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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If this were a movie

College was not what I expected in any way. That’s not really a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just the truth.

Today I went to a choir concert and there, I released the emotions I had held back. I started crying in the middle of a choir concert for reasons I couldn’t quite identify.

If this were a movie, it would fade to black right there, with me sitting in the back row of a crowded, dark concert hall, directly in the center and crying as the singers slowly and soulfully repeated, “no one’s gonna hurt you.”

And I thought, “well, that’s where you’re wrong.” I sat surrounded by people yet alone. So close yet distant, so many accumulated moments leaving me with nothing but empty yet crowded rooms and vague songs in the background.

I thought about how this year was so many things then nothing. And people did hurt me. And memories hurt me. And fears hurt me.

When movies end that way, I often interpret it as the main character being broken, as life just not working out the way people want it to, as nothing making sense.

Nothing makes sense. I don’t know what I’m doing. The artsy films I watched in class last semester feel like my own old, distant memories. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift takes me to the deep and vivid fall colors when I thought I was starting to understand. “Style” takes me to spring when I drank lots of coffee in the weak sunlight, everything slowly unraveling around me. The artsy movie would make it seem like I only went backwards. Like I knew who I was before I came here, and then all of that was ruined.

But the truth is, college taught me that I never really knew. I’m not back where I started. I’m starting somewhere new. I sit in the back of a dark auditorium. And I think the guys singing know that people will hurt me. I think they know that not everything will always be okay. But I think they know, and I know, that in these moments, we grow.

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

caring

Whenever I care about someone who doesn’t seem to care as much as I do, I feel stupid. I feel stupid and pathetic when I wait for messages that never come, when I spend so much time thinking about people who probably never think about me, when I let people who I’m so unimportant to become so important to me. Yet I continue to do all of those things, not usually on purpose.

In the past, if I would’ve been able to not care, I would’ve taken the opportunity. Not caring is easier. Not caring hurts less. Not caring keeps you moving towards your goals and focusing on yourself rather than spending so much time and energy on this random other person who probably doesn’t care about you at all anyways.

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t check my phone for messages. I would keep writing stories and dreaming and believing in myself.

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t waste time on social media searching for hints and answers. What went wrong? Why doesn’t this person care about me as much as I care about them? Why why why?

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have to wonder why I care. I wouldn’t play back scenes in my head over and over again. I wouldn’t try to re-create the magic. I wouldn’t over-analyze every situation. I would just let those moments be as simple as they were. As beautiful as they were.

If I didn’t care, the memories and songs and places I used to love wouldn’t start to annoy me. I wouldn’t think of a person whenever I walked a certain way or heard a certain song. I could just go about my daily life, aloof and apathetic and unaffected.

But I’ve realized that I don’t want to be any of those things. I would rather care than go through life only concerned with issues that directly impact me. I would rather care than not know what it feels like to love or care about someone, even if they don’t share the feelings. I would rather feel hurt than feel nothing.

And that’s what it truly comes down to: feeling something or nothing.

The “something” is complicated. It’s messy and painful and wonderful and amazing and awful and brilliant and annoying. It can be all-consuming at times. It can make you feel lost and lonely and unsure when you felt okay before. When you were fine on your own before.

But the “nothing” is exactly what it sounds like: nothing. Okay. Fine.

We’re okay on our own. But when we let other people’s worlds melt into our own, when we open our hearts up and share our stories, when we let other people’s stories touch us in a way that we can’t escape, we hurt and we wonder and we feel. We see something more. We become something more.

It’s never easy. Listening to people talk and reading tragic headlines and opening your heart up to new people is painful. But I’ve come to one conclusion recently: caring isn’t stupid.

I refuse to see myself as an idiot because I was honest with myself and the world. Because I let other people’s words travel onto the pages of my life and become part of my story. It doesn’t matter if my name makes it to their stories. I’m Paige. I’m learning and exploring and opening myself up to the world around me. And I’m not stupid.

Keep caring,

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.

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