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 

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Things I learned this year

1. I am a major nerd and embracing that is so much fun.

I went into college thinking I would major in journalism and minor in design. Then I started taking college classes and remembered how every subject intrigues me. I try to go to all events that I can and I just really, really love to learn. I didn’t used to think I would go to grad school. Now I realize I might keep going to school for many years because I want to learn everything.

2. I can get a BS and still be a badass.

During my first semester, I learned about growth vs. deficiency motivation, which basically means there is no such thing as a bad decision, just a decision made for a bad reason. I used to make a lot of those. I used to hold myself back with the dumbest excuses. I originally wanted to get a BA to be different. I wanted to do so many things just to be different. But even though I’m going to get a BS now, I’m still different. I’m still the same person and I should make decisions without worrying about other people’s opinions of me.

3. I have a lot of inner strength.

I’ve had to regularly deal with some interesting people. I spent much of this year listening to people freak out about the littlest things and convincing them that it would all be okay. But in turn, I realized that all of the little things I used to worry about aren’t a big deal and I’m a stronger person because of it. I’ve embraced the idea that “you live and you learn,” because even some of my worst moments have been great learning experiences. As long as I’m learning, I’m growing stronger, and I don’t regret the mistakes I’ve made.

4. I shouldn’t wait around.

I often wait for people to approach me. This actually only applies to my relationships with people because career wise, I go after what I want. People have questioned me about this, asking me why I fearlessly approach my career goals but shy away from letting people know what I really think. I guess I don’t have an answer. What I will say is that the song “Almost” by Bowling For Soup is basically my love life in a nutshell because it seems that every story I have about relationships contains the word “almost.” I have this problem where I don’t want to appear needy or too interested, but then I just look like I don’t care at all and people get bored. One time, I almost took control and went after what I wanted. My goal is to delete “almost” from that sentence.

5. I’m always learning.

As I said before, mistakes are cool. Mistakes build me into the person I am. And mistakes used to terrify me. Now, I’ve messed up so many times that it really doesn’t faze me that much. It all goes back to growth vs. deficiency motivation; if I had a good reason for doing something and it had a bad outcome, I don’t want to regret it. Because not doing something because I’m afraid of screwing up is definitely deficiency motivation.

6. I don’t know what I’m doing (and it’s beautiful).

I used to find comfort in being “sure of myself” and having everything together. Then my second semester of college rolled around and I started juggling so many things because of my numerous interests and I started waking up right before class (I used to go to class half an hour early). Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to do so many things. I have to prioritize and maybe some people think my priorities are misguided at times (I know they do. I’ve been told). But if I tried to pretend like I knew exactly what I was doing, I would never discover anything new. Before I started college, I didn’t even know what anthropology was and now I’m studying it. It’s pretty cool, and avoiding the opportunity to grow like that is no fun at all.

7. I should be more spontaneous.

I would say that the majority of my best experiences were not planned whatsoever. Unexpected things change you and you can’t predict it.

8. I should prioritize my health too.

I often choose to drink coffee rather than sleep. I sleep for about two hours per night. Then I got sick one day and slept through my classes and the doctor mentioned mono. I realized that I can’t let myself get to the point where I put everything else before my health.

9. My career doesn’t have to be what I always planned on it being.

Over the weekend, I had a bit of an identity crisis, which I admittedly have fairly often because I’m interested in so many things. I started thinking that I’m not sure if I can spend all of my time writing about cool things instead of doing cool things. I try to do both, but it can be difficult to manage. Even though no one ever told me to be a journalist, it’s what I’ve planned on for so long that it just feels like what I’m “supposed” to do. I recently remembered that the possibilities are endless, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring those possibilities. I am a writer for sure. But I am also many other things and I want to create a career where I can use many of my passions. I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing if it doesn’t make me happy. My career isn’t about them or what they want; it’s about me and what I love.

10. Embrace new beginnings. 

Have I ever been in love? Yes. With my fall semester of college. I just have so many feelings about my first semester of college and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still find something new. I’ve been trying to hold onto that semester, re-watching the films I watched in class before walking home on fall evenings, listening to the songs that I played on repeat as I discovered more about myself, missing the buildings and classes where I met my first college friends. My fall semester was magical, and I can by all means hold onto that magic. But there is magic elsewhere too. I tend to view everything in terms of “the end.” The end of the semester. The end of the year. The end of the relationship. The end of the best moments I’ve ever had. Instead I should focus on the beginning. I should trust my ability to discover and create magic again, even if it’s not the same as before. It could even be better. But I’ll never know if I’m so caught up in the ending, dwelling on the perception that the best moments have already concluded.

It’s almost the end of the semester. Or maybe it’s almost the beginning of a magical summer, an extraordinary second year of college, and more adventures to come.

This realization hit me yesterday and I proceeded to change the wallpaper on my phone for the first time since last summer. In the morning, I went to a building I’ve never gone into before. I decided that I want to live on the opposite side of campus instead of staying where I am. It’s the simple things that change your world. And I’m beginning to realize that I can’t expect to change the world while leaving my world untouched and unchanged and unaltered. You have to screw up a few times before you can do things right.

Dream big,

Paige

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

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.

a whole new world

That’s what college should feel like, right? A whole new world.

In the media, we see college presented in a way that makes us think we’ll make instant best friends, go to parties every weekend, rarely go to class, and somehow have time to do every possible cool thing ever. 

I had high expectations for college. I imagined myself making tons of new friends, breaking out of my shell, going out a lot, and getting involved on campus in numerous ways.

The reality is that building relationships takes time.

The reality is that for the first week or so, I buried myself within that shell that I wanted to destroy, hiding myself away from everyone.

The reality is that I don’t have time to get involved in everything that I want to because I have class and other obligations.

But college is by no means worse than I expected. Somehow, it’s actually better. Stepping onto this campus did not instantly transform me. I’ve had some great laughs. I’ve destroyed my feet during long walks in ballet flats and sandals. I’ve learned new things in my classes and thought about my life in different ways. I’ve allowed myself to simply live without worrying so much about my future. I’ve met some amazing friends. I’ve embarrassed myself. 

And in the midst of all of this, everything feels so familiar. Within what felt like seconds, I caught onto the rhythms of this new place. I fell into beat as though I had been here along. I made this place my home. And that’s because I’m still me.

I’m still awkward. I’m still an introvert at heart and happy that way. I’m still trying to branch out and talk to more people. I still have big dreams that I’m trying to put to acting in some shape or form. 

College has already opened my mind so much, but nestled within those new lessons is the same girl I’ve always known. Here, she feels free. Here, she feels refreshed. Here, she’s still learning. Here, she can be anything. But I haven’t fully taken advantage of that yet. The movies could never emphasize that enough: You don’t automatically become a new person when you start college. If you want to abandon a piece of your past and improve yourself, you have to put some effort in. You have to start by seeing yourself as more than what people thought you were. You have to start being the person you want to be, rather than watching movies and imagining yourself as the person you want to be. Stop limiting yourself to what people saw within you before. Start showing the world what you see within yourself. Or better yet, what you feel within yourself.

I have to keep reminding myself that I can talk to people. That I can start conversations and that it’s not weird. No one here knows me as the “shy girl,” yet I’m letting myself fall into that all over again by restricting myself to the expectations of my past. 

This is a whole new world. So why would I confine myself within the boundaries I used to live in when I could explore? 

Dream big,

Paige 

 

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