August 2015 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

Restless City Syndrome

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever genuinely adjust to city life. I felt the same way last summer after living in Chicago - restless, smothered, and a little bit like something is just missing. As if all of the pieces aren't adding up for me, even when it appears that all the correct pieces are right in front of me.

Sometimes all it takes it a trip out to the suburbs, or a short-distance road trip for the day or weekend. Other times I feel like I need to genuinely get away from here and clear my head - though I can never quite figure out what I'm clearing my head from.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this city and everything about it, but it has this weird effect of making me feel very small. I've spent my entire life in very small schools, in small towns and a relatively small college campus where it was pretty easy to have a sense of self. That's why it's so unsettling to be in a place like Chicago and feel like you're doing all the right things and going through all the right motions, but still not having a grasp on where you fit in it all.

I wish I could say I have the solution to this feeling, but so far what has been the most comforting to me is realizing that so many other people I know are feeling the exact same way. I feel like I'm in an endless loop of waiting for this thing to happen or appear in my life that will help it all make sense and suddenly I'll just know where I fit or what my place is. 

I think part of it is being used to having a specific end-goal my entire life with the structure of school. Now I feel like - on paper, at least - I've arrived. But in my mind? I have no clue where "here" is, or where it is leading me to.

The best thing that gets me through is knowing that somehow, some way, probably without me even realizing it, things will click into place. It might not be all at once, but I know that eventually I'm going to look back on this time and how I was feeling and laugh at how much I've learned, grown, and changed.

In the meantime, I have to keep reminding myself to just laugh at the chaos, do what I can to escape the uncertainty and anxiety permanently resting in my stomach, and keep searching for whatever it is that will help me piece it all together. 

Does anyone else ever feel like this?

In the meantime, here's to waiting it out and embracing the moments in between.

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Post-Grad Closet Essentials

This post is one that I've been brainstorming for a while, and I think that is because unlike college, life in the real world is a little bit more varied and unpredictable. I also happen to be one of the lucky ones that gets to have a lot of freedom with what I wear to work - jeans, maxi dresses, t-shirt dresses and cute accessories - shy of avoiding short hem lines or revealing tops (which aren't really an issue regardless) - I get to wear clothes that I wear outside of work as well!

So admittedly, if you are one of those that has a less relaxed work wardrobe, I apologize in a advance if this post is of little use to you in that regard, but I still think some of these pieces are absolute must-haves for city life and life beyond the hallowed halls of college campuses.

Because everyone's lives outside of college are so varied, I tried to keep this a little bit more accessory-focused, while still staying as close as possible to what I genuinely wear on an almost-daily basis.

I've been lusting over a pair of olive Jeans all summer, and I am constantly seeing girls wear them at work. In the meantime, I wear my favorite Banana Republic Black Skinny Jeans almost every day, I have 4 pairs! My favorite outfits for work include a pendant necklace (especially my Madewell Knotshine Necklace), a loose tank top (like these super soft ones from Gap), and a pair of cute and comfortable shoes. (I also always keep a pair of comfortable flip flops in my purse for commuting on the train - so much more walking in the city!)

I've noticed that for the first time in my life I actually use a watch to tell time - mostly because now I go to meetings where I don't feel that it's appropriate to be checking my phone. Somehow, however, my phone battery still drains almost twice as fast now, so I never leave home without my portable charger!

In the interest of saving time, I bring my gym clothes, purse items, and lunch box in my gym bag to work so I can go straight to my workout at the end of the work day. (Currently saving up for this gorgeous Lululemon Om For All bag!!).

Now that I have a slightly more relaxed lifestyle than the never-ending party that was my Senior year, I can finally have cute phone cases instead of focusing on maximum protection.

And my (future) gift to myself - a gorgeous work tote. I still use my Longchamp all the time, but I'm really looking forward to having a nice big tote that I can carry to work everyday like this one from Michael Kors.

What are some of your city-life essentials?

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The Office: Glamorous Edition

Before I had even started work, I had already spent countless amounts of time day dreaming about how I was going to customize and personalize my desk space in the office. There is an adorable little paper shop in Lincoln Park called Paper Source that has everything - and I mean everything paper...wrapping paper, stationary, cards, notebooks, planners...It's a Type-A Wonderland!

I can't help but stop inside any time I'm near that section of my neighborhood, even if it's just to look at all of the beautiful organized shelves upon shelves of colorful papers. I waited a couple weeks before starting to actually decorate my desk (I didn't want to be that girl that was making herself right at home before training was even finished!) 

Finally after about a month and once I was officially done with training and ready to hit the ground running, I knew that getting a couple new office supplies would be just the thing to help get me motivated to start my very first full-time job (what?!) hitting the ground running.

I definitely went a little bit overboard...but I really do get a little boost every day when I get to my desk and use notebooks, folders, and see my decorations when I get to my desk! Here were some of my favorite finds...but between you and me I have a feeling I will be returning sooner rather than later!

 I couldn't believe it when I found this entire set of gold foil art prints for only $8! I decided to hang up "Living the Dream" in my desk because it seems the most fitting and motivating to keep chasing after my career goals and dreams for the future. It's a great reminder to smile at work and realize how lucky I am.

This tiny little metallic gold notebook is absolutely perfect for carrying around to different meetings, trainings, and for general To-Do Lists everyday at work. I've already used up an entire one in just a couple weeks - good thing I bought a couple - and they were on sale!

This notebook is much bigger and is perfect when I have larger projects and tasks that I need more space for. I love seeing it on my desk every day - it's so simple and clean, and of course matches the gold metallic theme I'm obviously focusing on!

 This little gold metallic polka dot notebook from Kate Spade is so adorable too - I love the pop of color when I open up the inside!
And of course, I couldn't pass up this adorable pack of polka dot file folders - they were the perfect final touch to decorating my space (for now, at least...). Will buying "back to school" supplies ever stop being fun?! I think soon I might even consider adding a small desk lamp for warmer lighting, or maybe some twinkle lights!

And for those curious is a picture of my new office space - it may be a cubicle, but now its my cubicle!

(my apologies for the poor lighting/glare...offices don't exactly have the best photography lighting!)

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Let's Catch Up Soon!

This has to be one of the most common little white lies that people (especially girls) tell each other. You're out running errands, at a bar, or on the train when you run into an old friend you haven't seen or caught up with in a while. You exchange the usual pleasantries, and then need to get back to whatever you were doing, so you insist that you need to get drinks/dinner/FaceTime soon and catch up!

Honesty time - we all really do genuinely mean it (most of the time) - we miss their friendship and would love to catch up with them soon. But are we really going to make the time to do so because of this short little exchange? Unfortunately, probably not.

From high school to college, college to the real world, and all the little changes and steps in between, it's always had to be a legitimate effort to stay in touch with friends, and as we get older and busier it gets more and more difficult to keep track. 

I've come up with what I feel is a pretty good method for staying in touch with people without it taking over my life or staying glued to my phone. Here are some of my favorite simple ways to hang on to those precious friendships!

Use your mornings

Because we go to work all day during the week, and everyone seems to have their own laundry list of chores or hobbies they maintain after work, a lot of our time goes unused. If your company allows coffee breaks or lunch breaks out of the office, look up which of your friends work relatively close to you and meet somewhere in the middle. I tried this recently and realized I had almost 2 dozen friends working within blocks of me! It's quick, easy, and such a nice way to break up the work day. 

Break from your routine 

This is something I have to constantly remind myself to work on. I get very wrapped up in my continuous loop of work - gym - cook - clean - bed that I forget how nice it is to break from the norm and do something different with my time. Even if it's only one night a week - grab a drink or go for a walk with a friend (especially while this summer weather lasts!). I try to do this once or twice a week and either shift my workout to the morning or just squeeze it all in somehow, and even the days where I'm exhausted and think I'm dreading adding another item to my schedule, I haven't regretted it one single time. It's such a refreshing way to mix things up.

Use your apps!

This one seems obvious, and I know we can't all sit on our phones when we should be working, but even if it's just a couple snapchats back and forth or a well-timed #tbt post on Instagram, you can get the highlights of what is new in your friends life and take a few moments to make future plans in the coming weeks. 

Schedule it (ugh)

Believe me - this one is probably my least favorite (solely because it makes me feel too old and businesslike) but most effective way. For the first time in my life, saying "let me check my schedule" is a very real thing, and I can't live without it being on my phone at all times. With me now spending almost my entire day on my work email/calendar, it would take me only moments to make plans with a friend and put it on my calendar - making me ten times more likely to actually follow through with it! My friends and I have planned happy hours, dinners, weekend events and trips through this and it gives me something to glance at during my work day and something to look forward to!

We can't stay in close contact with everyone we would always like to, but I've found that in these few short months after college, your social network and the people you surround yourself with are one of the biggest things you have to depend on for your own sanity and overall happiness. Don't let them slip through the cracks!

How do you stay in touch amid your busy schedules?

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Letting the Dust Settle

Whoa...where to begin?! First of all, huge apologies for my complete and total hiatus this summer. I think I underestimated what an adjustment these last three months would be. Without diving into an overly long explanation of where the heck I've been, I'm going to try to decompress my whole life this summer into a small overview, and follow up with some posts with more details and pictures!

(Definitely most excited to share my new apartment in CHICAGO!)

After graduation (*still crying*), I spent two lovely weeks in Louisville with family and friends to catch up and rest after a whirlwind semester of never wasting a single moment.

Then I packed up my entire life - literally...from three different houses and storage locations - into a truck and made the trek with my Dad to Chicago and into my very first apartment in the real world!
Fast-forward through a month of unpacking, IKEA frustrations, decorating triumphs and epic failures, and some very much needed R&R in my favorite city ever. I explored, joined a gym, nailed down a routine, and got settled in my new home.

To be honest...I'm still waiting for Chicago to genuinely feel like home the way Oxford and Louisville have felt to me in the past...but all in good time, I suppose!

In July I started at my very first big-girl job, and I have been absolutely LOVING it. It seems nerdy to say that I love working an all-day, corporate job of emails, meetings, sales and stresses, but I really do! Keep an eye out for a post on advice and observations I've made in my first few months of working in the real world. 

I finally officially feel like I have a very set and healthy routine during the week and on the weekends, although I think I still have a little bit to learn about ways to keep things interesting, fresh and exciting. And with that feeling of contentment, I knew I was finally prepared to take back on one of my favorite parts of routine - blogging!

I'm still working on balance, so for now you can expect about two posts a week from me, but I have a literally endless note going in my iPhone about post ideas I've been jotting down every time I've felt inspired this summer, and the city has definitely been an inspiring place!

Can't wait to get back in touch with all of my amazing readers and fill you in on where life in the real world has taken me so far!

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