life lessons

Journal Entry 3: 30 Days in Cali…

I’ve been a bad blogger …again. I hope that every time I add to my Journal Entry chronicles, I am not self-confessing my lack of interaction. But yes, I’ve been a bad blogger again.

I’ve been scared. I feel like I’ve used that word a lot since I’ve started my journal entries – but this time around, I’ve been scared that I would jinx the happiness.

These past 30 days have been the best days of my life. 

I promised to myself at the end of 2016 that 2017 was going to be my year – my year to do what’s right for me – my year to be strong, to adventure, to make life happen for myself. I was worried that moving to Cali could actually result in me failing that. I was in a new place with one person to call my friend who had her own life to live. I worked from home, which isn’t the best way to make friends. I had no way to get around, not that I really knew where to go. The cost of living was haunting me. I was scared. I was scared of failure and loneliness.

But then it all so quickly started to fall into place and all that fear went away. And then I was scared to write. The words being printed indefinitely on paper made me feel like they would be left there as a closing and make it all come to an end. I would be jinxed. But before this I ran around the entire house knocking on every piece of wood in sight – so, here goes nothing…

They say that when things are meant to be, they work out in mysterious ways. A large part of me wants to believe that that’s true – that this move was meant to be, that everything happens for a reason, that secretly our inner being knows what’s right for us and gets us there, eventually.

This experience for me thus far has been a fairy-tale… And maybe, just maybe, it’s not a fairy-tale at all – maybe it’s just how life should be, I just haven’t lived like this yet …until now.

Since the immediate second I stepped foot into Santa Barbara I’ve been taken in by my loving cousin who would tear down bridges for me (…literally). She brought me into her world and made me a friend to everyone she knew. I was worried that, like being in a relationship somewhere new, I would then in result be living her life instead of one of my own – but oddly enough, I wasn’t.

I have new cousins who aren’t my cousins at all but have me over for family dinners, and don’t second guess my company when I crash their Sunday beer pong games (even without the OG cuz), whose kids run around calling my name to jump on the trampoline and take silly selfies with me. They add me to their group texts, invite me to movie nights and for glasses of wine and hunt down bagel bites with me at every Starbucks in town.

The same goes for every other friend of my cousins that I’ve been introduced to – I can now call them my own. Every day, without fail, someone is asking me to hang out. Fashion shows, bottle service and sparklers on my birthday, classy parties in giant houses in giant hills, photo-shoot’s, signing my first lease, consuming my body length in burritos, sun bathing on beaches with palm trees in them…

I took my first shot of tequila, drank more in the past 30 days than I have conclusively in my entire life, champed through an oyster shooter and even ate cow just for the sake of the In-N-Out experience.

The list goes on… I went into this experience very scared, overwhelmed, sad… I set my expectations very, very low and did some burying of the excitement I did have. I forced myself, instance after instance, to not get my hopes up.

So now I ask you – Is it really true, when they say what’s meant to be will be? Or is it that we (I) tend to aggressively overthink things into such intense mannerisms that we destroy all sense of hope and expectation until we take the risk, so that it has to end up being more amazing than we anticipated? Maybe knocking our expectations down (not aggressively, but you know what I mean) is what we need sometimes to be grateful and remind us that life and people really are amazing? (Not to get confused here – I mean, get out of your own inner fairy-tale of expectations – I don’t mean let people treat you like sh*t).

I’m not exactly sure what direction I’m going in with this post, because there’s so many different things I’ve learned in my 30 days of this new life so far – So I’ll give you the sum of it:

1. Life is what you make it. Plain and simple. 2. YOLO 3. Take the risk. ALWAYS. 4. It will all work out. 5. If you’re scared to do something that you really want to do, just do it. Chances are at the end of the day it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made. 6. Be kind. Smile wherever you go. Let things roll – it’s usually useless to get worked up. And don’t forget to make friends wherever you go. 7. There really are nice, inviting, friendly people out there – sometimes it just takes time to find them. Don’t let any selfishness and ignorance you’ve experienced with others bleed into your judgments of humans as a whole. 8. Even if it’s not what you want in the moment, force yourself to do what’s best for you (we all have that little gut monster telling us what’s right). You will look back, even in a weeks time, and thank yourself for it. 9. Always be genuinely you. No matter how weird or imperfect it is. If you are raw from the get-go, then your friends will be your friends – everyone will love and choose to have you around for the crazy human that you are, not who you think they want you to be. 10. Look at everything, and yourself, as a constant learning experience. Take it in – all of it.

30 days down, a lifetime to go.

xx,

Al

 

It’s Okay to Have Half-Assed Friends…

It wasn’t until this past weekend visiting home that I realized and understood what a good friend really is. I was dreading the thought of it – being home without a car, staying at my Grandmothers depressing house, having nowhere to even go! I knew the general routine – I spent time with my family and that was that. Rarely did I go home and spend any time with friends from home. It had gotten to the point that they have gone on with their lives without me. Yeah, we still kept in touch and were the same good pals we always were when we did hang out, but my effort was the only one that was present. Relentless texts and calls, to the point my brother snapped, “Are you kidding me? No, do not text her again. Why do you even try,” with a sassy ‘ugh’ and an eye roll. I realized then that I was just making a fool of myself. So, this weekend in particular, I made it clear in advanced that I would be home for the weekend. I wasn’t expecting them to drop their plans at my beck and call because I just so happened to be in town. Yet as predicted, they never called. But it was this visit home in particular that I truly felt I needed them, their comfort, the distraction. And still, nothing.

I had arranged a ride from the airport from a very close family friend who I have known for years, mainly for being best friends with my older brother, but had grown closer to me in the past year or so. She was there to get me, and how grateful I felt. I was intent on expressing my gratitude and desire to spend the day together after I got in, and we did just that. We had spoken briefly of spending some time the next day together as well, but I knew how that went. People have lives, they’re not always there to spend time with me when I need to. Life doesn’t stop for me, nor did I expect it to. It was destined to not happen. And yet it did. She was my mediator for an awkward brunch, my reliable driver and laughter for long car rides to visit my brother, my puppy cuddling, relationship gossiper for the rainy afternoon and she even chose dinner with me over it with her boyfriend. It was all so nonchalant, so natural, so easy. I went away, back to my second home, content and looking happily on the weekends visit – something I didn’t think I would feel. It was then that I realized good friends do exist, and after twenty-one years, I finally had one.

I’m a hopeless romantic, which means I’m an over-emotional, over-caring love giver in all types of relationships I get myself into, and it has always been hard to remember that not everyone is as caring and loving as I am. I would drop anything and everything for someone I care about, and never felt like anyone ever did the same in return, but that’s just who I am. Through much stress and frustration, it is not till this very day that for the first time I’m really starting to understand friendships, on a level I never thought possible, which is why I share this with you…

IT’S OKAY TO HAVE HALF-ASS FRIENDS. Lots of people half-ass their entire lives. Yeah, no, this is no excuse and doesn’t mean it’s okay to have bad friends, but it takes a lot of understanding to realize that even some of the half-ass ones are good friends.

A good friend is a different definition for everyone, but we all know the basic rules and that it takes caring and loving. It takes being there for that person when it really counts; maybe not for all of the weekend visits or random phone calls but when when they miss your birthday two times in a row, thats a deal breaker. When you need a shoulder and they’re never there, deal breaker. When you’re the one waiting all day to spend time with them and cancel all other plans and they go hang with other friends instead, deal breaker (yup, I’ve had to learn the hard way). These are pretty understandable things, but its tough realizing that not all people are going to be as caring as some, and they really just can’t. For many, it’s not in their genes. Not everyone is equal amounts of caring or giving or appreciative or reliable. And it’s not true, that ‘if they’re a real friend, if you really connect and bond and are soul mates, they will be the most caring and loving no matter what’ (this goes for relationships too). Its not like the movies for every person. It’s not all thoughtfulness and love and caring. they may not go to extremes for you like what you would do for them. It’s not taking it personally and understanding that that’s just who they are. It doesn’t mean that they’re not good friends, they may love you unconditionally, be there for you when it counts, and love you just as much as you love them, but don’t have the same level of understanding and ideals in terms of commitment and care that you do. But what makes people best friends are the ones who connects with you because you share the same level of understanding and desire in terms of being a good friend; they would do the same for you that you would do for them.

I’ve had a lot of half-assed friends. They most likely don’t see it as being half-assed, but i do just because I’m the type of person who gives it my everything, and it took my a long time to understand that IT’S OKAY, they’re still GOOD FRIENDS, they’re just not the same type of person I am. Any type of relationship requires balance and having needs fulfilled to make them flourish, but some people will never meet your needs and you either have to accept that they aren’t that type of person and love them anyway, or move on. Maybe you’re not the type to give it you’re all and wear your heart on your sleeve but you need a friend who is, and vice versa. It’s understanding the type of person you are, understanding the type of people you’re dealing with and what will come from the relationship, realizing what you need and accepting what you can’t have and loving them anyway. Man, life’s complicated, as are you and everyone else, and we’re all just trying to figure each other out, one step at a time. We’re all unique in our own way and it’s understanding peoples individualities that make it all so interesting. Therefore, always remember, everyone’s different, and it’s okay.

Falling in Love…

I do this really awful thing, called falling in love…

And I don’t do it casually. I do it madly, deeply, to an extreme; to the point my heart is spilled out on the floor and I’m dragging it wherever I go.

You see, I do this really awful thing, called falling in love… I engulf myself into the lives of others and make it mine, because why would they not love me more that way, involved in what they love? Why would I not love what they love, solely because such a beautiful person loves it? I get lost in the swirling sea of their life.

You see, I do this really awful thing, called falling in love… Their single glance, their tone, their actions towards me dictate my emotions and drowns my days. I take my dragging heart through woods, puddles, let it get stomped on by boots, and yet it still holds on and loves just the same. Maybe stronger because it was so weak.

And that’s why it’s such an awful thing, falling in love. I let my heart fall so brutally to the floor and leave a hole in my chest, with none left for me. It falls so quickly that it has no time to breathe, decide, realize…

Maybe one day, I’ll be a little wiser, softer, lovelier… Maybe one day, it won’t be such an awful thing, falling in love…

 

To the Regina George’s, the Cinderella’s, and all the Carrie Bradshaw’s In-Between…

I’ve felt very strongly about this topic since I moved to one of the richest areas in America, and never felt more compelled to write an article about it than I do now…

Since I was 18 and left home I have been, with the help of very close loved ones who I am so very, dearly lucky to have, living ‘independently’  without the support of my family and it has been hard. Unable to get a loan, shattered credit, ruined chances of financial aid for school, shi**y incomes and no qualifications. I felt like every time I tried to take the next step I hit a new brick wall. A few thousand saved and I finally get a car and it lasts me a mere year. The struggle between wanting to have fun and enjoy now and planning for a future. Arguments on the phone with financial aid officials, trips to the hospital with no health care. The list truly does go on. And I know I’m not the only one young in their 20s and struggling. But here, in this affluent area of families and their cheeky children who think their parents wealth is theirs, I do feel like the only one.

It’s a tiresome, grey day in the glorified Northern VA (NOVA, as they say) and I’ve come to a red light for a left turn to go down a road that leads to a secluded gated community (shock). A grey Mercedes quickly pulls up next to me (shocker #2… don’t you love my sarcasm?) and a blonde head leans forward from the passenger seat and onto the dash, peering at me (past the blonde driver, nonetheless… ok, I swear this is a coincidence; blondes in a Mercedes, shocker #3). She bursts into laughter and they rush away, so fast that before I am even fully around the corner, they’re already turning into the community. What just happened? Is my hair that messy? I mean, I am rocking a pony with a bit of a crazed curl today… but I thought it looked good? What was she laughing at?

And then it hit me like a slap in the face; I’m driving a ’98 Volkswagen Cabrio and they’re swinging around the streets, platinum locks and rap music oozing out of the windows, and here I am, next to them. Why else would she have been staring at me laughing? She definitely couldn’t have been hating on the hair, it was a chaotic masterpiece to say the least. I felt disordered… They just laughed at me…!? And I didn’t even get a chance to flick them off!? I felt like they were Jessica Simpson in Public Affair 

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Or yet worse… the mean girls from White Chicks…

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And I was Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids

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Exactly… hilariously ridiculous to everyone else but taking myself way too seriously.

Alright people I know, there’s no reason to get butt-hurt over some snobby young girls in a Mercedes their Mommy and Daddy got them, and I’m not, but I’m sad. I’m sad for our generation. I’m sad for those girls. I’m sad for my adorable Cabrio named Val. I’m sad for the girls that do grow up getting bullied and real-hurt because of girls like this. As I walked in the door to see my boyfriend I moaned, “I hate young girls in this area. They’re such snobby, rich kids,” (…aka giphy

 

…) and he stopped me. “I’ve lived here longer than you have to find out for myself that there are a lot of people like that, but there are a lot who aren’t. Most of the people I know aren’t.” And of course I rebutted, but only because he made me realize I was being just like them. I was assuming all girls here are like those two (& the many others who I’ve met that are the same… I mean, I did have a point) but he was right. I was generalizing all girls in the area to be snotty, just like those girls were generalizing me to be a (clearly outrageously funny) loser. I was committing the same evil.

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So I write this to everyone, not just to the people who are struggling to be independent in their early 20s while their supported friends and randoms are driving in their parents Mercedes, or even new Toyotas; not just to the people who are obnoxiously flaunting their parents success, or the humble people who have nice things but aren’t, this is for all of you and everyone else. Be humble, stay humble. Be sweet and thoughtful and kind. There are a lot of people who don’t have nice things because they have chosen to make poor decisions in life, then there are people in life who don’t have the nicest things because they’re living a completely different life than you and are working hard every day to create a better life for themselves. There are people who have beautiful expensive things because their parents work hard so their kids can live a life filled with them, but also taught them the moral values of being a good person. How would I know if they were or weren’t a good person by the car they drive or clothes they wear? (unless they are laughing at you from their window…l o l ) Respect that. Respect that everyone has a story to tell and never judge a book by its cover. Be grateful for your assets, big or small, and just always, always, always be kind. You never know what someone else may be going through and how much a small pinch of kindness can change everything. And lastly, to the bullies who think their parents money is theirs, who think money makes you better than others, you’re losing out. You’re losing out on all the things that money can’t buy; respect, kindness, and the people in life that you’ll meet that come along with those values.

(*drops the mic*)

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(I swear, we really are the same person)

Alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creatively Being You Through Style…

It’s beautiful to see kids in their creative, imaginative state of mind, as they throw themselves around the floor pretending to be mermaids and superheroes. It’s just a carpet and a couch, but to them it’s another world and I instantly have flashbacks of how I played just the same as a child. I remember it being so real. I’d flap my mermaid tail in the pool and in those moments it would actually look like the ocean and the sharks would be coming for me; I could feel their pressure and the fear building up inside my chest. How amazingly is the imagination? It’s the magical getaway that I can now as an adult only experience when I go to sleep at night. Luckily for me, I dream nearly every single night and they’re always widely vivid and interesting, but to remember how as a kid you could transform your entire world into a faraway land and actually believe it and see it, is something I wish I could hold onto forever.

Of course it’s the imaginative types that are always claimed to be weird and strange as teens and adults. Like my old neighbor, who’s 16 and runs around his yard alone fighting Jedi’s with his light saber. Don’t get me wrong it can be a bit comical and strange, especially to other high-schoolers who leave their imaginations to gather dust in boxes in their attics; Yet he has so much more than many of us with his ability to use his imagination so vividly. Those are the creators. Unfortunately, at that age it’s all about being what’s “cool” and “popular”, not quirky and different.

I would sit in boring classes in high school and try to force myself to daydream. I wanted to feel the escape of a magical place with magical people and transport myself to my own fairy tale. But as I said, force. Sometimes out of the blue it would just happen, but when it disappeared I always wanted it back and could never reach it. I wanted that imaginative escape. Like those moments in the early mornings where you’re consciously asleep and can control the avenues of your dreams, those are beautiful, extraordinary moments.  I wanted the feeling of creativity.

I bring this up because creativity and the imagination has a lot to do with personal style, and overall being your own unique person. A creative mind has creative style. Style is how you express yourself. And if you’re just buying what everyone else has then are you expressing you?

In high school I wanted my creative genius to flow but it disappeared with tight pencil skirts and Victoria’s Secret sweatpants. I wanted me but I wanted to be “cool”, and I feel as though this is a mass consensus for high schoolers. Fortunately for me I am a creative person, even though many times in the past I have dampened it down. I found creativity in changing my hairstyle. It was an expressive freedom for me; there was no “cool” hairstyle. I love change and experimenting and I always did that with bold drastic cuts that got me called names like “alien space invader” and “helmet head”. Teenagers are always the prime suspects of criticism from their peers, and that’s the exact struggle with expressing yourself and growing into who you really are. Everyone always has something to say about everyone who’s just a little bit different.

I will always remember the best (back handed) compliment I ever received and of course it was in high school, “you wear the ugliest clothes but they look so good on you!” That’s exactly what I’ve always wanted and everything I believed, and still do, about my sense of style. And even now, because of my strange taste, I often don’t follow my first instinct. I care what my boyfriend will think of it, or what my family would say etc. Then I later regret not following my true desires and letting myself care what everyone else will think.

We grow up being pressured for approval and learn that acceptance should be the goal and therefore we try to be like everyone else, to act and dress like the media tells us to (just look at the mid length Kim K bodycon phase!). Even now with a fashion blog, the Instagram pictures I post that are the most basic and cliché, like a cup of Starbucks, get the most attention. I’m stuck somewhere in between wanting to have what’s popular style and wanting that that’s my own and I think that’s the same for many of us growing up in today’s culture. But that’s okay and it’s okay for you too, for everything you’re stuck between choosing and deciding to be in life. Always remember to choose what you want, not what everyone else wants or likes or is telling you to get. And don’t let the opinion of them sway you if they don’t like it. Maybe reevaluate what their opinion is before letting it affect your choice. Your choices, creativity, imagination, and desires are what make you you. Never neglect it.