead of complaining or judging or getting defensive about them, use them as a mirror [italics mine].”

Ask yourself if you also do that annoying thing, or if it reminds you of something you try very hard not to do. Figure it out and shut it down; figure out how and who you need to be in order for this thing not to bother you. For me, I realized I was getting annoyed because I really want to strengthen my faith and my relationship with God, and her enthusiasm was just reminding me how weak I still am in that department. After that, I tried to appreciate her way of praising, and even hoped I could reach her level someday. BAM, feeling of annoyance gone, happier me.

I could go on and on about this book, but I really think you should just get it and read it for yourself. Especially if you are in a place in your life right now where your self-awareness might be lacking. In my opinion, self-aware people are some of the best.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

❤ Severn

Therapy 4/25/16

“Just so ya know, I don’t really want to cry today because I’m wearing eyeliner and concealer, and I didn’t bring any of it with me for touch ups.”

This was how I started my session yesterday, so it’s safe to say I threw Bristle a little off her game from the start. I gave her a rundown of my week, which was quite eventful. I spilled my feelings to an important person in my life and was accepted despite them. I drunkenly hooked up with a friend (which was actually fun, though it will never happen again). And the cherry on top: the  magnification of my super duper lonely feelings since Corey and Haley are locked in his room 80% of the time.

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My story then fishtailed all over the place, slapping against Tiger telling me he broke up with his girlfriend, how and why I do potentially harmful things in an attempt to connect with people (like get drunk, hookup, etc.), and my aversion to messing up my makeup as a facade for pulling away from my feelings.

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Internally me

Let’s put this into bite sized pieces, shall we?

“I don’t want to cry” I’ve been feeling my feelings way too intensely lately, and I think having to sit in a room with a person dedicated to listening to those feelings made me subconsciously nervous and overwhelmed. Sorry, Bristle 😦

I spilled my feelings and was accepted I already told y’all about this here.

I drunkenly hooked up with a friend. The reality is that it could have been literally anyone in my house that night, and the outcome probably would have been the same. Okay, maybe not Corey, but still. I was craving intimacy, but the way I “got” it (and I add quotations marks because it was not real, loving, intimacy) had the potential to become a very uncomfortable situation. We could have seriously messed with our friendship, but thankfully, we were both very much on the same page, and not trying to make it into anything more than it was.

I’m super duper lonely. I’ve written about loneliness on this blog more than any other emotion (probably). Loneliness is why I hooked up with that friend last week. Loneliness
is why I got so drunk at the party on Saturday. Loneliness is something I do not know how to cope with well. I try to trick myself into thinking I’m in control by making decisions, but most of the time these decisions are not in my best interest. Bristle suggested that I try to look for companionship and connections in my friendships. Obviously, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for, but it could really help combat some of the worst bouts of lonely. I have sort of been getting that from my dance crews, but those reliefs only last for a couple hours. I’m still trying, though. Plus, I’ll be back home soon, and Chicago never leaves me feeling lonely.

Tiger is single. Okay, so you guys don’t know who Tiger is (unless you somehow followed me from my last blog and realized who I am), but the super short story is that he is a guy from back home that I almost dated my first year of college. I was in love with him, and he was confused, and it’s been complicated ever since. One of our problems is that the timing is never right. I guess all I really want to say about this is that as I was telling Bristle about why I shouldn’t be at all happy or excited that Tiger is single, as I was listing the reasons it would never work in the future, as I was reliving all the ways we messed up in the past, I was smiling. This is already a little strange, because the stories I told were not particularly happy, but it was made stranger by the fact that I was completely unaware that I was smiling. Is that not weird? My subconscious totally took over my face, and apparently still has some pleasant feelings about Tiger. Aside from my unruly lips, I’m worried that I will easily fall back into depending on him for my happiness, and going to him to get rid of my loneliness. It’s probably a good sign that I’m aware of all this before it happens, but the worry is still there.

That was pretty much everything, I think. I addressed some of the other things I mentioned less explicitly within these bite-sized morsels of my issues. Hopefully this next week will be a little less emotionally intense. I believe it’s good to just coast, sometimes.

Until next time,

Severn

 

Book Review || The Defining Decade

Last December, I read this book:

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Ignore my blurry finger, sorry.

And aside from it being nice to read because it was so well-written, I learned new things!

Dr. Meg Jay is a therapist who works with a wide array of ages, but takes particular interest in twentysomethings. She wrote this book for us because client after client came in and made it clear to her that we as a cohort need direction. We are constantly told that our 20’s are when we should travel and just live. While not all of these articles give bad avice, we must acknolwedge that we can’t just have fun and find ourselves. Not for a full ten years, at least.

These are the years we should be using to build a foundation for the rest of our lives! So because I found this book to be so very helpful, and because I want to make sure as many of my peers as possible have access to (at least some of) the lessons in Dr. Jay’s book, I have decided to make a list of the ideas I found most helpful.

Identity capital

Identity capital is “our collection of personal assets…these are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are.” This capital can be professional, or personal, but all of it is useful. It creates the building blocks of our identity! While building capital falls under the category of finding ourselves, it is important to acknowledge that in our time of exploration, we have to have the courage to make commitments. We have to decide which parts of ourselves we want to nurture, and what to seek if we’re not personally fulfilled. Examples of identity capital: a job where you learn a lot and gain experience, like counseling a camp for juvenile delinquents (like Dr. Jay did), or the way you are well put together every single day.

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The strength of weak ties

Dr. Jay defines weak ties as “the people we have met, or are connected to somehow, but do not currently know well.” She says that we often find the best connections and opportunities through these people. The opposite of weak ties are the people who make up your “urban tribe.” Your tribe is the group of people in your life that form your main support network, people like your mom or best friend. While your tribe is great for getting rides and bringing you soup when you’re sick, the weak ties are the one’s likely to affect great change in your life. Know what that means? Networking!

People like to feel useful, and to think of themselves as kind, so chances are if you ask someone for a favor, they’ll do it. Example: “I got your contact information from my neighbor; she told me you work for an architecture firm. Would you mind passing along my resume and portfolio to your boss? I’d really appreciate the help!” That literally happened, and then I got an interview. I didn’t end up getting the job, but it was still a helpful and successful interaction. The worst they can do is say no. And in that case, just try not to take it personally, and move on.

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Confidence is built from the outside in

Right away this seems like the opposite of what I’ve heard most of my life (aside from “fake it till you make it”). Personally, I have sometimes found it hard to be confident when there is so much concrete evidence of why I’m not good enough. Because of this I found it easy not only to believe Dr. Jay, but to understand her. She says, “People feel less anxious–and more confident–on the inside when they can point to things they have done well on the outside. Fake confidence comes from stuffing self-doubt. Empty confidence comes from parental platitudes on our lunch hour. Real confidence comes from mastery experiences, which are actual, lived moments of success, especially when things seem difficult.”

This makes so much sense! According to Dr. Jay, the way our brain processes things at this point in our lives makes us focus heavily on negative experiences. We have to try harder to focus on the things we do correctly, and essentially build a case for why we’re awesome. Eventually, we won’t have to try so hard to convince ourselves of this fact.

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Notice how this list isn’t that long. There are a number of things Dr. Jay mentions that I have left out. These are just a few of the bits I found most helpful to me in my current stage of life. I’m 23, looking for a job, and just trying to figure out (and be comfortable with) who the hell I am and how I should go about getting to where I want to be in life.

Thanks for reading! Now go buy that book 😉