Please vote AGAINST current education reform in Arkansas

As I write this note from my office at the University of Texas at Dallas, I struggle to find where to begin, because the core of my being lies within the world of journalism.

I began writing for the school newspaper in 8th grade. Once I reached high school, I was thrilled to start taking journalism classes. From learning basic writing, editing and photography skills, to designing full spreads in the yearbook and overseeing a staff of 20+ students, my journalism education and experience at Southside High School in Fort Smith, AR, propelled me into my future. My senior year I was editor of the yearbook and really took my future in journalism seriously. The education I received from Southside, and the continued mentorship I have from Susan Colyer, the current journalism advisor, is unparalleled to any other experiences in my life thus far.

Because of my outstanding education in journalism in an Arkansas high school, I went on to work at the University Daily Kansan all four years of my undergraduate career at the University of Kansas. Starting out as an unpaid staff writer, I worked my way up the responsibility chain through various editorial roles and became the Digital Managing Editor by my senior year.

This would not have been possible without my journalism classes in high school.

Because of my experience at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, I have landed jobs at two different digital agencies and now currently hold the title of Social Media Specialist for the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.

This would not have been possible without my journalism experience at the University level, which solely stemmed from my education at Southside High School in Fort Smith, AR.

If this proposed education reform were to pass, it would be beyond hurtful to not only the current journalism classrooms, but also to future students who may never think to explore a career in journalism if they aren’t exposed in high school.

The future of digital journalism and education of such is my deepest passion, and I would be more than happy to discuss this more in depth. PLEASE vote AGAINST this education reform.

Sincerely,
Hannah Barling

Why is it so hard to love myself? 

Most of you who are reading this are probably thinking to yourself, “but she exudes confidence” or “she’s always so bubbly and happy to be here.” And most of the time I am happy to be where I am – I’ve always chosen to take the optimistic approach and try to find the silver linings in life. But realistically speaking, even the more sunshine-y people out there have bad days and question their worth.

Growing up the baby of a huge family, I’ve always tried to be louder (let’s be real, I didn’t have to try too hard to be loud) and get the most attention by nature. Working hard to be the best of whatever my latest venture was has always been my goal. Determined to succeed, I’ve held dozens of leadership roles in various student and non-student organizations since I was 15. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my high school class, excelled in the Journalism School at KU, moved to Dallas to work at an international marketing agency, moved back to Arkansas to work at an agency closer to home, and now am once again residing in Dallas and employed by the University of Texas at Dallas, doing what I love.

I’m 25 years old. I have my own apartment, the world’s sweetest dog (not up for debate), live with my amazing boyfriend and have had dozens more experiences than your average 25-year-old.

BUT. For some reason, more often than not I criticize myself, my work and my place in life. The majority of these self-doubting thoughts are along the lines of “why am I not more successful” or “why don’t I have the perfect body” or “why can’t I figure my shit out!?”

And you know what I think is a large contributing factor to my self doubt in this day and age? The brutal culture and expectations modern day America has on people, especially women. Growing up I looked up to all the supermodels and A-list celebs who are all size 0 and wear designer everything. How ridiculous is that? Even when I was in my fitness prime, I still wore a size 9-10, knowing damn well I’d never look like the entertainers on TV.

But instead of looking at my accomplishments and giving myself that much-needed pat-on-the-back, self-criticism trumped all. Comparing oneself to another’s accomplishments or body or life in general is only going to do damage and harm to the soul.

Thankfully, a friend very near and dear to my heart reminded me of my self-worth today and inspired me to write this post. I know I’m not the only one out here who feels like their appearance and demeanor on the outside doesn’t match what’s truly going on inside and felt I needed to share these thoughts with my readers.

Anxiety plays a role in this dilemma for me, but even the women out there not living with mental illnesses struggle with loving themselves daily. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and instead learn to relish in our accomplishments and be proud of them in a positive way.

After reflecting on this, here is my mantra for the week:

I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am worthy.

xoxo,
HB

Learning to let go

Hello again, my beloved readers. I know I’ve abandoned you for a couple months and I’m sorry for that, but – life happens.

The last time I wrote I was pouring out my indecisive tendencies and wishy-washy thoughts, concerned I hadn’t made the right life decision. But honestly, like, who ever makes the right “life decision”? Does every moment we witness not contribute to the grander picture of “life”? Anyway, I’m not in the mood to go psycho-analytical right now so I’ll leave that thought there.

By now you’ve seen everyone’s 2018 resolution posts and you’re definitely ~so over~ them already. So I’ll spare you that portion of my blog and get straight to the good stuff. Sometimes life sucks and sometimes it’s beautiful and unfortunately fate is a thing and we have no real control over what happens to us in our daily lives.

The second half of my 2017 in a nutshell: I quit my job in Little Rock, moved back to Dallas to be with my boyfriend, with no new job lined up. So many undecideds in my life, but I chose love and I am forever grateful for that decision. Since the move, I’ve been working as a barista at Starbucks, freelance writing and social media working here and there, but mainly, I’ve been lost. Emotionally, spiritually, physically – lost.

After some major soul searching (which, by the way, I’m still working on) I’ve decided how much I miss having more control over my life. I’ve let my barista schedule run my life, using my days off as an excuse to be lazy, and never giving myself the time and effort I needed and deserved to focus on me and my goals. When I’m not in control is when my anxiety really tries to take over. However, these past few months have been good for me in that struggle. Learning to let go of what is out of my control, while staying focused on what I can control is what I’m working on.

That being said, it’s time I take back control of my life. I was born to be successful. I’m social, outgoing, entertaining and determined to succeed in my personal and professional life. Every day, I’m promising myself to wake up and try my best to be happy and do whatever it takes to get there. I did not work my ass off and graduate from one of the top journalism schools in the country *Rock Chalk Jayhawk!* to be mediocre. One day, I’ll have bylines in magazines or on websites you read all the time.

I deserve happiness and success and I need to remind myself of that more often. Shoutout to my day ones who still cheer me on even while I am lost and confused and feel at a standstill. TRUST – y’all will be hearing from me more often.

xoxo,

HB

Does anyone think in black and white?

Less than 5 hours from now, I’ll be getting ready for another day in the world of Hannah. So naturally, my brain is going a mile a minute and I’m sitting here having lost a debate with sleep.

With too many things on my mind to simply list out, I’ll start with the one weighing heaviest: what the hell am I doing with my life? I know this may seem like a blanketed thought – and it is to a certain degree – but right now it’s more direct than usual. As I’ve shared with you all, I recently made a decision to step back from the corporate world, let my mind decompress and start a new part-time job as a barista.

This may sound like a fabulous beginning to an empowering drama, but sadly, my life is not a film and there’s no winning lottery ticket in sight. The immediate questions that pop into my mind tonight are: Is this going to work out? Am I going to have enough money to make ends meet comfortably and have fun? Did I make the right decision to move without a job lined up?

Different questions, all obtaining the same answer: I don’t know.

Now I’m judging myself for not knowing, because I’m 24 years old and should have a better idea in which direction to go, but then I remind myself I’m not a future teller and need to chill the fuck out. This 30-second thought train (anxiety is fun and may or may not include thinking 12 thoughts at once) has led me to a grander question: Does anyone think in black and white?

I truly want to know, because I’m not sure I’ve ever made a decision I was 100 percent sure of. Envious of those who seem to have a simpler way of decision making, I’m curious to know if anyone else has a dozen questions for each statement or thought that crosses their minds.

Of course, nobody knows what lies ahead because life happens and we can never be fully in control. We must simply ride the wave. But do some of you out there think more in terms of black and white, yes or no, instead of constantly lingering in the grey area? Because if so – teach me your witch-crafting ways.

I realize this blog is far different from my last one, which proudly disclosed my new life adventures. However, I promised myself I would be as transparent as possible, because I am so SICK of people on social media only portraying their good side and making their followers think life is purely happy all the time. So, here I am at midnight writing about my insecurities and second guesses.

What I have to remind myself is that time never stops and even if I never truly grasp this big ole meaning of life, the most important thing is to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy, living life with a purpose. And that is what I promise to continue to strive for.

 

Unashamedly taking a step back

Life can get overwhelming…quickly. Whether you’re working too much or not enough, have bills swallowing you or a fully-furnished apartment equipped with cable and internet, it’s easy to get caught up and suddenly realize you’re in way over your head and need time to breathe.

Life in 2017 America is full of pressure: pressure to be successful, pressure to be pretty, pressure to be fit, pressure to be perfect. Adults in this country are expected to work 40+ hours a week, fully support themselves, workout daily, travel often and show off their material goods. All for what – affirmation that we’re following society’s ridiculous standards? Receiving recognition for all our accomplishments? Forget the countless nights of no sleep, early mornings, stressful days at work and god forbid more than one cheat meal per week.

Life is something you have; living, breathing creatures walk this planet, and if you are one of them, congratulations – you have a life. All right, before I tailspin off into an existential crisis, I’ll get to my point.

Life is for LIVING. That’s right, living, as simple as that. We all deserve to choose our own way to do so. The past couple of years, I’ve been working in the digital media and marketing industry. Since graduating from KU in 2015, I’ve left Kansas, moved back to Arkansas, moved to Dallas, moved back again to Arkansas and just moved back yet again to Dallas about a month ago. I’ve had two well-paying jobs for a 24-year-old with two different companies. Made some good friends through work, met a couple great mentors and learned a lot about myself.

The most important lesson I’ve learned recently, is what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to wake up each day dreading where I’m supposed to be, doing something that I’m not 100 percent passionate about and counting down the hours ’til I can go home and snuggle my dog in peace. I am a free spirit who needs to be able to explore, talk with people, hear their stories, share them with the world and walk around with a smile on my face.

When I moved back to Dallas, I didn’t have a new job lined up. I was suddenly unemployed and uncertain about what my next move would be. I unashamedly was taking a step back. Thankfully I have super supportive parents and an amazing boyfriend who helped me get on my feet. Going on about four weeks of funemployment, I’m happy to say I’ve secured a job as a barista at Starbucks and will be starting next week!

Some of you are probably sitting there judging me as I’m thrilled to share that I’m once again a barista (shoutout to my Sweetbay baes) and not currently “using my degree” for what it’s intended. But who fucking cares? I couldn’t tell you the last time I was this calm. My life has simplified and my over-analytical self has started to gradually ease into comfort. I can finally be on my feet every day at work, socializing with people and making them their favorite coffees and treats. I have time to focus on my writing and pursue freelance work on my own time, my own schedule.

Most importantly, my anxiety levels have decreased tremendously. Aside from the occasional freakouts (cue my weekly existential crisis), I wake up relaxed and go to sleep happy. Am I completely anxiety and depression free? No. Am I making plenty of money? Also no. But do I generally feel better each day and excited for what’s ahead? ABSOLUTELY.

Once I allowed myself to reconsider what it means to be a living, breathing adult in 2017, it’s like a whole new realm opened for me to explore. For now, I’ll be a barista and a writer. I may end up with enough Freelance work to make it my full-time career. I may end up pursuing a masters degree. Or, I may even end up back in the corporate world with the typical 9-to-5, who knows.

But what I do know, is we are all entitled to creating our own reality and pursuing our dreams, whatever they may be. Cheers to what’s in store!

What is life without a bucket list?

Overanalyzing my own way of thinking, I often wonder how others think. Not so much as to how their thought processes go, but more so their free thinking. I’ve always been a daydreamer; I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t let my mind wander to far places on any given day. These midday fantasies range anywhere from places I’ve been to favorite memories I’ve shared with my loved ones to countries I yearn to visit, and so on. Whether it’s one minute or five minutes, these little mindful getaways help ease my analytical brain.

As a creative daydreamer, it’s only natural I’ve been adding to my never-ending bucket list since I first learned what a bucket list was. Whether it’s a career-oriented bucket list, a travel bucket list, or just one long overall life experiences bucket list, everyone needs to have one. It doesn’t have to be written down anywhere, although I do advise to have it scribed somewhere, because in order to reach our goals we must visualize them daily. I’ve crossed a few things off my bucket list already, and am constantly adding new ventures to mine as well.

Here’s why it’s important to have your personalized bucket list:

Visualizing your goals and ambitions is crucial

As I mentioned earlier, in order to reach your goals and ambitions, you must visualize them daily. Whether this entails writing or saying out loud your personal mantra or glancing at your most recent goal on a list, it’s imperative to make these ideas and dreams come to fruition. Are you ever going to climb that 14er or finish that 5k if you don’t work toward it and think about it every day? Probably not (but if you do, please fill me in on your witch-crafting ways).

 

Pushing your limits creates growth

If you live inside your comfort zone and never stretch your abilities, you probably aren’t leading a very fulfilling life. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “life starts past your comfort zone” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Sure, trying new things, going new places and meeting new people can seem daunting at times. But, being able to accomplish these things is all about your perspective. Start with something small: go to a movie alone, walk around town without a plan or place to be, say hi to the person sharing the elevator with you. Baby steps will enable you to make this practice part of your every day life.

Crossing off an item on your bucket list is utterly satisfying

Most of us are familiar with to-do lists; you’ve most likely kept up with a planner in school, a daily to-do list at work, or your weekly reminder on your phone to do your laundry and clean the house. Imagine the feeling of crossing off a simple task and maximize it by 10. Bucket lists aren’t typically filled with easy achievements – they’re meant to hold your biggest and longest dreams and goals so you can finally cross them off one by one. Take out the trash? Send an email? Easy! Visit Tanzania, kayak in the Pacific Ocean, learn a new language? Not such a small task – but that’s where the major rewards are reaped.

My personal bucket list has more items on it than I can count, but a fair amount of them have already been accomplished. Travel to a new country? Check. Learn a new language? Check. Start my own website? Check. Move somewhere totally new and unknown? Check!

The euphoric feeling of crossing off an item or accomplishing a dream you’ve been working toward for months or even years is unmatched in my book. Get out there and try something new – I promise you won’t regret it.

Life’s a Breeze in New Orleans

Fernweh oh Fernweh…mein Mangel, aber Fernweh ist kein Mangel!

Okay, I’ll leave the German alone for now, since most of you are English speakers reading this. Anyhow…Fernweh, or the itch your feet get when you haven’t traveled somewhere new in a while, is so real for me. Back in March, a few friends and myself went down to the Big Easy to celebrate my beloved boyfriend’s 27th birthday (shh, don’t tell him I told you his real age). It was SO much fun – the food and drinks, the music, the arts scene, but mainly the food – let’s be real.

We had such a great time, stayed at the cutest Airbnb near the Fairgrounds and even went on a swamp tour to see some alligators in their natural habitat. To say it was a fun trip would be an understatement, but I’ll let y’all decide how you think our trip was after watching my video. 🙂

 

P.S. I know I’m no videographer, I like to make compilation videos of my trips from time to time so I have them permanently on the internet to watch whenever that Fernweh is biting me more than usual.