Happy 2017, Friends!!!
It’s already off to an AMAZING start for me, and I hope the same is true for you. <3
It’s funny how 2016 was officially declared a crappy year toward the end. I saw sooo many statuses along the lines of “2016 wasn’t my favorite, but I have high hopes for next year!” or “All the lows of this past year definitely made me stronger,” or even just “Good riddance 2016, ya big jerkface!!!!”
When the internet even started rolling out hilarious 2016 hate memes, I thought, “Wait………. the fact that 2016 sucked is an *Official Thing*, universally acknowledged by pop culture? Wow, I thought it was just me and my year!”
Often people don’t really acknowledge tough times until they’re over, which is understandable. I definitely downplayed my problems this past year too. I mean, sure there were posts like this one, but there were also a lot of struggles I didn’t mention at the time. After all, a blogger must focus somewhat on providing answers rather than questions, and “How I fixed ABC” rather than just “I’m battling XYZ” posts. A reader has their own stuff they’re dealing with. A reader wants honesty, but they also want ideas and how-to’s and insight and entertainment.
A reader wants to be inspired.
(You do, right? Not trying to presume here!!! )
“Inspiration” is such a beat-to-death word in the blogosphere but I’ll be darned if it’s not still an important one. And an important concept. And an important feeling. And an important part of life and new beginnings and fresh vigor.
This mid-monthly mashup (my first since the June one about body positivity and my girl crush!) is all about inspiration. So without further ado, here are a few things that have been inspiring me:
Tales of the Jazz Age
Whenever I don’t read for month or two and then pick up a new book, I wonder, “Why don’t I ALWAYS read?”
It’s good stuff, reading.
Especially when the collection of short stories is by my main man F. Scott.
(Raise your hand if you’re a pretty blonde girl and F. Scott Fitzgerald is your favorite author… Ugh I thought so. Even Serena Van Der Woodsen’s favorite book is The Beautiful and Damned. When I was younger, I felt so deep and important for loving Fitzgerald. Then at some point I realized I was a walking, breathing stereotype. But, like, whatevs. 😉 )
Fitzgerald marries dysfunction and romance in a lavish ceremony that never fails to permeate my senses. There’s something about that era. The peppy slang, the extravagant clothes, the strong drinks in glittering glasses. The frequency with which he uses the word “glittering”.
There’s something about the decadent selfishness and excessive beauty of his characters. The appeal he weaves into their floundering.
Sometimes I’m just awed by how talented he was. The opening of “The Camel’s Back” was one of those moments. Fitzgerald took a minute to drily joke about how usually such story titles were metaphors, whereas in the case of this one he meant it literally. I’m not actually sure why that part was what struck me, but I just had a “Wow, not only was this man a master of his craft, but he even knows how to poke fun at his craft eloquently” moment.
Fitzgerald’s books have been a constant for me during the past decade. No matter my school, job, city, friendships, relationships, family life, etc… they’ve been there. And they’ve always made me feel good.
In our modern world of curated photographs and crisp lines and definitive judgements, I appreciate the fluidity of his complex, fragrant language. I appreciate his sheer talent, the permission to not have it all together all the time, the characters that are frequently neither all good nor all bad. But always beautiful.
I also love that Fitzgerald inspires me to write.
I have so many blog post and short story ideas that saturate my mind during runs or in the shower, but never leave my hands. I want to be better about that.
Tales of the Jazz Age wouldn’t inspire anyone if it’d never left the fog of Fitzgerald’s bathroom. And though I would never be vain enough to put my writing anywhere near his, we do have that much in common.
The Velvet Trend
Speaking of old school romance, there is something about the velvet trend that just makes my heart happy. I’ve loved velvet ever since I was little. I want to buy anything and everything in the lush, glamorous fabric. Putting on my new favorite PJ set just makes me more joyful than putting on any other PJ set. This dress in black and these shoes in cobalt blue are also part of the collection.
I actually paired the shoes with my favorite black Topshop romper for a Parkshore Grill date last night. Stephen took me out to celebrate something really exciting!!! I can’t mention quite yet what it is, but we had a blast!! (I know, I know, recently I’ve just been mentioning purchases and outfits rather than actually photographing them. But I enjoy writing so much more than photo editing…)
Anyway, here are a few more items I’d like to add to my closet:
Spencer on Pretty Little Liars
Okay you can laugh. 😉
As I discussed in this post, one of my biggest struggles of the past year was feeling a lack of accomplishment. I mean, sure I started this blog and did some soul-searching, but I didn’t have any major tangible, measurable successes.
Not to blow my own horn, but in the past I was somewhat used to having those.
In fact, sometimes I had those types of successes instead of actual real self-esteem. I remember certain moments in college where I thought, “So-n-so might be prettier and facier than I am, but unlike her [poppin’, spandex-wearing] ass, I have a near-perfect 3.8 GPA in the honors college, a boyfriend, and a job. Much better than making the rounds through every bedroom at Pike, drinking too much tequila, and raking in the C minuses.”
Nasty little thing you were, Maya Circa 2011!!!
Kidding-ish. I cut myself some slack for being a 20-year-old at a college with one of the most attractive female populations in the country. Any FSU girl who feels wonderful about herself 24/7 and never struggles with self-esteem is either Superwoman or a robot.
And it’s not like I thought like that all the time. Much like the girls sleeping over with random frat boys, I just sometimes looked in less-than-totally-healthy places for validation. I was hiding crippling insecurity behind a wall of superior pretense… even though I also sometimes drank too much
tequila vodka. And my Freshman year, I made a C+ in Math For Idiots 101. (#EnglishMajorProbs). And being in a relationship doesn’t make you better than anyone. And shaming women for their sexuality is both archaic and un-feminist.
But I digress.
In 2015, I gained a lot more real self-esteem. That year was so go-go-go that I didn’t have time to think about anyone besides my life and what I was doing with it. I was selfish, but in a good way. Not having time to compare yourself to others can work wonders for your priorities.
Then the infamous 2016 hit, and I was forced to slow down.
The words “slow down” were never part of my vocabulary. Have I ever told you guys about the time in 4th grade where I panicked for 5 weeks straight because I thought I was going to make a B in Science on my progress report? It wasn’t even a REAL report card; it was a mere progress report.
And I ended up getting an A.
What I’m trying to say is that being an achiever was ingrained in me my entire life, and was (for better or worse) a huge part of my identity.
In the past, I felt like I was constantly being measured. And I was. Teachers and professors evaluated me with grades. Bosses evaluated my work performance. As a model, I was measured all the time… literally.
Everyone in this world is measured.
In a way, it was freeing to slow down and focus on a passion project last year. To take a deep breath and do some thinking. To not have any teachers or professors or bosses in my life (even though I’ve been lucky enough to have a slew of amazing ones overall). To have a husband who could take care of my essentials. To not need to worry about anything.
But then it started to drive me bat shit crazy.
I was an achiever.
I AM an achiever.
I want to be tested and measured and feel triumphant when I make a 97 in an upperclassmen level Shakespeare class (Freshman year…same semester I made the C+ in math) and receive compliments from my bosses and take a Soul Cycle class so hard that I slam my knee on the bike and start bawling about being separated from my fiance’ and my hip measurements and my parents’ divorce and how much I want to achieve my modeling goals and accomplishment and financial struggles and wedding planning and fulfillment and everything else that poured out of me in that dark humid room on that pain-and-candlight-and-self-pity-and-music-and-catharsis-and-endorphin-drenched Brooklyn afternoon.
Believe it or not, that Soul Cycle class is one of my favorite New York memories.
I want to be tested again.
I want to ride the journey of life harder, even if it involves some blood, sweat and tears.
And Spencer’s skinny little psycho self inspires me.
(Had you forgotten I was talking about Pretty Little Liars? Yeah me too.)
Spencer reminds me of myself, of who I used to be when I was in school. Just arguably a better version.
Spencer is smart, competitive, and feisty. And unlike me when I was in school, she rarely has trouble speaking her truth. Or standing up for what she believes. Or having what seems like a pretty healthy, robust sense of confidence for a high schooler.
She’s unabashedly herself.
Spencer makes me want to turn off the TV and write a blog post or an article for Arclight (Stephen’s company). She makes me want to clean the apartment and eat clean for dinner so that I can have long elegant gazelle-like legs that look as good as hers do in skinny jeans and riding boots.
Spencer’s character is a reminder that I can start a new chapter of life.
I can push myself harder without regressing to circa 2011 poor self esteem and negative thoughts. I can be competitive without being snide toward other women. I can be competitive with myself. I can enjoy being good at the things I’m good at, rather than constantly questioning whether I’m actually good enough. And when times roll around that I’m not good at things and I just keep hitting my knee on the bike or I make a C+ in Math for Idiots 101… I’ll keep right on trying. (In fact, I just finished an episode in which another character references Spencer’s ability to quickly “bounce back quickly” from hardships.)
I’ve had to leave a lot my past self in the past. Trust me, spending hours evaluating whether [Name of Facey Sorority Sister Redacted] didn’t see me on her way to class or just didn’t bother to make eye contact is NOT the way to live a joyful life. And then mentally listing all the ways in which I was better than she (even though deep down I felt worlds beneath her) is NOT the way to lead a fulfilling existence.
Spencer doesn’t think about those things. Like me in 2015, she has enough on her plate. She’s busy chasing down A, being smarter than her 3 best friends combined (damn, there I go comparing again! #oldhabitsdiehard) and generally being a boss babe.
I guess I’ve never had a phase of my life in which I felt both super accomplished and deeply at peace with myself. And perhaps a subconscious part of me is afraid of accomplishment because I associate it with stress, negativity, and constant comparison.
I’m done with that though. I’m ready to channel my inner Spencer again. I’m ready to achieve and be intense. And, this time around, I want to have a rip-roaring good time while doing it.
Does all of this seem crazy?
Maybe I should keep deep evaluations of my teenager-starring guilty pleasure show to myself. 😉
But maybe Spencer Hastings inspires you too…?