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.

Please don’t ignore my ‘invisible’ illness

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m not your “typical” person living with anxiety and depression, according to society’s standards anyway.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about mental illnesses, albeit my dad is a clinical psychologist. Throwing around phrases such as “they’re crazy!”, “omg you’re so insane”, or “just get out of bed already!” without knowing how hurtful or unproductive certain words can be to someone. Fast forward through an average childhood, awkward adolescence, a couple painful teenage years and a crazy college experience and here I am – a 24-year-old with a good job, fabulously decorated apartment, adorable rescue pup, loving boyfriend, supportive family and the very best friends a girl could hope for. Sounds like a perfect life, am I right?

Wrong.

More often than not, I struggle getting myself up in the morning. Some nights I hardly sleep at all due to my anxiety; I worry if it’s too quiet, I worry if it’s too noisy. I’m afraid someone is going to break into my apartment and hurt me or my dog. The couch becomes my bed half the time because that’s where my TV is and I have a clear view of the front door, you know, in case anyone tries to break in.

Other nights I fall asleep after dinner and don’t get up until the following morning. Joking about always being late and walking into the office, Starbucks in hand, I play it off as if nothing is wrong and I’m just one of those “late people”. In reality, I’m anxious. Did my boss see me? Are my coworkers whispering about me, calling me a slacker because I’m always late? I wish more than anything I could get up when my first alarm goes off instead of lying there pressing snooze for two hours. On days where my depression seems to be having a party in my brain, telling me I’m not good enough and my job isn’t worth it and I should just hide in bed all day, I finally make it to the office – sans makeup and a semi-decent outfit on.

Living with anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Trust me, I still have my days every now and then where I give into the little voice in my head telling me to stay in bed and hide from the world. However, most of the time I come across as a free-spirited, happy and successful twenty-something. This is where the dilemma lies: a thoroughly optimistic, naturally loquacious, blonde-haired blue-eyed privileged white girl walking around as if she’s got her shit together, when in reality her mind is constantly racing and it feels like there’s a raincloud right above her head.

But, this does not make my mental illnesses any less important or easier to deal with than those whose symptoms aren’t quite as camouflaged. Just because six out of seven days of the week I seem all right, doesn’t mean I really am. On days where I am more quiet at work and wear my oversized headphones that scream “leave me alone!”, I’m not mad or annoyed. I may not even be working that hard. I just need my space because it’s one of those days where dealing with myself is already too much effort and there’s no room for putting on a smile and asking how my coworker’s dinner was the night before.

The more we talk about mental illnesses in general, especially ones that are “invisible” 99 percent of the time, the easier it will be for those living with them and their loved ones, who may not understand. High-functioning anxiety is real; those of us living with it still have the same horrible worrisome thoughts, nervous habits and paranoia. However cliche “don’t judge a book by its cover” may be, it rings true for those who struggle with “invisible illnesses” on the daily.

Reach out a hand and open your ears for your loved ones when they do finally decide to spill their heart out. Take them seriously and listen – you just may end up saving their life.

The summer I fell in love…

with the world.

7.5 billion people on this beautiful planet. Can you even fathom knowing that many souls? Maybe you wouldn’t want to know everyone on Earth, but I do. Yes, I’m aware that may sound a bit crazy, but hear me out.

Would I want to meet every single person on this planet? Yes. Not because I’m trying to win Miss Popular over here (although that would help my awkward teenage self feel a little more validated), but because I want to know each individual story. Geeze, Hannah, crank up the cheese factor a little more, will ya!

I digress.

bay_bridge

2014 was a magical year for my adult self. A year filled with adventures, new beginnings, lessons, struggles, and accomplishments. It began with major excitement – I visited my brother in California for the first time and found my first true love: San Francisco. Sunny skies and a light breeze were the norm. You’d unknowingly walk past millionaire techies on the street because they dressed like your average joe. Food, music, and art filled this effervescent city. I’ve always been a huge fan of travel, but this trip kicked off my deep, everlasting case of wanderlust.

bedroom_view

Fast forward a couple months and I’m living in the city center of Regensburg, Germany. It’s a truly picturesque town where the cobblestone streets intersect with the Danube River and traditional German culture seeps out of centuries-old buildings. I lived above a cafe, which later became the namesake of my sweet pup, Ritz. Street bands were audible each afternoon and the corner ice cream shops were open seven days a week – a rarity in Bavaria.

I was studying there for a semester to help complete my German studies minor (yes, I can speak German; no, I’m not going to “say something” for you). This storybook city of roughly 190,000 residents stole my heart in less than a week. But that was only the beginning.

vienna_castle

München, Frankfurt, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Mallorca, Strasbourg – even Split, Croatia! I visited more countries in those six months than thousands of people do in their lifetimes, and trust me, I know how lucky that makes me.

Throwing yourself into unfamiliar situations makes you grow; navigating a foreign place sans internet and the native tongue can put some wear and tear on a person. Living overseas on a foreign continent opened my eyes more than I can put into words. They say challenges lead to growth and I sure see why! Travel can change your perspective; not only on certain places, but on people and cultures, too. You learn to wander with a sparkle in your eye and an open ear, just waiting for the next memorable moment to occur.

split_croatia

Terms like “wanderlust” and “the travel bug” fill thousands of blogs, social posts, websites, you name it. More often than not, I wonder if those using the terms truly encompass what they represent. To me, wanderlust is a way of life, not a phase where you’re obsessed with going new places and seeing new things. Once you’ve experienced even a fraction of this world, you can’t stop.

Experiencing several European countries on my own, in my early twenties, with half a college degree and some (un)forgettable nights under my belt, I found myself more accepting than ever before. Everyone is different. Each place in this world means something, for another reason than you may initially think. I encourage you to listen and observe. Stepping back, making yourself feel like a tiny fish in a large pond molds your sense of self and sheds a whole new light on just how big, or small, our wonderful world truly is.

Cheers to new adventures!

cheers_germany

Saturdays are for mind wandering…

Happy weekend, my lovely friends! Saturdays are my favorite day of the week – no alarm clock, casual plan for the afternoon, maybe going out at night, maybe staying in for movies and dog snuggles. Today I sit in a coffee shop in Little Rock, after devouring a delicious lox & toast and sipping my almond milk mocha, doing a little self reflection.

I know it may sound a bit silly, but I have to let myself relax and do a bit of self reflection or mind jogging down memory lane at least once a week. It gives me a sense of peaceful happiness remembering past adventures.

After re-watching my video of my semester abroad in Regensburg, Germany, I’m feeling extra thankful. Traveling to new places and experiencing foreign cultures is exhilarating and I’m so grateful to have started this adventure early on in my adulthood.

To more happy times with new people and fabulous atmospheres!