getting lost

A lot of times, I feel as though college was designed to tug at your heart in every way possible. I just experienced three months of magic. And then, I just packed up my life and left for a month. College is full of change and normally I’m all about change. Actually, that might be why I like college so much; there’s little idle time and there are always more lessons to learn and stories to experience and people to meet. But so much has happened in just three months and now I’m sitting back in my small town, watching Ugly Betty on Hulu (I’m not about to spend money on Netflix. I normally never watch TV).

Let’s just pretend this is casual: establishing a home then picking it up and leaving for an entire month. Maybe it is casual and I just can’t accept that because I suck at being casual. I don’t think anyone who knows me would say, “oh, yeah, she’s really casual…she never thinks things are a big deal. Ever.” But anyways, even if this were casual, there are still little gaps in my life that I don’t know how to fill. On campus, I could take a less than 5 minute walk and buy coffee. Here, I have to drive for at least 10 minutes, and that’s not even good coffee. Plus, in college, I was more or less always hanging out with my friends. They were always there and now they’re just…not.

College was entirely different from what I imagined. Normally, that would upset me. But now, I realize that what I imagine isn’t always what’s best for me. Sometimes, reality really is better than my fantasies and while I’m getting lost in daydreams, I can also get lost in real life. It’s hard to even remember what I thought college was going to be like. I don’t know. I thought it would be…different.

And I never knew it could be so much better than I thought, in the most unexpected ways.

I’ve always fantasized about interning in a big city. Prior to this semester, I started thinking that I should “be more realistic.” But this semester taught me that I can turn my fantasies into reality, and that they will look completely different, but that’s okay. That’s what makes life interesting.

In reality, the big cities will be completely different from what I’ve imagined them to be and for some people, that’s scary. For me, it’s another change. It’s not casual; it’s a magical force in my life that I’m learning to embrace, rather than avoid.

College does tug on your heart in every way possible. Embrace those tugs because they change you and shape you and inspire you and guide you. Before college, I thought I wanted to go to college to find something. To establish a career and “find myself.” Now that I’ve been in college, I realize that I want my heart to be tugged in various directions. I could “find” the “right answers” and settle there. But I would rather get lost and learn so much more.

Not NYC

This weekend, I could be in New York City. You know, if I had the money and the ability to just drop everything here and go. For about two months, I wanted to go so badly, and that desire increased as I saw the other girls who were invited to the conference were going. It had seemed like they were all going. Every. Single. One. But. Me.
And I hated that I was stuck here in the middle of nowhere with no fancy stores or urban hotels or professional journalists.
I hated that they got to be closer to their dreams than I got to be. That they got to sit right there staring at the face of their futures, gazing longingly at something in reach. Gazing at the people they’d come to be.

Meanwhile, I sat on my laptop, trying to find a way to afford the trip. Because I wanted to network. I wanted to see the city, and feel at home there, and dress like a superstar journalist, and meet all the other girls, and gaze longingly at something that wasn’t truly that far away, but instead, right there. Even today, when I saw the girls post that they were leaving for the city soon, I felt a little bit sad that I’d just be here.

But this summer I’m writing for two publications online, and I’m involved in a project where my passions intersect. I may not be going to workshops, but I’m learning so much. I may not be gazing at magazines and editors and designer clothes, but I’m gazing at the electric blue sky that fills my mind with a seemingly endless current of inspiration. I may not be navigating the streets of the city, but today I walked the streets of a town I thought I knew so well, taking pictures that tell some amazing stories, capturing history that I didn’t know existed. History that keeps piling onto those old, worn-out bricks.
Trees

My clothes aren’t designer. But yesterday my outfit made me feel free and brave and adventurous and at home, my dress flowing through the breeze with the natural blue backdrop behind me. I was content being here, surrounded by cornfields and grass and trees. And also surrounded by my dreams.

In reach.

That’s where they are. This town may not be full of opportunities, exactly. But it’s given me the courage to chase after my dreams, and the strength to believe in them.

And regardless of where I am, I believe.

Dream Big,

Paige

Unplanned journeys.

I recently took a trip to the beach.  I walked along the dock, looking out into the water and thinking that this was my last chance.  My last chance to be young.  My last chance to have one of those cliche summers.  To not have an internship or job to worry about.

All of high school, I’ve been doing internships and volunteer work that I absolutely love.  But I recently realized that in the midst of that, I hadn’t ever really been a teenager.
Harbor Beach 2013 009

As I was walking back from the beach, I heard music crooning in the distance.  When I approached my destination, two guys came into my field of vision.  They were singing and playing guitar on their front porch.  I looked at them, and thought about talking to them.  But something stopped me.  Something made me conclude my trip with that unfinished moment. With that moment that most people wouldn’t even classify as a moment.  But to me, it was a story in the making.  It was beautiful in its simplicity with the sound of the guitars and that guy’s voice and the beach behind us.  With the sidewalks and the locals and the summer people.  With that long dock that no longer felt like an end to me, but instead, a continuation of what I truly love. And it was then that I realized that I don’t always enjoy the “typical” teenage stuff.  I’d rather interpret the beauty that I observe and write a story. I’d rather have the power to imagine than have every detail handed to me. I find most beautiful, unforgettable things when I’m not looking. When I’m not trying to create the perfect moment on the beach with the perfect people and this one final grand moment tied neatly into a bow to conclude all that I’ve done.

No.

I’m getting older. But as I do, that dock doesn’t get shorter. The summer breeze doesn’t calm down. The journey doesn’t end here. I’m not lost. There’s still so much for me to find. Anywhere. Everywhere.

Harbor Beach 2013 030

So I let the sound of the music fill my ears, crafting the kind of summer night that was so much better than I could’ve ever planned. It was the perfect moment. And I let it be just that; not thinking about what I’d do when it was gone or what came next. I was just there: the only place, in that moment, that I needed to be.

Harbor Beach 2013 027

Dream Big,

Paige

We make plans.

I had imagined it so many times: the perfect dress, the perfect photographs, the perfect music.  I thought that maybe afterwards I’d go to a diner or look at the stars.  This year, I was in charge of music for prom committee.  I picked out the songs that I thought would summarize the year so well; the songs that I thought would sweep people away and make them have one of the best nights of their high school careers.  One big, grand moment.  The conclusion to an entire year, or an entire four years.  
 
And all of that anticipation was bottled up for a single night.  A single night that people spend hours, days, or perhaps months planning.  A single night that everyone expects so much from.  I had the dress I had imagined myself wearing so many times.  I spent time with some of my best friends.  I love to dance.  And yet still, nothing went as planned.
 
The DJ hardly played any of the songs I had requested weeks prior.
The place our prom was at was a lot more crowded than it was during the times I had daydreamed about it.
I didn’t stargaze afterwards or get breakfast and tea at a diner.
I didn’t feel that conclusion: that invincible, “this is it yet it isn’t” conclusion.  I had expected it to be like a cold breeze against my skin: chilling and refreshing, new yet comforting.  But instead it was humid, and everything felt entirely the same.  
 
I don’t regret my decision to go, and I didn’t have a bad time.  More than anything, I realized that regardless of how much time you spend planning something, it still won’t go the way you had envisioned it to.  Too often, I let my expectations ruin moments and distort memories.  Last summer, I did nothing but plan things excessively.  I made lists of all the places I want to go to, all the jobs I want to have, all the classes I want to take, all the things I wanted to do that summer.
But looking back on that summer, I hardly remember anything but those lists.  No moments.  No memories.  Just lists of things I wanted to do but never actually did.
 
You can plan a great night.  You can plan your dream job.  You can plan the perfect vacation.  But the truth is that sometimes, you should just go.  Without plans of who you’ll meet and what you’ll see and how you’ll feel, you should just go.  Because I’ve found that the things we stumble upon, the moments when we turn down the “wrong” street or get on the “wrong” bus, are the ones that remain embedded within our minds like big, grand moments.  Like stars in a cool, breezy sky reflecting on all that we’ve seen and all that we can still see.  Illuminating all the times when we smiled when no cameras were around and laughed when there was no one to impress.  The times that we lived, and dreamed for real, without posting a picture on Instagram or checking something off a list.  
 
This summer, I’m just going to go somewhere.  I don’t know where.
 
But so much hope and beauty and adventure exists within the word “somewhere”, telling me that “somewhere” is exactly the kind of place I want to be.
 
Dream Big,
 
Paige

My little hometown.

Over the past few weeks, or maybe even months, I’ve been constantly inspired.  Between working at art camp, listening to live music, and meeting local artists, my mind just keeps spitting out poetry like it’s the only language I can speak.  And all of these crazy, amazing people I’ve met are people who live in or around my little hometown.

Lots of people criticize my little hometown.  They say that it’s boring and that the people are all the same and that they just can’t wait to get out.  And honestly, that just makes me kind of sad for them.  Sad that they could be surrounded by so much beauty and not let themselves experience any of it.  I used to be that way.  Just a little bit.

I took my town for granted, dreaming of better places.  Recently, though, I’ve realized that places aren’t incredible because of their size or titles, but rather, because of the stories that exist within them.  Those stories are everywhere, not just in Paris or London or San Francisco.  They are absolutely everywhere, and I’m forever thankful that I’ve finally learned how to read them.  

Regardless of where I go, my little home town will always exist within me; a big chunk of who I am, who I was, and who I will come to be.  A couple of days ago, I saw a band that I could tell just really cared.  Cared about their music and each other, and of course, their home.  It reminded me of all my balmy summers and all the adventures that I can still experience.  All of the sunsets and sand and journal entries and faded photographs. It reminded me of the air here that somehow carries a different feeling than air does anywhere else in the world.  

Here, I have found a haven.  A place where it’s just me and those simple little stories, so pure and raw and beautiful.  But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to find a haven somewhere else.  A haven doesn’t have to have a strict definition: palm trees, sand, sun.  No.

A haven is a place where you write your story, and let it seep through the waves and the walls and the cobblestones.  Where you expose your heart and soul to the community around you, leaving little pieces of you for them to decipher.  Your impact will mean something different to everyone.  Some people won’t even notice it or care.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set your words free, and let them fly.  That you shouldn’t open your eyes and see the world, all while letting the world see you a little bit clearer along the way.  

Dream Big,

Paige