a little growing up to do

Going into college, I thought I was a super mature person ready to conquer the adult world. I thought I had it all planned out.

I wrote for a few websites. I had an internship. This was before I turned 18.

Surely, by the time I was actually 18, I would be spending my summers in New York City in a big magazine office. Surely, I would have a neatly organized resume and I would have everything figured out.

It’s true that I’ve always gotten along better with people who are older than I am. I feel more in my comfort zone in an office building than at a party. But these things alone don’t mean that I’ve completely “grown up.”

What I’ve learned is that college is about learning, and I still have more of it to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually awesome. It’s actually an adventure.

Things have shifted. Some of the people and places that used to feel like home don’t anymore. Some still do. And I have some new relationships that I value more than I could’ve ever imagined.

The same work doesn’t excite me anymore. I’ve found new endeavors. I’ve kept some of the same ones. I’ve finally learned to quit, because before, I just kept making new commitments without giving any up. I’ve learned to prioritize. I’ve learned that not everything goes as you expect it to, but everything works out in some way or another.

A year ago today, as I was sitting in a high school classroom, did I think I’d be spending one of my first days of summer blogging in a local coffeeshop that I’ve been going to all my life? No. Of course not.

But am I unhappy here? No. Of course not.

I’m happy to be here. I’m happy with the work I’m doing. Everything is a learning experience, and I truly believe I need this summer at home. I need to do some soul searching in the most constant, familiar place I could be.

A few months ago, I planned on attending a conference on campus. Instead, I slept through half of it then woke up with a fever. I went to the doctor’s office instead of the conference. That isn’t the decision I would’ve made months ago. Months ago, I would’ve said “no, I’m fine” and I would’ve gone to the conference. I would’ve thought it was the most “adult” decision I could’ve made. But it wouldn’t have been. I needed to see a doctor. I needed to rest. I needed to take a break.

And being able to know when that’s the case, and not ignoring it, is a new skill I’ve acquired.

I thought I’d be spending my summer in New York, working at a magazine and keeping up with my online work. In reality, I’m quitting most of my online work. I haven’t outgrown my clothes in years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow mentally and emotionally. I’ve outgrown certain experiences and places. They may still find their way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I should keep wearing them just because they fit.

Yesterday I bought a pair of “adult” shoes. Heels. Shoes that I used to not be able to walk in. Those shoes don’t make me an adult. But they make me feel confident. I’ve outgrown my flats that keep me closer to the ground. I’m ready to stand taller and dream bigger.

I used to think dreaming big meant doing as much as I could. Now I see it as doing what makes me happiest. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do what feels best for me.

They say, “if the shoe fits…” but it shouldn’t simply fit. It should feel both comfortable and uncomfortable. It should make you feel both lost and amazing.

To some people, maybe the work I’m doing is less impressive now. Maybe the heels make me look like I’m trying too hard. But I don’t care. This is the time to try on new things. I shouldn’t just keep settling for what kind of, sort of fits if it doesn’t make me feel awesome.

Paige Sheffield 

Advertisements

2 years ago

I started this blog two years ago, which is amazing to me because in my mind, this blog is just beginning. I am just figuring it out. And despite what I try to convince myself, I’m just figuring my general goals out too.

If you’ve kept up with my blog throughout these two years, you might know that several moments in my life reminded me to not always be so obsessed with planning. And yet, despite those moments, I often fall back into my excessive planning. In order to stop myself from planning so much, I’ve had to have and write about several major “realizations”-and I’m still learning. Two years later.

And that’s the problem with planning: everything is a learning experience, and you have no idea where you’ll be in one year or two years or ten years. You have no idea where new places and people and thoughts and ideas will take you.

Two years ago, I had no way of predicting where I’d be today. I didn’t know where I was going to college or what I was studying or who I’d be friends with or what kind of career I’d want or anything. I didn’t know anything but who I was in that moment, and who I wanted to be in that moment.

In this moment, two years later, I am the same charismatic person who plans too much but sees beauty in spontaneity that she tries to remind herself to embrace. But I’m not going to the college I thought I’d go to or studying what I thought I’d study or doing anything that I’d imagined myself doing.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of doubts. I’ve been worried that I have no idea what I want to do for a career because I want to do so many things and I don’t know what my dream job is and I don’t think it exists yet. But I shouldn’t be spending my time doubting myself. I should be spending my time exploring. Because in this moment, I am in control of my attitude and my actions.

Two years have passed and this blog is just beginning. Two years have passed and I’m still figuring everything out. And that’s okay. I’m always in a rush, trying to think of what to see and do and experience next. But in this moment, I am taking a deep breath and experiencing the world around me.

Dream big,

Paige

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.

authenticity

Sometimes I really don’t think I’m cut out for this.

I’m not competitive. I’m not one to “push my way to the top” if it means harming other people. I’m not one to “fake it until I make it.”

I guess I don’t really struggle with being myself. Instead, I am always myself. I can’t avoid it. I can’t pretend not to be.

I’m always awkward and sarcastic. I’m always affected by the world in ways I can’t avoid. I can’t pretend to be put together. I wear my hair frizzy and messy no matter where I’m going. I don’t have a firm handshake and if you asked me to describe myself, I would rattle off the honest details. I wouldn’t say, “yeah, well, my one big flaw is that I’m a perfectionist.” That is not a flaw. That is a way to frame your perceived good characteristics as bad characteristics and make it seem like the only thing wrong with you is that you’re perfect.

There is nothing wrong with you or with me, but we are imperfect and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with admitting that. I’m okay with making first impressions that aren’t tailored and perfected in front of a mirror. I’m okay with babbling sometimes and sometimes forgetting to talk because I’m too busy listening. I’m okay with being emotional yet sarcastic and snarky and cynical. I’m okay with expecting more from people than I sometimes should. I’m okay with helping people again and again, even though I know if they had the opportunity to step ahead of me, they would take it. I’m okay with over-analyzing situations and being possessive of my dreams. I’m okay with frizzy hair and chipped nail polish. (I woke up like this, #flawless).

And I realize as I write this, I am okay with falling a step behind if it means being authentic. I would rather push through a few extra obstacles than “fake it until I make it.” I would rather go about my work honestly than betray myself and others.

I’m okay with admitting that I am cut out for this, even though I don’t fit within the traditional standards of who you think I should be. Even though I can’t pretend to be that person.

am cut out for this. Me. Not a perfected clone with a tailored resume of jobs held without passion. Me. Not someone who can walk in heels or always find the right words to say. Me. Not someone who says all of the “right” answers. Just me. 

And that’s good enough. That’s better than anything I could ever pretend to be.

You are cut out for this. The real you. You, you, you. Not some made-up version of who you think you should be.

a bundle of the future & nostalgia

“I want to know your plans, and how involved in them I am.” – Say Anything

Lately, I’ve been listening to “I Want to Know Your Plans” by Say Anything on repeat. That first line just really gets me. To me, it simply and sweetly expresses every big moment in our lives; every time that we explore something new, and move on from what we knew before. Every time we leave. Every time we both end and begin. It sounds like the grand finale; one big closing moment to wrap up all of the stories accumulated throughout the years.
And it brings me mixed feelings, because while I’ve been waiting to graduate for a long time, I also think about all of the people I’ve met. And how involved they are in my future.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time in my community, and it reminds me of how many people I know and how they’ve impacted me. And then there are my best friends. We’re all going to completely different places. In fact, we almost couldn’t be going any further from each other when I really think about it. I imagine standing underneath the beaming sunlight, laughing with them as this song plays slowly and everything falls away from me yet into place at the same time. More of July 095

I know that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. I know that what I have here doesn’t just go away. But the reality is that I’ll never be here in the same way that I was before, and though that’s something I’ve imagined for so long, I can’t truly comprehend it.

All of my memories are here. All of my friends were here. Everyone I know is here.

And I’m leaving. More of July 041

I’m off to accomplish my dreams and I’m excited and happy and completely in awe. I love my plans. I know what’s a part of them. But until now, I never really thought about who would be a part of them.

Throughout high school, my friends said things like “I hope we stay in touch.” They’d talk about the future and having get-togethers as adults and I thought they were crazy. I’m not always the most sentimental person I know. But now, as I think about my best friends and how abnormal yet incredible they are and how we’ve grown together and how we’ve been together throughout this crucial point in our lives, I realize that I’m not ready for this ending. I realize that I don’t want this ending to come along with my new beginning. I realize that though my plans are beautiful and exciting and amazing, they’re also not complete without the pieces of my past. The pieces that have made me who I am.

My friends are irreplacable.

And I realize that, deep down, though I’ve spent so much time struggling to admit it, “I want to know [their] plans, and how involved in them I am.”

 

Dream big,

Paige

 

one year

A year ago, I began my journey through the online community. Before this point, I was a little hesitant to put myself out there and display my feelings to the world; I found comfort in my private, locked away journals that no one would ever read.

But there was also that burning desire inside of me; the burning desire to raise my voice, not later, but now.

For too long, I dreamed about doing things. I needed to start. This was my beginning, and though I haven’t blogged much, I have grown so much since starting this blog.

The readers I do have, however few, have offered me more support than I ever imagined. I have grown so much as a writer and a dreamer and a person. 

I want the growth that I know exists to be evident on this blog as well. I want to dedicate time to this blog and truly pour my heart out into it. This blog is completely mine: my words, my stories, my scattered thoughts. I want it to express that. I want to take advantage of that.

I have this beautiful medium at my fingertips and too often, I set it aside. I originally started this blog to declare my voice; to make a statement, to tell stories, to navigate through my crazy goals and dreams. 

I’ve grown. But I don’t want to stop growing. And I don’t want this blog to stop growing, either. 

In just one year, I’ve learned so much, and yet there is still so much to learn. I want to keep learning and growing and dreaming. 

 

Dream big,

Paige 

Happily Ever After

Nearly everyone dreams of a happily ever after. And when one says “happily ever after”, a few things instantly come to mind: ball gowns, carriages, prince charming, glitter, a fairy godmother, singing birds.

But is that really all a happily ever after is composed of? The way “happily ever after” is portrayed in the fairy tales makes it seem as if life doesn’t move on after that. As if the story doesn’t progress. As if no more moments are experienced and no more memories are made. Happily ever after is incredibly vague, and therefore, different for everyone.

But to me, personally, happily ever after means that the story keeps going. That there are downfalls mixed in between, and faults within the storybook pages, but still the chapters continue. To me, happily ever after means being strong and happy, regardless of the things that get in your way. Of course, there are times that you’re going to be sad. There are times when you’re going to feel lost, furious, confused, unsure, depressed, anxious, disturbed. At some points, your heart will feel so cold and you’ll feel like there’s nothing left.

But what happily ever after means to me is moving on. Happily ever after means coming to terms with reality (even though it’s not as visibly pretty as fantasy) and turning it into something beautiful. No, I don’t mean making the tragedy beautiful. I mean seeing beauty in a world that you could easily view as permanently ugly. Seeing hope in a world that you could easily lose faith in. Warming up a heart that you could easily let freeze.

Happily ever after isn’t by any means perfection. It isn’t this state of bliss that never changes, never takes a turn for the worst.

So maybe you and your boyfriend broke up, and the ending was no “happily ever after.” But remember the time when you danced in that pastel sundress without a care in the world? Remember the time when you watched the sky until the sunset went black and revealed an array of stars? Remember when you sat back and laughed at the simplest jokes, told stories, and learned to dream again? Or perhaps you lost someone who meant the world to you, and it was so sudden and shocking that you’re not sure you’ll ever be the same again. Don’t forget the times when that person made you smile. Don’t forget what you loved about that person. Don’t forget all that you once had because you lost it.

Because even if everything isn’t perfect, and you don’t have a prince, and your carriage is a beat up pick-up truck and your glass slipper is a running shoe…

even if it’s midnight and you’re all alone, and you used to get letters in the mail but now you just get cable bills, and the closest thing you have to a fairy godmother is your weird third cousin who likes to wear a cape and chant rhymes whenever you walk in the room…

there is still beauty in the world left for you to see, somewhere. There are still people who love you, and people who care about you. There is still hope. You’re still writing the story of your happily ever after. Don’t write “the end” yet. Just believe.

Dream Big,

Paige