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 

get lost

When I went to the store the other day, I almost bought a necklace that read, “get lost.” To some people, the phrase is an insult, like “go away,” but I don’t read it that way. To me, “get lost” is a motto. A mantra. A blunt, honest reminder. The exact kind of reminder I need.

I’m constantly focused on what’s going on in my own world, and much of my “own world” is actually my email inbox and my twitter feed. I never unplug. I never take a break. In some way or another, I’m always working or thinking about working or at the very least thinking about how I should be working. I spend hours a day searching through internship and job opportunities. I’m always searching for job titles and bylines and whatever else I can find that seems like a concrete stepping stone toward my career. If I take those steps, then I will somehow “find myself.” Find my true passion or purpose or calling.

But why are we so obsessed with this idea of “finding ourselves?” And why do we try to make it into such an orderly, step-by-step process when we’re clearly complex individuals?

When I try to “find myself,” I discover what words to write on my resume. I determine what classes to take and what internships I want and what clubs to join. I find job titles and labels and descriptions that could never possibly describe all of who a person is or what she has done.

Nothing amazing has ever come from trying to “find myself.”

All of the magic I’ve discovered and created has come from getting lost. Losing myself. Stumbling from those seemingly concrete stepping stones that my mind built for me when I was too concerned about what the world thought of me. When I was too concerned about how it would all look on paper.

I lose myself in music and my writing and beautiful books and inspiring magazines and places that seemingly spin the world around and make you question everything you once thought you knew for sure. I can spend hours working on a story and completely lose sense of time. Time does not exist when real stories are happening. Resumes do not exist when you’re out there truly learning and bettering yourself. Your overflowing inbox does not really matter when lyrics and poetry and beautiful, interesting people are sending you real messages: the kind of messages that you try endlessly to remember every word of, but you can’t. You can only remember nostalgic snippets of how you felt when the words hit you hard. You don’t even think to look at your phone during these moments; you are just there, drowning in a story that touches you deeply as you dive into the indefinite waves without the concern of how it will look or what people will think or exactly where it will take you.

You’re just there. Lost. In the exact place you should be even though you never thought you needed it.

The moments that impact us the most aren’t ones that we can plan. They’re not ones that we could ever anticipate mattering in the way that they do. We never expect one sentence or one film or one city or one person to change us entirely, yet they can. But only when we let go a little bit. Only when we realize that “get lost” is the exact opposite of “go away”: stay awhile. Take the world in. Lose yourself in the music. It won’t be concrete, but it’ll take you somewhere.

And more often than not, somewhere is a lot better than where you intended on going.

Get lost,

Paige

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.

what stopped me before

This is something I often forget, a misplaced memory that I usually don’t let resurface. I remembered today when I was thinking about how I went from not doing much to doing everything that I could. The memory slapped me in the face.

I had this moment of extreme doubt during my sophomore year of high school. Well, that was when it really hit me. It started in 8th grade when a boy from my school commented on something I had written online, calling me a terrible writer.

Eventually, I think I forgot about that. Flash forward to sophomore year: the same boy told me that I should never join the school newspaper because I was awful and they wouldn’t want me on staff. I tried to play it off as “no big deal,” telling everyone that he was just a jerk. But in reality, I didn’t join the paper that year. I didn’t join the paper the following year, either. I didn’t join the paper until my senior year, after he stopped going to my school. 

I could come up with a million other reasons why I didn’t join the paper sooner, but that’s the reason. That’s the truth. I let the words of someone else who didn’t even really know me stop me. I let him get in the way of my dreams. I let him stop me from doing what I really wanted to do. Because I believed him. I believed him when he said you’re not good enough.

And I realize that it’s bound to happen again. I’m bound to hear someone tell me that my words fall flat, that my sentences fall short of what they should be, that I really, really just suck at doing what I love. 

But that’s something that I’m choosing not to believe in anymore.

The Kooks sing “don’t believe in things that don’t believe in you.”

In many ways, I’m an optimist. I believe in listening to everyone. I believe in believing in everyone. I believe in believing to my fullest capacity, with all of the strength and courage and hope I can muster up.

But I shouldn’t use that strength to believe in my own doubts that have been reinforced by someone else. I shouldn’t use it to believe in someone else’s words over the ones that come from within me. I shouldn’t use it to believe in something that can only destroy me. 

Just believe. But I realize now that I don’t have to believe people when they tell me I’m useless. I don’t have to believe people when they tell me I’m going nowhere. I don’t have to believe people when all they really want to do is stop me from believing in myself. 

Believe in yourself.

Yes, I think that’s something that I can finally, finally believe in.

 

Dream big,

Paige 

 

the truth

I’m not often one to display my emotions in public. Because of this, I’ve gotten various comments such as “you don’t seem like the type of person who cries very often” or “you seem so sure of yourself.”

I have two main problems with these statements.

1) Just because I don’t often display my emotions doesn’t mean that I don’t have any.

2) Just because some people display their emotions doesn’t mean they’re weak.

Holding back what I feel sometimes in no way makes me strong. I think being in touch with your emotions and owning them is one of the most powerful traits you can possess. Because when we, as humans, hide our emotions, we’re hiding something important: the truth.

The truth is that we’re human and we feel things. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not something that makes us weak. 

The truth is that I sometimes read through old messages. I let the words hit me, just wanting them to give me the butterflies they gave me before, but the words feel old and word out. Out of context. Like they belong to someone else. Like they were never really mine and I never really read them the right way. They lose their magic, just like that, and yet I continually let it happen. 

I try to repeat the previous night, playing it out in my head and thinking about what could’ve happened differently, knowing that I can’t change a thing. 

I hold on to so many things, just waiting for them to come back to life. Just letting the faded memories make me feel guilty somehow, like I should’ve held on longer. Like I should’ve somehow kept everything going all at once, even though I never possibly could. 

I constantly try to recreate butterflies but it leaves me empty. We can’t create butterflies out of feelings and moments and people that have flown away from us. We have to get out there and let ourselves feel again.

More of July 094

That’s right-feel again. Because feeling isn’t stupid or worthless or “feminine” or pathetic. It’s human. Letting our feelings guide us and motivate us isn’t foolish. If we don’t chase after what we feel to be right, what we really believe in, what we love fully and imperfectly, we can’t expect to ever end up where we want to be. We can’t expect to be happy. 

I’m trying to embrace my feelings. I’m trying to chase my dreams despite my rapid conflicting thoughts. I’m trying to chase after what I want without feeling ashamed of it.

Because we’ll never feel butterflies if we just keep watching them fly away. 

 

Paige Sheffield