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Livin’ La Pura Vida (Week 3)

We finally made it to the capital, San Jose! 🙂

School Visits
Because we are all future (or current) educators, it only seemed right to visit local schools. On the first day of our school visits, we spent the first half of the day at a local primary school with Kristine and her fifth grade students. We also went to a vocational high school with Aldo and his tenth-eleventh grade students.
At the primary school, we participated in a cultural exchange with the fifth graders. They prepared traditional food for us to try and we split into conversation tables- some of the topics we covered were: Costa Rican geography, food, culture, etc. Our group taugt them some American songs and dances, such as head, shoulders, knees, and toes and even Whip/Nae Nae. At the high school, we to got to talk to the students about currency and symbols. We even created our own bill (one side reflected Costa Rica and the other reflected Georgia). We got tours of both schools and I enjoyed getting to meet the students and teachers. I even got to visit one class and have a Q&A session with the students which was really fun!
The last school we visited performed for us and it was AMAZING! It was awesome getting to see a little classroom instruction and spend time in the schools.

 

Night at Kristine’s
One of the teachers we met invited us over to her house for dinner. We had a great time! As soon as we walked in, Kristine had music playing through her speakers and lots of snacks for us to eat. She kept the food and drinks coming and I had fun talking with her and her family. After dinner, she even gave us a merengue lesson right in her living room! Thanks for your welcoming us into your home Kristine.

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Exploring San Jose
     We also had some down time each day while we were in SJ to explore! I experienced a second wave of culture shock because SJ is so different from the mountains where we spent most of our time in Costa Rica! Crossing the streets gave me anxiety because there weren’t many traffic lights. The first day of exploring was off to an interesting start because as soon as a friend and I set off to find the Jade museum it began pouring and my Toms broke (RIP it was a faithful 7 years), so I had to remove the sole of one and walk in the rain with basically one shoe on.
If this trip has taught me anything, it’s taught me to go with the flow! And to laugh at the obstacles- like our bus having no AC on the way to SJ and us having to switch buses on the side of the road or the strange looks I got for my pitiful shoes … Anyways, we got to visit a cute coffee shop, the national Jade museum, a local supermarket that was playing American music when we walked in which was cool, a beautiful cathedral, a marketplace, eat at some yummy restaurants (shoutout to Ambiente for the yummy brownie crepe), and got to experience SJ nightlife at a few bars/clubs.

I think I was most excited about eating at the McDonald’s tbh because theirs was way cooler.

 

P.S. I loved our hotel. It was such a cute, quaint boutique hotel which was nice to have in the midst of such a busy city. The hotel had lots of quirky sculptures and art and I loved it. Check out Hotel Don Carlos if you’re ever in SJ! They also have a delicious restaurant and gift shop in the hotel.

Well, three weeks down! One to go!

Pura Vida,
Nicole 🙂

 

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Livin’ La Pura Vida! (Week 2)

[i wrote this 2 weeks ago but i’m just now publishing it]

2 weeks down & 2 weeks to go!
These past two weeks in Costa Rica have just been getting better and better! Here’s a recap.

William’s Heladeria 

We made a 20 minute trip up the mountain to a heladeria. We were expecting a shop, but we were greeted by two adorable dogs at the end of a driveway. When we walked up, we found a friendly man named William. William later shared with us that the heladeria was his late wife’s business and that he still operates it in her honor. We talked about how little the material things of life matter. He made us some delicious ice cream and we sat in rocking chairs with a beautiful view of the mountain. We went back again the next Saturday and he remembered us 🙂 It felt like I was going to see an old friend.

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That night we took a Meringue dance class! This experience confirmed that dancing’s not really my thing, BUT I had so much fun!

Santa Elena
On Monday, we took a trip to the nearest town to get some materials for our English Camp (more on that in a bit!) I bought a few souvenirs, sent a few postcards back to the States, and found a fried chicken place.

English Camp!

Local students (ages 4-12) came to the UGA Costa Rica campus this week for an English Camp! My group and I co-taught the music group. We taught the students music terms such as loud, soft, rapid, and slow. We had so much fun! Our group got an excuse to have a dance party 🙂 This was my first time every teaching English and it was challenging, but it was definitely a memorable experience. I learned a lot.

Chrystla Hodge 4

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Also…. Tuesday was my 21st birthday!! My professor is the sweetest and asked the kitchen staff to make me a cake. It was very yummy! I am so grateful to see another birthday and to get to celebrate in this beautiful place. It’s a birthday I’ll never forget.

Host Family
Tuesday was a busy day! In between my birthday and English Camp, I also moved in with a local family for the week. They lived on a farm up the mountain and it was quite the trek, but the views were incredible. I am grateful for this opportunity to live with a local family and learn a lot. I got ample practice with my Spanish skills because my host family did not speak English.
My little host brother and I bonded over watching Scooby Doo and eating yummy snacks, such as Chiky’s and Best chocolate bars.

Cloud Forest
On Friday we went to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve! It was beautiful 🙂 Shoutout to our guide, Oscar! He was the best and he’s actually been to GA before (even a GA/AL football game). Go Dawgs! He showed us lots of birds and flora&fauna. It rained the entire time on our hike, but the view of the waterfall and beautiful sights was well worth it.
Check out this tree!

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COCO showing
The community center shows movies every Friday night for local families. A group of us knew we didn’t wanna miss this because they were showing Coco! Coco is one of my favorite movies and I got to see it in Spanish.

Party time!
A local school held a fundraiser Saturday evening and we had a blast! They served food, hosted a bingo game, and had a DJ. It was nice getting to dress up for a change and take a break from my hiking boots & rain jacket. Everyone in Monteverde knows one another and we felt like we were truly a part of the community. I even ran into Oscar (our cloud forest tour guide) and he remembered us. That’s just the vibe here- everyone knows everyone.

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What a week it’s been! It’s been difficult at times:
tick bites, long walks that are primarily uphill, getting caught in a storm in the dark on our way home, falling flat on my behind in the woods, etc. but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This has been the trip of a lifetime.

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This week we are headed to the capital, San Jose, to visit some local schools. 🙂

pura vida,

Nicole 🙂

 

 

 

Livin’ La Pura Vida (week 1)

I can’t believe I’ve almost been in Costa Rica for a week now! There’s been so much to see and do, but I finally have a free day to recap our trip so far!

“Why are you in Costa Rica?”
I decided last year to pursue certification to teach English as a Second Official Language (ESOL)  students. This study abroad program allows me to earn my ESOL Endorsement by taking classes at the UGA Costa Rica campus and I will be working with local students and families in the surrounding communities through my service-learning course.

Dia Uno
     Our group met at the airport and flew to beautiful Liberia, Guanacaste together! When we arrived in Liberia, we stopped at a local supermarket for lunch. I got to practice my Spanish when I ordered my food which was a memorable experience. It finally sunk in that I was actually in Costa Rica now. I then paid for my food in $USD and received colones back. The exchange rate is 1 USD=540 colones. We then took a 4 hour bus ride up to the mountains where we are staying this month. I enjoyed seeing children playing in the street, a man selling fruit from a stand, and all the adorable dogs running around.

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our bungalow!

Dia Dos y Tres
*Nature Hike! Our awesome tour guide Cody led us on a hike. We spotted a few monkeys and coatis!
*We began our classes and planning for our English Camp! 
Local children are coming for 3 days next week for the English camp we are leading.
*Cow Milking!
I’d never milked a cow before and it wasn’t as easy as it looks, but it was fun! There’s a sustainable farm on UGA’s campus so we got to see the biodigester that converts manure into methane gas which fuels the kitchen.
*The food has been delicous by the way! We have rice and beans with every meal paired with meat usually

Dia Cuatro
*Coffee & sugar cane farm

We got to visit a local coffee and sugar cane farm owned by a man named Gilberth! I even got to process a sugar cane and drink it. It was good but super sweet of course! We got to see the various stages of the coffee beans and the actual coffee plant. Some of the group even tried the coffee (I’m not a coffee drinker). We also went to a small corner store before heading back to campus.

I’m gonna walk to a local ice cream parlor later today because I heard it’s near a great view! Tonight we have a dance class 🙂

It’s been such a busy past few days already and I’m looking forward to the weeks to come. I’m not gonna lie it was a little difficult adjusting at first. This is my first trip abroad and I had to get used to limited wifi and no cell service at all. However, I have enjoyed disconnecting more than I usually would. Next week we’ll be going on some more hikes, teaching at the English camp, and staying with a local family for the week 🙂 I’m looking forward to meeting them on Tuesday! Oh and my birthday is on Tuesday so I’m looking forward to celebrating 21 years as well 🙂

I’m incredibly grateful to be here. I wanted to acknowledge what a privelege and blessing it truly is.
If you’ve read this far, thank you.

Pura Vida,
Nicole 🙂

 

Happy New Year ✨

Hello world, I’m back after a 5 day hiatus from social media. It’s funny reading that because 5 days doesn’t seem like a long time to be away from something, but as much as we consume social media, 5 days is a significant amount of time.

I wanted to unplug from my phone and social media accounts to be more present with my family and friends. I wanted to get in the right headspace entering the new year.

I came across these new year reflection questions. I wanted to share them because it’s important to reflect on our past as we plan for the future.

1) Where do you see yourself a year from now?

2) How are you going to get to that place?

3) What’s one thing you want to do more in 2018?

4) What’s one thing you want to do less of in 2018?

5) What is your 2018 mantra?

✨ may your 2018 be full of new beginnings, second chances, laughter, love, and fearlessness.

Happy New Year and Go Dawgs!

my journey to self love

I submitted an essay on self love to an online publication five months ago. My work wasn’t chosen to be shared on their website, but I still had the document just sitting on my computer. Waiting for the day that I’d want to share it on my own personal blog. Well, I decided today’s the day. 2017 has been so good to me. I’ve really embraced the messiness but beauty of life. I’m learning to embrace the journey particularly the one I embarked on in 2016 to truly learn to love and celebrate myself.

It’s been fun, it’s been challenging, it’s been frustrating, but it’s been worth it. Progress is not linear.

Anyways, here’s that letter I wrote during the summer. I hope it helps you as much as its helped me.
For nearly 18 years I struggled with self-love and acceptance. I often felt inferior to other people. I lived my life believing that other people’s opinions of me determined my worth. I viewed the world as my mirror and believed that if the world didn’t like what they saw then there must be something wrong with me. It’s a sad truth to reveal, but it’s a sad reality that many of us face. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been blessed with the best family around who support me with unconditional love and encouragement. And my friends? They’re just as great. I seriously ask myself almost daily it seems, “How did I get so lucky?” I love having the biggest support system- whether it’s a friend texting me just to remind me how much I’m loved or making plans to see me after a long time, I just always feel loved by my friends and family. They constantly remind me how I’m great I am- inside and out.

Yet, I somehow always felt empty. I used to thrive off the affirmation I received, but that high eventually wore off and I would begin feeling low again. I would have a self deprecating monologue on loop in my mind. But this story has a happy ending don’t worry.
I’m going to take you on my journey to self-love as 2016 was the year I finally learned to love myself.
I. Accept yourself. Celebrate Yourself. Repeat.
    Despite the positivity and love flowing from my support system, I still couldn’t shake these feelings of self-hatred that would deter my journey to self-love. I built myself up only to be torn down by a hateful or rude comment someone may have intentionally or unintentionally said to me. I used to place entirely too much value on what other people thought of my appearance especially. I distinctly remember times growing up when I would feel confident wearing something only to have someone tell me I looked big or that I shouldn’t dress that way. The thing that always bothered me the most and still bothers is how people are so concerned with the lives of others. People I barely know would feel the need to comment on my size as if it affected them. I used to feed into this negativity. I would think I looked terrible because someone didn’t like how I looked. It’s a self destructive mindset. Because the truth is, even after you begin to love yourself, people will still find flaws in you. But it’s up to you to be so content and satisfied with yourself that their words are nothing… just merely words.
    I decided I didn’t want to continue living my life according to what other people thought, so I made the decision to begin accepting myself. I began listing the things I loved about myself. I began listing personality traits, too. I realized that my list of things I loved about myself far outweighed the list of things that I didn’t particularly like.I realized that these things don’t define who I am as a person. They’re parts of me sure. But they’re not who I am. I decided not to let them rule or define my life.
    After you’ve accepted yourself, the joy truly begins when you decide to celebrate yourself. I felt celebrated already by the people I love, but that doesn’t compare to the love you feel when you learn to celebrate who you are. Your quirks. Your body. Your story. Your life. I began celebrating everything about myself. I began celebrating just the simple fact that I was in good health. I began celebrating my existence on this planet!
II. Embrace your flaws. Choose authenticity + vulnerability.
     Sure it’s fun celebrating your great qualities and learning to embrace them, but what about those insecurities? What about those problem areas that caused you to neglect self love in the first place?
     The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to meet myself where I am. To realize that I am a work in progress. That I’m not perfect and never will be, so I might as well stop aiming to be perfect (or anything close.) I learned to appreciate the progress. To put in the work and value the journey to becoming the person I hope to be someday. Once you embrace your flaws and insecurities, they lose their power and dominance in your life. You tend to take them at face value. You begin seeing yourself as a whole human being who makes mistakes. Give yourself grace. Show yourself kindness when you have a bad day or make a mistake. Remember that you are human and that you are still learning.
    Once you begin recognizing that you are a work in progress, you will begin to value authenticity in your life. You will start feeling inspired to just be yourself. The raw you. The unfiltered you. The you that sometimes doesn’t have it all together. There’s power and beauty to authentic people. I personally am drawn to people who present themselves in an unapologetic way. In a way that says “This is me. All of me. Take it or leave it.” It encourages me to be myself. It encourages me to be my biggest fan. It helps me realize that we all are on our own journeys towards acceptance of something. We all have fears and insecurities and it makes life seem a little less scary when you realize that everyone’s a little scared, too. I mention vulnerability because that goes hand in hand with authenticity for me. I’m becoming more vulnerable with sharing my journey. 
III. Progress is not linear. Take it one day at a time.
    Lastly, before I go… it’s important to remember that progress is not linear. Once you begin to love yourself and encourage yourself, your bad days won’t disappear. Your feelings of inadequacy may still show up at your door, but I want you to know that each day that you make the decision to love yourself is a step in the right direction. If you take steps back in progress, that’s okay. Your self-love journey is still valid. Take it one day at a time. Write down accomplishments in your self-love journey. Write down mantras that inspire and encourage you. Share them with others on social media or written on a note to give someone in person. Find activities, hobbies, or exercise that feels good. Live your best life. Whatever that looks like for you.
Stop looking at other people’s progress as a measure for your own. You are your biggest competition. Be a better you than the day before.You are your home. You are the love of your life- no one can ever take that from you.

P.S. Take a break from the screens every now and then. Sometimes social media is exhausting. I take days where I choose to engage more with the world around me and less with the world in front of me through a screen.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! you’re the best.
remember to spread kindness and love this holiday season.

Happy Holidays,
Nicole

Challenge Accepted

Life isn’t easy.
I think that’s a truth we all understand and experience in our lives.
We all face our own battles, obstacles, and just plain bad days every once in a while. Some of us are constantly experiencing adversity while some of us may have some time to breathe in between life’s opposition.

Sure, our trials don’t look the same. Some of us have more privilege than others, but I certainly believe that life has tested each and every one of us.

However…. I believe it’s not about what you’ve gone through, but your response to what you’ve gone through that matters.

I’d say I’m an optimist by nature. I’m the person who tends to view the metaphorical glass “half full.” I’m the person who usually wakes up on the right side of the bed.

It hasn’t been easy to remain this positive for nearly twenty years, but I’ve met some inspiring people along the way whose wisdom I’ve adopted in own my life. Here’s some of the things they’ve taught me:

  • “It’s only considered failure if you give up. If you eventually accomplish the goal, then you’ve still succeeded.”
  • “It’s not about waiting for something to happen. It’s about your attitude while waiting.”
  • “Sometimes we ask God to give us more of certain qualities like patience/faith/trust, but sometimes instead of just getting those things, God chooses to give us circumstances that teach us to have those things.”
  • “Progress is not linear”
  • “Since change scares you, try not to focus on the idea that things are changing. Instead, just embrace the slow transition of life.”

A few months ago, I saw a tweet Chance the Rapper re-tweeted from his manager, Patrick Corcoran, that perfectly sums up my thoughts on challenges:

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I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to embrace authenticity and vulnerability. You don’t have all the answers. It’s okay none of us do, so we should just present ourselves as the raw, works in progress that we are. It makes facing life so much easier and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot more from the people around you.

You can better love yourself and others by choosing joy in the face of adversity. I love the quote that says “Just when you think you’ve been buried, you’ve been planted.” Use this planting time to learn and grow because great things are on the way 🙂

 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the thief of joy. We’re not meant to covet the lives of other people but instead learn to love and celebrate our own life. Life is sweeter when we learn to appreciate what God has for us and only us and use our blessings to glorify His name.

It’s so easy to look at others and want what they have. It might be the new job promotion they just received, their picture perfect family, their good looks, their new car, etc…. the list goes on and on. We may not live everyday thinking these thoughts, but I believe many of us have days when we want what others have and question God for not giving us what they have.

Social media gives us easy access into the worlds of other people. We’re able to see all their accomplishments and blessings almost as soon as they’ve received and achieved them. We begin first admiring their lives, but that admiration (if we’re not careful) can soon turn into jealously. We begin wanting what they posses and soon after the jealousy we begin feeling bad about our own lives or ourselves. It’s a dangerous game to play.

It’s dangerous because we’re comparing someone’s highlight reel to our behind the scenes. I struggle with this from time to time. I’ll be honest and admit that truth. It’s an area of my life that I have been working on improving.

Once I realized that we all have our own battles we face, I realized that social media was creating an illusion of a perfect life. I may see someone at their best, but I have not seen them at their worst. We all have our behind the scenes moments. Our not so pretty moments. Our moments when we’re at our lowest.

I think it’s important to focus on our own highs and lows instead of focusing on other people’s journeys. Instead of competing with other people, we can focus on competing with other versions of ourselves. I can work to become a better “me” than I was the day before. A better student, a better daughter, a better friend, a better sister, etc. Our own journey and transformation into becoming who God has called us to be is all that truly matters. We should set goals for ourselves to make ourselves proud not to make other people jealous.

Learning this sooner rather than later will save you so much heartache and will help you not feel inadequate.

The reason I titled this post “Comparison is the Thief of Joy” is because we often miss out on living our life to its fullest potential because we choose to focus on what we don’t have. We choose to focus on how we measure up to other people. We may be happy and satisfied with our own lives, but if we’re not confident and content in what we have, that joy can easily be swayed when we begin comparing ourselves to other people.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that what God has for me is for me only. I can admire other people’s intelligence, beauty, career, relationships, etc without questioning or diminishing the value of my own. I can say “wow, they’re great” and recognize my own greatness, too.

I think a way to eliminate this problem in society is to realize that life is not meant to be a competition with other people.

I challenge anyone reading this to write out a list of things you love about yourself, a list of the ways God has worked in your life, and a list of ways that you want to improve yourself. Focus and reflect on those lists.

Spend so much time focusing on the positives that you won’t have time for comparison and envy.

It’s a process, but I guarantee it will be worth it.

oh, and before I go: Life’s timeline doesn’t look the same for everyone. We’re all meant to do things at our own pace and at our own stages in life. Life wouldn’t be nearly as fun or interesting if we all completed the same steps at the same time.
If it takes you an extra few years to earn your degree, congratulations!
If you don’t want kids or want to wait later in life to have kids or get married, congratulations!
Life’s your own journey and we’re all just along for the ride.

Until next time,

Nicole 🙂

10 min thoughts

“it’s almost friday” i remind myself every week…. the thought of the weekend gets me through the week.

instead, let’s live for every day. every day can be friday if you want it to be (seriously).

life’s not meant to be survived. it’s meant to be lived.

find what that looks like for you.

i was joking with a friend and we joked about how we schedule everything in our day except when we sleep basically.

that started to make me uncomfortable, so instead i’m scheduling what i can and not pushing myself.

treat yourself. rest before you are tired.

sometimes i take mental health days to take a break from my responsibilities and instead plan what my week will look like, call a friend and catch up, or watch a movie.

the pomodoro technique has become my best friend in college: set a timer for 25 mins, take a break for 5 mins, repeat 3 more times, and after the 4th 25-minute period, you can take a 20+ minute break.

i’m also in this place of reflecting on this quote i read: “we’re letting things that don’t matter take priority over things that do”

^ reflect on that, if unproductive energy needs to be removed from your life then by all means (for yourself), cut back on some things.

i figured while i wait for this bus on campus- i could type some thoughts. so here they are. hope you enjoyed reading them!

happy thursday!

-nicole

 

 

monday musings

 

1. It’s okay to be yourself. I recently added that little mantra to my blog because I’ve always supported and admired authenticity. For years I struggled with the need to be liked by everyone and I often felt that I did something wrong when someone didn’t like me. I learned that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be comfortable in who you are as a person and comfortably exist in who you are.

2. Lean on the people you love. For the longest time, I tried to appear to have it all together and I wanted to be the one other people came to with their problems. I didn’t want to unload my problems onto anyone else. I finally realized how self-destructive that mentality was and I have become more intentional when I ask people how they are doing and I hesitate to say “I’m fine” when they ask me. I am learning to be honest and lean on the people I love for support.
Next time you ask someone how they are doing take time to actually listen to their response.
Text your friends and check on them every now and then. It means a lot. Make time for the people in your life… especially your parents and older relatives. You can learn a lot.

3. Take care of yourself. Your body is your home. It’s been with you since the beginning. Treat it with kindness. I don’t always eat the healthiest, but I am learning to take care of myself. I’m learning to eat healthier but still enjoy the food I eat now.  Find some form of exercise (if you are physically able to) that you enjoy. It could be walking, playing tennis, dancing, etc. You’ll thank yourself later.

4. Learn for the sake of learning. I know school is tough for most of us. I’m not a huge fan of it these days. I’m constantly tired. But I realized it was the work that makes me dread school. I do enjoy learning though. I enjoy most of the content I just don’t enjoy drowning in deadlines. I enjoy learning new things. Knowledge is valuable and important.

Make learning fun! Watch game shows and learn cool facts. Read, read, read. Listen to others more. A quote I found says that when people talk they are repeating things they already know, but when people listen that’s when the learning takes place.

5. Believe in something…. and stand up for your beliefs. Whether you decide to follow a religion or you chose not to- find what you believe. I believe you shouldn’t let anyone decide that for you. It’s more genuine and meaningful when you have those epiphanies on your own. Find what you’re passionate about. Whether you’re super into politics or you couldn’t care less, figure out what do care about. Learn and grow in those identities. As we grow, we may even change some of our identities as we learn from the people around us. Remember to always stay tolerant and open minded on your journey.

Also, fight for what’s right. Fight for everyone to have safety, equality, and equity in this world (in whatever way that means for you). Don’t stand for the mistreatment of any human being. Stay woke. Stay updated on what’s going on in the world around you.

6. Don’t go chasing love. It will find you every time I promise. I am a firm believer that people are placed in your life for a reason. I do believe that you will meet your ‘person’ someday. It’s important to get to know yourself and figure out what you want and refuse to settle for anything less. Once I realized I’d rather be alone than ever settle for anything less than I deserved, I began finding comfort in being on my own.
Sometimes the greatest love is the love we receive from our family and friends. Don’t forget to appreciate their love while you’re looking your soulmate.

7. Do what makes you happy and no one else.  It’s sad to say but I mostly get negative reactions when I tell people that I plan to teach for a living. I get kind words and encouragement too don’t get me wrong. However, I mostly get told to prepare to: live on a small salary, be underappreciated, and have kids wear my patience thin. But I don’t mind it. My heart is full and my face still lights up when I work with children. I always knew it’s what I wanted to do. I used to teach my stuffed animals in my room. I used to brainstorm lesson plans I’d someday use in my classroom. I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to teach young people and I can’t wait to get started.

8. “Do it Afraid”-Joyce Meyer. I’ve learned to be fearless. I’m still working on it, but I believe taking a small leap is the first step. Moving to Athens to go UGA was something I did afraid. I was scared to leave my close friends and family behind. I was nervous to be a black woman on a predominantly white campus- “what if people aren’t nice of me?” “what if i feel like I don’t belong on UGA’s campus?” were some thoughts that played on repeat in my mind. Going away for college excited a lot of people and it excited me too, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified. That’s mostly why I decided to come here. I wanted to push myself because growth happens when we push ourselves. Growth happens when we defy even our own expectations.
Writing on this blog is also something I do afraid. I was nervous to share my first post. I try to write with a layer of vulnerability. I want you to feel as though you know me (or at least parts of me) through my writing. That’s a very scary thing to do because I’m subjecting myself to criticism, but I am also sharing my passion with the world. I learned that agreeing to try something is the hardest part. It’s all downhill from there.

9. Forgive others and love them unconditionally. That expression “hurt people hurt people” holds so much truth. When you neglect to forgive someone, you’re holding on to pain, anger, bitterness, and all those negative feelings. It takes maturity and courage to forgive someone when they’ve hurt you. It’s easier said than done, but you’ll thank yourself for it later. We’re not perfect. We all fall short. I’ve learned to forgive the people in my life when they hurt me (intentionally or intentionally).

10. Show that same grace you give others to yourself. The scariest realization for me was realizing that I was my own worst enemy. I was constantly aiming for perfection and getting upset when I made a mistake. I found that forgiving others was easy, but forgiving myself was difficult. I struggled to accept myself flaws and all. I’m learning to give myself grace. I’ve learned to appreciate the journey towards the woman I want to become. I’ve learned to accept being a work in progress and know that I can love myself during the process. I’m learning to be my biggest fan. I’m learning that progress is not linear. Progress has ups, downs, zigzags. As long as we get from point a to point b, that’s all that matters right?

11. Love yourself + love others + love life. I’ve learned to stop apologizing for who I am. I’ve learned to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once I began loving myself, I inevitably learned to love others better. I learned to love with intention. I appreciate the amazing people in my life for who they are. I’m using my journey to inspire and help other people. It’s uncomfortable talking about my insecurities, but if anything, I want to thank anyone who’s ever called me fat, ugly, annoying, awkward, etc. A year ago I wouldn’t have even addressed that, but today those words don’t bother me. They made me realize just how much I needed to love myself more than ever. Life is bigger. God is bigger. Life is too beautiful for this whole self-loathing thing guys. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission!
It’s a long journey to get to this point but I promise you it will all make sense one day.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with this. This whole blog thing in general really. My writing is always a bit of a long read.

It’s been fun and I’ll be here for as long as you’ll have me!

Happy Monday. You’re all awesome and beautiful people.

Use today to reflect on a list of your own lessons you’ve learned.

until next time,

Nicole 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

socializin’

It’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love the idea of social media and the opportunities it gives me to connect with the world around me. I love getting to see what my friends are doing whether they are in the same town as me or they are hundreds of miles away. However, I can also admit that I am a bit addicted to social media.

I found myself spending entirely too much time scrolling through Twitter or watching my friends’ stories on Snapchat. I began realizing my attachment to social media about a year ago and it began making me feel uncomfortable. However, I didn’t really change how I used social media.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to change the way I viewed social media and also limit my use of social media. It’s been challenging and I am still getting in the groove of working on it!

“So, why do you have issues with social media, Nicole?”

1. Dependency

Simply put: I’ve become dependent on social media. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I immediately grab my phone and check all my social media accounts. It’s become a mindless routine for me. I’ll even scroll through Twitter, close the app, forget I just checked twitter, and check Twitter again five minutes later. Scary right?

I tend to find myself picking up my phone to avoid awkward social situations. If I’m with a group of people I don’t know very well or having a conversation that has reached a standstill, I’ll pick up my phone and scroll aimlessly. It’s become a crutch for many of us in social settings.

I feel the first sign of boredom and I immediately look to the world of social media for entertainment.

2. Validation

Our need for instant validation through social media is the main reason social media began making me uncomfortable. I realized I was looking to my followers for validation whether it was through likes, retweets, comments, or the number of followers I have.
Once I realized my own need for validation, it became more obvious to me when other people on social media were looking to others for validation, too.

What I mean specifically is: feeling validated because you got a bunch of likes on a picture you posted or feeling validated by the number of followers you have.

Once I began college, I started frequently posting my accomplishments (mostly on Facebook) as a way to keep my large family updated! It felt good having many people congratulate me on my good news. It feel good being rooted for and supported. Yet, I began feeling very arrogant. I began feeling that I wasn’t humble. I began feeling that I was bragging on all my success and not giving God the glory He rightfully deserved.

I started reevaluating the way I presented my accomplishments. I now ask myself: “Is this to update people who have been on my journey and also to give glory to God?” or “Is this to pat myself on the back and make myself look good?” If my answer is yes to the latter, I opt out of posting whatever the accomplishment may be. I’m choosing to text or call people personally and share big news instead of immediately feeling the need to tell the world.

As I grow more confident in the woman I am becoming the less inclined I feel to post things on social media for compliments or validation from others. 

3. FOMO (fear of missing out)

This one’s probably up there with validation for me. Snapchat specifically comes to mind when I think of FOMO from social media. Snapchat stories allow us to post these cute videos updating our friends on what cool things we’re doing! I enjoy watching other people’s stories on Snapchat more than I enjoy posting my own. Snapchat stories have a way of inviting me into the moment as if I am really there. It’s a more personal experience than any other social media platform.

However, I often find myself experiencing FOMO. It usually happens when I’m having a quiet night in and I check Snapchat and see some of my friends hanging out together seeming to be having a lot of fun (… without me)! I start to wish I was there too and I begin feeling sad that I’m alone when I was just fine chilling at home before I got on Snapchat.

It’s a dangerous game to play.

4. “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel”

Social media gives us the chance to give our friends and family (and even strangers) a glimpse into our lives! It truly is our very own highlight reel. We only post the good parts of our lives. The monumental moments. The achievements. The good hair days. The “instaworthy”outfits. The amazing vacation photos. The fun night downtown.

We begin comparing ourselves to the people we see on Instagram. We find ourselves wishing we were as photogenic as them or living their cool lives. We all find ourselves falling into the comparison trap every now and then.

My wake up call  was realizing that I only feel the need to compare myself to others when I’m looking at social media. Something about social media gives this added illusion that we live perfect and beautifully candid lives. We all know that’s far from the truth.

We don’t see people’s vulnerable moments. We don’t see their “behind the scenes”. We’re giving these often false images of who we really are.

I think that’s the cool part of social media- choosing what we want to share with others.
I just think it’s important to remember that no one’s lives are as perfect as they seem when we scroll through social media.  We’ve got to practice self care when scrolling.

“We’re putting on a face that we want people to see but it isn’t necessarily the honest face of who we are and we’re basing our self-worth on how many retweets we get, how many likes we get, how many followers we have, how many friends we have, and for me: social media and the way we interact and what we prioritize in culture is really fascinating to me right now”- Mark Foster, Foster the People

5. It’s just unhealthy

I love social media and plan to continue using it (in moderation). I think we all need to alter our own use of it to create a healthier relationship with social media.

I personally find that I began checking my phone when I was hanging out with my family and friends. It’s rude. There’s no denying that. I am working to avoid having my phone out when I’m hanging out with other people.

I also try to spend less time staring at screens. Whether it’s for school, for work, or for leisure, I spend 80% of my day staring at a screen. Okay honestly about 90% of my day staring at a screen. I know that’s not good for my eyes, so I’m trying to take a break from staring at screens every once in a while.

Also: I have the worst sleeping habits. I’m a night owl by nature, but an early bird due to class. I find it hard to wind down for bed because my mind is always still wired and wanting to read something, write something, or check social media. I’m working to combat this by not using my phone an hour or so before I plan on going to sleep.
*I’m still failing at this one, but working on it*

I want to spend more time experiencing the world around me and finding other things to fill my time.

I recently “unplugged” for an entire day and it was awesome. I turned off all my notifications for social media, deleted or hid some of the apps, and didn’t check them all day. There were times when I found myself wanting to check them out of habit, but I survived. I felt great not feeling tied down to social media. I felt more productive. I felt less FOMO because I couldn’t care what my friends were doing because I had zero clue what they were doing.

I’m currently thinking of other ways to redefine my use of social media, such as, limiting my use to once a day or taking an unplugged day once a week.

I hope this gets you thinking on your use of social media and its role in your life. It may be playing a bigger role than you think.

sidenote: since writing this in march, i turned off all social media notifications and my phone is on do not disturb most of the time. I only check my social media once a day usually near the end of the day and I’ve just been more intentional with my use of social media.

until next time,

nicole